Packing for the Long Haul
Packing for a long ride on a motorcycle is a crafty process. People turn into a legit MacGyver when it comes to figuring out how much stuff they can fit for a journey and if you’re a female then times that struggle by 10.
It’s a balancing act. You can’t pack too much or to high or you will lay your bike over on the first turn you make and then not be able to pick it up because it weighs so much. You also have to take into consideration for your gear and extras that you may need along the road. Breakdowns happen and the better prepared you are then the less time you stay stranded and the more time you have to ride.
Below are some of the secrets I use when packing up for a long trip. Hopefully if will help you on your next journey but the most important thing to remember is that one of the main reasons we ride motorcycles is for the freedom so keep that in mind when you pack and only take the things you need. The open road calls and we don’t need 10 pairs of shoes to answer.
A lifesaver for me is Vacuum Packs. You know those clear “as seen on TV” storage bags…well, they do wonders when you’re limited on space. Not only do they shrink everything down by 75% but they also keep out dirt and water. That’s right, they’re waterproof! One duffle bag and a couple of these and I can pack half of my closet if I wanted to with these things! I use the ones that are reusable and don’t need a vacuum cleaner or pump to activate. Mine simple role and use a one-way valve system, that way I can open it as many times as I need to on my trip and don’t have extra things to pack in order to reseal them.
To keep with the waterproof theme I bring Ziploc bags and put all of my electrical cables in them. Pack a few extra just incase you need back ups. These are great to separate cables too so you don’t spend all you time untangling wires.
For my electrical equipment I always have my Mophie. They make a ton of versions but the one I prefer is the Powerstation Duo. It’s 6000 mAh which means it charges as fast as lighten strikes and it can charge 2 devices at one time or it can charge 1 phone up to 4 full charges before it runs dry. When I plug my phone in it takes about 15 minutes to fully charge from a dead battery. This one is around 100 bucks but worth every penny because I have to check Instagram every hour or I may die. I also wouldn’t suggest buying generic on these portable charging devices because you get what you pay for, they will work great for a few months and then they won’t keep a charge after that. I’ve had my Mophie for 2 years now and it works just like I did when I bought it.
Next up is my Solar Charger. There are a ton of versions of this too. I say go with whatever is waterproof and small enough to clip onto something. Mine clips on my bags so it can charge while I’m riding. I don’t really need it because my Mophie works so great but it’s nice to have a back up and especially if you’re traveling in small towns that don’t have a place to stop for an outlet.
I feel like this goes without saying but a Tool Kit is pretty damn essential if you’re going to go anywhere far and I don’t care how new your bike is or where it’s made because life is an ironic Mutha and the minute you don’t have it you will need it. Most packs don’t take up much room at all and can strap onto your frame or forks. I use a couple different ones… Biltwell andCotter Pin, it just depends on how much I will need with me since my Biltwell carries more but is more like a bag that you dump everything in. The Cotter Pin is very organized and Waxed so it’s very durable. Plus the dirtier it gets the more badass it looks. I always have electrical tape and extra bungee cords in my bag along with the exact tools that fit my bike…no need to bring anything you can’t use.
The tool bag that I don’t use ends up being my “beauty tool bag” instead. This is where I store all the things I need to keep me from not looking like I just rode 800 miles. Things like Sunblock, Face wipes, Body wipes, a portable brush, deodorant, chapstick, hand sanitizer and extra hair ties. I really don’t care if this makes me less rugged and tough. I want to smell good, and have skin that looks 20 when it’s 40. Plus it just makes good sense…hygiene is important on my list and if it’s not on yours then we can’t hang out.
Gas! No I’m not talking about eating burritos. If you have a bike like mine and can only go about 100 miles before you’re stranded on the side of the road then you need an extra canister of fuel. I travel alone, far and on backroads. Running out of gas is something that I don’t want to happen in some of these towns I pass through. I’m a single lady and though I may know Karate and carry a knife I’m also smart enough to never have to use them either. It’s just amateur hour to run out of petro on a long trip…thosecanisters can mount anywhere.
Speaking of knives that is one thing I never leave the house without. I don’t care if I’m only going down the road or to the other side of the globe, I was raised to always have a tool that could also be used as a weapon if need be. Though I have never had to cut (many) people I do however use it non-stop on miscellaneous things, like opening packages, cutting wires, picking food out of my teeth and whittling wood when my phone doesn’t have service and I can’t get on Instagram. I did a gear post earlier and listed the knives I like to use; you can find it here if you just crawled out of your rock and need to catch up.
Lastly, bags….. I use Firstgear’s Torrent waterproof bags. I have the 40 L duffel for long hauls and the 20 L Backpack which is great for day trips. I keep the things I need for overnight stays in the backpack and strapped on the top of my duffel so that is all I have to grab with I crash on a long trip. It says it’s waterproof but you can’t submerge them in water. They are great bags for riding in the rain but if your resting for the night on a campsite then make sure they are in a place where they wont get flooded out. Also rolling and strapping them up correctly is the best way to ensure you stuff stays dry inside as they are not dummy proof.
Basically that’s it for now but there are always revisions to this list being made. The more trips I take and the more road conditions I hit the more new road hacks I invent or think of. Just remember, the less luggage the better unless you have a bagger, then you can pack your house.
Oh! And as always, let me know what your travel tips are! I’m sure there is so much I don’t know and love learning new ways to travel!