A comprehensive guide to what to pack for your trek in Nepal and the Himalayas
This is a follow-up to my post ‘An Introduction to Trekking in Nepal‘. One of the most commonly-asked questions I get is ‘what do I need to pack for my trek in Nepal?’ Having undertaken around ten treks (some of them more than once) in the Nepalese Himalayas, I have become a very adept packer, refining my kit to the bare essentials.
Please note: this is a comprehensive list and if you are an experienced trekker, you may only need to take a selection of these items based on the season in which you are trekking and what has worked for you in the past. My list also assumes you will be hiring a porter to carry your gear. If this is not the case, you will want to cut down. Consider carrying no more than 7kg on your back if you want to have a comfortable trek.
Most of the items listed below are available for purchase in Kathmandu, however, it is safer to bring the majority of what you need with you as the availability of specific brands, styles and sizes can never be guaranteed. It is also possible to rent many of the items on the list for reasonable prices. Pokhara is another place where equipment can be purchased or rented but personally, I think the quality is superior in Kathmandu.
Assuming you are trekking for more than a couple of days, it is not possible to bring enough clothes to last the duration, but it is possible to wash items as you go. On an average day, you should reach your destination by 3pm. This allows a few hours of daylight to wash and dry anything you may need. You should not leave your clothes outside overnight and if they are not dry in the morning you can either hang them off the back of your rucksack/day bag or pack them away and get them out for half an hour or so when you stop for tea or lunch. I would recommend that you pack either a tube of travel wash or a small plastic container full of washing powder, both of which can easily be purchased in Kathmandu. Another option, which other trekkers/travellers have recommended but of which I do not have first-hand experience, is the Scrubba Wash Bag.
Purchasing trekking clothing and equipment in Kathmandu
The following brands have official outlets in the Thamel district of Kathmandu;
North Face; The selection is poor and the prices are similar to North Face stores worldwide (the selection is slightly better for women).
Mountain Hardware; The selection is good but the prices are no cheaper than in the West.
Vaude; Has a good high-quality selection but the prices are comparable to those in the West.
Camp; This is a local brand but the selection is varied and the quality good plus the prices are very reasonable.
King Camp & Out Door Products; Reasonably priced Chinese made clothing and equipment.
There are also many local trekking shops in Kathmandu (in particular in the Thamel area of the city) that sell a mixture of original, fake and Nepali made brands. Additionally, the prices vary from shop to shop and are not fixed so it is normal practice to bargain. Most of the shopkeepers will tell you if the product you are considering is genuine, fake or Nepali brand but this cannot be guaranteed so keep this in mind when shopping for such items.
One trekking shop that does offer a very good selection of trekking equipment at fair/fixed prices is Kala Pattar in Thamel (tel: 984 126 3414). The owner, Mr Bhesh Badhur Rai, is very knowledgeable and is able to make recommendations based on the trek you are undertaking and the time of year that you are trekking. He also rents out gear and equipment. His shop is tucked away in the middle of Thamel and a little difficult to find but give him a call if you need anything and he will give you directions to his shop: standing outside Kathmandu Guest House – with hotel behind you – turn left, go past Pilgrim Bookshop until you get to the end of the road. Turn left and then left again at the T-junction. Bhesh’s shop is on the left-hand side opposite the upper floor Yangling Tibetan Restaurant which specialises in momos (very tasty, and worth a visit).