There’s nothing worse than your motorcycle being weighted down by heavy panniers. Overloading your bike makes the bike handle terribly when you’re meant to be enjoying the bike. When I went on a short 4-day trip around Northland, New Zealand here’s what I pack in a single rear pannier (or a backpack if you want).

All I need for a 4 day motorcycle trip. Photo © Karl Rock.


This is excluding my riding gear, which I’ll be wearing while riding.

  • 1 x Jeans
  • 1 x Belt
  • 1 x Long sleeve shirt – I’ll wear this under my riding jacket but also with my jeans when I get out of my riding pants.
  • 1 x Light pants and top for sleeping
  • 1 x Swimming or gym shorts
  • 1 x Walking shoes
  • 2 x Socks
  • 2 x Underwear
  • Optional: I’ll carry a poncho if I think it’s going to rain. Even though my riding gear is waterproof, I like to avoid not having to dry it.


  • Small hand towel – a hand towel is sufficient to dry yourself
  • 10 x Muesli bars – for snacks
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Sunblock
  • GoPro
  • USB charger
  • Mobile phone
  • 3 x Plastic bags – for a wet towel, shoes, and clothing
  • Medication
My idea of a Nightmare. Photo by Chris Baird.

My idea of a Nightmare. Photo by Chris Baird.

Things you don’t need

  • Soap – hotels and hostels supply this
  • Laptop – my phone can do everything I need while away albeit a bit slower
  • Jumper or jacket – use your motorcycle jacket instead
  • A ton of clothing – if it’s a short trip you’ll survive wearing your clothes multiple times
Super light bike packing. Photo © Karl Rock.

My Kawasaki Versys 650 packed minimally with a single rear pannier (and locked to my bike with a terrible pink cable) for a recent trip around Northland, New Zealand.

If you want to travel light in a mild climate, check out my super light packing list.