Packing 101: The essentials for an off-road trip

In Motorcycle Gear, Motorcycle Trip Packing & Planning by Julian5 Comments

Is there anything better than a riding trip away with your mates? We don’t think so. And for riders in the Northern Hemisphere, we are moving into peak riding season. As the days get longer, the plans start being made for everything from mid-week evening rides after work to weekend ride-outs, and even weeks away on the trails and back roads.

But if you are anything like the guys we ride with, packing is a disorganised and haphazard time when things get thrown into kit bags and vans, filthy kit lies on top of clean, seeping oil cans ooze onto riding gear and it’s an all-out mess.

And what’s worse, when you get there, you’ve always forgotten the vital bits, so you are left with a gas cooker with no gas, a torch with no batteries and not a single toilet roll between ten of you.


A badly packed van - check
Badly packed van – check

So in an effort to save our loyal readers from that pain, we thought we’d put together some handy lists to make sure when you arrive you can focus on the riding, not what you’ve left at home.

We’ve mainly listed kit for an off-road jaunt, so that’s the reason for the dirt-focus, but the things you need will off course vary depending on whether you are going on a trail riding trip, adventure bike caper or road bike road trip.

Either way, it’s better to have and not want, then want and not have …



So lets assume you are going with a bunch of mates. There’s no need for you all to take a toolbox, but be sure the one that does is the boy with all the tools and gizmos, rather than your dopey mate who’s got some gas station sockets and a wooden screwdriver. You need a comprehensive set of tools in case it all goes wrong, and if they do then you’ve got the chance of mending things and riding the next day. This blog list is not going to cover what’s in the toolbox, that’s for another day, nor is it going to cover your riding toolkit, which you can read about here.

Oh and while we have your attention, makes sure your bike is up to the trip. Don’t take a bike with known faults and hope it will be OK – if it goes wrong you are wrecking your day and your mates’ too. If it’s a long trip you are going on, you might want to think about fresh tyres – or at least a new rear, and maybe look at the condition of the chain and sprockets. Make your bike the best it can be so that way you are not the one at the side of the trail while everybody else is waiting for you to clean a year’s mud out of your carb ….


Trail riding toolkit
A good working toolkit is essential

As for the things that you need for your bike, do make sure you take the essentials, rather than relying on pinching everyone else’s.

Here’s the basics, you can supplement as appropriate for your scoot. We’ve shown large cans here, but you can scale down the sizes to cover an oil change if required, enough premix oil to cover the distances plus a bit more, and a full coolant replacement.


Just the basics!
Take what you need, don’t borrow!

Spare Air filter & oil                Engine oil

Two-stroke oil                         Coolant

Chain lube                               Fuel  – if riding in remote areas

Chain and lock                         Exhaust bung  – if bike left outside overnight

Fork seal cleaner                    Brake fluid

WD40                                      Clean Rags

Nitrile / latex gloves               Hand cleaner


All the bikes


We’ve all got a garage full of kit in various states of repair, but if you are going on an trip away, try to choose the kit that is in good condition and you’ve worn at least once before. Old manky kit is just nasty to wear for long periods of time and with box fresh stuff, you’ve no idea if it’s going to rub in places you never expected. Choose the favourite kit that you’ve had for a while but still washes up nice.


Pile of kit
Take tried and trusted kit

Oh and while we are on the subject of washing up nice, always make sure you take clean kit, not stuff still caked in mud from the last time you rode – it’s not big, it’s not clever and your mates don’t want a bag of kit smelling like a damp flannel next to them in the van – do they Dave? Wise up and learn how to use the washing machine fella..


Man and machine
Get busy with the Hotpoint chaps – Image: Irish Examiner

So let’s list the essentials. We’re going to include body armour because we think it is a must on all rides, and if you’ve booked a week off work, then picking up an injury on day one because you are too cool to protect yourself is not smart. Again – wise up and wrap up. We’re reckoning on two sets of kit as a minimum to allow one to dry out while you are wearing the other.

Riding shirts x 2                Riding trousers x 2                 Boots

Leggings x 2                      Under shirt x 2                       Body armour

Knee pads / braces            Under-armour                        Riding jacket

Gloves x 2 pairs                Neck tube  – if cold                  Helmet liner – if hot

Waterproof trousers        Waterproof jacket                     Waterproof socks

Helmet                            Goggles x 2                               Kidney belt

Safety glasses                 Camelback                                Isotonic drink mix

Neck brace –  if high-speed  or desert riding


And while you are at it, invest in a decent kit bag to keep it all together, rather than using three ripped bin liners …


Fox kit bagThis is what trail biking is about


and we love it!

Ride Expeditions provide the best motorcycle adventures in South East Asia.

From to ripping through the jungle on a dirt bike in Cambodia, to cruising the high plains in the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield – we’ve got it covered. Don’t just put it on your bucket list – put it in your diary!


When you’ve finished riding, you are going to want to get out of that kit. Don’t think you want to remain in something you’ve sweated in for eight hours, and even if you do, your mates wont be so impressed. What you need to take will depend on where you are staying, so let’s do the basics first as if you’ve got a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ booked, then a separate camping list.

Jeans / joggers                           Boxers / Kecks  – at least 1 pair per day

Socks – 1 pair per day                 T Shirts

Warm jumper                            Wash bag with toothpaste / razor etc.

Beanie hat /gloves  – if cold      Sun cream / sunnies  – if hot

Painkillers                                Antiseptic cream

Shoes – lightweight                  Shorts

Flip flops / thongs – ideal after showers and after removing riding boots


Trail riding in France


OK so for the camping kit, a lot will depend on where you are camping and in what. Wild camping miles from anywhere will need different kit compared to sleeping in your van on a proper campsite. But here’s a start of things you may need. Let’s assume if you are camping under canvas, you’ve remembered the tent..

Head torch                            Leatherman / utility knife                 Lamp

Air bed & pump                    Sleeping bag                                     Pillow

Blanket                                 Wet wipes                                         Anti bacterial hand gel

Toilet roll                             Camping stove                                  Mug

Bin bags                              Small washing line to dry kit             Small umbrella

Water bottle                       Toilet rolls                                         Lighter  

Rubber mallet for pegs     Gaffer tape & cable ties – essential for all life


The joy of trail riding
Why do we trail ride? This is why

So there’s a bit of a starter for you if you intend to extend your riding beyond your doorstep and take on the great outdoors. Go on – plan a trip right now

We’ve also listed some of the things you need if you are going on a proper adventure into unknown territory, so have a read here


Cambodia Rocks

Of course if you come on one of our tours, you just need to look pack pretty much what you need to ride in and what you need in the bar afterwards – we sort everything else.

So what do you always take? Did we miss something vital? Get in touch and join the discussion.

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    1. Author

      Hi John

      Don’t worry, I’m never knowingly underpacked!


  1. You forgot spare tubes, and a hand pump. I also keep a few common size spare bolts, and master-link, and a spare headlight bulb. Past experiences. The bulb I stuffed tight in tissue and stuffed it in a pill bottle. The other stuff fits nicely in another pill bottle.

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