Packing for a year long trip around Australia on a motorcycle

DSC_2676Time has come for my big adventure to start.

An adventure of this proportions requires some serious packing abilities, which I do have for a certain extent, but that have never been pushed to these limits before….obviously.

The hard part of packing for a trip like this, is to think ahead of all the things that you believe you’ll need in a year long on the road, regardless of the fact that YOU basically do not know exactly WHAT TO EXPECT and that you never done something like this before in your life.
So the process of packing becomes an introspecting assessment of what you think are your technical skills and your tolerance levels in terms of temperatures and adaptation to fatigue.

The second aspect that you mostly have to consider is that Motorcycles are not meant to carry anything.
Ok, let me explain you my point.
If you are a purist, you know that a steed has to be mounted only by its knight, to really make the riding experience enjoyable to its fullest, but let’s skip the romanticism for a second and let’s get to the practical stuff.
Where do we start from, if we don’t have so much room to carry our equipment?
It starts from getting the best BAGS available, so our motorcycle can take the burden of the extra weight with a smile, and we can be sure that carrying our gears with us, will not be a problem for the whole duration of our trip.

For this adventure I used a fantastic set of GIANT LOOP bags:
1 ZigZag Handlebar bag
1 Fandango Tank Bag pro
1 Tillamook 60l Dry bag
1 Siskiyou Panniers (35l each).

All exclusively WATERPROOF.
This stuff is made in Oregon, USA so quality is guaranteed.

Looking at the pictures you will see that i still have the hard panniers on, but I chose to start my trip with these ones, for testing purposes.
These KTM hard panniers are good but they are too heavy and they are not going to be the best choice for my Off-Road adventures.
Although, they do have a lock and it does provide more safety for my equipment, when i stop and park my bike somewhere. Issue is that the locking mechanism are sometimes hard to operate and it’s becoming harder and harder to use them.
I will tell you more about this, once the testing will be completed and once i swap those with the Siskiyou Panniers from Giant Loop.

So, for this particular trip, I divided my equipment in 4 big sections:
– Camping Gear
– Motorcycle Tools
– Clothing Items
– Electronics Devices

CAMPING:
At this point i do have to unfold a big secret of mine: I never camped before.
Except one time when i was 15 year old and me and my friends drove our 50cc motorcycles 140km north along Como’s Lake in Italy and stayed in a camping site for the night; I ended up sleeping in a 2 man igloo tent with no sleeping mat or bag with my childhood buddy.
We had a jar of olives for dinner. Yep, OLIVES.
Very mediterranean vibe, i have to say, but being 15 years old and cashless, that was all we came up with. Awful experience that climaxed with the “unexpected” pouring of the leftover olive cordial in somebody’s shoes and a couple of police fines, given to us by some angry cop, disturbed by our inexplicably “noisy mufflers”……anyway, GOOD FUN, but never to be repeated again!

I know, I know, that doesn’t almost count as camping experience, but you have to give me credit at least for trying again to conquer this unknown “mountain” of mine.
Matter of fact, I’m leaving for a year on a motorcycle, relying on mostly camping, but I believe that the best way to learn how to camp properly….is to GO CAMPING!
So, lets start, shall we??
I kind of improvised on this one, reading on forums, websites, asking people around and watching videos on youtube.

So far this is the only equipment I take with me:
DSC_0163_1

A 3 people Tent in a waterproof sleeve, sleeping Bag, sleeping linen, Exped sleeping mat (the best quality-price mat i could find, really; all the other we $150-$300. DAMN!), Helinox chair (highly recommended by professionals for resting after a day long ride), a cup (you never know when you feel like having a tea, LOL), clothing line (useful also in case i want to hang myself after the first day of camping), multi purpose knife-pliers, a head lamp, Watertight passport/wallet sleeve, little emergency stove, a lighter and a 3×2 meters camping tarp.
I also have a dirty clothes cotton bag and a hard 1l water bottle.
Planning to buy one of those 2-3 litres camel pack units for water. I’ve been test riding for a couple of days in 30 degrees C heat and, it can get pretty hot and thirsty out there.

All this fits in one 42l pannier of mine.

MOTORCYCLE:
In regards of this, you never have enough spare parts. So for this trip, I have several KTM tools that were included in the bike, but I decided to bring some extra stuff, screwdrivers, allan keys, cable ties, tape, just in case I have to improvise myself as the Australian-Italian Mac Gyver and start fixing my Bronte in the middle of nowhere.
I did buy one of those self repairing kits, with the slime to be injected into the tyre for emergency puncture repair.41HUr2mardL._SY355_ In this package was included also a small compressor. This works with any 12V battery, so I can use my motorcycle to inflate my own tyres. Pretty cool!
This is also pretty handy to adjust my tyres pressure in case of off-road riding.
There are also other puncture repair kits for tubeless tyres that work really well, but I think I’ll be ok with this one. I’m mostly on bitumen for the duration of my trip so this should do.
I did bring some Castrol Chain lube to lubricate my chain after every ride and some chain degreaser; this is a necessary step that has to be taken for a long lasting performance of your motorcycle. NO MATTER WHAT, lube your chain guys and keep it clean!
I brought also a spare 12V battery (cigarette lighter) adapter that connects straight to the battery, in case the one on my motorcycle dashboard breaks down.
All this fits easily in half a 32l pannier.

I also decided to take with me a 5Litres gas tank (that you can see strapped at the back); it’s one of those cheap ones that you can buy at any hardware store.
I believe It may come handy in case i have to do long stretches or ride through desolated areas with no gas stations for miles.

CLOTHING:
About this matter, I have to say that luckily I don’t have to prepare myself for 4 seasons. Australia has roughly 2 seasons, and I’m also chasing the warmth, all the way around it.
So potentially the coldest climatic condition that I will encounter will be maybe 6-7 degrees Celsius and the hottest I hope it’s not going to be more than 36.

I packed 4 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts, 1 jumper, 5 pair of socks, 5 pair of undies.
My swimwear collection is although more vibrant, since i brought my Surf Lifesaving shirt, shorts and cap. I’m in fact very keen in patrolling whenever is possible around this marvellous continent. I brought also a short sleeved rash vest, swimming goggles and fins; you never know where you are going to swim (as far as you do it between the Flags!). Obviously these last few items are unnecessary if you are not planning to swim every day in sharks infested waters.
splash-right
In regards of footwear, I’ll be riding on Formula Adventure boots, that I have to say are becoming comfier and comfier the more i ride. I also took with me 1 pair of running shoes (not really necessary but…) and 1 pair of flip-flops (or thongs, for Aussies).

For thought days, I have my rain suit, that is a set of super waterproof-waxed wintery jacket and its “wear on the top” pants.
DSC_2967
It’s probably the best waterproof suit I’ve seen and I’ve been using it in Italy for years and it still holds its game beautifully.

All this fits in 3/4 of my 60l Giant Loop Waterproof duffle bag at the back. Perfect !

ELECTRONICS:
Being an IT guy and a passionate photographer, I couldn’t renounce to the possibility to make this trip the most technologically advanced possible. Aside from my beautiful Bronte (my motorcycle) that is one of the most technologically advanced bikes on the planet (ABS, MTC, Electronic Suspensions, Ride by Wire throttle control, etc), there are SO MANY GADGETS you can buy nowadays for adventure travellers and for your motorcycle that I don’t even know where to start from.
This is what i brought with me:

DSC_0162_1
15″ Laptop (too heavy, but the only one I have so…), my Nikon D800E with 70-200mm and 14-24mm lenses (veeeeery heavy), a manfrotto BeFree tripod (relatively light), a TomTom GPS with waterproof and handlebar mount, GoPro Hero3+ with different harnesses and telescopic stick (all in waterproof case), power pack (that little fellow that gives extra juice to your cellphone), 2 1TB drives for backups, a Kodak FullHD flip camera (i don’y know why i actually brought this), Spot 3 Tracker (very useful for emergencies other than for tracking) and a Goalzero solar panel charger (really cool sh*t, i have to say).

All this fits comfortably in my special backpack.

Although, I love technology and I mostly rely on it for my every day “survival”, I never expect a machine NOT TO FAIL; for this reason i’m carrying also some NRMA State Maps and the famous Australia motorcycle Atlas, written by the great Peter ‘The Bear” Thoeming, that has 200 great rides that you may not want to miss in a trip like this.

The burden of taking so much electronics with you is certainly compensated by the incredible versatility that gives to your trip in terms of documentation and reporting.
For this particular adventure, I preferred to go a bit heavier than usual and carry “extra” technology.

That’s it! This was so far my “Motorcycle Adventure Traveller” starter kit.
I will let you know what stuff I’m going to leave along the way and what instead I’m going to add to the list.

What do you think?!?!
Did I forget anything?!

Paolo

To the next episode, with the first part of the trip!

Enjoy

17 thoughts on “Packing for a year long trip around Australia on a motorcycle

  1. will be be interested to see how you go. I would love to do something like that one day. When you get to Townsville, we would love to catch up and see how it’s all going. Ride safe and good luck.

    • Thanks for your comment Troy! I will certainly keep you updated and I ll get in touch with you once in Townsville. I’m sure that by the time i get there, I will have some feedback about it.
      Cheers

  2. G’day Paolo, looks like you are pretty well prepared. I’d pack a second pair of jeans and a few First Aid items. Maybe some Panadol and some water sterilising tablets too. I’ll keep an eye out for you when you are in S E Qld.
    Recording the trip in detail on your own takes a lot of energy, so all the best with that and I look forward to reading your blog.

    • That s a great tip Chris!
      I ll definitely pack a small first aid kit.
      Luckily I m happy to track my trip in details, although you are right, it requires a bit of energy.
      Thanks for the comment.
      Cheers

  3. Hi,
    A couple of things that i find essential on these types of rides include a small adjustable spanner and a decent quality Leatherman-type tool. These are very adabtable tools and it’s amazing the uses you find for them when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
    From a comfort perspective you might want to take a small chap stick for your lips and face. It probably seems a bit frivolous but after weeks of riding in sun, wind and cold, cracked and bleeding lips get very painful and distracting.
    Always fill your Camelbak at every opportunity.
    Have a great trip. I look forward to reading all about it.
    Cheers
    Wal

      • I would also strongly suggest you take at least one other type of puncture repair kit. Mushroom plugs or the Gryyp Cargol Twist & Go work well depending on the type of puncture. The cord and adhesive plugs can work well for larger punctures as you can stuff more than one cord into the hole if you need to.
        Although the promise of the Slime puncture repair is attractive – Just screw it on and inflate – I would only use it as a last resort. It tends not to be too effective for large punctures and can make a real mess of your tyre and rim. Also do not be tempted to use it in advance to prevent punctures. It may automatically seal small punctures without you knowing you have one and, unless you inspect the tyre very closely and regularly, the first time you find out about it is when the puncture opens up or splits. You may then be stuck in a difficult position with a tyre that can’t be repaired. If you’re not carrying a spare tyre this can be very awkward.
        I hope this is useful for you.
        Cheers
        Wal

    • I heard about the problem with the slime, getting everywhere around the rim and creating kind of a mess. I’ll get one of those tubeless repair kits that you mentioned.
      Thanks again.
      Cheers

  4. I would also suggest you carry spare tubes and small tire irons. I know the KTM is tubeless, but if you ding/crack a rim it won’t seal and if you are in the middle of nowhere then sticking a tube in it might be enough to get you out of trouble.

    • That’s a good idea. I’m going to buy that too, just in case. At the end a tube doesn’t take too much room and could save me in case of a problem with the rim.
      cheers

  5. A very informative article indeed! Thanks for sharing such a great resource! I am planning a motorcycle trip to Australia soon and have already started getting the thing you mentioned from my favorite online motorcycle store http://www.clandesmotards.net . Hope the trip turns out to be a good one!

    • Hey Nicholas !!
      Thank for the nice comment. It was a pleasure and an honour to be able to share this with the internet.
      Good on you !! Australia is an unbelievable country (continent). I hope you took enough time off, because is massive!
      I just finished my Giant Loop around it and did 37000 km overall.
      All good fun, mate!
      Let me know if you need any help!
      ciao

  6. Hello Paolo, I always thought Italy is the best place on Earth… Right until I went to Australia. That was love at first sight and I cant wait till I finally move there. Until then you help me to survive without OZ land with your photos and stories. Thanks!

    • Ciao Eva.
      Your words speak by themselves.
      Italy is a beautiful place but Australia is something else in terms of nature and beauty.
      I wish you all the best for your trip to OZ and thank you for supporting my trip, by following my adventure.
      I really appreciate it.

      ciao!

  7. Extremely helpful post! It guides us perfectly to what we should pack for a motorcycle. I never had such an adventure, therefore it is more than interesting for me. Thanks for the packing tips!!

  8. Hi Paolo,
    Such an interesting description and explanation for a ride.
    I know you made it in Australia, your new challenge is even bigger and there you will have to support such a difference of temperature. It was great to meet you, a pity for not having chatt any longer. If I was 30 years younger, I will try to follow you and realize this dream.
    Take care of yourself.
    Cheers.

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