Motorcycle Road Trip - Camping 101

Seen The Prices At Motel 6 Lately? C'mon, Roughing It Outdoors Will Do You Good-But Don't Get Caught Unprepared. Here Are Some Things We've Foolishly Tried To Live Without, But Couldn't

We've long touted the benefits of a good set of soft luggage (use garbage bags inside to keep everything dry); a nice-sized PVC "dry bag" will strap across your passenger seat and protect your tent, sleeping bag, etc.

We've said it before: Sh*t happens. (And it's a tad scarier when it happens out in the middle of nowhere.) For emergencies: cell phone, first-aid kit, tent-repair kit. For convenience: a flashlight/headlamp, battery-operated lantern and weatherproof matches help keep things bright; moist towelettes, all-purpose backpacking soap and toilet paper will keep your mess kit and body clean; a weather radio will keep you informed. Those small drawstring sacks available at camping stores keep small items organized, while a disc lock is good for protecting your scoot from thieving squirrels.

A hint: It will be colder and wetter than you think. Be ready. A fleece/wool hat is great for warmth, as is weatherproof riding gear you can wear while off the bike. Pack extra socks, a small towel and a clothesline. No room for extra shoes? If your riding boots are tough and have a good tread, you'll be fine.

All that clean air makes us hungry-you'll be surprised at how much your appetite grows on the road. To save space, buy food in a town near your campsite; this will also let you forego prebought canned goods in favor of something fresher like, say, a steak. (Freeze-dried meals pack small, but can be pricey.) Clif Bar energy bars are delicious and easy to pack. Grab a few extra salt/pepper/ sugar packets from a local McDonald's and pack 'em in a plastic baggie. Buy a nice mess kit, a small water bottle (and some water purification tablets) and a quality stove-this collapsible Pyromid grill ($89.95, call 800/824-4288) uses charcoal, wood or Sterno for fuel (an unleaded gasoline stove is also nice). Get yourself a collapsible chair so you can enjoy your meal, and use garbage bags to pack out your trash when you're finished. What else? Well, we've heard that a BMW hard saddlebag makes for a great beer/ice cooler.

What you need in this arena really depends on (a) how much comfort your aging body requires and (2) how much room you've got on your bike. The basics are this: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent. Really big tents are nice, but can get bulky when packed-a solo traveler should find a two-man tent sufficient to stow both body and gear. (Don't forget a ground tarp.) A mummy-style sleeping bag isn't as roomy as a rectangular bag, but packs smaller and will keep you warmer. (A stuff-sack is a must for tidy packing.) Therm-A-Rest ( self-inflatable sleeping pads roll up tight in the morning and are among our favorite in terms of comfort. For this stuff-like everything else here-we've found you get what you pay for.