May 30, 2024

My camping list for a two week tour in western Europe by motorcycle

This is a list of things (which I shall update) to take on the above tour. This is my first attempt to formalise the list, up ’til now I have been a last-minute packer, fling everything in and off I go, the upshots of this have been: no towel, no corkscrew, far too many clothes or totally inappropriate clothes for the places I went to, not enough tent pegs, taking wooden clogs and the list goes on. I have always taken far too much stuff so this is an attempt to try to take just enough or, at least, to think a bit more about what I´m taking before I go.

As usual, these sort of things come down to philosophy, do I want the ultra-spartan-experience, the medium-creature-comfort-experience or the whole-premium-hog? My theory these days is approximately the following (with weather and general well-being factored in): If I’m doing a 600 to 700 km approach march then I stay overnight under a roof with breakfast and a hot shower, I don’t need premium just uncomplicated. If I’m just doing day-by-day touring then I’m fine with camping.

I sleep best in a tent but do need some sort of decent air bed or mat (frankly I’m too old for simple sleeping mats, I prefer air) but this does necessitate finding a site at a reasonable time ie to be there by about tea-time (4-5ish pm) so that setting up, shopping and cooking or finding a restaurant doesn’t get stressful. I’m hoping to maintain a rest day every 3-4 days for laundry and general looking about also as a buffer for unforeseen eventualities. I have included the foldable camping chair which I strap sideways on pillion seat as I can then whip it off when I stop at midday and relax in the shade, some would argue that they don’t need it, I think it’s great.


A quick thought about clothing. It is worth thinking about possible climate and weather zones you might go through. If you’re going to northern Spain via the French alps in autumn then you will be passing through very different zones. I go for the onion system ie bike jacket and trousers with removable linings, a thin fleece then normal clothes and one set of thermal underwear for above and below in case of serious below 10°C temperatures. Also vital is a neck wind-breaker and scarf. I have retro-fitted heated grips because I don’t like wearing thick gloves (I use leather race gloves with lining removed). It does mean the occasional strip-tease in a lay-by but I haven’t had any complaints yet.


  • My 2.5 man tent, a tarp or sun-shadow and enough tent pegs (ground sheet built in?)
  • some thin rope for drying lines 5-10m, a handful of clothes pegs
  • decent sleeping bag, inflateable pillow
  • air bed and pump or mat if you prefer
  • socks, underwear, t-shirts for 3-4 days
  • light shoes
  • swimming trunks/costume whatever
  • one net bag and some extra bungies for attaching shopping
  • one sharp knife (best foldable)
  • one loo-roll
  • a torch (small LED type)
  • spare trousers, shorts, sunglasses, spare glasses if needed
  • Microfibre towel (dries quickly)
  • wash bag with essentials
  • any medication you might need
  • corkscrew and can-opener
  • first-aid kit (small)
  • suncream
  • lighter
  • tools for peripheral jobs and adjusting chain, duct-tape, small wd40, small bottle oil, chain lube
  • spare keys for the bike and luggage
  • mobile phone and charger
  • Navigation device
  • Passport/ID, bike ownership papers, driving license, insurance
  • Automobile club travel card (AA, RAC, ADAC etc)
  • Bank card, Visa card, some cash
  • Aluminium panniers, waterproof sack, tank-bag, bungees
  • Spare gloves
  • Decent motorcycle jacket, trousers, boots and helmet
  • plenty to drink, isotonic drink, muesli bars, power bars
  • waterproof bags for wallet, phone and electronics
  • Rain overall
  • Neck scarf or similar for cold-days/sunburned neck


  • Food for the first evening
  • Bin/trash bags
  • extra light cloth sleeping bag for hot weather
  • one set of smarter clothes
  • one foldable camping chair
  • Tilley hat (sit on it, wear it, wave it, whatever)
  • paper tissues (cleaning visor etc)
  • hand wash liquid or gel for laundry day
  • tyre repair spray
  • maps and guide books
  • A5 size notepad and pen

Optionals and cooking stuff:

  • a general purpose cloth, a vileda scourer or similar, washing-up liquid in a small bottle
  • gas cooker, gas cartouche, pan and pot with shared handle, small bottle of cooking fat
  • plate and mug
  • small Bialetti-type espresso maker, coffee in small tin
  • spoon and fork
  • salt and pepper in small container(s)
  • midge spray
  • camera and necessary cables
  • Action cam and cables (USB micro, C, and mini)
  • Camping CEE adapter and extension cable
  • Laptop/tablet for route planning
  • more waterproof bags for delicate items

download list as pdf to print here

(update: link to comments and thoughts on equipment after the trip)

Navigation and electronics:

These days a smartphone is a pretty useful tool when travelling and a computer of some sort is also useful beforehand. I use a Garmin Zumo 590 for navigation and as an extra brain and have it mounted up high behind the screen to give an overview over the route and the upcoming road.

I’m not a militant route planner but I do collect or make up possible routes and a plan B at home beforehand and use an excellent planning system called My Route App (a dutch based company of motorcycle fans, link here) which offers a free version which is great for planning, but to transfer the route to your navigator you need the gold version which does it very well via a small extra communication programme. Of course Garmin has Basecamp and other manufacturers have their programmes too but I do find Basecamp wearing to use and the dutch app is just a whole lot easier. This system has an android app for mobile use but is essentially browser based so it works on all systems with online access.

I have a few hotel search and camping search apps installed to find places en route which is very useful. Again it’s a personal philosophy thing but I do like to peruse a real paper map in the evening and a real paper guide-book to read up on what’s ahead.

Paniers, top-boxes and tankbags:

One other issue is also where to put it all. I have two aluminium bins (small but good and not very expensive german company link here) on the side, a topcase, a tankbag with quick release and a waterproof “Ortlieb” travel pack. My system is:

Aluminium bin right (smaller one): camping kit, cooking stuff, airbed. Tools, which can be heavy, I try to balance left and right so weight is roughly equal.

Aluminium bin left: clothes, wash-bag, shoes, sleeping bag and stuff I won´t need till evening

Tankbag: travel documents, wallet, sunglasses, visor cleaning things and small things I need frequently. Also heavy small things to get a bit of weight forward.

Waterproof travel bag (Ortlieb type) with camping chair strapped/bungied over back seat sideways: anything too long to go in the bins like a sleeping mat, my sun-shadow for midday breaks, flip-flops and shorts if I want to change whilst en route without having to unpack the bins. Rain overall for quick access.

Topcase: anything I want to lock away, duct-tape, all-purpose loo-roll, drinks, food, small tools, chain lube, bike lock, energy bars

After the trip - thoughts about equipment/kit — Devenir Gris
the bike – my trusty steed, a Triumph Tiger 885 built in 2000 which I bought used about 5 years ago with 13000kms on the clock. Very solid 900cc triple adventure style bike which is certainly not ...

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The author

2wheels, adventure, ecology, dad and husband, green, news, tech-fan, trauma- and orthopod, engineer and human.

View all posts by The author →