Over the course of many motorcycle trips during the past four years, I’ve learned what to carry and what to leave behind, becoming an efficient packer. The two biggest factors in deciding what to take are weight and space. Weight is always an issue as a heavier bike is harder to handle, tougher to pick up if you drop it and reduces fuel mileage. Space is obviously limited on a motorcycle and items that pack small are preferable. Also, items that are multi-functional are preferable.

I prefer to run hard luggage instead of soft bags due to the increased weather protection and safety of belongings, which is not that much of an issue in developed countries, but will be useful for traveling through some developing countries. Additional benefits of hard luggage include using them as camping stools and the ability to rivet additions features, such as spare tire-carrying mounts, etc. The downside of the aluminum luggage set is the added weight of the metal boxes as opposed to cloth saddle bags. Each box weighs about 10 lbs. However, to me the benefits out-weight these costs.

Along with clothes, tools, spares and food in the side panniers, I’m also taking along minimal camping equipment, a Digital SLR camera and other electronics in the top box.

Geared up and ready to roll!

Riding Gear
Regarding riding gear, I follow the motorcycling ethos of “All The Gear, All The Time” (ATGATT), meaning full protection of the whole body anytime I’m riding, even for a short distance. Sometimes wearing all the protective gear can be cumbersome, but if it helps me in surviving an accident, then it’s worth the effort.

Motoport Riding Suit
Teknic Speedstar Summer Glove
Rev’It Celsius Winter Glove
Aerostich Triple-Digit Rain Glove Covers
Silk Glove Liners (x2)
Champion Insulated Glove Liners (x1)
Oxtar TCX Comp Boots (with torsional ankle protection)
Arai XD Dual-Sport Helmet with sun visor

In terms of clothes, I’ll primarily be wearing my Motoport Kevlar Riding Suit with base layers. For the body to be comfortable, it’s all about layering. If it gets colder, I’ll throw on the windproof and waterproof liners of the riding suit and if it gets still colder, I have a performance thermal set, which I use for skiing. On the other extreme, for really hot temperatures, I have a cooling vest that works on the principle of evaporative cooling. Besides changing out the base layers, I only require a few other clothes for the evenings and days off from riding.

Base Layer Tops (synthetic x3, silk x1)
Base Layer Bottoms (synthetic x3, silk x1)
Bicycle Shorts (with padding)
Thermal Top
Thermal Bottom
Dry-Fit T-shirts (x1)
Regular T-shirts (x3)
Travel Pants (x1) (pants that zip-off into shorts)
Shorts for sleeping (x1)
Swim Trunks (for the beach)
Boxers (x2) for off-bike; on-bike it’s commando under the base layers : )
Socks: Smart Wool (x1), Motorcycling Padded (x1), Silk (x2)
Neck Gaiter
Kidney Belt (to aid lower back support)
Keen Sandals with toe protection
Cooling Vest
Rain Liners
REI Camp Towel (quick drying)

Everything gets packed in the panniers

Wahl Beard and Hair Trimmer
Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (to reduce soreness of the posterior muscles)
Toilet Paper (small roll)
Eye Allergy Drops
Insect Repellent
Mosquito Net with Boonie Hat
Nail Cutter
First Aid Kit with Sprain Bandage
Eye Glasses
Spare Contacts
Eye Shades
Waterproof Document Holder
Fake Wallet

Camping in Patagonia, Chile

Catoma Twist 1-person Tent
GearGuide Light-weight Sleeping Bag
GearGuide Torso Sleeping Pad
MSR DragonFly Multi-fuel stove, runs off gasoline
Coleman Pot Set
LifeSaver Water Filter
FireSteel Flint for starting fires
Lexan Cutting Board
Emergency ready-to-eat meals

Laptop: Gateway ec1803u, a 10.6″ high-end netbook
Western Digital 500GB and 1TB External Hard Drives
Digital Camera: Canon SD400 5 MP
Digital SLR Camera: KonicaMinolta 5D 6 MP with zoom lenses, remote, tripod
Helmet Camera: GoPro HD
GPS: Garmin 60Cx
Logitech iPod nano with Etymotic ER-6i earphones
Chargers for all devices
3-into-1 Wall Socket
Travel Adapter
iPod Speakers with AA batteries
LED Head Lamp

Bike Related
Even with all the precautions taken before the trip regarding the bike itself, things can still go wrong and one must be prepared for various situations. I have the tools required to fix a flat tire, change a tire, quick weld any pieces that break and other miscellaneous tools for upkeep and repair.

Pumping up the tires in Guatemala

Motion Pro Chain Breaker and Rivet Tool
Tire Irons, 15″ x3
Tire Pliers Bead Breaker
Tire Patch Kit
Bike Krtuch
Slime Air Compressor
Mikuni Carb Jets
Tool Roll with:
Craftsman 3/8″ Socket Wrench Flex Head
Spanners: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 mm
Socket Set: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 mm; extensions: 1/4, 3/8
Socket Set Hex: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 mm
Spark Plug Socket
Deep Socket: 12, 14 mm for engine mounts
Vice Grips (x2)
Adjustable Wrench
T-Handles: 4, 5, 6 mm
Front and Rear Axle Wrenches (19, 24 mm) with extension
Lots of Zip-Ties
Safety Wire
Epoxy Bond
Super Glue
JB Weld
Leatherman Wave Multi-purpose Tool
Cruz Dual-Sport Multi-purpose Tool
Electrical Tape
Duct Tape on wrench
Digital Multimeter
Manual Compass
Feeler Gauges for valve checks
Chain Lube
Uni Filter Oil
Orange Hand Cleaner
Valve Core Remover

Tire Tubes (Front and Rear)
Clutch Cable mounted next to current clutch cable
Throttle Cable
Shift, Clutch and Brake Levers
Clutch Fibre Plates
Spark Plugs
H4 Headlight Bulb
Sprocket Set (Front 14 and Rear 42)
Fuel Line
Miscellaneous Nuts and Bolts (M5, M6, etc)
Electrical Connectors, Fuses
Fork Dusk and Oil Seals
Brake Pads (Front and Rear, EBC)

I’m clearly not traveling light, but hey, I figure I need all these items to live peacefully on the road for 2 years. Could I do with less? Sure, but I’m looking at long-term life on the road and this should keep me sane.

Packed and ready to hit the road!

Next: Common Questions About The Trip

Previous: About The Bike

4 thoughts on “Jammin thru the Global South Packing List

  1. Just a quick question – do you think cables would be difficult to find in South America now that you are there? And is there a good range of dual sports in SA? (KLR or KLX) we are thinking columbia might be a good place to stock up on bike parts. Riding with new bikes is easier. Thoughts?


  2. Hi Chris,
    I saw a lot of new KLRs in Colombia and Ecuador, but there’s heavy import fees. They retailed for close to $10k. The thing with cables is that you can find all the parts you need to make your cable, but finding your bike specific cable might be harder. Bring spares from the US.

    I, too, thought Colombia would be a nice place to stock up on parts but even though there’s a Suzuki assembly plant there, all the parts are imported from Japan, so they’re quite expensive. A chain $150, rear sprocket $60, spark plugs $10 each.

    I would say get a bike that works for you and then carry as much spares as you can from the States. Makes for a much easier trip, but the trick is to find the balance of how many spares do you need…? 🙂

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