It can get quite cool at night at 5000 meters, while being relatively warm in the lower valleys on approach to peaks and passes. It’s a good idea to have a warm bag, be it synthetic or down. Down really is preferred in the long run for the Himalaya, as very rarely is the risk of your bag getting soaked (down doesn’t work when wet) an issue. Down also compresses smaller, and is lighter weight. We prefer a bag that is at least rated to 0 degrees, because it is always easier to cool down than it is to warm up.
Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Bringing an inflatable sleeping pad is a nice addition to our double foam mattresses. You’ll appreciate having one and it will add warmth to your nights sleep. They aren’t necessary, but these days most everyone uses one as they are so comfortable and really help to make your trip. Therm-a-rest or an equivalent brand is best as you’ll get many years of life out of it.
Sleeping bag liner
A nice addition but not totally necessary. Oil from your skin actually gets into the down of your bag over time, reducing its loft. A liner prevents this, and can add warmth to an older bag or one that is borderline not warm enough.
Your day pack will carry a water bottle or two, sunscreen, a warm layer, a rain jacket, camera, and occasionally crampons for peak or pass crossings (depending on the trip). We like a pack in the 30 – 45 liter size range for this purpose, leaning towards the larger size if you carry extra camera gear. A nice fitting hip belt transfers the load from your shoulders to your hips, and this is appreciated for longer days. Bring your gear with you to the shop, and toss it in and have a walk around to get a “feel” for how the pack rides. It shouldn’t cause any painful spots on your hip bones or shoulders. Ask a shop attendant to adjust it properly for you, and spend some time wearing around with weight in it before purchasing.
Boots are the most critical item in your trekking kit. You need a pair that provides good ankle support, room in the toe box, and that doesn’t cause pain. We like to put on a pair in the shop, and keep them on for at least ten minutes. Walk around the shop, and wait for them (the boots) to tell you if they are the right ones. If there are hot spots, or spots in the boot that don’t feel right, then they aren’t the right ones. Keep looking. Synthetic or lightweight leather boots are best, and you will always get what you pay for in boots. Don’t go for the cheapest, don’t go for the most expensive, just go for the ones that feel right. Once purchased, you’ll want to go for some hikes in them during the week, and on the weekends get out for some longer days, or even an overnight trip. Don’t show up in India with brand new boots, all new boots need time to adjust to your feet, and vice versa. At the same time, if your boots are old, its time for a new pair. Show up for your trek with boots that are in their prime, meaning not brand new, and not in their “golden years”.
Around camp, we like to have a pair of all around shoes for kicking around camp, and for giving your feet a rest from your sturdier boots. They feel “great” to put on after a long day, and can even be used on trek during long flat distance days.
Sandals are good to have along for river crossings and for bathing. Do bring a pair and on river crossing days we’ll remind you to attach them to your day pack. Flips flops or thongs won’t suffice for this, as they aren’t securely attached to your feet and easily come off in swift current (we’ve watched to many of them float away, a guide running down the beach to salvage a “rescue”). Don’t bring flip-flops / thongs for river crossings on a wilderness trek. If you don’t want or can’t bring sandals, your camp shoes will suffice but remain wet for several days (not the end of the world).
Good socks are as important as boots, and you’ll need three to four pairs. We use a lighter wool trekking sock for down low, and a slightly thicker trekking sock for up high. The days of a liner sock and heavier sock are pretty much gone with the new form-fitting cut of trekking boots, but some still choose this option (we don’t). Take home message: bring one pair of heavier trekking socks and three pairs of lighter weight trekking socks.
It seems odd to bring a down or synthetic jacket for a summer trek, but at night and early mornings at high altitude you’ll appreciate the warmth of one. Down or synthetic will suffice. Our pick If you plan to climb at higher altitude, or “run” cold .
A good rain jacket will be useful for windy days, the odd rain shower, or for an extra layer on chilly days (they do contain your body heat, so they are good over an insulating layer). Do invest in a good one that has a waterproof rating.
There are several weights in base layers, including silk-weight, lightweight, mid-weight, and expedition weight. For trekking, we like to have one lightweight bottom, two lightweight tops, one mid-weight top, and one expedition weight top. It’s nice to have the lightweight top to change into when you get to camp, and the heavier top layers are great to thermo-regulate while on the trail.
Throwing these on (or fully changing into them) over your trekking pants in the mornings and evenings around camp really makes things pleasant. Fleece or down models work well. This completes your layering system, with three tops (light-weight,mid-weight,expedition weight), and two bottoms (lightweight, fleece/ synthetic down pants).
We recommend a trekking shirt with a collar for the sun (can be folded up), and that is of synthetic material. Some trekkers use a synthetic t-shirt, along with a buff or bandana (see below).
An important part of your kit, you’ll wear these for most of your trip. Invest in a good pair that is lightweight, breathable, and quick drying. Pants that have a built-in belt fit better under your pack hip belt and under a climbing harness.
Bring 3 to 4 pairs, you’ll have the chance to do some clothes washing on the trip.
Nice for the evenings and early mornings, and can be good for windy summits and passes.
You either use trekking poles or you don’t. If you don’t already have them and have trekked before, then you probably don’t need them. Trekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles, but many choose to not use them. You can pick up a cheapo pair of poles in the markets and bazaars of Kathmandu, Leh, Uttarkashi, and Manali. We recommend purchasing a good pair though that will last.
Bring one pair with 100% UV protection. Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day. If you have an extra cheapo pair, bring those as well in case you break or lose your first pair.
Gloves can be good for our treks for windy/cold passes and summits, especially if you tend to “run” cold. Do bring a pair of liner gloves and windproof mid-weight gloves. You can leave the ski gloves at home, unless your trek involves a 6000 meter peak or technical pass. Glove types and recommendations:
liners: You can pick up a pair liner gloves in Leh, Manali, Uttarkashi, or Kathmandu for next to nothing. Don’t go out and buy liner gloves at home when you can save a lot buy purchasing them here. Liner gloves aren’t built to last, usually you’ll get one trek or expedition out of them. We recommend these particular gloves because they are durable and built to last. They aren’t your average liner glove.
*You’ll only need this if you are climbing to 6000 meters on a glaciated peak, or if you’re crossing a technical pass.
Water Bottle / Hydration bladder
Most guides will recommend 3 liters of water a day, and we know that every “body” is unique, so we encourage you to bring what you need. For water containers, we use Camelbaks, Nalgenes, and just plain old water bottles from the corner market. The main point is that you drink each day, so do have a plan for how you will carry your water. Many prefer to bring a water bottle and a thermos, in this way they can have hot drinks or water throughout the day, or just fill their thermos with cool water for the hot days. It’s a good idea to bring drink mix powder as well for your daily needs, as you will need the extra boosts of salts and sugars in your hydration plan. The more you drink, the better days you will have. It’s better to drink a little every hour as opposed to drinking in the morning and evenings. Your body absorbs fluid better with this practice. The absolute best (and worst tasting) hydration powder are Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS). Typically used for rehydrating after a bout of diarrhea, ORS is the ticket to maintaining the best hydration even on the longest trek and climb days. ORS is readily available in India and Nepal over the counter (and far more affordable).
It’s a grand idea to bring a wide mouth bottle for the inconvenient need to answer the call of nature at night. A plastic peanut or pickle jar works great and is far less expensive than a Nalgene. Do bring one, you’ll appreciate it on cold nights.
Head lamp/torch and extra set of batteries
Bring a good headlamp for your trek. It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb, or for reading in your tent. Our dining tents are lit with solar power, so they’re a good place to save battery life on your headlamp. You’ll want to bring your headlamp with you on the trail for a “just in case” situation.
It helps to have a towel along for drying your feet after washing them at the end of the day, for bathing next to the river on hot afternoon days at camp, and for washing your face in the morning to start the day. We provide warm water for all these “activities”.
Bring sunblock lotion for your body, and a “faces” type sunblock for your face and lips. It’s good to have a lip balm as well, Banana Boat and Coppertone make great ones. You’re better off bringing this from home. We prefer the “stick” varieties to the lotion types for your face. They stay on longer and are more effective than the lotions. UV rays at high altitude are two times as strong as those at sea level, the more sunblock you can bring the better.
Bring a moisturizer for dry skin after several days in the mountains. Even if you don’t normally use one, you will on treks and climbs. It’s dryer and harsher at high altitude.
You want to have a good sun hat with you, preferably one that is light in color as it’s far cooler temperature wise than a dark-colored one. We use a sun hat with a bandana underneath to absorb sweat and to hang down and block the sun on your neck.
A bandana has one thousand different uses (if not more). Bring one to cover your neck and ears in “sheikh” style. Also great to wet at river crossings and cool off your head. You can buy these in Asia, and they will be a little less expensive.
We carry a full medicine / first aid kit. Bring any personal medication that you need, and let your guide know so they can assist if there could be an emergency.
We purify our own water morning and evening for you. If you think you’ll drink more water than you’d prefer to carry in a day, then bring water purification tablets to purify mid day bottles filled in a stream. You’ll be able to top off your water bottles at our water filter station in the mornings and evenings, but will need to “fend for yourself” while we are on the trail if you need extra water. Purification tablets are relatively inexpensive and lightweight to carry.
You’ll want to have a camera to document your trip. Be sure to bring enough memory cards to shoot as many photos as you please (how many times have we heard people say, “wow, I never take photos but this place is beautiful!”). Bring enough memory cards and an extra battery for your camera. You’ll be able to charge our camera several times during the trek on our solar unit.Book
Bring a book with you. You’ll appreciate it and can swap it out with others on the trip, while also using our compact library that we bring (which contains literature pertinent to the particular trek area).
Gaiters are good to have for muddy/wet days, and for snow on pass days. Very useful and keep pebbles and snow out of your boots. They can really beef up a lightweight pair of trekking boots.
Bring snacks for in-between meals, and for longer pass and climb days. You’ll appreciate having a snack even if you normally don’t snack between meals. You will eat a lot more on trek, putting salt on food, using more sugar in tea and coffee. Your body burns a lot of fuel in the mountains, keeping warm, ascending and descending, carrying your small pack. If you normally don’t eat salt and sugar on your foods at home, we’ll encourage you to while on trek. You’ll acclimatize better when you are more hydrated. It’s nice to bring a snack to share with the group as well that comes from your area of the world (or just one of your favorites). Do bring snack bars, and some drink powder for your water bottles and/or water bladder.