Asia Travel Travel Tips

What kit do I need to trek the Himalayas?

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This was the question I typed into Google last September, just before I was flying into Kathmandu. I was going to be doing a 10 day hike to Annapurna Base Camp, reaching up to 4130m above sea level. Having done a few multi-day hikes in the UK, I had a rough idea what to take. But I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything!

Below is a list of what I had with me. This is obviously just a rough guide to what worked for me, and obviously it’s not perfect. I’ve tried to get a balance of having enough stuff to be relatively comfortable on the hike, but not too much for you (or your porter!) to carry. This can obviously be multiplied up or down depending on how long you’re out for.

If there’s anything you think I’ve missed – let me know!

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Clothing

x4 technical/running t-shirts – you want something that’s quick-wicking, quick drying. Because it’s going to get hot, particularly on the first and last few days when you’re at lower altitude. You also want something that will dry quickly if you get caught in an afternoon downpour.

x1 base layer – I had an Under Armour, for an extra layer of warmth as we climbed above 3500m. I think I slept in it at Basecamp as well, where it got particularly chilly overnight.

x2 jumpers/fleeces – I had a couple of North Face fleeces. Normally you’ll be fine in the day when you’re moving but I wore them both at the end of the day when you’ll often be sat around for 8-10 hours getting food, resting up, reading and the like. At the teahouses, it can get very chilly!

x1 down jacket – invest in a good one. It’s definitely worth it. To save a bit of space, use this handy trick and fold it into it’s own sleeve and use it as a pillow! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1RIeLp884Q

x1 waterproof – I refer back to the afternoon downpour!

x1 hiking trousers – when it gets cold. If you get really cold (as I do) take a pair of running leggings to provide some extra warmth.

x1 hiking shorts – when it gets hot (unsurprisingly).

x3 pairs thick hiking socks – to avoid getting blisters. They’re bulky to pack, but I found this was about the right number. They get pretty sweaty in the day, so this was enough time to do a rotation and give them time to dry in-between.

Underwear – as much or as little as you want to carry. I met a guy in New Zealand who was doing the Te Araora trail who swore by going commando as a way to avoid chaffing.

Footwear

x1 hiking boots – make sure you’ve worn them in. I met a Dutch guy on the second day of the hike who’d bought some new boots in Pokhara and had never worn them. His feet did not look pretty. Seriously, decent boots can make or break your trip. Blisters early on will make your hike miserable!

x1 flip flops – give your feet a nice airing at the end of the day.

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Other bits

x1 wooly hat – I slept in mine a couple of times, and would wear it after the hikes had finished.

x2 pairs of gloves – I took a small pair that I use for cycling and a big pair of ski gloves. Both got used!

x3 buffs – the most useful things on earth! Great for keeping ears warm without overheating, or keeping the sweat out your eyes, or keeping your neck warm, or cleaning your sunglasses!

x1 sunglasses

x1 swimming trunks – there are hot pools on the way down of the ABC trek

x1 head torch plus spare batteries – if you’re doing a sunrise hike, either to Poon Hill or actually at Basecamp, this will come in handy!

x1 emergency whistle. For if you fall down a ravine, or if you want to referee a football match at 4000m above sea level.

x1 battery powerpack – not all the teahouses you stay in, particularly as you get higher up, will let you charge your phone for free, so have one ready to go when you need more juice.

x1 down sleeping bag. You can hire these in Kathmandu.

x1 water bottle. Plastic waste is getting to be a big issue, so by taking your own water bottle and filling up at filtered water stations is good for the planet. Yippee.

Some people take hiking poles. I’ve never liked them, but it’s worth trying out on a few practice hikes to see if you like them.

Medical kit

If you hire a guide, they should have a medical kit. But you never know what may happen when you’re out there, so it’s always worth taking your own. This is what I had in mine.

  • Antihistamine (cream + tablets)
  • Bug repellent – with lots of deet. It may not be great for the skin, but at lower altitudes there are some nasty bugs
  • Baby wipes
  • Diarrhoea tablets
  • Rehydration kits – I survived on these in India for a few days when I couldn’t keep anything down. If you don’t take these, or run out, it’s possible to make your own. The recipe is six teaspoons of sugar, half teaspoon of salt, added to one litre of clean drinking or boiled water
  • Butterfly stitches
  • Adhesive tape
  • Safety pins
  • Tiny roll duct tape
  • Vaseline – for chaffing, although I did use on leech bites when the blood kept soaking through plasters
  • Compeed blister blasters – small and big
  • Antiseptic wipes, burn shields, plasters
  • Savlon
  • Cotton tip swabs
  • Painkillers – ibuprofen tablets which are great anti-inflammatories, so useful for aching muscles or to reduce swelling on a twisted ankle, paracetamol
  • Emergency thermal blanket

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So it looks like a lot of stuff. But once it’s all compacted down actually it’s not too bad. Keep an eye out for a few more Nepal blogs to come over the next few weeks!

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