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Don’t Get Hung Up On Weight When Going Motorcycle Camping

Weight is Important.

When you are going motorcycle camping you need to consider the total weight of the rider and your camping gear. Your motorcycle has a max payload capacity and consistently exceeding this will put undue stress on the subframe and could impact the handling of the motorcycle.


This doesn’t mean you have to spend big money on the latest lightweight backpacking gear to pack on your motorcycle. Most motorcycles are designed for two-up riding so if you are riding solo you will have plenty of cargo carrying headroom. If you are riding with a passenger keeping track of the weight becomes much more critical but if you are riding a big touring bike or trike and pulling a trailer, weight becomes much less of an issue.

Obviously, the heavier the rider, the less gear you can safely carry. My KLR 650 is rated for a total vehicle payload of 401 lb. With my 300+ lb frame that still leaves about 100 lbs worth of cargo I can safely carry. After accounting for tools and spare parts for the bike I still have about 75 lbs to work with. That’s a lot of motorcycle camping gear.

Think Comfort

The type of gear you take will depend on your personal preference. I like a larger tent with an air mattress that I can inflate with a 12V pump but many people are satisfied with a small hammock they can string between a couple of trees. I also bring a full-sized collapsible chair and not the small three-legged camp stools.

Cooking is the one area where the backpacking gear is clearly superior. In my opinion the small lightweight camp stoves and mess kits are the best solution for cooking while motorcycle camping. Now this doesn’t mean you need to spend big $ for a high-tech camp stove or titanium mess kit. The minimalist homemade stoves and repurposed cooking gear are some of the best solutions available and are either free or very inexpensive.

To wrap things up.

You need to be aware that your motorcycle has limitations. When packing your motorcycle you will not be able to carry everything you would normally pack into a truck or car for a camping excursion. But a motorcycle camping trip does not need to be a minimalist adventure like a backpacking trip would be. Adding some creature comforts to your supplies can greatly increase the enjoyment of the trip.



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