Taylor loves dirt biking and action sports, as well as photographing and filming his friends on tracks and trails. As he finishes his last year of high school, he’s pursuing both his passions while traveling with family and friends in his parents' Jayco Octane T26Y Toy Hauler.
How to Plan a Boondocking Trip for Dirt Biking
I’ve been dirt biking with my family since I was a kid. My dad, Chris, teaches dirt biking professionally and got me started at a young age. We’ve also been lucky to have a Toy Hauler RV in the family for almost as long, which means we’re always eager to plan our next RV trip to some awesome biking destination where we can ride. So we know a thing or two about planning RV trips for dirt biking, and there’s nowhere we’d rather be.
Some of the best locations for dirt biking are also the most remote, which can mean camping with no water, electric or sewer hookups, also known as boondocking. Sometimes, what you gain in gorgeous views and great trail riding, you lose in convenience. But that’s okay––you just have to do a bit more preparation for boondocking. But once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty easy. Luckily, we have a few pointers for planning a dirt biking trip, no matter where you end up parking your RV.
Make sure your bikes are prepped and ready for travel. Like anything with an engine, before you take your dirt bike out, make sure it’s in good working order. Check the oil, air filter, coolant and brake fluid levels. Make sure the chain is in good shape and has a couple of slack, then give it a fresh coat of lubrication. Double check all nuts and bolts to make sure they’re tight and secure so nothing shakes loose on the road or the trail. Check your tire pressure and top off with air if needed. And of course, make sure your gas tank is full.
Pack gas, gas cans and oil for your gear and store it safely. When you’re in more remote areas, having extra gas for your bikes can make all the difference between a lackluster trip and an awesome trip. We keep extra gas cans in our RV for this reason. Some people are nervous about driving with reserves of gas on board. One thing we like to do is travel most of the way with empty gas cans, then stop at a gas station when we’re getting close to our destination to fill them up. You’ll have plenty of extra fuel for your dirt biking trip while cutting down on anything unexpected happening. When you’re packing up to leave, use the gas cans to top off the fuel levels in your RV or towing vehicle, and you’ve got empty cans again.
For your bike, there are also specialty containers that hold small to moderate amounts of fuel so you don’t run out when you’re in the middle of nowhere. We also like to have some extra oil on hand in case the bikes need topping off, but if you followed our earlier tip, you should be good.
Strap down your dirt bikes and gear for driving. On a paved road, a pothole, quick braking or need to swerve can jostle dirt bikes and knock them down. And if you’re headed to a location with unpaved roads, well...a few steps are in order for keeping your bikes upright and safe. Wheel chocks, mount rings and tie down racks can help. Wheel chocks keep bikes from rolling forward when they’re stored upright and are usually just simple pieces of wood that slide under the tires. Mount rings and tie down racks both provide stable and permanent solutions. With mount rings, you can use the tension from straps or ropes to keep your bikes standing upright. Some RVs come with mount rings already installed, but if yours doesn’t, they’re cheap and easy to install on the floor or walls of your RV with a power drill. Tie down racks often have bumpers to help hold bikes upright, and can be installed on an RV wall or even the back of a pickup truck bed. These racks usually also have a couple mount rings to assist the bumpers in keeping bikes secure. No matter what, strap your bikes down so that they don’t move while your vehicle is in motion--that’s the most important takeaway. Everyone does this part a little differently, so whatever works for you is good.
Bring the right gear and store it safely. Dirt biking is a sport that requires a good amount of gear. You’ll need a full face helmet, as well as special protective boots, pants and a shirt to protect your body from the dirt and rocks that may fly up from under your wheels. Goggles are important to protect your eyes and, of course, you’ll want gloves to help keep your hands from getting ripped to shreds by sand. Multiply all this gear by the amount of people you’re traveling with and it can easily get messy. We recommend having everyone keep a separate bag for their gear and packing boots and helmets on the bottom of the bag. Or, if your bags aren’t big enough, tie down helmets or boots in the back with the bikes and secure them so they don’t fly around.
Plan for emergencies. Even when everyone is an experienced rider, things can still go wrong. And when you’re off the beaten path, it’s critical to have a plan for emergencies. Your biggest consideration is having a way to call 911. Check your cell phone carrier’s coverage map to make sure you’ll have service where you’re going, or make alternate plans. Walkie talkies can be a good way to stay in touch with people back at camp if something bad happens while you’re out riding––we bring ours on every trip and make sure they’re charged before we take the bikes out. And finally, for smaller scrapes and wounds, keep a first aid kit in your RV and double check that it’s fully stocked before you leave town.
Gear up for boondocking. If you’re going to a campsite that doesn’t have hookups, make sure you’re prepared for the duration of your trip. With no sewage hookup, you’ll want to make sure your black and grey water tanks are empty before you set up camp. Double check that your propane tank is topped off and pack firewood, which can come in handy both for keeping warm around a fire and for cooking at night. If you have a generator, give it a test run before you leave, and make sure you have enough fuel to run it if you plan to use it. Flush and fill up your fresh water tanks for bathing and cooking, and you might also want to pack several five-gallon jugs of water in the RV just in case. You’ll also want to check the weather forecast of where you’re going so you can prepare to stay warm or cool accordingly. We love to dirt bike in the desert, which is great during the day, but the nights can get real chilly. We always make sure we have extra blankets on board for anyone who needs them.
When you’re boondocking, you also need a plan for food. Refrigerators can run on both electric and propane. Propane fridges can run on stores of propane gas, but if you have an electric fridge, it won’t work without an electric hookup. If you’re boondocking without a working fridge, you’ll want to have a plan for what fresh food to pack versus what you can store at room temperature. Coolers are a great way to keep food and beverages cool on the road, and you definitely get what you pay for on this front. You should also plan for how you want to cook. There are no wrong answers, whether you plan to cook on a gas camp stove or bring a grill to cook some barbecue. We love to barbecue when we’re out in the desert, so we always make sure to pack enough ice to keep meat properly cool until we can cook it and bring enough charcoal to get the grill going on multiple nights.
This should go without saying, but dirt biking is a dusty business. Bring drinks and hydrate well.