10.000 KM on the ODO: The joy of packing light!
Season 6: Project Alaska1 April 2022
Alaska, my Honda CRF300L Rally, and I have surpassed the magical 10.000 kilometers! That means, we tackled a quarter of the world’s circumference together, while riding on the soils of seven different countries. Well, soils… Rocks, sand, dirt, tarmac, and a considerable amount of saltwater.
I have put my new partner through more abuse than any of my previous adventure bikes. Some minor damages aside, which were all caused by transportation on the sea, she has been handling it all like a champ. As I said before, I couldn't have wished for a better bike to ride the Americas with.
One of the reasons why this motorcycle has been my favorite adventure bike so far has to do with my current setup. More specifically, my current weight. The weight of my bike plus luggage, I mean!
During the three years of riding a motorcycle around the world, I've never had a lighter setup than now. Buying 'Savannah' in Africa, a CRF250L, was my first encounter with a 150-kilogram motorcycle and I quickly realized that it was the way to go for me. However, I have to admit that during season 5, I was still carrying around a lot of luggage, making the bike top-heavy.
Every kilogram counts
When I set off for Ecuador, I re-evaluated my belongings and further reduced the amount of stuff that I was bringing. I saved weight and space by carefully examining each and every item I wanted to bring. For example, I invested in expensive, but special lightweight shoes. This may seem over the top, but you can easily save half a kilogram on your shoes alone! I also bought extra thin leggings and long-sleeved shirts in the hiking section of an outdoor shop, so my clothes take up very little space and add almost no weight.
The less you bring, the more likely you will think at some point in your journey: I wish I had brought *insert item here*. But at those moments, you should also think: I'm glad I didn't bring *insert item here* because I would have carried it around for months without using it.
It's impossible to be prepared for every possible scenario on the road, and you have to accept you can't travel with a fully equipped garage on the back of your motorcycle either. You just have to be a little more creative and solve problems on the go and with what you've got!
Benefits of traveling light
Each and every day that passes by during which you are not thinking: I wish I brought *insert item here*, means another day of being happy that your motorcycle is not terribly heavy! Handling your motorcycle in tight situations, lifting it in and out of little boats, picking it up from slippery mud, or fitting it into a small steel basket to fly over a river in the Amazon… all of it is 100% more fun with a lighter motorcycle.
No matter how strong you are, picking up or man-handling a 350-kilogram bike is going to get annoying really quickly. Fair enough, I've never ridden a 350-kilogram motorcycle, but the difference between a 150 and 200-kilogram motorcycle is already big enough for me. Those 50 kilograms less can already make or break my day.
But what can you do to make your set-up lighter?
How to travel light
I would recommend starting with a rackless soft luggage system like the one I am using. That will already save you up to 5 kilograms without the rack alone, and many more if you change from hard panniers to soft luggage.
The next thing to keep in mind is that the more space you have, the more stuff you will bring with you. Even with the strongest willpower in the world, you will fill up all the space that's available. It is as simple as that. That's why I opted for less volume with my MoskoMoto reckless 80 kit. Instead of having a 30L duffle bag on top of it, I went for a 22L bag. I also removed the 4L pouch I used to have on top. That's 12L of luggage less! Having less storage space forces you to make thoughtful decisions on what to bring with you.
What those real essentials are? That is different for everybody, I'm afraid. That may not be the answer you are looking for, but it's true nevertheless. I for one, carry an entire video production kit with me. Two drones, several battery packs, drone controllers, a lot of GoPro cameras, audio equipment, laptop, lots of external hard drives, cables, and spare parts.
Others want to camp and bring all their camping gear with them. Some bring lots of tools, so they can fix whatever is necessary on their bike. I only carry the tools I need to fix a tire and some basic tools to tighten screws and get to my air filter. In case of any serious problems with my bike, I'll need a workshop anyway, as I don't have the mechanical skills to solve those by myself on the side of the road.
Packing light your way
What your essentials are, you find out by experience, as I did. Those who have followed me from the beginning will have noticed that with each journey my luggage is getting smaller and smaller. It takes time to learn how to pack light and still feel confident about all the things you are not bringing with you that might come in handy one day.
But once you reach that moment that you think you have the perfect set-up, it will make your motorcycle adventure 1000% better!
I started riding motorcycle at a time when technical clothing did not exist. The T-shirts were made of cotton and
took a long time to dry. So I took 5 or 6 T-shirts.
Now with the technical clothes two or three are enough for me, I wash them by hand in the evening and the next day they are dry.
I remember the giggles with my brother when we wrung the cotton T-shirts, one at each end, twisting them with our hands.
The first who let go had a pledge, it was in 1992 at the campsite in Budapest.
I see some of your articles it's so enjoying my life also a second motive to travel all around the world. https://broomwiki.net/
Sometimes l wonder about your total lack of roots, but then I realise. You are more rooted and more grounded than most of us all put together. Your home is Earth your roots are Earth itself it's as much a part of you as the air in your lungs and watching you light up like a star with every experience fills me with respect and awe, Quite often l am crying with joy watching you live your life so beautifully _ I want you to know that our hearts travel with you
Noraly, you have all the logical reasoning and all the experience needed to go for the lightest possible kit. I've noticed some of the Craft shirts, and indeed they are light, and when you know you are going to spend a lot of time in warm, humid places, it would make no sense to bring anything thicker and heavier for example.
The light bike in combination with lighter bags (and all that has gone into them) certainly must make a positive difference when it comes to fuel costs. Without extra load the bike should have gulped down some 300 liters by now (10000km). If you had brought with you extra everything in extra large and heavy packs, you would only have spent more on fuel, and wouldn't have had more memories and experiences to bring back home afterwards.
I am on a solo 3-week motorcycle tour in Western Cape, South Africa right now and brought a bit too much baggage down here from Germany. You are totally right, less is more, now I know, what I really need and what not. A bit too late for me, but sometimes you have to learn it the hard way. At least I did't make exact plans for the trip here with the exception of the first hotel in Cape Town, they would have all gone bust just on the second day here. So I ride on a day-to-day basis and I'm more than fine with it.
I purchased the pump and guage from Amazon.
I tried to purchase the trail jack but they don't ship to united States.
Yes Noraly I agree with you. I bought my CRF300L Rally before you revealed you choice to buy one and I choice it for the same reasons. I am planning two trips in June to the Giant Loop Camp out and also the Touratech Rally. Thanks for the information on Packing lite I have been working on figuring that out. I will be carrying a little more than I have in the past because at 71 years of age I want to sleep in a tent I can stand up in and also have a cot to sleep on. I don't feel like I can afford Motels or hotels so I am going to try to camp. So time will tell if this will work for me. I am assuming you know that accommodations here in the US will cost a lot more than in most other countries. The fact that you travel the back roads to small towns will be a benefit to lower cost accommodations. Ok enough of my unsolicited advice may you have safe journeys as you travel north.
I'm picturing Season 10... nothing but a screwdriver and a toothbrush! : )
Just think, Arthur Dent only had his towel!
Even though I ride a big bike (2019 Honda Goldwing DCT Tour), I have found it beneficial to pack light as I can always find things I need along the trip if need be. You are right, particularly on a dependable Honda, you just need to be able to handle a flat tire at most. Multi-use clothing is most helpful. My buddies and I stay in reasonable motels instead of camping as it requires less gear and we get a good night's sleep. The longer you ride, the more you learn.