Of bikes and beds.
Riding motorcycles is fun. Camping is fun. Riding motorcycles to go camping isn’t always fun. All that extra gear makes your bike sluggish, and some of us are too old for that sleeping on the ground poppycock. The good news is that you can both camp and ride in a lot more comfort than you’d think. Whether it’s a massive toy hauler, an easy-to-pull lightweight, or a homemade camper van, there are lots of options for the moto-camping enthusiast.
The Pop-Up Camper
We've all seen the small pop-up campers you tow behind a car, but did you know that there are some small enough to tow behind a motorcycle? This particular one, the Mini Mate Camper, weighs just 260 pounds and folds up into a 90-inch long by 40-inch wide package. It can carry an additional 240 pounds of cargo in its 15 cubic feet of storage space when folded up. When you arrive, it expands into a small bedroom with a maximum height of six feet, four inches in just two minutes. It has few amenities and is basically a towable tent, but for $3,295, it's easier and more comfortable than a standard tent.
The Earth Traveler
We devoted an entire article to this one, but to summarize, it's basically a much fancier pop-up camper. It weighs just 298 pounds thanks to its composite construction using bird feathers, of all things. You can also order a number of add-on accessories, such as an electrical system (shore power or solar) and even air conditioning. It's an extremely well-engineered design, but with a starting price of $10,000, it's not exactly the most affordable choice.
The Toy Hauler
Of course, you can travel in even more comfort if you tow your camper behind a truck instead of a bike, but then where does the bike go? In the case of the toy hauler, such as this Jayco Jay Flight Octane, the answer is inside the camper itself. Toy haulers are basically campers with flexible interior layouts. They can carry your bike(s) for the trip to your destination, then convert that cargo space into living space when you reach your destination and unload. It's a convenient solution, but with a starting price of $37,238, it's best for the fairly serious moto-glamper.
The Whole Enchilada
Don't like trailers? Then perhaps a full-blown RV is right for you. Just like with camper trailers, these are also available in toy hauler configurations. This Thor Outlaw Class C has not one, but two ramps in the back to bring a bike or two in and out of the cargo area. You can sleep in the bed hanging over the cab in front, or unload the bikes, press a button, and an even bigger bed descends from the heavens, turning the cargo area into a bedroom. This is the ultimate home on wheels for moto-glamping. It's also the most expensive, starting at $136,125, which could literally buy a house in some parts of the country.
The Camper Van
The van life movement has become immensely popular. While campers and RVs can cost quite a bit, as we've seen, you can buy an old van quite inexpensively, then convert it to suit your needs. Your bike can go inside, on or inside a trailer behind the van, or on a carrier that attaches to your trailer hitch. This is the direction Glen Comeaux, a.k.a. Tenere Across The USA, went. It's also my personal choice. Yes, this is my camper van.
Over the winter I've been converting this former wheelchair van into my new home on wheels. It has electricity (necessary to keep writing for RideApart), water, a propane heater, and a propane stove. It will even have a composting toilet. Black Widow was kind enough to send me their MCC-500 motorcycle carrier to review, which I'll be using to bring my Kawasaki KLR 650 along for the ride. You don't have to go this far to get away for a week or two, but I've gone all-in on this plan. It may be cheating a bit as far as motorcycle camping goes, but at my age, a real bed is worth it to me.