Here’s a complete rundown of what to bring if you’re planning a trek to Everest Base Camp or any other tea-house trek in Nepal. Proper preparation and equipment for the conditions will go a long ways to ensuring you have a great trekking experience. The article goes into some detail on everything you might want to bring but you can skip ahead and download the entire Everest Base Camp Packing List as either a word doc or pdf.
The first thing to consider is that during the trek your gear will be divided between what you carry in a day pack and what the porters carry up the mountain for you in a duffel bag (we will provide). At the start of every morning the porters will take your duffel and carry it up to the next tea house. What this means is you need to pack a daypack with everything you need for the day of trekking as will be difficult to access any of your gear that the porters are carrying until the evening when you arrive at the tea house. To make trekking easier you should keep your daypack as light as possible and only carry what you will actually need while hiking such as snacks, camera, headlamp, poncho, extra layers, sun protection and water bottles.
If you are on a budget Nepal is a great place to buy new trekking gear and equipment and you can virtually find everything you need for trekking. Prices are unbelievably low and I personally buy all my cold weather clothing in Kathmandu, but you need to be careful to avoid some of the cheap knockoffs. Make sure before you buy anything that the zipper is sturdy in construction and that it works. Also, look at the stitching to make sure the quality is good and that it’s not coming apart. If you are buying a pack pay particular attention to where the straps attach to the pack and make sure that it’s well stitched and strong. If you want brand name gear or really top quality stuff then Kathmandu might not be the place but if you want to save a lot and have some pretty good equipment it’s a great option.
The great thing about tea house trekking is that you if forgot something you can easily buy it along the way. Namche Bazaar, which is reached on the second of evening of the trek has numerous shops selling sporting goods and souvenirs. Namche Bazaar also hosts several pharmacies and book stores as well as an ATM which generally works. If you happen to be going through on a Saturday morning you can check out the weekly market when local Sherpa’s from surrounding villages set up in the middle of town and exchange everything from electronics to sporting goods. Further along the trek you will find a few other places to buy things like jackets, medicine, snacks and books but the selection is nowhere as good. Keep in mind also that the higher you get on the mountain the more expensive everything is and your best option is to get everything in Kathmandu and bring it along.
On the Trail
Here are some items you will to keep easily accessible while you are on the trail. It’s pretty easy to buy water bottles and snacks from the tea houses along the trail. Weather conditions can change fast so even if it’s warm and sunny in the morning bring some warm layers and a poncho that covers yourself and day pack in case of rain or snow.
- Extra layers, gloves, wind breaker and poncho
- Lip Balm with Sunscreen
- Broad brimmed hat or bandana (for sun protection)
- Iodine Water Tablets (personal preference)
- Water Bottles or Camel Back
- Headlamp with extra batteries
- Favorite Snacks
- Waterproof bags to protect electronics or paperwork
- Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
- Umbrella (works great in a light rain or to protect from the sun)
- Duct tape or moleskin for blisters
- Toilet Paper
- Trekking Poles (optional)
- Thermos (optional for hot beverages)
Layering – Base, Middle and Outer Layers
If you are going in March, April or October you probably expect pretty good weather and might even find yourself trekking in shorts and a t-shirt at the lower elevations. However as you gain elevation it gets progressively colder and base camp can be below freezing any time of year. So it’s best to come prepared for cold weather and bring those a few extra layers just in case. Layering your clothing lets you easily regulate your body temperature by adding or removing layers or simply unzipping.
The Base Layer – is the first layer of clothing you should put on in the cold and should help your body maintain a steady temperature by providing extra insulation and wicking away perspiration. Look for fabrics like Capilene or Merino Wool as cotton materials will absorb moisture and defeat the purpose of the base layer.
- Moisture wicking long sleeve tee-shirts (2)
- Moisture wicking tee-shirts (1)
- Long underwear pants (2)
- Underwear (5 to 7)
Middle Layers – A middle layer serves as your insulating layer and the best option is for a thick down jacket or fleece. Find a jacket that is easy to zip and unzip so you can regulate temperature without having to go to the trouble to remove your jacket all the time.
- Heavy Fleece or Down Jacket
- Long sleeve shirts (2)
- Sweatshirt (optional)
- Fleece Pants
- Trekking Pants (2)
- Shorts (optional)
Shell or Outer Layer – The outer layer protects you from elements. The best material is Gortex which is both breathable and waterproof. A nylon jacket or a plastic poncho is a cheaper alternative but the downside is that these materials trap moisture so your body might have a more difficult time regulating temperature.
- Gortex or Waterproof Jacket with hood
- Rain Poncho that covers your day pack.
- Waterproof Pants
Hats, Gloves and Gaiters
Hats – When its warm a bandana or wide brimmed hat is important to protect you from the sun and when it’s cold you should have a Balaclava or wool hat that covers your ears.
Gloves – Its best to apply the principle of layering here as well and bring a lightweight glove and a heavier wool or down mitten that you put over it when it’s extremely cold.
Gaiters – While its highly unlikely you will be walking through snow it does happen. Gaiters are great also as means to stay clean as they can protect you from dust on the trail.
- Wide brimmed hat
- Wool hat (Should cover ears)or Balaclava
- Lightwight Gloves
- Insulated Wool or Down Mittens
- Gaiters (optional)
Footwear: Shoes and Socks
Hiking Shoes – The best option is to bring a pair of broken in hiking boots as well as a lighter weight shoe that you can wear in the evening after trekking. Your choice for footwear depends a bit on your personal preference and if you usually hike in tennis shoes then you can probably do the same going to base camp as the trail is fairly level without a lot of rocks. The downside of tennis shoes is they don’t provide any ankle support and they are not as warm as hiking shoes. Having comfortable shoes is extremely important and the most common mistake people make is getting boots which are too small. Ideally, your hiking boot should have extra room for socks but not be so loose fitting that your heel slips while you are walking. If you start to get a blister or your feet are uncomfortable its best to stop and take care of the situation before it becomes a real problem. I suggest trying a lightweight sock-liner in addition to a heavier sock or alternatively two pairs of cotton sock to minimize friction. If this does not solve the problem place some duct tape or moleskin over the area where a potential blister might develop.
Socks – The best option is a combination wool sock and lightweight sock liner made of a material like Capilene. Cotton socks will works as well but you should make sure that you bring a fresh pair for everyday. My personal rule it to bring enough underwear and socks that I can change them everyday even if I wear the same pants the entire time.
- Hiking boots with ankle support
- Camp shoes or Tennis Shoes
- Plastic bag to carry spare shoes
- Hiking socks (10)
- Sock Liners (optional)
Your best bet is to bring your own sleeping bag or to purchase one in Kathmandu. We may also be able to provide you with one if needed. Tea houses along the trail will provide a mattress covered by a sheet as well as a pillow and you can even ask for an extra blanket in most cases if you need it to cover your sleeping bag.
- Sleeping bag rated to -15° C/ 0° f
- Sleeping bag liner (optional)
- Sleeping bag stuff sack
Duffel Bags and Day Packs
During the day most of your gear will be carried in a duffel bag that we provide by the porters on your team. You should bring your own day pack along with a waterproof cover or make sure you have a poncho that you can wear that covers your day pack. In addition, bring several waterproof bags of various sizes that you can put your passport and paperwork into as well as electronic items.
- Duffel Bag for Carrying Your Gear (we provide this for the trek)
- Day Pack for Carrying what you need on the trail
- Small Lock(s) for duffel bag and day pack
- Waterproof cover for daypack
- Drybags in several sizes
- Stuff sacks for dirty clothes/shoes
First Aid Kit and Toiletries
Our team brings along a basic first aid kit but we recommend you also carry the following;
- Advil or Ibuprofen
- Diamox (for altitude sickness)
- Personal Prescriptions
- Medical Tape (for preventing treating blisters)
- Antibiotics (Cipro for travelers’ diarrhea)
- Diaper Rash Cream (Can treat rashes or chaffing)
- Basic toiletries (Soap, Deodorant…)
- Wet wipes
- Panty Liners and Tampoons
- Face lotion
- Hair brush
- Hair ties
- Hand warmers
- Ear plugs for sleeping
Paperwork and Money
You should bring enough money to buy snacks and beverages along the way or anything else you want to shop for. You can find an ATM in Namche but don’t count on it working. If you had a great time your porters and guide will appreciate a tip which is best given in Lukla at end of the trek before you fly back to Kathmandu.
- Passport (needed at entry gate for registration)
- Portable Solar Charger
- Journal, Pen and paper
On Arrival in Kathmandu
-Three passport size photos for your visa application (2) and trekking permit (1)
– $25 USD for Visa Appliation