A Pillion’s Leh Travelogue: What to pack for a biking trip?

In most of my travels the luggage restriction was in terms of weight and not volume, so when my husband told me to fit everything we both needed for a 6 day trip in a single saddle bag, I was less than amused. Never the less, it is important to travel light, prioritize requirements and share with fellow travels.

Some of my tips as trip essentials that one can use as a basic blue print –

CASH:  Carry some money, ATM’s haven’t been installed and most people believe in the saying ‘In God we trust, the rest pay cash’.

CLOTHING:  On a trip like this you shall experience extreme heat and cold; you’ll get wet from the water crossings and have very dry skin from the cold harsh winds. So you’ll need it all. My suggestion is to only pack comfortable clothes and use the layering strategy. You’ll definitely need –

  1. All weather Jacket – water proof, wind proof, reasonably warm.
  2. Gloves – take a warm pair for the passes and cold that you can wear under the biking gloves. The wind is cold and harsh.
  3. Waterproof high shoes if possible, but keep a spare as your shoes will definitely get wet
  4. The normal stuff – T’s, socks etc take as few as possible, nothing really gets dirty under the big jacket you’ll be wearing. And all the pictures will have you in the same jacket and jeans anyway.
  5. I would also suggest Rain gear. It not only cuts the wind and rain, it makes up for an extra layer. Also, try to water-proof your luggage as this dust and slush out, especially during the water crossings.


  1. The basic toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush. Try to buy the small travel packs for everything.
  2. Must take sunscreen and Lip balm, and apply it like you are the Aussi Cricket Team. Your skin will peel off even under the goggles and helmet.
  3. Goggles or some eye protection
  4. Helmet and please wear it at all times on the bike. Not wearing it, is not Cool.
  5. Carry a roll or two of toilet paper and a box of garbage bag. One needs tissues and plastic bags all the time. As a special favor to me don’t dispose away the plastic bottles/ bags till you reach Leh. We have to protect the few clean places left in this world.
  6. Torch, Matches, Lighter
  7. Cell phone, camera, extra batteries, chargers etc

FOOD: You’ll find small eating places every few 100 km or so, they all will serve Maggie, tea/coffee, biscuits and dal-chawal. Trust me all of these taste awesome when you are hungry. Try to drink bottled water/ boiled water if possible if you have a weak stomach. Carry Mother Dairy Milk Chocolate for instant energy. Dry fruits and some small nibbles to keep in your pocket.


  1. Diamox is used with varying success to speed up acclimatization. Those that are allergic to sulfa medication cannot use Diamox, should consult their doc. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness drink lots and lots of water. The oxygen in the water helps especially on high mountain passes where oxygen is low.
  2. Basic stuff like pain killers, flu pills, stomach infection pills (constipation is not that big a problem), and other regular medicines one takes.
  3. Band-aid, muscle spray like Moove and crepe bandage.


  1. Fill up fuel where ever you can. We got a 25 litre tank fitted on our bike for the trip and had success with it.
  2. Check the air pressure and one of the travelers should carry an air pump
  3. Spark Plug, Clutch Cable, Accelerator Cable, Front brake Cable, Spare Tube -2, Duplicate Set of Keys, Chain Link,
  4. Spare Headlight- Halogen, Spare Tail Light, Tool-Kit, Petrol Pipe, Spare Fuses, Insulation Tape and so on.
  5. Map


  1. Make your bookings in advance wherever you can. Keep a print out of your tickets and hotel reservations.
  2. If you are staying in tents on the way, make sure you have enough warm blankets /clothing.


  1. Keep identity card with yourself while travelling.
  2. Get permits for going to various places like Nubra Valley, Pang etc
  3. License, Vehicle Registration+ Insurance Papers- Original Xeroxes of the same-2, keep one copy in bike other carry with you or in the toolbox, another in the luggage.

CAMERA: I don’t think there is a need for an explanation here 🙂

Also, The Lazymoterbike has some great tips for the rider & pillion.


Bon voyage!



(c) Photographs by Sharninder Khera and Nitin Joshi

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *