“What Are You Taking and How Do You Pack It?”

That’s a lotta stuff…

It’s kind of amazing how much you can pack on a motorcycle if you have the time to study it and find nooks and crannies to stuff things. On the other hand, I’m fairly meticulous about analyzing what we take along and looking for ways to shrink it, adapt it, or lose it. I spent a lot of time studying other travelers’ gear before leaving on my first trip, and because of that, I didn’t take a lot of unnecessary stuff that I had to ship home (yes, this is a thing).

Much of the gear that I used on my 2015-2016 trip will be used again beginning in 2021, because as they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. When you live for a year off of a small motorcycle, you learn what works and what doesn’t, what you need and what you don’t, and what not to carry next time.

In 2015, I packed a lot more spare parts than I actually needed or used. This was primarily due to the fact that I was taking a small, low-horsepower motorcycle on a long trip and focusing on off-road riding for much of it. So I took gaskets, clutch plates, levers (including a brake pedal), cables (everybody does?), brake pads, and lots more.

What I learned was that many of these parts are available in places you might not expect. Yes, I had planned ahead from the beginning, and chose a motorcycle that, although the exact model was not sold in many of the countries I visited, the engine and many of the parts were common to other models that are sold in those countries. This is definitely something to keep in mind when in the early stages of planning. For example, when I needed sprockets and a chain in Argentina, I found that shops in Buenos Aires had sprockets for a YBR250 (a street bike version sold there). Same sprockets. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t aware of that. Now I know.

On the last trip, I was on a much smaller motorcycle, but I went solo, so I only had to pack for one. Adding a passenger and all of her gear drastically increases the load. A lot of thought has to go into this, as the load needs to be balanced as well as possible. We have a lot more on the rear of the motorcycle than I would prefer, but I’ve been able to spread some weight forward by installing my heavy tool pouch to the front of the skid plate similar to last time, and I’ve added the side pouches to carry heavy spare inner tubes, and other supplies.

Do we absolutely need all of this stuff all of the time? No. Some people ship certain parts of their kit between locations during their travels. For example, if you know you won’t be camping in certain countries, it might make sense to ship the camping gear ahead, or home, if you’ve finished that part of your trip.

For the first year or so of this upcoming trip, we will be in developed countries. This changes some of the gear we will carry. Also, there will be some side-trips into other countries on other motorcycles that will be totally different, and for those trips it’s likely that all of the gear we carry will be in a small backpack. More about that when it comes.

For now, here’s a complete list of all gear (subject to change), including the bike, all modifications, and everything we will carry on it and on us. If you want to plan a similar trip, you may find this useful as a starting point to decide what you carry. When you look at the whole list, it seems like “everything but the kitchen sink”, but many people will want to add a lot more. We’ve been there, done that, and found we don’t need it. Others will feel we are carrying a lot of unnecessary stuff. As I’ve said, to each his/her own. Everyone has different priorities. It’s important to have an item or two that makes you happy, even if it seems like excess. Even if you’re not planning a similar trip, it’s amusing (to me, anyway) to scroll down the list and marvel at how much crap is on one motorcycle.

7 thoughts on ““What Are You Taking and How Do You Pack It?”

  1. It’s awesome to see you’re taking another trip! Your first one was a real inspiration to us, and led to our own South America trip on XT-250’s. We’ll be following closely to see how travel works in the age of Covid-19.

    • Thanks for following along Josh. Glad to hear you were able to do a South America trip on the XTs. Do you have a blog or site to follow your trip?

    • Just found your blog. Love it! And the tattoo is awesome!! Beautiful work. I’ll have to spend some time reading now…

  2. Hi Pat and Diana,
    we are so happy for you both! Your website inspired us and we are in the same boat. Can’t wait this Pandemic to ease up so we can be on the road.
    We are looking forward to read about your adventures!

    Herbert and Beth from Calgary

    • Thanks Herbert & Beth. There’s a lot of us in this “boat” right now…kind of like a boat full of wanderlust refugees. It’s looking more and more like we will spend 2021 traveling the States, and into Canada and Alaska if/when allowed. If your travels take you towards Texas, you have a place to stay here!
      Happy Planning and Safe Travels.

  3. !First of all…. absolutely fantastic BLOG. Spectacular job! I have a couple of questions, that you haven’t had time to prove out, but curious about your research. For me, the T700 is on my very, very short list for my next bike, but I have to sort some things out.

    My background….. The wife and I are also prolific 2-Up Adventurers. We started on a Vstrom, then a couple of KTM 950 ADV-S, R1200GS, G650GS Sertao, Honda VFR1200X and Africa Twin DCT. We pack heavy with her weighing 150lbs and me 250lbs we are always at the edge of GVWR.

    What about the subframe on the T700? I really have a concern about it being able to handle the weight of “Loaded/2-Up” in rough off-road terrain. You have a Rotopax and big Wolfman out on the tail… big Paniers….. and a fully geared up wife on the back.

    What about a 2-up Saddle? That stock T700 seat would be the first to go, according to the wife. I just can’t find a good 2-up saddle for the T700 yet. FYI…. The Seat Concepts Pillion doesn’t look any different than stock.

    By the way, we have been trying to get to Alaska since 2016. We may do 3-4 weeks throughout the Eastern US summer of 2021 because of COVID.



    • Thanks for the comments John. I’ll try to respond to your questions as best I can presently:

      1. We are actually slightly above GVWR for the T7, as we do have a lot of “stuff” packed on, and the two of us have a combined weight similar to you and your wife. I’ve moved several things forward off the tail section, but still have a large load on the subframe. I have some concerns about its’ strength, and will continue to keep an eye on it regularly as we do some shakedown rides. As it’s a new model, time will tell if the subframe needs gusseting. I am more concerned about the pannier racks at this point, but both take a lot of abuse in rough off-roading. The rear rack I installed has a plate that crosses under the tail section and bolts on there as well for added strength. Better, but still maybe not enough. Time will tell, and I will update as we go (had to weld the pannier racks on the 250 back together in Patagonia and South Africa). In addition to the 49 liter Ortlieb bag containing all of our camping gear, and the one gallon Rotopax water container, we also have lower “trays” on our panniers (the lower black portion) which carry heavier items such as tire tools, air compressor, etc.

      2. The stock pillion seat is not acceptable for 2-up distance touring, and presently the Seat Concepts seats add comfort to the rider, but not so much for the passenger. My wife used a small AirHawk on our SuperTenere, and we may have to go that route again. We still have to work that out. As we tend to do shorter days on our RTW rides, it’s not as big of an issue, but keeping her happy is a priority. I have been waiting for the SeatConcepts tall rally seat to evaluate it for my comfort, but as you say, it doesn’t look like it will add much to the passenger area.

      We’re hoping to head towards the Pacific Northwest this summer, and then across the northern states, unless we are allowed to transition Canada to Alaska. We may see you on the road.

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