It’s almost the weekend, which at this time of the year means it’s almost time to go riding! Being stuck in the office isn’t much fun, compared to being out on two wheels, luckily we get to do that a bit too… In this weeks Friday boredom buster, we’ve dredged up a great article from the archives – Camping By Bike! Happy reading!

Summer is the best time of year, and with sunny weekends just beckoning for a long, overnight ride, we thought we’d take a look at one of our favourite modes of accommodation – camping – with a motorcycling twist of course!

There’s nothing quite like the freedom you get with a motorcycle, and day tripping on a whim to a new and exciting locale is always a highlight to any weekend, but what if you want to make that day trip into an overnighter? Sure, you can bed down at the local motel, but bang for buck our preferred way to stay the night is heading to the local camp ground (or a bit of cheeky freedom camping) under the stars. You just can’t beat it! So what do you need to keep in mind if, like us, you want to ‘rough it’ for a night or two on your next bike trip? We’ve compiled the basic checklist for you to make it a little easier. Don’t forget to pack a toothbrush!

The Palace

Okay, your tent won’t be a palace, or even a marginally nice house for that matter. Before you commit to that flash tent from the high end glamping store however, it’s important you give camping by bike a crack with something less expensive. I’ve found that my $35 “Warehouse Special” tent has done the trick on multiple occasions and after surviving the rain (amongst other things) during the Cold Kiwi Rally, and I reckon it proves you don’t need to spend big money for a bikeable tent.

Bedding Down

This is often the deal breaker for many when it comes to camping. Giving up your cushy bed and duvet for the harsh ground and a sleeping bag? “No, thanks!” they say. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Not by a long shot! These days getting a self-inflating camp mattress is an easy way to get a reasonably good night’s sleep under the stars. Sure you can take an army style stretcher or large foam roll on the back of your bike, but remember you have to have enough room on your bike for everything, not just your tent and bed! Don’t skimp on your sleeping bag either, as when it gets dark and cold out, the last thing you want is to be shivering in a ‘bag designed more for couch surfing than camping.

Food and Drink

There are two schools of thought here for our purposes. 

Firstly, you can skip packing your own meals entirely and rely on the local takeaway options near your destination. The benefits are obvious, no need to carry around food on the bike or a camp cooker, but there are a couple of negatives to this approach. You’ll need to be sure that there will be something near your destination and that it will be open during your visit, and if you’re heading off the beaten track there may be nothing within a reasonable distance. 

Personally, I prefer the second option which offers far more flexibility, and that’s cooking my own meals at camp. It doesn’t take much to prepare a half-decent meal and it definitely adds to the experience. The trick here – as always – is good planning and packing only the essentials. You don’t want to take a 2-litre bottle of milk for it to go off in your luggage on the ride! Dry foods such as noodles, MREs and other lightweight camp food such as pasta are always a great option, as they are lightweight and pack down easily. With the wide range of cookers available in a range of sizes, you can get a setup that suits you without too much trouble.

Creature Comforts

Admittedly there aren’t too many creature comforts when it comes to lightweight camping setups, but there are a few things you can sneak into your kit that will make the experience just that little bit better. A small travel pillow will go a long way to making you sleep easier, while a set of warm clothes is essential – especially if the weather hasn’t been playing ball. Don’t forget one of the most practical creature comforts of all – a towel!

Essentially Handy 

A hand torch is all good for lighting your way on the long walk to the loo (we’ve all been there) in the middle of the night, but they are often bulkier than necessary. A head mounted LED lamp not only shines where you’re looking, it also frees up your hands for cooking, cleaning, or holding your favourite after dark beverage by the campfire.

Now unless you’ve included squabs in your panniers, you’ll need something to sit on, as sitting on panniers for any length of time soon becomes a chore. It’s definitely worth taking a cheap foldable chair if you’ve got the space. I’m not talking a $120 luxury camping chair here either, as a general rule of thumb is that the more features a foldable chair has, the heavier it is.

Playing Bike Tetris

It’s one thing to have your checklist fully ticked off with all your camping gear, but a completely different thing to actually get it all to fit on your bike. 

If you don’t have panniers or a top box to slide everything in to, you can easily tie everything to most bikes with a set of bungees and a couple of small tie downs. Bungees are handy to keep your gear in one place for a short trip, but it pays to strap down anything on your bike more securely with tie down when it comes to carting camping gear around. The last thing you want is to lose your load all over the highway…

It wouldn’t be any fun if it wasn’t an adventure, right?