This article was originally published in Overland Journal’s Summer 2020 issue.
One of the wonderful things about adventure motorcycle travel is the simplicity, eschewing the complexities and excesses of daily life. As a rider, we can only bring so much, and the more we travel, the more we tend to leave behind. The less we take, the better the bike corners, and that is kind of the point.
While preparing this comprehensive rider, bike, and equipment list, I pored through my notes, paring it down to essentials. It is most important to address the critical pieces, starting with riding gear (which also protects us from the environment), survival basics, tools, navigation, and communications. Although it is tempting to bring the kitchen sink stove, I really only cook food off the bike when I am in North America. Otherwise, local offerings are a much better choice and give us a chance to mingle with people and stretch our legs. If off the grid internationally for a few days, I am happy to eat meal bars or MREs. As a result, there are only a few small items I bring for food prep, which leaves room for camera gear.
1. Store your passport and wallet in the first layers of clothing, all in waterproof LokSaks.
2. Mobile phones can be stored in the tank bag while on the bike, and in the first layer of clothing if not.
3. Keep a satellite tracker stored in the moto jacket, should the rider be separated from the bike.
4. An extra driver’s license and credit card should be stored in the tank bag.
5. Split cash between the rider and the tank bag.
6. Keep copies of all docs in the tank bag and rider’s jacket, along with digital copies in the cloud.
7. Hard cases are ideally removed easily with a key (like Touratech Zega Evo).
8. Avoid a hard-top case if traveling off-road; I prefer a waterproof duffel.
9. Avoid single-use items, or “just in case” products other than medical/emergency.
10. Work on your bike at home with your travel tools to determine what is needed.
11. Use packing cubes for everything, labeled or colored to save frustration.
12. Keep the cooking system extremely minimalist and enjoy local foods instead.
13. Use your layers and rider gear to augment a light sleeping bag.
14. No matter the camping intentions, always have a tarp—always.
15. Have all manuals as PDFs on your phone/tablet.
16. Avoid a backpack as it forces the rear jacket vents closed and unnecessarily fatigues the rider.
Basic Checklist From Scott’s Motorcycle Travels
(Note: This list is intentionally minimalist.)
Touratech carbon helmet with SENA communicator
American Optical Aviators sunglasses
Aether Expedition Suite w/D3O moto jacket and pant
Garmin inReach with GPS maps (attached to jacket)
Tire gauge, lighter, EarPro, sunscreen
White’s leather boots with D3O shin/knee guards
Bison leather gloves, coated in beeswax
Large Prometheus Design Werx scarf (can be used for EMS needs too)
Aether Waterproof Welded Duffle
Triple Aught Design Alchemy wool base layer
Beyond Clothing Celeris mid-layer hoodie
Aether Fall Line hard shell (can layer under moto gear)
Triple Aught Design Intercept jeans, one pair
Beyond Ventum pants, one pair (can be a mid-layer or for exercising)
Three Triple Aught Design Traverse Tech T-shirts (only in black to hide all stains)
Pearly’s and SealSkinz socks, three pairs total
Underwear, three pairs, synthetic
Triple Aught highland wool collared shirt
Prometheus Design Werx wool beanie
Boyne Valley Knitwear wool newsboy cap
Rolex GMT analog watch
Personal first aid kit with medications
Merrell barefoot trail runners
Microsoft Surface Go or iPad Pro
International plug converter
Note: To be placed on the back rack, lashed with RollerCam straps which can also be used to tow or lash down a bike.
Enduristan Tank Bag
Anker USB-C charging block
Charging and data cables
Sandisk 2TB SSDs, two
Hasselblad X1D medium format camera
Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 lens
Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 lens
iPhone 11 Pro Max with mapping apps preloaded
Paper maps, small compass
Nemo Hornet 2p tent
Sea to Summit Comfort Light pad
Sea to Summit Spark sleeping bag (add liner for comfort)
Sea to Summit inflatable pillow (can be used as a splint)
Tarp/poncho (critical piece of kit)
Tool kit (minimal)
Basic wrenches (dual sized ends)
Multi-bit set with grip
Plugs and hand pump (assuming tubeless)
Wire and zip ties
Electrical wire pair (for jumping) and fuses
QuickSteel metal repair
Antigravity lithium jumper pack
MSR dromedary bag for water storage, 6 liters (with shower hose)
Grayl GeoPress water filter
Ready to eat food, 72 hours worth
Optional Cooking Kit
Primus Lite+ stove
Snow Peak Titanium bowl/cup/utensils
Starbucks Via coffee