You hear it time and time again: be sure to pack everything you need and nothing you don’t. Having everything will obviously serve you well, but traveling by adventure motorcycle is not the same as going on a road trip in your SUV.
You need to pack smart. Not only that, but the things you bring need to stay organized. Knowing where everything makes life so much easier if/when you actually need to use it.
Here, we’ve put together some handy tips to stay organized on your next ADV tour.
1. Think about what you need
No, really. Take a long look at your stuff and be critical about what absolutely has to come with you and what can stay home. The less you have to bring, the less you have to organize, so keep that in mind.
Be mindful of the length of your motorcycle trip and the conditions you might face along the way. A short trip in good conditions means you can likely get away with leaving some of the bulky stuff at home.
But if you’re going to be living on the road for weeks or months on end, facing every condition imaginable, then there’s all the more reason to be organized.
2. Luggage is key
You will be storing the bulk of your things behind you, on the back of the motorcycle. There are different trains of thought when it comes to luggage.
Some prefer the biggest bag available so they can stuff everything in it. This is an advantage to having one big bag like the Explorer Duffel Dry Bag, but one of the challenges is sorting everything in that big bag (more below!).
The other train of thought is to use a series of smaller bags, so you pack less in them and thus stay more organized. The challenge here is that motorcycles inherently don’t give you much space to mount luggage.
While both options can work, we like the idea of using one large bag or top case (and then a tank bag up front if needed). Avoid bags with side openings because items tend to fall out when you open the bag from the side.
A bag with a top opening like the MotoBags prevents that from happening. The key to organizing things in this big bag is to use smaller bags to hold everything. However, since many motorcycles already arrive with saddlebags, it’s silly not to take advantage of the storage space offered.
A side note: if your tank bag or tail pack isn’t waterproof (and even if it is), keep a rain cover within easy reach so you can quickly pull over and use it if needed.
3. Internal organization
Here’s where the real organization starts. You’ll use a series of smaller bags to separate items in your tank/tail bag. You can maximize space by placing each bag vertically within the tank/tail bag.
This also makes items easier to access if you follow our advice and get a tank/tail bag with a top opening instead of a side opening. Below is an outline of smaller bags and their usage.
- Ditty bags. Ditty bags come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. Get at least three different sizes (small, medium, large) and colors for easy sorting. For the most part, having mesh ditty bags is handy so you can see what’s inside. Mesh ditty bags are also useful for storing wet gear that need to air out. The size of the bag will determine what goes inside. The large bags typically hold your clothes, medium bags are good for holding food/cooking items, riding gear (like gloves) for different weather, or even emergency supplies. The small bag can be used for toiletries.
- Organizer kits. Frequent business travelers always rely on organizer kits, and now you can take advantage of these clever little bags—especially if your trip is short. Inevitably on a motorcycle tour, you’re going to end up with little knick-knacks. Whether its toll receipts, loose change, keys, toiletries, or anything else, simply stuffing them in your gear bag is going to catch up with you. Organizer kits are a good place to store these items. Better still, if you’re staying at hotels, or at least using a real shower, you can keep an organizer bag specifically for showers that you can pull out of your tank bag and take directly with you. If you need multiple, just remember to get different colors so you can remember which is which.
- Dry bags. If you’re feeling bold, already have saddlebags, or are only leaving for a short time, consider using dry bags instead of dedicated top cases. These are lighter, can carry a ton of stuff, and strap down to the motorcycle easily. As the name suggests, keep things in here that must stay dry (like clean clothes). Alternatively, you can get away with using dry bags instead of ditty bags if you’d rather keep to the theme of this list and organize smaller bags inside of bigger ones. Our MotoBags arrive with dry bags because they add value for adventure tourers.
Have these tips have given you something to think about when packing for your next ADV tour?
If you’re the type who usually throws everything into a bag and fetches them later, storing everything neatly and with purpose will relieve some mental stress when you’re looking for something later on (though we admit it might be stressful to pack this way in the first place).
Even if you’re already an organized rider, we hope some of these tips and products have given you fresh ideas on how to pack in the future.