Items to pack for a motorcycle road trip

What To Bring

  • Pack items that have more than one use. A multi-tool is handier than a basic pocket knife.
  • Pack all your cold weather and raingear no matter what time of year it is.
  • Lightweight synthetic clothing – such as T-shirts and underwear – can be washed in a hotel sink and dried overnight (cotton fabrics take too long to dry in this manner).
  • On long trips, consider bringing your rattiest underwear (or other clothing), then just throw it away when you're done with it!
  • Plastic bags make great boot liners if you forgot your gaiters. If you forgot your rain gloves, rubber dishwashing gloves make great, inexpensive substitutes.
  • A small towel can be wrapped around your neck during a rainstorm to keep water from running down your back – and doubles as a shop rag.
H-D motorcycles parked next to a camping site
Two men putting gas in their Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

How To Pack

  • Don't fold your clothes – roll them. They take up less space that way.
  • Zipper-lock plastic bags of various sizes can be extremely useful for organizing items in saddlebags and duffle bags. They can make it easier to find and retrieve particular items without unpacking your entire motorcycle. Use the one-gallon size to pack one day's worth of clothes – jeans, undergarments, and shirt. This makes it easier to unpack just what you need.
  • When traveling with other riders, conserve space by comparing packing lists and eliminating duplicate items.
  • When traveling (two-up) with a partner, ask yourself questions such as: "Can we share a tube of toothpaste?" or "Can I get by using her shampoo for a week?"
  • Few things are as easy to pack as money or credit cards. If you're struggling with whether or not to bring a particular item, consider simply buying it on the road if you need it.
Woman riding a Harley Motorcycle

Getting Your Bike Ready

  • If you watch the ounces, the pounds will take care of themselves. When possible, lighter is better.
  • Check the cargo weight limits of your bike - as well as the bags and racks - and adjust tire pressure and suspension accordingly.
  • When loading your bike, keep as much weight as possible close to the bike's center of gravity. That means low and toward the tank, distributed evenly from side to side.
A man and a woman riding their motorcycle through the woods
motorcycles parked next to a camping site

Before You Leave

  • Before you begin your trip, make sure to review all local motorcycle laws for the states you'll be traveling in. LEARN MORE
  • A day or two before you leave, do a dry run. Pack the bike and go for a short ride, then adjust the load as needed.
  • If you're camping, set up your tent once or twice before you leave (and don't forget to waterproof it). Practice setting it up in the dark.
  • With your bike loaded for your road trip, check your headlamp to make sure it’s properly aimed.

Packing Checklist


Bike Maintenance


  • Basic toiletries
  • Emergency cash
  • Change for tolls (keep in easy-to-access place)
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Nail clippers
  • Handkerchief
  • Tweezers
  • Small package of tissue
  • Cotton or earplugs
  • Contact lens solution
  • Moisturizing eye drops
  • Fork and spoon in plastic wrapper
  • Traveler's roll of bathroom tissue
  • Moist towelettes/baby wipes

Emergency Items

  • Personal first-aid kit
  • List of emergency contact numbers (include doctor/medical professional)
  • List of current medications
  • List of medical conditions (include allergies)
  • Small flashlight
  • Spare key
  • Basic cold and headache medicine
  • Antihistamines
  • Insect bite stick
  • Utility light
  • Emergency blanket
  • Cellular phone and charger
  • Bike battery charger
  • Telephone calling card
  • Small candle
  • Waterproof matches and fire-starting kit
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Small amount of (baling) wire
  • Bottle of water
  • Energy food bars
  • Eyeglass repair kit


  • H.O.G.® Touring Handbook (available to H.O.G. members only)
  • H.O.G.® membership card (available to H.O.G. members only)
  • Bike registration and insurance info
  • Motorcycle owners or service manual
  • Motorcycle warranty card
  • Pen and small notebook
  • Kickstand board
  • Camera and film (or disposable camera)
  • Small sewing kit
  • Cargo net
  • Bungee cords (various lengths)
  • Swiss-style pocketknife or multi-tool
  • Tote sack
  • Two or three large trash bags
  • Small can opener
  • Bike lock
  • Extra zipper-lock bags
  • Small towel

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