How To Pack For Your Ladakh Motorcycle Trip

The question of what to carry is much more important on a motorcycle trip than, on a car trip, because storage space is limited. Any unnecessary extras that are taken along make the trip more difficult, because they not only have to be hauled each day, but they also change the riding characteristics. In general, every single gram affects the riding pleasure on the road. For this reason, it is recommended to pack lightly, and above all, smartly!

So, once you have sorted all your tour essentials in place, you are probably wondering how to pack them on your two-wheeler. This is perhaps the most challenging part of any multi day tour, which is why, we are here with some insights.

This post is all about how to pack your stuff. In case you are looking for packing checklist, please refer to our section on how to prepare for a motorcycle trip to Ladakh.

First & Foremost: Downsize Your Luggage

Perhaps the most difficult task while packing is to let go some of the important stuff which you think might be needed on a trip. This is quite natural because you may want to pack everything that gives you a sense of security even if it means taking a bulk load of luggage.

This has to change, which is why multi day tours are really testing, as they hone your improvising as well as adapting skills.

But there are other reasons as well as to why we recommend minimalistic packing for Ladakh motorcycle trips.

The vast majority of the routes in and around the Ladakhi Himalayas will pass through Leh – The capital city. Thus, one can easily find any of the essentials they think might be needed for their tour.

So, unless you are not planning to ride in the remote regions for around a month, you do not have to pack really thoroughly for such trips.

But when it comes to motorcycle touring, everyone has their own preferences and very specific needs. This is why, we have some practical tips for smart packing.

  • The first and foremost rule is to relax. You will be out on an adventure and not some professional office meet that you should be worried about.
  • Don’t start packing your baggage right away. Lay everything out on the floor first and strategize a packing order.
  • Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner take up a lot of space individually and weigh quite a lot too. Consider buying 3-in-1 products that will save a lot on storage space.
  • Same goes for lotions, face creams, and moisturizers. They all do the same task, so consider buying one that does all the job.
  • Do you really need seven different set of clothes for seven different days? Pack a small bag of detergent (or use the 3-in-1 shampoo) and wash your clothes each time you have scheduled a rest day. But remember that you should do this in a hotel sink and not on the lakeshore.
  • To save space, you can pack your clothes by rolling them up. And your socks can be stuffed into the spare boots you are carrying along.
  • And when it comes to boots, never pack them in pairs, but rather in different places, which will save you a lot of space.
Luggage Distribution & Payload Limit for Ladakh motorcycle trip

Luggage Distribution & Payload Limit

Once you have sorted all the essentials, the second thing you should do is check the manual of your motorcycle. Specifically, the maximum weight allowed on the vehicle.

Although the usual payload is around 120 – 150 kilograms, but it all comes down to the manufacturer and the make of the motorcycle.

You can certainly do with some additional hundred grams, but be sure to avoid going beyond this limit to avoid any kind of damage to the machine, such as a broken suspension while riding. Moreover, the chassis will no longer function optimally if the motorcycle is loaded beyond its stipulated limit and can pose a serious risk of accident while touring in the Himalayas.

Above all, it’s wise to pack only important things – and to distribute them as evenly as possible on the motorcycle.

Some basic ground rules for packing should be followed regardless of whether you would be riding on a rented motorcycle or your own.

The heaviest items should be tucked in as low as possible (close to the motorcycle’s center of gravity). This means, all the tools, spare parts, and canned food should be stowed at the bottom of saddle or tank bag.

Sweaters, thermal wear, blankets, towels or other warm clothing should be rolled and packed at the topmost space available inside the bag, as they don’t really weigh much.

And while a top case is quite convenient, it can sometimes increase the motorcycle’s center of gravity and, depending on the model, might have a detrimental effect on handling, since it is mounted very far back on the motorcycle. So, keep this in mind while packing.

6 Efficient Ways To Pack Your Luggage

When it comes to storing your essentials on a motorcycle, the most important thing is to ensure that they remain secure all throughout the tour and cause as little disturbance as possible while riding.

But since not all luggage bags are suitable for every type of motorcycle, there are many different ways to go around it.

The following is an overview of the most common types of storage solutions that you can opt for depending on your motorcycle as well as your storage requirements.

Tank Bag: Motorcycle tank bags are simple storage solution that can be attached to the fuel tank (hence the name). And depending on the make of the motorcycle, these can be affixed either using a mounting plate, straps, or with the help of a strong magnet.

In addition, these tank bags have the least impact on the balance of the motorcycle – thus ideal for heavy luggage such as tools or for anything that you would like to keep in handy.

Motorcycle Panniers (Hard Case): Particularly suitable for long distance motorcycle tours, these panniers offer riders plenty of storage space. In addition, they are absolutely waterproof due to their construction (plastic or aluminum). And if you carry certain valuable items, such as a DSLR, these panniers are equipped with safety locks to secure your belongings.

And while this solution might cost a bit more than other options; their durability, storage capability, and performance make them worthwhile.

Saddlebags (Soft Case): These are a universal solution that fits almost all the motorcycles equipped with a pillion seat, including adventure or sport tourers. In addition, if you do not want any modifications and want to keep the characteristics of your motorcycle as they are, this is just the solution for you.

In other words, if you are looking for a cost-effective alternative for panniers, you can opt for saddlebags made of textile fabric or leather. They are inexpensive, lightweight and offer almost as much storage space as the panniers.

Top Case (Hard): Top cases are hard storage compartments that are mounted on the top of a rear seat. And just like the panniers, these top cases (also called hard cases or top box) are made of plastic or aluminum and can be coupled along with other storage options.

In addition, they share the same advantages as the panniers by being waterproof, lockable and durable. However, due to their placement, they can pose some handling problems if loaded to the maximum.

Top Case (Soft): Also known as tail bags or rear bags, these soft top cases are designed to go on all motorcycles equipped with a pillion seat. Much like the saddlebags, they share the same features as well as their characteristics.

An added advantage is that these top cases, made of textile materials, can also be used by someone who doesn’t feel like attaching a large tank bag or side panniers to the motorcycle. And if you want to make them waterproof, just wrap them up in a rain cover.

Roll Bag: Finally, we have roll bags, which, by the way, are the simplest and most minimalistic option for touring. As the name suggests, they have a cylindrical shape, making them easy to strap onto any motorcycle with a rear seat.

However, they have to be secured tightly using cords and straps to keep them in place and will require certain adjustments from time to time. That said, they are the lightest, cheapest and most practical type of luggage carriers. And, depending on their size (30-litre/50-litre/70-litre), a lot of touring essentials can be stowed away efficiently.

Do Not Overload!

A motorcycle is considered overloaded if it exceeds the manufacturer’s specified payload limit.

And although you may think that in reality such a thing would be rare, truth is, a pillion rider alone with a medium sized duffel bag can exceed this limit on some motorcycles.

But even if you are riding solo in Ladakh, you have to a check on the amount of luggage you want to carry along.

To ensure this, the first thing you should do is review your motorcycle’s payload capacity by either looking at the registration certificate or the owner’s manual.

As an example, let’s take Royal Enfield’s Himalayan 410. According to the owner’s manual, the curb weight (90% fuel and oil) is 182 kilograms and the maximum permissible payload limit is 183 kilograms including the rider.

So, before you start loading your motorcycle with all your tour essentials, it is important to deduct the total constant weight from this permissible limit. Or in other words, subtract your weight, plus the weight of the pillion (if any), after market accessories, additional fuel, and weight of the installed panniers or luggage racks. Once you have subtracted this weight from the permissible payload, you will have the absolute weight you can load on the motorcycle.

Do note, the maximum payload should not be exceeded under any circumstances. This is because an overloaded motorcycle usually wobbles or disbalances itself, which will pose a great danger not only to you, but also to other road users as well

In addition, an overloaded motorcycle has many serious disadvantages:

  • The braking distance increases, and it takes longer for the motorcycle to come to a stop.
  • There is a detrimental effect on the handling.
  • The pickup becomes more sluggish.
  • Increased weight places undue stress on the motorcycle’s engine.
  • And lastly, it causes the tires to overheat and wear out quickly.
Tips To Pack Your Luggage For Ladakh Trip

10 Smart Tips To Pack Your Luggage For Ladakh Trip

  1. Only light weight equipment needs to go at the rear of the motorcycle.
  2. Nothing goes over the handlebars.
  3. Pack all the heavy stuff like tools or anything that you would be using from time to time while riding inside the tank bag.
  4. In case your tank bag is not that big, you can store all the heavy items at the bottom of your panniers or saddle bag.
  5. Load the same amount of weight on both the sides of your motorcycle.
  6. In case you would be wearing a backpack, refrain from loading it with any hard objects so as to avoid any possible injuries during a fall.
  7. Secure everything tightly using bungee cords and straps. Keep a check on the tension whenever you take a break.
  8. Do not exceed the permissible weight limit of the motorcycle at any cost.
  9. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for payload and the corresponding maximum speed.
  10. And lastly, ensure maneuverability of the motorcycle is not hindered after the load.

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