Packing suggestion for multi-day self-supported cycling trip

After I came back from my recent self-supported Manali to Leh cycling trip many people wanted to know what I carried on the trip. So here is a list based on what we carried. There were two of us, and we figured that some of the items could easily be shared, so we did not carry two of every thing (I think there are some exceptions to this, but I guess that advice could be another post). The list has four main sections:

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1. Bike and bike related gear
2. Clothes
3. Camping & Cooking gear
4. Toiletries & Miscellaneous items

I also carried a comprehensive first-aid kit, but I am not going to list the items here because I tend to carry too much — perhaps because I am trained to be a wilderness first responder.

Bicycle Items:
On the bike
Water bottles2
Frame pump1
Mirror1
Cycle GPS1
Solar charger for GPS1
Seat bag1
Headlight w/batteries1
Tail light w/batteries1
Rear rack (Btwin)1
Rear panniers (Ortlieb)1
Bungee cords to hold extra stuff2
Front rack ( Old Man Mountain)1
Front panniers1
Camelback
Helmet1
Sunglasses – interchangeable glasses1
Cycle tools:
Cycle multi-tool
Swiss army knife
Pliers
Spoke key
Chain breaker
Lubricant
Cleaning cloth
Tool pouch
Cable ties
Puncture kit:
Patches20
Sand paper1
Glue1
Lever2
Tyre repair patch2
Cycle spare kit:
Break Shoes1
Tube2
Brake cable2
Gear cable2
Spokes5
Clothes:
Cycling Clothes
Cycling shorts2
Cycling jersey2
Base layer: polyester microfiber2
Cycling gloves – Short fingers1
Cycling gloves – Full finger1
Other clothes
Underwear4
Polo shirt2
Night clothes1
Footwear:
Cycling shoes1
Light Sandals1
Socks5
Cold Gear:
Down jacket1
Thermal socks1
Acrylic sweat shirt1
Warm gloves1
Long cycling pants2
Skull cap/under helmet/balaclava1
Trouser/shell Pant1
Thermal inners1
Rain Gear:
Cycling Rain jacket1
Shell pant1
Camping & cooking Gear:
Camping Gear:
Tent + bag1
Sleeping bag1
Waterproof stuff sack1
Foam pad1
Plastic garbage bags5
Toilet paper1
Net bag for laundry1
Clothes detergent1
Head lamp1
Cooking Gear:
MSR Stove + bottle1
Match box + lighter1
Pot + pan + common cover1
Plastic TV dinner plates2
Plastic knife/fork/spoon2
Rag/cleaning cloth1
Thin plastic glove for handling fuel1
Tea kit:
Tea bags50
Sugar cubes100
Milk powder
Plastic cup1
Food items:
Precooked Biryani/Pulao5
Oral Rehydration Solution10
Energy Bars20
Dryfruit mix: Almonds + Cashews + Raisins
Biscuits4
Chana2
Khankhara1
Maggi can be bought on the way
Other Items
Toilet kit:
Carrying pouch1
Tooth brush1
Toothpaste1
Liquid soap (small dispenser)11
Shampoo Pouch3
Hand sanitizer (small dispenser)1
Sun screen
(moved to items we should have carried)
1
Chap stick1
Insect repellent1
Miscellaneous:
Wallet/credit cards/driver’s license/Identity
Journal/notebook1
Pen1
Wristwatch1
Ziploc bags1
Camera + batteries1
Small towel1

Items we did not take and wish we had: (will take next time)
Duck tape
Rubber bands
Cable/lock
Chain Degreaser tool
Bicycle chain maintenance kit – old toothbrush, degreaser, large rag
Plastic clothes pins (6)
Dromedary Bag or extra water bottles
Rain cover for shoes OR Plastic bags for shoe covers
Sunscreen

Items that are likely to be on many lists but we did not take and did not miss:
Sewing kit
Shaving kit
Book to read
Sun hat
Poncho (required only if you do not have a good cycling Rain jacket)
Windbreaker (required in you do not have a good cycling rain jacket)
Sweat shirt

Items that were on our original list but we did not carry and did not need. :
Spare Tire

Items that broke down or malfunctioned:
Solar charger malfunctioned and I could not recharge my Garmin (has a very poor battery that performs even worse in the high-altitude cold environment)
Garmin GPS clip that attaches the GPS to the handle mount
Cateye headlight (On two occasions we rode in pitch darkness. Sorely missed a good light)
One rear spoke – probably because of all the weight on the rear panniers
Heart monitor – ran out of battery

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36 comments

  • srilakshmi October 12, 2010   Reply →

    very helpful. thanks for sharing!

  • Anuj Srivastava October 12, 2010   Reply →

    Great to see this list Ajay. This will surely help people who plan to do this kind of a trip. Trust we’ll do a long trip together soon. I really remember the good time that we had doing the Jalori pass together and look forward to riding on this or any other axis soon.

    • Ajay Jaiman October 13, 2010   Reply →

      Jalori pass was totally awesome… I am sure we will ride a big one together soon…

  • Sanjay Jaiman October 13, 2010   Reply →

    Addition to items we wished we had taken (or maybe just I missed these)
    Bicycle chain maintenance – old toothbrush, chain cleaning liquid (degreaser), a large rag (we ended up borrowing a rag & toothbrush to clean our chains)
    Clothes – A loose lightweight nylon pant – what to wear as a bottom was always a bit of a problem for me as I’d feel too hot in a stretch cycling pants and without something covering the legs, I got badly sunburnt. Maybe sunscreen may have sufficed.
    Sunscreen – Ajay said he carried it but we did not use it. Result – severe case of sunburn on the face / lips.
    Front Panniers – I did not have these and had trouble on steep inclines. It is best to distribute the load front & back.
    Plastic bags – Carry plenty of these – good for separating your clothes & gear.

    • Ajay Jaiman October 13, 2010   Reply →

      Excellent points. Will add Bicycle chain maintenance kit in items we should have carried. And will remove Sunscreen from the items we carried and add it to the list of things we should have.

  • Sonia Mukherjee October 21, 2010   Reply →

    All very interesting and informative for the day I will join you all, though I do like Ajay’s previous idea of a jeep following along with the gear (some need to walk before they run)…..:-)

    • Ajay Jaiman October 21, 2010   Reply →

      Look forward to it, will be fun. Sure, we can go supported too, though I am sure you will do fine… I wonder if you have heard of Anne Mustoe. A former headmistress, she cycled around the world more than once. Apparently even the first time around she just picked her bike and left — she never used to practices cycling when she is was not touring. Starting slow was her mantra. I like her attitude. In case you are interested she has written a couple of books (clicking on the link will take you to Amazon.com):

      Lone Traveller: One Woman, Two Wheels and the World
      A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World

  • Ravi Sagar December 8, 2010   Reply →

    Man I am totally jealous of you. Amazing list and must have been great trip. I wish I could do that too.

  • Jay Sagar August 27, 2011   Reply →

    Great list and thanks for putting it up for us. Bookmarked for future reference. This will help me a lot. Well I am about to finish my graduation and being the nature enthusiast as I have always been, I guess this is the best time in my life to start preparing for such a cycling trip. Obviously I plan to gain to some experience before I take up the challenge since I have never been to Leh or Manali before, so every bit of information helps.

  • Punit November 25, 2011   Reply →

    like the list thoroughly!
    i believe no. of sugar cubes can be less especially since you’re drinking chai on Dhabas for better part 🙂
    sunscreen is a must as i saw you both at the start/end of the trip
    taking a tent is good and i’m thinking of getting lightest shelter possible or ways to minimize the volume / weight

    thanks for sharing!

  • Jay Sagar December 19, 2011   Reply →

    How much weight were you carrying on your bike? The sheer list of items that you carried is mind boggling and makes me wonder how difficult it must have been to cycle uphill with all that weight on your bike. Did you use all the items you carried? Most people usually don’t end up using half the items they carry.

    • Ajay Jaiman December 21, 2011   Reply →

      We did not use the first aid kit, cycle spares, and most of the cycle tools. And yes, clothes detergent, too. Other than that I think we did end up using everything. But it is possible to eliminate a large part of the list if one decides to not camp or cook, by always staying in ‘dhabas’, or taking a support vehicle. I know people who have done both… but those are perhaps slightly different experiences.

      You are right, it is a lot of weight… if you include the weight of the panniers, racks and the stuff itself, I am sure it would have been over 30kgs. I suspect it is hard anyway, with the extra weight, it is perhaps marginally harder.

  • Sameer Jotshi April 26, 2012   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    I am planning the trip. Where do i get the bicycle Items in Delhi/NCR?
    Thanks

    • Ajay Jaiman April 27, 2012   Reply →

      Try Adventure18. That I think is your best bet in the NCR.
      All the best!

  • YVR Vijay May 19, 2012   Reply →

    Great trip I am sure. I attempted the Manali-Rohtang-Keylong trip in 2009 with my wife driving the support vehicle. You are right one does not need to be a great athlete but acclimatisation to high altitude is a must. I took a night halt at Palchan and Marhi as part of acclimatisation. This prevented me from any high altitude problems across Rohtang despite being 49 years old and also like you I have an artificial ACL reconstructed in my left knee. Your blog revived so many memories.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 12, 2013   Reply →

      Thanks, Vijay.
      Good to hear about your trip too.

  • MoJ April 6, 2013   Reply →

    Thanks so much for this comprehensive info and the inspiration !
    I’m planning to do this trip in a few months and about to buy a bike to get some mileage on.
    I was wondering if you or anyone else had any ideas about how a crossover / hybrid bike (I’m 6 ft 150 lbs & my size around 58 cm) with thicker-than-normal tyres would fare on this route as compared to a pure mountain bike.
    The reason being that apart from this trip I’ll mostly be riding on tarred roads and well maintained trails for which mountain bikes will be tedious and overkill.
    Thanks for your help!

    • Ajay Jaiman April 12, 2013   Reply →

      Thanks MoJ

      I think a hybrid with wider knobby tires should be fine. There is always a chance that something can go wrong — I have heard of high-end MTBs malfunctioning and I know at least two people who have done this route on a single-speed black Atlas type cycle. So you never know…

      Worst case scenario you may have to get off and walk some stretches. Especially those sections where the river flows across the road.

      One caveat, though. If you are going fully loaded just make sure that the bike can take that load. Not all hybrids are meant to…

  • Gaurav Banerjee May 22, 2013   Reply →

    I have become your fan…after this…All I can say you did what I cant even think in the wildest of my dream…Its truly a JAIMANANTHON task….

    • Ajay Jaiman August 25, 2013   Reply →

      🙂 Thanks. Gaurav.
      It was a pleasure meeting you too!

  • dhirendra sharma May 22, 2013   Reply →

    From where can we get good mountain cycles on rent from Manali or Delhi?

  • vipin August 24, 2013   Reply →

    I am gonna do this trip in 4 days and your blog has been extremely helpful in getting me prepared for the trip. Thanks a ton 🙂

    • Ajay Jaiman August 25, 2013   Reply →

      Vipin: Am glad… All the best for your trip.
      Post a link when you get back.

  • Varun September 13, 2013   Reply →

    Very helpful list Ajay, thanks for sharing.. I am planning to do this trip and have to buy a mountain bike as well.. can you tell me which one you had and any suggestions you have before I get one?

    • Ajay Jaiman September 20, 2013   Reply →

      Thanks Varun.
      I used a Trek 4300. Suggestions might depend on how much weight you plan on carrying. If you plan on mounting racks then do check that the bike you are buying has eyelets for racks. Some of the newer models have stopped provide eyelets. If you have shock absorber(s) keep in mind that you may need special racks. There are some workarounds, though…

  • Siddharth Subramanian November 6, 2014   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    It’s been a while since I last commented on one of your entries. I have been following this blog for almost a year now and would like to thank you for being an inspiration to me. I have now cycled over 4,500 KMs on the rockrider I bought six months ago. And even though my very first comment was about long distance cycling (200KMs+) it is only now that I’m drawing close to my first long distance ride. I will be leaving for Pushkar in a week’s time. Have been preparing myself and my bike for sometime now, but something happened yesterday which really got me thinking and worried. A broken spoke. To you maybe that’s a non issue, but I went on to youtube to understand how they fix them, and it just seemed to me that I would have to carry extra tools to do this on the ride. Yes the Delhi-Ajmer highway is pretty well connected, but that still doesn’t mean nothing could go wrong. I didn’t see you mention carrying a wrench of any sort, but did you?

    Thanks,
    Siddharth Subramanian (Seedart)

    • Ajay Jaiman November 27, 2014   Reply →

      Hi Siddharth

      This is perhaps too late to be useful for this trip, but anyhow. This might be useful for some otehr trip.

      When I travel in remote parts, Ladakh for instance, then I like to carry spare spokes and a spoke wrench. Both the things are easy to get at any decent cycle store. I like to tape the spare spokes on the down tube. That way they stay out of the way. The wrench is small and not too heavy, and stays with the tools.

      On main roads you will find mechanics who will have the wrench and the skill to fix it, but you may not always find the spoke of the right size. I once did see an emergency spoke made of synthetic material — thought it was just too expensive and complicated.

      Hope you had a great trip.
      Cheers!

  • Chetan Sangani April 5, 2017   Reply →

    I planning to solo ride at himalyas in this season, these informations are much help me.
    Thank you Ajaybhai for sharing this.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      Am glad you found it useful. All the best!

  • Gareth August 5, 2017   Reply →

    Doing Manali leh cycling startling 17th Sep. Will the weather be ok

  • Gareth August 5, 2017   Reply →

    Will 1.75 tyre be ok on my mtb

    • Ajay Jaiman August 7, 2017   Reply →

      I’d think so. But it may be a good idea to look online for exact measurements — rim width and the range of tire widths it can take. I remember seeing some data on the web. Please look it up.

      • Gareth August 8, 2017   Reply →

        I meant will 1.75 tyre be ok for the trip or should I go for regular mtb tyres.

        • Ajay Jaiman September 8, 2017   Reply →

          Oh! That should be ok, I think.

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