Motorcycle Camping Check List


Sportster Loaded For Weekend Camping Trip

One of the greatest pleasures that comes from owning a motorcycle has to be strapping the camping equipment onto the iron horse and heading out across the open plains or into the mountains for some one on one time with Mother Nature.

Packing for a motorcycle camping trip takes a little fore-planning, and the final camping check list comes down to your need for creature comforts, the GRVW of your Harley Davidson motorcycle, and the luggage capacity of your bike.

The smallest horse in the Harley Davidson stable, the Sportster is very capable of becoming a pack mule. This particular mule has been accessorized with two 14x12x7 inch hard mounted saddle bags (with small rear pockets) and a five bar luggage rack. The Sportster weighs in at 583 lbs wet (running order) which I round up to 600lbs. Add a 210lb driver and his 115lb passenger, and that leaves 75lbs under the 1000lb GRVW. When packing for any trip, always remember to stay within the Gross Rated Vehicle Weight of your Harley Davidson, and to balance your load.


  • Tent – Weighing in at almost nothing, the 2 person dome tent is provides cover for two people with room to keep clothing and food supplies dry. The rain fly provides added protection in foul weather.
  • Coffee Pot – Splatterware percolator. Pour fresh coffee grounds into a zip lock bag and store inside the percolator to save space. The coffee pot can also be used to boil water for dish clean up or washing up. The coffee pot is packed in a saddlebag.
  • Coffee Cups – 2 splatterware coffee cups, great for hot or cold drinks. Packed in a saddlebag.
  • Plates – 2 splatterware plates, durable and easy to clean. Packed in a saddlebag.
  • Cutlery – Two forks, two steak knives, and two spoons. Steak knives work equally well for meal preparation. Store in a zip lock bag and pack in a saddlebag.
  • Sugar – Store in a small Tupperware type container and pack in saddlebag.
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – Meals are wrapped and cooked in aluminum foil over an open fire, so heavy duty foil is a must. Meats, fish, vegetables etc are easily cooked over an open fire if wrapped in aluminum.
  • Bug Spray – Pack in saddlebag.
  •  Flashlight – Pack in toolbag.
  • Hatchet – For cutting wood and driving in tent stakes. Pack in saddlebag.
  • Lighter – (or matches) Pack in saddlebag.
  • Brillo Pads – Pre-soaped, 2 of these are plenty for weekend dish clean-up. Store in zip lock bag and pack in saddlebag.
  • Camp Fire Grate – For cooking meals and coffee. Pack on back of bike.
  • Garbage Bags – A half dozen or so 13 gallon bags. Not only for storing trash, but also great for protecting sleeping bags, clothes, etc if it rains.
  • Chap Stick – A staple for any bike trip, store in pocket or purse.
  • Sleeping Bags – Two, bungeed over each saddlebag.
  • Pillows – Easily wrap one pillow inside of each sleeping bag.
  • Egg Crate Mats – Two 1 1/4 inch thick foam mats for placing under sleeping bags. Very light weight (air mattresses are way too heavy). Pack on back of bike.
  • Back Packs – Two. One for her and one for you. All weekend clothes and shoes must fit in these backpacks so plan accordingly and pack flexibly.
  • Personals – soap, shampoo, conditioner, razor, deodorant etc. Buy travel size containers and place in backpack.
  • Towel – For beach, pool and shower use. Hang to dry between uses.
  • Rain Gear – (and gaiters) If you bring it, you’re almost guaranteed sunny skies! On my Sportster, one saddlebag is completely filled with rain gear and gaiters. The other saddlebag holds all the small camping equipment.
  • Camera – Small digital. Pack in saddlebag or substitute with cell phone.
  • Credit Card(s) – Or Debit Card, use for larger purchases, gas and emergencies.  Remember to include the AAA emergency card and or your H.O.G membership card!
  • Medical Card – As important as your license and registration.
  • Cell Phone – A modern convenience that comes in handy in an emergency. Don’t forget to pack the charger!
  • Cash – If you use your debit or credit card for most purchases, then only a limited amount of cash is needed for tolls or stopping for drinks and snacks along the way. $100.00 is usually more than enough money. If traveling far, don’t forget to let your card provider know you’re leaving town, or you risk having your card shut down on suspicion of theft.
  • Map – or some kind of printed directions to get you where you’re going.(I don’t trust blindly following a GPS) I also like to have the names and addresses of various Harley Davidson dealerships along my planned route in case I need to stop (or want to buy a tee shirt).
  • Bungee Cords – Lots of bungee cords to strap your equipment on the bike. Pack a few extras just in case. Bungee cords are also great for stringing between trees to hang towels and clothes on.
  • Cargo Net – Great for holding hats and jackets to the top of the equipment pile for easy access.
Once you set up camp, a trip into town for groceries and beverages will get you started. The now empty saddlebags help with the transportation. A cheap Styrofoam cooler can be bungeed to the luggage rack and disposed of when you leave that location. Heavier incidentals like ice and firewood can often be purchased at the camp store.

With a little planning and creativity, camping by motorcycle, even a small motorcycle like the Sportster, can be a very enjoyable experience.