Navigating the thrilling yet challenging terrain of motorcycle camping demands a blend of experience, intuition, and a keen awareness of common pitfalls.
At Lone Rider, operated by passionate riders who continuously traverse the globe, we've encountered and learned from a myriad of mistakes, transforming them into invaluable lessons for the ardent adventure rider.
Designed for the discerning traveler—just like our adventure motorcycle products—our goal is to equip you with the knowledge to not just survive but thrive in the diverse landscapes that beckon the true adventure seeker.
In this article, we’ll explain the most common motorcycle camping mistakes we’ve encountered personally and from other riders.
1. Overpacking Woes
Embracing the essence of the road, it's critical to acknowledge one of the chief blunders of motorcycle camping: the tendency to overburden your adventure bike.
This pitfall often emerges from a well-intentioned desire to be prepared for every conceivable situation, leading riders to cram their saddlebags to the utmost, thereby unsettling the very balance and handling that defines the joy of riding.
The antidote? A shift towards prioritizing only the indispensable and adopting a minimalist approach to packing.
Opt for gear that's not just functional but versatile, capable of serving more than a single purpose. This is not merely about reducing weight—it's about simplifying your journey, allowing for a more nimble ride and, ultimately, more gratifying.
Yet, the most glaring oversight is the lack of foresight. The urge to simply wing it can be strong, but resist it.
Draft a list—let it be a tangible reflection of your thoughts as you envision the journey. This list becomes a tool, not just for tracking preparations and essentials but also for discerning what's superfluous.
As you analyze your inventory, you'll likely find items with multi-functional utility, negating the need for additional gear.
This process isn't just about what you'll carry; it's about carving out a ride that's as free and unencumbered as the road ahead.
2. Ignoring Weight Distribution
When packing your essentials, proper weight distribution is the key to maintaining control while riding your loaded bike. Focus on keeping the weight low and centered, balancing your gear across both sides of the motorcycle to prevent handling issues.
Stash heavy items closer to the center of your bike, ideally in the your MotoBags. This balanced approach ensures your motorcycle remains stable during turns and sudden stops, enhancing safety on the road.
Also, ahead of longer trips, we recommend a quick rip around the block, the bumpier the better. You’ll quickly know if you’re balanced and if anything will shift. It’s better to adjust long before the tour than the day you actually begin your journey.
3. Forgetting About Paper Maps
It’s a mistake to ignore good ol’ paper maps, which are typically waterproof nowadays.
Good maps, especially some topographical maps of the area you plan to cover, can not only prevent you from getting lost, but they can also enhance the enjoyment of the trip by helping to locate points of interest, natural features worth seeing such as waterfalls and by helping to avoid obstacles such as swamps.
GPS systems are great, but like any device, they can fail or get damaged. At times like that, especially when deep in the backcountry, low-tech countermeasures are handy.
A number of companies like Butler Maps produce printed map books by state and region, and others may be available for download from the internet.
Leaving a hard copy of a map showing your anticipated route just adds another layer of comfort and safety. Plus, nothing beats settling into the campsite and looking over the next day’s adventure.
4. Skipping Route Planning
A successful motorcycle camping trip begins with meticulous route planning. Take the time to study your route, mark potential campsites, and, especially, identify fuel stops. Speaking of fuel…always carry a bit extra in the proper container, just in case.
This type of preparation reduces unexpected challenges along the way. How many times have you planned to be at a campsite before dark but failed to reach it in time? Pre-planning the route will give you some idea of the time needed to get to that location.
With that said, it’s always smart to create a flexible itinerary that allows for spontaneous detours and interesting discoveries.
Planning your route not only ensures a smoother journey but also enhances your overall adventure by maximizing your time exploring.
5. Ignoring Weather Reports
Nature can be unpredictable, and weather conditions can impact your trip significantly. Keep an eye on weather reports and pack accordingly.
Waterproof gear and layers are your best friends on the road. Carry clothing that can be layered for warmth, and invest in waterproof riding gear that keeps you dry during unexpected rain showers. Many companies create lightweight and zippable mid-layers that you can crunch up nicely and fit in even the tightest areas of your bags.
And never forget underlayers. There are loads of moisture-wicking base layers available from many reputable companies now, created for all types of temperatures, from below 0 to the hottest areas of the desert.
Staying comfortable and dry enhances your enjoyment of the journey, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
6. Poor Campsite Choices
Choosing an optimal campsite is a pivotal aspect of ensuring a serene and safe night amid the wilderness. It's essential to avoid low-lying areas prone to flooding and equally important to adhere to local camping rules and etiquette.
In your quest for the ideal motorcycle campsite, consider key elements like proximity to water sources for easy access to this vital resource. However, don't camp too close to water to avoid potential hazards such as nagging bugs and pests—nothing can drag down a ride like itchy bug bites or seeing snakes near your tent.
Assess the accessibility of the site, ensuring it's within a reasonable distance from your route yet secluded enough to offer a tranquil retreat.
Moreover, familiarize yourself with local regulations and guidelines. These can vary significantly, encompassing aspects such as fire regulations, wildlife precautions, and specific camping zones.
Also, utilize social media groups to find adventure motorcycle groups to new areas you plan on riding.
They can provide insights into hidden gems and tips on the best spots that balance beauty, safety, and compliance with local norms.
Their experiences can guide you in making informed decisions, enhancing your overall camping experience, and ensuring that your chosen spot becomes a memorable and harmonious part of your journey.
7. Neglecting Bike Maintenance
This should go without saying, but a well-maintained bike is essential for a trouble-free journey. We still encounter riders who have breakdowns due to lack of maintenance, such as a loose or unwaxed chain or bald tires (let's not even get into the fact that most riders neglect to check tire pressure every morning!).
Before hitting the road, conduct a thorough bike check, paying close attention to tire pressure, brake pads, and oil levels. And continue to monitor this throughout the trip.
And yes, you should check PSI every morning, whether with a traditional gauge or checking your bike’s electronic monitoring system if equipped.
Preventive maintenance not only keeps you safe but also minimizes the risk of breakdowns in remote areas, which makes for adventure—just not fun adventure.
8. Dead Batteries
Don’t forget to fully charge every battery-powered device you plan to take, and also have portable chargers for each of them.
And don’t forget to make sure your motorcycle’s battery is in top shape—check it before leaving, ensuring it’s putting out the proper voltage.
Check your specific battery’s specs, but when the bike is running, your battery should read between 12.6 to 13.2 volts.
Remember also that Lithium batteries may be hard to start in colder weather. The tip is to turn the bike on to let the battery heat up for a minute.
9. Staying Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial and becomes a key issue when your body is getting a workout, particularly in hot weather, maybe accompanied by the use of adventure riding gear.
If drinking water sources are a question mark, you have to plan to pack a sufficient supply to get you between water holes.
Packing a survival straw (such as a Life Straw for example is a good idea, but being able to carry enough to get by if there is no surface water and for any cooking (just add water-type pre-packed meals, for example) is essential, too.
And don’t forget electrolytes to stay completely hydrated!
Electrolytes are essential minerals found in your blood, sweat, and urine that carry an electric charge. They are crucial for many bodily functions, including maintaining fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signaling. The key electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate.
When you're out in the wild, especially during activities like camping that involve physical exertion, you lose electrolytes through sweat. This loss can lead to imbalances, manifesting as muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, or even more serious conditions like hyponatremia (low sodium levels).
Replenishing electrolytes while camping can be done in several ways:
- Electrolyte Supplements: These come in various forms, such as tablets, powders, or premixed drinks. They're easy to pack and use, making them a popular choice for campers and hikers. Just dissolve them in your water bottle, and you're good to go.
- Natural Foods: Many foods are rich in electrolytes. For instance, bananas and sweet potatoes are high in potassium, nuts and seeds are good sources of magnesium, and dairy products can provide calcium. Planning your meals with these foods can help maintain electrolyte balance.
- Salt Tablets: For sodium replenishment, salt tablets can be effective. However, they should be used cautiously as excessive sodium can be harmful.
- Diluted Sports Drinks: These are readily available and can be effective for short-term electrolyte replenishment. However, be aware of their high sugar content.
- Coconut Water: It's a natural drink high in potassium and other electrolytes, and it can be a healthier alternative to commercial sports drinks.
Remember, while replenishing electrolytes is important, it's just as crucial to maintain proper hydration by drinking enough water. Balancing water intake with electrolyte replenishment will help you stay hydrated and healthy during your outdoor adventures.
10. Forgetting First Aid
Accidents can happen on the road. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit to address minor injuries and ailments. A comprehensive motorcycle first-aid kit is essential for dealing with minor injuries and ailments.
Ensure it includes items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications you may require.
Knowing how to use these supplies is equally important, so consider taking a basic first-aid course to be well-prepared.
While avoiding these mistakes is crucial, remember that a little spontaneity adds charm to your journey.
Embrace the adventure and be open to new experiences. Motorcycle camping is not just about avoiding pitfalls; it's about savoring the unknown and enjoying every moment.
Embrace the unexpected, interact with fellow travelers, and make your journey a unique adventure.