In January, 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.
I discuss the experience as a whole in my Chasing Dakar article, but for this one will go through my packing list, what I would have changed and some ideas we got from guys on the road.
Table of Contents
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 it right. I enlisted the help of some friends as well as getting advice from the guys at Adventure Spec and I feel as though we put together the ideal adventure motorcycle packing list.
The list below contains all the filming gear we took, as well as all the accessories and storage media. As this won’t apply to most people, I have omitted it from this list and written another guide about the film gear we took to follow the Dakar Rally.
Packing List for Adventure Motorcycling
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 wrote about why it’s the greatest adventure riding jacket ever.
- 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.
Adventure Motorcycle Camping Gear
- 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.
- Stove. The best option here is definitely the Soto petrol cooker, with the MSR counterpart not far behind. Jet boils are also a good option if you’re only planning to make soups, but it’s important to know that some countries will have the opposite thread for the canisters and I prefer the option of being able to take a bit of fuel from the bike if I run out. We would have liked to have chosen the Soto cooker for $200 which is a good price, but as we were incurring expenses left right and centre, we opted for a second hand Coleman petrol cooker at $50. It has the same functionality, but does not pack down as well. It lasted the trip but was sufficiently battered by the time we finished.
- 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.
Tools & Accessories Packing List
- Head lamps. We took one each.
- spare batteries.
- 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’ve got a whole breakdown of luggage choices for adventure motorcycling which goes into a variety of options depending on your needs, bu 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 the best choice for many trips, but not every situation as I discuss in this article dedicated to adventure motorcycle luggage choices.
- 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 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 Packing List 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.
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.