The ultimate packing list for a trek in Nepal
Planning your trek in Nepal can be stressful, definitely if it’s your first time. In this guide we’ll talk you through everything you need to put on your packing list for your trek in Nepal. Whether it’s an easy three day trek or a two week trek in beautiful remote landscapes, this guide has got you covered.
Footwear for your trek in Nepal.
A good pair of Hiking boots.
For a trek in Nepal you need a good pair of hiking boots as the terrain can be quite challenging. There are four categories of hiking boots:
- Category A: The most lightweight and flexible footwear, like sandals and trail running shoes. Fine for walking around in Kathmandu, but definitely not for a multi day trek in the Himalaya.
- Category B: These are your average hiking boots. Already a bit heavier and sturdier than category A. You would use them for a day-trip, or multi day treks on easy terrain. You could definitely finish a trek on these shoes, but I would not recommend it, as ankle support can be lacking in this category.
- Category C: This is in my opinion the best category hiking boot for multi day treks like the two-week trek in Tsum Valley. These shoes are heavy, sturdy and offer great ankle support and shock absorption. An advantage of category C shoes, like the Lowa Ticam ii GTX (Which in my case have survived dozens of challenging treks in Nepal, Switzerland and France.), is that they (often) also are compatible with crampons, which might come in handy on an icy trail.
- Category D: This category is overkill for most mortals on this planet. In this category you will find the mountaineering boots used by Nimsdai and friends, to conquer the world's tallest peaks.
I would advise you to bring two pairs of shoes: one Category A and one Category C boot. This way you can let your hiking boots (cat. C) dry after you arrived at your destination of the day. If you want to limit the weight in your backpack bringing only a Category C boot will be fine as well.
Tip: No matter which category hiking boots you use, make sure to buy them far in advance before your trip and use them at least a few days. This way you make sure that you will get the most out of your trek as you won’t be having any foot related pains. Trust me: blisters or pain in your feet or ankles on a multi day trek make you wish you never left home.
Just as important as your hiking boots are your hiking socks. They provide warmth and comfort throughout your days and can be the difference between feet full of blisters or days of trekking full of blis. I recommend (although not very fashionable) to always use hiking socks that at least stick out above your hiking boots as it will protect from skin-on-boot friction. As you probably want to pack light I would also recommend looking at socks made from Merino-wool, because they dry fast, don’t itch and are antimicrobial which means you won’t scare away the local kids with your exquisite odor. Don't budget on good socks, get something like the Falke TK1 Merino socks.
Sandals or Flip Flops
Brand or quality does not matter at all. You will barely be using them, but they can come in handy for your shower and toilet visits. In some Tea Houses you might need to walk to a separate building for the sanitary facilities.
Hat and hand gear for your trek in Nepal.
Sun hat / Sun cap
Any lightweight hat or cap with a good brim or visor and preferably quickly drying fabric.
Wool or fleece hat:
A nice warm wool or fleece hat to use in your downtime in the villages, warming up next to the stove or during a cold night of sleep. Make sure they can cover your ears as well.
Should fit underneath your wool or fleece hat or be thick enough to be worn alone. It will keep your neck warm during icy winds at high altitude.
Can be worn as a scarf, facemask and headband to keep your hair out of your face.
They should be lightweight and synthetic. Make sure they have no seams or relief where you will be holding your trekking poles. This might cause blisters.
Wind stopper fleece gloves
Get some warm wind stopper fleece gloves or mittens. Make sure your hands fit inside including the liner gloves.
Clothing for your trek in Nepal.
Many will advise you to bring shorts ánd trekking pants. I’d say leave your shorts at home and bring two trekking pants: one normal trekking pants and one zip-off pants. At lower altitude or warmer areas you can use the zip-off pants, and as it becomes colder, snowier, more challenging you want to have a more durable and protective solution. There are many fancy brands like Fjallraven and Mamut , but most average brands will do just fine.
Quick-drying T-shirts and or base-layer.
Make sure to bring some quick-drying T-shirts or base-layer items. Get light colours for your tops as they are cooler when hiking in direct sunlight and just as warm as dark colors when worn underneath your other layers.
Tip: Use a layering system and think ahead: you might be cold as you start hiking in the morning, but it only takes 10 minutes on a steep slope and you are begging your guide for a quick stop to remove your fleece.
One long-sleeved shirt
On colder days, or when you are taking a break it is nice to have a long-sleeved layer that you can put on over your T-shirt. I prefer “breathing” shirts like the Nike dri-fit series. As they will keep you warm, but also (sort of) allow your base layer to dry as well.
Warm hoodie (fleece)
After a long day of trekking there is nothing better than putting on a nice warm (fleece) hoodie. Most Tea & guest houses in Nepal are barely insulated, so a warm fleece is definitely a must-have for your trip. For a two-week adventure trek in Nepal it’s enough to bring just one or two hoodies. They take a lot of space, but you only use them when you're done with trekking for the day.
Rain jacket / cover
Many will advise you to bring a decent rain jacket for your trip, but I would rather advise you to bring durable roll-up poncho. Combined with the right layers below it (T-shirt, Long-sleeve, Fleece, Jacket) this is more than enough protection against the elements.
Down jackets can be a big investment, especially if you’re not sure that you will be using them a lot, it might be worth it to check if you can rent a down jacket in Kathmandu for the duration of your trip. This saves you money and also a lot of space in your luggage for international travel. If you rent them make sure to ask for a pouch to put it in when you’re not using it. This makes your life unpacking and packing your backpack a lot easier. Another item worth considering to rent is your sleeping bag, more about that here.
Backpack for your trek in Nepal.
What kind of backpack to bring is a hard question for me to answer for you, but I can at least give you some tips and stuff to consider. Here we go:
Are you planning to hire a porter?
Yes? You will need to bring two backpacks, one big one (40-65L) and one daily backpack (max 20L). The big one for all your stuff that you will not need during your daily hikes, but do need at your stays, and the daily backpack for all the stuff that you need, well… daily. Why two? Your porter will often start walking earlier, later, faster or slower than you. Which means you won’t have access to your stuff during the day. Keep that in mind also while packing up your bags.
No? I advise you to bring one big backpack with an “integrated” summit pack, like my Thule Guidepost 65L. This backpack has a lot of space to bring everything you need and some more. Want to stroll around the village or do a short trek to a local point of interest? Put the items you want to bring in the summit pack and you’re good to go, without having to bring your whole 65L backpack.
Accessibility of your luggage.
I personally hate it when I have to dig through all the stuff in my backpack to get what I need. Sounds familiar? Make sure to buy a backpack that has multiple ways of opening the backpack, so you can easily get to what you need.
Tip: Packing Cubes! I cannot recommend this enough: use packing cubes to organise your luggage. I personally bought packing cubes in different sizes and labeled them using a marker. Taking a packing cube out of your backpack and putting it back inside is way easier than a handful of clothes.
Breathing material for the harness
When you’re carrying around a large backpack, there will be a point that you’ll start sweating, mostly where your body touches the back panel. Having a back panel made of breathable material can help to reduce this, and will provide you with more comfort as your T-shirt will stay dryer and therefore chafes less. Again I’ll recommend the Thule GuidePost 65L.
Medical & Personal items for your trek in Nepal.
SFP 30 or higher, non oily (Dermatone or Terrapin).
SFP 30 or higher, any brand.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, hand-sanitiser, soap, comb/brush, shave kit.
Ibuprofen/Aspirin, assorted Band-Aids, moleskin, Neosporin-type suave, small gauze pad, roll of adhesive tape, tweezers, safety pins. Include any prescription travel meds that might be prescribed by your doctor (antibiotics, Diamox, sleep aids).
Along the trek you will probably not find any toilet paper present. Most toilets provide a bucket filled with water to clean yourself and the toilet. Do not throw your used toilet paper in the toilet, but in the trash. The owner will be thankful.
Water purification tablets
In Nepal it's best not to drink untreated tap water anywhere, and sometimes bottled water might not be available. Next to that bottled water is also not sustainable. Therefore bring some water purification tablets with you (e.g. Potable Aqua brand iodine tablets), or a UV water purifier, like the SteriPen. This way you can always use the local water source safely.
Depending on your Hotel in Kathmandu, or groups staying in your Tea houses along the trek, you can experience some noises during the night. Are you a light sleeper? Make sure to bring some earplugs, like the Alpine SleepDeep, to maximise your rest.
Accessoires and extras for your trek in Nepal.
Trekking in Nepal can be a life changing experience. You will make lifelong memories in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Of course you want to document this right? Depending on your needs you can either bring a professional mirrorless kit, a minimal kit or even just a Gopro! (They offer great quality nowadays). For an extensive guide about what camera gear to bring on your adventures, check out my guide here.
I'll highlight this special kind of camera right here, as it has personally given me a lot of joy as a person who loves to take photographs. Bringing a polaroid camera on your trip, or a portable printer, means you can give directly back to those you are "taking" from. (Taking photos). Next to that it feels good to be able to give something back to the locals you'll meet, they also truly appreciate it. My personal polaroid camera of choice is the Leica Sofort, for it's portability. But there are many popular models out there like the Fujifilm Instax mini 90. You can't really go wrong with polaroid cameras though.
Bring 1 pair of high quality 100%UV and 100%IR with a minimum of 80% light reduction for the days you are hiking at high altitude and/or in snow. the size and shape of the lens should offer maximum protection from bright light on snow.
Bringing a headlamp is no luxury during your trek. In the villages along the trek there can be electricity available, but often only during the day when solar panels can take advantage of.. the sun. So don’t expect lit up hallways or toilets with light. A battery powered headlamp will make your life easier, trust me.
Batteries / Powerbank
A great powerbank can go a long way! Some Tea houses will have electricity, some won’t and it’s hard to know what the situation is before you arrive. So it’s better to assume there won't be any electricity available.
Tip: store your powerbank in your sleeping bag during the nights. This will keep your powerbank warmer, therefore it will lose less power.
Tip: Airlines have rules for the maximum capacity that is allowed for powerbanks. Make sure to check the rules before you buy one, and store them in your carry-on (obliged). Powerbanks can be bulky so think about all the electronics that you need to charge (e.g. camera, smartphone, smartwatch, headlight), how often you think you’ll need to charge them and the capacity you need to do so. I’d recommend getting at least a 10.000 mAh powerbank.
To cover your backpack on rainy or snowy days, but also to protect it during international air travel.
As during every physically challenging activity, you want to make sure you stay properly hydrated. Add some altitude and it becomes even more important to get that H2o in. Get a nice water bottle or go for a camel bag, whatever suits your style, make sure you bring at least 2L of water and fill up your water along the trek. (Don’t forget to purify!).
A trek in Nepal can take everything from a week to a month, you will walk 5-8 hours per day on challenging terrain. Your knees can take all the support they can get, so bring a pair of Trekking Poles. Even one pole can already help you a lot. Trekking poles come in a variety of sizes, shapes and weights. You don’t have to go for a full-carbon, height-adjustable, molded hand grip, kind-a pole. A simple one will get you a long way! Adjustable poles however can come in very handy for packing.
Why would I bring duct tape on my trek? I hear you say. Well there are many reasons to be honest! Ripped your pants? Duct tape. Shoe soles coming loose? Duct tape. Down jacket losing its filling? Duct tape. Just bring a small role, you’ll never know when it will come in handy.
Just like Duct tape, trash bags can come handy in surprising situations. You can use trash bags to waterproof some items in your bag, to protect the bag itself, or to put in your dirty clothes or shoes whenever you need to pack them. And believe me, your clothes will get dirty on a remote trek in Nepal.
Are you heading into high altitude areas during colder seasons? Check with your guide if you need to bring crampons for your trek. Probably you will not need them everyday, but they will make your life a lot easier during that high pass that you need to conquer. In combination with a Category C hiking boot you can go for something like the Wirezoll crampons. Or buy some non-branded version in Kathmandu.
Just like the down jacket, a sleeping bag suitable for the harsh Himalayan conditions can be a big investment. Therefore I advise you to hire one in Kathmandu as well. Your guide can help you arrange this. This might not be an option for everyone due to hygiene concerns, but I personally never felt uncomfortable in my rental sleeping bag.
Tip: Bring a sleeping bag liner if you think you might feel uncomfortable in a rental sleeping bag. It adds another layer of insulation, and can give you some mental comfort about all those other sweaty and dirty tourists who have rented the sleeping bag before you.
It might come as a surprise to you, but there are about zero ATM’s in the rural areas in Nepal. So you will need to arrange cash in Kathmandu (or other bigger cities) before you start your trek. You need to be able to cover all your costs during the trek:
- transport to/from your trek.
- breakfast, lunch, dinner.
- Drinks: beers are relatively expensive in the Teahouses.
- Your overnight stays, although they are often free if you eat/drink at that Teahouse.
- Charging your batteries: yes you’ll have to pay for it at most Teahouses as electricity is a luxury.
- Donations to temples and monasteries.
- Money for unforeseen situations: longer stay due to bad weather, landslides or other disturbances. Or maybe you prefer to upgrade your bus ride to a private jeep ride on your way back.
That’s it for now! If you have great ideas to add to the list shoot me a message!