It’s a clear night. As the fire crackles in front of you, you lean back and look upward. A sea of stars twinkles down – Cassiopeia, Pegasus, and the like. You sweep your head left, then right. It’s just you, the crackling fire, and twinkling stars out here.

Sounds a little like heaven, doesn’t it?

ADV Camping Around the Fire

Few things compare to a night of camping under the stars. And when you’re camping on an adventure bike, you have the ability to travel to more remote and scenic places than anyone else. It’s an incredible experience but can be a little daunting for beginners. We’ve been there: excited to camp but not ready to commit because what would we pack, what would we eat, and…you get the picture.

Now, we have quite a few ADV camping trips under our belts and have some answers to those question, along with a few tips and tricks. We know how to plan, what to pack, and what to do – read on for our ultimate guide for ADV camping.

Plan

The Route

You can’t plan a good camping trip without having an idea of where you’re camping. The route you take and the subsequent length of your ride, area where you’ll be camping, food options around your campsite, and climate for the time of year all factor into what and how of it much you pack.

Some camping trips come together the night before or morning of, and that’s ok. If you have a favorite route or campsite you’re familiar with, you should know what’s necessary to pack. If you’re new to ADV camping, though, take some time before the ride to really plan out your route. Google Maps and Google Earth are great resources. You can also check out some of the longer ADV rides and campouts we’ve done to follow our route or use it as inspiration for your own:

RM Rides Red Rocks to Mountain Tops Ride

Emergency Plan

No matter how close you are to home or how many riding buddies you are with, having an emergency plan is essential. Providing someone with your tracks for the entirety of your ride or continually updating your route via technology can be a lifesaver in the event of extreme weather, a medical emergency, or any number of problems you might encounter on your ride.

Pack

First, Luggage

Before you start packing all of your food, tools, and clothes, consider what you’re packing them in. For most overnight rides, having sturdy, durable, and water-resistant bags is a lifesaver. Space is another important consideration; it usually follows that the smaller your bag, the shorter your ride. Thoughtful storage can maximize your adventure bike’s carrying capacity and make your trip that much easier or that much longer. Check out some of our favorite ADV bags below and start thinking about the possible configurations for your specific ADV bike and camping needs.

Tusk ADV Luggage

Tusk

We know that Tusk’s ADV bags are thoughtfully designed and thoroughly tested because we did all of the work ourselves.

Tusk Adventure Luggage at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Tusk Highland Rackless Luggage System Tusk Olympus Pannier Bags Tusk Dry Duffel Bag
Tusk Highland Rackless Luggage System Tusk Olympic Pannier Bags Tusk Dry Duffel Bag
Tusk Side Load Dry Duffel Bag Tusk Olympus Tank Bag Tusk Cache Tool Roll
Tusk Side Load Dry Duffel Bag Tusk Olympus Tank Bag Tusk Cache Tool Roll
Tusk Defender Dry Bag Tusk Aluminum Panniers Tusk Highland Accessory Bag with Molle Sticks
Tusk Defender Dry Bag Tusk Aluminum Panniers Tusk Highland Accessory Bag with Molle Sticks
Tusk Tent Pole Bag
Tusk Tent Pole Bag

Wolfman Enduro

Created by an experienced ADV rider, Wolfman Enduro bags are popular, reliable, and durable storage options.

Wolfman Adventure Luggage at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Wolfman Enduro Fender Bag Black Wolfman Waterproof Enduro Tank Bag Black Wolfman Waterproof Rolie Bag
Wolfman Enduro Fender Bag Wolfman Waterproof Enduro Tank Bag Wolfman Waterproof Rolie Bag
Wolfman 303 Rolie Bag Wolfman Waterproof Expedition Dry Duffel Bag Wolfman Universal Bottle Holster Black
Wolfman 303 Rolie Bag Wolfman Waterproof Expedition Dry Duffel Bag Wolfman Universal Bottle Holster
Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag Wolfman Waterproof E-12 Saddle Bags Black Wolfman Waterproof Peak Tail Bag Black
Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag Wolfman Waterproof E-12 Saddle Bags Wolfman Waterproof Peak Tail Bag
Wolfman Rolie Bag Wolfman Waterproof Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags Black Wolfman Waterproof Zippered Expedition Dry Duffel Bag Black
Wolfman Rolie Bag Wolfman Waterproof Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags Wolfman Waterproof Zippered Expedition Dry Duffel Bag
Wolfman Wolfy Tool Roll

The Basics

Dress in Layers

Staying warm (or cool) and comfortable on an ADV ride starts with dressing correctly, and that means dressing in layers. A base layer out of a material like merino wool or a synthetic fiber with aloe is odor-resistant and prevents itchiness. A mid layer insulates your body heat but can be removed if it gets too hot. The external layer, or your ADV jacket, pants, and gloves, is your first line of defense, so it’s water and wind resistant or proof. Altogether, the proper gear keeps you dry and warm and offers abrasion and impact resistance.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t sweat it. We’ve spent plenty of time in the saddle and even compiled a few guides to our favorite ADV riding gear:

Dress in Layers on ADV Rides

The Must-Have Accessories

It’s hard to find the happy medium between the bare necessities and the extras that are nice to have around camp. Striking that balance, however, will take your ADV camping experience to the next level. After several camping trips of our own, we’ve made this list of the must-have extras you’ll be relived you packed.

1. Headlamp

Getting to camp after a long day of riding isn’t all rest and relaxation – there are tents to set up, fires to make, and food to cook. Having a hands-free light source will make that work infinitely easier. It’s a small and inexpensive accessory that makes a world of difference.

Headlamps at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Nebo Pro Headlamp Nebo Transcend Rechargeable Headlamp Nebo Rebel Task Light
Nebo Pro Headlamp Nebo Transcend Rechargeable Headlamp Nebo Rebel Task Light

2. Camping Chair

Many a rider has shirked the importance of a camp chair, reasoning that they don’t need somewhere to sit at camp after they’ve been sitting on their bike all day. Don’t make this same mistake. There’s something very different about sitting on a bike that’s moving and doesn’t have a backrest than sitting on a chair that’s stationary and does. Taking off your gear, eating dinner, and just relaxing around a fire is so much more enjoyable in a camping chair. There are camping chairs that are made to be comfortable and compact for this very reason. So, you really don’t have an excuse not to pack one for you next ride.

Sitting Around the Campfire on an ADV Ride

Camping Chairs at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Tusk Compact Camp Chair TravelChair Ultra-Light Joey Chair Factory Effex Camping Chair
Tusk Compact Camp Chair TravelChair Ultra-Light Joey Chair Factory Effex Camping Chair
Husqvarna Corporate Paddock Chair Kawasaki Stacked Logo Outdoor Chair
Husqvarna Corporate Paddock Chair Kawasaki Stacked Logo Outdoor Chair

3. Camping Pillow

We’ve all thought it, we’ve all done it: why bring a pillow when you can sleep on all of those clothes you packed? The big reason: comfort. A bag of clothes is lumpy, uncomfortable, and can leave you sore and tired for your next day of riding. There are plenty of camping pillows that are compact and still exponentially better than whatever clothes you think will save you the space.

4. Wet Wipes

We’re going to cut to the chase – no matter how disconnected or far from work you are, everyone has some…business to take care of at some point on their ride. Add a few cans of nonperishables into the mix, and you get the picture. So, if nature’s going to call anyway, you might as well do everything you can to make crapping less crappy. Dress up a standard toiletry kit with some wet wipes and you’ll never turn back. Wipes are easier to pack, more reliable, and just cleaner than toilet paper, not to mention their infinite uses around camp. From wiping or taking a quick shower to cleaning off cooking supplies or gear, you really won’t know how you ever camped without wipes.

5. Beanie

Whether you’re setting up camp, sitting around of the fire, or just sleeping, your head and ears can lose a lot of heat without you even realizing it. It happens in the winter and summer alike, and once you get really cold, it can be harder to warm up. Just throw a small beanie in your pack and put it on as soon as you get to camp – you’ll be surprised how effective it can be.

Always Wearing a Beanie

Beanies at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Rocky Mountain ATV MC Logo Patch Beanie One Size Fits All Black Klim Beanie Black 100% Mutiny Beanie Black Grey
Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Logo Patch Beanie Klim Beanie 100% Mutiny Beanie
Troy Lee Common Pom Beanie Navy Fox Racing Reformed Beanie Pewter Alpinestars Corp Shift Beanie Black
Troy Lee Common Pom Beanie Fox Racing Reformed Beanie Alpinestars Corp Shift Beanie

The Meals

When it comes to food, preferences range from minimalistic to full-on gourmet. Some riders are powered by granola bars and beef jerky, others carry spices and pick up fresh meats along the way. We find ourselves falling somewhere in the middle, but we think it’s a great mix of easy-to-pack, affordable, energizing, and still tasty food for the ride.

1. Mountain House and Canned Soup and Chili

Our go-to dehydrated meals come from Mountain House. Available in different serving sizes and a variety of tasty flavors, the meal packs are easy to put together at camp. They go great with a favorite can of soup or chili as well. We recommend cans with the pop-top lids – they’re easy to warm up by the fire and even easier to clean up.

2. Stove

There are some little comforts that we don’t like camping without, one of which is a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Packing a small camp stove allows us to enjoy just that, plus other comforts like warm oatmeal and quick water for our Mountain House meals.

Camping Stove at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Jetboil Flash Cooking System Jetboil Genesis 2 Burner Stove Fire Maple Lightweight Cooking Pot with Heat Exchanger
Jetboi Flash Cooking System Jetboil Genesis 2 Burner Stove Fire Maple Lightweight Cooking Pot with Heat Exchanger

3. Silverware

To plastic or not to plastic, that is the question. A lot of ADV riders swear by plastic utensils – they’re lightweight and easy to throw away after a meal. That said, we’ve grown to love having a titanium silverware set. It’s not much heavier than plastic yet is significantly stronger. And with just a few wet wipes after every meal, the utensils are ready to packed and use again, and we don’t have much extra trash to pack out.

4. Insulated Bottle

There’s nothing like a cold drink of water after a long day of riding. To have cold water, though, you need an insulated bottle. We start a lot of our days by filling an insulated bottle with ice, and then enjoy the ice water throughout the day. It’s an effortless luxury that we think every rider should get to enjoy.

Riding Through the Desert

Insulated Bottles at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Rocky Mountain ATVMC Insulated Bottle Rocky Mountain ATVMC Insulated Tumbler Yeti Rambler Bottle
Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Insulated Bottle Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Insulated Tumbler Yeti Rambler Bottle

5. Ziploc Bags

Even just one night of camping can leave you with quite the mess to clean up. Used wet wipes, messy Mountain House packages, and so on are not things you want to just pack away until you find a trash can, though. Our solution to this problem? Ziploc bags! The bags take up no room in your pack and are easy to stuff with trash when the time comes. Even easier, however, is throwing the bag away at the next rest stop or gas station.

The Tools

Part of adventure riding is being prepared for the unknown. Bikes are outfitted as best they can be, but tools are also packed for whatever the ride may through at us. We can’t remember a ride where we didn’t pull out the tool roll, and these five tools remain the most important ones we’ve carried.

1. Tire Tools

No tool roll is complete, let alone sufficient, without tire tools. Our must-haves include tire irons, a bead breaker, a pump, spare tubes, a crescent wrench, and a tire repair kit. If we’re riding with a large group and have the extra room, we try to carry a few extras of each, especially pumps, in case one fails or simply doesn’t work. A flat tire is one of the most common issues you can run into on the trail but, if you have the right tools, it can be one of the easiest to rectify.

Fixing a Flat Tire

Tire Tools at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Tusk Aluminum Tire Iron with Axle Wrench Kit Tusk Tire Iron Kit Tusk Racer Axle Wrench
Tusk Aluminum Tire Iron with Axle Wrench Kit Tusk Tire Iron Kit Tusk Racer Axle Wrench
Tusk Pro Caliber Tire Pressure Gauge 3-60 psi Tusk Low Pressure Tire Gauge Slime Hand Floor Pump
Tusk Pro Caliber Tire Pressure Gauge Tusk Low Pressure Tire Gaguge Slime Hand Floor Pump
Antigravity Batteries ADV Micro-Start Tire Inflator Tusk Motorcycle Tire Bead Tool Tusk Tire Repair Trail Kit
Antigravity Batteries ADV Micro-Start Tire Inflator Tusk Motorcycle Tire Bead Tool Tusk Tire Repair Trail Kit

2. Epoxy

Epoxy is a sort of magical catch-all for all of the problems you might encounter on your ride. Because you can’t take every bolt and every tool with you, epoxy can fill in those gaps – literally. Fast acting and extremely effective, epoxy has saved more of our ADV rides than we can count.

3. Electrical Items

We carry a variety of fuses in our tool roll along with tape and wire – all have helped in a pinch. Of course, none of these parts would be helpful without a tester. Carrying even just a simple 12V tester or some of the smaller ones out there will help you diagnose the problem your bike is having – no point having fuses if you don’t know where they’re needed.

ADV Bag on the RM Rides HOP Ride

4. Bolts

What’s more integral to a tool roll than a bolt pack? Having an assortment of bolts on hand comes in handy more times than you’d think. You’re sure to lose a bolt or two through rough, rocky, and unpredictable terrain, but some can fall out on the smoothest of terrains, too. You never know when you’re going to lose a bolt, so it’s best to keep a few in your pack just in case. Some tool rolls are specially made to help you keep track of your bolts – the Tusk Cache Tool Roll has a one-of-a-kind magnetic patch to keep your bolts right where you need them.

Do

Stay Warm

Whatever season or climate you ride in, staying warm is always an important consideration. Nothing ruins an ADV trip quite like turning into a human popsicle at night. If you remember these tips, though, you’ll be prepared for whatever cold weather may hit.

1. Location, Location, Location

There’s more than just scenery and seclusion to your campsite– look for a place that you can use to your advantage. On windy rides, we try to make camp sheltered in some hills or around something that can block the wind. Being mindful of your campsite’s location all the way down to the direction you pitch is the biggest step you can take to stay warm.

A Clever Campsite

2. Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad

Much like with a comfortable pillow, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of a quality sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Cheap, thin sleeping bags make for a miserable night’s sleep – we’ve made that mistake a few times and definitely learned our lesson. Since then, we’ve invested in higher-end sleeping bags like the ones from Big Agnes. A 0° bag is a great option – in the warm weather, you can unzip it; in the cold, you’ll be glad you have it. And with a sleeping pad under your bag, you’ll be insulated from the ground. Some sleeping bags, like the Big Agnes, even come with a pad already inside the sleeping bag. Whatever setup you opt for, you won’t regret having a nice sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and you certainly won’t get cold during the night.

3. A Clean Set of Clothes

A long day of riding can leave your base layers anywhere from damp to downright dripping. When you get to camp and take off your heavy jacket and pants, you may think those layers are drying out as you pitch your tent, make the fire, and relax over dinner. Don’t be fooled, though. Chances are, the same clothes you were riding in will still be damp by the time you crawl into your sleeping bag. Spare yourself from a chilly night by changing into a clean, dry set of clothes before going to bed. The dry base layer will keep you much warmer, not to mention much more comfortable. Throw in a pair of merino wool socks and you’ll have just another layer of insulation to protect you from the cold.

Staying Warm Around the Fire

4. Beanies

We already talked about beanies, but we’ll bring it up again in case you need the reminder. As soon as you take off your helmet, throw a beanie on and your ears will be nice and snug all night long.

5. Alternate Heat Sources

It never hurts to have a few alternate heat sources on deck just in case it gets really chilly. One of the easiest to pack are hand warmers. They’re small, take up minimal space, and can be thrown in the bottom of your sleeping bag for a few hours of warmth through the night. Another idea is to heat a rock. If you’re going to have a campfire anyway, you can take one of the rocks from the ring, wrap it in your mid layer, and place it in the bottom of your bag. Of course, this is something you need to be careful with. If the rock is so hot that water can boil on it, it’s probably too hot to put in your sleeping bag. When used carefully, though, alternate heat sources can take your night to the next level and keep you sleeping comfortably through all of it.

Stay Protected from the Elements

Wherever and whenever you’re riding, there a few things that are always important to remember:

Sunscreen – You can get sunburnt even on a cloudy day. The higher the elevation, the closer you are to stronger UV rays. Prevent uncomfortable to downright nasty sunburns with a healthy amount of sunblock and chapstick.

Water – When you’re riding, your body is still working and sweating even if it doesn’t feel like it. That’s why you should change your base layers before going to bed, and it’s also why you should keep yourself hydrated.

Bug Spray – What’s worse than having an itchy bug bite consuming your thoughts on your ADV ride? Pack the bug spray, nuff said.

RM Rides Red Rocks to Mountain Tops

Get Riding!

What are you waiting for? With this guide, you’re equipped for the ultimate ADV camping trip. So grab your riding buddies, load up the bike, and get going on your next adventure.

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