Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top Secret Moto-Camping Tips

This being the week of the BMWMOA national rally - and simply rally / camping season in general for most motorcycle adventurerers I thought I'd throw together my list of motorcycle camping tips.  Stuff that no-one tells you straight up and you learn the hard way.

  1. Never wear cotton underwear on the bike if your trip involves leaving city limits.  Your butt will be pressed up against a leather seat in 90 degree heat for hours.  Cotton will get soggy with sweat and you will be miserable with the adult version of diaper rash.  Invest in a pair or two of underwear made for motorcycling or bicycling.  Both work.  I really like the products from LDComfort.  Also Anti Monkey Butt Powder sounds like a joke - but it works for the same reason that baby powder works.  I never travel without a can.
  2. Get a chair.  Anyone that's spent any time camping or back packing will tell you that one of the things they miss the most is a chair with a back on it.  Having a comfortable camp chair will raise your campsite comfort level immeasurably. I have one of the famous Kermit chairs and never leave without it. There are several other popular models that fit on a bike but whatever you do - get one with a back on it.  And preferably a drink holder.
  3. Pack light.  You don't need all of those clothes.  Find clothes made from material you can wash in a sink or even in the shower. I'm fond of coolmax - the fabric found in running and bicycle gear.  Wash it in a sink. Wring it out. Put it back on.  One pair of jeans. One pair of shorts.  One long sleeve shirt.  Buy T-shirts at the rally.  Take old underwear - wear it and then throw it away.  If you need something there are WalMarts everywhere.
  4. Invest in a single versatile jacket.  Mine goes from waterproof/winter weight all the way to mesh.  The liner works as a wind breaker.  See #3.
  5. Get a bike cover.  Beyond the obvious protection for your ride - it will also make a nice tarp for your gear at the campsite while you are out having those adventures.  Makes a passable emergency shelter and is really nice for keeping prying eyes away from your bike when you wuss out and rent a room for the night.  Wake up to frost on your saddle once and you will wish you had taken this advice.
  6. Coffee.  If you are a coffee drinker - don't even think of relying on the free "stuff" at the rally.  Work out your system at home before you leave.  Remember - you will be cleaning with limited water in camp.  The two systems I've used with great success are, my current favorite - the Jetboil coffee press and my second favorite - simple paper filters.  In most camping supply stores you can get a package of filters with holes punched in the sides and a little stick.  You use the stick to suspend the filter in your mug.  When done you just throw the filter away.
  7. The pee bottle.  Every experienced (male) camper has one.  No one talks about it.  Basically the worst thing about tent camping is having to extract yourself from your tent in the middle of the night or race to outhouse in the morning.  Get one.  Don't be embarrassed.  I personally recommend the smaller size laundry detergent bottles.  Nice flat bottom and a good handle to avoid any accidents...
  8. Water bag/bladder.  Get a water bladder - even one made for a hydration pack.  Fill it with water before bed.  In the morning you have your coffee / cleanup water and probably enough to even wash your face without a trip to the pump.  When done just roll it up.
  9. Baby wipes.  They can be a miracle when a shower isn't possible or just to get the crusty sweat off your face before grabbing lunch on the road.
  10. Air mattress.  Yes the kind you inflate.  I suffered with a Thermarest for years.  They are great for back packing but hey - you aren't carrying the weight here - your bike is.  Plus they pack smaller.  Get a good one and a pump you can run from the bike battery.  I'm currently testing the Aerobed Pakmat.  I'll let you know how it sleeps and holds up.
There are the 10 that came instantly to mind.  Have a safe ride and have fun at the national.  I can't be there this year but I'll be thinking about you all.

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