Over the last six years traveling and Iiving in India, I have written a lot about what women should pack and wear here and given many outfit examples. Men ask me “what should we pack, though?!”, and I always think it’s so easy for you guys – that I put off writing a post about it. BUT I decided that it’s really not that easy for guys who also need to think about the culture, heat, and limited space when they pack so here we go, a men’s packing list for India!
If you’ve wound up here but are a girl, here are some posts that you’ll want to read: ultimate backpacking for India packing list, what to wear in India (outfit ideas), and the do’s and don’ts of how to dress in India
Men’s India Packing List
Packing for India for men doesn’t have to be much different than the way you would pack for SE Asia, Central America, or even a trip around the USA! You don’t have to think *too* much about it because while women have to follow strict rules on what is “okay” here in India like covered their shoulder, knees, cleavage, and more, men don’t have these rules.
Men can wear sleeveless shirts (tank tops) with shorts (not those trendy super short ones, just normal length ones) and be fine for everyday wear.
As you can see, Ben is wearing boardies and a tee shirt in Hampi, which is what he wears literally every day – he probably didn’t even pack anything else for this trip!
Ben in a tee shirt and linen shorts, easy peasy!
When my dad visited he wore a tee shirt, shorts, and some leather sandals, I don’t think he ended up needing his jeans at all but he didn’t go up north
Backpack or Luggage
The majority of men travelers will choose a backpack. This is what I suggest for you. I would bring a 45L. For women who are packing a lot and shopping more, I tell them to bring a 65L. For men, a 45L would suffice even for a long trip and you can bring it carry-on on the domestic flights if you choose to fly. I recommend shopping at REI for backpacks because they are very affordable, durable, and have a great exchange and return policy.
Men’s 45 REI backpack – click there to see it on the REI site.
Men’s India Packing List Part 1: Clothing
When thinking about clothing to pack, you need to first consider what areas of India you are going to and what time of year. Peak travel season in India is October to March. If you are going to be in South India at that time it’ll be hot. If you are going to be in North India (Delhi even) you will need a coat as it’ll be cold. If you are going to the mountains, you’ll want real winter clothing. If you are coming to India in the off-season, that is the rainy time and you’ll want to consider clothing that is easily drying and even a raincoat or backpack protector.
I had Ben help me with this list and he just wears random jeans and tee shirts, so I’m not going to link to specific brands for clothing. You know what you like!
- Jeans – for men, I say to bring them as you’ll want them for any nice dinner, bars, or nightclubs in India. Although it’s hot in the South, it does it cool in the North.
- 7 tee shirts – enough for the week and then you can do laundry. Pack tee shirts you actually like not “traveler” ones, you’ll want to feel like yourself not a tourist
- 2 tank tops – if you wear tanks tops (I don’t know if boys really like these) then you can bring a couple for the warm beach town
- Comfy pants for yoga or hiking – are you going to try yoga or do active things? Bring one pair of your favorite activewear pants or you can buy “ali baba” pants in India but then you’ll really stand out as a tourist. I don’t recommend it!
- 1 button-up shirt – if you have ideas of going out to nicer places like restaurants, 5-star hotels, or bars, then you’ll want one nice shirt you can wear with jeans. I prefer linen button-ups because they look nicer and breathe well.
- Warm sweater or sweatshirt – Bring your favorite cozy cover-up for A/C buses and trains that are too cold, airports, or for when you are in the North in the winter.Prana makes great stuff for men.
- Coat – if you are going to the mountains in winter bring a coat, if you are going to India in the summer, bring a raincoat
- 7 pairs of undies/boxers
- 1 pair of sandals that can get wet (Teva, Chaco, and KeenKeen are great brands) or just bring flip flops if you know you are not going to be doing anything adventurous
- 1 pair of boots if you are going trekking (only bring if you are going trekking!) Keen does great boots.
- 1 pair of tennis shoes if you are very active and will be exercising or are the type to wear tennis shoes instead of sandals in your daily life. If you are bringing boots/tennies, then bring socks.
- 1 swim trunk
- 1 hat & sunglasses
- If you’re going to the mountains for hard-core trekking or the jungle for safaris then bring an extra pair of adventure pants like the quick-dry style, and a long-sleeve shirt you can layer. If you are going to be in cold areas, then you might want gloves, a wool hat, and wool socks, but remember you can buy all this stuff in India if you are doing a long trip. You might want to bring a light down jacket.
Men’s India Packing List Part 2: Other stuff
- 1 light microfiber towel – some hostels and guesthouses won’t have one and you can take it to the beach
- Some type of light sarong, scarf, or a jacket that you can throw over your head if you need to cover your head for a temple. Don’t have one? That’s normal, just buy one for 100 Rs. in India
- Toiletries – just the basic stuff you always use. You can get anything you need in India so don’t stress. I would just bring carry-on sizes and restock as you go. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
- Baby wipes and toilet paper for the restrooms – you can stock up as you go.
- Head-lamp – I used mine all the time
- Sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner – I love my REI travel sack sleeping bag and my cocoon mummy liner and used them on all train rides as well as sleeper buses, if you are backpacking you will need at least a liner but a sleeping bag, too, if you’ll be in the North. It’s also great for use when in a cheap guesthouse that only gives you a sheet.
- Master lock chain – lock your bag up on trains and buses so you can sleep
- Thermarest travel pillow – is small and fits in the side pocket of your bag but expands into a big enough pillow to properly sleep on. It’s often more comfortable than the pillows offered in guesthouses.
- Medical kit – a tiny little supply of things just in case, you can read here what I suggest taking
- Journey alarm clock – solar powered and perfect for waking up on trains and buses before your stop in case your phone has died.
- World power adapter– you’ll need this but if you are brining more than just a phone, you might want a small surge protector strip as well.
- Portable charger – so your phone doesn’t die!
- A daypack – since you’re a dude that probably isn’t carrying a purse, I would bring a very lightweight backpack. It’s great for when you are going to be out all day and will have your camera, jacket, maybe buy a couple of things, or to throw in sunglasses or a hat. You’ll also want this if you are going on an overnight trek or camel safari so you can leave your main bag behind. You can later use this as a carry-on and check your main backpack if you do some shopping in India.
- Filter water bottle – here’s a post about the pro’s and con’s so you can decide.
common denominator from playing around in Goa to the vet in Mumbai to a roadside chai stop on the Maharastra coast: board shorts and a tee shirt, maybe now you can see why I thought boys didn’t need to think about what to wear in India!
I mean this is what I’m working with, lol, this is Ben at the airport off to a very important business meeting, barefoot!
Before You Go to India
Budget Tip for Getting Here + Around With My India Guide Ebook
Of course, I have to say pack my book (even though it’s on your phone or Kindle). I do think that my India guide will make sure you have the most stress-free trip while seeing all the top attractions here (no FOMO!). You can read more about my book on India here. I have been here over 6 years now and put all the tips I have in this book along with itineraries (with custom maps) and made it a real path you can follow.
Before You Come, You NEED These 2 Things
- Journey Insurance. I use World Nomads which is what Lonely Planet recommends and you can read here what is and isn’t included in their plans.
- A VISA. Click here to see what you need and how to get it.
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