Ewan McGregor says that after doing a movie he needs to regain control of his own space, and motorcycle camping is a way to do that. But then he goes ahead and makes the Long Way ‘Round and the Long Way Down, which seem to deliberately flood his therapeutic space with work-like stuff. Or maybe if he’s in control of the work, that’s all the relief he needs?
In a much simpler scenario, my wife and I recently used a $300 Catoma 2-up-2 tent on our Delaware Water Gap trip along with some borrowed sleeping pads and bags. We carried a lot of the gear in the car to make the load on the bike lighter. Yeah, weird, we took both the bike and the car. Not the first time either.
Since then I acquired an inexpensive bag and pad and I wanted to test them out. The thought of freezing in the night had occurred to me. Also I wanted to see if I could carry the tent and enough gear on the bike to do motorcycle camping.
If I had the side luggage racks and cases, I’d be happy to use them but they are too expensive and on an F650 they have to stick out too far into the wind, degrading the aerodynamics at highway speeds, especially on the muffler side.
Instead, I used the top box and stacked everything else in front of it.
I have a $90 Saddlemen TS3200 tail bag sitting on the passenger seat. It droops down over the sides of the seat by design, it’s built that way. But it doesn’t go down far enough to touch the muffler heat shields and it just clears the rear directionals. Also, it leaves the right amount of room behind me. I can lean back on it if I want, but in normal riding it doesn’t touch me.
I knew the 6 lb. tent had to go on top of the TS3200, so I centered a small rectangular cooler inside the bag to provide rigid support for the tent. Worked out fine.
The tail bag comes with a lot of straps and I lashed the bottom and top of the bag around the base of the top box. And the bag has built-in straps that I used for the tent.
In the picture above of the stackup, you can see the $60 Teton Sports Trailhead +20F Ultralight sleeping bag sitting on top, bungie corded to the tent straps.
The $60 Klymit V2 inflatable sleeping pad compresses down very small and went inside the cooler to protect it.
Well, it’s quite a pile of gear and I was worried about it being too top heavy and maybe shifting around, but in fact it was fine. No problem handling it. Perhaps a little more care is needed stopping the bike on uneven ground and making sure the kickstand keeps everything reasonably upright.
With my slim load behind me, I enjoyed the ride up into the White Mountain National Forest where I paid a senior-pass-discounted $11 for a campsite. No showers. It was a Saturday and the campground was pretty full of small children yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!!!” I figure the wild animals retreated at least a mile back into the woods. But I felt about as secure as I would in my own home.
The weather was good, 75-80 during the day and 60 at night. The sleeping bag and pad were fine. I used a silk bag liner. I was plenty warm. The tent is a bit heavy and bulky, but it has the distinct advantage of a 30 second setup. Another couple minutes to stake it down and put the fly over it. Plenty of room in it.
On the way in at about 3 pm, I had to ride through a big crowd of tourists packed inside the bridge. I took the photo above as I was leaving the campground at 7 am the following morning.
I was home by 9 am. Bacon and eggs. Mission accomplished.
Now I’m setting up to ride to Gettysburg and back in one day. 1000 miles. That’s right, the Iron Butt Club initiation! No camping, but a big distance stretch for me.