Don’t lie. There’s less than a week to go, and you’ve finally decided to pack. Don’t panic, because here is the great news, and it is the single most important tip I can offer to anyone: you can buy EVERYTHING THERE (except your boots).
Every second shop in Kathmandu city centre is selling hiking gear for a fraction of the price back home. Authenticity? Questionable; but hey, you are supporting the local businesses and an economy that thrives on bucket lists and Bear Grylls fans. Better yet, buy locally made jackets, socks, gloves etc. They’ll keep you just as warm as any branded gear, and you’ll look like Macklemore.
The hardest thing about researching for Nepal was trying to work out how the weather would be. Understandably, this will vary from month to month. I travelled in February (and would recommend this as a good time to go) with a tour group. Please know that my advice may not be applicable for the time of year that you are travelling. Check out the article: Namaste’ing on top of the World, which talks about my experiences on the trek.
February weather conditions: Mostly sunny at the lower altitudes. Mornings will begin with a crisp -15°C at higher altitudes but you will warm up as you start moving. Windy with light snow/rain higher up, but nothing that a windproof/water proof jacket couldn’t handle. We were lucky not to have heavy rain, but this may change for you. A rain coat and waterproof pants is like buying insurance: you will most likely not need it, but you’ll be grateful when sh*t hits the fan. Warm clothes are most important in the evenings after a day’s trekking. This is when you aren’t moving around much, so it can get quite cold. Heading to bed can be a struggle and your bottle will freeze over by the morning.
Day pack: Something to carry your layers as you take them off, your camera, snacks, and a bottle of water. 25L is fine; 35L is plenty. Ensure it is waterproof for peace of mind.
Main pack: This will be carried by the porter most of the time so it doesn’t need to look cool. My pack was 65L. I made sure there were plenty of openings from the sides and bottoms, so that everything was easily accessible.
The key here is layers. You’re hot, then you’re cold; You’re yes, then you’re no.
Main jacket: Wind proof, and water proof. Don’t go for something TOO warm. If you are cold, layer underneath.
Base layer: Something sweat wicking. Don’t be like the guy on my trek who smelt like a rat crawled in his jacket and died.
Middle layer/s: I packed a crew neck and a down vest. This, plus my base layer and main jacket was enough to keep me warm at the coldest points.
Bottoms: My trusty 2XU compression pants kept me warm for most of the trek, but everyone else had loose cargo pants.
Rain jacket and rain pants (optional): My main jacket offered ample weather protection, but the weather could be very different when you go.
Trekking boots: The only item I would recommend buying from home. Invest in a sturdy, waterproof pair and wear them in. I would not recommend leather, as it absorbs and retains water.
Underwear: I wore three pairs in two weeks. Seriously. This one is a personal preference, but I only changed my underwear once every four or five days. Night times were too cold to strip, and you hardly sweat in the higher altitudes anyway.
Socks: once again, if you can live them out for as long as possible, you will only need a few pairs. I had a ‘home’ pair that I would change into at the end of the day, and re-used it for the whole trek. Make sure they are thick and warm. Great for protecting your feet from your boots; great for snuggling by the warm yak dung fire.
There will be a lot of down time in the evenings. Pack a comfortable hoodie/sweater/jacket, track pants, and a pair of slip on shoes.
Just remember that you will need some nicer clothes for Kathmandu, before and after the trek.
Sunglasses: They will also function as wind protection.
Glasses/Contact lens: So you can see Mt. Everest.
Gloves: Invest in something sturdy. They will protect your hands as much as they will keep you warm.
Head/neck wear: I bought a multi purpose balaclava that functioned as a balaclava, beanie, buff, and hijab.
Head torch: You WILL need this for going to the toilet at night.
Drink bottle: I would recommend a bottle with a straw, so that water can be accessed without having to swing your day pack around to get it. This becomes a big deal when your hands are gloved up and you’re already struggling to keep up with the group.
Sleeping bag: Personally, I’d rather buy my own. However, If you are on a budget, these can be rented for a measly few dollars. If you choose to do this, I recommend a bringing a personal silk sleeping bag liner. These offer hygiene protection while remaining lightweight and portable.
Carabiner: Probably the best investment I made. Handy for hanging anything off your bag, be it your toiletries bag, shoes, drink bottle or camera. Not for climbing.
Solar charger: How to win friends and influence people. Electricity is scarce in the mountains. I wish I had packed one of these.
Camera: for the hashtags.
Mobile phone: to call your Mum when you get to EBC.
Charging cables: for above devices
Travel adapter: Good for the city, but keep in mind that there will be limited power supplies in the mountain.
Toothbrush and toothpaste: Don’t be the rat-skin guy.
Lip balm/moisturiser: the cold climate will dry you up.
Sunscreen: Just remember to wipe it off at the end of the day. So many people had layers of dried sunscreen on their face. It was horrible.
Nail clipper: To tame those talons, and as a pair of pseudo-scissors.
Toilet paper: You WILL be tempted by the Yak’s cheese. And you WILL need that toilet paper afterwards.
Baby wipes: Because you won’t be showering for a very long time.
Tissues: You know how when you are walking in the cold for ages, and then your nose starts dripping? Now imagine that as the thin himalayan air shears your bleeding oxygen-deprived nasal cavity at double the resting ventilation rate.
Consumables (don’t hold back on these)
Snacks: Altitude inflation exists. The higher you climb, the more expensive that expired dusty mars bar sitting in the tea house cabinet becomes. The higher you climb, the more you crave, dream, yearn for that delicious chocolate manufactured in 1999.
Flavouring: For your water bottle, because water purification tablets taste like public urinals.
Water purification tablets: a given.
First aid/emergency: Strapping tape, bandages, pain killers, gastro medication, altitude medication, sewing kit.
What you don’t need
Extreme hiking gear: You’ve seen the movie Everest, and now you’ve invested in an oxygen tank for your trip. Along with gaiters and hiking poles, this is unnecessary for a base camp trek.
Navigational equipment: I went with a tour so we had a guide to show us where to go.
We are more than happy to answer any questions regarding the preparation for your trip. Comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy packing!