Top motorcycle camping kit

While a hotel might be the ideal accommodation for many, others may prefer sleeping under canvas.

Camping with a motorbike

by Jim Blackstock |

If you’re heading off on a long, multi-day trip or tour, then you’ll need to stay in different places overnight.

Many people in this situation will favour hotels; warm, dry, with the potential for anything from home-cooked to gourmet dining and the need to carry only your clothes with you on the bike.

Others however may prefer the excitement of camping. It’s cheaper and many like the freedom it offers; pitch where you like, when you like, eat what you like and know exactly what you’re getting when you get there.

Of course, there are downsides to camping on your motorcycle. The weather is a huge one, which is why your choice of tent is crucial. It will be, after all, your only shelter and so you need to make sure you can pitch it quickly in case it’s chucking down when you arrive at your campsite but also, it has enough room for you, your kit and your – now-wet – riding gear.

Related: Top portable motorcycle locks

You can, of course, get huge tents but these are not very transportable on a motorcycle and so we arrive at the key point with motorcycle camping gear – the compromise between size in use and packed size for carrying on the bike and weight. The same goes for stoves and cooking gear, sleeping bags and sleep mats.

They key is to plan ahead. Sure, you can’t always plan for the weather but you can get an idea of likely conditions on your trip. If you’re heading to the south of France in August, you probably won’t be needing a full four-season sleeping bag. Conversely, a trip to Nordkapp in late autumn means plenty of layers and a good sleeping bag.

Useful motorcycle camping gear:

Best value tent

A decent tent is perhaps the most important bit of kit, as it will be your main shelter from the

Coleman Darwin Tent

So we’d go for something like this two-person dome tent (for stability) from Coleman – a brand with huge heritage in camping. There’s a compact version with no porch area (1.4kg lighter) but we like the space to store and dry kit.

Features:

Sleeping area 2.9m2

Packed size 57cm x 16cm x 15cm

Weight 4.2kg

Best lightweight 3-season tent

If, however, small and light really is what you want, this is your best option. It's a one-person

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 1

Our colleagues at Live For The Outdoors tested the two-person version of the Zephyros in Scotland and found it to be very good indeed and a true three-season tent, standing up to the elements, easy pitching, and being easy to pack away, if not a little snug.

Dimensions and weight:

Size 220cm x 96cm x 92cm

Packed size 30cm x 18cm

Weight 1.57kg

Best touring sleeping bag

After the tent, your sleeping bag is probably the most important piece of kit. It will need to

Sea to Summit Treeline TII Sleeping Bag

The down is also hydrophobic to protect itself and you from any dampness. There's nice touches too, such as a storage pocket for valuables. If you do wish for a synthetic sleeping bag that does not use animal products or is cheaper, consider the Marmot Nanowave 25.

Dimensions and weight:

Size (interior) 183cm (regular) or 192cm (large)

Packed size 20cm x 32cm (regular) or 21cm x 34cm (large)

Weight 0.97kg (regular) or 1.12kg (large)

The emerging pattern we hope is becoming clear is that, like most things, outdoor gear and

Berghaus Peak Self-Inflating Mat

The self-inflating nature of the mat is a nice touch, and you can get a 120cm-length version to save a little space but we suggest sticking to the full length. When inflated it's 3cm thick, it also comes with a repair kit and storage bag (including straps).

Dimensions and weight:

Size 183cm x 51cm x 3cm

Packed size 27cm x 14cm

Weight 0.65kg

Tested by Simon Weir for four years, 60,000 miles. Quality 4/5, Value 3/5

Oxford Aqua D WP packing cubes

"These three bags are an invaluable part of my packing process. Clothes go in the largest red one – it’ll hold four days’ T-shirts and underwear comfortably. I put shoes in the medium green one, though it could hold another three days’ clothes. I use the small one as my bag of power: adaptors, chargers, leads, extra power banks and headphones live in it – but it’s big enough to take much more.


Packing kit in these keeps it all organised and dry, even if the outer luggage leaks. I’ve used them enough that the branding has worn off and they’re looking a bit battered, but they still work as well as ever. My only gripe is that you can only buy them in sets like this, not individually or in packs of the same size: I’d like a couple more of the most-useful red ones."

Best lightweight cooking kit

A stove is essential kit for cooking up hot meals and brewing tea when you're out on the field,

Trangia 27-6 Cook Set (1-2 Person)

Trangia makes some of the best hiking and trekking cooking gear around. Part of its 27 Series, this set is amazing. In total it weighs under 1kg but you get a pair of one-litre pots and an 18cm frying pan (all non-stick aluminium), 0.6-litre kettle, and a burner. The burner is not gas, it's a spirit burner - aptly named it uses spirits such as methylated spirits for fuel. It's simpler and more robust than a gas burner.

In addition are windshields and a simmering ring for the burner. It's hard to appreciate this kit without using it. It's ideal for lightweight bike trips.

Weight:

980g

Best lightweight chair

After a day in the saddle, you might want something a bit more comfortable than the ground to sit

Helinox Chair One

It comes in its own storage bag and takes moments to set up. Granted, it's not cheap and there are cheaper lookalikes around, but they come with the predictable drawback of not being anywhere near as durable.

Dimensions and weight:

Max user weight: 145kg

Packed size 35cm x 12cm x 10cm

Weight 0.96kg

This pair of collapsible water containers is Amazon's Choice and it's not hard to see why. You

Ariel GXR Water Containers

If you’re on a campsite, all good but if you’re wild camping and getting water from a stream, then add a packet of water-purification tablets to be safe. A great solution to storing water.

Dimensions:

Size 5l & 10l

We all know how good microfibre is at drying things - I use these cloths to dry my bikes all the

Microfibre Towel

Dimensions and weight:

Size 120cm x 60cm

Packed size 22cm x 14cm x 15cm

Weight 0.14kg (dry)

You'll always need light when you're away and this operates as a lantern when the telescopic

ThorFire Lantern

Dimensions and weight:

Packed size 10cm x 10cm x 10cm

Weight 0.22kg

There are mountains of power banks on offer, all broadly the same. So why choose this one? It's

Goal Zero Flip 36 Power Bank

In regards to ability, the Flip 36 stacks up well, being good for the equivalent three smartphone recharges before requiring to be recharged itself. If you're going off-grid for a while, consider one of Goal Zero's solar chargers.

Dimensions and weight:

Size 9.4cm x 6.1cm x 2.1cm

Weight 0.193kg

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