So you are thinking about attending a week long motorcycle rally, and all the hotels are full. You have no problem camping, but want more comfort than just a tent and a bed, not to mention somewhere to sit and a cooler for drinks. While roughing it is great in theory, if you aren’t packing up in the morning, a few more creature comforts would be nice around the fire.
Many manufacturers are now producing luxury items for motorcycle use. If you don’t want to sleep in the ground, you can buy a camp cot that folds up to 16″x 5,” small enough for packing with a sleeping bag. Small “Pocket Pillows” work better than folded coats as pillows (Okay, much better). Air mattresses are softer than self-inflating pads, and you can purchase either 12 volt or battery powered air compressors to inflate it in only a few minutes and without getting light headed. If you decide to go this route, you should try to find a compressor that will also deflate your mattress, which will greatly help with packing up.
Inside your tent, instead of living out of your saddlebags, some tents come with netting with can hold clothes and other items along the walls and ceilings. If your tent didn’t, you might be able to get it as an accessory, or purchase one of the universal ones available at camping stores or online. It is better to look at them at a store before purchase, if possible, to make sure it will fit your needs and your tent.
Outside the tent, you can obtain folding chairs for sitting around the fire, instead of old tree stumps. Kermit produces a wooden camp chair that stores in a 4″ x 6″ x 23″ bag. Inflatable furniture can pack small(er), and if you are carrying an air mattress, use the same air pump. Nothing like having a sofa at the campsite, but be careful about the ground it is on, and how close you put it to the fire. Most are neither particularly durable or fire proof. There are also hanging showers if you don’t want to use public ones and have a tree available.
If you like your coffee fresh, portable coffee bean grinders are available; some will run off 12v power, just plug it into your bike power and let it run. Once the beans are done, you can heat the coffee on a propane grill, with multiple burners, that folds up to 12″x 20.” Of course, you will have to find propane, but in rural areas it is commonly available at gas stations, and they will take the tanks back with you are done camping so you don’t have to transport it on the motorcycle.
If you really are pressed for storage space, but want to live comfortably at your campsite for a few days, you can simply pick up your convenience items in the area you are camping. Either pack or purchase bungee cords or rope, and once your tent is up head to the local superstore for folding chairs, large coolers, or anything else you might feel the need for. Thrift stores may also provide you with items for reduced cost, and will take the items when you are done with them. This is cheaper, in the short term, than purchasing items that will fit on the motorcycle, but gets much more expensive over multiple trips, as you dispose of the items at the end of the trip. At some rallies, there is actually a small cottage industry of salvaging chairs and coolers left behind by people unable to transport them home for personal use or resale.
If you are just too attached to the items you purchased for your campsite, or just don’t want to surrender them to the local population, or you purchased something at the rally you can’t fit on the bike, you can ship them home via UPS or some other shipping company. It is even possible to ship a camping pack, with items too large for the bike, and arrange a local person to receive them. Some larger rallies will actually have a shipping address, allowing you to ship items to them and save having to transport them to the rally site. If you have reservations at a campsite, you might ask them about receiving items for you. Remember, though, that not everything shipped gets where it is supposed to go, when it is supposed to get there, and you should be prepared to replace items is the package goes astray. It is always better to keep the basics with you on the bike, and ship the luxury items. This too can be expensive, so you will have to judge the cost of purchasing the items locally against the cost of shipping.
It is much more difficult to test these items before the trip, so expect some things will just not work like you hoped. Be prepared to rethink what you are doing and what at your campsite, and keep an eye on what other motorcycle campers are doing for more tips and tricks. But most of all remember to enjoy yourself. I will see you one the road, and keep the rubber side down.