Long distance traveling essentials - BMW R1200GS Forum : R1200 GS Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-May-2018, 08:39 AM (568) Thread Starter
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Long distance traveling essentials

Hello forum community! I've had my GSA for a year and I'm eager to strike out on some long distance journeys. I took a trip with a friend last year and got a taste of long hours on the road and moving from place to place, however, he was following in his car and we stayed at hotels the entirety of the trip. This year I plan to do another two week journey solo. And this time, I'd like to avoid staying in hotels as much as possible. I plan to close my trip in Des Moines in time for the 2018 BMW Rally.

With that being said, what are some essentials for making that kind of trip? I appreciate any and all input. Thank you in advance!

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-May-2018, 12:41 PM (737)
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Not that it matters but you did not state the origin point of your trip.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-May-2018, 07:21 PM (014)
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Camping or Motels?

Gear of note either way would be an air pump, tire plugs, air gauge, Zip ties, duct tape, electrical tape, Black Diamond headlamp, Gauze bandage, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, insect repellent, Toilet paper, Jet Boil stove, Aeropress coffee press, cup, utensils, bowl, a few dehydrated meals, cork screw, water container, towel, toiletry kit, phone and bits to charge, tarp, parachute cord, Knife, on board tie down straps, Anonymous book, pen, small notebook, appropriate clothing & moccasins.

Even if I wasn't planning to camp I'd throw a summer bag on the pile along with a pad and a minimal waterproof tent. Some of the freaking motels I've flopped make a summer bag attractive to avoid questionable bed linens? Bear spray works on bears of course and other mammals, should need arise.

I just noticed you intend to avoid motels so I guess camping is in. Get the best pad you can afford, foam/air combos 3-4" thick are good and a good inflatable pillow and for frequent use a tent with good headroom is nice. Keep your field kitchen simple but add a plate and extra small pot. Jet Boil is the best stove by far and pack an extra gas cartridge. Helinox makes a superior knock down chair you won't want to do without. Have at least a full gallon of water for kitchen/bath and a quart or two of drinking water, at all times. KOA's and the like are out there but don't be too shy to sneak camp at times if your location makes it possible. Ride early and camp early to have time to find a good spot well before. dark.
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Last edited by Crucian; 07-May-2018 at 07:33 PM (022). Reason: Camp gear
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-May-2018, 02:39 AM (319)
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Bring More Wampum..
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-May-2018, 03:13 AM (342) Thread Starter
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I'm starting from Michigan. Heading to Texas and surrounding areas.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-May-2018, 04:08 AM (381)
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Plenty of shopping opportunities on that route. Start out with the minimums other than emergency gear and pick up enhancements as need arises. Camping experience is gained well, by camping. Also, a night or two in a budget motel when camping isn't an option or a shower would change your world, is a wise choice.

As far as camping goes, sleep is the #1 priority. Focus on adequate comfort to allow for this and the rest will take care of itself. Your bike has plenty of room for items to create a cozy primitive bedroom: tent with headroom; best pad you can afford; pillow; collapsable chair; night light.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-Jun-2018, 10:43 PM (154)
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Getting a great nights' sleep is paramount to a good camping experience for me. I fought with bags that were too small or pads that were not comfortable too many years........

I now have a Nemo sleeping bag and Nemo inflatable pad. The bag is 44 inches wide with a zipper on both sides and the pad is something like 36 inches wide and fits in a sleeve on the bottom of the bag. The pad provides the bottom insulation. Both collapse reasonably small.

I'm a big guy and sleep really well in this wide bag, with the pad secured to the bottom of the bag - I don't end up off the pad during the night sleeping on the ground!

I also carry a Tyvek envelope I made to keep me warm on "cold" nights. See YouTube for how to treat the tyvek to make it soft and quiet, plus using tape to make it hold together. This will really add to your warmth on a cold night and folds up very small - weighs nothing!

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-Jun-2018, 07:03 AM (502)
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Let me recommend a couple websites that I've found invaluable in planning trips like this.

The first is recreation.gov. This site lists all the Corps of Engineers and National Park Service campgrounds, along with some (but, alas, not all) the National Forest ones. Particularly east of the Rockies, the Corps has built many, many splendid camping facilities, usually near dams, locks or other flood control, irrigation or navigation facilities. Many of these campgrounds take reservations, but all have at least some number of walk-up sites. Most are very well-equipped with hot showers and real restroom facilities. Many are also somewhat RV-oriented, but I've yet to encounter one that didn't have a good tent-pitching site. And many, if not most, have dedicated tent sites at a lower cost.

The other is reserveamerica.com. This site provides access to a lot of state park campgrounds (I'm not sure if they cover every state park in the country, but they've certainly got most of them). A lot easier than searching for the DNR websites of every state, most of which will then refer you back to reserveamerica.com anyway!

If you are thinking about going from Michigan to Texas via the MOA rally in Des Moines, may I suggest a few places I particularly like along the way? Consider the Corps campgrounds at Grant River (Potosi, Wisconsin--tent sites ten feet from the Mississippi, beneath tall bluffs and near all kinds of curvy "driftless area" roads) and Bull Shoals Lake (northern Arkansas--some of the best twisty roads anywhere, and the Lakeview campground has great facilities, cool afternoon breezes and a fine view of the big lake). Or the NPS campgrounds in the Ozark National Riverways of Missouri (Two Rivers or Alley Spring, in particular, both near spectacular MO Route 19). Two state parks I can recommend are Pikes Peak (near McGregor, IA, atop a 400-foot bluff offering a spectacular view of the Mississippi River valley) and Johnson's Shut-Ins (kinda near Farmington, MO, a great, new campground and a "natural water park" that the river cut out of the granite).

I sometimes make reservations, sometimes just drop in depending on season. Either way, the websites are useful in letting you know where camping is available.

Another important thing to know when camping: some states charge admission fees to their parks (and some set really high fees for out-of-state visitors). Wisconsin is horrible in this respect. IL, IA, MO and AR do not charge entry fees, though they do charge for camping. This is one of the reasons I stay at Pikes Peak, IA, which is right across the river from Wisconsin's Wyalusing State Park--eleven bucks for non-electric camping, no admission or parking fees on the Iowa side; vs thirty-four for a non-electric site and park admission at Wyalusing!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 14-Jun-2018, 05:02 AM (418)
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The best thing I've ever done for long motorcycle trips is to eliminate any garments made from cotton from my load. Not only does synthetic stuff pack A LOT smaller and lighter, but it comes out generally wrinkle free and is way more comfortable to wear than jeans - you're not working a fence line or operating a chain saw so leave the jeans at home. Since I wear a Klim Badlands outer gear, most of what I pack is just base layer stuff. It's the same very lightweight base layer regardless of the temps I'm riding in so again - small and light packing. If it's hot, I'm wearing only the base layer and the riding suit. If it's cold, I'm wearing the same base layer, an electric mid-layer jacket, and the riding suit. The only thing I carry for very cold rides is a pair of merino wool base layer pants. If you get rid of all the cotton stuff you pack, you'll be amazed at how much room you have and how long you can go between laundry stops.

Always carry a tire kit. Sure road side assistance might be available to you if you have half a day to a day to kill sitting in one place with a flat. Or, you can be on the road again in 30 minutes if you have the kit and know how to use it. If you've never plugged a tire before then the next time your bike needs tires, knock a nail into your tire and then repair it before you swap it out. Practice doing that until you feel you can do it effectively on the side of the road.

With the tire kit, carry a 12v pump that you test at home and know that it'll work to inflate a tire. The CO cartridges are going to leave you stranded when you exhaust them on do-overs with your potentially leaky plug.

We could start a whole forum section on camping and fill it up with gear selections and practices. I've been camping off the bike for several years now - trips from a week to 3 weeks camping most nights. There's a lot of personal preference in what you use but do yourself a huge favor and buy the best ultra-light camping gear you can afford. Big Agnes, Nemo, and several others make high quality stuff that will last for years.

You're going to want some charging solutions in your tent overnight. I run a charging harness off of a PDM60 on my GS and use it to charge on the go a couple of 10,000mAh bricks (Mophie or others) that I then use to charge all my stuff in the tent at night. I can even run a USB powered fan on warm nights and effectively charge my headset with one of those bricks.

If you're riding by yourself, carry a rescue device like a Spot or an Inreach. Just do it even if it's just for the peace of mind of those that are thinking about you back at home. My Inreach will go 3 - 4 days between charges but I put it on charge about every other night just to be sure.

And finally, and perhaps a bit controversial, leave yourself open to serendipitous camping opportunities. Sure, state parks and organized camp grounds are going to be generally available (with all the rest of the noisy folk) but some of the best camping we've done has been out behind a church or off in the woods off the road. We've even been invited by people to camp on their property. Strike up a conversation over your dinner with anyone about where the best camping spots are and you might find yourself camping in their back yard with access to their shower and power. I like meeting new people so this works for me but I realize it's not for everyone. I think it adds a bit more adventure to the trip.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 14-Jun-2018, 04:59 PM (916)
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You're doing this in July?
Surrounding areas? like Louisiana, OK, NM? None are known in any good way for their weather then. Arkansas and Missouri will be very hot, too.

Be prepared for a LOT of heat, maybe dangerously so, and thunderstorms that will feel good because you're so damn hot.

My experience is, and maybe just mine, if I leave planning on some tenting and some motels it winds up being just motels. I never camp anymore...too much gear to take, hassle finding a spot, setting up, tearing down. Way too old for that and you can prob find good motel rooms for $50-75 a night, though some may be more, rarely less.
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