Adventure Riding Gear – What to Take
In January 2019, I had the experience of a lifetime when I was able to chase the 2019 Dakar Rally across Peru by motorcycle with my Dad, achieving a life-long dream we’d both shared.
This is what I would have changed and some ideas we got from guys on the road.
I worked on this list for a while because it formed the basis of an article I wrote for Adventure Rider Magazine about preparation, so I had to make sure I was going to get this adventure motorcycle packing list right. I enlisted the help of some friends as well as getting advice from the guys at Adventure Spec when I was ordering some gear from them and I feel as though we put together the ideal adventure motorcycle packing list.
Adventure Riding Gear – Packing List
- Adventure Spec core layers. These are a compression under garment designed specifically for long distance motorcycle riding, with antimicrobial properties and are in my opinion, far better than standard athletic choices such as SKINS etc.
- 1 x short sleeve core shirt
- 1 x long sleeve core shirt
- 1 x core shorts
- 1 x core pants
- Adventure Spec Baltic hybrid mid layer. This is an awesome jumper that not only looks awesome, but is super comfy and made from a material that can easily slide and move underneath the riding jacket, for when it’s getting cold.
- Adventure Spec Mongolia mesh jacket. This is easily the best piece of riding gear I’ve ever owned and is the cornerstone piece of their layering system, which Peru would have been far less comfortable without. I love this jacket so much that I write even more about it, just a few paragraphs below.
- Klim Goretex outer layer, to go over the top of the mesh jacket when moisture creeps up.
- Klim Dakar gloves. These are a typical enduro style glove and any brand would do.
- Klim Goretex insulated and waterproof gloves. We encountered all sorts of rain, hail, snow and rode through freezing clouds and these gloves were essential. We also rode through the 45°C desert, requiring that we had both sets of gloves for switching between.
- Adventure style helmet with visor plus the ability to wear goggles. The visor was essential for cutting down wind noise when holding 140km/h down the Pan Americana, and we would switch to goggles when encountering dense bull dust in the desert.
- Klim Carlsbad riding pants. These are an incredibly expensive item that are hard to justify, but also formed an essential part of our outfit. They have excellent vents for riding through the heat (I’ve since rode through the tropical heat of Thailand in them) but are waterproof and draft free when the vents are zipped up. If you have space for two sets of pants, you could get away with having pants for the wet and another set for the dry, but anyone riding long distance with limited space will hugely benefit from riding pants such as the Klim Carlsbad.
- Boots. These are self-explanatory. I took my trusty old Tech 3’s.
- Camelbak or comparable. We were using Kriega R20 back packs which can hold a bladder.
- Neck gaiter. Avoiding sunburn, saving dust from my lungs and not chapping my lips in the dry desert heat was definitely worth the $20 purchase.
The Best Adventure Riding Jacket – my 3-part layering system
The best adventure riding jacket, as far as I’m concerned, is the Adventure Spec Mongolia mesh jacket. You may have noticed it’s brief overview above, but I go into detail below for anyone who is interested. I’m going to give it a full break down and the attention it SO deserves.
In my recommendation for this jacket, I’m talking about real adventure riding. Not road riding a GS and claiming it’s adventure. I’ve gone skidding down rocky hills with only this jacket between me and the dirt a few times now, and that’s the type of riding I’m referring to.
The Greatest Adventure Riding Jacket MUST Be Part of a Layering System
It’s a bold claim, but one I want to get out of the way from the beginning.
I know many people who complain about layering systems as fundamentally flawed, due to the fact that you’ll occasionally have to stop to add or remove a layer. These are also the same people that enlist my help to struggle with zippers for 20 minutes when needing to add or remove the waterproof liner or closing vented sections.
Time is really only a consideration in a race, as it takes seconds to pull the outer layer out of my Kriega R20, (which is incidentally my favourite backpack/camelbak for riding) and then I’m off and away again. Adventure riding is about long distances and conservative paces, so the argument that it will take time is a moot point.
How & Why a Layering System Works
When I was chasing the Dakar through Peru and then continuing on along the edge of the Andes, the temperatures and conditions changed drastically.
The Atacama desert at sea level was a scorching 45 degrees Celsius (over 113 Fahrenheit) with no shade and the wind was dry and hot. Within 30 minutes of heading through the hills, we were down to 25 degrees as we crawled up to the higher altitudes with the bikes getting less and less power. Another 20 minutes and it was starting to rain, and within a few hours we were riding through freezing clouds, being pelted with hail and found ourselves in snow.
One jacket to manage all these conditions is not going to be comfy in any of them. Carrying three separate riding jackets would take up far too much space. The only practical solution is to have one riding jacket that can have additional layers added or stripped down.
The Mongolia jacket is nearly all mesh, made from 1000D Cordura nylon and is the most breathable protective garment I’ve ever clapped eyes on. It’s got the goods when it comes to abrasion resistance and yet, still allows more wind to come through than any motocross style shirt I’ve ever worn. This is surprising as you’d expect a super light garment to let the most through.
Once it started getting cold, we simply pulled over, put our middle layer on and were good to go within a minute. The Adventure Spec Baltic mid layer actually saves space, because it looks awesome and can replace your normal jacket in your luggage. A cornerstone of packing for adventure riding is that every item you take should at least serve two purposes.
Once it started raining, on went the Klim Gore Tex Over-Shell Jacket. Another 35 second process. I haven’t personally fallen off while wearing the Klim outer layer, however one of Dad’s straps in Peru came loose and melted against the muffler. With the straps loose, the jacket came out and got wrapped around the wheel, got pulled through the brake caliper and pulled tight against the muffler. Amazingly it was still perfectly intact other than a few scuff marks. That’s bloody strong stuff.
I also believe that the way the thick 1000D nylon is weaved in the Mongolia jacket, is responsible for saving the soft tissue/tendons etc in my right arm. I was jousted off my bike by a broken branch tip that caught me right on the inside of my right elbow when I was in Thailand. It was enough force to rip me off the bike and send me head first into a river where the bike landed on top of me. I’m convinced it would have done a lot of damage if I was wearing a normal riding shirt. This was also in the very hot, very humid tropics where it handled the weather conditions perfectly.
The Best Mesh Riding Jacket
I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with riding gear technology. When I first got my hands on the Mongolia mesh jacket, it revolutionised my world.
I’ve had a look at and even tested all the other major players for mesh jackets. Nothing comes close. Klim have the overall adventure market, RST Moto cater for those on a tighter budget, but no jacket looks after true, long distance adventure riding involving heat, snow, dust and sliding along your belly on a rocky track like Adventure Spec’s Mongolia jacket.
The Best Adventure Riding Jacket
So there you have it, my opinion on the best adventure motorcycle jacket and layering system that money can buy. The Adventure Spec Baltic mid layer, Mongolia mesh jacket and the Klim Gore Tex Over-Shell Jacket. The perfect trio and the best adventure riding gear.
Adventure Motorcycle Camping Equipment
- Sleeping bag. Depending on where you’re headed, will determine what rating sleeping bag you need. It’s important not to be taken in by the marketing of the sleeping bag by basing your decision off of the lower limit rating — which means at that temperature, you probably won’t die — but rather look for the comfort rating, which is a far more accurate indicator.
- Sleeping bag liner. These will add an extra layer of insulation for the real cold nights while still being volume/size efficient and will also allow you to not sweat buckets on the nights that aren’t freezing.
- Compression bag. Regardless of the size of sleeping bag you buy, it could always do with being a bit smaller. The real key here is that good sleeping bags are very expensive and good sleeping bags that pack down really small are INCREDIBLY expensive. You could shave $200 off the price of your sleeping bag and still pack it down to the same size by using a $20 compression bag.
- Chair. This was controversial with some of the guys we met on the road as some would claim it was unnecessary. Taylor, one of the great guys that we met was saying something to that effect, but also took an Aeropress, coffee grinder and fresh beans with him and as much as I enjoyed the fresh brew we had in Arequipa one morning, I think I’d rather have the chair. Ian also claimed he wouldn’t be able to fit one with his kit, but I did see him borrowing it one night when backing up footage from the drone he carried with him, on to his laptop which he also carried. I guess it’s just a matter of priorities. There’s several companies that make sturdy, ultra lightweight chairs that pack down small for around $200, but we were able to find some for the same size, only 100gms heavier and also rated for our heffalump size/weight for only $59 at BCF (an Australian retailer).
- Mattress. Another one we cheaped out on was a mattress. With the better options costing around $200, we opted for $20 versions from Kmart. They packed down to a slightly larger size, but offered almost the same inflated product and were self-inflating.
- Pillow. $2 for an inflatable pillow made Kmart the choice once again. There’s better products for $60 that are much comfier, but they don’t offer any saving in size. It’s something I’ll be getting for my next trip, but we were already maxed out on our budget for this one.
- Crockery & Utensils. We took one pot, large enough for the Coleman cooker to fit into and two small bowls that could be stacked on top as lids. A military style can opener. We then took 1 set each of a knife, spoon and fork that clip together. There’s some great titanium options on the market to save weight, but I can’t bring myself to drop $70 on a fork. I also took three bottle openers, so that we were never unable to accept a beer if the occasion arose.
- Ground sheet. This was a really worthwhile addition to the packing list, especially as everywhere we camped was made up of talcum-like fine powder known as Fesh Fesh, quite similar to bull dust in Australia. We used the material from an old trampoline.
- Tents. These are another product that triple in price as soon as you start saving weight and space. We were eventually able to find some OZtrail tents on sale for $150 each. They were the same size and weight when packed down as the $600 MSR’s etc. but were much smaller when erected. Having a larger tent would have been nice, but was not essential. We’ve got a full breakdown of choosing the right tent that goes into much greater detail.
Motorcycle Camping Stoves – The Ultimate Break Down
In this breakdown of motorcycle camping stoves, I’m going to go over the three main types that you’re likely to encounter in your search and discuss the pros and cons. I’ll go into what I think are the best brands and why I use the one that I do.
Gas Stoves for Motorcycle Camping
Gas stoves, when the right model has been chosen can be wonderfully efficient ways of cooking food and making hot beverages.
Without a doubt, the best model and therefore the only one I’ll discuss is the Jetboil. If you’ve ever seen videos of mountaineers melting snow to drink in a strange contraption that looks like a very tall and narrow pot on top of a weird mesh structure with a gas bottle underneath, that’s a Jetboil. The reason I bring up mountaineers, is that I can’t imagine a situation where weight would be more important. In Jimmy Chin’s documentary Meru about his ascent up the Himalayan mountain of the same name, you’ll see them using a Jetboil and later in the film, they talk about taking the minimum amount of memory cards and even cutting off the tags on their clothes, to save weight. That puts the Jetboil’s weight into perspective.
Pros of Using a Jetboil for Motorcycle Camping:
- They pack down to be very volumetrically efficient.
- They are the lightest option available in most cases.
- Jetboils boil water FAST. Like real fast, because that is the only thing they can do…
- With the right supplies and accessories, they can be very fast and convenient to use across multiple options.
- The dehydrated food typically used will likely be small and lightweight.
- The boiling pot can be used as your soup bowl, saving space even further.
Choosing the Best Jetboil for Motorcycle Camping
If the cons below don’t apply to you, we’ve got a thorough breakdown of choosing the best Jetboil model.
Cons of Using a Jetboil for Motorcycle Camping:
- They can only be used for boiling water, but they are damn good at it.
- You are restricted by having to use gas canisters specific to Jetboil.
- The gas cannot be used for anything else, which breaks our golden rule of everything having at least two purposes/functions.
- You will have to keep a supply of dehydrated food or soup mix etc. Such supplies can be expensive compared to other cooking options.
- Jetboils are the most expensive option to run.
- Australian supplied Jetboils don’t work with South American countries as the thread is different. I imagine there’s quite a few other incomparable matchings due to different laws per country regarding gas appliances. For example, Australia requires most gas bottles to have a revers thread so they can’t accidentally be used on the wrong (I.e. breathing) equipment.
It’s for the above reasons that I don’t personally use a Jetboil. I have quite a few extended and remote trips coming up and don’t want to rely on a fuel source that I would have to carry separately for the whole trip.
Jetboils are a fantastic option if you’re doing a trip as short as a week or are riding on the beaten path where you can regularly stock up like Western Europe or mainland US etc. Budget is also something to consider unless you’re a KTM or BMW rider…
I can’t see Jetboil being a feasible option for around the world motorcycle travel. Adventure motorcycle riding does carry weight considerations, but nowhere near to the same degree as hiking or mountaineering and these nifty little boilers are a large compromise for those niche considerations.
Methylated Spirit Cookers for Motorcycle Camping (Denatured Spirits in the US)
Cookers that use methylated spirits have a few great benefits.
Pros of Using a Methylated Spirit Cooker:
- They are hands-down, the cheapest options available. You could probably find a second hand one for $10 on Gumtree or Craigslist and they’re not a whole deal more expensive brand new.
- They are absolutely the smallest option available bar none.
- Metho cookers are very, very cheap to run.
Cons of Using a Methylated Spirit Cooker:
- Metho cookers are slow. Painfully slow. The trade off from being so small and light is that they don’t crank out a lot of wattage.
- You have to carry a separate fuel source that can’t be used for anything else. This is a big one as it goes against the grain of desired efficiencies we try to achieve when packing an adventure motorcycle.
If you’re just getting started with adventure motorcycling and want to try a few short trips, or simply just have a second set of gear for smaller trips, a metho cooker could be a great solution.
Methylated spirit cookers are great devices, but are once again made with compromises unnecessary when riding an adventure motorcycle. The fact that we are able to take more food than the average hiker, compounds the slow cooking frustrations as we will typically be able to carry enough for larger portions.
So if Jetboils or methylated spirit stoves aren’t the solution, let’s take a look at what I think is.
Multi Fuel Cookers for Motorcycle Camping (Petrol/Gasoline, White Spirits, Cooker Fuel etc.)
If there was ever a stove designed for adventure motorcycling, it would the multi fuel stove, where the real benefit is that they run on Petrol (Gasoline for Americans).
The real beauty behind the idea of a petrol cooker is that it doesn’t require one to bring a dedicated fuel source, as it will happily run on whatever 84 octane Peruvian muck that’s sitting in your fuel tank. A small splash from your bike’s tank into the stove will keep it running all night long.
There are many brands making multi fuel stoves but I believe there’s only really 3 that are suitable for the unique demands of adventure motorcycling.
As adventure motorcycle riders we require our accessories to be light, small but also robust. The compromises made for weight by many hiking centric devices are a t best unnecessary, but will usually result in an item that’s not hardy enough for being smacked about on the back of a bike.
The Best Budget Petrol Stove for Adventure Motorcycle Riding
The ugly duckling of the group and easily the most incompatible of all three is the Coleman multi fuel cooker.
It’s the least compact, the most inconveniently shaped and the most difficult to use, but it’s robust and much cheaper than the MSR and Soto which are discussed below.
Pros of Using the Coleman Multi Fuel Camping Stove:
- It’s cheaper than any suitable alternatives.
- It’s quite robust.
- Compared to all of the above stoves we’ve considered so far, it can run on the same fuel; source as your bikes, saving the need to carry other fuel.
Cons of Using the Coleman Petrol Stove:
- The canister and the stove element are fixed, making it impossible to pack up in a convenient shape.
- It’s inconvenient shape does lead to it getting fairly bashed up.
- It’s a little tricky to use at first.
I bought mine when I was getting ready to follow the Dakar in Peru and it cost me $40 on Gumtree (Australian version of Craigslist), so they are very affordable.
The Best Petrol Cooker for Adventure Riding – MSR Whisperlite vs Soto Muker
The Soto and MSR stoves are exceptional little gadgets and I would highly recommend either of them. They have all the same benefits as the Coleman above such as being able to use the same fuel as the bike, except they’re lighter, smaller and pack down better because the canisters and stove element aren’t connected.
When putting them head to head, they’re incredibly similar, but I do have a favourite.
Pros of Using the Soto Muker:
- Automatic priming.
- It does not require as much maintenance such as jet cleaning.
- The primer/hardware is metal, making it more robust than the MSR.
Pros of Using the MSR Whisperlite:
- The MSR can use a wider variety of fuels than the Soto.
- MSR is a more popular brand and it’s probably easier to get spare parts.
Cons of Using the Soto Muker:
- Fuel choices are more limited than the MSR. I consider this to be a non-issue for me, as I’m using the petrol from my bike.
- The burn rate control isn’t as precise as the MSR. Again, not much of an issue.
Cons of Using the MSR Whisperlite:
- The primer/hardware is made with plastic housings. While I’ve never seen one break, I can’t imagine it would be that hard to do while adventure riding.
- Not self priming.
As you can see, both the MSR and Soto are very capable stoves for adventure riding, but the Soto Muker scrapes through just that little bit higher in my opinion.
The Best Motorcycle Camping Stove – Summary
So there you have it.
If you’re not on a budget and aren’t going on a very extended ride, the convenience of the Jetboil might be up your alley.
If your budget is restrictive, a methylated spirit cooker will certainly get the job done and a PET bottle such as a coke bottle etc. should be good enough as a container to carry the spirits.
If you’d like to have a durable and long-term solution, but are still somewhat limited by budget, then the Coleman multi fuel camp stove might be for you.
And of course, if you’re doing a long trip and want to buy the best possible equipment the Soto Muker will be your new best friend, with the MSR Whisperlite a great alternative.
Tools & Accessories Packing List
We’ve got a laboriously long write-up about what to pack in your tool kit. It’s painfully long, but covers everything if you’re seriously considering what to pack.
- Head lamps. We took one each.
- Don’t forget the spare batteries, naturally!
- We opted for a compressor instead of a pump and it was actually smaller and lighter.
- Tubes. We had two 21″ spares, as a 21″ front can be used in an 18″ rear tyre, when in a tight spot but not the other way around.
- Tyre levers.
- Cable ties.
- Spanners. We had several combo tools that incorporated multiple sizes per tool, but had all of the following sizes catered for, for the KLR650’s: 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 17mm. 19mm & 27mm for axle nuts, but you could opt for a shifter (adjustable) instead.
- T Bar & Sockets. 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm.
- Allen Keys. 4mm, 5mm, 6mm.
- Leatherman/Multi-tool/Swiss Army Knife etc.
- Reversible phillips/flat-head screwdriver.
Clothes Packing List
This will of course depend on the location you’re going to and how long you’re going to be there. For Peru and combined with several of the items in our riding gear, this would have been enough for us to see indefinite travel.
- 3 x tee shirts.
- 1 x Pants
- 2 x shorts
- 1 x all round shoes that you can walk in for long distance, that can also be paired with your pants if going out somewhere decent. I opted for black Dunlop Volleys.
- 4 pairs of undies
- 1 Beanie for cold nights.
- 1 hat, as you can see so beautifully modeled in the photo above.
- 4 x socks.
Luggage for Adventure Motorcycles
I’m currently working on a break-down of most luggage types which will go into a variety of options depending on your needs, but this is the list of what we took for the two KLR650’s in Peru.
- Kriega R20 backpacks. These are hands-down the best backpack I’ve ever used on a motorcycle. Their strap system places the load of the backpack across your chest and shoulders, rather than just your neck and shoulders. I’ve since travelled through 6 countries with this backpack loaded heavy and walking long distances. There’s nothing like it and they are comfy as al hell.
- Giant Loop Great Basin. These “roll type saddlebags” act as an all in one pannier and top bag that can fit on most motorcycles even without luggage racks. They were great and are probably the best choice for any bike that you don’t permanently have set up for long distance, but when I get around to comparing luggage types, I’ll likely be suggesting soft panniers for a big trip. For a shorter several week trip like the one that we did on hired bikes, the Great Basin’s were ideal. You may notice in just about every photo, we overloaded the crap out of them which would have been a problem if we were doing river crossings etc. They also got in the way of your ass when standing, the way we had them.
- Tank bags are the ideal location for anything electronic that’s not going in your backpack as they’re located between both suspension locations and great for anything you will need to grab quickly or often. They’re also good for valuables as you can quickly unzip them. We used the Giant Loop Diablo which are one of the smaller ones on the market but were ideal for holding enough stuff, being able to run charging cables into them whilst not getting in the way. Anyone who says you need a bigger tank bag, clearly likes sticking to tame roads or riding two-up.
First Aid Supplies for Adventure Riding
- Tourniquet. These are often disparaged in first aid courses due to the increased risk of leading to an amputation. It sure beats the hell out of bleeding to death on the side of a track though. IMPORTANT: The use of a tourniquet is likely to lead to amputation and could quite easily cause death. Only use if your certain that the only alternative is an imminent death. If you’re in America, you’ll probably still get sued, even if you did save their life. Food for thought…
- water treatment tablets and/or filter.
- Imodium (anti-diarrhoea)
- Altitude Sickness Tablets. These obviously don’t apply to everywhere you go, but we definitely experienced altitude sickness when riding into the Andes Mountains to very high altitudes and found it a struggle to even get a leg over the bike.
How to Record Motorcycle Rides – Adventure Riding Filming Packing List
So you want to self-film a motorcycle adventure, using only what you can carry? Wondering how to record motorcycle rides? Here’s my advice: Don’t.
Sure you can if you want, but don’t underestimate how taxing it’s going to be, how much space it will consume and how expensive it is if you don’t already have the gear. Post-production – that’s a whole different story and something that will likely cost you as much as your initial trip, also taking much longer.
If you’re still with me so far and still keen to do a film, then good on you. It’s going to be a hell of a trip. Here’s some of the footage I got from following the Dakar in Peru, if you followed a link directly to this section and didn’t see it at the top:
A final word of warning: If you want to make something worth watching, that’s not simply your family and friends sitting through your – honestly quite boring/shitty – GoPro footage, then you’re going to have to stop all the time for shots, constantly have a camera out and spend hours every night, backing up footage and charging and generally ruining the ambience. Here’s what you’re going to need for such fun:
Adventure Motorcycle Filming Gear
How to Record Motorcycle Rides: Camera Equipment:
- POV cameras for each rider.
There’s a few options on the market such as the Sony Action Cam, GoPro and the new offering from DJI looks good, but is too early to make a decision on. If you’re going to get a GoPro get the 7 Black, because the stabilisation is as good as they claim. If you’re looking to save money, this is not the area I suggest you do it, but in a pinch I would recommend getting a second-hand GoPro Hero 4 Black because the image quality is good and the stabilisation on the 5 & 6 isn’t worth the extra money. Also, the newer generations are glitchy and require a stupidly large and problematic adapter for external mics, as they don’t have the ADAC chip (analog to digital converter) on board. I could write an entire article about the issues (some known to GoPro) I’ve had with this god damn thing that cost me an extra $100.
- Diary/Vlog Camera.
Ideally, a camcorder style video camera or well suited DSLR will be in your toolkit, but storage space and quick access/ease-of-use will typically nip this idea in the bud. I used a GoPro 6 Black with external mic adapter and a Rode Video Mic, eventually resorting to the internal microphones because of that god damned POS adapter. I now have a bunch of audio where you can hear my hand moving along the selfie stick/compact tripod.If you’re going to use a new generation GoPro and adapter, I’d suggest the 7 Black because that stabilisation will still make a huge difference to the hand-held footage. I think the best set-up would be a 4 Black, using the built-in 3.5mm port for the external mic and filming in the widest frame of view possible, so you can stabilise the crap out of it in post-production without losing your frame. With this setting, you will need some lens correction in post to remove the fish-eye.
- Directional microphone
I recommend a super cardioid/shotgun microphone to get the best out of talking to the camera without picking up too much background noise. If you’re really serious, you could also take a lavalier mic and a long cord, but I feel that if you’re reading my article for advice, then you’re not in that league. No offence, it’s also a self-deprecating observation.Shopping for shotgun mics designed specifically for camera that have a hot-shoe mount and a 3.5mm output so you don’t need an adapter for XLR, will probably lead you to Rode’s Video Mic series. The Video Mic Pro is the best sound quality, the Video Mic is a close second, the Video Mic Go is the budget option and then there’s the Video Micro which is more compact, but is cardioid and not what we’re looking for. I strongly recommend the Video Mic because it’s a bit smaller than the two premium options and doesn’t require you to take 9v batteries with you. Mine still works perfectly but is held together with duct-tape and super glue. I’m fairly sure the additional components and battery compartment on the other two would be broken by now. The Video Mic – being unpowered – does require a camera that can supply a very small current, so you’ll want to check it with your model of camera first. The guys at the shop were only too happy to help when I was looking at the first one I bought.
- Mirrorless Camera.
This is only required if you want to take still images, but it’s likely you’ll be in that basket if you’re the sort of person who’s filming the trip. I’ve managed to get 4 magazine articles about this trip so far, which is slowly chipping away at reimbursing me for the trip, which is worth considering.If you are going to bring a camera, I would suggest using a mirrorless due to their stellar image quality and compact size. I love my somewhat battered and dusty FujiFilm X-E1 which takes wicked images, even at my skill level. I believe Canon now offer a full-frame mirrorless which could be worth looking into.
I took a DJI Mavic Pro Platinum as used in the scenery shots in the above video and it was awesome, but bulky and took too long to set up. The action drone shots were taken by Ian Horan on a Mavic Air, which seems to be a much better option due to size and speed of set up. Granted, Ian’s a much better drone operator than I am, but he also had the more suitable device.Get the fly more combo, as it will be a while between charges and you will need the three batteries if you want to get good footage. It also includes a 12v charger which is going to be essential unless you’re staying at a motel every night, which means you’re not actually adventure riding, but I digress.You will need a good, recent model smartphone for the drone. Not only does it need decent processing power, but also a lot of memory available for the video cache. If the cache fills up, you will lose the video feed to the phone. This happened to me in Thailand when my drone was 400 metres beyond my line of sight (illegal) above very dense tropical jungle and was a shit-my-pants, I’m-about-to-lose-$2,000 moment. Delete the cache every time you get your drone out. The other reason you need a modern phone is so that it has a bright screen. I spent my time in the desert hiding under the motorbike with a towel over my head trying to see the screen of my shitty Sony Xperia, while Ian had his drone whizzing around from his new iPhone. If you use an Android phone, make sure it’s not on Stamina mode, as this will reduce the maximum brightness.
- 15 x 64GB Micro SD Cards
You’re going to need this much storage which seems ridiculous but is barely enough to cover you for two days footage, which will allow for when you have a flat laptop or get in to camp very late. You can choose larger format cards, but I prefer to have my footage spread across a greater number of cards until I have it backed up on at least two hard drives.Some older cameras can’t use newer generation SD cards, in which case you may need 32Gb or even 16Gb cards. If expense allows, get a new camera rather than changing cards.If you’re not at least recording in 1080p (Full HD), go home and make better choices. For the POV/helmet cameras you should also be recording at 60fps due to the speed of movement. This means your cards are going to need to have at least 15MB/s write speed. If you’re filming in 4K they will need to be a minimum of 60MB/s and they will also need to be 128Gb cards.
- 3 x 32GB SD Cards
These are for your camera, though you could also get away with having an adapter for a micro SD. You should take two adapters, as they are known for the little switch getting stuck which leaves it in read-only mode.
- 2 x (preferably 3x) 2TB Solid State Drives
You should be able to complete an individual project within 2TB of footage, though it’s worth calculating if you need more. Always have a minimum of two copies of your footage and preferably three.Vibration will eventually kill HDD’s (hard disk drives), which is why it’s important to get solid state drives.
I’m not a fan of the fragility of laptops being carried off-road on motorcycles, especially when you can now buy devices that can back-up all your footage. However, it is critical to review your footage as you back it up every night. Aforementioned audio problems might crop up and you need to catch it as soon as possible. I also have an unfortunate amount of diary cam footage that looks as though the sole intention was to film the inside of my nose, which is another reason to review as you go, so you can see where camera techniques, settings and angles can be improved.Hard drives are the number 1 failure point for laptops, and nothing causes this faster than the vibrations incurred on bike trips. You’re going to need to swap it out for a solid state drive, which is also going to save you a hell of a lot of transfer time, if you’re using your internal drive as one of your backups. With vibration in mind, every screw on my laptop has been re-screwed at least 4 times after finding them in the bottom of my bag as they will literally unscrew themselves. I recommend taking them out 1 by 1 and putting Loctite on them at the same time you do this to your bike. Because you are going to Loctite the bolts on your bike before setting off on a long cross-country trip, aren’t you? (Entirely rhetorical)
- Laptop Cover
- External Card Reader
With the amount of dust, dirt and vibration that comes along with what we’re doing, it’s not unlikely that your internal card reader (if you have one) will start being temperamental. For some reason though, my external card reader runs 10Mb/s faster than my internal reader, which would make a difference of half an hour per backup.
Charging Equipment, Cables & Batteries etc.
This one’s a bitch. A pain to manage as you go, and takes up a lot of space, but it is what it is and is necessary.
- Laptop Charger
You can take a 12v charger for your laptop, but you’ll also need the 240/110v (depending where you’re from), so you can skip the 12v charger, because you’ll likely take an inverter as discussed below.
- GoPro Battery Charger
As you will be using your GoPros as you ride, you’ll need an external charger for the spare batteries. You can get chargers that run off the standard USB C cable that comes with each GoPro and will charge two batteries at a time. Get the ones that encompass nearly the whole battery, as the other types will come loose while riding.Also valid for the point below, GoPro 5, 6 & 7’s share the same battery type but the 4 does not. Make sure you have the right variety of batteries.
- 10 x GoPro Batteries
No shit, 10! Like I said, this is bulky and expensive. Like, actually 10… No seriously, $350 worth of god damn GoPro batteries.
- 3 x USB C Cables
I guarantee one will break, and then you’ll want a spare, because you will be fucked without it. I know packing minimal and light is the main ethos behind adventure riding, but filming is antithetical to adventure riding. This is the compromise we choose to live with. If you’re using a GoPro Hero 4, you’ll need a mini USB, but for many other models of camera, they require a micro USB. Make sure you have USB cables for every model of camera.
- Camera Charger
Depending on the model of your camera, it might be difficult or impossible to get a 12v charger. If this is the case, you’ll need the 240/110v charger and an inverter.
- Drone Charger
I wasn’t able to get a 12v charger for the Mavic Pro Platinum, and had to use the 240v charger plugged into an inverter that was running (very hot) while we were riding.
- 12v to 240v Inverter OR 12v to 110v (American) Inverter
As said above, I had to use an inverter to power my 240v drone charger and I also had to charge the battery for my Fuji X-E1 with the 240v charger, running from the inverter.
Adventure Riding Packing List
I hope this list has been helpful in creating or refining your own packing list for your next adventure motorcycle journey.
Please leave a comment if you have anything to add, think I should change something or just want to ask questions.