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James Williams

Category: Travel

Packing Lucia for a four-season motorcycle camping trip

Part of the Far West 2024 series.

The objective today is to cut as much useless cruft from the packing list as possible. I need to outfit myself to ride through very hot temperatures in Southern California and Arizona, and very cold temperatures in Wyoming and Montana. It’s only May and even in the more temperate Pacific Northwest, overnight temperatures dip quite low. I also have a few days scheduled with friends in Palm Springs, so I’ll need enough kit to look presentable in regular society (to the extent that that’s possible for me).

I need some basic tools to fix a puncture or adjust the suspension. This is America, so a CAA/AMA membership should negate the need for spare parts, but I would want to bring spare shift/clutch/brake levers, oil filters and other model-specific items if venturing further.

Lots of shit on a rug.

Behold, lots of shit on a rug.

Let’s break it down by bag. I have five pieces of soft luggage that strap to the bike and provide about 84 litres of capacity in total. I can also strap bulkier items like my tent on top of the luggage.

Kriega OS-12 x 2 saddlebags

These are positioned lower and more central on the bike, so I’ll put the heaviest and least fragile items in here like tools and camping hardwear. These bags are also easier to access without unstrapping anything, so I put a few quick-access things here as well, just minding that if I hit the dirt, anything breakable in the side luggage will get a little smashy. Likewise, it’s not a good place for a first aid kit assuming if I fall and hurt myself, whatever is in the side luggage will be underneath a 450 lb. motorcycle and difficult to access.

Right-hand bag

  • Primus burner
  • Fuel canister
  • Stainless pot/plate set
  • Small skillet
  • Ceramic mug
  • Collapsible pour-over coffee filter
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil, ground coffee
  • Fork, spoon, pocket knife
  • Tongs (you laugh, but you’ve never known the pain of dropping a nice cut of steak in a fire pit)
  • Camp soap and scrubber
  • Small garbage bag
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Shower flip-flops
  • Tent footprint/light tarp
  • Kindle

Left-hand bag

  • Basic tool roll
  • Multi allen key tool (Ducati likes allen keys)
  • Stop & Go T-Handle Tubeless tire repair kit
  • Stop & Go mini air compressor
  • Tire pressure gauge with deflator button
  • Chain lube (every thousand kilometres gotta keep that thing saucy)
  • Gorilla tape
  • Multi-tool pocket knife
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Rope
  • 6 ft. webbing strap/tie-down
  • Giant Loop Armadillo spare fuel bag, 2 gallon (Lucia has a small tank, especially for an 803 cc twin)
  • Ducati user manual
  • Summer riding gloves
  • Toque
  • Cap

Kriega US-30

Large tail bag. I’ll put my clothing in here as well as my laptop, and I’ll try to avoid heavy items to keep the weight centered over the footpegs as much as possible.

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Buttoned shirt
  • Lightweight hoodie
  • T-shirts x 4
  • Thermal base layer, top and bottom
  • Socks and underwear x 5
  • Swim trunks
  • Quick-drying travel towel
  • Laptop and peripherals

Kriega US-20

Medium-sized tank bag. I’ll put soft camping items and miscellaneous bulky items in here. More weight over the tank helps keeps the bike stable under load.

  • Medical kit
  • Lightweight down sleeping bag
  • Inflatable sleeping mat
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Down quilt (for such a range in temperatures, it’s easier and more versatile to do a light sleeping bag and layer on a quilt when needed)
  • Arc’Teryx low-top hiking boots/shoes
  • iPad

Honestly, shoes are the toughest thing to reason about. They are both bulky and heavy, and for three weeks of varied activity, including dinners and nights out, I would love to bring a pair of sneakers that I can dress up more. I just don’t have the space, but I recognize I may need to keep an eye out for a pair of shoes along the way that collapse to a small size but can look sharp in a pinch.

Kriega US-10

Small tail bag that can attach to the larger ones. The US-30 in this case. I leave some room in this one for groceries.

  • Water bottle
  • Light toiletry bag
  • Patagonia Nano-Puff jacket

Attached items

Strapped directly to the tail using Rok Straps over the US-30 are the tent, hatchet, and light folding chair. Opulent, I know.

I am going to bring my Hippo Hands hand guards on this trip given the likelihood of rain and certainty of cool temperatures in the mountains. They’ll be awkward in the hotter climates, but they’re too large to pack away so I think it’s easiest to just fix them on at the outset and leave ’em.

I’ll keep my FUJIFILM X-T10 camera over my shoulder generally, and a GoPro Hero 11 mounted on a rigid mount above the wind screen facing forward. I also have a Hero 7 on a flexible clamp mount I can use for B-roll. Rounding it out on the handlebars is a Garmin Zumo XT Navigator that frankly deserves an entire blog post of its own to unravel the dark wisdom of the Garmin software engineer.

I'm in love with Guanajuato

Guanajuato is my favourite city in Mexico. The centro historico is built into a valley, and many of the roads are tunneled through the mountains that surround it. The city itself has been built and rebuilt upon its former self, with a subterranean level comprised of the haciendas that once lined the Guanajatu River.

Guanajuato City facing south from Centro

Lens Model iPhone 14 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78
ISO 80
Exposure Time 1/121
Image Size 4032x3024
GPS Position 21.018317 N, 101.253494 W
GPS Altitude 2058.7 m Above Sea Level
GPS Img Direction 159.2975464
Create Date 2023:01:03 18:22:08
View full resolution ⤴︎

My first thought when I got here was, why? Why tunnel through three kilometers of mountain to build a town here? The answer is silver. The area around Guanajuato accounted for more than two-thirds of the world’s silver production leading into the 19th century. The primary mine—La Valenciana—is still operational.

Guanajuato was also the site of the first battle of the Mexican War of Independence. You can still see the bullet holes in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas (grain exchange building next to the central mercado).

Guanajuato is about 4 to 5 hours by bus from Mexico City and well worth the trip. It’s also a very reasonable day trip (and beautiful drive) from San Miguele de Allende.

Guanajuato City church in main plaza

Lens Model iPhone 14 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78
ISO 80
Exposure Time 1/7576
Image Size 4032x3024
GPS Position 21.016833 N, 101.254242 W
GPS Altitude 2024 m Above Sea Level
GPS Img Direction 116.5262318
Create Date 2023:01:03 12:41:27
View full resolution ⤴︎

Volkswagen Beetle at sunset in Guanajuato City

Lens Model iPhone 14 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78
ISO 80
Exposure Time 1/1779
Image Size 4032x3024
GPS Position 21.019817 N, 101.250581 W
GPS Altitude 2076.3 m Above Sea Level
GPS Img Direction 260.5706482
Create Date 2023:01:03 18:07:53
View full resolution ⤴︎

Guanajuato skyline facing northeast

Lens Model iPhone 14 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78
ISO 80
Exposure Time 1/1241
Image Size 4032x3024
GPS Position 21.014539 N, 101.254303 W
GPS Altitude 2085.6 m Above Sea Level
GPS Img Direction 40.99349974
Create Date 2023:01:04 17:57:19
View full resolution ⤴︎

Subterranean intersection in Guanajuato

Lens Model iPhone 14 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78
ISO 80
Exposure Time 1/604
Image Size 4032x3024
GPS Position 21.016881 N, 101.256767 W
GPS Altitude 2014.6 m Above Sea Level
GPS Img Direction 104.9418297
Create Date 2023:01:05 11:05:21
View full resolution ⤴︎

Full resolution photos are available below the fold.

Note: I’ve edited this post. It was first posted on January 4, 2023 with only the leading image. When I first posted the picture, it was in the early days of ChatGPT and I was of course excited to try to generate some text with it. I did so with a short description of Guanajuato City as a caption, and with the benefit of hindsight I’m no longer comfortable polluting the internet with content I didn’t write myself. All of the photos beyond the first were published on March 23, 2024 and the text is my own.