Heading bush for a night, weekend or weeklong excursion with your mates and dirt bikes is as good as it gets. We explain what you’ll need to survive, whether you plan to rough it or camp out in style.
Hitting the track or trail is all about escaping the rat race and cleansing the soul. It’s a chance to sweat your sins away; to stop and smell the roses and to recharge your batteries. There’s no denying the buzz you get by shredding sweet singletrail for a few hours or to filling your mates in at the local MX track for the day. But if you combine your ride with camping out under the stars, it can take your off-road experience to a whole new level – one that you need to experience. And events such as the annual Transmoto 12-Hour provide the perfect opportunity to load up the necessities and head out into Bullamakanka with your mates and/or the family and live like moto-crazed gypsies.
Of course, the definition of camping can mean anything, and we’re not suggesting you abandon the beloved espresso machine to sleep in a thatched hut, armed with only a pocket knife, flint and a handful of poo tickets. But there are some general survival and comfort tips you should take into consideration. In this edition of How-To: Moto-Camping, we reveal the basics of what’s required to go camping with dirt bikes for an overnight trip, a weekend bash or a weeklong excursion.
The Sleeping Quarters
Armed with just a swag and sleeping bag, you can ‘pitch a bed’ directly under the tailgate of your truck’s tray-bed. Swags can be rolled out anywhere, providing you with instant shelter. Simply zip up the thick canvas hood for a comfortable night’s sleep in your own cocoon. If swaggin’ it isn’t your thing, there are some cheap one- and two-man pop-up tents around – although they don’t come with an internal mattress. Personal hygiene will usually be the last thing on the list, but a ‘baby wipe shower’ will go a long way to that fresher feeling.
With your bike strapped down into the ute tray, there’s really only enough room for your swag, moto gear, bumbag, toolbox, a few spare clothes, a sprinkling of spares and the esky. A handy addition to the overnight gear haul is a tarp, which can be draped over your belongings at night to protect them from dew and wandering eyes. Heading out for an overnight trip is really a small extension to a day-ride in the bush. So don’t go overboard with gear; stay nimble with just enough comforts to pitch your bed at the end of the day. That way, you can pack up in a jiffy.
There’s nothing gourmet about overnight roughing it. With provisions already set aside for snacks, lunches and hydration for two days in the saddle, all you’ll need for a quick dinner is a few bangers, buns and a bottle of instant gravy (tomato sauce) from the local shop. A few chilled suds in the esky are mandatory when sitting around the campfire with your mates. For breakfast, take along a brick of eat-out-of-the-packet cereal boxes and some milk to wash it all down with. And if you can’t live without a caffeine hit, throw in your favourite coloured energy drink.
The Sleeping Quarters
Things get a little more serious when half a dozen of your mates rendezvous for a long weekend of riding. Because there are more cars and hauling space, you can afford to take a few more provisions and creature comforts from home. A good sleeping arrangement is to pitch all the tents in a group, which can then be covered by a large tarp and secured to the side of a trailer or tree, or pegged to the ground. Attend to your personal hygiene as the days roll on with a portable toilet system and 12V-powered hot shower system or a cheap and easy solar shower bag. Failing that, you can always take a dip in a nearby creek.
Going bush for longer means you’ll need to take more tools and spares. Driving several hours back to the closest motorcycle dealer to grab spare tubes or a set of handlebars will put a major dent in your weekend’s fun. Spare parts – such as a rear guard, clutch and brake levers, a brake pedal and gear shifter – are mandatory. Don’t forget four litres of engine oil and an instant metal kneading compound to quickly plug any cracked or split radiators or cases. Also, consider how much fuel you’ll require. A general rule of thumb is 15 litres per day. Although, if the terrain is mainly sand, you’ll need another 5 litres to be on the safe side.
With so many mouths to feed, cooking is going to be a big effort. Get creative and build your own cooking drum out of a used beer keg that’s sliced in half or take a gas-powered BBQ hotplate if you can’t light a fire – all of which can be safely stowed away in the trailer. Several eskies will be required to keep all the perishables – such as steaks, sausages, salad and milk chilled. A separate esky – or two – will be required for the stash of beers. Remember to buy soft drinks, bread and water in bulk, and set up a central location for all the rubbish. Leaving zero trace of your existence is the smartest policy.
The Sleeping Quarters
Forget taking the bare minimum here. This is all about lavish camping at its most comfortable. Seasoned moto-campers will have invested in several Quikshades – one for the kitchen set-up and a second with attachable heavy-duty walls to form a sturdy tent that offers standing room and ample floor space. Failing that, there are plenty of heavy-duty canvas tent options that provide living space – and even separate bedrooms – and complete shelter from the elements. Inside, you can afford to run either a double- or queen-sized inflatable mattress, as well as battery-operated LED lights and even hang a mozzy net. Hot showers are no longer for dreamers, as there are plenty of gas bottle-powered water heating systems that you can route to a pop-up showering dome. The missus will love you!
Take everything! With a trailer or giant boxvan dedicated to moto, you can bolt, strap and store everything you could possibly need for the entire excursion. Alongside the rack of bikes and spare parts, you’ve got room for an extendable camping kitchen for food preparation, a benchtop for a gas-powered stove, a worktop with pull-out access to a complete toolbox and even a battery-powered rotisserie spit to cook up a camp-style roast. To light your camp area up like an outdoor patio, rig up a low-draining industrial-grade 12V floodlight onto a pole as well as some LED tube lights to hang from the Quikshade’s frame. Power both off a small deep-cycle lead-acid battery. Toiletries can be taken care of by erecting a pop-up dome to house your 22-litre Campmaster portable toilet.
Now you have no reason why you can’t eat and entertain like a chef. With a battery-powered rotisserie spit slowly roasting your alfoil-wrapped baby potatoes over hot coals and below the rotating rosemary-rubbed leg of lamb, you’ve got the fennel, prosciutto and pomegranate salad waiting to go. And that’s just the first night. You can sit back with the VB chiller box stacked with ice, rumbos and suds, while a second and third esky contains the perishables. A complete stack of kitchen knives and utensils are neatly concealed into the foldaway portable kitchen bench and you’ve even got room for the cleaning fluids. For brekky each morning, it’s eggs and bacon, and if you love your coffee you can even brew up a café-grade flat white on your gas stove with an outdoor espresso maker. You bewdy!
- First aid kit.
- Tent or lean-to to act as a shelter.
- Hammer to drive tent stakes into soil.
- Sleeping bag, doona and/or blankets for warmth at night.
- Air mattress or foam base placed underneath the sleeping bag for cushioning from stones and twigs as well as for insulation from the ground.
- Head torch and a flashlight.
- Hatchet, axe or saw for cutting firewood.
- Fire starter or another ignition device.
- Folding chairs.
- Ropes for a clothesline and securing the shelter.
- Tarp for adding an additional layer of storm protection to a tent and to shelter dining areas.
- Raincoat or poncho.
- Chuck box to hold kitchen items for food preparation, consumption and clean-up.
- Rubbish bags, particularly ones with handles that can be tied to a tree limb or clothesline to keep it off the ground.
- Insect repellent, particularly one that has plenty of Deet.
- Washkit and biodegradable wipes.
- Esky to store perishables and beverages. If electricity is available, a thermoelectric or AC-powered cooler can be used without the need for ice.
- Portable water filters for areas that have access to rivers or lakes.
- A portable BBQ coal grill, homemade beer keg oven or a spit can be used where campfires are forbidden or impractical.
- Firewood for campfires if none can be sourced.
- Money to pay a local if something on the bikes needs welding.
This content was originally published in Transmoto’s print magazine Issue #21.