Nepal Trekking Packing List
If you’re planning a trek to Nepal Himalayas, the time of the year you’re going to trek will have an impact on your Nepal trekking packing list. Why is it important to only bring the essential items? You may be tempted to pack for any eventuality, but our advice is to pack light. Even if your porter carries the most of the weight, carting heavy luggage along steep mountain trails will ruin your vacation.
Packing for a trek in Nepal can be a daunting task, and even more so if this is your first trek in Nepal, so you really don’t know what to expect. When packing for trekking in Nepal, there may be a tendency to pack for all eventualities. This would be the right approach in the ideal world. However, there is one key aspect that means that packing everything you might need and the kitchen sink is probably not a good idea.
Where you go hiking will have a major impact on how much – and what – you have to pack for your trek. If you’re doing a famous, lower elevation hike with good lodges (teahouses) along the route then you can get away with carrying much less than if you’re doing a high-altitude trek.
On a lower altitude trek with lots of trekking lodges, you may wear a thinner, lighter jacket and a sleeping bag and leave your gloves, woolen caps and thermals at home.
If you’re on a more remote, higher trek you’ll need a lot more equipment, and because many Himalayas treks take you to both hot and humid lowland valleys and cold, barren high altitude passes, you’ll need clothes and gears for a far greater range of conditions.
No matter where, where or how you’re going on a trek, there are a few things that are near enough to pack up for a Himalaya trek.
Packing List of Essentials for Hiking the Himalayas
Hiking boots: You will need boots, not hiking or trail running shoes. Make sure they’re waterproof, strong, and most importantly, comfortable. Don’t buy a cheap pair, and break them in at home before heading to Nepal. In Kathmandu, you can rent or buy hiking boots, but we wouldn’t recommend it because the quality might not be up to standard.
Winter jacket: A thick, waterproof, warm, breathable, but lightweight jacket is required. In sub-zero temperatures, it should keep you warm. If you’re plan on doing a lot of mountain trekking, it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality jacket.
Sleeping bag: Even at low altitudes, it can get bitterly cold at night in winter (don’t be surprised if the hills surrounding Kathmandu get a dusting of snow in December & January), and the thin, gap-riddled walls of hiking lodge bedrooms provide little protection.
Water bottle: Bring two bottles of at least a litre each and refill as needed. Don’t rely on mineral water in bottles. It is always not available and at the best of times it’s environmentally unfriendly, but up in the Himalayas where there is little chance of recycling.
Water purification system: You can either use water purification tablets (get enough to treat at least three litres of water per day) or better yet, invest in one of the growing numbers of water purification systems.
We highly recommend the LifeStraw system (buy the straw and the corresponding bottle), which allows you to drink water instantly and is extremely effective at cleaning the water. And some lodges on the trekking routes provide boiled water.
Thermals: For colder routes, two or three thermal tops of different thickness, as well as a pair of long pants, are worth their weight in gold, and even on lower altitude treks, you’ll probably find yourself wearing a thermal top at night.
Fleeces: For a Himalayas trek, two fleeces, one thin and one thick are important.
Walking trousers: Don’t try to do the Annapurna Circuit in a pair of jeans (yes, we’ve seen trekkers do it). Get the comfortable hiking trousers. For the longest treks, two pairs should be enough.
T-shirts/shirts: Many people suggest quick dry shirts designed for hiking. Cotton is good and comfortable to sweat into until the outside temperature drops, a wind picks up or you stop walking and cool down. Then, having damp clothing close to your skin can be harmful. Synthetic fabrics are much safer.
Socks: Specialist hiking socks are supposed to reduce blisters and are worthwhile to buy. However, even if you don’t change your t-shirt, you should always change your socks on a frequently, as this helps to reduce blisters as much as any clever equipment. Take at least three pairs for a two-week trek.
Sandals: Most people appreciate being able to take off their boots and put on sandals at the end of the day (with or without thick socks depending on how cold it is).
Hats: A sun hat is important for hotter, lower elevations and a winter hat or bandana is required for higher altitudes.
Gloves: Bring a pair of thick, warm gloves and a pair of thin, cotton under gloves. You won’t be able to use your camera or eat properly while wearing thick gloves, but you can with thin gloves and they’ll keep your hands warm for a few minutes.
Sunglasses: For all elevations, this is a must-have bit of kit. The sun reflects off the snow can easily frazzle your eyes.
Sunscreen and sunblock: No matter what the weather or elevation, use complete sun protection to your face, nose and neck.
Hiking Poles: Not absolutely vital, but they definitely make hiking easier and your knees last longer.
Wash kit: Keep it as simple as possible. You won’t have much time to wash. A small light-weight travel towel is not a bad idea.
Headlamp: A headlamp and spare batteries are must.
Book to read: Evenings can be very long. Bring a book with you (and not a tablet or Kindle as power sources can be erratic and batteries drain quickly at altitude).
Camera: Even non-photographers will want to capture the incredible Himalayas.
Spare batteries: Bring extra flashlight, camera, and phone batteries. Batteries drain quickly or completely stop working above a certain altitude (depending on the product). Above 3,000 meters, put the batteries in your sleeping bag at night to keep them warm and reduce drainage.
Snacks: A few biscuits and chocolate bars might help you get the energy boost you need to get over the passes.
Backpack: To transport all of this, you’ll need a good, comfortable trekking. If you’re using a porter, you’ll need a small backpack for your day gear and a bag (ideally a hold-all) for the porter to carry everything in.
Insurance: A good, comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers trekking at altitude and in Nepal is easily forgotten, but it is perhaps the most important item of all.
You should double-check these last two points because many travel insurance policies do not cover trekking above 2,000 to 3,000 meters, which is difficult in Nepal, and some no longer insure people traveling to Nepal at all.