Motorcycle Travel Equipment - Odds n' Ends

Once you've pruned your luggage down to the bare minimum and chucked the hatchet, cast-iron pan and Kermit chairs, I find that a packing list for a 300km motorcycle trip is not much different than one for a 30,000km trip.

My packing style is minimal - but comfortable - and it's certainly not the only way to do it! Beyond the standard camping and motorcycle gear I carry, I bring a few odds and ends that make my life on the road a bit easier:

Camera Gear

Memory Cards - heaps of them. They're cheap and a reliable form of backup. I try not to erase them during the trip if possible.
Compact camera - I never go anywhere without some sort of camera
Prime lenses - Small, lightweight, reliable and very good in image quality and performance. Zoom with your feet!
LowePro lens case - These will let you chuck your lenses anywhere, and can clip to your belt when you walk around.


The MSR MiniWorks filter was invaluable in North America, where the distance between towns is great and rough-camping is the norm. I didn't use it in Mexico and Central America though. It was easier to buy the good, cheap bottled water that was available everywhere.

The MSR Dromedary bag was ideal for carrying extra water through desert areas. The MSR water filter threads directly to the wide opening and the bag rolls-up to nothing when it's empty.

Dry Bags

Another essential, dry bags will protect your electronics against water and dust. The flat yellow bag fit the netbook computer and the blue bag contained camera accessorys, battery chargers, cables and memory cards.


I always ride with a GPS, and it's always used in conjunction with a map and compass.
I rarely use the GPS to tell me where to go, I just use it as a reference to see where I am.
leaving the GPS zoomed to street-level detail and having the large-scale map and compass on top of the tank-bag gives me the freedom to adjust my route on-the-fly.
A funny thing; the kids in Central America didn't give a damn about the GPS - they thought it was a phone - but they were fascinated by the compass! Kids always know what's cool.

Tools and Spares

I carried just a few spares; clutch cable, front and rear brake pads, spark plugs, light bulbs, fuses and a master link for the chain.
Other items were available along the way. A new battery and bearings were not too hard to find in El Salvador.

Between a pair of Vice Grips, a file, a hacksaw blade and a bit of JB Weld you can make most road-side repairs. The Vice Grips can also get you out of trouble if you snap-off a clutch, shift or break lever. Clamp the vice grips to the stump of the lever and carefully ride away.

Stainless wire, invaluable in a pinch. You can replace lost bolts, keep cables clear of moving parts, splint a broken spoke, tie down a slippery handle grip. I used a couple twists of cable to tie a spare sprocket to the frame of the bike. Hose clamps or jubilee clips (not pictured) perform a similar duty for heavy applications. I used a hose clamp to tie-down the heat shield of the exhaust header when it began to rattle around.

Don't forget a to pack a clear siphon hose! A clear hose lets you know when that tasty, tasty fuel is comin' down the line.


The Brits call it a shemagh, the Yanks call it a tactical desert scarf, the middle-easterners who invented it call it a keffiyeh and the Fashionistas call it last-season. I call it the most damn useful thing on the list!

On a cold day this scarf keeps your neck warm and seals the draft between your motorcycle helmet and chin.
In the tropical heat it can be rigged-up as a sun shade while you work on your bike.
When it's too hot to sleep in the tent with a sleeping bag it makes a (short) blanket. It's a dust-mask in a Baja sandstorm. It carries your laundry, keeps your lunch off the ground, drys you off after a swim. There's a hundred other uses, surely.

Luggage Security

A PacSafe and a few DIY steel cable loops provided a deterrent against a snatch-and-grab theft when my motorcycle was out-of-sight at border crossings. Not one item was stolen during the entire six month trip.
Simple compression straps from an outdoor shop secured the North Face duffle bag to the rear luggage rack.
Extra zip ties kept my GPS steady when the RamMount broke.

Medicine Cabinet

Along with the standard first-aid kit items, I threw in a few extras: Dental floss is of-course good for the teeth, but it also makes a very strong thread for repairs to clothing, boots and luggage.
Earplugs are essential, I wear them while riding to reduce fatigue and hearing damage. Handy for sleeping at night during the holidays in Guatemala too...
*EDIT* Here's the scoop on Ciprofloxacin, a prescription antibiotic. Thanks for the heads-up Migs!*
Ciprofloxacin is a counterattack to Montezuma's Revenge when it gets serious! Check the link above and visit a travel medicine clinic before you leave on your trip. It was recommended by another world-traveling motorcyclist. I'm lucky not to have tested it's effectiveness...

Having your favorite general cold & flu medicine along is a huge comfort when you're in a hotel bed feeling crappy. Stumbling through the back alleys of a foreign city in search of a pharmacy when you feel of death is as fun as it sounds.


An LED headlamp will run for ages on 3 AAA batteries and help you find the bolt you dropped deep into the oily innards of the engine case.
The Moleskine notebook served as a journal, a motorcycle maintenance log and a place to keep small souvenirs.
The Swiss Army knife is self explanatory, but it also carried a spare motorcycle key.

Mugger Wallet

This is a great tip I got from the Horizons Unlimited DVD. Buy a cheap wallet you wouldn't mind loosing, stuff it full of expired library cards and use it during the trip to hold your days cash only. If you get yourself mugged, you've got no worries letting the wallet go.

I keep the main stash of cash along with ID, passport and bank cards in the leg holster.


Finally, I pack a tiny netbook computer. WiFi is all over the place in Mexico and Central America, and if you can't find WiFi you'll find an internet cafe. I checked email, twitter and border crossing info with my netbook. I processed and backed-up my photos while I was on the road. I even wrote my photography e-books and built this blog with it. I think I've gotten my $300 worth.

What is it that you can't leave home without?

15 Response to "Motorcycle Travel Equipment - Odds n' Ends"

  1. Unknown Says:

    Great job on the list (and the entire blog). I would add my little gorilla pod tripod and binoculars (I'm kind of a bird geek).

    Keep the posts coming...I'm hooked!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic. Some people may be alergic to it. Imodium is not and antibiotic. -Migs

  3. Anthony - Motojournalism Says:

    @Jeff Thanks for dropping by! I actually carried a GorillaPod for the compact camera on my last two trips, they work great!

    Appreciate the info Migs, thanks! I'll update the post and find a link with proper medical infornation. I visited a travel medicine clinic to get a prescription for the Ciprofloxacin, it's not available over-the-counter here in Canada.

  4. Quantis Says:

    I love the "What's in your bag" type posts. You always seem to pick up some sort of new idea or packing technique you never thought of before.

  5. Anthony - Motojournalism Says:

    Yeah, it's always fun to see what other folks do, then you can pick n' mix with what works for you.

  6. Stephanie Hackney Says:

    We have carried most of the same items. Great list!

    FYI, Cipro is a great all-around heavy-duty antibiotic. It came in handy for more than stomach issues. It was a life saver (probably literally) when I fell on a broken glass and sliced my hand open to the bone. I started taking Cipro after a red line started forming up my arm and the doc who eventually saw me and cleared the infection said it was very good that I had taken it.

    I also recommend taking along Airborne. Great stuff to keep one going (even when traveling locally in the U.S.)


  7. Ryan Says:

    When you take a GorillaPod do you find that you use it for its creative mounting options often or do you tend to use it like a regular tripod? I am trying to decide on taking a collapsible tripod or a GorillaPod.


  8. Anthony - Motojournalism Says:

    Hey Ryan,

    I use a Gorillapod, but only on my compact camera, and only for video and low-light situations. I found the SLR sized Gorillapod a bit clunky and un-secure. I'd rather use the Manfrotto Magic Arm for odd mounting position.
    I carry a full-sized Tripod for the SLR. Big, heavy and rarely used, but it's worth it. I talk about the tripod in the second e-book.

    With my compact camera, the Gorillapod is usually too low to use as as standard tripod, so I'll wrap it around the handlebars, the back of a chair or on a fence. Comes in very handy and really extends the use of a compact camera.

  9. Anthony - Motojournalism Says:

    Wow Steph, cool tip on using Ciprofloaxin as a general antibiotic!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Get a set of dog tags, contact info on one medical on the other

  11. Anonymous Says:

    One trick for replacing the tripod is a Bogan super clamp fitted with a ball head. The Bogan will clamp to nearly anything or just sit still and the ball head will allow you to position your camera as needed. Much more stable than a tripod and easier to carry and set up. John Phillips

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