Packing for a Long Ride – My Checklist

My packing checklist for touring on a motorcycle in India.

It’s almost time for me to set off another tour, and I’m now fully pre-occupied with the packing process. When I travelled last year, I expected to be gone for a month. This year, I know better than to think of anything (including the duration of my trip) as certain. That might sound wonderful and adventurous, but it poses a severe challenge from a packing perspective.

I’m planning to ride to the North-East from Chennai. Not only does this mean that I need to be prepared for many many days on the road, but I also need to be ready to face all kinds of weather – I expect bright sunshine and warmth along the East coast and much colder temperatures when I eventually reach the mountains. Rain and snow are also likely to make their presence felt at some point. I don’t know if I will find a place to sleep every night, so I need to be able to set up a temporary home at any place that I can find. I also need to take with me, at least the most basic things that I might need to fix the motorcycle on the go. Obviously, all of the things that I need for all of the above purposes, need to fit on the back of my motorcycle.

I grossly overpacked for the last tour. I ended up leaving stuff behind in Mumbai and again in Delhi. Despite doing so, I felt like I was carrying too much when I rode through Ladakh. I realised that you need the same amount of stuff whether you’re travelling for 3 weeks or 3 months. You just need to implement 2 systems – ‘use, wash, repeat’ or ‘use, replace, repeat’, whichever is applicable.

I promised myself then that I would travel much lighter the next time. But now it’s time for the ‘next time’ and I know I’m overpacking again, albeit not as much as I did last year.  Maybe I will end up leaving some stuff in Kolkata this time. 🙂

Since I was making a video about packing as a part of my ‘Prep for 2017’ series, I thought that this was a good time to share a detailed list of things that I think need to go into your bags when you’re heading off on a long motorcycle tour. I’ve tried to keep this checklist generic (so that it can be used as a reference for any tour (you can always ignore things that aren’t relevant for a particular trip). I’ve also included information and links to the gear I use (or would like to use) so that you can find things more easily (if you don’t already have them).

So, here it is, my packing checklist:

THE GENERAL STUFF

DescriptionQuantity Suggestions
T-Shirts to wear while riding3 or 4I use dry-fit t-shirts like the ones linked below. These are light, easy to pack, easy to wash and dry and last long (less likely to fade or fray as compared to normal cotton t-shirts)

Dry-Fit T-Shirt 1
Dry-Fit T-Shirt 2


T-Shirts to wear otherwise3 or 4Whatever you are comfortable in
Jeans1 pair (assuming that you are using riding pants). Otherwise, 2Whatever you are comfortable in
Shorts (Dry-fit)1 or 2 - these are useful to swim in tooSomething like these - Dry-Fit Shorts
Shorts (Other) - Optional1Whatever you are comfortable in
Trackpants - Dry-Fit1 (handy if you plan to camp)The dry-fit/synthetic ones are again more functional (in my opinion) - something like this - Trackpants
Socks 4 pairsI prefer to use thick sports socks, because these last longer and also keep your feet more warm (when required).

Like these - Socks
Undergarments5 (at least)To each their own
Cap 1Again, I prefer to use a dry-fit because it’s easily washable and more durable for continuous use

Not endorsing any IPL team, just providing this link as an example - Dry-Fit Cap
Sunglasses1 pairNothing fancy required.
Thermals2 sets (i.e. 2 tops and 2 bottoms)I use these thermals -

Thermal Top

Thermal Bottom
Sweater/Fleece/Pullover2 (one to ride in and 1 spare just in case the other one gets wet) use stuff that I’ve had for ages, but if you’re looking to buy something new, Decathlon has some decent options like this one - Fleece
Woolen Gloves1 pairI currently use a pair that I’ve had forever, but I hope to one day get gloves like these - Gloves
Scarf1Woolen, preferably
Ski Cap/Beanie1Whatever is comfortable, but it obviously should cover your ears
Quick-Dry Towel1 use the Nabaiji quick-dry towel from Decathlon - it doesn't seem to be available online, but this appears to be similar - Quick-Dry Towel
Slippers/Sandals1 pairWhatever is comfortable
Shoes1 pairWhatever is comfortable, provided it has good grip
Toileteries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and the like - I assume that this is stuff that doesn’t need to be listed out)1 kitWhatever you would carry on any trip + moisturiser/vaseline
Sunscreen1 (important enough to be mentioned separately)I use this - Sunscreen
Mosquito Repellent Cream/Gel/Spray1Odomos or anything else that works
Hand Sanitizer and Tissues1 bottle and several packets - tissues are handy to clean your helmet visor too.Sanitizer
Tissues


Detergent Soap (small sachets) + clothes pegs + clothes line + brushAs many as you think you needThe cheap stuff works well enough
Medical Kit - band aids, dettol/antiseptic cream, cough syrup, electral, pain-relief spray, medicines to tackle a fever/cold/bad stomach/allergic reaction and anything else that you may need (best to check with a doctor about whatever you are carrying)1 kitCarry everything that YOU need
Mobile phone and charger1Whatever you use
Spikebuster - provides multiple charging points (useful when the place you stay has only one plug point) and also protects devices in case of fluctuation in current1Any decent brand - something like this one might be useful - Multi-Socket Spike Buster
Power Bank1I use this one - Mi 20000mah Power Bank
USB-Charging Hub1I use this one - USB UFO Charger
Earphones1I use the JBL C100SI
Camera Gear and other ElectronicsWhatever you useAn action camera is extremely useful. I now use the GoPro Hero 5

I use the Yunteng Monopod

There are several sellers at different prices, so check to get an original at the best price.

CAMPING GEAR

DescriptionQuantity Suggestions
Tent 1I use the Quechua 2 person tent. This one - Quechua Tent
Sleeping Bag1The 15 to 20 degree sleeping bags work for most places. If you’re going somewhere colder, please plan accordingly. Something like this or a little cheaper might be a good option - Sleeping Bag
Base Mat / Yoga Mat - to place beneath your sleeping bag inside the tent1Any yoga mat (6mm thickness or more) should work - something like this - Yoga Mat
Base Sheet/Tarpaulin1You can use the same tarpaulin that you use to wrap luggage on the bike (mentioned in the miscellaneous list below)
Bowl/Plate+Mug+Spoon1 eachIf you don't plan to cook, anything will work. If you do want to be able to cook, the vessels would need to be suitable for such use.
Headlamp +Spare Batteries1headlamp (with batteries) + 1 set of batteriesThis one is really good - Geonaute Headlamp

There are several cheaper options as well, but I don’t know if they are as good.
Spare Torch (I carry one that doesn’t require batteries)1These tiny dynamo torches are useful spares - Dynamo Torch
Camping Stool/Chair1If you’re on a budget, you can get this camping stool

If you have some money to spare, buy this camping chair, it’s got a back rest and is a lot more comfortable.
Knife1I need to buy one. While I would love to buy one of the fancy ones, I think I will just opt for something cheap for now.
Lighter + Matchbox1 eachBecause, fire 🙂
Biscuits/SnacksA fewTo be bought on the way to wherever you are camping, just so that you have something to eat in case you need it. I always carry peanut butter.
Toilet Paper Rolls + a mug + whatever else you need Carry enough

MISCELLANEOUS GEAR

DescriptionQuantityInformation
Bike Papers (PUC, Insurance, Tax, Registration Certificate)+ License + PhotocopiesOriginals + at least 1 set of photocopiesTo show to the powers that be, whenever required.
Passport Sized Photos + ID Proof + Photocopies of IDsAt least 20 photos + 10 to 15 photocopies of IDJust in case any of these are required for obtaining any permits or at any checkposts in some states.
Spare Key1Keep this in your luggage, so that a spare is available in case you lose the main key
Cable Lock/Helmet Lock1Useful when you want to leave the helmet on the bike
Tarpaulin1 - 6 feet x 9 feetI use this to create a waterproof cocoon for my bags, and sometimes also use it as a base sheet for my tent. A much cheaper way to waterproof your luggage
Bungee Chords1 set used (as many as required as per your packing method) + at least 4 sparesThey hold everything in place. Very very important.

I use the ones that you get at an ordinary hardware store. They break sometimes, but they cost very little and are easy to replace. More expensive versions are available too, if you should want something superior.
Rain/Dust Cover for Bag1 cover - size should be 55 to 80 litres at leastI use the Quechua rain cover - http://amzn.to/2m2msrs

Cheaper options are available, but quality might be suspect.
Air Pump1I carry an ordinary cycle pump. You can buy and carry an electric pump if you prefer that
Funnel1To pour fuel into the tank (when needed)
Gumboots1 pairI don;t have waterproof shoes, so I plan to use gumboots for rainy weather and water crossings this time. I haven't yet tested the effectiveness of this method, but I expect that they will work better than boot covers
Plastic Packets A fewThey always come in handy
Cloth to clean the bike1Best to carry at lease one piece of cloth with you that can be used to clean the bike or your hands after working on the bike.

RIDING GEAR

Please read my blogpost on this –  “Riding Gear Essentials for Ladakh”

TOOLS AND SPARES

Please read my detailed blogpost about the tools and spares that I carry while touring on my Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 – you can find it by clicking here.

To Conclude

Packing is a very personal thing, and you need to pack everything that YOU think you need. You might find this list too basic, or you might think that it has too much. At the end of the day, pack in a way that makes YOU most comfortable – this checklist only sets out how I go about it. If you think there is anything that I may have missed, please leave the relevant information in a comment below. It will be useful to me and everyone else reading this post.

Do also watch the video that I made about packing for a long tour – you can watch it on my Youtube Channel – click HERE.

63 thoughts on “Packing for a Long Ride – My Checklist

  1. I think you should carry a couple of glow sticks also. Anyway great blog, have a great journey. My best wishes are with you.

  2. Hi Bro, I’m a budding tourer and your packing list is very useful for me to do the long distance rides. Great, thanks. Subscribed to your YouTube channel and social medias. My best wishes for your North-East India ride and expecting the great snaps and cool videos from there! 🙂

  3. Hello ,.. excellent video about packing and blog too , very useful information , each and every point is very clear , thank u so much..

  4. You are one of the best biker in India. Awesome videos man and great blogs too. Subscribed to your channel. All the best brother.
    P.S- I live in Chennai too.

  5. Solo Travelling from Chennai to Ladakh on a bike is not a simple thing to do. It takes exceptional guts, courage, confidence and hope. I salute you and I am proud of you, Sir!

    I have similar interests and after knowing about your achievement, I am highly motivated now. May God bless you and All the very best for your future explorations, Brother!!

    Looking forward to see your upcoming adventures…

    1. That’s a wonderful comment, Mohammed Nayeem. Thanks a lot. I wish you the very best for your travels.

    1. Hey, if you find camp sites, that’s easy. Otherwise you tend to need to ask and find people who will permit you to camp. SOme people just camp anywhere, but i’m not sure how safe that is.

  6. Great blog bro..crisp and clear n expecting the same kinda videos during your journey too..Happy journey and safe ride..

    1. Hey, I’ve left links to most things so that you can also see what it might cost. I’ve bought the stuff that I use over several years, so I don’t really have an aggregate value readily available.

  7. Hey i like ur vedios, i also do traveling not mandatory with bikes, i do with different means. I like how u blog about that do u help me to start a blog how u started it nd how do i. I will be really greatfull if u hleped me out in this.
    Thanx

    1. Thank you, Rishabh. I started this blog by just getting down to writing and putting content up without really thinking about anything else. I doubt that is very useful information, but the point is that if there is something you want to do, there is no better way to get to it than by just starting to do it anyway.

  8. Hi bro, I have seen u r videos in YouTube channel and they r simply awesome. As I’m a travelling lover I’m planning a trip to ladakh from Visakhapatnam on my RE Thunderbird 350. I want you to suggest me some tips like the best routes and other careful precautions to be taken in ladakh. Thanks in advance. Happy travelling 😃

    1. Hi Sasank, that will be a pretty amazing ride. Do read my blogpost about things to know before you ride to Ladakh, a lot of information there will be useful for you. I also have motorcycle prep videos and blogposts up that might be good for you to go through. About route, I assume that the fastest and best would be to go up through central India. Nagpur and upwards there are some nice roads through Madhya Pradesh, though the parts close to Agra aren’t very great.

  9. Hello! On a serious note… I don’t have any bike nd m a college student which is a good bike for adventurous trip . Nd while going to trips how do u arrange for funds… Is it from your pocket or do u go for sponsorship!

    1. Hey, any bike works really, but some are more suitable depending on the terrain and places that you plan to ride to. I wrked for several years to save up money to do this.

  10. Brother a great Blog and great videos your have shot, have subscribed to your Youtube channel. Well am too a budding tourer; have visited all over India but this time I want to be on RE. All the very best for your future rides. You do inspire alot for bike rides. Cheers.
    Sandeep, Pune

    1. That’s wonderful to hear. Thanks for subscribing, Sandeep. All the best for your travels. Ride safe.

  11. Awesome bro… Keep going.. And pls do post your videos and experience… Thats makes and inspires new riders like me…

  12. You are truely Traveler bro…
    Good to see this is happening in India and people loving it.
    What is the size of saddle bag you prefer to use for long rides? 50 ltrs or 70 ltrs?
    Also let me know tank bag preference.

    1. Thanks, Suraj. I currently use the Dirstsack Longranger Pro saddlebags. I also use the Cramster tankbag. But I want to upgrade both to better options. Whenever I have the money.

  13. WOW! very use fill and essential, Planning a one week trip and for the first time, this blog was very informative, by the way I´m your youtube channel subscriber too. Thank you for the information….

  14. Hello Sir, You do and also doing a wanderful job. I regularly view your blog and videos. I like Adventure travel and use to do weekend travel within 300-400 km. from my home. I am from Kolkata. I have only bajaj Discover 100M bike. Due to lack of fund I am unable to upgrade my motorcycle. I am planning for ladakh trip. Is it possible to go Ladakh with 100 cc Discover ? What is your openion ? Please reply. I am wating for your reply.

    1. Hey, I appreciate your spirit. I’ve never been there on a 100cc motorcycle, but Ive seen people going there on splendors and navis. It will be more difficult no doubt. At the end of the day, it depends on how you ride the machine and what the machine is able to take.

  15. Thanks. Do u have any plan for ride through kolkata? If u have such plan, please inform me. I am waiting to meet you once. I am really like your blog, videos and article of content. I will drop a mail to your mail ID. please reply. Please update once u reached kolkata.

    Thanks…

    Aniruddha

  16. Hi bro by seeing ur videos I am motivated alot and planning a road trip on my new renegade commando with my wife , I am planning from Hyderabad to kanyakumari via Bangalore Mysore wayanad allepey . So please do suggest me how to plan and what shld I manage . And more over as u said u have worked serval years and saved money for this the same way I too saved for this by working , and I am currently working in Saudi Arabia and saving more to fulfil this dream

    1. That’s great Rathish. I’m sure that will be a memorable ride. Do keep watching my YouTube channel and reading this blog – I will share travel experiences and things that I have learnt over time.

  17. Phaah…..hope travelling made you more patient cos you wrote such a big list of items wit patience…. Any traveller will speak about you to his friends when they read your blogs (like i do)… Keep the good work man..

    1. I use the MT Blade Raceline (reviewed on my YouTUbe Channel) and currently an Aspida Odysseus Air Mesh riding jacket

  18. Hi Sir. I Watched all the vedio of yours . I have some queries about the Action camera .due to low budget of myself which action camera you prefer for the motovlog. In future you travel with another bikers? In vedio i saw you a solo ride only thats why ask you sir . But sir keep going you inspire those who watching your vedio.Your YouTube channel also a Good Name ( TOLL FREE TRAVELLER) or i can say a unique name to win our heart. But sir you are a LEGEND .

    1. Thank you, Shubham. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any experience using any of the other camera brands, I’ve been a GoPro man so far and they have served me well.

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