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Packing Light: our motorcycle touring & camping pack list

Everything we need for 5 days camping on the Isle of Man!Everything we need for 5 days camping on the Isle of Man!Packing light can be a challenge, but only really requires some careful thought about the items you choose to bring. Over the years we've been able to gradually reduce the quantity of 'stuff' we feel we need with us on our camping trips but bringing everything you need or want to live and camp on a motorcycle is a much bigger challenge still. Even more challenging is bringing everything you need for two people on just the one motorcycle!

Not only do we need to consider the final cumulative weight of our clothes and kit so as not to overload the bike, but also the sheer volume of it and where on the bike it sits best. You don't want the bike dangerously unbalanced so whatever you pack in one pannier should also have a weight equivalent on the other side.

See below for a breakdown of our camping kit for motorcycle touring. Of course your own personal requirements may differ but as a guide this is everything we will be bringing for two people for our 4 night/5 day trip to the Isle of Man TT races! 




Self inflating mattresses x 2

Double sleeping bag



Coleman F1 lite stove (gas cannister to be bought on the island as banned cargo on ferry)


Enamel pans – to double as eating bowls

Metal/Enamel mugs

Cutlery / sporks

Food/Coffee and sugar – most food to be purchased locally on the Island, the Isle of Man champions quality local meat and organic veg so we should find plenty of tasty grub to enjoy!

Seasoning & condiment sachets – our local chippy sells the Heinz squeezy sachets for 20p each - not organic like we're used to these days but extremely convenient and light.

Swiss army knife (other tools very useful indeed!) + good quality folding knife – we have a preferred knife each to use for eating and preparing food + other cutting duties around camp.



Mini First Aid Kit – click here for a breakdown on the contents of ours.

Small emergency sewing kit – Christmas cracker prizes do occasionally come in handy!

Safety pins – so many reasons! I like to attach a couple to the inside of my jacket and trouser legs so I always have a few handy when I need one!

Rain ponchos – we have the large heavy duty kind which we were very grateful to have during 2015's near-hurricane on the Isle of Man! They can also be tied up as a tarp for an emergency shelter, a bike cover or to extend the cover around your tent for yourselves.

Tools & oil etc – Ryan always packs a few tools & supplies for the bike to get us out of trouble. He usually ends up having to fix something for us or someone else wherever we go! 


Personal care:

Miniature toiletries - shampoo, shower gel & deodorant sprays (I make my own soap-deodorant which I carry in an old vaseline tin)

Folding toothbrushes & tooth paste pot – we make our own toxin-free toothpaste

Sun lotion

Bug spray – our own essential oil mix

Tissue & washlets – I usually have a pack of tissue and hand wipes in my jacket pocket, never get caught without loo roll or hand washing facilities in a public toilet again!

Microfibre towels – best camping gizmo ever! We love them so much we're going to switch out all of our regular towels on board Waki too!

Castile soap, sponge and dishcloth for washing up – It's very unlikely you'll use a whole bar so cut a small piece from the soap bar to reduce weight and volume.



Socks, underwear and more socks! Damp feet do not make for a comfortable camping experience so make sure you have enough socks to change into at night.

Sleeping outfits/base layers – our night wear also doubles as our night/cold-weather travelling base layers.

Spare trousers, shorts & t-shirts - when space and weight is at a premium it may be worth considering what you can wash and re-wear when on site. Choose items that dry quickly like polyester, in case the weather isn't the drying kind. I especially like trousers that also turn into shorts!


Ladies extras - make-up, sanitary wear, comb/folding brush, hair bands etc + spare earring backs. 


Other extras:

Head torch – better than a hand held variety for hands free work, make sure the batteries are fresh before you leave.

Bungy straps – for securing gear to the bike

550 paracord – in case a bungy strap or guy rope breaks, and can also be split down into smaller strands for sewing repairs.

Books/magazines (it's a long ferry ride!) - yes a kindle would be much better for weight and volume but for now I just bring along a paperback, perhaps if I ask nicely this Christmas...?

Ordnance survey map

Road atlas – we just take the relevant pages of the journey to display in tank bag.

Radio – last year our wind up radio came in handy and has the added benefit of an extra torch.

Mobile phones and a charger

Travel snacks & drinks – eating on the road can be tricky and expensive so we like to pack our own organic/healthy snacks.

Camera, SD cards & spare batteries – high quality photos are important to me & my cheap phone's camera cannot compete with the albeit heavier DSLR. I can also use the big camera whilst riding and in my bike gloves for an interesting perspective! In the future I aim to upgrade my gadgets to a better overall solution but for now it's the best I have. 


Need a little more help to pack light? See our handy guide here for a few techniques to get you started>


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Do you have any packing tips to share with other readers? We love to hear from you, please comment below!

Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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