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
|T-Shirts to wear while riding||3 or 4||I 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 otherwise||3 or 4||Whatever you are comfortable in|
|Jeans||1 pair (assuming that you are using riding pants). Otherwise, 2||Whatever you are comfortable in|
|Shorts (Dry-fit)||1 or 2 - these are useful to swim in too||Something like these - Dry-Fit Shorts|
|Shorts (Other) - Optional||1||Whatever you are comfortable in|
|Trackpants - Dry-Fit||1 (handy if you plan to camp)||The dry-fit/synthetic ones are again more functional (in my opinion) - something like this - Trackpants|
|Socks||4 pairs||I prefer to use thick sports socks, because these last longer and also keep your feet more warm (when required).
Like these - Socks
|Undergarments||5 (at least)||To each their own|
|Cap||1||Again, 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
|Sunglasses||1 pair||Nothing fancy required.|
|Thermals||2 sets (i.e. 2 tops and 2 bottoms)||I use these thermals -
|Sweater/Fleece/Pullover||2 (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 Gloves||1 pair||I currently use a pair that I’ve had forever, but I hope to one day get gloves like these - Gloves|
|Ski Cap/Beanie||1||Whatever is comfortable, but it obviously should cover your ears|
|Quick-Dry Towel||1||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/Sandals||1 pair||Whatever is comfortable|
|Shoes||1 pair||Whatever 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 kit||Whatever you would carry on any trip + moisturiser/vaseline|
|Sunscreen||1 (important enough to be mentioned separately)||I use this - Sunscreen|
|Mosquito Repellent Cream/Gel/Spray||1||Odomos or anything else that works|
|Hand Sanitizer and Tissues||1 bottle and several packets - tissues are handy to clean your helmet visor too.||Sanitizer
|Detergent Soap (small sachets) + clothes pegs + clothes line + brush||As many as you think you need||The 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 kit||Carry everything that YOU need|
|Mobile phone and charger||1||Whatever 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 current||1||Any decent brand - something like this one might be useful - Multi-Socket Spike Buster|
|Power Bank||1||I use this one - Mi 20000mah Power Bank|
|USB-Charging Hub||1||I use this one - USB UFO Charger|
|Earphones||1||I use the JBL C100SI|
|Camera Gear and other Electronics||Whatever you use||An 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.
|Tent||1||I use the Quechua 2 person tent. This one - Quechua Tent|
|Sleeping Bag||1||The 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 tent||1||Any yoga mat (6mm thickness or more) should work - something like this - Yoga Mat|
|Base Sheet/Tarpaulin||1||You can use the same tarpaulin that you use to wrap luggage on the bike (mentioned in the miscellaneous list below)|
|Bowl/Plate+Mug+Spoon||1 each||If 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 Batteries||1headlamp (with batteries) + 1 set of batteries||This 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)||1||These tiny dynamo torches are useful spares - Dynamo Torch|
|Camping Stool/Chair||1||If 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.
|Knife||1||I 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 + Matchbox||1 each||Because, fire 🙂|
|Biscuits/Snacks||A few||To 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|
|Bike Papers (PUC, Insurance, Tax, Registration Certificate)+ License + Photocopies||Originals + at least 1 set of photocopies||To show to the powers that be, whenever required.|
|Passport Sized Photos + ID Proof + Photocopies of IDs||At least 20 photos + 10 to 15 photocopies of ID||Just in case any of these are required for obtaining any permits or at any checkposts in some states.|
|Spare Key||1||Keep this in your luggage, so that a spare is available in case you lose the main key|
|Cable Lock/Helmet Lock||1||Useful when you want to leave the helmet on the bike|
|Tarpaulin||1 - 6 feet x 9 feet||I 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 Chords||1 set used (as many as required as per your packing method) + at least 4 spares||They 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 Bag||1 cover - size should be 55 to 80 litres at least||I use the Quechua rain cover - http://amzn.to/2m2msrs
Cheaper options are available, but quality might be suspect.
|Air Pump||1||I carry an ordinary cycle pump. You can buy and carry an electric pump if you prefer that|
|Funnel||1||To pour fuel into the tank (when needed)|
|Gumboots||1 pair||I 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 few||They always come in handy|
|Cloth to clean the bike||1||Best 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.|
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.
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.