“As a professional motorcycle racer and passionate off-road rider, I’m always in search of longer more adventurous rides every time I’m on the bike. I’ve learned from years of riding trips and racing multi-day events around the world that anything is possible, so you better be prepared. Being properly equipped is a key component to having a successful trip. Following these packing basics and tips will ensure that you have a successful trip in your future.”
— Rory Sullivan, Owner of Radius Offroad
While it can be fun to let a trip evolve and just see where the road takes you, I recommend looking over a map of the area before you head out. Download a map of the area onto your phone using a GPS app so it’s available when you’re out of cell service. Carrying a physical map as a backup is always a great idea.
Is your bike mechanically ready? Checking nuts, bolts, fluids, and tire pressure is a good starting point to keep your bike mechanically sound.
Know your bike well enough to understand what tools are important to keep the wheels turning and the good times rolling. Carrying a tire pump, tube, tire patches, and wrenches is all important.
Bringing an auxiliary fuel bottle or bag will extend your mileage. I prefer using a fuel bag so you can roll it up to save space once you’ve filled your tank.
Remember you’ll be riding most of the time, so pack light. I always bring flip-flops to let my feet dry out around camp after a day of riding.
FOOD & WATER
You can only carry so much water on your bike, so investing in a water purifier is great insurance. Freeze-dried meals or MRE’s are a good way to pack in enough calories without crowding your bags. That said, they get old after a while—it’s worthwhile learning how to maximize your calorie intake, use your surroundings to source food on the road, including foraging and fishing, and to build a basic “camp kitchen”.
We live in a digital age, so make sure you have the proper charging cords for all of your devices. It’s helpful to install a USB plug off your bike’s battery so you can charge while you ride.
Carrying the following items is essential if you find yourself in an unplanned-for situation.
• Satellite GPS messenger
• Medical kit—I use an Adventure Medical Ultralight 7 Kit
• Multiple fire-starting sources like lighters, flint, fire starter wicks, or even a small candle
• Cam buckle straps, Voile straps, paracord, and tow strap
• Emergency bevvy sac
• Headlamp with extra batteries
You never know what you may need to buy off a fellow rider, or a hunter, or camper when you’re out in the woods.
CARRY YOUR WEIGHT LOW
When packing your panniers or backpack make sure the heaviest items are stored at the bottom in order to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. This will help keep the bike maneuverable while you’re riding on gravel roads or trails.
I like to keep my rain jacket stored at the top of my backpack or side bags so it’s quickly available for those midday rain storms.
You can use an emergency bivy sack as a footprint for your tent to save weight. When packing, separate tent poles from the tent. This allows the tent to be stored in creative spots since it can be molded into different shapes.
To save space I recommend packing just a front inner tube. A front 21″ tube can be used in emergency situations in a rear 18″ or 19″ tire.
TAKE A RIDING LESSON
If you’re interested in getting into overlanding or just want to enhance your current motorcycling skills, I highly recommend taking a formal riding lesson. I am the owner and operator of Radius Offroad based in White Salmon, Washington. I teach off-road motorcycle riding lessons for all ages and bike sizes in the Pacific Northwest. As a USMCA certified riding instructor, my goal is to help people ride safe and smart while building skills to enhance your riding adventures.