Carrying Laptop to Ladakh or High Altitudes

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Now, a days many of the electronic devices have become an integral part of our lifestyles. Since, the addiction of using them has grown so much that some of us can’t even let them apart even when we travel to the remote regions of Ladakh or some high altitude terrains. We tend to carry Laptops, IPods etc to such desolate places either to avoid any boredom or to copy pictures, songs, backup etc to empty memories of our phones, IPods, cameras etc. Generally, at most of the places these devices operate without much concern BUT if you are traveling to high altitude regions such as Ladakh with these electronic devices then you need to take the precautions mentioned below in order to keep them safe and running.

Guidelines for carrying a Laptop to Ladakh or High Altitudes

Carry Waterproof Bags / Pouches

The electronic devices are not waterproof so carry a good quality waterproof bag or pouch to keep these electronic devices. This will protect them from either rainfall or snowfall.

Do Not Switch ON at Altitude above 10-11K

Generally Laptops have a non – specialized Hard Disk Drive (HDD) in them which are not designed to work above 3000 Meters i.e. 10,000 feet generally or as mentioned in their manual/guidelines sticked on them. Hence, there are chances of HDD Failure at these high altitude regions Specially manufactured, sealed and pressurized disks are needed for reliable high-altitude operation, above 3,000 m (10,000 feet) as mentioned at WIKI here. So, it is best NOT TO switch ON these devices at high mountain passes like Khardung La, Taglang La or high altitude regions like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tangste, Batal, Hanle etc which are quite above 10,000 feet mark.

To understand better, these hard drives have a head which flies between the rotating disks/platters. When the air pressure is too low, then there is not enough lift for the flying head, so the head gets too close to the disk, and there is a risk of head crashes and data loss. The laptops with Solid State Drives (SSD) you will not face a drive crash though.

Keep them out in environment before switching ON

Before you switch ON the device, keep it out in the environment for sometime so that the device adapt to temperature difference which might be present. Sudden temperature difference may cause condensation which may result in blown out electronic circuits.

Common example being: You have your IPod deep into some warmly dressed pocket, suddenly you take it out into freezing cold temperature where snow is around and switch it ON. This may cause temperature difference which may result in blown out circuit. So, in such situation best bet is to place the device in outside environment for 5-10 minutes and then switch it ON, just to be on much safer side.

Always Shutdown or Switch off Laptops

Always shutdown or switch off the electronic device when you travel. If you keep them on stand by or hibernate etc modes, especially laptop then a sudden shock or jerk may jeopardize the whole circuit or HDDs in a faulty device or HDD. In shutdown conditions these devices can withstand shock to a much greater extent.

Protect them from Cold Conditions

In some cold conditions especially with temperature around or below freezing point, the battery exhaust pretty fast and getting a power source at camp site of some high altitude lake or region will surely be a challenge. So, if you really want to have longer battery life try to keep your batteries or devices in some warm clothes or padding.

Take care of your own belongings

In the end, generally, a sticker pasted everywhere but yes you should be responsible for taking care of your belongings from human theft or careless misplacement by yourself. Most likely in the remote places such as Ladakh or other high altitude terrains, you will find pretty honest people but there is no guarantee of this fact with modernization needs crippling the honest of the honest persons 😉

Conclusion

Though there is no harm in taking the laptops, IPods, IPads etc for music, movies, backup etc while you travel but I personally avoid taking them just and enjoy the nature and culture of the region more than enjoying myself alone. Since, now the flash memory is getting cheaper and cheaper you can definitely get one or two extra memory cards for your camera and remove the reasoning of carrying the laptop just for backup sake.

Having said that, it is a personal choice weather to carry these devices especially laptops or not with you. But, my concern was if you are taking any of these devices do take care of the precautions mentioned in the article above.

I would really appreciate and look forwards to your inputs or suggestions or comments on carrying the laptops and other electronic devices while you travel. Any other precaution you can think off? It will be great if you can share it with us too.

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47 Comments

  1. Satish Pallapathula on

    Hello Dheeraj,

    I have gone through your advises and blogs….Its very useful for first time travelers like me…
    Inspired by your blogs and the serenity of Leh- Ladakh we would like to plan our travel for this worlds most adventures road trip.

    We are 4~5 from Pune, I have my own Honda City I Dtech 2016 Model (diesel) we would like to start our tour in first week of May (or advised by you)
    Request you to kindly suggest us best route / itinerary and trip advises.

    We will be glad to follow all your recommendations starting from vehicle change, date change, plan change every thing, But we want a wonderful and lifetime memorable trip.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Satish

    • Hi Satish,

      I will suggest to make the trip in later in the season when roads stabilize and specially for vehicles like sedna and hatchback best time to make the trip is Spetember when there are less water crossings and settled road conditions. You may bruise the car badly in early season when even roads have slush and snow. Also, Manali – Leh Highway will not be open during that time of the year. If you are OK to take a high GC vehicle, I wills ay then it is fine but make a trip in June in that case so that you have both Manali – Leh and Srinagar – Leh open.

  2. Aditya Krishnan on

    Hi thanks to your travelogues i have planned a trip to spiti valley in the last week of oct this month, please tell me if a petrol sedan is good enough ( skoda rapid ), essentials to carry, advice or suggestion we are planning delhi- shimla , shimla- sangla, sanlga kalpa, kalpa-tabo, tabo-kaza and then back, also what all to carry if travelling in a car in case of punctures and other stuff, about the stay must visit places, please ping me on my email with the reply would really help out, also villages to stargaze on the trip

    • Aditya, I hope you are not planning to travel from Kaza to Manali as snowfall has already started by end of October it will be very very risky to travel on that road. So, assuming you will be coming back the same route from Kinnaur I will say you should go prepared with heavy woollens. Make sure you are driving slow on roads with crushes stones as it tends to puncture the tyres. Carry Slime for contingencies of punctures as with those roads they are bound to happen mostly. How many days do you have?

  3. Hi,
    I am traveling from Dharamasala to Leh. I wanted to book the Manali -leh tour bus. I signed up for an account on thier website but I do nt see the bus listed as an option . I wanted to travel from manali-Leh on the 13th @9:00 arriving on the 14th at 7:00pm as mentioned in the schedule. Is it too early to buy a ticket on that tour bus? Is that why it’s not listed?

  4. Hi. .
    Going for Shimla-Manali-Dalhousie. .
    and I must have to take my laptop with me as I am taking a GoPro with me and m sure that I will run out of memory. . (I googled for Altitude of Dalhousie and its 2400m above sea)
    So any suggestion??

  5. Hi Dheeraj ,

    can you suggest a place in delhi where we can rent an oxygen cylinder, we are driving by pajero, so can we put a cylinder and drive. will the police and army will not interfere in this?

  6. Hi ,
    i am planning to go to Leh via jammu srinagar and come via manali in alto 1000cc.with my wife and daughter (adult) 12-13 day trip from 4th July to 17th July 2015.
    my main worry is , is it possible in Alto. i have already given the car for getting the ground clearance increased. this is the first time i am planning this taking clues from DOW and google.

  7. Hi Dheeraj! I’m planning to travel to leh with my family i.e. wife & two kids aged 13& 11years. Should we carry disposable oxygen cans with us & pls advise if we need to carry some spefic medicines for high altitude

    • Chirag, it is best to consult a doctor for the medicines. Regarding carrying oxygen cans, they are not at all useful rather if you are going by your own vehicle consider renting an oxygen cyclinder or two small ones that last around 2-3 Hrs along with the kit. They can be returned as well.

  8. kunal Mehra on

    Hi dheeraj we are four people and will be driving an SELF DRIVE INNOVA from Delhi to Leh via Srinagar and are planned to leave on 10 jun from Delhi . Kindly advise if we have to take any permits for the vehicle in Leh to move around to Nubra valley , Panggong lake and we will drive back from Manali route spending 1 night night at Tso morar and Jispa do we need to take permit for Tso morar as well . PLEASE ADVISE

    • Kunal, you do not need any permits as long as you are following the conventional routes in Ladakh. Regarding self drive Innova, I hope it is either a private number or black number plate vehicle. If it has yellow number plate then taxi union in ladakh will not allow you to drive to Nubra and Pangong Tso.

      • Dear Dheeraj,

        Thanks you for the reply , we will be driving a self drive vehicle which has a black number plate with number written in yellow and it will start with DL 1 N . Kindly advise on the same as i have heard from one of my contact who was ther in Leh last year and followed the same route and has taken his own vehicle . Also kindly advise if the itinerary we are taking is good , what we have thought is as below ,
        day 1-Delhi – Patnitop- 1 Night
        day 2- Patnitop – Srinagar – 2 Night
        day 3- Srinagar to Kargil – 3rd Night or you advise to drive straight to Leh
        Day 4 – If we stay at Kargil then this night in Leh or Nubra Valley
        day 5- Nubra to Leh
        day 6- Leh
        day 7 – Leh – Pangong
        day 8 – Pangong to leh
        day 9 – leh to Tso Murari
        day 10- Tso Murari to Jaspa
        day 11 – Jaspa to Manali
        day 12 – Manali to Delhi

        Kindly advise if this is ok or you advise alternate .

        thanks ,

        Kunal

        • Kunal, the itinerary looks fine just do the following changes:

          Day 4 – Leh and acclimatization
          day 5- Leh to Nubra
          day 6- Nubra to Leh

  9. Dharani Bharat on

    Thanks so much … One thing I would like… How is walking all they to Leh from Srinagar.?

  10. Noble Johnson on

    Hello Dheeraj,

    I am a lonely traveler from Kerala. Your guide is really helpful. Thanks,

  11. Pingback: List of things to carry when you go on trip - DeViL on WheeLs...

  12. I am a senior citizen,we will be going to Leh on 6th June ,can you please help me to plan out the trip,we will be staying there for ten days.God Bless you. Sukla.

  13. mousumi das on

    hi dheeraj,
    is it safe to carry use smart phone like note2. waiting for your useful information.

  14. Anuj Agrawal on

    Thanks Dheeraj ji, I was planning to take my laptop for srinagar-leh laddakh-manali tour, but now after ur valuable information, i’ve planned to purchase two or three extra memory cards for my rour. Thanks again.

    • Hey Anuj,

      Good to know that it proved useful for you. However, it is safe to carry your laptop provided you follow the above tips mentioned there. It is mainly the very high altitude that cause problems and if you follow the tips / precautions mentioned above, it should be OK. However, best is to carry more memory cards because indirectly it means less liability to carry on the adventure trip.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  15. How about Macbooks Dheeraj? I hear they use Flash memories as opposed to HDD… It would be better if you add this SSD/HDD/Macbook info in the blog itself rather than comments. Would be even more helpful 🙂

    • Thanks Lakshmi. Macbooks also have HDDs and depends upon models. Now a days almost all vendors are providing an option of Solid State Drives but configs differ. Also, SSDs point is already there as the last line of second tip “The laptops with Solid State Drives (SSD) you will not face a drive crash though”

      • Thanks Dheeraj! I recently had a HDD crash (external) and lost almost all the photos which was in it. I didnt backup my stuff too. 🙁 Now I am desperately searching for better backup mechanisms. DVDs/memory cards/external hdd/online storage.. Any suggestions here?

        • Hi Lakshmi,

          Aah, a bit tricky I will say for a novice like me :)… Still I will say, HDD external do tend to crash with high probability when you plug them out in running mode. Some care is definitely required and since it is portable the shocks may also come into picture though not much when not in running mode. Now, if you compare the price of SSD over HDD, SSD is fair margin ahead in terms of per GB space. Though SSDs are fast and reliable but also depends how much capacity you burn over them. Usually it is said that a SSD with about 60% filled space lasts longer than an HDD but then you have a price in question. My favorite for a backup is desktop HDD with USB casing. I do a backup into them and then keep them safe (stationary), this is the original backup I keep (for pictures and mails and blog/website content). Then I also keep one duplicate copy onto DVDs (blue ray discs better choice since they allow more capacity too) and for all important documents I add an additional backup of trusted dropbox free space and google drive space based categorization and importance. I am not much mobile, so do not carry external HDDs though have one of 120 GB. Categorization is very important as per me and then choosing the relvant source.

          I hope this helps and it is purely out of my experience but no expertise into it 😀

          Regards
          Dheeraj

        • Thanks Dheeraj! So many backups.. Good info too.. 🙂 I will definitely use one or two methods..

  16. Hey… I didn't know this HDD failure risk… I was having my lappy with me at Manali-Shimla… but that's not that height thought… Will consider this… Good info 🙂

    • hey Kedar, Yes, it is something that is easily missed by many of us and Manali – Shimla are OK with the altitude side as they are below that 10000 Feet safe limit. But, going beyond that height especially the high mountain passes or high altitude lakes like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Chandratal etc one should always avoid using such electronic devices 🙂

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