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Note: This packing list applies to the Sequoia to Yosemite Dual Sport Motorcycle Trip.
I recently got back from a Wilderness Collective motorcycle trip (WC-024) and wanted to share some info on it. While I previously gave an abbreviated breakdown of the entire event, the even shorter version is that if you get the chance to go and don’t usually find yourself riding dual sport bikes, jump on this trip.
Here's the packing list that Wilderness Collective provided me:
- Backpacking size sleeping bag rated at 0°F - 30°F.
- Ground Pad (foam or inflatable)
- Compression bag for packing clothes
- 1 pair of pants (any type of durable pant will do)
- 2 or 3 moisture wicking t-shirts
- Lightweight easy-to-pack footwear for camp.
- 2 or 3 pairs of riding socks
- Warmer top or lightweight insulated jacket
- Waterproof shell jacket
- Swim shorts
- First layer style thermal underwear top and bottom
- Minimal personal toiletries
- Motorcycle license
Other than your sleeping bag and ground pad, you'll be carrying everything you've brought on your back. This makes it essential to pack as light and compactly as possible.
While your mileage will definitely vary, here’s what I brought:
If I can only bring one pair of pants, these are them. They’re not breathable nor made to be super quick drying but they’re incredibly durable and quite comfortable. I bought a pair on sale and after breaking them in, I went back and bought another for future use.
I’ve found that using a compression shirt as my true base layer greatly increases my comfort level when wearing a backpack for an extended period of time. It keeps any friction from the straps in check and is wicking so I don’t overheat.
The trip is 3-4 days but you only need one pair of underwear if you have the right pair. These things are comfortable, dry quickly, and don’t end up smelling like you’ve been wearing them for days. Though you’ll most likely have the opportunity to wash them in a creek if you truly wanted to.
When I saw this item on the list, I thought about not bringing them because I almost never need thermal underwear for anything. But for events like this, I tend to put trust in the organizer. That said, I only used mine once (for sleeping) but I’m a cold blooded New Englander and tend to run pretty hot. Oh but I did see some of my fellow riders put them on in the middle of rides. Then again, they were wearing lightweight hiking pants too.
This is one amazing piece of clothing. It can handle both hot and cold temps really well and makes an excellent base layer. I wore this over the compression shirt and under my hard shell and was never uncomfortable.
With all the mud, snow, and water crossings (at least on my trip), I recommend bringing two pairs so you can alternate every other day. I swear by the PhD line of SmartWool and these ski sock length versions were the perfect height for riding boots. My feet never felt better.
I saw many puffy jackets on this trip but I preferred my fleece pullover as a solid insulation layer top. Just something that I’ve had forever and it works really well. I also don’t have to worry about it ripping like a puffy jacket. One guy’s puffy was more duct tape at the end than anything else. The only downside of a fleece is that it’s fairly bulky.
*They don't make mine anymore so I linked to the latest version which is nearly identical but includes a built in hood.
I brought a jacket that’s really served me well over the years but you could probably get away with any kind of good water/windproof shell you have hanging around. While I got this jacket for free many years ago, if I had to buy something today, I’d be comfortable with any of the options from REI.
I believe Wilderness Collective used to issue the Sierra Designs 60/40 Short Parka and while it seems like a pretty awesome jacket, nowadays you have to supply your own.
After the trip I bought a new headlamp, the Black Diamond Spot and think I’ll switch to it for future trips because of it’s integrated red light and use of AAA batteries instead of CR123s. I do still love the simplicity of the Minimus...
These next two items are required but will stay in the support truck. Since you won't be carrying them, making them ultralight ins't necessary but it certainly helps if you're flying with just carry on (like I did).
Sleeping Bag - Marmot Plasma 15
If you can only afford one of something, my recommendation is to buy the best you can. When it was new, this sleeping bag was the lightest 15 degree bag on the market and it packs down insanely small. The temperature rating also covers the majority of climates for the trips I do so I knew it wouldn't have any problem handling this particular trip.
Ground Pad - Sea to Summit Ultralight
I planned on bringing my Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOlite but was lucky enough to snag this new pad for almost $45. To give you and idea on its packed size, it shrinks down to the size of a soda can. Yeah. While the Therm-a-Rest is bulky, it’s super lightweight and fairly comfortable. And even if you’re taller like me, get the Small and you’ll save some money and bulkiness.
These items weren’t on the packing list but I highly recommend bringing them.
This is a must have for so many reasons. In the case of this trip, it'll keep you from breathing in dust if you pop your helmet visor open but it's also great for those cold morning rides when the wind starts to creep down your shirt. It also takes up practically zero space in your bag or pocket.
I’ve never ridden over 300 miles off road so I wasn’t sure if I’d be chafing somewhere on my legs, or even my shoulders from the backpack so it’s nice to have some protection. Repackaging Bodyglide (or even deodorant) into a small flip-top container from REI saves a lot of space and weight but I have my eye on a new method. An empty chapstick tube sounds like a great idea and it would make application a lot easier than it currently is.
Source WLPS Low Profile 3L Hydration System
Truth be told, the hydration bladder Wilderness Collective provided was pretty junky. Some of the bite valves came off and the overall build just isn’t as good as other options on the market.
I’ve used Source for years and won’t go back to even using Camelbak, let alone whatever brand Wilderness Collective used. Just make sure you get the Helix Bite Valve Kit. It comes with the Storm Push-Pull Valve Kit which just drives me crazy.
If I were to go again, I’d be tempted to ditch their backpack and bring my own. If you watch their videos, you can see different ones in use so it seems they haven’t settled on a good partner but I would’ve loved to get one of the collaboration bags they did with Boreas Gear. If I were bringing my own backpack, it would be the GORUCK GR1 (26L) with their new Stabilizer Belt (which appears to have been pulled from their online store recently).
Ditch the hydration bladder they provide and bring the Source bladder I recommended above. But keep their backpack even if it's low quality. You're part of a team, don't be the odd man out. There's also a shared misery among the riders as zipper pulls and webbing fail one by one.
At the end of the day, pack light, pack smart, and ditch the non-essentials. Enjoy the ride.