Go-To Gear For Two-Wheel Travel

Prepping for that cross-country trip you’re always dreaming about

2018 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
The 2018 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT. A perfect companion for a cross-country motorcycle ride.Yamaha

Ah, the allure of the open road. Kerouac's On the Road and Steinbeck's Travels with Charley inspired generations to pack it in for the promise of adventure, but motorcyclists know that unless you're on two wheels, you're limiting the extent of adventure from the get-go. If you've ever sat at your office desk daydreaming of distant horizons, drinking bitter coffee at greasy spoons, and pitching a tent by the light of your headlights, you've probably scribbled down a packing list to fire up the imagination—and as a form of catharsis. If you haven't, here's a list of items we'd consider strapping to the back of our bikes.

Camping Gear

If the cross-country trek you’ve been dreaming of means roughing it roadside and waking up to solace and silence beneath the pastel hues of a rising sun, some good camping gear should be in the mix. Spare your suspension and think light. If you wouldn’t put it on your back on a backpacking hike, don’t pack it on the bike either.

Nemo Galaxi
Nemo Galaxi two-person tent.Nemo

Nemo Galaxi two-person tent: On a motorcycle trip, the general rule of thumb is to take a tent that sleeps an extra person in order to accommodate your gear. The Nemo Galaxi, made in New Hampshire, is freestanding for easy setup and features a mesh canopy, a ripstop fly, and an included footprint. At just over 5 pounds, it packs well too.

sleeping bag
Mountain Hardware Ember 42-degree sleeping bag.Mountain Hardware

Mountain Hardware Ember 42-Degree Sleeping Bag: Rated down to only 42 degrees, the Mountain Hardware Ember is an ideal summer-weight bag. It packs smaller than a football and weighs just over 2 pounds. On balmy nights, it won't sweat you out, but when the mercury drops, wearing a pair of thermal underwear should see you right.

MSR PocketRocket 2 stove
MSR PocketRocket 2 stove.MSR

MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove: The PocketRocket is a stalwart in the backpacker's arsenal. Windproof, lightweight, easy to use, and at $45 it's a bargain. The little MSR boils 1 liter of water in three and a half minutes, which keeps little between you and a fresh cup of morning coffee. It runs on MSR IsoPro fuel that's readily available at any hiking store.


Drybag 600
SW-Motech Drybag 600.SW-Motech

SW-Motech Dry Bags: Even if you've got hard luggage on your bike, an SW-Motech dry bag is a nice supplement. Rather than taking up valuable space in a top box or the side cases with camping gear, stow them in a dry bag.


Air Shot inflator
MotoPumps Air Shot inflator.MotoPumps

MotoPumps Air Shot: Full disclosure—my riding buddy Rob is the owner and designer of MotoPumps inflators, but I don't think my bias enters the equation when I say the diminutive Air Shot is a must-have for long-distance travel. The Air Shot is powered by your bike's 12-volt system and comes with all necessary connectors, as well as a carrying case and a tire pressure gauge. It's incredibly powerful given its compact size, easily inflating a completely flat tire in around five minutes. With a good tire repair kit, punctures won't spell the end of the road or a call to the towing company. For more info, check out motopumps.com.

tool kit
CruzTools tool kit.CruzTools

CruzTools Tool Kits: Even if you're mechanically phobic, a few basic tools are important to take. After all, you'll need to at least adjust your chain on the road. CruzTools makes make-specific tool kits for BMW, Triumph, and KTM that include the right size tools for your bike. If nothing else, perhaps bringing it along will be insurance that you won't need it.

Benchmade 940/943 Series pocketknife.Benchmade

Benchmade 940/943 Pocketknife: A classic EDC (Everyday Carry) knife like Benchmade's 940/943 series is a compulsory tank bag inclusion. I used the knife pictured above for the better part of a decade during my previous career as a farmer. Roughed up from years of riding shotgun in a pair of duck canvas work pants, it looks even cooler than when it was new, and its CPM S30V steel blade is as sharp as ever. If it can take the daily muddy-handed mistreatment of a farmer, it'll cope with whatever the road will throw at it.

Bar Harness
Canyon Dancer Original Bar Harness.Canyon Dancer

Canyon Dancer Bar Harness: There's nothing wrong with being prepared. Count this one as a worst-case-scenario item. If your bike breaks down and you have to call a tow truck, the Canyon Dancer Bar Harness will come in handy. If you've ever trailered a bike before, you'll know that, depending on your bike, it can be difficult to use tie-downs without marring your bike's bodywork. The Bar Harness solves that problem by positioning the tie-down mounting points away from the bike.

Accessories And Two-Wheel Travel Essentials

Garmin Zumo 395LM Premium GPS.Garmin

Garmin Zumo 395LM Premium GPS Motorcycle Navigator: The best motorcycle trips are the ones where you go wherever the front wheel takes you. But for those of us with terrible senses of direction, a good GPS can keep us going in the right general direction. The Garmin Zumo includes free lifetime map updates and a full list of features, including hands-free calling, and a tripmeter. With the "Adventurous Routing" settings, riders can select their preference to avoid highways in favor of routes with twisty roads.

USB charger.
Battery Tender SAE to USB charger.Battery Tender

Battery Tender SAE To USB Charger: Use your motorcycle's battery to charge your iPhone, camera, or GPS. It's a simple solution to avoid searching for an outlet at a rest stop or grocery store.


paperback book
A good paperback fits nicely into a tank bag like this barely pictured RKA magnetic tank bag (another travel essential, come to think of it).Seth Richards

A Used Paperback: Grab a slim paperback volume that can fit in your riding jacket and you'll never be without company at a lonesome campsite or a quiet diner. Books make good currency too. Start it in the Blueridge, finish it in the Rockies, and trade it in for something different. Maybe leave a tome like War and Peace behind, but if you're considering the Russians, might we suggest, at the risk of sounding a bit pedantic, Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time to thematically complement your own tale of adventure.

hip flask
Stanley hip flask.Stanley

Stanley Hip Flask: After a long day in the saddle, sipping on a fine bourbon by the campfire is all the reward one could ever want. There's no need to rely on subpar hooch from some backwoods liquor store (though Yukon Jack and Fighting Cock have their place, mind you); fill a flask at home with your best celebratory spirit because, if pulling the trigger on the cross-country bike trip you've always dreamed of isn't cause for celebration, I don't know what is.