How to Pack Your Motorbike Panniers for Overnight Trips
Raise your hand if you've been on a motorbike tour, and you've been caught short because you're missing one necessary item. Granted, motorbike holidays are more about the adventure than the creature comforts, but even Bear Grylls remembers to pack his spork.
So, if you're touring, going for a weekend camping trip, or stopping overnight on a long journey, here’s a handy list of extra things to pack. After all, you can't just go and buy any bike and expect that to be enough! For a list of basic items to keep in your panniers, go to our previous article. And of course, if you’ll be staying in a hotel, hostel, or biker's retreat, don’t bother with the cooking equipment and food.
- High energy snacks, such as a gel pack or trail mix- even pretzels! Anything that will survive the trip and keep you focused.
- Phone charger. You can usually charge your phone at coffee shops, and some campsites have access to electricity. And if you’re going to be traveling a lot, it might be worth investing in a solar powered charger (these are usually between £15-£20).
- Quick-dry towel. These are made of micro-fibre fabric and dry much faster than normal towels- they’re also a lot lighter. No more mildew smell wafting from your beautiful bonded-leather Harley-Davidson luggage! You can get these with an antibacterial property built in, and even with their own bag.
- Water bottle. Campsite water isn’t always the best quality, so you might want to buy a water bottle with filter. Water purification tablets are also a good buy if you’re going somewhere rural- they can make river water safe to drink.
- Change of clothes. Polyester is best as it will dry quickly once you’ve washed it. You might not think it's essential, but feeling fresh on the last leg of your journey will make it much more enjoyable.
- Basic toiletries. BASIC. Don’t go crazy! The minimum you’ll need is toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, and a hairbrush (if you have hair! ahem Guy Martin ahem). Think about how you can reduce/double up. Get a shower gel/shampoo combo. Find travel sized items in places like Boots, or dispense into smaller containers. Dr Bronner’s soap can be used for your body as well as laundry!
- Ziploc bags for small items. This will keep everything waterproof, and similar items will be kept together, making them easier to find.
- Headlamp/torch. What’s worse than losing your bike's keys in the dark? Other options include using your phone as a torch (torch apps on phones are usually free), or getting a keyring torch, so you’ll always have one to hand.
- Cooking equipment. All you really need is: a tiny camping stove, one pan, and one spork per person. If you want to get serious, you can get titanium/aluminium sporks, a fold-away pan, or a Bush Box pocket stove, which can be fueled by twigs! Try to pick a stove which can run on multiple fuel types. Campsites usually offer fuel refills, but it may not be the type you need.
- Food. This has to be something you can cook in one small pan- or you could wrap food, such as a potato, in foil and cook it under your fire. If in doubt, there’s always tinned sausage and beans!
- Fold-away tent. Make sure yours has two layers as rain, dew and condensation will seep through even the best tent. Also, tent size guidelines are a tad optimistic- a double is more of a spacious single, and so on. Do a test run in your garden of putting it up and packing it away again, as well as checking everything fits in.
- Sleeping bag. This is worth spending extra money on. Ideally it will be warm, lightweight and waterproof, complete with a bag to roll it in to. As with the tent, practice putting it back in the bag before you go (if you’ve ever used a sleeping bag, you’ll know what I mean!). Also, if you’re going with your partner, you might want to consider a double sleeping bag. The extra body heat could stop you shivering the night away.
If by some miracle you still have room, use it to store a bedroll. This thin, rolled-up sheet of foam will be a barrier between the hard ground and your back. Even a Honda Goldwing backrest won't save you after a night on twigs and pebbles.
Some bikes are better than others for frequent long journeys. If your looking to sell your old one for cash towards a more suitable model, have a browse of the rest of our site and find out if we really do buy any bike!
If you have any more ideas, leave a comment below.