Motorbiking in Ladakh is every biker’s dream: the sprawling landscape, the sky-piercing mountains, and the high altitude passes – all of these come together to make riding in Ladakh the experience of a lifetime. On your motorbiking trip through Ladakh, you’ll ride for long hours through a dynamic landscape and some challenging road conditions including high altitude passes like Khardung La and Chang La, and you’ll definitely make some unforgettable memories.

But motorbiking in Ladakh is not an easy task, and there are some important things that you must keep in mind, and in your saddle bag when you go conquering the high passes! We at The Great Next have made a comprehensive equipment list that you must carry and wear while on your motorcycle trip through Ladakh.

Note: This packing list is for travellers who are going with a tour operator, because the heavier camping equipment will be carried by the support vehicle. Also, motorbikers going with an operator will have a crew to arrange repairs and food, set up tents, etc. The packing list for solo/independent riders is a different ballgame altogether and is not covered here.

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Clothing/Protective Gear
The most important pieces of equipment that you will carry on your trip through Ladakh are the clothes and gear you will wear, as they are the only thing that will come between you and the ground should you fall. Never skimp on protective gear! Here is a list of the gear that you should always wear

Helmet
The most important accessory any biker can have is a good quality helmet. Your helmet protects your face and skull, and can save your life in case of an accident. Avoid the stylish helmets that leave your face uncovered, as these will not protect your jaw or your face. A full-face helmet will protect you from cold winds, strong sun, and insects. If you are bringing along your own helmet for the ride, make sure it is comfortable as you’ll be spending hours in it, and that it is either DOT or ECE certified.

Gloves
Another important accessory is a pair of gloves. Your gloves serve multiple functions on a ride, from protecting your fingers from the elements to providing comfort for long hours of riding. Remember that your first instinct when you go down is to use your hands to break your fall – a good pair of motorcycling gloves will protect your hands from serious injury.

Protective jacket
Just like the gloves, your jacket also serves multiple purposes. It will protect you from the sun and the cold, from rain and wind, and will protect you in case of an accident. Make sure your jacket is armoured, waterproof, and has a snug and comfortable fit

Boots
You really shouldn’t skimp on your boots. They’re the only thing between your feet and the rough terrain while motorbiking. Make sure your boots have good grip, are sturdy, and have strong ankle support. Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable in those boots.

The debate on steel toed boots rages on and every motorbiking forum has had a debate about the pros and cons. Some say that steel toe boots can cut off toes if enough weight/pressure is exerted during an accident; some say that with that much pressure, you would have lost your toes anyway. To stay on the safe side, make sure you choose boots with adequate protection, but skip the steel toe. Steel toed boots do tend to remain cold in low temperatures, so that’s another reason to avoid them.

Apparel
You will only be able to enjoy your trip if you are comfortable in all weather and all terrain, so make sure the clothes you wear while riding are comfortable too. Avoid wearing denims at all cost, and stick to comfortable clothing that is snug but doesn’t restrict your movement. Always carry an extra pair of clothes in your saddle bag too. Your first priority on a motorcycle trip should be comfort and safety, and both start with your choice of apparel.

Saddlebag/small backpack
Although you’ll have a backup vehicle which will carry all your luggage, do remember that it won’t always be around. A saddlebag can carry all the essentials you’ll need during the day: hand sanitizer, lip balm, sunscreen, sunglasses, spare clothes, an extra set of socks, sunglasses, cash, and a basic first aid kit. Saddlebags can be rented or you can purchase them online. Or you can just tie down your backpack with bungee cords for a makeshift saddlebag!

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Personal repair kit
Even though you have a back-up vehicle tailing you on the trip for support you, it may take time to reach you, or you might just be in a hurry. In that case, a personal tool kit comes in handy. You’ll be able to fix small issues on your bike and get back onto the road. Here are the things your personal repair kit must have:

Basic tools like screwdriver and spanners: These can be quite useful if you face minor annoyances with the bike, like a loose rear view mirror or a rattle from the number plate. These tools are small in size, easier to carry and can be packed in your saddlebag.

Clutch cables: While riding through dirt roads and rocky terrain, your clutch cable faces a lot of stress which can end up snapping the cable. Instead of waiting for the backup vehicle to come, you can just pull out your spare clutch cable and install it yourself. They’re relatively easy to install and will save your time.

WD-40: Any experienced biker knows the worth of this water-displacing spray. In snowy terrain or when you’re expecting to do some river-crossing, switches can get stuck due to moisture. In such cases, all you need to do is spray some WD-40 on the switch and wait for it to work its magic. Use this spray if your horn is stuck, your headlight won’t turn on, or your indicators don’t work.

Duct tape: There is an old saying that we love: If you can’t fix something with duct tape, then you’re not using enough duct tape. And this is true when it comes to motorbiking. Your bag is torn? Duct tape it. The battery box won’t close? Duct tape it. Something’s rattling? Duct tape it. There are countless ways in which duct tape can help you when you’re out motorbiking in Ladakh.

Zip ties and bungee cord: Just like duct tape, bungee cords and zip ties can also help you tie things in place. You can tie down your saddle bags, spare jacket, loose cables, spare helmet, etc.

If you’re renting a bike, do check with your operator about repairing it. Some operators have stricter policies and will not appreciate you trying to do anything to it. Also, if you’re not experienced with bike repairs, don’t attempt them for the first time on a bike trip like this.

First Aid kit
While riding off-road, there is always a risk of going down. Even if this doesn’t happen, you’re going to have minor scrapes, shoe bite, blisters, or bites. For all of this, you might not want to wait for your support vehicle to show up with the kit. Make sure the first aid kit is easily accessible, and that it has the following things:
– Bandaids of different shapes and sizes – all waterproof
– Dettol/Savlon and antiseptic cream like Soframycin
– Energy bars
– Personal medications
– Medicines for headache, diarrhoea, nausea, pain, etc.
– Antacid chewies or pills
– Altitude sickness pills
– Cotton wool and gauze
– Insect repellent
– Candy and chocolates

Miscellaneous items
Lastly, if you have any space left in your bag, then carry other things that you think are important. Carry a power bank and a solar charger if you have them. Make sure you always have cash and your ID on your person. Do make sure that you have important information like your blood type, any known allergies, and the name and number (multiple numbers if possible) of your emergency contact.

Lastly, always check the packing list that is provided by the operator, and carry anything that you think you’ll need while on the road trip.

HAPPY RIDING, AND REMEMBER TO KEEP THE SHINY SIDE UP AND THE RUBBER SIDE DOWN!

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We have a huge list of motorbiking trips in Ladakh, with all kinds of variations to suit different budgets and requirements. Do check them out here.

There are many spectacular adventures in Ladakh and the rest of Jammu and Kashmir. If you’re not comfortable with motorbiking, you can sign up for other getaways in Kashmir or adventures in Ladakh.

If you want to book Leh-Ladakh biking trips, talk to our travel advisors, ask questions, or find out about the packing list or inclusions, there are a lot of ways to get in touch. Check out The Great Next website, chat with us on Facebook, or send us a private message on Instagram

Related reading:
India’s top motorbiking routes
What are the best adventure sports in India?
Experience India slowly, on a cycle
Interview with Abhi Iyer, solo long-distance cyclist
The best adventures in Ladakh and rest of Jammu Kashmir