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Almost 400,000 traveling motorcyclists visited Montana in 2018.  Motorcycle tourism, as a whole, has experienced explosive growth over the last few years.  If you’re planning to take a two-wheeled adventure, then you need to plan what you’ll bring with you. 

There’s an art to packing a motorcycle.  You have severely limited space, and if you get it wrong, you could endanger yourself or at least make for an unpleasant ride. 

This guide will help you pack with five ways you can safely load your gear. 

1. Heaviest Items on the Bottom 

The heaviest stuff should be as low as possible.  This will help you stay balanced while riding.  If the bulk of the weight is too high, then you risk losing your balance when riding through turns. 

When loading your heavy items, you also need to balance the weight left to right.  The ideal way to do this is to place your heaviest items in the saddlebags of your motorcycle.  This will get the weight as low as possible and keep it balanced on the left and right. 

If you don’t have saddlebags on your bike and you aren’t interested in adding them, then pack your heavy items in a large bag.  Then place this bag on your rear passenger seat.  Strap it to the backrest with a net or bungee cords. 

By having the heavy items here, your bag’s weight mimics a passenger.  Since your bike is designed to have an additional passenger, you’ll be safe while riding with the weight here. 

The last thing you want is to be on one of the best motorcycle trips in the US and be more focused on maintaining your balance than the stunning views. 

Categorize Your Belongings 

It helps to categorize your belongings into three categories.  Organize your items into large and heavy, medium and lighter weight, and small items.  Heavy and large items get packed first. 

Then fit in your medium and lighter weight items.  The smallest items get easily lost, so it’s smart to put them in sealable pockets or a smaller bag that gets packed into the larger one. 

2. Less Is More 

Try to pack small in both size and number.  Plan to carry a minimal amount of clothing that you can easily wash and wear again.  This will limit the number of items.  Then choose pieces that are small in size. 

Skip the heavy cotton t-shirts as they take up a lot of space.  Instead, opt for synthetics with fast-drying capabilities.  They take up less space and are easier to wash and dry while traveling. 

When packing your luggage, roll your clothes.  They take up less room this way.  It’s also easier to pack them into your luggage.  Try to utilize all of the available space by packing items in your boots or shoes. 

Develop a System

Do a couple of practice runs.  This will let you develop a system.  Once you have a process in place, you’ll know exactly how to fit everything and where everything is.  This will make it easier and faster to pack or locate what you need. 

3. Look for Items That Multitask 

Try to pack items that can perform more than one function.  This will reduce the amount of stuff you need to bring.  Throw a Leatherman tool in your pack, and it can handle several tasks.  A dry bag can be used for packing your belongings, carrying dirty laundry, or function as your beer cooler at a campground. 

Even your luggage can be multitasking.  A hard trunk instead of a soft bag can hold your belongings while traveling and then be a place to store your motorcycle helmets once you reach your destination.  Keep your belongings in your dry bag in the hard case to make the switch out fast and easy. 

4. Spread Out the Load 

If you’re traveling in a group, then divide the load.  One person can carry the first aid kit.  While another person could carry the travel tool kit for repairing motorcycle parts. 

By coordinating, you eliminate the need for everyone to carry everything.  This creates more space for everyone.  It also cuts down on the weight everyone will have. 

If some people are traveling with a passenger, then those who aren’t could carry their bag for them.  Then the dual riders aren’t loaded down too much as the single riders can take on the additional pack. 

If you have a passenger, don’t forget about their comfort.  Remember that their seat can be much smaller than yours.  A motorcycle seat cushion can make long rides significantly more enjoyable. 

5. Choose the Right Location 

It’s time to put your gear on your motorcycle.  There are a few places you should look to first. 

  • Saddlebags 
  • Rear seat 
  • Luggage rack 
  • Tank bag 

The saddlebags and rear seat keep the weight of your gear low and centralized.  This will help your bike perform to its potential.  Start with the heaviest items here. 

Then move to the luggage rack.  Try to put your other gear that isn’t too heavy here.  Most people prefer to put their clothes here. 

The final place where you can put items is in a tank bag.  You’ll want to limit the items here to smaller things you’ll need while traveling.  This includes your cell phone, wallet, keys, and sunglasses. 

Travel on Your Motorcycle

If you’ve had your eye on that touring motorcycle for sale, then there’s no better time than now.

Buy that bike and start planning your motorcycle adventure.  With these tips, you’ll be able to pack your bike like an experienced pro.

Don’t forget to think about your creature comforts.  You’ll be on your bike for several hours, so you’ll want to stay comfortable.  A seat cushion can help with this by preventing fatigue and muscle stress. 

Get your own motorcycle seat cushion as the final step to your packing.