Moto Camping the Adirondacks

August 6, 2021

I’ve finally tapped my brother to join me for a off-road motorcycle camping adventure.

Sure, we’ve already done a couple “campsite camping” trips this season, pay for a site, access to toilets and showers, running potable water, etc. But this is our first primitive camping of the year. We’ll be a few hundred miles form home without running water – so requires considerably more preperation. And me writing it down is keeping me sane.

What is Moto Camping

Moto-camping is simply camping from your motorcycle, but it is important to know it’s much closer to backpacking than car-camping.

  • Space is limited - no big tents, camp stoves, or coolers here
  • Remote places - carry in, carry out - be prepared
  • No amenities - no showers or loos out here
  • Bears / wildlife - no car to lock food in, so know your bear-bag skills

Unlike backpacking though:

  • Many opt to feed at road-side restaurants, not camp cooked meals
  • Assuming you have fuel, supplies are never so far off
  • Bikes are batteries, lights, and chargers - so extra batteries less critical

Finding the right location

Selecting our 1st site

For first time I actually chose a visit to a managed campsite with anmenities – in my case a local state campground. It’s nice way to get used to the experience, learn what you need and don’t need all with the comfort and knowledge of running water and first-aid is nearby.

I wanted somewhere close. If we forget an extra blanket, or need more water than thought, better not be 200 miles from home.

Now I want somewhere interesting. The benefit of moto-camping over car camping is access. We can get these bikes many places that even a formible off-road vehicle might not reach. So now it’s time to choose a spot of beauty or activities that interest us!

Our target site - Deer River State Park

In northern NY, west of Malone are a collection of smaller tends with awesome state parks all around. We chose Deer River for it’s seclusion and numerous primitive sites managed by DEC.

Deer River State Forest

A few campsites to choose from, we’ll first explore the area.

Preparing supplies

As I mentioned this is my first motorcycle camping trip of the season (and also since having my daughter 6 years ago, lol) so I’ve really not kept any of our camping gear together. To help get my head straight I created a pre-trip moto camping supply list to shop for anything missing.


Beyond the basics, and certainly not strictly required, here are a few items I found worth the extra hassle to find and pack!

Short camp chair

Yes, yes - I could sit on the ground, on my bike, pull of panniers, etc. But I found that being able to sit comfortably after long day of riding is just really nice, and worth the hassle. They’re are models for every budget.

This chair is size of water bottle and fits in saddlebags This chair is size of water bottle and fits in saddlebags

Budget Hunters: Found this on sale for $20 at a local outdoor equipment store. It fits at the bottom of my soft panniers no problem, and opens to a nice (though slightly undersized) lounger.

Mini Stove / Coffee Press

This is probably one of the best backpacking inventions ever. A portable camp stove that fits the fuel & burner inside the pot. MSR and JetBoil are the 2 leading names here. I opted for a JetBoil with a built-in coffee press!

Coffee!!! Even with french press it all fits inside!

Even with coffee press, the fuel, burner and stand all fit inside.

Budget Hunters: skip the burner, fuel, coffee, and food and just plan local eateries to visit. Just be sure to confirm hours/openings in advance!

Hammock System / Tent

While we can find and buy compact tents meant for backpacking that are lighter and shorter (usually they keep poles around 50 cm) – they tend to be wicked expensive.

I opted for a $150 tent/screen/rainfly combo that also eliminates the need for a sleeping pad suspended well above any rocks and roots. But it was further spawned by some comments from an acquaintance who actually backpacks a ton, and aside from “cold butt” they couldn’t say enough about hammock camping. (hammock + bag) < (tent + bag + pad)

Hammock suspended from trees with rainfly and bug net. Packs up portable! About the size of 2-3 water bottles.

Best of all it is about the size of my stove, and only weighs a couple of pounds.

Budget Hunters: Budget hunters can find hammock tent combo kits as low as $60 on amazon/wayfair/outlet sites, or keep an eye on “used gear” sales.

The Shopping

Aside from the big fixed items, we’ll need to do some shopping to get a few key supplies.

  • freeze-dried or dehydrated meals
  • camp stove fuel
  • hand wipes/wet wipes
  • bug spray
  • Protein bars / protein rich snacks

Packing Up

Cool, now we’ve spent a bunch of money and our significant other is eyeing our pile of supplies with increasing skepticism.

Time to get our bikes loaded up!

I was surprised to find my nelson-rigg saddlebags paired with the hard panniers on my brothers bike were totally sufficient for all of our goods, aside from sleeping bags.

All of our geared loaded onto my 2012 G650 GS.

** don’t forget to adjust your motorcycle’s sag for all the extra weight! **

Lessons Learned

“It was awesome” feels true, but not super useful. Here are some specific lessons learned from our trip!

2 bikes, 2 hammocks, 2 brothers at a campsite in the woods.


  • Camp shoes are bomb!
    As a kind of last minute thought I grabbed my beater sneakers to stuff into my saddlebags. They’re basically fabric and sole and take no space. And wow was I happy to have them. My brother was sure to add it to his list for next time.
  • RME or Ready-to-Eat meals rock
    These bagged and boiled meals are surprisingly awesome. Warm, tasty, and hearty meals I compared to a good takeout experience.


  • Boots need to dry, and that’s hard This is obvious right, and yet overlooked. While we had a fire to warm ourselves and dry socks; riding boots proved much tricker. Even clever me having camp shoes to wear didn’t help any as the the fire’s heat was just unable to pentetrarte reinforced materials to drive moisture out. Still thinking of hacks here… I ended up wearing garbage bags outside my socks for day 2.

Wet boots by fire, Tommy with no shoes. Wet boots by fire, Tommy with no shoes.

Wet boots by fire, Tommy with no shoes.


  • Hammock Tents Both Tommy and I had mixed reviews of our hammock tents. It was easy setup & tear-down. But limited positions made a deep sleep elusive for us. We were also overdressed for what was a surprisingly warm night (+15F from forecast). And overheating played a large portion of my discomfort.

Most Valuable Player & Recognition

Me, obviously. (kidding)

I want to give an all-star shout-out to Nelson-Rigg gear. Their affordably priced “Adventure Dry Bags” proved themselves when my bike pinned all my dry clothes under 8 inches of water. Once righted and at camp I opened my bags to find everything perfectly dry.

Nelson-Rigg Saddlebag on BMW G650 GS
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