This is an ongoing list of things I’ve learned to bring along on longer motorcycle trips. Most of the things listed here are luxury items that one can certainly do without. I, however, prefer not to rough it too much. For an exhaustive packing list along with some great moto-camping recommendations, I suggest Bill Johns’ Excellent Motorcycle Camping Guide Also, Hellen Twowheels has some great packing tips.

  • Sunscreen & Chapstick: My summer gloves don’t meet the sleeves on my riding jacket. On long riding days, this will result in two ridiculous looking bands of red skin on my wrists when I take off my gear. Some strong sunscreen solves this problem Yes, longer sleeves would accomplish the same thing, but sunscreen is cheaper. Even with a full face helmet, I’ve found that lips can get chapped when riding all day. Frequent applications of chapstick or some other lip balm will help.
  • Power: In this case, I’m speaking of power in the electrical sense. BMWs have accessory outlets, but the connection is not the same as a car outlet. To hook up most devices, an accessory plug converter is needed. With this adapter, you can hook up any accessory that is designed to plug into a car’s cigarette lighter.
  • Music: I rarely travel without my iPod. On longer trips, the battery will run out before the road does. Fear not, this iPod Charger from Griffin will keep the tunes coming for hours and hours.
  • GPS: There is some debate among riders in regard to using a GPS. Some people prefer to find their own way without electronic guidance. That’s great, but when you are trying to get somewhere on winding back roads, it is nice to have an electronic friend to keep you on track. There are a lot of GPS units out there. For occasional use, I think this Garmin eTrex Vista CX Handheld fits the bill. I have a non-color eTrex Vista that works but lacks one important feature that is useful on the road, autorouting. The CX model I’ve linked to above will probably work better due to its autorouting capability. These small eTrex models are handhelds and, due to their size, they are difficult to operate while underway. There are a couple motorcycle specific GPS models that, among other things, are easier to operate while riding. The Garmin Zumo 550 and the TomTom Rider are both popular with motorcyclists but come at a slightly higher price. If I were to purchase another GPS now, I would probably go with the Garmin Zumo.
  • Map holder: If you are going to run without the GPS, then you’ll want a way to hold your maps and directions so that you can get to them easily without taking the gloves off. Most tank bags have a clear map pocket on top. But, if you don’t have a tank bag, you’ll need something else. Jeff has a simple, low-cost solution, a clear plastic folder. This fits perfectly between the seat and the tank (on my bike anyway). While its not entirely waterproof, it will keep the paper reasonably dry in all but the heaviest of downpours.
  • Coffee: I like coffee, I need coffee. Its nice to have some while breaking camp in the morning. To hook up a pot of coffee, I recommend a MSR Whisperlite International Liquid-Fuel Stove since it is tiny and light. As a bonus, it will run on unleaded gasoline which you should have plenty of in your tank. This french press will make great coffee which you can pour into this folding mug. It takes up no space in your bag and looks cool.

Ride safe!

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