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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 17:08:45 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 18:28:13 MDT Print View

It's fun.

Not a new concept by any means though.

I'm sure some have scanned their old photographs from their motorcycle forays. I always worried about my ride at remote trailheads.

Edited by kthompson on 10/08/2013 18:38:46 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 18:39:29 MDT Print View

"While some stick to leaving their bikes behind and traveling on foot, others travel the single track trails open to motorized travel and camp beside their bike while exploring the beauty of the backcountry."

Sad to see this kind of article on a backpacking website. I'm glad I cannot read it. Motorcycles probably tear up more trails than horses ; ). When is the ATV-backpacking article coming out?

P.S. I wish the backcountry was closed to all motorized vehicles.

Edited by jshann on 10/09/2013 16:57:42 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 18:45:39 MDT Print View

+1 w/John.

Even better comment the second time around John.

Though not the content I'm looking for here. It does fit the broad mission statement.

Our Mission
"To promote multi-day, backcountry travel in a self-supported ("backpackable"), lightweight style."

So as long as you stay out of Oregon so you can pump your own gas, you can call it self supported. :)

Edited by kthompson on 10/09/2013 06:16:47 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 19:45:35 MDT Print View

Some of our country is set aside for everyone's likes. I hate to see areas tore up where bikes and atv's should stay away from. Snowmobiles are the way to go, they only leave behind a few broken parts now and then.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 20:17:33 MDT Print View

I love riding my dual sport on FS roads, to & from trailheads, and it also allows me to shuttle myself if I hike solo. (Thanks to a thread by Dan Durston I think). Would love to see some trip reports involving duals.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 10/08/2013 20:19:33 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 21:06:38 MDT Print View

I got a lightly used one a year ago, its still too shiny to get much dust on. :) My friend and I did take our bikes on two road trips last Spring towards the CA coast south of Eureka, one a two nighter even for a bar-b-q put on by some bping friends. The only reason I got it was because I thought I would do some camping with it and could save gas over my small pu, going to places a little further away than just up the hill from my place. So far, just a few road trips and grocery trips to town. It's easier on my neck than my crotch rocket, CBR600 was.

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/08/2013 22:52:00 MDT Print View

In fair weather I use my old reliable 1979 Honda 250 XL to reach local trail heads. I am lucky to live close to many FS roads that lead to many fine day hikes. When the weather is cooler I use my pickup. For me at 75 mpg my bike is a fun option but I do worry it will be stolen.

Honda 250

Edited by filsinger on 10/09/2013 17:31:08 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
collector item on 10/09/2013 06:55:52 MDT Print View

That's a collector item Hoot. Park it safe.

Mike Bozman
(myarmisonfire) - M

Locale: BC
Why the hate? on 10/09/2013 07:25:26 MDT Print View

I'm not sure why the first few posters have their underwear in a not about motorcycles and the back country. Jeremy Hanks and the author aren't promoting riding a bike on the JMT. Unfortunately the same kind of mentality is aimed at nearly every user group; hikers included.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Motorcycle better than truck/SUV on 10/09/2013 09:57:03 MDT Print View

Getting to the trailhead lighter and more responsibly on a motorcycle seems completely in line with BPL's mission. Much better than a solo backpacker in a Ford Excursion!

I like the idea of starting lightweight from the front door. I've done too much ultra-heavyweight whitewater raft camping. One reason I downsized from a Ford F-250 4x4 to a Toyota Tacoma 4x2 was to make it harder to take more crap. I rarely miss the Ford's ability to get stuck 50 yards further down a bad road.

-- Rex

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/09/2013 10:17:49 MDT Print View

Some of the posters clearly didn't read the entire article; I'm guessing they saw the word 'Moto' and their heart skipped a beat, causing every matter of selfish dogmatism to surface.

Let the first one who has never flown half way across the country in a jumbo jet just to walk in the woods, cast the first stone. Do you ever gas up your vehicle to haul your wee little SUL pack to the trailhead?

I thought so.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Moto-Backpacking on 10/09/2013 10:58:27 MDT Print View

Eugene, I've never driven or flown to a trailhead ever. Ha! Yeah, right! My Landcruiser gets like 11 mpg when it's in 4WD. The use of public transportation, bicycles, or high-mpg vehicles (such as motorcycles) is an awesome and extremely responsible way to access trailheads and every time I've managed some combination of them it's a very rewarding feeling.

It's on the edge of BPLs mission to do an article like this but on the edge is still clearly within and I greatly respect Eric and Jeremy for sharing their insight. Maybe it's because I live in a state with a low population and the trail users groups have really good respect for each other but whether I'm encountering motos at the trailhead or even on trail proper I'm not in the least bit bothered and find that they (just like me) just enjoy being out in the mountains and woods.

Edited by sharalds on 10/09/2013 10:59:34 MDT.

James Rusk
(Eljimador) - M
This is about using a motorcycle as an approach vehicle on 10/09/2013 11:45:23 MDT Print View

Just to expand on what a couple people have already said: I don't read this article as suggesting that people ride motorcycles on backcountry hiking trails. The article seems to be more about riding on things like forest service roads, fire roads, jeep trails, etc., which are used to _access_ the backcountry. These are vehicle routes, where it's common to see trucks and 4x4s used as approach vehicles. For the most part, they are not places you would hike (unless your truck broke down). I don't see it as destructive or inconsiderate to ride a motorcycle on these routes, any more than it is to drive a truck on them. As the owner of an F800GS (same bike as in the article), this type of use is exactly why I bought the bike: so I could enjoy riding, instead of driving, to destinations where I can then hike or climb.

The article also is not about OHV areas where concentrated use by dirt bikes, ATVs, etc. has destroyed the environment and rendered the area incompatible with other uses such as hiking. These tend to be destinations for OHV users, not access routes. (I am not going to argue about whether such areas should even exist.)

There are some undeveloped areas (i.e., no roads) where motorized vehicles are allowed and where people ride motorcycles (and ATVs, 4x4s, etc.) off established routes and pretty much go where they want. Certain high desert areas on BLM lands come to mind. I think this type of use has the potential to be very destructive, and to conflict with other, "lower impact" uses such as backpacking and camping. Thankfully it is either not feasible, or not permitted, to ride a motorcycle into most of the places I enjoy visiting. But in some areas that is not true. Personally, I would not ride into these areas even if I could. I know some people feel differently, and to me that is where the real conflict exists.

Jeremy Hanks
(jeremyhanks) - MLife

Locale: Utah
Access & Mentality on 10/09/2013 12:06:37 MDT Print View

Chiming in, since article is about me.... ;)

I am a strong advocate of responsible access and minimal impact. A HUGE fan of Wilderness Areas, and believe we need many many more of them. I'm riding on established and maintained roads, and there are PLENTY of those. And 99.99% of the time, if you access a trailhead to the backcountry, then you are using some sort of motorized transport. I am just choosing one that for me is more fun, and like others have pointed out, less impactful overall to the environment. I also do all my trips with my kids out of the back of my Xterra, and until recently, that was my M.O.

The article covered it out some, but a little more on my mentality, as I think ADV riding and lightweight backpacking are strong cousins. I push them even closer together, because specific to my motorcycle, you could definitely haul some medium gear. But I purposefully don't have the large side panniers, and my strategy has been to only use one tail bag just to store hiking gear while riding, and riding gear while hiking. When I leave home, if it's in my pack, it's coming with me once I hit the wilderness. If it's not, oh well. It maybe seems trivial, but it's been a pretty different approach to having to dial my gear and equipment in so that when I leave my house, I'm set. It's almost like it extends the self sufficiency need of backcountry travel back upstream into my travel to it. Makes is different; fun.

Anyway, just a man and his "horse" and my two feet. Thx for letting Eric share some of the thoughts/ideas!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Why the hate? on 10/09/2013 13:08:04 MDT Print View

I see no hate. Why so touchy? A couple comments that the content is questionably suited for a backpacking website. And that the idea of motorcycle camping being promoted as new. What about it being called a sport? Is there a competition?


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Hike from my door on 10/09/2013 14:00:25 MDT Print View

In the winter when snow is on the ground, I can just leave from my yard, FS lands 5 minutes away to go snow camping. Also, quiet spots for a short drive on FS roads to either bp or car camp, enabling me to use my old stoves. Did you know I collect stoves? :) Thank you Ken for your old 8R, runs pretty good. A motorcycle is just another way to get somewhere.

Peter Treiber
(peterbt) - M

Locale: A^2
Bikepackin'! on 10/09/2013 15:06:51 MDT Print View


Chris Julien
Re: Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/10/2013 00:29:08 MDT Print View

If you COULD read the article you would see that this is not what the article is about at all. It discusses the riding to the trail head on a bike - packing for both adventures. I've been doing this for years - my favorite activities combined. NOT riding ON the backpacking trails...

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/10/2013 06:38:04 MDT Print View

People get it. It's just another polarizing subject. Here in Ca. I think the biggest risk is coming back to where your bike was parked and finding much less. After a long, hot or cold and miserable hike, Heat, a/c, plushy seats and a cooler and fresh clothes are easier left in a car. Motorcycle are also only really good for solo transportation. So if you go usually in a group, well, it's not a rally is it?
Back when I lived in SoCal I had an International Scout 4x4. Would go out into the desert until I could go no further then we hike.
Same flavor as the author. It's fun. Like packrafting though the areas appropriate are limited and seasonal. I'm not surprised that this works well up in the desolate western states. There are more vehicles registered in San Diego county than there are in all of Utah. I live in a rural area. Still back and beyond there is another car parked.

Unfortunately this publications editor does not take suggestions well. The only recourse customers have in trying to tell the editor what kind of material we expect and want to pay for is with comments following the article.

Words to the author and Jeremy. Don't take it personally. If you do get something else published here. Just remember that many who can't read the article can and will comment, Especially to the comments made. These may or may not have anything to do with what you wrote. Such is the drifty nature here.

Cars can get the same mileage or better than a fully laden motorcycle at times. I've taken my motorcycle to the trailheads before. Cars are easier to deal with. Any road open to vehicular traffic, can be driven. I've had my Civic on 4wd only roads with no ill effect.


Mike it's spelled knot. Though I like "knickers in a twist" better.

Edited by kthompson on 10/11/2013 21:44:48 MDT.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Retro-Bike'n ?? on 10/10/2013 07:04:49 MDT Print View

are we retro there, with what appears to be a drum brake Honda 350 ?
that is very cool. perhaps not really the finest machine ever conceived of all time, but still, extremely cool.

bike camping is wonderful. you see them all summer up north, they make their way to Inuvik in singles and pairs. somewhere in the archives i have a picture from inuvik of an Italian 350 V-twin. what's that make it, a Motobecane or such ?? can't recall, but it leaked itself to a mess and was running on one hole. just about what one would expect of touring on so "unique" a rig.

some folks may never understand what it is about motorcycles, and touring on one, that is so special and glorious. i don't know .. maybe they were neutered at birth. ( ... much like that 350 Honda).

tally Ho !

Peter Treiber
(peterbt) - M

Locale: A^2
Ol'-Honda-Lovin' Ultralighters on 10/10/2013 14:52:31 MDT Print View

Yep, that's a '69 CB350 -- no disc brakes there! I figured if I couldn't afford a high-performance bike, I'd at least get one I enjoy looking at!

Daniel Paladino
(dtpaladino) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
Really? on 10/20/2013 19:00:21 MDT Print View

"Cars can get the same mileage or better than a fully laden motorcycle at times. I've taken my motorcycle to the trailheads before. Cars are easier to deal with. Any road open to vehicular traffic, can be driven. I've had my Civic on 4wd only roads with no ill effect."

Ken, I hope you realize how ridiculous your argument is here. A dirt bike allows you to easily access terrain that presents a serious challenge to even the most capable of 4x4s and off road vehicles. Often, on extremely rough roads open to vehicular traffic, the vehicle required to negotiate the terrain must be a massive powerful lifted beast with huge tires. These vehicles often get horrible gas mileage and in general tear up the terrain they travel through. Most fuel efficient front wheel drive vehicles with less than 5 inches of ground clearance, like your legendary Civic, are EXTREMELY limited to the dirt/unimproved roads they can access. And I'm sorry, there is no way that a motorcyclist with a lightweight pack is going to be getting worse gas mileage than a vehicle when navigating such difficult terrain.

Moto-backpacking sounds like an awesome way to reach remote, difficult to access places, and allows a LW backpacker to spend a minimal amount of time walking on access roads, and thus more time on the trail.

I appreciate this article immensely, and can admit I often feel a tinge of guilt accessing trails in my inefficient truck, especially when my purpose is to enjoy the outdoors in minimalist style. Thanks Eric and Jeremy!

Edited by dtpaladino on 10/20/2013 19:10:24 MDT.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Why the negative attitudes? on 10/25/2013 13:45:07 MDT Print View

@ John S & USA Duane - I hate to see all this negative attitude towards motorcycles here. I for one was extremely excited to read an article with this topic. Not every article is about what you, personally, want to read about. We aren't all the same, even though we all share a love of light weight/minimalist travel. Instead of being negative and making nasty statements about motorcycles and the people who ride them not belonging in "your" magazine, etc, you should be reading and maybe enjoying the article. Some people like motorized vehicles. Some of us also like lightweight backpacking. Jeeze, what a thought? Maybe we prefer the high MPG of riding bikes. Maybe some of us just aren't into cars or bicycles. Maybe we like them all. You don't know, do you? What the rest of us reading the forums can see though, is that you are haters. And haters lose. Congratulations on expressing your cute opinion without adding anything to the thread. Thank you for assuming that people who ride are tearing up trails that are somehow there for you, to just appear to be exactly what you want them to be, not what they are - trails and roads that are there for everyone to share however we please. Don't make assumptions and if you don't have anything positive or nice to say, at least have something intelligent to say instead. As a lightweight backpacker who also rides on two wheels I would like to say that it would be nice to see more trip reports about moto-backpacking.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Moto-Backpacking on 10/25/2013 19:16:58 MDT Print View

So anyone with a dissenting attitude is labeled a hater. Seriously?

I said I've done it and had a good time. I've also owned a lifted, powerful 4x4. My KLR 650 with hard luggage got mileage in the 40s. My Civic gets 35 with two people plus gear riding in air conditioned or heated comfort. In my experience of driving all over southern CA's deserts is this. If the road is so bad that only motorcycles can have access the road is usually closed off. Note I said usually. If we are talking about taking your ride to trailheads only like this article, and we are. Then the roads are usually open and 4wd might be recommended , but not really needed. Even with 4wd capability I had with my IH Scout, I only engaged fwd a handful of times. I believe I was the last vehicle to go up the Anza ridge in Borrego before it was shut down to vehicles. I would not think a motorcycle would have a easier time jumping up the steps on that route any easier than in a 4x4.

My point is that a car is easier to deal with. Not going to be picked up and put into a truck and carted off like some friends bikes have been. Half a U lock at the trailhead is not going to get you home.

So trip reports about moto-backpacking should be awfully similar to any other trip. Just using a two wheeled ride to the trailhead. The time on the ground is the same.

It just seemed weird to read this here. If I read it in Motorcyclist Magazine, not so much.

This online magazine is about self powered trips in the backcountry. Not on our choice of rides to get there.

And why does the author called it a sport?

Lighten up. They're just opinions. Harmless. Go for a ride and cool off.

"Often, on extremely rough roads open to vehicular traffic" Can you give me an example of one of these roads that leads to a trailhead?

Edited by kthompson on 10/25/2013 19:24:59 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: hybrid/alternative travel on 10/25/2013 22:07:51 MDT Print View

We have been living well with one vehicle and I have considered getting a scooter or motorcycle to get to trailheads so I don't tie the car up. I've assumed that I would chain it up at a trailhead to thwart thieves, but there is still the possibility of vandalism. That is a possibility with cars too.

That aside, I have done some research on taking buses to trailheads. In Washington state, AMTRAK provides bus service to some of the mountain pass summits that are also crossing points for the PCT. There are some other local mass transit bus options too.

Some bus options allow using a bicycle as well. That opens up riding a bike to a trailhead. It should be easy enough to stash a bike in the brush and cable or chain it to a tree.

The other hybrid travel option is built around a number of roads that have been closed to vehicle traffic due to flood damage. Most can be accessed with a bike, reducing hours of walking to the original trailheads to fractions of an hour by bike.

I've had a pet progeny in mind for years involving a ski and hiking train loop through the Cascades. This is something that has been done in Europe for decades. A light rail system paralleling the major highways could link the major ski slopes in the winter and drop hikers off at trailheads in the summer. I would expect that all kinds of service industries would develop around the transpotaton hubs.

The core concept is that we are still stuck in a frontier/pioneer frame of mind when it comes to backcountry access. We are living on another planet now and it's time to rethink these things. Of course it inclines so much more, like urban planning, suburban sprawl and more.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: backcountry access. on 10/25/2013 22:16:29 MDT Print View

Another thing to consider is that States vary in land management practices. Only reasonable. Montana has a population just over 1 million. Utah 2.8 million, Nevada almost 2.8 million, Idaho 1.6 million. California has 38 million. Just some facts for thought.

So I'm not surprised that we look at things differently.

Over 1.6 million miles of unpaved roads (53 percent of all roads) are unpaved. Many of these roads will remain unpaved due to very low traffic volume and/or lack of funds to adequately improve the subgrade and base before applying pavement layer(s). In some countries, economic constraints mean gravel roads are the only type that can be provided.

Dirt and gravel roads represent a very small percentage of roadways maintained by state DOTs in almost all cases; counties and federal agencies manage the large majority of the dirt and gravel roads in the United States. Nevertheless, a few state DOTs have become very involved in managing dirt and gravel roads and have developed environmental stewardship practices and partnerships that may be useful for other state DOTs.

Ian Clark
(chindits) - MLife

Locale: Cntrl ROMO
nothing new on 11/20/2013 19:32:23 MST Print View

I used my DRZ400 all summer to access areas near the Weminuche that were closed to the road bound crowd due to several wild land fires in the area. It was a great way to get to an area that was off limits to most.

I'm not really ever bothered by dirtbikes when I'm out walking or backpacking, as I am only on trails a short time and moving cross country most of the time. I do find irony in the amount of work the local MTB crowd does to clear trails of rocks, trees, and roots in the name of trail maintenance while simultaneously ruining a good challenging trail for dirt bikers.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
moto-camping on 12/25/2013 01:21:38 MST Print View

Motorcycle touring/ camping is probably my favorite hobby, bar none. IN the past few years I have also added backpacking to my list of hobbies. I enjoyed the article, and agree that they share many similarities.

That said, I just don't care to combine the two. I agree with what Ken (I think it was), said, after a backpacking trip where I'm hot/ cold/ tired/ sore (if it was a good trip :-)...a "cage" like my Tacoma is far more pleasant to relax in for the drive home. I do love to explore on my motorcycles, even forest service roads, etc. I have owned a number of dual-sport bikes, including the F800GS shown in the article. My current bikes are the R1200GS and R1200R. I just love the big boxer engine on the highways and twisties. But even though I ride dual-sports, I'm honest enough to admit that taking my 500lb pig "off-roading" is not what I'd call easy, and I rarely ride on roads that a Honda Civic couldn't negotiate with a few paint scratches or slides on the skidpan.

When I go backpacking one of the huge draws for me is exactly what motorcycle's can't do. I LOVE the feeling that I am in an area that vehicles can't get to...not because they are't allowed, but because they are too remote/ steep. I also worry about my bike at the trailhead. When moto-camping that is not a concern, because I'm sleeping next to it. Finally, I like to backpack with my dog, and she doesn't fit on the bike (here come the side-car suggestions lol).

So in a nutshell, I love both hobbies, but try not to combine them. But I have to agree wholeheartedly with oneof the main points of the article. For pure relaxation of mind and being at peace, there is nothing on earth like a solo motorcycle ride. The views, smells, wind, temperatures, and at times slight adrenalin dumps are just awesome for the mind and soul. Backacking gives a good feeling of serenity with that nice healthy tired feeling. Motorcycling takes it a step further and adds pure relaxation.

Me on my beast at OX 2013: (Photo by Kali)
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/25/2013 02:34:52 MST.