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Riders’ Rucksacks: Sleeping Kit Setup - Phil Hodgens

The Riders' Rucksack series interviews noteworthy riders and takes a peek into the gear they pack on their bikes. In this article we interview Motorbikin's Phil Hodgens and check out what he rolls out for his sleeping kit at the end of a long day's ride.

Interviewing: Phil Hodgens - Motorbikin'

Q1 – What tent/hammock/swag you use when adventure riding? 

I run a swag, I’ve had it a couple of years now. I'm not sure what the brand is as the tags have worn off from dragging it through the scrub. I chose it because it embodied all the things that were important to me — it was on special for 90 bucks.

It leaks in the rain and it's cold in a frost but it's easy to set up when your drunk and if you’ve had a few tins, you’ll always get a good night's sleep. So far it's lasting better than it's predecessor which was shredded on thorny trees on the Carson River Track up in the Kimberly.

I like it because you can zip it up to keep the snakes and goannas out. Deadset, an Australian goanna will go straight through a tent if it thinks there's some good tucker inside.

After a couple of years, it does start to pong a bit, and then it's time to either hose it out, or get a new one.

Q2 - What sleeping bag do you use? 

I have a One Planet, Negative 5 rated goose feather sleeping bag bag I’ve had for nearly 10 years.

Tony Kirby, (an ex pat Kiwi and one time editor of the Legendary Adventure Motorcycling Mag, Sidetrack) gave it to me and said it would serve me well and he was right. I roll it up in my swag and strap it on the back of the bike and at the end of a hard day's adventure riding it's always there, waiting for me to crawl into its goose feathery bosom.

From racing 24 hour Enduros, to setting cross-Australia records and riding into some of Australia’s wildest and most remote tracks, it's been my best friend. I’d definitely recommend it, but to be honest, I've had it so long, I don’t even know if they still make them.

Q3 - What sleeping mat do you use? 

Here in Australia, we’ve got things called Bindis … I’ve called them a lot of other things in my time but I can’t write that here. They are a spiky little seed pod that has the ability to target your most vulnerable parts, like your feet, your bum and your $400 ribbed-for-pleasure inflatable sleeping mat, rendering it utterly useless. They will penetrate, puncture and destroy any sleeping mat, even Josh’s one that blows up in the shape of a lady.

I’ve seen it happen so many times, I vowed never to buy a sleeping mat. I run the stock foam mattress that comes with my swag, it's indestructible and when I’m going into super cold country, I lay a bit of alfoil roofing insulation under the swag to stop the cold coming up.

Q4 - What pillow do you use? 

I roll up my jacket for a pillow. Anyone who uses anything fancier needs to take a good, long look at themselves.

Q4 - What other tips can you share with fellow riders about sleeping kits?

I love my sleeping kit but it's not for everyone. It’s perfect for my style of riding so you can pull up after dark, unstrap it, roll it out and be snoring in less than a minute. In the morning you can roll it up, strap it on the back and be gone in the same amount of time. People say tents are quick to set up and pack up, but they aren’t unless you are incredibly disciplined and organised.

The average tent dweller takes at least half an hour to set up and even longer to pack up. They whinge at you if you pull up in the dark because they can’t see the Bindis and lose their pegs. They seem to enjoy stretching the process out in the morning, hanging their tents out to dry the condensation and sitting in their camp chairs. It drives me nuts, I know who they are and I won’t ride with them any more.

But on a serious note, when I jump the ditch and head for NZ, I always run a tent. There are no snakes to worry about but the sandflies will eat you alive. The weather is unpredictable and the sound of Kiwi raindrops on a tent fly will lull you to sleep at night. In the morning, I like to take my time to pack up my tent and soak up the postcard landscapes that surround me. Because I love beautiful New Zealand and I like to savour every moment I’m over there.

Phil produces Motorbikin' Adventure Riding Films - you can check them out at


Interviewer: Jessie Meek
Interviewee: Phil Hodgens