Motorcycle Trip Preparation and Gear Checklist

This is sort of my 'generic' checklist for trips on a motorcycle. Most of it is based on doing a trip without 'help' - meaning no tourguide, support vehicles, etc..and some items are optional based on weather and which bike I'm on.

It is changing slightly over time, and I've got to add some more items in for motorcycle camping trips, but I do indeed use this list to make sure I'm ready for a trip. Suggestions welcome.

For trips where I'm flying one way, or flying there and back, to ride a bike back or renting a bike, I bring my helmet in a helmet case, full gear (jacket, pants, gloves, boots, helmet, liners), carry on my helmet + small bag with laptop and tankbag if bringing a laptop, and usually wear my MC jacket onto the plane (mesh). My tailbag or backpack is then checked, unfortunately.

When riding the F650 or other bike with Givi or other saddlebags, I distrubute the content listed for tailbag between the saddlebags, and generally keep clothes in one, and the rest in the other (there isn't all that much weight in what I bring).

Some of the items I'm still working out the best location for, which does depend on the bike as well, and which tankbag and tail or saddlebags I use. I'm a little odd in that while it's convenient, and I could manipulate my iPhone if I stuff it in the map case of the tankbag, I refuse to keep the phone not on my immediate person, again..just in I slip that inside an inside jacket pocket, at least where off-roading is involved.  This is a trade-off - for road trips, I slip it into my tank bag with a clear cover on it or into a RAM mount to use for GPS.  

Likewise, I keep my leatherman attached to my CamelBak in a clip-on pouch. Some other bits, like disc and bike locktire repair kit .go under the seat if I've got on bike/trunk/under seat storage space, and if I expect mostly to only lock up once I pull the bags off the bike.

Yeah - it looks like a lot, and it kind of is - some of it I ignore for different trips, while my bike tool kit and tank bag, CamelBak loadout pretty much stay constant, so it’s more of a sanity check than ‘packing it all from scratch’ in most cases..

Before the trip


  • Pay any pending bills or pre-pay any coming due - maybe you’ll have Internet, maybe not - just do it and be done with it.

  • Charge cell phone, battery packs, laptop as applicable

  • Make sure you have fresh batteries in any device with removables, e.g. mini flashlight in tank bag or tool kit

  • Inventory and replace/refill first aid kit supplies if nescessary

  • Locate and make copies of driver license, passport, medical insurance cards and birth certificate in advance (especially if going out of country..)

  • Put all credit cards and copies of medical, passport, birth ceritificate etc. into wallet, tank bag or money minder well in advance of trip to avoid ther ewhole - where the heck is it? fun before leaving on the trip..


  • Check fluids

    • oil

    • coolant

    • brake fluid - top off or replace if it’s due

  • Snug/check bolts

    • Engine mount bolts

    • tripe/forks/suspension

    • front and rear axles

  • Misc

    • clean, lube and adjust chain - check sprockets 

    • check tire pressures

      • SV: 36F 39R for Contis

      • DRZ: 30F 32R for street MEFOs, air down at dirt to 16F/18R (get rimlocks if doing this..)

      • F650: 36F 38R on MEFOs

Tail or Saddlebags


CamelBaks are awesome, including for road-only rides.  You can get them in sizes ranging from a water/fluid bladder only, to one that has some amount of storage room. Anywhere the potential for riding in hot weather exists, I fill it up with Gatorade or ice and water, and only put soft things inside for storage 'just in case.' I currently have a CamelBak clone made by Fox, and like it quite a bit.  It’s sort of close to this one but cheaper than official CamelBaks.

Tank bag

  • tire pressure gauge

  • Tire pump

  • Tire repair kit (plugs or tube/patches depending on bike/tire/tube…)

  • helmet cable lock

  • Small tube of lens cleaner

  • 2x small microfibers

  • tiny can of chain lube

  • Powerlet cable splitter if needed, otherwise power cables to run anything on bike and RAM mount, etc.

  • monocular

  • Knife (has to get checked if packed here and flying..)

  • First aid kit - making sure tylenol or ibuprofen, muscle relaxers and anti-diarhea tablets are filled up

  • Vitamins and meds - if any

  • lighter

  • smokes or e-cig supplies

  • Any printed stuff - guide or route maps, reservation printouts, ...

  • maps if any - worth having when going where cell service may not exist..

  • spare set of spark plugs

  • 8mm and 10mm double-end box/open wrenches - rest in bike toolkit

  • Kickstand plate if needed (soft asphalt)

  • throttle rocker/crampbuster if you use one - can help on long trips

  • Sunblock

  • Checkbook (yeah - sometimes you get stuck and actually wind up having to use these things.. :-/ )

  • Medical insurance card or copy + prescription insurance card/copy

  • Mini LED flashlight

  • A small roll or partial roll of electric or duct tape

  • Small spool of stiff wire

  • Small pair of channel-looks

  • Tire tool kit

  • Spares for bike fuses if applicable

  • Spare master link if applicable to the bike

  • Small tube - JB weld

  • Sunglasses and/or glasses

  • Waterproof memo pad and Fine Sharpie

  •  spare bulbs - tail, turn, headlight

  • Spare set of earbuds or in-ear bluetooth headphones (I usually use a loose earplug and 1 in-ear earbud when riding longer-trips on-road)

  • Cold weather - balaclava

  • Optional: small or half a roll of TP in a sealed bag, squished - more if going to be away from civilization for several days potentially

Packed in backpack or other - assuming checking for flight

  • riding pants

  • Riding jacket

  • Riding jacket thermal liner - bring if in doubt for night riding or surprise weather

  • Weather conditional - additional fleece or thermal vest

Have on hand - assuming fly out, ride back

  • Reservation info - printed or on phone (note - may not have cell service for all destinations so yeah, I print anything other than flight res..)

  • Helmet in case

  • In wallet or tank bag

    • Relevant bike insurance and paperwork

    • medical insurance and prescription card or copies

    • emergency contact info and note of any medical conditions, if applicable

    • emergency cash

    • credit cards to be used for trip, or at least one for emergency use

  • house and bike keys

  • cell phone

  • motorycle jacket - wear on plane if need be

  • motorcycle boots - wear on plane, easier to pack sneakers if needed 

  • Stuff regular riding gloves into helmet case

  • Dew rag and spare microfiber stashed in helment case

  • Normal earbuds or headphone stuffed in helmet case

  • Hidden pouch/money minder with some cash, passport and birth certificate + copies of each - yeah, you really do not want to be stopped by armed guards and handing them the real thing if it can be avoided.. :(