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Margaret DeanSep 12, 2016 (Updated Dec 8, 2020)16 CommentsShare

A Lady Rider’s Guide To Motorcycle Packing

Let’s admit it, shall we? Packing isn’t easy for everyone. Only the most prepared A-types have a go-bag always ready. The rest of us hem and haw over what to bring and wear. What if I need this? We might do that so I should bring X or maybe Y.

Motorcycle trips make it easy because you know you have limited space and can’t overpack. Motorcycle trips make it hard because you know you have limited space and the line seems to blur when deciding what is necessary and what is optional.

I’m writing to female riders and passengers as I am both. Also, I’m a recovering overpacker. I’ve adopted a minimalist mindset when packing for long distance trips with my husband riding two-up. I had to. I’m about to embark on my first long distance trip maneuvering my own bike. I decided it was time to form my own moto packing list, one that better suits my needs as a female rider.

Keep in mind that packing isn’t just about the physical volume you see (how big the luggage) but the weight limitations as listed by the manufacturer. When packing, whatever clothes you are wearing under your ATGATT counts. You also don’t need an outfit for every day of the ride.

Let me clarify, you do need some type of clothing to wear everyday but you don’t need a fashionista and different outfit for each day of the ride.

LMCT Ready

For a longer trip, launder using a local laundromat, utilize laundry services at a hotel or do-it-yourself using a Scrubba. If using a Scrubba, bring items that are quick-dry so that items are ready to be packed or worn the next day.

If you’re a low-maintenance kind of gal, kudos.

High-maintenance gals may need to come to Jesus. Condense as much as possible into smaller travel containers and bonus points for finding multi-purpose products. For example, most tinted CC or BB creams take care of moisturizer, sunblock and foundation. Campsuds can be used as both body wash and shampoo. Or challenge yourself to go low maintenance for the trip.

Braided Hair

I keep my hair braided or pulled back under the helmet but you’re off the bike sometimes and may spend an extra day sightseeing, so the hair management products are optional and as needed. Consider dry shampoo, a hat or hair band.

Clean, comfortable clothes and underwear are the goal versus “best dressed” off the bike. Besides, you’re already awesome – you’re traveling by motorcycle and experiencing life in a different way!

ATGATTCasual Attire

If you’re riding your own bike with luggage, you’ll have more room than if riding two-up and sharing precious cargo space. You’ll be tempted to bring more than you need. Don’t. Admit it, you never quite wear everything you pack in your vacation suitcase. You don’t need as much as you think. Stick to essentials. Any extra room may be able to tote a have-to-have souvenir.

Sidenote: There’s something about luggage (and purses) that makes us want to fill them to capacity. We also tend to adapt to what we see. If you go from a 34 liter to a 52 liter top case, you’ll wonder how you survived before with the smaller case.

Lists are handy. This one is meant to be helpful … a way to organize what to pack and if nothing else, a way to think about what you need to bring versus what you think you need to bring.

Once you have the luggage volume and trip duration in mind, let’s start with the clothes:

  • Denim jeans – 1
  • Comfortable pair of walking pants, shorts, chinos/khakis or skirt – 1
  • Underwear – 2 or 3 at most
  • Riding socks – 2
  • T-shirts, tanks tops, blouse – 2, 3 at most
  • Fleece pullover/jacket – 1
  • Comfortable walking shoes, sandals or flip-flops – 1
  • Rain gear – 1 set top and bottom
  • Optional: Bathing suit; long underwear top and pants, comfortable dress, hat

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Facial cleanser or wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Moisturizer
  • Optional: Eye cream, make-up, hair products if camping (shampoo is usually provided at hotels/motels), travel/compact blow dryer, brush and/or comb, hair band

You’ll want to use some kind of bag or compression sack to contain your items within the luggage. This makes it easier to transport your items from the bike to a hotel room if you want to leave the luggage mounted on the bike. It also organizes everything from spilling out when opening the luggage whether you choose to leave it on the bike or not.

If you’re riding solo, then you already know that there are bike essentials you need room for. Consult this list if you want to check yourself. If you’re camping, that list can be found here.

My husband and I have gotten better and better at condensing what we bring with every trip. Another tip I have to remind myself of every time: If you forget something, there’s a retail store out there somewhere that is more than happy to sell you what you need.

What Do My Fellow Female Riders Pack For A Long Distance Motorcycle Tour?

One size rarely fits all. Did I miss something above? What basics do you bring or would you suggest? Your input is invited. Post an article!

This is the end!
Margaret Dean

About Margaret Dean

"Girl spectates through life no more" - Those six words capture it all. I used to spectate. I was one of the watchers of the doers of things. Then I became a doer.

Comments

I love your post! I was forgetting so many things on my list. Just bookmarked it to come back every time I need it.

Joyce says:

For a 2 week trip, I take:
– a large ziplock bag full of granola bars. Often, we’re in the middle of nowhere at lunchtime, so just have a granola bar.
– quick-dry black polyester zip-off/convertible to shorts hiking pants-take less room and dry in an hour, and are decent enough in a dressier situation, and cool enough as shorts if walking in a hot place. I have also swam in the zipped off shorts since they are quick-dry.
– 1 tank top, 1 short-sleeve quick-dry sports top, 2 quick-dry long sleeve shirts (sometimes I take 3)
– 1 large t-shirt for sleeping, hiking, swimsuit coverup
– 2 pair of silk sock liners that I can wash every other day that dry in an hour; 1 pair motorcycle socks – rather than washing the motorcycle socks repeatedly, I just wear the liners under the big socks and wash the liners that dry quickly.
– 3 pair Ex Officio quick dry underwear. If I want to skip laundry one night, I can.
– I take a pair of all black minimal/barefoot shoes that take minimal room, are just 5 oz,. comfortable for walking/hiking and can pass for dressy enough in a nicer restaurant.
– CampSuds little bottle of concentrated liquid soap for doing laundry by hand, washing hands. Just need 1 drop.
– 1 Buff – tubular knitted headband/neck scarf for warmth or covering motorcycle hair or cold ears
– 1 quick-dry baseball hat
– Chapstick with sunscreen
– Earplugs
– Decongestant – sometimes my ears plug up and don’t unplug with elevation changes/wind
– I wear a Camelback hydration pack only about 1/3 full with an extension on the hose – when riding 2-up, we can sip water from it without removing helmets.
– 1 paper map that covers the whole area we’re riding – USA Map, or Western States Map, etc. so that I can see the ‘big picture’ for the whole day and the whole trip rather than just a little at a time.
– I print a detailed planned itinerary, then make notes on it as we go. Each night or morning, we re-check/re-evaluate the itinerary and decide whether our plan for the day is still reasonable after checking weather and things we want to see on the way, and if we’re staying in motels, we make a reservation for that night, noting the reservation on the printed itinerary. At the end of the trip, we make a printed photo album containing the mileage and notes with the itinerary.
– 1 thin book to read in case we take a day off for rain…if I can find one related to background or history of the area we’re traveling, that’s what I take so that we can talk about it as we ride. Next time, I might try to switch to an e-book on my phone.
– Wet wipes
– Ponytail rubber bands, wide-tooth comb, foldable brush, nail clippers, toothbrush, floss, q tips
– We have always taken sunscreen and bug repellent but haven’t used it..
– small pocket camera with wrist strap in case worn cross-shoulder over motorcycle gear.
– 1st aid kit, safety pins

Thanks for sharing your list!

I should probably update this post as I’ve swapped out some things from the original list.

You’ve got a great list here, I also invite you to submit your own post about this topic to the site :-)

Erin says:

Awesome lists! I like Joyce’s list too. Helps to get an idea together. My husband and I are taking our first longer trip (8 nights, we’ve only done 3 nights a few times). I have to learn to pack knowing we’ll be doing laundry every few days and buy some clothes to help with this (quick dry undies for one!)

Margaret Dean says:

Congrats to you and your husband on your first long moto trip!

Glad to hear the lists are helpful!

Would love to hear how the packing and laundry worked for you after your awesome trip.

Even better if you wanted to write about your trip on the whole :)

Lauren says:

Thank you for this list! I am preparing for my first trip to Sturgis, which will be a 2 week trip on the bike (no trailers for us!). Packing will be key…and probably mailing a box or two back with souvenirs along the way :)

Maggie says:

2 weeks on a bike will guarantee you come back with stories!

Would love to hear what your final packing list included – Joyce shared some awesome tips in her list above.

Hope you have a great time :)

Marian Campbell says:

Omg I’m doing the Sturgis trip also. First time on a bike for 2 weeks, the longest I’ve done is probably 5 days to various places all over SO CA. Been looking for something like this that tells me specific lists of things.

Maggie says:

Maybe you and Lauren will run into each other at Sturgis!

I love seeing how many ladies are out riding whether as a rider or passenger.

Please consider coming back here to either write about your trip or let us know what packing list you’d recommend for long moto trips.

Have a great time!

Vicky Steelmam says:

Good list. I’ve been riding for years, came here to get better ideas for packing. I like to save my camera battery for emergencies and take a small digital camera on trips. Also, in case you misplace the camera put a document or picture on the SD card with your contact information.

Maggie Dean says:

Thanks for the camera tip Vicky!

I’m saving up all the tips we’ve received for my next long-distance trip and update this post :)

Theresa says:

Taking my first 2-up, 5 day moto from Utah to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Nervous and excited, but scared about packing too little with 20°-30° temperature changes. What’s a Florida girl gonna do in this moto climate!? Do I wear the same thing out to dinner that I wear under my bike gear? Please help.

Mary Bailey says:

Thank you for all these wonderful suggestions! I’m going on a 5 day trip in September (I’ve never been on an overnight trip on the bike) and needed some direction in what to pack. Love everything!

I’m glad this list helped you Mary! It’s not perfect but a place to start and then you can make it your own :)

Dear Theresa – I’m bummed I missed seeing your comment and didn’t respond to your question in time to help further. I hope the trip went well and you’ve developed tips of your own for lady riders/passengers.

Hollis Hartman says:

Thank you for sharing your lists! I’m going on my first multi day trip cross country to OC CA. Renting a bike, riding thru Orange County. I am having AGITA just thinking about the small amount of belongings that I’m able to carry. Where would one find silk sock liners?

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