Carrying your kit while riding on the jeep trips.

Seeing as there’s the indulgent joys of Phunchok and his Tata Sumo jeep on the tours this year, there’s no need to worry about cramming everything into panniers, trailers and the like.

However, we still need to carry a fair bit more than the normal trail goodies. Apart from the usual suspects (multitool, tube, mini pump, little spares like chainlinks etc…), extra layers are important too, depending on how cold you get, or how sensitive to rain/snow/wind you are. We’re talking a decent waterproof at the minimum, plus a light fleece and perhaps some waterproof overtrousers to act as a wind stop on big descents, or even covering your legs when exploring conservative monasteries. And a warm pair of gloves in case it gets really chilly. It’s that old adage: if you don’t have it, you’ll need it. Factor in shades, suncream, Buff, snacks/lunch and a camera – and it’s all starting to add up. Although we have a jeep, we won’t necessarily be seeing it much doing of it during the day (if at all) so we still need to be self sufficient while we’re riding.

A lot of people aren’t too keen on lugging big loads on their backs, especially over prolonged rides rather than just a couple of hours in the saddle. For a start, using waterbottles rather a water bladder will drop a good kilo and a half – and they’re easier to keep clean and purify (ones with lid caps are good, as they keep grime and bugs out). In the case of Spiti, which can be a bit more techy in places, you’ll want to carry the bulk of the kit in a decent sized rucksack (15-20l ish, or no smaller than a Camelbak Hawg), though a seat pack under the saddle can help spread out some of the heavier items like tools.

Manali-Leh is more of a mixed bag in terms of riding conditions. You could go for the same rucksack/waterbottle approach or spread things out all the more with a bar bag, and even a saddle bag. What method you go for depends on how much you enjoy riding the shortcut offroady bits, as bar bags slow down steering and the contents clatter about. You might need to drop your saddle, or at least be able to scoot around it a bit, which is tricky with a saddlebag.

Sach Pass involves better surfaces, for the most part, and sticks to jeep tracks or back roads. Again, a bar bag and/or a saddle bag would be a good option, and free up the need to have anything on your back. A rack and small pannier setup is probably too much room and needless extra weight, but it’s a possibility too.

We’ve been ‘light touring’ recently and really been getting into the saddlebag scene. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, they’re a great low tech invention that’s rather fallen out of fashion. The central placement of the load under the saddle doesn’t effect the handling too much, and your stuff is easy to get access too. Plus, (we think) they look very cool once worn and battered like the old timers you see on unfeasibly long audax rides. Carradice pretty much have the saddlebag market cornered. The material they use is Cotton Duck, which is easily repaired and almost fully waterproof – though we’d still recommend lining them with a plastic bag or rucksack liner. The diminuative Barley bag is a good size, and suited to smaller frames too. For serious stowage, you can’t beat one of the classic Longflaps.

Probably the best way to mount a saddlebag is with the Carradice’s robust SQR system, which stops it rubbing against your legs and allows it to be easily popped of when you’re away from your bike. Note that the ones pictured below use the more elegant, road orientated Bagman system, which is too flimsy for these parts of the world. They’re from our recent tour around the Shetland Islands, hence skinny tyres and drop bars.


Ortlieb bar bags aren’t cheap, but they’re very well made and completely waterproof. You can get padded inserts too.


The Barley bag is a good size; ours is still going strong after several tours.


The classic Camper Longflap is probably more than you need – the Pendle or Nelson would be a better choice.

If you have any ideas or questions, please drop us a post.


9 Responses to “Carrying your kit while riding on the jeep trips.”

  1. 1 Andrew Clark July 9, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Camera & lenses will be in an Ortlieb bar bag. A couple of big water bottles and an Aquapure filter bottle for drinks. A 24l Carradice at the rear strapped to the springs of my bouncy Brooks! Do we need to be able to remove bags? Is pilfering likely to be a problem 😦

    Not sure if I’ll be taking the light but sweaty Gore Tex or the Paramo, much more comfortable but a bit warm & bulky.

    Buffalo Mittens are pretty good in cold conditions, not waterproof but warm & windproof. Quick drying as well.

    One piece of kit I like when touring is a motorcyclists cargo net, it streches over most types of luggage and is great for just stuffing things under. Also good for drying stuff on the move!

  2. 2 otbiking July 9, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Best to be able to remove bags easily, as people can be ‘curious’. We’ve had kids sticking their fingers into seatbags in the past…

    I’ve given up trying to find mitts or gloves that really keep your hands dry in proper rain. So the next best thing is to keep them warm if they get wet – think the Buffalos could be a good idea.

    I’ve also got a Paramo which I really like, but will probably go for the shell and fleece, as it’s a bit more versatile.

    The Aquapure is good, but it can take some time to squeeze through the water, or be a bit of an effort to suck – so some iodine or chlorine tabs are a good idea too.

    Have you seen these?

  3. 3 Andrew Clark July 9, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I’ll take a look at the SQR then, at least with that I won’t need the rack to keep the bag off the rear wheel.

    I have bad memories of a wet, windy day in Iceland when some “waterproof” gloves let me down. Cold feet as well, Sealskinz need an insulating layer underneath although the merino lined ones are a lot nicer. Shame I ruined mine in the wash!

    The Paramo Velez I have is very versatile, I’ve worn it next to the skin on warm, wet days and it’s comforable enough to wear as a sweater. I may also bring this it’s nice and cosy for evenings. Their fleece trousers are lovely for sitting around in as well.

    My cargo net is a bit smaller! Good for a carrier bag of shopping though and an ideal place for a helmet when you don’t want to wear it.

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