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Thread: Packing Bike for Touring

  1. #31
    I pack for about 4/5 days. I found that the stuff made for runners, the "dri-fit" type fabric, is lighter and less bulky than the cotton t-shirts I used to pack. And the bonus is that you can wash them in the sink at night. I took 2 long sleeved and 2 short-sleeved ones on a 3 week trip to Colorado last year and just kept alternating between them. I have a long sleeved microfleece crew neck pullover that is my warm layer. It looks like a sweater but it is more functional (and washes and dries quickly). The most useful piece of clothing I carry is a front-zip, funnel neck, wind proof soft shell jacket that is suitable to wear on its own as a "dressy" jacket when dining out or otherwise being civilized. It has a superthin fleece layer on the inside and it is not at all bulky. This piece is my wind layer under my mesh jacket when the sun goes down, or the extra layer under my regular jacket when the temperature drops in the mountains. Easy to layer on or off and does double duty off the bike. Thin enough to layer under the riding clothes.
    I carry my clothes and toiletries in a bag in one side case, and in the other one all the miscellaneous stuff: the stuff for the bike (oil, manuals, wire ties etc), rain gear, water bottle, hat, maps, small nylon backpack that folds up small to use for touring around at your destination, a lightweight travel bike cover, cable lock, multi-tool etc. The small travel purse goes there too. And, I carry my "overflow" bag - a waterproof 40 litre seal-line bag from Whitehorse Gear. It holds any purchases, sometimes laundry or shoes or extra riding gear, like the mesh jacket. When needed the bag straps on the seat behind me. I also have a top case that I keep my extra riding gloves in and that I use to store my helmet when I am off the bike. Its another emergency stowage container if I really need it.
    I have over 90,000 km of mostly long distance travel on my 2003 F650 GS and I can be off that bike at the end of the day, grab the clothing bag out of the one side case, take the tank bag off and stow it in the side case, put on the cover and be done.

    Patti G
    Ottawa Ontario

  2. #32
    Registered User Rod Sheridan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Toronto Ontario
    Diann and I ofte travel together with a large tent (10' X 10').

    Diann caries her personal stuff in her saddlebags and the air mattress and the sleeping bags in a duffel across the pillion seat, along with her chair.

    I carry all my stuff in the saddlebags on my bike, and carry the tent and my chair on the pillion seat.

    We both have tank bags for the usuall stuff, camera, lens cleaner, first aid kit, spare electrical parts, meter etc.

    I also have a set of hi viz tank panniers that carries a small naptha stove, 2 bottles of water, nesting mess kit etc.

    Regards, Rod.
    Work is the curse of the riding class

  3. #33
    Registered User
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    Sep 2008
    Wilmington, NC
    Lots of good stuff in this thread, most of it familiar territory to long time campers, and interesting thinking explaining the various choices.

    Here's another way to think about packing- I call it "rational segregation" and it is useful for trips that involve a few nights in hotels and some camping. I ride solo so its also packing for one rather than 2. The bike is a R1200RT with all of the factory luggage.

    Starts with keeping camping gear totally separate from what goes into a hotel. I put ALL the camp gear(except cooking) in a medium size Seattle Sports duffle (waterproof) that goes on the back seat of my RT with 4 ROK straps diagonally crossed over it. The items in there include a Marmot Limelight 3 Tent, an REI air mattress with built in, hand operated inflation pump that is way smaller than a Thermarest pad, a full size Wiggy's lightweight synthetic sleeping bag, a crushable pillow, my shortened ball peen hammer for the tent stakes, and a Kermit chair. This my version of a "complete comfort" camping setup for a rally- plenty of tent space so ALL the excess weight can be stripped from the bike for riding while at the rally, comfortable and large sleeping stuff and the chair for those campfire and beer sessions. It can be shrunk by a third if you're into mimimalism.

    The clothes, netbook, etc go in the topcase liner that gets lifted out for hotel use. (In addition to routine comm use, the netbook also holds the BMW service CD (RepROM) on its drive as well as the software for the GS-911 in the tool kit.

    Right side case holds stuff that never comes off the bike like tools, maps, rain gear (unless I'm wearing it), hardcopy maps, cover, etc. All segregated and wrapped so I don't get a fallout mess when the case is opened. No liner in this case as it would make it harder to get to stuff.

    Left side case is riding gear that may get changed during the day such as a Roadgear phase change jacket to go under mesh, a Gerbings if it will be cold enough where I'm heading to want one, riding jeans for those short runs around camp, evap cooling items if they'd be useful where I'm going, extra lnners layer like a synthetic turtleneck,extra gloves etc. This case has a liner and its contents can also be lifted to go into a hotel or off the bike easily. This is the case most frequently opened during the day.

    Tank bag has electronics and a full setup to recharge cell phone, Scala Q2, etc . Also carries at least a liter of drinking water- often 2 L-, a few snack bars and has in its top, any hardcopy maps in use to supplement the GPS.

    If carrying cooking gear, it goes in a small Ortlieb waterproof yellow rollup and is tied on top of the camp gear bag on the back seat using the tails of the 4 ROK straps that hold down the Seattle Sports duffle. There is no need to carry any amount of food supplies as these can be purchased on the road at small expense. I carry just a very small REI butane stove with a small pot, plus a coffee press (a little luxury) and a plastic jar of decent coffee. Sometimes a couple packs of Ramen for emergencies as they weigh nothing. When going to rallies, many overpack cooking gear.....there are a lot of good tricks for eating well well cooking in light gear, should you need to do that.

    To avoid screwing up handling, heaviest items need to be packed lowest, and close to center of bike when possible. Beware of high heavy loads on rear seat and excess weight in (or on) the topcase (that is already too heavy when empty)- the worst location on the bike for weight. While it is possible to install a rack on the topcase, this is not required for typical rally trips when riding solo. IMO, of you are frequently riding double and camping, a bike with more capacity than the RT or a trailer begins to make a lot of sense - I've never liked riding stuff loaded to or above its rated max load capability.

    Individual gear items used may vary with the season or location to which you are going. Different tents, sleeping bag for those cold weather runs than for those summer runs in the south, more or less cooking gear and food depending on whether its a rally trip or a week long off road excursion, choice of riding gear based on anticipated conditions (eg mesh vs non-mesh gear), etc..

    Then there are the seriously optional items like bug repellent, bug mesh, etc (I don't carry it though I'd sure add it if I were heading way north and camping because I've been in places where one literally had to shout over the mosquitos to have a conversation. Yes, there really are such places but I've never run into one in the US mainland.) Black flies can be a serious annoyance in some northern parts of the US for a couple months each year but these can often be mitigated by camping where they're not so common (stay away from wooded waterways during the season and pick more open and elevated areas, if at all possible)

    When you get back, ALWAYS review what got used and what didn't. Anything not used should be eliminated from next run unless its an emergency supply, repair tools, etc..Carry spare batteries for things that run on button cells- not so necessary if it uses AAs as thy can be bought anywhere- and use lithium batteries in those emergency lights for their long storage life and high energy density.

    Common errors you will see at rallies include randomized packing or failure to practice that makes setup slow (not a great thing if its raining), poor gear choices like oversized cheap tents that leak in the first light rain or get blown away due to bad design and inadequate staking, pitching a tent in a poor location (look for high ground that is well drained),

    When at a hotel, I do not remove camping gear from the bike. I just park it in a safe place, cover it, add a wheel lock and set the bikes aftermarket alarm that includes a proximity sensor.

  4. #34
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, Canada
    So many excellent responses so how about a couple of pictures regarding his and her shoes while doing long distance two-up? (notice the 2 to 1 ratio here? Little clothes.... but so many. And I haven't even referred to that hair dryer!)

    but if you want to take just about everything (yes, we overpack so this thread is good for us..... we are so undisciplined!)

    Bob Weber
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, CANADA

  5. #35
    Rally Rat Sue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Madison, WI
    Here is a picture of my bike, packed up for my 48-State ride a couple of years ago. (14 days, 48 states - celebrating my 55th birthday. How cool is THAT? )

    The Helen Bag contained clothes, extra shoes, sleeping bag, etc. The narrower bag contained my tent. Right saddle bag was what I might need to get at quickly. (Toiletries, road atlas, etc) Left saddle bag was my Gerbing and a change of clothes.

    For the full story about the ride, here is the LINK.
    Sue Rihn #43753
    BMW MOA Ambassador
    Sometimes it's the bend in the road that makes life worth the ride.

  6. #36
    Viva Las Vegas holdertight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Vegas, Baby


    How most of us who ride long distances have about the same way to pack stuff. Over the years I have tried all kinds of different bags and ways to put stuff on the bike (I am a solo rider). Have come to LOVE my Helen bags and their strap system - once you have lost half your camping gear (3am start did not help this along at all), you appreciate loops for your straps (load sometimes shifts mightly, but does not come off).

    Now I can't wait to get on the road......

    only 107F so far today...

  7. #37
    Sits behind me on the seat. Houses a change of cloths, food and accessory pack with flash light, multi-tool, hobo tool, writing instrument, and car phone charger. Accessory pack latches on the outside of the backpack.

    Sits on the tail. Now on my new (old) hacked Triumph rack. Whoo hoo.

    Sleeping Bag + Blanket.
    Blanket fits in the sleeping bag's bag and I put that bag in a surplus dry bag ($5-10 at surplus stores) It sets between the backpack and the tent. I use 2 bungie nets to wrap and anchor on the panniers. Bungie Buddies or whatever they are called are worth the $8. I mounted 3 on each side bag, 2 on top and 1 on the end below the turn signals.

    Side Case Right: (I never change contents in my cases, always on the bike)
    Tools, misc pouch that includes 3 tie downs, siphon hose, and some additional straps. Quart of motor oil and quart of gear oil.

    Side Case Right Lid:
    Sandals, Clymers, bike manual, maps, journal. I keep the paper goods in a large plastic sleeve.

    Side Case Left:
    Duffle bag which containers 3 helmet bags.
    Helmet Bag 1 contains jacket liner, gloves and electronic stuff in zip lock bags.
    Helmet Bag 2 contains camping goods, tin cup, cooking pot, small fuel tank and burner which screws on fuel tank...
    Helmet Bag 3 contains a can of fix a flat, can of Kroil. Seems like something else is in there.

    Side Case Left Lid:
    Reserved for the laptop (work, not play), I couldn't ask for a better fit.

    Tool box under the seat houses an oil filter, set of plugs, anon book and first aid in a plastic bag.

    I try to do all my stuff on the cheap. I get most of my gear from military surplus. My 3 dry bags cost a total of $20. Anything that goes in the backpack goes in the dry bag first which is then put in the backpack. I have a dry bag reserved for the laptop and a dry bag for the sleeping bag.

    My backpack was $5 or 10, old ratty Czech military bag. I did add snaps to all the flaps and sewn on replacement shoulder straps.

    The duffle bag in the left case is left over from my bro's stint in the Marines. Perfect size and free (at least for me, my brother may say something different)

    Sleeping bag is also surplus, only downfall is it's a mummy bag but the selling point is it wraps up very small. Blanket is a military poncho liner that wads up really small. If it's not raining, the bugs arent bugging or I'm just feeling lazy, I wont bother with the tent and I'll sleep on the blanket under the stars.

    I'm ready for another excursion after all this itemizing.

  8. #38
    Bikes, Guitars, and ... beemokat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI

    Thumbs up +1 for Helen Twowheels

    The helen stuff works great!
    Wherever you go, there you are.

  9. #39
    Registered User lionlady's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Forest, VA
    Those roll up luggage compression bags are a GREAT way to get your stuff packed efficiently. I use basic canvas totes as my case liners, rather than the purpose made side-case liners. I find they're more versatile.

    I put things like sunscreen, Plexus, my camera, snacks, etc. in the tank bag.

    Here's my bike loaded for the ride to the AMA Women's Rally in Keystone, CO last summer. My "regular" tail bag is fastened on the tail rack - with my rain gear in it - in front of that is my Helen2Wheels roll top bag, the funny shape on top of those is the mesh dry bag... for stuff that is too damp to pack, so it can dry as you ride.

    This trip was planned as a hotel trip, so my tent isn't on board.

    Feb-19 09:04

    Here's my bike packed for camping. The yellow SeaLine bag has my sleeping bag/thermarest inside with an extra jacket as well. The black log shaped bag has the tent/footprint/rainfly (Helen2Wheels) - my Kermit chair is tucked between them:

    Loaded for home, side view. After the Square Root Rally.

    Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.
    R1150R Rockster, Limited Edition!

  10. #40
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Wilmington, NC
    Shoes are a girl thing so if you're lucky enough to have your wife travel with you, you're no doubt "stuck" with it. Like the nesting pairs idea...
    I just take the riding boots I wear and one totally crushable part of very light shoes- because the latter are more versatile than sandals.

  11. #41
    Where does this road go?? Gottago's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Southern Oregon

    everything but the ironing board

    To help limit the amount of clothes taken here's a little trick my friend that had been touring and camping for 20 years came up with:

    Set up your ironing board and load it with the clothes and toiletries you want to take. Now edit it down until you have a single layer on top of the ironing board. This is what you have room for so choose wisely. After a few trips you'll find the right mix.
    "If they are running you out of town
    get in front of the crowd and make it
    look like a parade!"

  12. #42
    We more-or-less live on the bike's all summer, usually leaving home for Branson in mid April and returning home after the rally at Sipapu in mid September. While on the road we spend a few nights at our kids/grandkids house every now and then, a few nights in motels, and mostly camp. When camping we cook.

    My tankbag is my main "suitcase" with clothes and kit bag. It has a fanny pack on it which is my little "junk drawer" for insect repellent, pens, penlight, bottle opener, and all that little stuff.

    My left Jesse side case has tools, air pump, air gauge, tire irons, bead breaker, jumper cables and a box with little bike spares and supplies as the bottom couple of layers, and then fluffy stuff like cool vests, rain gloves, an Aerostich windbreak (fleece) and my sandles. Additional clothes go in a Helen bag in the Jesse lid.

    My right Jesse side case has a box of cooking stuff, the cook kit, and the stove in the bottom, with a 2 qt water canteen, my **other riding pants** and a thermos for coffee above that. My Gerbing electric jacket liner is in a Helen bag in that lid.

    Winter cold weather stuff, my Big Agnes sleeping bag and air mattress, and a rain jacket are in a dry bag on the seat. The tent and Kermit chair strap on with the dry bag.

    I have a Jesse medium top case with a built-in 3.5 gallon fuel cell occupying the bottom of the top case. My laptop, maps, riding gloves, caps, etc live in the topcase. Also I have glasses cleaner, 1st aid kit, Leatherman tool, and camera, etc which live in the topcase if not in a pocket.

    If we stop to buy food before heading to a campsite I can relocate either or both of the Helen lid bags to the top of my topcase to make room for hauling foodstuffs to camp.

    ** I travel with my Aerostich Roadcrafter two-piece suit plus a pair of First Gear mesh hot weather pants. Either the First Gear or the Roadcrafter pants are on me and the other is in the right side case.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 08-18-2010 at 01:27 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  13. #43
    Registered User KALTZG's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Crestview, Florida

    Survivor tool for wine drinkers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Voni View Post
    Don't forget your corkscrew for the wine!


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    Gail Kaltz
    1997 GS

  14. #44

    Lightbulb Packing

    this might give you an idea of what we did....we learned we initially packed too much for the type of trip we took...such as tenting in campsites, using cabins and some hotels. Over packed clothing and some gear. We shipped some stuff back when we got to NY. We now know what to bring etc....if you are doing back country camping you will need more room for food etc.

    As for clothes we brought a pair of shorts, cargo pants that are quick to dry and also can be turned into shorts, riding underwear, long sleeve T-shirt, 2 short sleeves t-shirts, socks both liners and a little heavier weighted ones, Keen sandals a light weight hiking shoes, sweatshirt for after the ride and cooler weather, pj bottoms, a few pairs of real underwear, one bra, and of course our liners and 2 pair of gloves. Have a look and please feel free to ask any specific questions.

    You will see what we packed on the first page of our RR.

  15. #45
    Registered User womanridge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Quote Originally Posted by soph9 View Post
    this might give you an idea of what we did.... Have a look and please feel free to ask any specific questions.

    You will see what we packed on the first page of our RR.
    Thank you for posting, soph9. I was hoping you would reference you ride report here on the Women of the MOA subforum. I spent a lot of time reading it. You ladies rock. Thanks for sharing.
    For those reading my post here, I highly recommend visiting soph9's report in "Ride Report".
    Karen Jacobs
    2012 R 1200 RT
    MOA-133005, RA32109, IBA #37923

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