What to pack for a Nepal Trek:
On Nepal treks with Crystal Mountain Treks, you are allowed between 12 – 15 Kilograms (27 – 33lbs) for your duffel bags depending on the trek. Your duffel bag will be carried by a porter. Each porter will carry two duffel bags. You need only carry a small day pack.
On most Nepal treks, you would start out at sub-tropical/temperate climatic zones and then ascend to subalpine/alpine zones. Hence, while the principles of layering is key for hikes anywhere in the world, it is especially important for treks in Nepal; Peel of a layer when hot and add a layer or layers when cold.
It’s always best to use tried-and-tested quality outdoor gear. Hiking in jeans or cotton pants and tops is highly discouraged. If wet, these become heavy and will be slow to dry. Pants and shirts made out of quick drying, technical fabric are recommended. New materials such as Capilene ® and Merino wool are great for base layers. They do a good job of wicking moisture and have anti-odor properties as well.
Below is a comprehensive packing list with short explanations:
- 1 duffel bag
- 1 large plastic bag to line duffel (in case of rain, it is good to double layer)
- 1 day pack
- Well broken-in sturdy boots for trekking (water resistant highly recommended)
- Additional pair of shoes for evening lounging around (running shoes work well)
- 1 set rain gear (water resistant pants and Gore-Tex jacket works best)
- 1 sleeping bag (rated 0 degree F)
- 1 pair shorts or capris for hiking (no short shorts, please)
- 2 pair long pants, synthetic and breathable
- 3-4 pairs wool hiking socks
- 2 pairs socks for camp shoes for evening warmth and comfort
- 3 T-shirts or short sleeved shirts (fast drying – polypro or similar)
- 1 long sleeved shirt or 1 wool shirt
- 3 pair underwear
- 1 fleece or warm jacket
- 1 pair gloves or mittens
- 1 warm hat (you may trek and/or sleep in this)
- Several large zip lock bags to help organize your clothes
- Sunscreen, SPF 30 or more
- 1 wide-brim sun/rain hat or visor
- 1 headlamp with extra batteries & bulb (one with red light is recommended)
- 1 pocket knife
- 2 water bottles
- 1 pair trekking poles (optional, but recommended)
- 1 pair long underwear
- 1 pair warm pants (long)
- 1 down jacket
- Ear plugs for use in lodges (which can be noisy)
- 1 micro spikes
- 1 Gaiters
- 2 rolls toilet paper or 10-12 packs mini-tissues
- 1 toothbrush & toothpaste
- 1 bar of soap or liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s works well for laundry, shampoo, etc.)
- 1 quick-dry travel towel
- 1 hand sanitizer
- 1 packet wet-tissues (wet wipes)
First Aid Kit (Please consult your physician for additional medications)
- Moleskin for blisters
- Assorted Band-Aids
- Ibuprofen or Tylenol for headaches or other pain
- Antihistamine for runny nose (Actifed or Sudafed are OK)
- Pepto Bismol (liquid or tablets for upset stomach or diarrhea)
- Throat lozenges
- 1 Chap stick or Blistex or similar (with SPF is preferred)
- Anti-diarrhea tablets (Imodium etc.)
- Laxatives and fiber supplements
- Motion sickness medication (if you tend to get car sick)
More Information about Gear items
Your porter will carry your gear, so it must be in a sturdy duffel bag. These can get rough treatment from both air/vehicle travel and the porters, so quality is important. Military Surplus bags are a good choice. The bag should be sturdy and have a strong zipper. Ones with zippers along the long axis (not on the end) are much more convenient to use. Do not bring a duffel bag with an internal frame or with wheels, since this limits the porter’s ability to tie them together for their load. Get a large size (at least 4600 cu in. or 75 liters).
For the trek, your sleeping bag must fit in your duffel along with all your clothes. Please try to keep your duffel bag under 15 Kilos/33 lbs. per person. We provide water resistant duffel bags (90 – 110 liters) for use on our treks for no charge. So best to use the duffel bags we provide as yours can go through wear and tear on the trek especially if you have traveled to Nepal with a suitcase.
1 large plastic bag to line duffel:
In the event of rain, porters will use a large plastic bag to cover the outside of your duffel bag. You could also use a combination of Ziploc bags, packing cubes, and compression bags to waterproof and organize the contents of your duffel bag. Plan for wet conditions. We recommend added protection against wet gear by putting everything in both your duffel and day pack inside plastic bags. Wrap your sleeping bag in one. Have one for your socks, one for your underwear, one for shirts, etc.
On the trek, you will carry a day-pack with items that you would need during the day – water, a warm layer and/or outer shell, camera, sun screen lotion, snacks etc. You will not have access to your duffel during the day. Your day pack can range from 15 liters to 30 liters depending on how much you wish to carry. Also, carry a rain cover for your day pack. Bring a daypack that is comfortable for you, preferably with waist straps.
Trekking Shoes or Boots:
You will be trekking up or down as much as 3,000 feet each day. Proper ankle support is necessary. Some Nepal trekkers are wearing running shoes or low cut lightweight footwear. We do not recommend this and feel that it is very important for you to wear a boot that supports your ankle. Vibram-lug sole hiking boots are recommended. If your boots self-destruct while you’re trekking, you’re in trouble. Skip bargains and purchase a reputable brand from a store that specializes in hiking gear.
Another important thing about your boots is that they fit well and are broken in. Do not come on the trek with brand new boots. If you need new boots get them now and wear them around the house and out hiking as much as you can between now and the trek. You can easily carry a second pair of footwear in your duffel and not exceed your weight limit. Running shoes do make good camp shoes. Do read BEST HIKING BOOTS FOR TREKS IN NEPAL for more information.
On most treks a good outer shell will work, and you don’t need rain gear. The outer shell (jacket and pant) will keep you dry and warm in wet, windy and cold weather. If you are trekking in the monsoon (June through September), add a poncho that will also cover your daypack. Please do not go cheap on rain gear. Gore-Tex™ or equivalent material is recommended.
We can provide sleeping bags for use on the trek for no charge. Most lodges do provide a blanket, but these can be a bit dirty as they will be used by trekkers daily. Unless you prefer sleeping cold, on treks that go over 15,000 feet, your sleeping bag should be rated to 0F (-18C). On Winter treks, use sleeping bags that are rated to -20F (-28C). You can add a fleece or silk liner to add warmth. On treks that don’t go as high, you may use sleeping bags that are rated to 15 to 30F (-10C to 0C).
Fiber and Bowels:
Many trekkers suffer from bowel problems due to lack of roughage in trek diets. Consider bringing enough of your favorite fiber supplement (bran, Metamucil) to add a tablespoon daily to your hot cereal or breakfast food.
Pants and Shorts:
A pair of convertible (zip-off) hiking trousers are best for trekking. These pants are easy to zip off in hot conditions and zip on in cooler weather. Short shorts are not appropriate, particularly when visiting temples and monasteries. Wear shorts that at least come up to your knees. Your waterproof trouser will be your outer layer and will keep you dry and warm in wet and windy conditions. You may also add a silk legging for extra warmth if your trek involves crossing a pass or climbing small peaks like Kalapathar when you have to begin your hike very early in the morning.
Bring 3 T-shirts and 1 long sleeved T-shirt. Your T-shirts are your base layer and closest to your skin. They are responsible for wicking moisture and ensuring a dry skin. Merino wool and Capilene are good materials for your base layer.
Bring a light to mid-weight breathable fleece. This will be your mid-layer. On most days, above 12,000 feet, you will be trekking with a fleece (mid-layer) worn above your base layer putting on an outer shell in windy and/or wet conditions.
You would most likely use a down jacket to stay warm at the lodge in the mornings and evenings. But you may also wear your down jacket your mid layer on cold hiking days. When choosing a down jacket, it is important to understand down weight and down fill power. Basically, two down jackets of the same weight but varying fill power, say 650 vs 800, the latter will be warmer. Similarly two down jackets of the same fill power, the heavier down jacket would be warmer. The downside of down is that it loses its insulating efficiency when it gets damp; it also takes longer to dry. An alternative to down is synthetic insulated jackets which work better in damp conditions. While synthetic jackets don’t compress as much as down, they retain insulating ability even when they get damp.
Good hiking socks are often overlooked but they are key to your comfort on a trek. Wearing moist socks can cause hot spots and blisters which could ruin your trek. Read how to avoid and treat blisters. Wool socks can take time to dry after they get damp or after washing. Bring 3-4 pairs of socks and change them regularly.
Unless you are on a high-altitude trek that requires walking early in the morning (around 3am or so), thick winter gloves or mittens are usually not required. Instead, a pair of liner gloves will suffice. If you are susceptible to cold, you could wear another glove over the liner.
Sun and warm hat:
You would need two hats: one for the sun and the other for cold weather. On the Upper Mustang and similar treks, where the sun can be quite harsh, we recommend a wide brimmed hat and some protection for the neck.
Trekking poles are highly recommended especially on treks longer than 10 days. Four (or even three) legs are definitely better than two legs. Trekking poles can help with that: while on steep and slippery terrain, traversing narrow ridgelines or trails, when going up and down on trails with scree (like on the Manaslu Circuit Trek). Trekking poles are also great for people with bad knees on long descents.
We recommend two one-liter bottles. One should be a wide-mouth bottle – preferably Nalgene. A wide-mouth bottle allows the use of Steripen to sterilize water. The other bottle can either be a narrow-mouth bottle of any kind or a bladder. While bladders are convenient to drink from, you should not pour hot water into the bladder which is usually made from polyurethane that can melt. Also, the hose can freeze in cold conditions and you would need a thermal hose sleeve.
On some treks where crossing a pass is required, such as the Manaslu Circuit Trek and the Ultimate Everest Trek, we recommend microspikes. For microspikes you do not need crampon compatible boots as they are attach to the bottom of your boots and have straps.
Gaiters provide protection from snow and pebbles too. These are recommended if you are doing a Winter trek in Nepal that would require crossing a pass.
Bring a lightweight microfiber towel both for drying hands/face and also in case you want to have a shower.
If you take a lot of photos and like to read or listen to music on your phone, it is a good idea to pack a power bank. On the Everest, Langtang and Annapurna treks, you will have daily access to electricity. But on the more remote treks, such as in Kanchenjunga or Makalu, electricity will not be available on most days.