Random Thoughts by Fabien Penso

Packing for a 6 months trip

I traveled as a backpacker months per year the recent years, and ended up removing most of the stuff from my bag. I’m about to go to India for the 4th time in July, to ride an Enfield all the way from Delhi to Ladakh. I already went to Ladakh last year but want to do more areas, and at a slower pace. This trip might not be 6 months long, it depends of my feeling while on the road. I might come back after 3 months if I want to.

Everything in my bag found its use in previous trips, you might be interested about what goes in. I mention a lot of brands because I love them, none paid me to write this blog post and links are not affiliated. If you have any brands I should look for, please let me know.

You can view an annotated photo on flickr, and my photography from my previous trips.


  1. 1 single pants. I love raw Denim, it’s reliable, and useful if I have any accident on my motorcycle. I use Edwin1. A good pair of denim will last years, and look better with years going.
  2. 3 T-shirts, coton based.
  3. 3 pairs of socks, I use Monnet. Merino wool based, they’re Made in France so you won’t find them in many places. I buy a new pair every years or so.
  4. Wool scarf, when it’s cold.
  5. Coton scarf, when it’s hot.
  6. Walking shoes, I use Asolo. Previous pair lasted 8 years.
  7. 3 underwear.
  8. Leather gloves, always useful for biking. They also prevent sun-burn while riding.
  9. 1 shirt, with long sleeves. I prefer long sleeve to keep away from sun-burn and mosquitos.
  10. Wide-brimmed hat, I look stupid but it protects my neck from the Sun.
  11. Arcteryx goretex jacket, super expensive but the best I ever had. The previous one last over 6 or 8 years, and they gave me a new one for free as it was damaged. Happy I bought it when they did.
  12. Arcteryx gore tex pants. I’m going to bike during Mansoon season, didn’t take one last time and got some really wet days.
  13. Fleece, I use North Face but any would do.
  14. Merino baselayers (tshirt and pants), for keeping warm. I use SmartWool.
  15. 1 ultra fast dry towel. Light, and dry fast.
  16. 1 short pants.
  17. Wool hat

This list includes what I wear on me while traveling, so the pants doesn’t have to go in the bag, neither a t-shirt, a pair of socks and so on.


  1. Karrimor for the main bag. I used an older version of the Jaguar that the one I see on their website, it lasted 8 years and then I got a Sabre. It says 3.9kg online while mine is 3kg only. Karrimor is a great brand, I suggest looking at a retailer next to you.
  2. I use a Sea To Summit daily bagpack. It weights 68g while most day packs like Jansport weight 600. The Sea to Summit one is usually dead after a single few months trip but it only costs 30 euros.
  3. I use little clothes bags for storage, and Ziplock bags for keeping everything dry.


  1. Passport + VISA. I make copy I send myself over e-mail, including the VISA.
  2. Driver license + International driver license.
  3. Vaccin document.
  4. At least 6 photos for any documents I’d need. In Ladakh you must request permits for some locations, and you put glue a photo of you on them.
  5. A single road map.
  6. Everything is sealed in a plastic bag.

I make plastified duplicates of my passeport and VISA and never give the original to anyone, hotel owners, etc. I keep it safe, in my bag, and hand the duplicate when being asked for ID. Make the copy after arrival so it includes the entry stamp and entry date.


  1. Mirage sleeping bag, from Valandré. Expensive French brand but can’t be higher quality.
  2. Silk sleeping bag liner, improve the life time of your sleeping bag and I use it in shady hotels when using their blankets.


  1. iPad mini, to reply e-mails. I used to carry Kindle to read books but I stopped after breaking 2, both within weeks during 2 trips.
  2. iPhone 52.
  3. Nexus 43.
  4. USB cables for all devices. One extra cable (broke a few).
  5. A single USB charger plug, but including multiple USB connectors to charge multiple devices at once.
  6. Headphones, to listen to Music, or use Skype.

You might consider this a lot of electronics, but as a reminder I am a geek, and a Software Developer. It took me years to get rid of my laptop, and it’s even more difficult when traveling for a few months, as no coding is possible without one.


  1. A niddle. Cheap, light, and can save your life
  2. Teethbrush / Toothpaste
  3. Nifuroxazide, your Stomach will thank you
  4. Sun cream, 50+.


The reason of my travels is shooting photos. I carry a medium format set with lots of films, this is heavy and you probably won’t carry theses yourself. This kit changes depending of my mood, sometimes the day before I leave.

  1. Mamiya7 with 80mm lens
  2. 40 220 films (Portra 160)
  3. Rolleiflex FW with 50mm lens
  4. 20 120 films (Portra 160)
  5. Extra batteries for both cameras


  1. 2 expensive small locks. I use them anywhere I can when renting rooms. Why expensive? So they don’t break too easily (I broke 2!).
  2. 1 All Weather Aluminum Blanket, very light and can save your life.
  3. Petzl headlamp, don’t leave without it.
  4. 2 pairs of earplugs, for the flight (they don’t give any in Economy), and for sleeping in India.
  5. Lighter.
  6. A GoPro camera, with 2 or 3 64G SD cards. I don’t bother about backups. If I do bother about backup I carry a simple USB drive and ask locals to move files from the SD for me.
  7. Sunglasses, and I know my prescriptions if I need to make new ones.

What I’ll buy in India

  1. Mosquitos repellent. India carries the ODOMOS brand, very effective cheap local brand….
  2. Flip flops, I’ll pay 100 rupees for them ($2).
  3. This, you get those for 15 rupees and it allows you to get electricity from a light bulb plug. Sometimes rooms don’t have any power plug in India, and you’re happy to have one.

What I don’t pack

  1. Lonely Planet or book guides. Useless, list popular expensive hotels, and never needed one. The one for India weights more than 900grs ! These days I use a local SIM on my iPhone with the popular. TripAdvisor. Telling any Indian hotel you know TripAdvisor and will give them good rate if you’re happy improve your chance of actually being happy.
  2. Laptop. They’re too heavy, heavier with the power adapter. I can do it all from my iPad mini or iPhone. I don’t use digital cameras so I’m good, I don’t need to dump files anywhere. If I had I’d use an Hyperdrive instead.
  3. GPS for tracking where I went, I take a single photo with the iPhone and it includes the geolocation. I view it within iPhoto.
  4. Mosquito net. I used to carry one, but places with Dengue or Malaria tend to have some. I try to fight those wearing long sleeves only. If I really spend a long time in a Malaria area, I do carry one for sure.

Before I go

  1. Make sure I have insurance, I pay with VISA card so I get one.
  2. Cancel my phone and all internet services I’m not using.
  3. E-mail the passport and VISA copies to myself.
  4. Warn my bank about me on the move so they don’t block my card.

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Thanks for reading.

  1. Look for Tellason if you’re in the US, Momotaro if in Japan. Let me know what brands you wear. 

  2. iPhone 5 are great digital cameras, and it includes panoramic shots 

  3. I use the Nexus as a MIFI to share my SIM connection even the carrier doesn’t want to