May 31, 2006

Leh Manual 5: The packing list

Biker brotherhood at Moray plainsOkay, so I decided to make that packing list for a Ladakh ride. I'm not including items you might need while you're in Leh (as in touristy stuff, normal clothes and stuff) for I reckon you can figure that part out on your own... what? You can't? :-D Oh, and I've left out the most obvious things... helmet, spare visor, toilet kit, cash etc.

Cold Weather and Motorcycle Wear Stuff (CWMWS)

  • Thermal pants (1 or 2 pairs max)
    You won't need more, because once it gets cold, you'll be loathe to change no matter how unhygienic or dusty it feels

  • Thermal top (1 or 2 pairs max)
    Same as pants. I find no difference in actual riding between half sleeve and full sleeve jobs, so take whatever you're comfortable with

  • Track pants (2 pairs)
    Look for thin material, like polyester (shiny stuff). With or without mesh liners. They can go over the thermals, and work as a windblock and warmer without restricting your movements

  • Jeans (1 pair)
    Ideally get ones with lycra. They stretch and allow more movement than regular denim once you're packed with 2 track pants and thermals

  • Motorcycle riding pants (1 pair)
    If your pants are proper cold weather stuff, you won't really need the jeans, except off the bike. However, if you have mesh, or breathable stuff, the coldest weather will require the use of both. Again, lycra jeans will not feel restrictive. Your pants do have hip and knee armour, right?

  • Gloves (2 pairs)
    One pair of unlined leather gloves will keep you warm enough for most of the work. The very coldest part will need the other one. Make that one a waterproof, cold weather one if possible. Prefer glover with long gauntlets

  • Gardening/Kitchen rubber gloves (2 pairs)
    If you can't manage the warm, waterproof gloves, try the latex rubber ones. They're waterproof and turn quite warm eventually. Carry two, because you will usually rip one in the process of putting it on... don't ask how I know. Check that the size you bought (I bought medical overgloves, orange XXL. Rs 45 a pair) is big enough to slip/stretch over the leather gloves your intend to use.

  • Balaclava (1 pair)
    If your helmet (you are wearing a full-face, right?) is good, you won't need a woollen one. Get a good one. They're hard to come by, but try

  • Riding jacket (1 pair)
    Get a full winter-spec jacket with a removable liner. If you get a good one, you won't need more than a thermal and t-shirt underneath. If not, layer it. Winter jackets are usually waterproof, so that takes care of any rain as well. Again, your jacket is armoured, right?

  • Crossing waterRain liners (2 pairs)
    I carried a pair of cheap Rs 300 PVC/Plastic rainsuits with me. I'd wear the pants most of the time (rain, splash, water crossing protection and warmth). But it kept getting caught in the pegs, burning on the pipes and was in tatters by the time I got to Leh. Used tons of duct tape on the return leg...

  • OPTIONAL Fleece pullover/jacket (1 pair)
    Can be a great thing to wear off the bike. Can also serve as a ultra-warm inner layer should it get really cold. The great thing about fleece is that it stays warm even if it gets wet.

    • Woollens
      Take forever to dry. And are useless, heavy and bulky when wet

    • Seriously expensive items
      You could ruin them beyond recognition, it's a tough ride

    • Brief/thong undies
      Tremendously uncomfortable over long rides. Switch to clingy, soft boxer type undies. Boxer shorts are to be avoided, because they crumple inside and form seams, result is same as thongs.
    • Water
      Keep drinking, its the best way to keep mountain sickness at bay. I was doing 5 litres by lunch. Had a two litre bottle in each pocket of the saddlebag, and one litre in the tank bag. Refilled it at every opportunity.

    • A small towel
      You never know when you end up washing your mug in a mountain stream

    • Sunglasses
      Keep the glare off!
Motorcycle stuff
  • If you're on the Himalayan Odyssey, you won't need anything, because Royal Enfield takes care of all your spares and service needs

  • If you're on your own, however
    • A multi-tool (like the Victorinox Auto-Tool, or a Leatherman Charger)
    • Set of screwdrivers (if you don't have a multi-tool)
    • A few pieces of wire (to lash broken things, connect frayed wires, floss...)
    • Electrical tape (do not buy Bohr's branded tape, is completely useless)
    • Tools specific to your bike (figure it out... like C-spanner for suspension adjust etc)
    • Duct tape (hard to get, but priceless. Fixed EVERYTHING)
    • Replacement cables (clutch, throttle)
    • Fluids (if you are really paranoid... some brake fluid)
    • Tandi, the last fuel station before LehIf you're alone, carry a 5 or 10 litre jerry can. Tandi-Leh is 365 km without a sinple fuel station in the middle
    • Bungee cords (to right drooping luggage, or tie down annoying co-riders...)
    • Replacement bulbs (headlight, tail light)
    • Spare spark plugs (2 pairs, I think)
    • Torch + batteries (batts run low in the cold, take spares along)
    • Knife (if not in multi-tool already)
    • BIKE PAPERS! Keep attested copies handy
    • The strongest sunscreen you can find

  • It's a good idea to check the plugs for the air-fuel mix at Manali. As you go higher, your bike will begin to run rich. Do you know how to adjust the mixture?

  • Learn how to a) get a tyre off the bike b) how to fix a flat

  • Are you the sort who needs to keep a spare key handy?
    If yes, consider putting the key on a carabiner. And ALWAYS hooking the carabiner to your riding jacket BEFORE you dismount. If you lose your jacket, take a bus home, you're not ready for the ride yet.
  • Diamox
    Check with your doctor. Start taking about two days in advance if doc says okay

  • Lasix
    Works instantly, makes you want to pee EVERYWHERE. Check with your doc

  • Aspirin
    Altitude sickness will give you a serious headache. Carry something for it

  • Avomine
    For the vomiting that follows the headache

  • Diarrhoea/loosy meds
    Check with your doc. Its rare, but shit happens. heh heh

  • Moov/Sensur/Iodex

  • Any other meds your doc recommends

  • Moisturizer
    I prefer gels to lotions (can't spill gel). Vaseline works

  • Mosquito repellent
    Self explanatory

  • Full first aid kit
    • Bandages
    • Antiseptic cleanser (I prefer Savlon)
    • Gauze
    • Medical tape
    • Scissors
    • Torch
    • Painkiller
    • Something to put on the wound, Neosporin works brill
    • Crepe bandages
Experience recording equipment (EREs)
  • Digital Camera plus accessories
    • Camera (with fully charged batteries installed)

    • Loads of memory (1-2 GB if you're shutter happy)

    • Spare batteries (charged already before the trip)

    • Battery charger

    • Waterproof storage space (zip locks work)

    • Consider a spare film point-shoot, just in case. Means carrying film, batteries though
      If the digicam wipes out, you can still record. And film/batteries are available almost everywhere

  • Notebooks and pencils (pen ink smudges when wet)
Luggage ideas
  • Tankbag
    Carry spare layers, camera, identification, money and anything you'd need quickly/repeatedly. Cramster makes the excellent Turtle

  • Saddlebags
    Again, Himalayan Odyssey riders don't need this, they get a truck for the luggage. But everyone else should get one of these. Cramster makes excellent ones for about Rs 2000. But tell him what bike you're on (models differ). Remember to pack everything in individual, labelled plastic bags. The bags are almost waterproof, but you never know

  • Top roll
    If you're carrying a sleeping bag (recommended) or a duffel bag, lash it down on the pillion seat on top of the saddlebag pad. This allows you to lean back into it when your back needs a break

  • On the person
    Carry a box of matches wrapped in a plastic bag, notebook, pencils, digital camera, spare batteries on your person. Keeping matches/camera/batteries warm will prolong their useability

  • Other pieces of luggage
    What? You're shifting house?
Other stuff
  • If you're on the Himalayan Odyssey, remember to keep a change of clothes with you on your bike. The backup truck takes as much as three-five extra hours to arrive. You'll be able to change, refresh yourself as soon as your arrive at the day camp

  • Keep biscuits and chocolate bars in your tank bag. They're high-energy rechargers on sorts. Have one when you're feeling a bit weak.

  • Mountain sickness sucks. But eat despite the nausea and the headaches.

  • Stop often. If you take Lasix, you'll do this anyway. But take breaks often. The scenery is always worth ogling, and you'll have the time. Especially on the Odyssey. Take lots of pictures while you're stopped. You did carry loads of EREs, right?

  • While you will be wearing most of the CWMWS, keep whatever you think you might need handy in the tankbag.
Phew, that's it, I think. Check the comments below, I'll just add anything else that I come up with there. I'm not messing with this phenomenal list again... And say thank you.

Other relevant posts

Riding related

Himalayan Odyssey related
The high point of the trip


sac said...

and to carry all that, a car...

rearset said...

Heh heh. No you don't. I actually carried all of that minus motorcycle stuff with me last year. Actually, I carried TWO motorcycle jackets, but with one set of armour I exchanged at Manali for the entire ride. And I had space left in my saddlebags (that and the tank bag were all the luggage I had) for a bunch of stuff I bought for the wife from Leh. And while I didn't need most of emergency type stuff, I remember having leant this, that and the other to various people on the ride...