“My wife and I are campers,” said an adventure bunny acquaintance. “We load up the RV, pitch the motorcycle in our 14-foot- long trailer and head off on the weekends. Sometimes we camp for free in a Wal-Mart parking lot, other times in National or State Forest campgrounds that have electricity.”
I answered. “Your definition of camping reminds me of fooking Clark and Ellen Griswold, with dead Aunt Edna on the roof of their car, headed for Walley World in the 1983 movie Vacation. In fact, when you wear that goofy smirk you kind of look like Clark.”
“Yeah, well, err, where we come from in Indiana what we do we call camping, and we use some of the best and essential camping gear recommended by real motorcycle campers in magazines and on the Internet.”
“And where I come from in Montana, you and your Ellen are called sheepish RVers, milk cows are called cattle, and sheep are nervous.”
However, Mr. Walley World Adventure Motorcycle Camper had piqued my interest in what my other opinions might be about motorcycle camping gear. His statement was provocative.
After trolling The Net and a few recent magazine articles I leaned back in my office chair, looked at the ceiling and said, “Whoa Momma, call me Charlie!” These lists—essentials for fall camping and best motorcycle camping gear—had me and my choices of camping gear well off their lists.
Not wanting to micturate on any authoritative motorcycle adventure camping cyber-lists nor analog publications, I will not identify where I looked at these lists, merely summarize some of my wonderment and WTF? as I expanded my knowledge of the best and essential.
These lists included:
A $225 pocket knife. My camping kit includes a knife, but one that cost about $50 and does-it-all, down to screwing out corks and providing a tooth pick for plucking out flies between a smiling motorcyclist’s teeth who’d left his face shield up or gnawed on the remnants of a campfire-cooked T-bone steak.
A $130 camp stove that uses wood for fuel, that not only heats coffee and food but also charges a cell phone and other mobile devices. I don’t carry a cell phone or any mobile devices when I adventure off into the backwoods or pay for a night on the grass in a KOA. It is away from those digital units I thrive on getting away from. I can also envision the adventure of wires and devices melting if too close to the burning wood. Described as an “indispensable piece of camping equipment,” my motorcycle kit has dispensed with it quite nicely.
A $50 hat. If I didn’t have hair I might carry a $10 cap, hat or beret to prevent sunburn or a wet head, but have long managed to camp without one.
A $479 “narrow mummy shaped” sleeping bag. Years ago, I thought the alpine type mummy bag was the best way to sleep when camping. I’d zip myself in and then spend the night trying to fight my way out, especially if the temperature was above 50 F. I eventually decided a mummy bag might be ideal and essential if I was wearing a toe tag and being prepped for a pine box and some serious time in the ground, but alive and kicking a mummy I did not want to be.
I now fondly look back on when my mummy sleeping bag was stolen, wanting to thank the campground thief. I had rolled it up and set it on my motorcycle before wandering off to do my morning ablutions in the nearby block house. Upon returning I did not realize it was missing until after
I rolled up my tent and was about to add it to the motorcycle luggage rack. Some thief had seen the expensive bag, decided it was better for their sleeping than mine, and absconded with it. At first, I was mad, mad at myself for leaving the expensive Sherpa sack where it could be easily stolen and mad at the new owner.
During that riding day, I stopped at a camping store and instead of spending the big dollars for a mummy replacement, I dropped one Ben Franklin on a rectangular replacement. That evening I had my first night of sleep without trying to wrestle my way out of a mummy-like burial sack like I had been using before.
Miscellaneous motorcycle camping bling and farkle, a few items on lists had me nodding in agreement: a flashlight, maps, water, tent and fire starters, like matches (I carry a cheap, disposable cigarette lighter) and toothbrush/toothpaste. Others found me thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Walley World, like a bathing suit, shower sandals, a half roll of paper towels and a full roll of toilet paper. And then there was the pee bottle, one of the more provocative items on any list that could qualify as either bling or farkle, depending upon usage and what quality material was used in its construction.
I had been provocated by one author until I saw the line he had drawn in the dirt when he wrote, “Let’s be frank here, sleeping on the ground is terrible…” I had earlier agreed to be Charlie, so I let him continue being frank as I clicked away from his list. Mr. Walley World Motorcycle Adventure Camper could continue to scroll through and purchase items from his frank list, while I morphed an earlier quote I have used before. From “Adventure motorcycling is like sex, it all takes place between your ears,” I conjured, “Motorcycle camping is like sex, it all takes place between your ears if provocated to think about it.”
This story originally appeared in our November 2017 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.