This is a motorcycle road trip gear review, in installments, from my 23 days living on the road and off of my motorcycle. I keep a personal “motorcycle diaries”, cataloging “lessons learned” and “bring next time”. These are some of my notes. More gear review categories can be found here.
- Quick and easy cooking options that are not only dehydrated meal packets
- Peanut butter packets
- Small, compact stove systems
- Stoves that allow simmering
- Becoming lazy and not wanting to cook
- Bear-resistant food canister
- Dual purpose extra water storage
You are on a motorcycle, so you could take on a little extra weight if you wanted, and do more than the dehydrated foil packet meals. I became a fan of the hydrated foil packets from Fish People, which just require heating up in boiling water. There are also Indian food packets heated in the same way. If water is scarce, perhaps not the best option; but if water is a non-issue, these meals are a possibility. If one is actually cooking, packets of paste from the Asian markets are slim and add full flavor to boiled ten-minute farro from Trader Joe’s cooked with dehydrated vegetables. Just-add-water falafel mix and hummus mix with a little bit of oil make great meals, too, and can be found at more pretentious grocery stores. Oil, butter, peanut butter, and other ingredients can be packed in various sizes of leakproof Nalgene plastic jars and bottles. In between meals, the small peanut butter packets, which I call my peanut butter shots, provide quick protein energy.
Small stove systems, particularly if you are not planning to go all-out with cooking, take up much less space. The set I brought was made by Snow Peak. I also brought a small cast iron skillet, which fit perfectly around the base of my Nalgene when packing, and helped me make friends at the campground – I heated up chocolate chip cookies, and they tasted as if they had just come out of the oven. Something to also consider with a stove is one that allows simmering. On my 7-week solo road trip a few years ago (on four wheels instead of two), I had a JetBoil. I learned that it was great for boiling, but not if you wanted to make quesadillas or pancakes, unless you do not mind your quesadillas and pancakes burnt on the outside and uncooked on the inside. A stove with more range control with the flame allows more options.
Despite having a more versatile stove, however, be prepared for getting lazy about cooking. You may find that if it is cold, if you are tired, or for whatever reason – you just lack the effort or care to cook. In that case, those boil-in-water foil packet meals or the just-add-water dehydrated meals may be a good idea.
Depending on where you are going, and what you want to be doing, having a bear-resistant food canister might be a good idea. I knew that if traveling and camping through Canada, precautions must be taken in terms of bears. I could find almost no information on whether campgrounds had food lockers. I do not have much experience hanging bags of food and toiletries, and if I planned to stop for hikes as well, thought bringing a bear-resistant food canister would be easiest. Indeed, most campgrounds had signs warning that you needed to protect your food from bears, yet not all of those campgrounds provided food lockers. Trailheads did not have food lockers, but with my bear-resistant food canister, I was able to remove the container from my motorcycle, and place it several feet away from my bike. However, I found out the hard way that Parks Canada, at least in Jasper and Banff National Parks, require staff to confiscate any visible food, even if locked in a bear-resistant food canister. After a few frantic hours, I was reunited with my food, and was told to next time make the food not visible – even just covering it with a jacket would have kept my food from being taken. I thought that covering could be another job for the multipurpose motorcycle rain fly I had made and brought.
In terms of water, having extra is always a good thing. I brought a 32-ounce Nalgene (around which I had wound my emergency duct tape), and a non-hard plastic Platypus liter bottle that I kept in my motorcycle jacket’s lower back pocket for easy access. In addition, I had brought a backpack for hiking, and kept in there a 3-liter hydration reservior, which primarily acted as my extra water, but was also the water I carried across the glaciers and scree on my eleven-hour, two-summit mountaineering expedition. Water can be one of those items that can be packed more creatively, and in items that can be collapsed or folded to take up less space when filled.
And, as I mentioned before in these gear reviews, I think the groups to get the best lightweight, compact, and meal variety advice from are the backpackers and bikepackers, as they carry and move all of their gear under their own steam, so are the group who have especially refined strategies and pack lists.
See the rest of the Motorcycle Diaries