Yes, it's time! Before you hookup and rush out the door; let's review 10 tips you need to read before hooking up that motorcycle camper trailer of yours. Don't worry, they are good and you will thank me later.
1- Start Out Modestly
If you decide to go motorcycle camping, it's best to start slow. Many people have a tendency to buy a bunch of equipment for camping. It's important to pack light- especially when a motorcycle is the means for carrying your gear. It's best to travel really light on your first trip, and just plan a one night excursion close to home. Borrow some gear from a friend or family member before you purchase your own to see what you might like. Also, you might try to eat at restaurants the first time so you don't have to worry about bringing food. Just try to make it simple and see if you like it before you invest a lot of money into camping gear that you may or may not use.
2- Plan Carefully
Of course, a motorcycle has limited carrying capacity for camping, so be sure to take only the things you'll need. Motorcycle camping can best be compared to backpacking on two wheels. It's imperative to make a list of essentials and take only the things on your list. You can refine your list as you're camping and write down what to bring/not to bring on your next trip. Most importantly, planning carefully means checking the local weather forecast frequently. Of course if it looks like rain or storms, reschedule your trip.
3 -Check Your Gear Before Leaving Home
Whether you're camping in a car or on a motorcycle, it's imperative to check your gear before you leave. Make sure you know how to set it up, so you avoid being the main source of entertainment at the campground! If you have a lightweight tent, set it up once so you are familiar with it. Try out your sleeping bag and sleeping pad and ensure it's comfortable. If you are bringing any kind of cooking stove or jet boil, be sure to know how to use it, so you're not trying to figure it out at the camp site, and taking away from your relaxation and enjoyment time.
Don't overload the motorcycle. Pack your camping gear in hard saddlebags or a top case if you have them. Additional items may be fastened to the motorcycle in a single water proof bag, and be sure to put anything that absolutely cannot get wet in Ziplock freezer bags. These bags are reliable when keeping things dry. Store heavier items as low as possible, and forward to the rear wheel. Before you leave, test drive the bike with all of the equipment and make any adjustments needed for your journey.
5 Match The Campsite To Your Needs
The first time you go camping on your motorcycle, you should go to a place that has some amenities like running water, toilets and showers. You can experiment more by 'roughing it' when you get used to camping. Be sure to call ahead and make sure that you don't need a reservation, and also make sure that the campsite you're going to is motorcycle friendly. Some campsites are made specifically for four wheel vehicles. Remember that roads meant for four wheeled vehicles only can be dangerous for motorcycles. There are several motorcycle-only campgrounds.
When you do arrive at your campsite, be sure that you choose a good spot to set up your gear. Try and make it away from the lights, and not too close to the bathrooms or showers so you don't have a lot of late night foot traffic while you're trying to sleep. You want to make the camping experience as restful and as enjoyable as possible.
The type of clothing you bring will of course depend on what you're planning on doing while camping. Perhaps you'll be hiking, or swimming- or maybe it will be cold weather. Be sure to plan accordingly, but avoid taking more than you need. One thing you should bring is shower shoes or some sort of flip flops that will protect your feet. Remember that clothing made of synthetic materials is easiest to pack, very lightweight, and it dries very easily as well. This material is preferred over cotton clothing.
7- Don't Skimp On Shelter
Invest in a good tent that will keep you dry. If you are planning on camping with two people, bring a three person tent so you have space to store your gear. If you're planning on camping solo, do the same (but a tent for two). If you are camping in your pull behind trailer, bring a tent for your bike - it'll thank you. There are plenty of affordable water proof, lightweight tents available. Don't skimp and bring a piece of plastic or a shower curtain- just buy a tent and be comfortable. It will enhance your camping experience and keep you dry and out of the elements, and also keep the creepy-crawlies from joining in on your camping fun!
8- Comfortable Bedding
The theory that a tough motorcycle camper sleeps on the ground is just plain stupid. By yourself a comfortable pad that's lightweight. You can get sleeping pads that roll up and weigh no more than 2-3 pounds. You can also get lightweight sleeping bags that will keep you warm if the temperature drops all the way to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. These sleeping bags are ultra light and roll up to the size of a small ball. Don't try to be a 'tough guy' camping. Camping is meant to be fun and comfortable. Another good tip is to bring some ear plugs. Sleeping under the stars may not come easy for some due to odd noises in the night- so just shut them out and get a good night's sleep in the fresh air.
9- Meal Planning
As mentioned before, on your first trip you might want to consider eating your meals at restaurants. However, if you do want to prepare meals, you can buy all kinds of ready-make-meal packages which can be made with a simple jetboil. You just add hot water and you can have all kinds of delicious hot meals like macaroni and cheese, soups and several other hearty meals. If you're bringing chips or other snacks, make sure you don't overload because these can be bought on the road. You may want to bring small bottles of condiments in case you decide to do cook hotdogs over the fire. And, you might want to bring some water purification tablets, just in case.
10- Relax and Have Fun
Keep in mind, relaxation is the whole idea of camping. You might be a little frazzled the first couple of times with remembering everything and making sure all goes as planned, but be sure to take the time to enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors. Also, feel free to mingle with other motorcycle campers and share a bonfire, you might just make life long friends. The more you do this, the easy it will get and if you really enjoy it, remembering everything you need and figuring out what you don't need will become second nature. Motorcycle camping can lead to amazing experiences and a lifetime of stories- I hope you enjoy motorcycle camping as much as my family does. Perhaps we'll meet sometime around the campfire!