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.
- Chain lube
- Binder clips
- Multipurpose motorcycle rain fly
- Making your own stuff
Chain lube was the only item I forgot when packing for my road trip. It is not something one necessarily has to bring on weekend camping trips, and so it had not crossed my mind. Another motorcyclist lubed my chain with his can once I realized I had not brought any, and then in the next town a couple of hours away, I bought my own.
My favorite tool are vise grips, and my favorite office item are binder clips, which are like the vice grips of the office. I brought a half dozen or so small binder clips on my trip, and they were great for many things, especially hanging clothes or parts of my tent on a drying line or on my motorcycle, so they would not blow away. Multipurpose, small. Bring them, or something similar.
One of the things I made for my trip was a motorcycle rain fly. Seattle Fabrics has outdoor cloth of all sorts, so I got some of the lightweight waterproof ripstop nylon that tents are made out of, put string with S-biners in the four corners. The strings often got tangled when the sheet was rolled up small and packed away, so design could be evolved (such as using webbing instead of string), but that little sheet is wonderfully multipurposed. I used it as a rainfly on my motorcycle, so I did not have to wake up and start the day sitting on a wet seat. It kept underneath so dry, that another motorcyclist who wanted to leave me a paper pamphlet with information on the local area, tucked that paper booklet under the rainfly and on my seat, it the booklet stayed dry. Another way I used that nylon fly was when I opened up my motorcycle to examine the leads coming out of my battery: I placed the sheet underneath the bike, so if any screws were to fall, they would not get lost in the dirt. The sheet could act as a picnic footprint, a tent footprint to claim a campsite if one was not quite ready to set up camp, or even as a cover of the bear-resistant food canister so that Parks Canada staff would not be required to confiscate the food (see Motorcycle Camping Road Trip: Food and Water). It is cheap and nonessential, so if it is stolen or blows away, it is not a huge loss. Yet it takes up so little space, it feels like there is no compromise in bringing it along.
And this leads me to another recommendation: make your own stuff. I visited Seattle Fabrics several times: I got double sided Velcro to strap items onto my panniers, made everything from reflective high visibility emergency indicators, a waterproof tripod cover, dry bag for my camera, the motorcycle rain fly, a lightweight toiletries bag, and next time would make a waterproof bag to sit upon my pannier. There are a lot of things that are not designed ideally, or maybe they are meant to be but their function turns out more stock than tailored – so be creative in making them work, or making something that works.
And finally, the other miscellaneous items I was glad I had:
- Two black trash bags (one for boots if going urban or on an excursion in other footwear, and one to wrap a wet tent in so the tent would not get everything else in the pannier wet)
- Sewing kit (the top button of my pants always manage to get ripped off from the chafing of either motorcycle pants or rock climbing harnesses)
- Gas canister (just in case)
- Sharpie and writing utensils (never know what you need to write notes on)
- Extra ultralight backpack type bags (can always find a use for them)
- Coin purse
- Windshield spoiler (made the ride much more pleasant)
- NoNoise Earplugs (washable, better fit in the ear, and designed to reduce the harmful decibles but enable hearing of important noises, like vehicles approaching from behind or officer’s questions at the border; expensive for a pair of earplugs, but worth it considering they are reusable for quite some time)
- Chair (did not use much but nice when did)
- Hammock (always fun, and when I had a set-up of motorcycle camping on the edge of the lake where I got to eat dinner on my hammock with the water rippling below me – I really felt like I was living the ultimate life)