Motorcycle Camping Tips: Cooking on the Trail

Motorcycle Camping Tips: Cooking

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 kiteach 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 bowlto 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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Photo (above) by Simon Thomas 

Motorcycle Camping: The Essential Nutrients

Your packing supplies should be built around the meals you wish to prepare at the campsite. If you’re looking to grill a little ground beef, a portable grill and cooking sheet will come in handy, but other than that you could probably leave some of those items at home.

Dehydrated meals and non-perishable canned food is essential as a backup in case your campsite gets raided or food spoils. This could include those classic canned beans, canned fruit, and soups to boil over the stove. A dehydrated meal only requires a few minutes of boiling and they could save you in emergency situations.

We suggest bringing some pre-packed fish items, such as easily portable tuna and maybe even salmon in a freezer lock bag for the first night. You can thaw out any frozen fish or meat over the course of your travel and have a nice hot meal and excellent source of protein after setting up your campsite. Fish is an essential source of omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

Pancake mix and oatmeal are popular items to bring for the morning and give you energy for hiking. Granola bars provide a great source of protein and quick snacking for the midday.

We always suggest packing real cheese over milk for a source of calcium and bagels over bread for sandwiches because they can fill your appetite more. Opt for dry soup packets instead of canned soup to save room for packing more food.

Forget boring meals and spice up your cooking with some small packets of hot sauce, coconut oil, and syrup. A dry spice rack could make that same cut of fish taste different each time you cook it.

Pack small portable containers for essential cooking ingredients, such as butter or olive oil. This will prevent these items from spilling during your ride and prevent animals from smelling them.

Here are some few essentials to bring to maintain a healthy diet:

  • Backup iodine tablets
  • Essential vitamin tablets
  • Vegetables that won’t perish without refrigeration, such as carrots, onions, and potatoes
  • Fruit, such as apples, oranges, and bananas that provide essential nutrients

Without proper nutrition, you leave yourself susceptible to cramps on the trail, dehydration, various illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues.


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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Photo (above) by Helge Pedersen

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.