Downsize, downsize, downsize.
I used to carry a flashlight - 2 D cells. Now I carry 2 LED lights, each no bigger than a large ball point pen. The wrenches in my tool kit are stubbies. My tent stake hammer is an old small ball peen hammer. The handle broke so I cut it off and reused it for camping with a 4" handle. No coffee pot for camping - just a Mr. Coffee metal mesh filter basket to use with a small cooking pan. Big Agnes insulated air mattress takes less than 1/3 the space of my Thermarest and is more comfortable. No tennis or running shoes; sandals take up 1/2 the space or less.
I have a down jacket liner for cold evenings and a backup if my electrics fail. It resides in a small stuff sack and at night, it's my pillow. Voni carries her little laptop inside a stocking cap for a case. And wears the cap around the campfire or when sleeping on cold nights. The little candle lantern provides a little light for getting organized in the tent at night, and will warm the tent a bit on a cold morning.
Lovin' this! It will help us so much, this our first time out bike camping and all. It usually takes me at least a year of doing something stupid to figure out the most efficient ways!
00 R1200C (blue)
If a pillow is important to you, pack a pillow case and stuff it with your clothes each night till it's just right for sleeping. Double duty!
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We get comfortable doing the same things with the same stuff. Sometimes something breaks, or gets lost, or is in the way of something else so we have to try something different, and voila!, we like it. I hauled a coffee percolater and a nesting cook kit for years. Then I eliminated the coffee pot and made coffee with filter packets in my little cook pot. But a box of pods took up a lot of space, and we didn't like the Maxwell House filter pod coffee and knew we couldn't find it reliably every few days going to Alaska. So I got a Mr. Coffee filter basket that nests right inside the bowls in the cook kit, occupying zero space and I can use any brand of ground coffee I want/can find. I hauled a single burner propane stove for years. But that thing always ran out of propane in the middle of cooking a meal or making coffee. So I started carrying an extra propane bottle. Then I got a little dual fuel stove that burns gas right out of the bike. No extra fuel and smaller than the propane stove with even just one bottle. Voila!
So experiment. Try stuff. If it doesn't work out try something else. That's what garage sales and thrift stores are for; to get rid of the things we tried that didn't work out as well as we hoped, or to find stuff we think will work better. That's where I found my dual fuel stove for a couple of bucks.
Above all - continuously ask:
1. Why am I hauling this around?
2. Do I really use it and need it?
3. Could I buy one on the road if I really had to have it?
4. Could something smaller/lighter do the same thing?
5. Could something else I already haul around do it almost as well?
6. Do I need this many clothes or could I wash them more often?
7. Can I use light layers instead of heavy/bulky clothes?
8. Etc ....?
Then pare the stuff to the bare essentials.
What an invaluable thread...learned so much already! Three of us are planning to ride from Newport, RI to Newport, OR via a northerly route this year (and attend our very first rally of course!). We've never done a trip of this scale so we're newbies at packing for a trip that will be longer than 3-4 days. We've largely identified WHAT to bring (especially the corkscrew!). However, dear experienced women riders, HOW MUCH to bring? How many pair of socks, jeans & tshirts, etc. is reasonable? Would love your thoughts...guys chime in too!
We (the group that permits me to tour with them) usually pack enough for ~4-5 days, and we camp along the way. That means we occasionally take a night to do laundry. We'll also find a laundromat near the rally site. As far as what type of clothes, we've been known to ride in undies with shorts and t-shirts under our riding gear. Look for convertible pants and maybe a nicer shirt/top for nicer restaurant.
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We have an R12RT. It's an excellent two up motorcycle and we've spent a bunch of years riding together, so we have some pretty standard methods for either hotel travel or camping.
For hotel trips, we use the BMW factory top case and side bags. We have the 50 liter top case and have bag liners for all bags. We also have a factory tank bag.
Each of us gets a side bag. We carry larger items in the top case; bike cover, shoes, hats, maybe a jacket or something. The tankbag carries cameras, maps, books, flashlights and the little trouble kits I carry. We can load and unload the bike in about ten minutes, including taking the cover off.
For camping, we remove the top case and install an RTBMR back rest. We have a Mag's Bags standard Ubag that holds all our camping stuff, including chairs, cooking gear, hiking boots and so forth. We have a 100 oz Camelbak Unbottle that fits on one of the "arms" of the Ubag. Tina has a comfy spot to sit, but in more "enthusiastic" riding, she has a hard time reaching around behind her to brace for braking. Same for the handgrips: she has a hard time getting her hands down there to grab on. Instead, she puts her hands on my hips to brace herself.
To prevent damage to the side bags, I had a local auto detailing joint put some clear "bra" film on the tops. It's invisible and has weathered weeks of travel. Added benefit: you can't scratch the bags accidentally when mounting or dismounting.
For camping gear, we have two tents, depending on season and temps. We have an old Mountain Hardwear Skyview 3 for colder weather. It's got a giant vestibule that holds a ton of gear and can allow you to make coffee without having to get out of the tent. We also have a Mountain Hardwear Haven 3 for summer. This tent has two vestibules and holds almost as much stuff as the Skyview's vestibules.
For sleeping stuff, we carry two Big Agnes bags with the nifty integrated sleeping pads. The bags are Lost Ranger +20s and they compress down to about the size of a loaf of bread. The sleeping pads are about the size of a Nerf football. We also have a couple little inflatable pillows we bought. The have a thin layer that inflates and a pouch on the back where you can cram a fleece or something in. They fit into a pocket in the hood of the sleeping bag. So sweet! If we have room, we can sometimes fit two full size pillows in the Ubag. Luxorama.
We have a three piece pot set for cooking, along with a Jet Boil and an old MSR Whisperlite. We've also got a little butane lantern, which really helps around the campsite and works way better than candle lanterns. I'd like to check out the new LED ones I've seen, too.
We keep the tank bag as sort of a purse. It holds the stuff we use on the road and the stuff we use in the tent. I keep things organized in little bags, which makes packing efficient. I made some fleece sleeves to hold face shields in and keep them at the rear of the tank bag.
To make all that get down the road safely, we've upgraded our suspension to Ohlins and had springs installed capable of carrying our typical load. This made all the difference. The bike is now well controlled and doesn't wallow in corners. If you're going to load your bike, find out whether your suspension can handle it. Your suspension has an ideal amount of sag (how much suspension travel is taken up with the bike is supporting itself on its wheels). If you can't adjust the spring enough to get to that position, you need higher rate springs.
Marin County, CA
Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.
Plan on doing laundry on day 5. That's a good night to get a hotel, order a pizza and watch some tube while the laundry is running downstairs. You never know who you'll meet at a laundromat. We met the Borellas at one in Colorado and have been friends for 15 years.
In a pinch, you can rinse some synthetic garments out and they'll dry overnight. They won't reek too badly the next day. And let's face it, if you're just riding, who cares if you're kinda smelly. It's just you in your gear all day long.
Marin County, CA
Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.
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Thanks for the link. If I can't find one locally, I may give that a go. I don't live too far from Holly, and was hoping she'd picked it up fairly close to home!