In regards to what to take when preparing for a camping trip on the bike, I am a long way from being an expert. I have heard of many and varied methods for packing for trips on a bike:
- Lounge method – throw everything that you what to take onto your lounge and only take what’s on the centre cushion.
- Texta method – pull out everything you need to take and then take a colour marker out and mark everything you really need with that colour and put the rest of the gear away. Then take the second marker and mark what you really really need and put the rest away. Carry on with this process until you end up with your MasterCard and a multicoloured toothbrush.
The point is that we always tend to take too much stuff. However sorting out what you really need to take is an art form that can take many years of travelling to develop. Each time I return from a trip I usually think about what I didn’t use and whether I really needed it.
In the early days I viewed the exercise from a very minimalist point-of-view. Everything light, everything small. So I had small and thin bedding. It was that point that I realised that I’m not 20 anymore and if I’m not comfortable when sleeping then I wake up feeling like crap which then impacts on my whole trip. So I needed to find equipment that provided a level of comfort yet was light enough and small enough to pack on the motorcycle.
This is my basic list of camping equipment.
Tent – BlackWolf Wasp tent (no longer available but here is a link). This is a great little tent and is an oblong shape which is a much better shape than the typical square tents. It has a nice large fly area to cover boots and other stuff that you want sheltered but not necessarily in the tent. An added bonus is that it is also super easy and fast to put up. Please note mine is the older version which is yellow and I think a much better colour.
While it is a personnel preference, I prefer a tent rather than a swag, as I like the additional room to throw my gear in and it really doesn’t take very long to put a tent up and down.
Sleeping mat – When putting my first camping kit together I started with light hiking gear. I quickly realised that I’m no longer 20 and the weight wasn’t such an issue. I would much rather carry a bit more and have a good night sleep than not sleep and wake up sore. Over the years I have tried a number of different sleeping mats from thin 3/4 hiking mat (the worst night sleep that I have had(, to thick self inflating mattresses (but take up quite a bit of room). I have also tried the Helinox stretcher which was great (but still quite big) but not as practical on the bike and I still really needed a mat on top.
I have friends who have the Exped mats which they like but I’m not a fan of the hand pump arrangement they use – although I did look at the 12cm thick matts (12LXW) which packs very small and by all accounts is very comfortable. This was certainly an option.
On my recent trip to the US I picked up a Klymit sleeping mat (large insulated). They claim that they are warm (rated to R4.4) and good for side sleepers. The biggest disadvantage is that you have to blow it up yourself – but it only takes about 23 breaths so it doesn’t take very long. I’ve only used it a couple of times so far and I think it is the most comfortable mat I’ve used so far. And much quicker / easier to pack away than a self inflating mat.
Sleeping Bag – I currently own a couple of different rated BlackWolf sleeping bags from very light weight summer bags to colder weather down filled bags.
Pillow – I know, I know a pillow. Sorry I’ve had a few spills off my bike and my neck isn’t a young man’s neck anymore. I have tried all sorts of pillows. Different materials, types, shapes and sizes.
- Stuff sack. tried that a few times. No thanks
- Air pillows are light and seem okay, but they deflate a bit as they get cold and I find I tend to chase them around all night.
- Self inflating pillows, I’ve not found the right shape and they just don’t feel right.
- I recent found this Memory Foam camp pillow which is made in Australia and while it is more expensive than most I have tried to date it has worked a treat, it is fairly comfortable, the right height, and rolls small.
Currently I am using the Klymit extra large pillow which packs unbelievably small and is pretty comfortable but it would be nicer if it was a bit taller so I have to put something underneath it. The one thing I really like is the cross it has that effectively centres your head and stops the pillow moving around too much.
Camp Stove – I’ve had my Trangia 27 stove for over 30 years as I won it in a tent pitching competition. For the first 20 years it had limited use but recently it has been pulled out of the cupboard regularly. To make the stove even better I ditched the metho burner and bought the gas burner adaptor for it. Huge improvement.
Camp chair – I like having a chair with me rather than finding a comfortable rock or log in which to sit and eat my dinner, read a book or just watch the world go by. But it is hard to find a small comfortable chair that isn’t one of those useless tripod seats. After lots and lots of searching I found the Helinox chair these are very small, exceptionally light and comfortable. Nearly everyone I have shown has purchased one.
Camp table – Helinox also make a small camp table which packs very small and is light and stable. While a table really is a luxury it is a nice to have to keep things off the ground.
Here is a picture showing the Helinox Chair One, Table One, and the Sunset Chair. These are fantastic products which pack small and are comfortable to use. My only complaint is the table needs a firmer top and I notice that you can now purchase the hard top kit separately.
Drybag – I have tried a few different drybags over the years but recently I came across a Swiss company called Enduristan who make really nice high quality gear which include many nice little features that make the bag exceptional. I am currently running with a Large Tornado 2 which is 51Ltrs.
Pictured is the Enduristan with my tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, pillow, chair and table.
And to strap it onto the bike I use a pair ROK Straps which are great straps that are the best of both worlds with a bungie and a strap.
Then on top of these items there is
- riding gear
- food and water.
I am still figuring out these items. Open to suggestions