When properly modified as a bug out vehicle, a motorcycle can get you over terrain that only a handful of vehicles can traverse. It can also get you over some rough territory that would give a lot of “regular” trucks pause. The key thing when stockpiling your motorcycle as a bug out vehicle are realistic confidence about what type of terrain it can and cannot handle and careful storage of the supplies you will need to reach your destination.
The off-road capability of a motorcycle is a huge advantage during a bug out situation because it’s very likely that the best maintained, main roads will be blocked with traffic. A motorcycle lets you get around traffic, dodge debris, and even use smaller less maintained roadways or even trails to get to your bug out destination. A motorcycle lets you confidently plan to utilize railroad beds, power line easements, and logging roads if need be as alternative routes to get out of dodge. This means having the right bike can literally save your life.
While the versatility of a motorcycle for travel is a huge advantage, storage is more limited than in a car, SUV, or truck, for obvious reasons. But once you know how to stockpile your motorcycle for a bug out situation, there’s no reason you can’t have everything you need to survive three days to a week or even longer. All it takes is some knowledge about what kind of motorcycle luggage is available and what to pack where so you experience the least impact on handling and balance of your bike.
When it comes to stockpiling supplies for a motorcycle bug out one of the first things that must be addressed is vulnerability. By virtue of the fact that a motorcycle is not a covered vehicle, your supplies can be negatively affected by weather conditions, thieves, or even minor accidents. Keep these three factors in mind when modifying your motorcycle and storing your supplies. If you plan ahead to combat these vulnerabilities, your motorcycle, supplies, and you stand a better chance against the unexpected.
One of the biggest dangers when riding a motorcycle even in peaceful times are unexpected crashes with other vehicles. And when traversing rougher terrain, injuries from unseen debris flying up and damaging your bike and/or you as the rider is always a possibility. Both of these dangers will be even more prevalent while riding a motorcycle during a bug out situation.
Bleeding, infection, or broken bones from debris or a crash will only compound your problems unnecessarily, so make sure you, your bike, and your stockpile are well-protected. With that goal in mind, there are definitely some aftermarket motorcycle parts you will want to carefully consider to truly customize your bike to suit your needs and the rougher SHTF terrain.
The second factor to consider is weather. On a motorcycle, at least some waterproof storage is crucial and more is probably better. The ability to keep your bug out supplies dry during a rain storm or while crossing a stream, or riding through shallow flood waters, keeps your supplies intact and could just save your life.
Keep in mind there is a critical difference between waterproof and water resistant. Storage that is water resistant is great, but it doesn’t guarantee dry supplies. Canvas and leather bags are likely water resistant. Some bags will come with storm covers but don’t assume these will upgrade your bags to full-on waterproof without actually testing it out.
Waterproof means impervious to water, which means your supplies stay dry even in a heavy rain or if you ride through puddles or a shallow creek. Dry bags are designed to be waterproof and can be used inside Aluminum saddlebags or top boxes to create a completely waterproof storage area for supplies. Waterproof storage is perfect for food, first aid supplies, matches, electronics, and flares.
Store valuable supplies that you cannot afford to lose in a motorcycle luggage bag that locks to your bike and has a lock on the bag itself. This provides double protection against theft. Lockable motorcycle luggage such as side cases and top boxes are hard shell and typically lock closed and also lock to the bike for increased security.
Thieves will have to break or pick the lock or steal your entire bike to get your supplies. Luggage that mounts using Velcro, magnets, or straps are not as secure as thieves can just cut the straps or cut open the bag and make off with your supplies which in a post-SHTF situation can be fatal for you. Reserve these soft-shell storage areas for supplies that won’t spell certain death if they are stolen or damaged.
Motorcycle Luggage Options
- Panniers, also known as Saddlebags or Side Cases
- Tail bag or Sissy bag
- Handlebar or Fork bags
- Top case or Top Box
- Fender Bags
- Stash Bag
Bag Construction and Mounting
Bags are typically soft-shell, semi-rigid, or hard-shell and can be made of various materials including most commonly fabric, leather, canvas, hard plastic, or aluminum. You will find soft-shell bags generally less expensive than hard-shell cases. Soft shell options typically attach using Velcro straps, harnesses, or magnets whereas hard shell boxes may require the installation of an external mounting stand, brackets, or frame. If given a choice, select bags with a quick release option in case you need to leave your bike and carry your gear.
What Goes Where?
There are multiple places to stockpile supplies on a motorcycle so once you plan to overcome the vulnerabilities we discussed, what you put where is largely a matter of rider preference. Large, heavy, or bulkier supplies, such as tents, tarps, or sleeping bags, should be stored lower on the bike in saddlebags or side cases and closer to the center of gravity to minimize the impact on handling and balance.
Food should primarily be stored in waterproof side cases or top boxes unless it’s packaging somehow is waterproof and crush resistant in which case smaller items can be stored in multiple fork bags in various locations.
Water be careful trying to carry too much water as it gets heavy quickly and weight can throw off the balance and handling of your bike which is dangerous and can lead to injury. Your best bet is to use a hydration pack such as the American Kargo Turbo 3.0L or the Ogio 100 OZ Reservoir, both available along with others for sale on the Bike Bandit website. If your bug out trip is long, consider several caches along your route with extra water and other supplies.
Frequently Accessed Items
Items such as your ID, wallet or money, cell phone, insurance information, other keys, at least one bottle of water and some eat on the go snacks in a tank bag. These usually attach to the gas tank of the bike using straps or even magnets and it is easily accessible even while riding. Some may even have a transparent slot or pouch for a GPS or map. The bag typically covers the gas cap so it must be removed any time you gas up. Get in the habit of removing it and taking it with you if you leave your bike as tank bags typically don’t lock shut and are more vulnerable to theft.
Tools & Spare Parts
The critical mission for any motorcycle rider when bugging out is to keep moving for as long as possible. Just about anyone can admit that a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one. And when it comes to bugging out, staying ahead of the “pack” or traffic is definitely a key factor to staying alive and keeping your supplies.
So with the goal of maintaining your motorcycle in good operating condition for as long as possible, stockpile and pack the tools you need to perform maintenance or spare parts that may break or wear out and need to be repaired. Keep in mind that during a bug out you may ride faster and longer than “normal” and this can mean parts will wear or break more frequently. The following modifications can help enhance off-road capability:
- Suspension upgrade
- Taller Stance
- Chain drive over belt drive
- Tires—knobby are better
- Protective headlight grill
- Custom engine guard
- Lighter Frame
- Larger fuel tank
Any tools or spare parts that won’t succumb to water or vibration can be stored in fabric or canvas fender bags on the front or rear of your bike. Consider strapping several extra Rotopax Fuel packs to your bike to increase your range. Stockpile duplicate tools in different locations on your bike if possible just in case one fender bag tears or is shaken free during an intense period of riding.
One of the most secure places for your gun is on your person, perhaps in a shoulder holster while riding. During SHTF you will likely want to keep at least one firearm accessible from a riding position in case you meet trouble. If you do need to disarm for some reason or possibly store additional guns and ammo on your bike, consider one of the locking panniers or purchase a small hard shell lock box that will attach securely to your bike with a locking cable through the frame.
When riding a motorcycle, do not underestimate the importance of your EDC essentials. Carry these on your person ideally. If you absolutely need more carrying space, consider a waist pouch or backpack that you can wear while riding or a sissy bag that you can quickly detach from your bike and wear if you must make a run for it on foot. You’ll want to have your first aid supplies and any survival medicine reference materials included in this backpack so that if you are separated from your bike and hurt you can treat your injuries.
Choose your motorcycle luggage options with thought to planning for vulnerabilities and when storing your supplies be sure to consider how weight, balance, and handling of your bike might be impacted. Make sure you practice riding over different types of terrain you might encounter while bugging out so you thoroughly understand how your bike will respond in different scenarios. With advanced planning and some patience, you can modify and stockpile your motorcycle with everything you need to get from your home to your bug out location and beyond if need be.