Preparation: Himalaya Trekking Gear

A quick what to bring and why in case you find it helpful. It’s not all-inclusive, just some commentary on the items I was glad to have while on the trail or wished I had. Beware I'm writing from a woman's perspective.

What to Bring

Why

Day Pack

This assumes you'll be hiring porters to carry the bulk of your gear. Since you'll be living out of this for weeks, make sure it is up to date. At minimum you'll want one with waist and shoulder support that can hold a water bladder. Airflow across the back is nice too, since it can get warm and wet at the lower elevations. Osprey makes some enviable packs these days.

Dry Sack

To keep the contents of your day pack (TP, down jacket, camera) dry in wet weather.

Water Bladder

Even if you prefer to drink out of bottles on the trail, a bladder with a straw makes it really easy to drink while half asleep and helps you stay hydrated at night.

Smart Phone

Believe it or not, WiFi access is available sporadically up the trail. You may not want to keep up with work email, but it is fun to download the latest summit news from Everest. Save your travel documents (flights, insurance, and itinerary) onto it and install a free Nepali translator app before you leave.

Install a Kindle app and load it with reference books. (I prefer real books for recreational reading, because they don't need to be charged and they're easier to share. "Packing" my reference books on the phone saves weight and saves me having to bring a second gadget.)

I brought a plug adapter for my charger and was pleased to find I didn't need to use it. In the rare event I encountered an outlet, it was universal (see photo below). You do need to be aware of voltage if whatever you're trying to plug in does not have a converter.

Solar Charger

For your phone or camera. This one falls under the "wish I had" category. WiFi is more common than opportunities to charge your phone, and these times you'd probably rather be using it than waiting for it to charge. Phone charging opportunities also cost by the hour and become more expensive the higher you go.

Flip-flops/Jandals

When you first arrive you may cringe at the thought of flipping mud, poop, and spit up your calf while cruising the streets of Kathmandu (by the end you won’t care), these are also quite handy to have in the community showers common in tea houses.

Sleeping Bag

Yes, it gets colder at night the higher up you go. A full four season bag may not be necessary depending on what time of year you travel and your tolerance for cold. Keep in mind many of the tea houses provide heavy blankets.

Down Jacket

See sleeping bag above. Expedition weight may be overkill depending on the season and the weather. Extreme cold weather gear can also be inexpensively rented/hired so no need to buy one just for this trip even if you think you’ll use it. Sans a blizzard, your regular winter downy, assuming it has room for layers underneath, should suffice.

Hiking Boots

This one should be obvious. Break them in beforehand. Make sure they have thick soles and sturdy ankle support since you’ll spend most of your time trekking up, down, up, across, and up rocks. Waterproof them if you’ll be there while there’s snow on the trail.

Trail Runners

For hanging out in the city or the tea houses.

Rain Jackets

I brought two of these and used both. Both soft shell, both un-padded. One from Salomon without a hood that was extra breathable to use in light drizzle. It also doubled as a windbreaker. The other from Mountain Hardware with a hood to use in monsoon rain. If you've never been in a monsoon, put on your jacket and step into the shower on full blast. See how dry it keeps you.

Fleece Jackets

I brought two of these and wore them the most often. One was an Icebreaker I lived in on the trail, it was warm when it needed to be and cool when it needed to be and also offered excellent wind protection. The other was a fluffy synthetic from Mountain Hardware I saved for clean, cozy tea house evenings when a shower was available.

Shirts

Make your shirts Icebreaker and you can’t go wrong. Lightweight, quick-dry, and better smelling than synthetic. Some long sleeved, some short-sleeved. Sleeveless is best left at home, see explanation under shorts. It can be expensive, watch for deals on Sierra Trading Post.

Gaiters

You’ll find these most handy for keeping the yak crap off your socks and pants. This tranlates into being able to wear them longer before they need to be placed in your biohazard (i.e., laundry) bag.

Pants

I’m in love with the Merrell Aurora soft-shell pants. They’re waterproof, windproof, lightweight, breathable in warm weather and warm in cool weather plus they’re reasonably stylish. I brought two pairs, one for the trail, and one for hanging around tea houses at night. Without these you’d need rain pants, multiple hiking pants, and chill-around-the-tea-house pants.

Thermals

One pair light weight, to wear underneath your regular pants while hiking in the cold. One pair heavy weight, for sleeping at high elevations or sitting outside watching stars. I used Icebreaker for the lightweight and inexpensive Wickers polyester for the heavy.

Shorts

It’s not always easy to find quick-dry shorts for women, until you realize board shorts will suit your purpose. I had some success shopping at Athleta. How many pairs depends on how you feel about showing skin in a country where it isn't necessarily culturally appropriate (for a woman). However, it can get really hot in the lower elevations so I was glad to have the option to wear them.

Socks

Good quality wool hiking socks. Medium to expedition weight. Err on the side of over-packing, as opportunities to do laundry may be few. Also bring lightweight socks for wearing with the trail runners. Something slipper-ish to keep your feet warm in tea houses at night would not go unused. You can find funky knit slipper socks locally in Nepal.

Underwear

Get as many pairs of Icebreaker as your budget allows, but bring regular underwear too if you must. As with socks, err on the side of over-packing. Icebreakers tend to stay fresh longer, and when you hand wash them, they dry quicker.

Travel Towel

While the smaller microfiber towels may claim to absorb just as much as a regular towel, keep in mind they still have to cover you. Community showers. ‘Nuff said. Don’t bring a regular towel though; lightweight and quick-dry are still a good thing.

Warm Hat

When deciding which hat to bring, keep in mind that if your head is already pounding from the altitude, make sure you don’t add to the stress with cold ears. The wind off the Khumbu glacier gets chilly.

Buff

Buffs are one of the most popular gear items; even the porters use them. It can become a warm hat, scarf, dust mask, do rag, headband, ear muff, etc. Bring your own or shop for some eccentric styles in Kathmandu.

Sun Protection

Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (check the expiration date!)

Gloves

A lightweight pair, you’ll use these most. Plus ski gloves or equivalent just in case of extra cold weather.

Toiletries

Pack your toothbrush and toothpaste in your day pack in case you get separated from your porter bag for a night. Bring a mirror and tweezers. I put soap in a mesh bag that doubled as a washcloth and worked out well for speed showers. Bring pantyliners to help keep your underwear fresh. There’s no such thing as extra toilet paper, you can almost use it as currency. You will use hand sanitizer all day every day. Wet wipes are good for the no-shower days, so is a facecloth. Travel packs of tissue also come in handy when your nose runs from dust or cold. Lip balm! I wished mine had a tint; the sun, wind, and altitude will tend to remove all color variation from your face. Even in the mountains I still like being (and looking like) a girl.

 

Water Bottles

3 litres worth. At least. No, really. See bladder above, I'm also a fan of Klean Kanteen.

First Aid

See previous post on staying healthy. Plus the usual stuff like band aids and blister treatment. If you’re not in to the hippie methods, the themes are pain killers, antibiotics, sleeping pills, hydration salts, and stuff to prevent altitude sickness.

Hiking Poles

Useful for steep, rocky trails, especially when they’re wet and the yak crap is slick.

Alarm clock

Useful to have a little one in the event your phone battery dies. The sunrise on Kala Patthar doesn’t wait.

Camera

I prefer cameras that use AA batteries so you can bring extra rather than worrying about charging it in the boonies. Lithium batteries aren't as heavy as regular. Bring extra memory cards if you're prolific. On this trek I used a Canon Powershot SX10IS.

Duct tape

Wrap a little bit of this around something (pencil, water bottle) and pack it with you. I did use it… twice.

Binoculars

Useful for spotting climbers on Everest.

Multi-Tools

I always carry a Leatherman Micra and use the knife and scissors for something every trip. Little thermometers, LED lights, and compasses can be helpful. I also envied a friend's laser pointer for pointing at stars. Bring your headlamp, not every place you stay will have electricity, and you may not make it to your next tea house before dark.

Length of cord

Makes a useful clothesline since you'll be handwashing stuff if it gets washed at all. It would also fix a broken boot lace.

 
Universal Outlet
Universal Outlet
 

Comments

comments

One thought on “Preparation: Himalaya Trekking Gear

  1. Pingback: May 9, 2013: Active Day 4, Phakding to Namche | Enlighten Adventures