Need Help Packing for a Motorcycle Trip

Best advice and tips

Dear WRN,

We are planning a tour to Sturgis, South Dakota. Will be gone for about 10 days. Would appreciate any input from any women tourers on how to pack, what to take, etc. I will only be allowed one saddlebag! Thank you for your help.

Sandra Hill
Marshall, AR

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13 thoughts on Need Help Packing for a Motorcycle Trip

  1. I’m a long distance rider, every chance I get. Each time I go on a long trip, I realize there is something else that I should have left home and a better way to pack what I do bring. I pack everything in Ziplock bags to save room and keep it dry. Ironed clothes pack tighter and allows you to start the day looking neat. Three days-worth of clothes is usually enough because you can wash on the third day. Raingear, a sweatshirt for cool nights. A few tools for simple repairs or to take off the seat and zip ties. Small flashlight, doo-rag, and cap. Flipflops to give your feet a break from the boots. They pack small and are great if you are camping—you can wear them in the shower. I also bring my tablet. Great for finding places to stay, restaurants, or interesting side trips.

  2. I have got mountaineering waterproof bags from a shop here in Australia called Anaconda. When I packed for our trip to Sturgis I had one of these larger bags, and yes it fits neatly into a saddlebag with heaps of side room to spare. In my bag I can carry: one pair of jeans, five t-shirts, one pair of shorts, three bras, seven undies — with room to spare. You roll these bags when packed and it sucks the air out of them leaving you heaps of room. I usually carry a hand towel too. Your mountaineering shops in USA would have similar bags.

  3. Hi there! For 10-days, with one saddlebag? Time to get creative, but totally manageable! Any chance you can wear a backpack or do you have an oversized purse? Luggage rack maybe? Bungee nets are the best! I’d take two changes of the basics–go commando if necessary! Wear one and you can wash along the way. Wicking type fabric is good, it dries quickly! I know lots of gals that save ratty socks, bras and panties for travel and just toss them as they go! (May work for you next trip?) Heavy jacket and gloves — you may not have to wear but you’ll want them after the sun goes down. Rain gear is a must. Travel size toiletry items only. (These you can pick up daily along the way and most hotels will give extras if you ask.) Wear more than one layer if you have to. Ship stuff home you picked up along the way. You’ll be surprised how little you really need! Ball cap for your hair–turn it backwards under your helmet? Stuff any make-up items in jacket pockets or in those little nooks and crannies in the saddlebag (don’t fret about being a glamour queen while there–it’s easy to spot the trailer queens so you wear that ball cap like a boss that rode to trailer week!) Oh…pick the right saddlebag, too. If ya have to pull over to put rain gear on your fanny won’t be toward traffic while you’re getting in the saddlebag and you can keep an eye on traffic at the same time.Don’t forget your sense of humor and an ounce or two of patience. It’ll be a great trip! Be safe and have tons of love and laughter along the way.

  4. Pack your 8 to 10 days of clothing/etc. in a post office box and send to your motel. Inform them of it coming prior to your arrival. Have pre-paid for return in same box. This way you only have to carry 2 to 3 days of really required stuff…jeans/tops/socks/undies/toothbrush and rain gear on bike. Lot less of hassle to travel to and from that way. If you need added clothing for cool/cold temps…stop at a shopping center to sweats or other items. Been doing this for years as many motels are more than happy to help you…just ask for their help.

  5. You need much less than you think. The main thing is clean socks and under things (I wear coconut socks which can be worn for days without washing. they are amazing), travel size toiletries, extra pair of jeans, tank top, t-shirt, sweatshirt and rain gear. Put everything in ziplock bags, squeeze the air out of them, throw it all in your saddlebag, and you are good to go!

  6. One gallon ziplock bags are a Godsend! I could fit five tee shirts and a pair of jeans on one bag. We went to Sturgis and I also had one saddlebag to use on my husband’s bike. Nice that it’s summer and the clothes are lightweight. I rolled up my tee shirts and jeans (helps with the wrinkles too) and they went in one bag. Another bag was socks, under-things and more tops, shorts. A a third bag for toiletries. Voila!You just have to squeeze all the air out before you zip and flatten out the bag. Fits great in a saddlebag. And, your things are protected from water or rain.Keep it simple. You won’t need much in Sturgis. And you’ll probably want to bring things home. In that case, if you have no room, we shipped our things in a small box at a post office!

  7. I’ve been going to Sturgis for about 13 years now. The last three years have been solo since my husband passed away. He always wanted to trailer his so there was always room for everything. When he passed, I traded in my ’93 Harley Low Rider for a 2011 Harley FLHTK Ultra Classic Limited (I needed the extra room for my “stuff”). I usually go for about eight days. I take two pairs of jeans and a pair of yoga capris to hang around in (I do not wear shorts LOL). Then I take about nine to 10 different tops, mostly t-shirts or tanks) and of course undies and socks. I stay in my trailer that I store in the Black Hills so my other stuff is all there (hair dryer, curling iron, coffee maker, etc.) I roll all of the clothes into tight little rolls and carry it in my bag. My toiletries and undies and socks go into the little bag that sits on top of the other bag and it rides on the passenger seat behind me. Of course, since I have all this room, I always carry rain gear, leather jacket, chaps, hoodie, light hoodie and hair accessories and sun glasses. I still usually have lots of room. Two years ago I bought a T-Bag that sits on the trunk too so I can bring groceries if I want and to pack whatever goodies I buy. I also carry tools, bungee cords, medical kit, water and other items. But I usually put on about 5K miles a year so I am always prepared. I love the bigger bike for this reason but the key is to ROLL ALL OF YOUR CLOTHES INTO TIGHT ROLLS.

  8. The first year I went to Sturgis, I was soooo very proud of my packing job. My husband, who is a 25 year veteran of the rally, without saying so, looked at my bike and his expression said, “You pack like a girl.” Five years later, I still pack like a girl, rather a biker chick. We are campers. Anything we can send for our outdoor creature comforts, we do. At the end of the rally, we pack up and send it all home. I pack for the four days of riding. I mostly live in my leathers, so a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans gets me there. Cotton tees are easy to roll up which is how I am able to fit my duds and suds into one pack. As others have said, travel sized goods are perfect for the road, and you can buy everything else you need when you get there. I would also suggest learning the fine art of bungee tying. Have a blast and see you on the road!

  9. Only having one bag is a problem. My husband and I have been riding from California to Sturgis since 2003. We pack our old clothes and throw them away to make room for new stuff we buy in Sturgis. Our bags are used to pack safety gear that we can put on and take off as needed. You will need a rain suit, very warm jacket and gloves. You also need to plan for very hot weather. If your staying in hotels they will have all the hygiene items you need. Once in the Black Hills plan on having four seasons in one day. One minute it’s hot the next your getting hit with crazy hail. Good luck ride safe see you in Sturgis.

  10. Only one pair of jeans, especially if your wearing chaps because those will help keep them clean. Travel size makeup and hair products. I’m sure you can buy anything you forget there. Sunscreen!

  11. OK…I assume you’re the passenger? If so my suggestion would be to get a rack that goes behind passenger seat. You can put a good size T-bag there to hold rain suits, emergency equipment, etc. That might leave more room in the other saddle bag? Saddlebag liners or garbage bags are easy to put in and remove.Also throw away socks and underwear. There is always a Walmart somewhere?Lastly, if possible, wash your clothes every three days, at night in the motel!(Some people I know have mailed there stuff to motels/hotels/family ahead of time.) Have an awesome time! Wish I were going too!

  12. Three changes of underwear, socks and shirts. All made of quick dry wicking material. Rinse out in sink in the evening. Will be dry by morning. Walking shoes if your boots are not fun to use or sandals. Basically if you don’t wear it on when you ride, you don’t need it. Don’t forget sunscreen!

  13. I would buy a bag like the Lululemon Go Lightly, a huge fanny pack if you will. In there keep wallet, sunglasses, all cosmetics and meds, gloves, jewelry, doo rags, cell phone chargers, and wear that on waist to the side. I would get a thin down jacket that rolls into a bag for when it’s cold and to add a layer under your coat. I ride and can’t tell you how many times I grab my black down jacket. I wear a leather coat with lining as my one coat and tuck a bungee cord in the bag. If too hot, bungee leather to your seat and sit on it!Here’s the compact down jacket I like. I’d buy leg leathers from and wear those instead of packing chaps. Again, they are on you and not packed. These keep your jeans from getting filled with bugs, etc.Ten pairs of underwear in a ziplock bag, all black Jockey Staycool women’s bikini or whatever you prefer. This contains “Outlast” technology, fabric that is moisture wicking. I think these are great. Three pairs of jeans: one on you; two in bag; tank tops, flip flops, socks and a good tennis shoe. Shampoo and conditioner should be travel size, or buy containers and put in a bag it in case they leak.Always good to stick in there an extension cord with a small power strip. Not sure if you are camping or hoteling it, either way there’s never enough plugs.

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