Gear Talk: What’s in the pet carrier?

Mash it under the seat!

The pet carrier is a nickname for the under-seat storage bin on a scooter, because in the US they come with a ‘No Pets‘ sticker. Go ahead and make assumptions based on that information. My pets gave up the ghost years ago, so here’s what I keep in mine.

The bin for the Vespa GTS was designed to fit exactly 2 interlocking half helmets, because what sort of Italian would want more than that. Seeing as I don’t even own half helmets, I’ve found the lumpy figure-eight shape inefficient for anything but small or soft items. So my pet carrier holds my clothes, packed into a pretty standard 25 liter backpack that I can throw in my tent or bring in for overnight stays. I fill the gaps with my toiletries bag and mash a camp towel in what space remains.

Fresh from laundry. The set of clothing I’m wearing and toiletries bag not pictured.

My clothing has been subject to some rotation as I absorb and ship away shirts from rallies or friends, but here’s the general list:

  • 2 cotton camis, shelf bra. Warm base layers for cool temps, though sometimes I just wear one  with nothing else under my riding jacket.
  • 2 wicking t-shirts. For long riding days. I can sometimes get 2 days wear out of these before getting smelly.
  • 2-5 regular cotton t-shirts. The most fluctuation is seen here, I ship’em back to PVD or CA if I hit 5, because I can’t close my seat anymore. They’re typically emblazoned with scooters, motorcycles, or something RI related. Not deliberate, go figure.
  • 1 nice-ish shirt. For blending in.
  • 3 sleeveless tops. One sport/wicking, one sparkly ‘for night’, and uh… a cat print one I like. They pack small.
  • 1 set of wicking shorts and sleeveless top from These have proven to have excellent anti-stink and anti-swamp-butt properties, and can be worn multiple days under riding gear. I just wish the elastic waistband wasn’t so tight on the shorts.
  • 1 capri wicking running tights. Go-to for comfort under riding gear, can wear 2 days.
  • 1 pair quick-dry shorty shorts. Can be worn under riding gear in warmer temps, or as cover-up for swimwear. Or for working out, which was their original use.
  • 1 pair of mid-length shorts. Old, cheap and lightweight, I don’t care what happens to them.
  • 1 cotton-blend skirt. It’s cute.
  • 2 pairs of jeans, one ‘nicer’ and one that’s mostly covered in bug spray, pet hair/drool, mud, grass, and dirt.
  • 1 polyester thrift-shop dress. Feelin’ fancy.
  • 1 snap-button longsleeve shirt. This has been super handy.
  • Eton microlink flashlight radio. I’ve since moved this to my dry sack.

I keep my underthings in a mesh zip bag, just to keep them sort of organized. Mostly these are overnight-dry travel undies, that I acquired and tested out over time (hey, I’ve only been planning this for over a year).

  • quick-dry travel panties. I usually wash these nightly when I shower, but when I’m settled in a place for a few days with easy access to laundry, it’s nice to have enough not to need to handwash every night.
  • quick-dry thong. It was suggested to try it. I’m not a convert but hey, it’s a backup that takes up practically no space.
  • 1 boy-short style wicking sporty underwear. In FL, it was so hot I wore just these under my gear. These are most comfy for working out when I have the chance, and dry quick.
  • 1 underwire bra. For pretending I blend into society.
  • quick-dry travel bra. 2 days worth of wear, for long riding days.
  • 1 cotton string bra. Looks okay under tank tops and packs small.
  • 1 sports bra. 2 days worth of wear. Also used for working out, or riding on gravel I suppose.
  • 4 pairs of quick-dry travel socks. 2 ankle length, 1 shorty, 1 taller. Completely by accident it worked out that way, but these are the most expensive socks I’ve ever owned so I sure am going to use them all. Also, they do actually dry overnight and I’ve discovered can be worn multiple days.
  • 1 bikini set.
  • Sleepwear. My old bra cami and little silky shorts. Comfort that packs small.

I’ve acquired a number of free drawstring polyester bags, mostly from rallies. I keep 2 levels of laundry in them. One bag has ‘soiled’ laundry, and it lives inside another with ‘slightly worn’ laundry. Y’know, to protect it from my ‘clean’ clothing as I slowly bake the entire backpack under my seat with the heat of the engine for hundreds of miles.

Basically, every so often the entire contents go into a washing machine. I feel like this is actually a pretty luxurious collection and I could carry less clothing, but I’ve used every item I have more than once. The entire contents are barely a full laundry load.

The challenge was packing for three seasons in one backpack, though it helps that I’m doing the majority of my riding in summer weather. I keep my warmer layers in a sidebag, including:

  • 1 pair of long tights. In early May and at altitude, it was cold enough that I slept in these.
  • 1 Uniqlo longsleeved base layer. In New England winter I live in these, Japanese technology FTW.
  • 1 black zip-up layer, no hood. This is still handy for in-between kind of weather, and no hood means easy under riding jacket.
  • 1 warm, comfy live-in-it hoody. Layered over my summer clothing and under my riding jacket, this is usually warm enough. Add Uniqlo base layer if additional warmth needed.
  • Steel Horse Sisterhood longsleeved hoody shirt. This was given to me at the Biker Belle event, when it was cold and rainy outside. I have a feeling it’s going to see a lot more wear-time over winter in CA, because I’m mostly packed for summer.

This is pretty much all my clothing, and at any given point I’m wearing some of it. In a single day, I’ve gone from wearing all the layers in the mountains, to taking as much of it off as possible back at sea-level. The only real test of my wardrobe was in Florida, when I sweated through everything lightweight and wicking, and laundry couldn’t keep up. Your mileage may vary.

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