Motorcycle Camping Tips: Cooking on the Trail

Words and photos by Ron Lieback

When we think of extended motorcycle touring, the idea of “freedom” and “getting away from it all” typically fuels our desires to get out there and go.

Though we’re passion-forward with our touring plans, we soon miss one of the simplest comforts of home while camping – a cooked meal. Grilled steaks and salmon, cheese or endless vegetables, all paired with whatever drink we have stored in our homes – this is the stuff we simply can’t always prep for when on the road.

Sure, canned beans and dehydrated meals will certainly fill the tummy, but will they satisfy your appetite?

Beyond eating a nice hot meal at the end of a long ride, you also need food that will provide you with the nutrients and energy to keep you healthy throughout the day, whether riding or bumming around a campsite.

In regards to nutrition and staying healthy, following are a few essential items to bring on your next motorcycle camping trip.

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Motorcycle Camping: Cooking Supplies

When searching for cooking supplies, we always evaluate their size, weight, and durability. A mess kit should be lightweight enough to pack in a motorcycle luggage, but durable enough to cook and be cleaned without deterioration. You don’t want to keep investing in a lightweight mess kit each time you camp.

Your mess kit essentials will include a frying pan for eggs and protein rich hot foods, as well as a pot with a lid for stews and chili. Teflon frying pans are ideal for easy cleanup. Simply wipe your frying pan with a paper towel and it’s ready for use the next day without fear of bacteria growing on it.

Besides your canteen and thermos for coffee, you may consider bringing some disposable plastic cups for any additional drinks, such as soda or juice. This will save time having to clean out a metaphoric sink full of dishes. Always practice safe recycling too.

We recommend bringing a blow-up sink or folding water bowl to soak and wash any cooking utensils and silverware you bring to the campsite. These are compact and will keep your cooking utensils sanitary.

Obviously, a soft cooler will be required to store food and drinks. You can chill drinks with thermal ice packs that won’t melt in the heat.

Today’s stoves are designed to be lightweight and easily portable. Choose a lightweight fuel powered stove with a single burner to cook hot meals and easily pack up during travel. Don’t forget the propane or fuel that powers the stove or else you’ll have to stick to dehydrated meals and fruit for your entire trip.

These stoves are also great for making the morning coffee, cooking on the frying pan, or even steaming some tea in a kettle. Portable grills are also an option and can be compatible with the same fuel source, but it’s a little pointless to bring a stove for meat that will spoil if not cooked on the first day.

Here are some cooking tips to keep mind:

  • Bring wooden spatulas if you cook any patties on the grill or stove
  • Metal cooking utensils will scratch Teflon pans and are not good heat transfers
  • A roasting stick is perfect for any hotdogs, s’mores, or vegetables you want to cook over the fire
  • Salt and pepper are your best friend for flavor and freshness

What’s camping without cooking over a fire? Be sure to bring waterproof matches to light fires. Don’t forget a heat glove or a potholder to transfer hot plates from the stove or fire!

Other necessary supplies include:

  • A pocket knife for filleting and cutting vegetables
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • Tupperware or plastic containers to store food
  • Freezer bags if you bring any meat or fish
  • Cooking sheets or foil
  • Scrubbing pads and travel dish soap

You could also consider bringing a fishing pole. We’re huge advocates of fishing while ADV touring, though some days those fish aren’t biting, so don’t make it your only source of food!

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Motorcycle Camping: Sterilized Water

This needs a stand-alone section for motorcycle camping. Just as important as preparing the right meals for the road, you also need a sterilized source of water.

Be sure to bring a collapsible water bottle able to hold at least 30oz. of water. We recommend camping near a water source and bringing a water desalination filter in case your campsite doesn’t have its own fresh water supply.

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Additional Tips

Finally, it’s important to protect yourself and your campsite from unwanted visitors. Always seal food away after cooking and don’t throw any food waste in the fire so you don’t attract any animals to your campsite, especially bears!

Consider bringing alternative fire starters for a campfire, such as empty egg cartons. These are safer than lighter fluid.

And always clean up after your campsite and try and practice proper disposal – don’t ruin it for the next rider who’s out there trying to get away from it all.