Packing the right gear for the Annapurna or Everest base camp trek is almost as important as bringing your passport to the airport. Although you might read about crazy cheap prices in Kathmandu and Pokhara, so items in your backpack should be brought from home for a good reason. Here is your complete guide to Annapurna and Everest base camp trek packing list.
Annapurna and Everest base camp trek packing list starts from the feet
If you could only bring one item from home with you, let it be good, worn in hiking boots. Many will argue that sneakers will do as well. They probably will, for most of the trek, but not when you reach higher altitudes. First of all, it gets pretty cold up there. Second, you never know when it will be snowing. Last but not least, rocky terrain and sore feet are a bad combination – you need to protect your ankles!
From personal experience – I was wearing hiking boots from day one, even when it was burning hot outside. I never felt hot in my feet, probably due to them having Gore-Tex membrane. By the end of the trek I got some painful blisters, but that’s about it. Many times I silently thanked these awesome boots for great ankle support on very uneven terrain. Here is the review of the boots I was wearing.
Another important item is good hiking socks. They need to be an exact fit, preferably light and breathable. I used cheaper ones (around 4€), you can buy these in Kathmandu before the trek. While hiking socks don’t have to be expensive, the pricier models tend to have cool extra features, like antibacterial material.
As our guide liked to say – by the end of the trek you will all learn the „art of changing clothes in the mountains“. What that essentially means is that you need to prepared to change your clothes quickly on the go. In order to do that more effectively, wearing clothes in layers is the best option.
First (base) layer is usually thermo layer (or synthetic t-shirt if it’s warm). When the sun comes out, it will be crucial to have as little on as possible, while still protecting your shoulders from the hot sun.
Second layer is fleece shirt. Fleece is great material, as it keeps you warm and dries quickly. Depending on whether the day will be hot or cold one, you may need a thin or thicker fleece. I walked most of the Annapurna base camp trek wearing a very think fleece shirt.
Outer layer is a water resistant, windproof jacket. That one will usually stay in your backpack, you may only need one when you enter the cloud zone, somewhere above 3500m. The jacket should ideally be breathable.
All of these items, except outer jacket, can be purchased in Nepal before the trek. Just don’t forget to bargain!
You may hear different opinions about walking poles. Some people say you need them, others say you don’t. Personally, I used them all the way and was happy with the outcome. By using walking poles you significantly reduce the stress on your knees. While I don’t have any knee problems, my knees did hurt, especially on the way down. If you are unsure, pick just one or grab a bamboo stick on the way.
Protection from the sun
Remember, that sun radiation is quite intense in the mountains. One of your best friends will be a bandana, which can be used as scarf, hat or face mask. Good sunglasses are also a must – go for type 3 or 4. Don’t buy cheap versions, as they may harm your eyes. Last but not least, very good sunscreen is a life saver. Don’t hold back – buy the factor 50 for this trip. It only took me 30 minutes in the sun to get solid sunburn.
After hiking boots, second most important item is a good backpack. This is the moment you need to decide whether you will be carrying all your belongings yourself or hiring a porter. If this is your first time in the mountains and you’d like to enjoy the hike, rather than battle with yourself all the way – go for the porter option!
Remember, that this way you will support local person, give them a job. It’s really not that expensive (around 100$ for the whole trek). If you hire a porter, a light backpack is enough (30L). You will just need to carry what you’ll need for the day – water, camera, jacket.
What about snacks?
Bringing snacks to the trek is a good idea, as you will soon realize the choice at the lodges is somewhat limited. Our guide warned us to bring meat products, as higher up in the villages there is close to none meat containing meals. So, we grabbed some meat sticks and beef jerkey that can be stored without the fridge.
The sleeping bag will be your home for the duration of the trek, so choose carefully. If you hire a porter, you can get a bulkier, warmer bag. The nights were usually quite cold, especially at the MBC (3700m). We got cheaper models from Sportsdirect for 36€ with comfort temperature of -8C. This bag worked out Okay for the trek, I never felt cold in it.
Among other items you may need for the trek, are slippers/flip flops (showers are quite dirty with cold floor), travel towel, headlamp, gloves, lip balm, blister prevention tape, headache pills, power bank, toilet paper, 1L water bottle, sweets or souvenirs from home.
Pack good mood
Even if you forget something, it’s fine. Many items you can purchase along the way or lend from fellow travelers. Lodge restaurants are places where people gather after a long day of hiking. It’s a perfect place to meet fellow travelers, share experience and make new friends.
Packing everything correctly will not guarantee that your trip will go seamlessly. Many things can go wrong. The less you carry yourself, the higher your chances are of accomplishing this journey. Just remember, that high spirit is just as important as the right gear!