Fuzzy Damn Slippers,
Blow Driers and other must haves!
 or Packing the Essentials

by Clifford Meier
May 1st, 2007

 

Back in my single days when riding alone, I never had to worry about such important touring gear. 

Additional pair of jeans, two additional shirts, shorts and socks, add a coat and chaps with gloves and I was good to go for a week long trip. Not only was I good to go, I had room to spare for tools and souvenirs I’d pick up along the way.  

Until Carol came along and we decided to get married taking our honeymoon trip on the bike, I had no clue how important and difficult packing the essentials for a trip could be.

Our planned trip was to leave Denver, heading up through Salt Lake, stopping to get married in Lake Tahoe, head over to the California coast, back to Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Arizona for the north rim of the Grand Canyon, down to Durango and Mesa Verde and then home. It was a bit over 3000 miles and 17 days.

So I tell Carol, you get a saddle bag and trunk; give me the clothes you need to take. Out comes the full length robe, fuzzy slippers, curling iron, 5 pairs of jeans, 27 shirts, several dozen unmentionables, 3 pairs of shoes, a coffee pot and a wedding dress.

I set the robe, slippers, curling iron, 3 pairs of jeans, 21 shirts, 18 unmentionables, coffee pot and two pairs of shoes aside. I then said again, clothes that you need to take. Oh my, let the fun begin. Hey, I allowed her to keep the wedding dress and shoes!

She did convince me that helmet hair was unacceptable for a bride by saying, if I wanted her as a companion on our honeymoon she would bring the hat of her choice. This was not open for discussion.

Silly me, to think she would find a ball cap to her liking. After a long and arduous search, she presents to me this tall crowned straw hat with a 4” brim. No worries, with a little ingenuity I fabricated a bracket to hold the hat in place while maintaining its fine shape. 

Admittedly I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the point. We learn by experience what we should pack and it’s truly amazing how little a person really needs.

With Mac and his discussion about trekking to Alaska and the Spring Fling just around the corner it seems like a good time to discuss what essentials you really need to pack.

My list has a set of core items that I consider essential but it evolves depending on the length or type of trip. You may have your own ideas as to what you define as essential for your core as this list is very subjective.

Starting with the core items, these are with me at all times no matter what distance the ride.                                         Sign reads: Honeymooners on board

  • A spare Key for your bike and bags. You only have to lose your key once to ruin the entire trip.

  • Basic tool kit, adding a decent screw driver (one handle with exchangeable bits)

  • 4” Crescent wrench

  • Crimping pliers and wire connectors

  • Wire ties, roll of black tape

  • Toolzall

  • Air pressure gauge, and a large can of Fix a Flat

  • Flashlight

  • Knife

  • Hose clamps, 2 – 3/8”, 2 – 3/4”. It’s amazing how many broken brackets you can repair with a hose clamp and tape.

  • Scrunchies – You know, those little things that hold your hair back? I hate to get mats in my hair.

  • Camera and tripod

  • Autocom communication system

  • Cell phone – programmed with three ICE numbers. ICE is the acronym for “In Case of Emergency.” Should the unfortunate happen the authorities can contact ICE #1 Carol on her cell, #2 Carol at home and #3 my parents.

  • Extra batteries for cell, camera and Autocom

  • Clear glasses for night riding

  • Lightweight and medium weight gloves

  • Coat

  • Rain suit

  • Sun screen

  • Lip balm

  • Water bottle

  • Advil and Decongestant

  • First Aid Kit

When the ride is overnight or several days, in addition to the core items I pack the following.

  • Toiletries

  • Jeans one pair for two days, packing no more than two

  • Shirts, underwear 4 clean changes.  The 5th day you find the Laundromat

  • Flip flops for camping showers and evening wear

  • Battery charger for cell, camera and Autocom

  • Pin and paper for notes and logs

  • Bike cover

  • Lap top

  • Volt ohms meter

  • 3 foot of 3/8 siphon hose – you never know when you might need some gas

  • Bike cleaning supplies – Honda polish and a couple of rags

  • Cash

What type of ride is it going to be? Are you camping or staying in the hotel, maybe a combination of both?

If you’re camping you need to add Camping gear.

  • Tent, stove, cook pot, sleeping bags, hikers roll up mattress.

  • Bath towel

I never had room for a cooler so at the last fuel stop for the day I would stop and pick up dinner and breakfast supplies. Always remember, any left over food attracts animals. I put the left over’s in the mess kit and tie it up in a tree outside of camp.

I would suggest if you haven’t ridden your bike loaded down for a while or especially if you never have, to do a few dry runs. Pack it up just like you would for your trip and put a few miles on it. Get accustomed to how it handles, change your shock settings, make sure you’re not overloaded and that the bike is comfortable for the long trip.

Check your tires for wear and nails, check oil and lights, making sure to air your tires to a higher PSI for the added weight and set your shocks to accommodate a heavier load.

When packing, make sure to equalize your load between your bags. If you are running a tail pouch, keep it as light as possible, you don’t want all your heavy weight on the rear. Keep the weight low and as far forward as possible for better handling.

Pack your bags in layers for easy access and remember where you packed everything. Invariably you will need to find something at the bottom of the bag and you don’t want to unpack everything on the side of the road just to find the sun block.

Now that you’re packed up and good to go, lock the bike in the garage, get a good night sleep and the most important aspect of any ride, be safe. If you’re tired, take a break, stretch and have a snack.

Enjoy the experience, no matter what you encounter, have fun and make some memories.

I’d like to hear your comments and suggestions. Maybe we can compile everything into one document and post it for future reference.

Until we ride again,
Cliff