Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Overnight Ride on the XT225 with Camping

I was looking for something else on the web when I found a website with a list of the best campsites in Colorado. It seems like the best campsites were way off the beaten path. Immediately the little wheels in my head started to spin. I have a dual-sport motorcycle. How fun would it be to pack up all my camping gear and ride out to one of those amazing campgrounds via amazing dirt roads, and also do some hiking while I‘m there.

The one campground that I’ve come across a few times that is highly recommended is located some 400 miles from here in the Elk Mountain Range, on a very long dirt road, far away from everything. Before I could head out there on my bike, I‘d have to see if I could even carry all my camping gear on my little XT225. Having enough gas to get to the remote areas is always an issue when riding the XT, the tank is very small on the bike, only 2.1 gallon.

I was already kind of thinking of getting on my ST3 and taking an overnight ride somewhere to camp and hike, the weather was supposed to be nice for the next two days. But I thought it would also be nice to take the XT somewhere, and a two day ride on the XT was definitely cheaper, then a two day ride on the ST3.

I found a campground not to far away from Fort Collins, which was surrounded by many dirt roads and many hiking trails. Jack’s Gulch Campground seemed like the perfect location to test out my dual-sport touring and camping capabilities.

I started to plan my departure for the following day, I was totally prepared to ride and camp alone since it was a week day and everyone was working.

Today was Wednesday, and the local Fort Collins ADV Rider beer night. I had to inform my buddies that I couldn’t make it out there tonight. Instead I was heading out to REI to attend a clinic on climbing Colorado 14ers.

Then I remembered that one of my beer night buddies is also unemployed, rides a dual sport, and likes to camp and hike. Thinking it was too short of a notice, since I was planning on leaving tomorrow, I sent a message out anyway. You just never know. By the time I got home from REI, I had a reply and Al was in for the ride, the camping and some hiking as well.

I have done a multi-day ride on the XT, but stayed in motels. And I have camped with the XT many times, but I didn’t ride the bike there, it was towed to the campsite. This would be the first time I was going to be riding my XT with all my camping gear.

From my 2006 SW Texas trip: Fieldsheer tailbag (too bad I left the gas can in IL in storage, I think I could really use that can for this trip)

The FS tailbag looks huge on the little XT, but the Nelson-Rigg saddle bags have more packing space and sit lower on the bike, which is nice since it doesn't make the bike as top heavy

From my 3 day ride around Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee in 2007, lots of gas stations in the east, I didn't need the gas can

I needed more luggage space for this ride. Jack’s Gulch was located at 8,100 feet in elevation, I would need all my cold camping gear. In the past I used my Fieldsheer tailbag on the XT, but the tailbag wouldn’t hold all the stuff I needed to take for camping. I tried on my Nelson-Rigg saddle bags that I use on the 954RR, and they fit fine on the XT. The only concern I had was the right saddle bag had vinyl backing and the vinyl was resting on the exhaust, although the exhaust can had a heat shield. Would it stay cool enough not melt a hole in my saddle bag?

The XT225 ready for it's first overnight ride with camping using the Nelson-Rigg saddlebags

Packing list:

Camping Gear:
Sierra Design Light Year 1 person tent & footprint
+15 degree REI down sleeping bag
Sleeping bag liner
Inflatable camping pillow
Big Agnes insulated inflatable sleeping pad
Camping head lamp

Clothes & MC gear:
Dirt riding gear
DS Boots
Hiking boots
Light waterproof jacket shell
Fleece shirt
Down jacket
Fleece thermal pants
Fleece hat and gloves
Down camping booties

2L water
I can Red Bull
2 packets of tuna
1 piece French bread
2 apples
Trail mix
2 banana muffins

Camelbak daypack
Bowl and spoon/fork/knife
Lip balms
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hand sanitizer
Bicycle cable and pad lock


Lori said...

I rode my 04 XT225 from San Diego to Gold Point, Nevada last month. It was loaded with camping gear and the Nelson-Rigg saddle bags. The bags did great, no melt down at all.


Anna said...


Sounds like a great trip. I was surprised the Nelson-Rigg saddle bags fit the XT so well. No melting either here, but the paint rubbed off the handles.

I definitely can’t carry as much on the XT, as I can on the 954RR and the ST3, so my XT trips are very minimalist.