7 Best Packing Tips You'll Ever Need for Motorcycle Touring

What's the secret to an unforgettable motorcycle tour, you ask? No, it's not just the rugged charm you naturally exude when you're in leathers. It's actually all about the 7P's: Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. And nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to packing for your trip.

That's right, those saddlebags aren't going to fill themselves, and contrary to popular belief, tossing in a spare pair of socks and a packet of crisps just won't cut it. But fear not! We've compiled the 7 best packing tips you'll ever need for a motorcycle tour. Whether you're a Sunday rider or a seasoned road warrior, these tips will ensure that you're prepared for whatever the tarmac throws your way—or you throw at the tarmac, depending on how you roll.

So pull up a chair, pour yourself a cuppa, and get ready to become a packing maestro for your next two-wheeled adventure.

1. Pack for the Unknown: The Universal Essentials

Why It's Important

Motorcycle touring is the epitome of unpredictability. One moment you're cruising in the sunshine, and the next, you're dodging raindrops the size of golf balls. Being prepared for all kinds of situations is a must.

What to Pack
  • All-Weather Gear: Invest in high-quality rain gear that can be quickly pulled over your riding clothes.
  • First-Aid Kit: Your kit should include the basics like band-aids, antiseptics, and pain relievers, but also consider adding items like sunburn relief spray and insect repellent.
  • Basic Tools: Think Allen keys, wrenches. You don't have to rebuild the engine, but being able to fix a loose mirror can be a lifesaver.
  • Water: At least a couple of litres, or a hydration system that you can sip from while riding. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, and fatigue leads to mistakes.
Pro Tip

Store these essentials in an easy-to-reach place. You'll thank yourself later when you don't have to unpack half your bike to find the first-aid kit.

2. Divide and Conquer: Compartmentalise Your Gear

Why It's Important

Searching for a tool or snack in an undivided saddlebag can be like playing a game of "Where's Wally?" - stressful and time-consuming. Segregating your gear not only saves you time but also keeps you organised.

What to Do
  • Use Smaller Bags: For smaller items like tools, toiletries, and food, consider using smaller bags within your luggage.
  • Compression Bags: Ideal for clothes and soft items, compression bags can help you save valuable space, leaving more room for other essentials.
  • Label If Needed: If you're going for peak organisation, slap a label on those bags.
Pro Tip

Combine colour-coded or transparent bags with compression bags for the ultimate in efficient packing. For instance, you could use a red compression bag for your clothing, making it easy to identify and compact at the same time.

3. Balance is Everything: Weight Distribution 101

Why It's Important

An unevenly packed bike can be tough to handle, particularly on windy roads or at higher speeds. Proper weight distribution is essential for a stable and enjoyable ride.

What to Do
  • Heaviest Items First: Place heavier items at the bottom and towards the centre of your bike.
  • Check Balance: After packing, give your bike a gentle swing from side to side. It should feel evenly balanced.
  • Label If Needed: If you're going for peak organisation, slap a label on those bags.
Pro Tip

Do a quick ride around the block after you've packed but before you set out on your journey. This will give you a chance to adjust your gear as needed without the inconvenience of doing it miles into your trip.


4. Keep it Light: Less is Often More

Why It's Important

Overpacking is a rookie mistake we've all made. The extra weight can make handling the bike difficult, and it takes up space that might be used for something actually useful (or for souvenirs)

What to Do
  • Essential Items Only: If you haven't used it in the last two trips, chances are you won't need it this time either. Be ruthless in your selection.
  • Multi-Purpose Gear: Items like a Swiss Army knife or a phone with a good camera can serve multiple purposes, saving you both weight and space.
Pro Tip

Create a packing checklist a week before you leave and review it every couple of days. You'll often find items you can remove as you reconsider your needs.

5. The Rule of Threes: Clothing Strategy

Why It's Important

Clothing can take up a disproportionate amount of luggage space. But unless you're attending a fashion week, you likely don't need a different outfit for each day on the road.

What to Pack
  • The Basics: A set to wear, a set as a backup, and a set for cold or wet conditions should cover you for most situations.
  • Layer Up: Instead of bulky clothes, pack layers that can be added or removed as the temperature changes.
Pro Tip

Consider quick-dry fabrics that can be washed and dried overnight. This allows you to carry less and makes it easier to take advantage of laundry facilities along the way.

6. Accessibility is Key: Frequent-Use Items on Top

Why It's Important

Taking a break from the road shouldn't mean wrestling with your gear to find what you need. The goal is to get you back on the open road, feeling fresh as a daisy, as quickly as possible.

What to Do
  • Wallet: Keep your wallet in an easily accessible spot for petrol stops or the occasional roadside purchase.
  • Visor Cleaner: Road grime can accumulate quickly, affecting visibility. Having your visor cleaner handy is a must.
  • Fresh Earplugs: To prevent ear infections, it's a good idea to replace your earplugs frequently. Keep a fresh pair easily accessible.
  • Snack: You never know when you'll need a little pick-me-up. Energy bars or nuts are easy to pack and quick to eat.
  • Water Bottle: Keep this essential item handy for your hydration breaks when you pull over.
Pro Tip

Tank bags or custom compartments are a solid choice for segregating your kit. Items you'll use frequently should be the easiest to get to.

7. Just in Case: The 'Emergency Fun' Kit

Why It's Important

Life is short and the tour is long. You never know when an opportunity for a spontaneous adventure might present itself. Be prepared to seize the day (or night)!

What to Pack
  • Kindle or E-Reader: For those wind-down moments after a long day's ride, sitting down to relax and get lost in a good book can be pure bliss.
  • Travel-Size Board Game: Never underestimate the bonding power of a classic board game with new friends.
  • A Flask: Sometimes, a bit of your favourite spirit can add a dash of magic to a spontaneous evening under the stars.
  • Notebook and Pen: Capture your thoughts, jot down the details of a hidden gem you've discovered, or doodle to your heart's content. Who knows, it might be the start of your travel blog!
Pro Tip

Keep this kit somewhere accessible yet separate from your essentials. That way, when the perfect moment strikes, you won't have to rummage through your gear.

There you have it, the seven golden rules of packing for your motorcycle tour. These aren't just tips; consider them your road map to a smoother, more enjoyable ride. From preparing for life's unexpected turns to making sure you're ready for spontaneous fun, the right packing strategy can make all the difference.

So the next time you're preparing to hit the road, just remember the simple mantra: proper prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance. Or, as we like to say in this guide, pack smart to tour smarter.

Here's to many miles of joyful touring, new friendships, and unforgettable adventures.

Safe travels, and may your packing be as flawless as your journey!

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Fun Facts

Did you know the world's longest motorcycle was over 26 meters long. It was presented and measured at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, on 22 January 2014. The bike was more than 4 m (13 ft) longer than the previous record holder's.

To ensure that his super-stretched motorcycle would be able to perform like a conventional motorbike, the constructor rode it along a road for 100 m (328 ft) without putting his feet down.

Tip of the week:

Never grab the front brake; squeeze it!

Grabbing the front brake abruptly can cause the front wheel to lock, as it doesn't allow time for the bike's weight to shift forward.This significantly reduces the front tyre's grip on the road and may result in loss of control, posing a serious risk of an accident.

Did you know?

The aerodynamic drag on a motorcycle can increase by up to 40% just by the rider sitting upright instead of in a tucked position. It's a wind-resistance thing—like trying to walk through a pool vs. gliding through it!

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