What to pack for the Sturgis Rally!

Or any motorcycle rally ~ includes printable checklist!

motorcycles packed for road trip
The Anatomy of a Packed Motorcycle

When you pack for a motorcycle road trip it is necessary to be a minimalist. You want to add the least amount of weight and bulk possible. Remember you may be purchasing souvenirs at your destination. Allow room for items to bring home with you. T-shirts that may be purchased on the trip can be worn during the trip.  We leave our saddlebags empty while en-route to our destination, with the exception of our tool bag, this ensures we have ample space for anything we purchase at the rally.  Do not pack rain gear or maps in the saddlebags. You do not want to unpack all your gear while on the road if you encounter rain or need to check your route.

You will want to pack your shower supplies in the detachable roll bag for easy on and off access.  Rain gear should also be packed in this top piece.  If you have the room in the roll bag, the clothing you will need while traveling to your destination can also be packed in the roll bag.

Check weather forecast for the days you will be traveling and at your destination. When traveling on your motorcycle you do not have the luxury of packing for all kinds of weather.  If you are going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, any weather is possible. In 2006 the temperatures were in the high 90’s and even hit 100. Fleece and sweatshirts were not necessary, not even at night.  In 2004 fleece and leathers were the norm and nights were very cold.  If the current weather pattern is any indication, cold weather clothing will not be necessary. However, I will be watching the weather forecast  for any changes.  You will probably be bringing a fleece or sweatshirt for the early morning travels, which may be sufficient for the entire trip. To save room in the luggage, any traveling attire you do not need for the entire day, can be folded or rolled and tucked under the bungee cords you are using to secure your gear on the motorcycle.

UPDATE:  The weather did not stay hot for that week, we were in our leathers almost every day!  I did not pack a fleece to wear so my new Sturgis t-shirt was a long sleeve!


Clothing – Plan on wearing a pair of jeans more than once or twice.  You probably will not have room to pack a fresh pair of jeans for everyday.  We wear the same pair of jeans during the travel to and from the rally.  You will most likely be wearing chaps to protect yourself from road debris & weather, so they really don’t get too dirty.

Toiletries – A waterproof bag of some kind for all your shower supplies is best.Campgrounds have shower houses and usually have long lines waiting every morning for the shower. You want to be able to hold all your supplies while waiting in line.  Most shower houses require you to bring everything into the stall with you, find a bag large enough to hold all these items; one with a hook to hang on the shower head or a provided hook work well.  Pack shammies or travel towels for showers.

Campground attire – Bring a pair of shorts, yoga pants, sweatpants; whatever your lounging pants of choice may be, to wear to the shower.  The shower houses almost always have wet floors and jeans are not always ‘shower house friendly’.  Flip flops are always nice to have while showering.

Leathers – Road trips usually involve highways and highway speeds. For your safety and protection you should be wearing your leather gear. Leathers do not only protect you in case of an accident but also protect you from stones, etc. that get thrown from other vehicles.  Check out our Essential Gear page for more information on riding gear you need.  If you do not normally wear a helmet, check out a helmet law map, you may be traveling through a helmet law state and you WILL be required to wear a helmet.

Rain Gear – If you own rain gear pack it in an easy access location on your bike.  If you do not own rain gear, leathers are adequate protection provided you are not in excellent selections of rain gear.

Sunscreen – Lotions – Chapstick – Riding on a motorcycle depletes your body of fluids; add to that the very dry and arid air in South Dakota and your skin and lips dry out rapidly.  Bring lotion and chapstick. Don’t forget you will be outside nearly the entire time, bring sunscreen.

Knife – A belt loop knife or pocket knife is an essential while camping or traveling on your motorcycle.

Tent – Choose a tent that has enough space to store your gear, such as the T-Bag.We purchased a new tent for our 2013 trip to the Laconia Rally. We got the Ozark Trail 2-Person Dome Tent at Wal-Mart. It worked out great! Packed very small and only weighs 5 lbs!! Recommended!

Sleeping bags – Fleece sleeping bags will provide adequate warmth if the temperatures are reasonable. They roll up much tighter than standard sleeping bags, taking up much less room on your motorcycle.

Sleeping mats – Self inflating mats are a great option for motorcycle traveling. They roll and pack very nice and provide cushion between you and the ground.
UPDATE:  For our 2016 trip to the Grand Canyons we decided to ditch the sleeping mats and bought a Intex Prestige Downy Airbed Kit with Hand Held Battery Pump, Queen When you compare size (two rolls vs. one rolled up air mattress) the space it takes up is about the same. The air mattress is much more comfortable! Our batteries lasted the entire 14 day trip, with hotel stays only a few nights and we are still using the same batteries.

Flashlight – Useful for inside your tent at night and any night time repairs on your motorcycle.

Disposable Hand Wipes – These became the most popular feature at camp!

Camera – Don’t forget your camera!!


Tools – If you do not have a standard set of tools for your motorcycle, check out Amazon, JP Cycles, Dennis Kirk, etc… for many options.

Sheepskin – Don’t pack this, place it on your seat. Works great as a pillow at night! Genuine wool sheepskins provide the protection you need for the long ride.  I have partnered with one of the top manufacturers of Merino wool skins in the USA.  Be sure you check out the sheepskins here.

Cell Phone Charger (12v power adapter)- A must have for anyone with a cell phone. MOST camping sites do not provide electricity. Snagging a few minutes while eating out is fine for regular cell phones (provided you only have it available for emergencies). The SMART phones that many of us use today go through battery power much quicker. This 12V power adapter Battery Tender FEMALE POWER PORT 081-0069-8 will connect directly to your battery tender, then you can plug your typical cell phone car charger into it while on your motorcycle.  If you do not have a battery tender then you will need to also purchase the Battery Tender 081-0069-6 Ring Terminal Harness with Black Fused 2-Pin Quick Disconnect Plug. USB direct battery tender pigtail chargers are also available. I have not used this kind, so I cannot speak of it’s quality or functionality. This one will also require you to have an pigtail that is hard wired to your battery.

Nervous about making the trip?  Read our First Time To Sturgis? story for a few tips on making the journey.

Have a great trip and RIDE SAFE!!  


Author Pam@ridersinfoPam 2012


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