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Packing for an trip can be challenging, but packing for trekking in Nepal, can be overwhelming. On one hand you can’t afford to over pack because you or your porters will be carrying everything you bring, but on the other hand, you want to make sure you are suitably prepared.
In this post, we will share our tips for packing for a trip to Nepal, including how to outfit kids. Whether you are packing for Everest Base Camp or packing for the Annapurna Circuit, this post should help plan your Nepal packing list.
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What to Bring From Home?
If you are coming directly from your home country, you have the ability to select from the best quality gear. This is the most ideal, although more expensive and might not work for every one. If Nepal is part of a longer trip, you will likely be doing at least part of your outfitting in Kathmandu. This was the case for us, so while we had some gear from Canada, we had to buy some of our warmer gear in Nepal.
The most essential things to bring from home is good thermal layers, a good backpack and hiking shoes or boots. Almost everything else can be purchased in the Thamel district of Kathmandu, where there are hundreds of outfitter shops. Most sell fake branded gear (“North Fake”) of varying quality, but at inexpensive prices. There are some authentic branded shops in Thamel (North Face, Mountain Hardware, etc), but expect to pay full Western prices.
Although you can purchase gear in Thamel, it can be time consuming to search out what you need and negotiate reasonable prices. Unfortunately you are also contributing to the disposable fashion problem as much of the gear sold in Thamel won’t last much beyond your trek. If you already have the gear at home or will use it again, investing in some quality pieces is the best way to go. In North America you can often get incredible deals on high performance clothes and gear, so keep a watch for bargains before you leave.
What Do You Really Need?
As you trek in Nepal, you will see many people that are outfitted to the nines with drool-worthy gear. You will also see people hiking in jeans and running shoes. What you need will depend on the season, where you are trekking and your budget.
Our recommendations are based on trekking in the two main trekking seasons in Nepal (spring and fall) and include the gear required to get to 5,400 m – Everest Base Camp.
My best advice is the bring lots of trekking clothes layers as temperatures fluctuate daily as you hike and depending on the altitude. I would also caution you not to bring too much. Instead of bringing four pairs of not-great pants, bring two pairs of good ones.
For 10 days of trekking, our Everest gear consisted of two outfits: our hiking clothes and our evening clothes. By the end we probably smelled, but you are hiking in Nepal, so it is okay! I can’t say enough good things about Icebreaker merino layers. I wore mine every day and they really didn’t stink after 10 days.
Nepal Packing & Gear List
Bring these items from home:
- 1 good hiking backpack if going independent – we like Osprey, Gregory or MEC (Canadian) fans OR
- 1 good day pack if using porters. I loved the Gregory pack I bought for the trip (but in the 28L size). Ladies, buy a women’s style for a better fit!
- 1 Trekking Pack (if using porters) – this seemed to be the bag porters preferred to carry. If you pack light, one of these will fit clothes, gear and sleeping bag for 2-3 people.
- 1 waterproof pack cover – not necessary, but helps ensure you stuff stays dry.
HIKING SHOES or BOOTS – personal preference, but we walked in solid sole, water-proof North Face hiking shoes. Make sure you break in your boots or shoes, before you come to Nepal.
MERINO LAYERS – Merino layers are trekking essentials – they will keep you warm and dry. We love the Icebreaker layers – pricey, but worth it! A cheaper alternative is the merino layers from Costco.
HIKING SOCKS – 1-2 for day time and 1 warm pair for night. Again, we recommend the Icebreaker merino hiking line.
RAIN JACKET – 1 good quality rain jacket. We both have these Black Diamond jackets, which we love.
WATER PURIFIER – we used a Grayl filtration system and then decanted into other water bottles. Many people also use a Steri Pen. It is not sustainable to buy bottled water while trekking in Nepal, so think about how you will handle water while on the trail in advance. The two main choices are filtering or chlorinating. You can filter/chlorinate from the tea houses, which use river water. You can buy chlorine tablets in Kathmandu and even on the trails. Make sure you have added a water purifier to your Everest Base Camp packing list (or any trek for that matter).
HYDRATION BLADDER – not necessary, but the best option for staying hydrated. We like the Osprey system. Alternatively, bring Nalgene bottles from home. You should carry at least 2 L/person and can refill at lunch.
POWER BANK – you have to pay to charge your phone at the tea houses, so a power bank will allow you to go a few days without plugging in. This is the one we use.
SOLAR CHARGER – not necessary, but nice to have to charge your electronics. Can be attached to your backpack while you hike during the day. Here is a good reasonably priced one.
POWER ADAPTER AND CHARGING CORDS – Universal or Nepal power adapter and cords to charge your devices.
HEAD LAMP – to be used in the tea houses in the evening. We use our Black Diamond ones all the time while travelling.
SUN PROTECTION – you definitely want to have polarized sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen and SPF lip balm.
SMALL TOWEL – you might take a shower occasionally. We like these compact travel towels.
WATCH – it is nice to have an inexpensive watch like this that tracks altitude.
Clothes that can be brought from home or purchased in Thamel:
SLEEPING BAG – a good 3-season synthetic bag (down takes longer to dry if it gets wet). You can rent sleeping bags in Thamel, which is what we did for $1 USD/day. If bringing your own bag, bring a compression sack to save space.
SLEEPING BAG LINER – while you can buy cheap ones in Thamel, a good silk sleeping bag liner will last a lifetime. This is not necessary if you bring your own bag, but is perfect if you are renting. If you are trekking in May or September, some people do not bring a sleeping bag and instead use their liner, combined with the tea house blankets provided.
FLEECE LAYER – this mid-weight layer will keep you warm. I love my Patagonia fleece.
BUFF – buffs are so versatile and can be used as a hat, neck warmer or to protect your neck from the sun. We bought Everest trail ones at Sherpa Adventure Gear in Thamel (authentic ones), which is also a great souvenir.
PANTS – one to hike in like these and comfy pants for evening. If hiking in the warmer months, bring a pair of hiking shorts.
WATERPROOF SPLASH PANTS – not necessary, but good to have if you encounter wet weather. These Helly Hansen ones are nice.
UNDERWEAR AND BRAS – 3-5 pairs of quick drying underwear and 2 sports bras for the ladies. We love the Bn3th underwear for men and Ex-officio for women for travel underwear. We are slowly replacing our underwear with good travel ones.
BEANIE HAT – it gets chilly at night
GLOVES – a thin pair of fleece gloves, which can be picked up cheaply in Thamel .
SLIPPERS – you want to have a pair of shoes to change into for the evenings. We bought felt slippers in Thamel, or you could bring light-weight shoes or flip flops.
Gear that can be brought from home or purchased in Thamel:
TREKKING POLES – I had never used them before, but became a fan quickly. If bringing from home, Leki are considered the best. You can also pick up cheap ones on Amazon or in Thamel.
MEDICAL KIT – In addition to the standard items, some things to include in your kit: antibiotics (Erythromycin – Nepal is very Cipro resistant), anti-nausea (Zofran), Diamox for altitude, blister kit, Imodium, Hydration salts, Tinadazole to treat Giardia.
CHLORINE TABLETS – you can buy these cheaply and easily in Thamel or on the trail. Our kids didn’t like the taste of the chlorinated water so we bought Tang in Thamel to bring with us.
ENTERTAINMENT – a Kindle or book is great for the evenings, as is a deck of cards. You might also want to bring a notebook to record your epic hike too.
TRAIL MAP – easy to purchase in Thamel.
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- hair brush
- soap and shampoo
- lip balm
- menstruation cup – I am a convert
- wet wipes can be used instead of showers after a day of hiking
- hand sanitizer – great in your daypack
- lozenges (the air can be very dry)
- pocket knife – always a handy thing to have
- toilet paper – you won’t find this in the tea houses, although you can buy it on the trail.
- small packs of tissue – great to always have in your day pack
- snacks – you don’t need to go overboard, but these are expensive on the trail. Stock up in Thamel on chocolate bars and biscuits, especially if you are trekking with kids.
Nepal Gear for Kids
You can find some kid-sized things in Thamel, but don’t count on being able to find much in kid sizes. You can buy down jackets, but pants and socks were hard to source for kids. We made due with small adult sizes for things we didn’t bring for the kids. We had the most luck at a huge shop down a Thamel Marg side street (across from Yak Mountain Himalayan Trekking shop on Google). While we didn’t see kid gear at first, they were able to pull out things from their massive piles of clothes, that worked for the kids. If possible, bring kid-sized gear from home!
Nepal Packing List for Kids
Here is what was on our EBC packing list:
- Backpack – kid sized. This is a great kids daypack and this is a great kids hiking pack for older kids.
- Shoes or Boots – our kids hiked in their runners
- Merino Layers – same quantities as above: 2 t-shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 long johns
- Rain Jacket – our daughter likes this Marmot one.
- Fleece layer
- Puffer Jacket
- Hiking pants and fleece pants for night
- Merino socks – 1-2 for hiking and one for night
- Sun hat – our kids wore ball caps
- Warm hat and gloves
- Book and cards for the evenings. Check out our post on our favourite travel games and great unplugged activities for kids.
- Watch that tracks altitude to keep the kids engaged. Here is a good one.
- Inexpensive camera for them to use
Buying Gear in Kathmandu
Thamel is definitely one of the great tourist areas of Asia. Love it or hate it, it is a very useful place to prepare for you trek. For us, it was shocking to arrive in Thamel and see so many foreigners. There are hundreds of shops where you can outfit yourself for your trek and pick up the things on your trekking equipment list. Most of them sell fakes of varying quality and most of them will require you to negotiate on the price. There are a few well-respected fixed price shops like Shona’s, which are very honest in telling you what you do and don’t need.
There are some authentic brands with stores in Thamel, like North Face and Mountain Hardware. You can also purchase authentic gear at Sherpa Adventure Gear. There are virtually no sales at these shops, so expect to pay full Western prices.
If you are planning to buy some of your gear in Thamel, plan to spend at least a couple of days there. You can familiarize yourself with what is available and prices, while enjoying some Western food and entertainment. Make sure you try the shwarma at Thamel Doner Kebab and treat yourself to a milkshake at Keventers. Be prepared to negotiate on price – you should never pay the first price suggested.
Additionally, many of these shops will rent out sleeping bags, backpacks and down jackets.
Pokhara Lakeside is a smaller version of Thamel where you can also outfit yourself if trekking in the Annapurna region. If doing Everest Base Camp, you can purchase some last minute clothes and gear in Lukla or Namche Bazaar.
Storing Your Bags in Kathmandu
Chances are you will enter Nepal with more gear than you actually bring on your trek. All guesthouses in Kathmandu and Pokhara will store your luggage at no cost.
Don’t Forget About Insurance
Since you are trekking in a remote area of a developing country, you want to make sure you have good travel insurance. We’ve used and had positive experiences with World Nomads. You want to make sure you have a high limit on medical expenses and that emergency evacuation is included. World Nomads is easy to use, offers fair prices and are used to covering travelers all over the world. If using existing coverage confirm it covers you at high altitude, some insurance only covers up to 3500m, so confirm before you go.
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