Before we went on our trek to Everest Base Camp, we searched far and wide for what to pack in our bags. Unfortunately, our search results came back pretty empty. In light of this, we have decided to create this list to tell you what we packed for our trek and why it was important. While we do have a tendency to overpack, we still found the items listed below as important.
Before you head off on your trek, you will constantly hear from tour companies saying that your pack is limited to 15kg and that they won’t accept any more on the flight to Lukla – this however is a lie. While it might be an issue for big tour groups, like World Expeditions, we didn’t have any issues with our private trek with Nepal Eco Adventure. If you go over the 15kg mark, you simply pay a small fee at the airport for extra baggage.
The other thing to consider is your porter. Remember these little guys have lived a pretty tough life and their backs are in horrid condition. If you make them carry more than they should, you’d better be willing to give them an extra healthy tip at the end. We felt horrible for making our little sherpa carry more than usual, so we looked after him the best we could throughout the trek – buying him drinks and treats each day, and also giving him a big tip at the end of the trek.
Another thing to note with your luggage is that you CAN bring a suitcase with you to Kathmandu. Whatever you don’t want to take up the mountain can stay in your suitcase and your hotel will look after it for you until you arrive back after your trek. The tour company will provide you with a rucksack to take up the mountain with all your trekking gear.
CLOTHING – TOP HALF
- T-Shirts – you’ll want about 3 x quick drying t-shirts that can be worn over and over again. Like it or not, you’re going to sweat. And there’s nothing more uncomfortable than having icy cold winds blowing against a wet t-shirt. Most of our shirts were the ADIDAS Climalite shirts, which would be dry within half an hour.
- Long-sleeved shirt – not essential, but Teone made good use of her long-sleeved shirt. She feels the cold, so if you are like her, we would recommend getting 2 x t-shirts and 2 x long-sleeved shirts.
- Fleece jacket – these are comfy, lightweight and will keep you warm.
- Windbreak jacket – these are essential for cutting out the cold winds that you will encounter in the mountains. Ours were also fleecy on the inside, so they stopped the wind hitting us and were nice and warm on the inside.
- Down vest – these are great for keeping your chest warm on those sunny days when it’s too hot to wear a big down jacket.
- Down jacket – you actually don’t wear this a lot during the days, but at night, the puffer jackets come in very handy to keep you toasty warm. You will often sleep in these jackets to keep yourself cosy. We only wore these jackets once during the day, and that was on our final hike to Everest Base Camp.
- Rain/Goretex jacket – thankfully we didn’t see too much bad weather on our trip, but when we did cop a bit of rain, hail and snow, we were able to pull out the waterproof jacket and keep the rest of our upper body completely dry. These jackets are expensive, but well-worth the investment in case you need it. Your clothes simply won’t dry up the mountain if you get them soaked in the rain, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you buy a breathable jacket so it doesn’t make you sweat.
- Thermal tops – we wore 2 x pairs of thermal tops on rotation every night and occasionally during the day in the higher altitudes.
- Sports bras – for the ladies, 2-3 x sports bras are all you need.
- Glove liners – our glove liners wore out pretty quickly, but these are great for the lower altitudes when the winds aren’t as cold. They also help to prevent blisters on your hands from the trekking poles.
- Big gloves – a single pair of warm, waterproof and windproof gloves are a trekking essential when in the higher altitudes.
CLOTHING – BOTTOM HALF
- Shorts – believe it or not, it’s actually quite warm in the sun when climbing up to EBC – particularly in the lower altitudes. Tim often wore shorts during daytime trekking.
- Undies – each to their own here. We took about 5 pairs each, which gave us 2/3 days in each pair. Not ideal, but it has to be done.
- Trekking pants – these are just your average, lightweight trekking pants that help keep the legs a bit warmer on the cooler days. You should only need 1 pair of these.
- Zip-Off trekking pants – not essential, but could save you some space in your bag. These are long pants that zip off to shorts. These are handy for cold mornings that quickly turn into warmer days. Teone took 1 x pair of these with her.
- Waterproof/Goretex pants – these are expensive and heavy, but not really needed. We wore them once, to Everest Base Camp, as there was a little snow around. Unless you’re going during a wet or snowy time of year, save your money and give these pants a miss.
- Fleece tracksuit pants – these are not ideal for trekking, but having 1 x pair in the bag is great to be comfortable in around the teahouse and in bed at night.
- Thermal bottoms – we wore 2 x pairs of thermal bottoms on rotation every night and occasionally during the day in the higher altitudes.
- Compression pants (Skins) – we’re still dubious as to if these actually do anything for you, but we wore them each night in the hope that our legs would recover quicker. In the higher altitudes, they were good to wear as a replacement for our thermals.
- Good quality trekking boots – these should be waterproof, well-padded on the bottom and tall enough to prevent ankle rolls. You will be walking on all kinds of terrain – in the lower altitudes it’s dry and dusty, while in the higher altitudes, it’s a lot of loose rock and very easy to go for a tumble if you don’t have shoes with good grip and keep your ankles stable.
- Socks – be prepared to take a few pairs of socks with you. We took 2 x pairs of liner socks, 4 x pairs of thick socks, 1 x pair of super thick socks and 1 x pair of compression socks to help with recovery each night. This was probably a bit of an overkill, but keeping your feet warm and clean is super important on this trip.
- Gaiters – we bought a pair of short gaiters that covered to just above the top of our boots. These are fantastic for keeping the dust and rain out of your shoes. You definitely don’t need the long gaiters that come up to your knees – they would be a waste of space and money for a trip like this.
- Down booties – definitely not an essential item, but we picked up a pair of these each for relatively cheap in Thamel. They packed up small and were great at night when in the teahouses. They were a much softer option than your boots.
- Slip-on shoes – again, not essential, but are handy for around the teahouses if you just want to wear socks (rather than down booties) and are very handy for the bathroom trips in the middle of the night – trust us, there’ll be plenty of those!
- Beanie – make sure it’s good quality one that’s going to keep your head warm. We got ones that had extra fleece sewn in to keep our ears warm.
- Woollen headband – not essential, but Teone used hers a lot in the lower altitudes when she didn’t feel like wearing a beanie. It kept her hair back and her ears warm.
- Buffs – while we’re not sure on the proper name for these, they could also be known as a face mask or bandana. These were one of the most important items we took on the trip. You will need 2 x buffs. One buff should be a thinner and lighter material that you can wear in the lower altitudes to keep the dust out of your mouth and nose. The other should be a thick buff, which not only helps keep the dust out of your face, but also keeps it warm by blocking out the icy winds you’ll experience. We wore ours nearly every day. Buy a few cheapies in Thamel – be sure to find a thick one though!
- Hat – Teone didn’t wear one, but Tim did every day.
- Polarised sunglasses – you don’t need anything fancy, but a pair of sunnies to keep the dust out of your eyes and to reduce the glare are very handy. The addition of polarised lenses will just make the scenery look so much nicer.
It is recommended that you drink about 4-6 litres of water each day in the mountains. This helps avoid the nasty effects of altitude sickness, such as headaches.
- Camelbak – Teone used this instead of carrying drink bottles. She filled it with water each morning and slipped it into her day pack. She swore by it and thought it was much easier to suck on this than constantly unpacking drink bottles.
- Aquatabs – these are the water purification tablets we used to sterilise our water before drinking.
- Hydralyte – not essential, but they helped with hydration and made the water taste a bit better after the Aquatabs went in.
- Metal water bottle – not only is this handy for drinking out of, but if you fill it with boiling water each night, you can take it to bed with you and use it as a hot water bottle. It stays warm for most of the night and makes you feel so much better!
Note – you can buy plastic bottles of water all the way up and down the mountain. They start off very cheap early in the trek, but become more expensive the further you go up. Even at Gorakshep, a bottle of water is not going to break your budget, so don’t stress that you won’t be able to find cheap drinking water.
Hygiene is a huge issue up the mountain. The Europeans and the locals cough and spit everywhere! Most trekkers coming down the mountain have the ‘Khumbu Cough’ and sound horrible with chesty coughs and rotten colds. You don’t bathe for almost 2 weeks and a lot of people will have a bit of an odour to them. Try to look after yourself the best you can and avoid going near anyone sick. There are “pharmacies” in the bigger towns like Namche Bazaar and Dingboche, where you can stock up on health and hygiene-related items.
- Towel – we only took a small, microfibre towel. It didn’t get a lot of use, but when we were lucky enough to have a shower, it came in handy for drying ourselves.
- Deodorant – take a full bottle and try to smell a bit nicer than the filthy tourists who will surround around you.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste – remember to use bottled water to brush your teeth. The local water could have bacteria in it.
- Tissues – you will get the sniffles at some point on your journey, so the little packets of tissues come in handy.
- Baby wipes – these will be your “shower” most nights when it’s freezing. They’re great for keeping your feet clean too!
- Toilet paper – a very important item – there’s no toilet paper in the teahouses, so you need to carry your own with you. Try and get some good quality stuff so that you don’t have a chaffed ass on your trek.
- Soap – just a small bottle of liquid soap will suffice. This is for the very few showers you might be lucky enough to have.
- Dry shampoo – just spray it in your hair. It’s better than not washing your hair at all!
- Hand Sanitiser – one little bottle should get you through the trip. You will want to use this stuff a lot of the time to stay healthy.
- Moisturiser – the cold and dusty environment ensures your skin will dry out, so some moisturiser for your hands, lips and any other areas is essential.
- Cold & flu tablets – you’re going to need them to get through some days.
- Painkillers – you’re going to get plenty of headaches due to the altitude. Take some good painkillers to keep on top of these headaches. Tim was popping at least 4 painkillers each day to keep on top of his sore head.
- Diamox – the wonderful drug that masks the effects of altitude. We used it pretty much every day, starting with 1 tablet per day. We upped our dose to 2 tablets per day around Dingboche. The only side effect we felt were the tingling fingers and toes, which doesn’t last long.
- Basic first-aid – things like band-aids for small cuts and blisters, etc.
- Sunscreen – there’s plenty of sun around and you are a lot closer to it than usual. Be sure to lather up a few times each day.
- Backpack – this is your day pack that you will carry each day. Tim took a 50L pack and Teone took a 30L. Ensure they are comfortable and come with a rain cover so that you can keep your gear dry during rain/snow events.
- Powerboard – when you do find a powerpoint to charge your electrical devices, make the most of it by brining a powerboard that will allow you to charge multiple devices at once. Most of our rooms had a powerpoint, but some teahouses charged you money if you wanted to top up batteries.
- Solar Panel – we spent a fortune and took ourselves a little solar panel to help with keeping things charged – we found this to be a waste of money and we didn’t even use it. Avoid these! You don’t go through anywhere near as much batteries/electricity as you think you will.
- Sleeping bag liner – just an extra layer that goes inside your sleeping bag. It gives you a wee bit more warmth and offers a little hygiene. Buy these cheaply in Thamel.
- Pillow case – each teahouse will supply a pillow for you, but you’ll probably want your own pillow case to put over the top of it. I don’t think the locals wash their linen regularly, so for hygiene’s sake, take your own pillow case.
- Mobile phone – you don’t need to take this with you, but believe it or not, there is internet access all the way up to Gorakshep. It is pretty slow and unreliable, but you can pay a bit of money to get access for the night. We only did this a couple of times to keep in touch with our families, but having a mobile phone to access the net was handy.
- Karabiners – great for hanging stuff off your backpack, like drink bottles.
- Travel diary and pen – yes, it sounds a bit gay, but trust me – write down something honest at the end of each day. You can’t describe how you were feeling and what you have seen that day to others once you get back home. Let them experience how you were feeling right there and then at that point in time – and yes, there will be quite a few low points. It’s awesome to reflect on this!
ITEMS YOU CAN BORROW
Your tour company should give you the option to borrow the following items free of charge – they are generally included in your tour price:
- Rucksack – this is the big bag that your porter will carry for you each day. Whatever you don’t throw into your day pack, your porter will carry in this bag.
- Sleeping bag – your tour company will give you a big, cosy sleeping bag. It has obviously been used by other people, so the sleeping bag liner is important for hygiene.
- Trekking poles – these will give you a little boost up steep hills and save your knees coming back down. Ensure they’re in working order before accepting them.
You simply can’t go to the Himalayas and not take a decent camera. How serious you are with your photography will decide what gear you take with you.
In Teone’s bag, she took the awesome Sony RX100 – a little point-and-shoot camera that takes incredible photos and video footage. It’s lightweight, fits into your pocket and has a tonne of awesome features. It’s also top of its class, so if you’re after a simple point-and-shoot camera, save your research about Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, etc. and just get yourself this little beauty! Teone also took 2 x spare batteries and 1 x 64GB memory card.
In Tim’s bag, there was a lot more camera gear. He wanted to take nice photos and also make a little video about the trek. So here is his ridiculous list of equipment:
- Canon 7D MKII – a semi-pro DSLR camera that shot in RAW format.
- Spare batteries – there were 4 in total, which Tim slept with every night to ensure they stayed warm and didn’t drain.
- Canon 17-40mm lens – a wide angle lens is a must in this country.
- Canon 70-200mm lens – definitely didn’t need this one – far too much weight and rarely used the zoom.
- GoPro Hero 4 Black – while it’s not the most crisp video footage out there, it is a great little camera that could withstand whatever conditions were thrown at it.
- Feiyu Tech G4S gimbal – this helps hold the GoPro steady and eliminates unsteady footage as we walked
- Memory Cards – both the 7D and the GoPro had 64GB memory cards inside of them with a spare 32GB card as backup.