Updated Motorcycle Packing List

Summer 2011

As summer kicks off and various trips loom on the horizon, I’ve pulled out the ol’ motorcycle packing list. Each year I adjust the “base” list on what I discovered the year before. Last year, for example, I significantly overpacked. In part it was by design, as I knew I’d be hitting a range of temperatures on my 8 week trip around the states (28 degrees in UT to 113 in TX, to be precise). But I also relied too heavily on the “just in case” model of packing, and the result was bringing along too much gear. For example, even though I camped almost everywhere I went (with the exception of staying at friends’ homes), I didn’t use the pots and pans at all. Not even once. Instead, I just used the JetBoil and freeze dried food. Guess what I won’t be taking along this summer?

Here’s how the list has shaped up. I won’t take all of them on every trip (for example the next trip is a 3 day camping trip over Memorial Day where I will only need 2 days of Riding Clothes and 2 days of off-bike clothes), but it’s where I start when it’s time to get organized.

Important Stuff

  1. Passport – This goes with me whether or not I plan on leaving the country.
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Wallet
  4. Keys (and spare keys for the bike!)
  5. Cash
  6. Credit/Debit cards
  7. Maps (paper)


  1. Standard BMW Vario side/top cases – I try to keep heavier items in the side cases to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. The top case I am in the process of converting/modifying for padded electronic gear and document storage.
  2. Wolfman Luggage – I just picked this up a month ago. My hope is to store all the compressible items here in separate compression bags for easy compartmentalization.
  3. Sea-to-Summit Compression Dry Bags – Various sizes, to be stored within the Wolfman Luggage.
  4. Expandable BMW Tank Case: For daily riding necessities.
  5. Backpack: While I try to take this, it doesn’t always happen. I’d like to have it for days spent off the bike, but sometimes it just isn’t needed.
  6. RotoPax Water 1 gal. tank: 1 (for cooking/cleaning at the campsite)
  7. RotoPax Fuel 1 gal. tank: 1 – Going to be changing this to smaller MSR bottle storage mounted to the bike.
  8. Small Camera Bag


  1. iPad – This is a new addition and replaces the 13″ Macbook Pro. I think I’ve set it up with everything I need for writing while on the road. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks!
  2. Camera – Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100v + 2 memory cards
  3. Kensington Auto/Air Power Inverter with USB Ports – For charging electronics while on the road. It worked awesome last summer, charging the phone, laptop, and camera batteries.
  4. SPOT GPS Messenger
  5. Cell phone (Droid currently)
  6. Garmin Zumo 600
  7. *I may add a bluetooth keyboard into the mix if I decide to pick one up before I leave.
  8. 1 spare set of batteries for the SPOT
  9. iPad Connection Kit (for camera)
  10. Adapters for camera, iPad, cell phone

Off-bike Clothes
Generally, this varies with the duration and destination of the trip. As a rule of thumb, though, I bring:

  1. Jeans – 1 pair
  2. Khakis – 1 pair (only if I am staying with friends along the way)
  3. Shorts – 1 pair
  4. Short-sleeve collared shirts – 3 max
  5. Hoodie
  6. Underwear – 3 pairs max
  7. Keen Sandals (eventually, I’ll likely replace these with a pair of short hiking boots)
  8. Fleece jacket – No matter the weather, I always take a fleece with me.
  9. Hat – 1 (usually a ball cap or crushable, lightweight canvas cap)
  10. Bandana – now that I have the Buff, I’m not sure I’m going to bring this along (but I probably will – old habits die hard)
  11. Watch

Riding Clothes

  1. T-Shirts – 3
  2. Long sleeve t-shirt – 1
  3. Gatorskins Top – This is a new item, and I have yet to try it out. Probably not needed on summer rides, but I’ll still give it a go just to see.
  4. LD Comfort shorts – 2 (quick drying riding underwear that can be easily hand washed)
  5. LD Comfort longs – 1 (quick drying riding underwear that can be easily hand washed)
  6. Klim Riding Socks – 4
  7. Big-Ears Ear Plugs
  8. Riding Pants – Firstgear MeshTex
  9. Riding Jacket – Firstgear Ranier (+ Liner)
  10. Rain pants
  11. Riding boots
  12. Riding Gloves – 2-3 pairs, depending on destination – Held Air Stream, BMW All Around 2, Held Freezer Gloves
  13. Buff Headgear – I can’t say enough about the Buff.
  14. Sunglasses

[singlepic id=159 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Camping gear

  1. Big Agnes Sleeping Bag
  2. Thermarest Sleeping Pad
  3. Eureka Apex 2-man tent + rain fly + ground cloth
  4. Head-mounted flashlight
  5. Small Tent lantern
  6. Spare rope
  7. Pillow Case (Stuff the fleece and hoodie inside for a pillow)
  8. Camp towel – small and quick-trying
  9. Biodegradeable toilet paper – the 1 “just in case” item I didn’t dare remove from the list
  10. JetBoil + fuel
  11. Freeze-dried camp food
  12. Instant Coffee
  13. Pita Bread
  14. Camp utensil
  15. Camp cup
  16. Kermit Chair


  1. Insect repellent
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Toothpaste (travel sized)
  4. Travel toothbrush
  5. Deodorant (travel sized)
  6. Razor – I’m going to toy with bringing the cordless razor since last summer I didn’t bring any at all and my TX friends made me shave before I entered their house (ok, not really, but I was going all Grizzly Adams by the time I hit TX)
  7. Nail Clippers/File
  8. Ibuprofen
  9. Tiny Sewing Kit
  10. Soap


  1. Moleskine notebook
  2. 1 pen
  3. 1 mechanical pencil
  4. 1 pack of playing cards – you’d be surprised how often I end up playing cards with strangers at a campsite. It’s awesome.
  5. Zip-ties of various sizes
  6. 3-4 draw-string garbage bags
  7. 3-4 zip-lock baggies
  8. Duct Tape – A whole role isn’t necessary. I usually wrap about 10 feet or so around a pencil and just tuck it in with the tools.
  9. Tool kit – only the barest of essentials are necessary, especially since I’m not nearly the wrench that I think I am
  10. Mini Air Compressor
  11. 1 qt Oil

Seems like a lot when written out item by item!

6 thoughts on “Updated Motorcycle Packing List

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  2. Robb,

    I found this post about a year ago when I got my R1200GS. My wife and I recently took a trip to the Blue Ridge Pkwy and camped out at Loft Mtn off Skyline Drive. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this and it helped provide some valuable insight for us when packing and planning. I still wish she would get a bike of her own so we can lug more gear without being so top heavy (200lb here, 130lb for her + all the gear get’s to be a bit much at low speeds) but we managed and were self sufficient while our friend had much of his gear loaded in his wife’s Car as she followed us up with the kids.

    Thanks! Keep posting and I’ll keep reading 😉

    ~Ride safe, arrive safe

    • Hi, Bryce. Thanks for the comment.

      I’m continually changing what I bring with me for extended trips. Always trying to pare down to find the right mix of bare essentials and creature comforts. I’m in the early stages of a ~12k mile trip (about 3500 miles in) and am already planning on shipping stuff home. The goal, as you touched on, is to reduce the overall weight, lower the center of gravity, and condense items into as small a package as possible.

      Something that may interest you is the trailer that’s available for the GS. I’ve never used it, nor seen how it affects non-trailer handling, but I did see one on the road up in Colorado with a couple riding 2-up. Might be an option worth exploring if it doesn’t diminish the capabilities of the GS.

      I plan on posting another updated list when I get back from the trip in late July going into detail on why I drop/add items to the list.

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