Packing for a trek in Nepal or anywhere in the Himalayas is a daunting task. Your Nepal packing list should be robust but lightweight. Before you leave home, what should you pack for Nepal? When you arrive in Kathmandu, what should you buy?
There are two objectives for a Nepal trekking packing list:
- Pack enough to brave the cold and be prepared
- Pack as little as possible to reduce the weight you’ll be carrying
This trekking in Nepal packing list serves as an Annapurna Circuit Packing List and Everest Base Camp Packing List.
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First On The Nepal Packing List - The Perfect Backpack!
It’s critically important to have a great backpack while trekking in Nepal. It’s what holds together the rest of your Nepal packing list – literally.
You’ll be carrying a lot of weight over long periods of time, so it needs to be comfortable, light, and practical. My favorite brand of backpacks is Gregory, which I recommend for long-term backpacking as well as for this Annapurna Circuit packing list and Everest Base Camp packing list.
The Gregory Jade 63 L has been my travel companion for almost two years now, and it was perfect for holding everything else on this packing list for Nepal. The men’s version of this is the Gregory Zulu 65 L.
If I was looking for a backpack solely for trekking in Nepal, I may have gone one size smaller, such as the Gregory Jade 53 L (also I’m obsessed with the teal color!)
For this Annapurna Circuit packing list and Everest Base Camp packing list, I recommend getting a 53L backpack.
Key points when choosing a backpack for your Nepal trekking packing list:
- Two water bottle holders on the sides. You’ll want to carry 2 x 1-liter water bottles on all trekking days.
- Adjustable shoulder straps and waist straps to alternate where the weight of the bag is settling on your body
- Bottom compartment with easy access to store a sleeping bag
- Exterior trekking pole holders
- Separate compartment for valuables (the Gregory bags all have pockets in the top flaps)
Don't Forget the Perfect Hiking Boots!
While trekking in Nepal you’ll be on your feet for 3-12 hours per day. I spent a maximum of 12 hours from guesthouse to guesthouse on the Three Passes Trek, and about 9 hours on the Annapurna Circuit. Although it’s possible to trek everything in sneakers, because of icy glaciers, snow, and the elements, its better to buy awesome hiking boots!
When buying boots for your Annapurna Circuit packing list and Everest Base Camp packing list, remember:
- You need a little extra toe space in the boots for thick socks and downhill hiking days when your toes will push up against the top of the boot
- Ankle support is important for the rocky climbing days
- Waterproof or semi-waterproof if you’re hiking on a wet day
- After buying boots, practice walking in them to wear them in before embarking on your Nepal trek.
Now for the good stuff... my Nepal packing list, Annapurna Circuit packing list, and Everest Base Camp packing list:
First, some tips:
- No one is trying to be fashionable in the mountains, so don’t worry about what your outfit makes you look like. If you care a lot, layer blacks and grays and other neutral colors.
- Expect to alternate between two outfits: one for sleeping in, one for hiking in, plus some layers. The exception is underwear and socks, which you’ll need a few extra of.
- Don’t expect that you can do laundry while trekking, aside from hand-washing the smaller items. For the sake of those around you, get clothes that are less likely to trap odors.
1. One Insulated Goretex Jacket
2. One Fleece Jacket
Layers are super important for your Nepal packing list, because you’ll encounter a variety of temperatures in the Himalays. When starting the day it’s usually freezing, so wear this Columbia fleece under your Goretex jacket. When your body warms up and the sun’s shining, shed the outer layers and trek in this. A fleece is perfect for lounging around the teahouses too! (You only need to pack ONE!)
3. One Long-Sleeved Underarmour Shirt
4. One Long-Sleeved Heat Tech Shirt
Pack a warm and cozy layer that you can sleep in. Similar to thermal clothing, UniQlo’s Heat Tech clothes are great at trapping in your body heat so you can have a cozy night’s sleep. Underarmour has a similar line called “HeatGear.”
One tip for your Nepal packing list is to have only two sets of clothes: one for sleeping in, and one for trekking in.
5. One or Two T-shirts
T-shirts are great for everything: sleeping in, hiking in, and to layer over your underarmour. Although you can pack a regular cotton t-shirt, these tend to be a bit on the heavy side. Find a light-weight athletic one, or one that prevents odors, in the Amazon Essentials store.
If you pack two T-Shirts, you may not need tank tops (below).
6. One or Two Tank Tops or Camisoles
Singlet, tank top, whatever you want to call it, these super light-weight inner layers are great for staying warm at your core. When you arrive at a teahouse after trekking and you want to change to sleeping clothes, it’s nice to keep an inner, inner-layer on so you’re not completely exposed to the elements.
Pro Tip: Tucking this layer into your pants keeps you extra warm!
7. Sweatpants or Hiking Pants
I had one pair of warm athletic sweatpants with me for my Nepal packing list. I wore them on their own, or over my leggings (below) on the cold days. I hiked in these, brushed off the dirt, and slept in these too after surpassing about 4500m in altitude.
A good substitute would be the khaki hiking pants with the zip-offs that are so commonly seen in the mountains.
8. Heat Tech or Athletic Leggings
My mom tells me to not wear these as pants… but actually they’re so great for trekking! They are skin-tight and can be layered under sweatpants, and can be worn to sleep too. My legs are the last part of my body to feel cold, so on most days I trekked in my heat tech leggings.
9. Light-Weight Shorts
10. Three Pairs of Thick Trekking Socks
+ One Pair of Regular Socks
Thick trekking socks are another critical item for your trekking Nepal packing list. Three pairs is a good number so you can alternate washing one pair of them, with wearing the others. Merino wool socks are the best option.
I also had one pair of regular socks, worn on the hotter days or around the teahouse after a day of trekking
11. Six pairs of underwear
12. Thick and Thin Gloves
After passing 4000 meters in altitude, I always kept my thin gloves on. During the coldest days, going over glaciers or mountain passes, I layered them with my thick, weatherproof gloves.
I recommend bringing both so you don’t have to wear thick gloves for every occasion.
Thin gloves with touch-screen capabilities, and thick gloves that don’t inhibit dexterity would be my top priorities for my Nepal packing list!
13. Hat or Headband
14. Buff or Neck Wrap
Be prepared to face the elements in the Himalayas, including some extreme wind. At mountain passes or at high altitude points, it’ll be cold and windy. Covering your neck, even your nose and mouth, is recommended to protect yourself from the cold.
1. Feminine Products
2. Cough Drops
Buy medicated cough drops over the counter in Kathmandu, or bring your favorite from home! I got sick with a cough while trekking the Three Passes Trek, and I wished I had brought more cough drops with me. They’re great to have in general because of the dry, cold air in the mountains.
3. First-Aid Kit items
It’s good to keep some staple first-aid kit items with you like band-aids, gauze, anti-septic, alcohol pads, iodine, etc. Common ailments while trekking include blisters and scrapes.
You can buy these all separately at Kathmandu pharmacies, or keep a whole kit with you.
4. Rehydration Salts
These are a lifesaver in the mountains and should not be forgotten on your Nepal packing list. It’s easy to not consume enough water while hiking, because you won’t feel hot or thirsty most of the time.
Rehydration salts taste awful, but are an important part of being healthy and beating altitude sickness in the mountains.
5. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen
To treat one of the most common symptoms of minor altitude sickness, headaches, bring some pain relief medicine with you. When your body’s feeling some aches and pains from hiking for so many consecutive days, this will come in handy too.
Consult your doctor before starting to take Diamox. This medicine is used to prevent altitude sickness symptoms if taken correctly.
Although I didn’t take any Diamox, nor did any of my companions, many trekkers do.
Be sure to get proper instructions on how to take Diamox. Diamox does not treat altitude sickness after the symptoms are already overwhelming. It is supposed to be taken as a preventative before that point is reached.
7. Water Purification Tablets
To minimize your impact on the environment, I recommend bringing water purification tablets so you can drink the free-flowing mountain water in Nepal. Especially on the Annapurna Circuit, water is available in every village, flowing from small hoses. If you have a 1-liter water bottle with you, just pop a tablet in and wait 30-minutes for all the potential germs to be killed off.
10. Toothbrush & Toothpaste
11. Baby Wipes
Having a “baby wipe shower” is quite common in the Himalayas where it’s way too cold to get into a cold water shower. Baby wipes will be your saving grace to keep hygiene and body oder in check. If not for you, do it for your hiking companions!
These baby wipes are biodegradable, perfect for leaving a smaller footprint in the mountains.
12. Toilet Paper
These lightweight things will cost you $3-$4 per roll up at high altitude! Don’t get caught high and dry by bringing plenty with you from Kathmandu. Bring 2-3 rolls and replenish as needed along the trek.
Toilet paper works well as tissues too for the sniffly noses.
13. Other Items For Your Trekking Packing List
1. Lightweight Trekking Poles
Trekking poles were incredibly useful for me when going downhill, and helps you go uphill too. You don’t need all the fancy tips and packing bags to go with your trekking poles. Just bring something that can help take the weight off of your knees and rest of your legs. They may look dorky, but most trekkers will have them, and they’re great to help prevent aches and pains on the trail.
It feels incredible to give your feet a break outside of your heavy trekking boots.
You have two options here. Casual sandals (not flip flops) that you can wear with your socks on are great for wandering around after a day’s worth of trekking.
Sandals for trekking (like Chacos or Keens) are also great because you can wear them when hiking at lower altitudes. Although they’re a bit heavy, having them gives you options for what to wear when on the trail.
I only used microspikes on three or four of the 40+ days I spend trekking in Nepal. However, they are really important to have as part of your Nepal packing list. On those three or four days I was hiking on slippery surfaces, like glaciers or the side of snowy mountains. One misstep or slip-up, and I could have been tumbling down a ravine.
For extra peace of mind, I highly recommend bring a pair of microspikes for trekking in the Himalayas. Better safe than sorry.
4. One or Two 1-Liter Reusable Water Bottles
To take advantage of the free flowing water in the mountains, and prevent excessive plastic waste, take one or two Naglene bottles with you. The 1-liter size is perfect for one chlorine water purification tablet. Since you need to wait 30 minutes for the tablets to work, it’s nice to have one bottle to drink out of, while one is simmering with the tablet.
5. Sleeping Bag
I used a sleeping bag every day on the Annapurna Circuit. I was glad to have a cocoon of warmth under the blankets provided by the guesthouse. I recommend getting a lightweight but warm one. Mine was a stuff-sack rated for 0 degrees Celsius.
Since keeping electronics in your bag with you keeps them charged, find one with a small pocket too!
6. Quick-Dry Towel
It’s hard to be motivated to shower in the cold mountains, but it should be done at least every couple of days. Most teahouses have a small gas shower available, so you should take a quick-dry towel as part of your Nepal packing list.
7. (Optional) Headlamp
8. (Optional) SteriPen UV Water Filter
If you want to have water without the chlorine water purification tablets, you can bring a SteriPen. This pen eliminates over 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, and is more effective than just the chlorine tablets. The 1-liter water Nalgene bottle is also perfect for using the SteripPen to purify the water, because of its large top!
1. Portable Battery Pack
On both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp it costs $1-$5 every time you want to charge you phone. Electricity is solar-generated, and not plentiful! Having a power bank is a cost-effective item to bring with you, to save you some money.
Having a back-up power supply also gives you peace of mind in case your electronics die while trekking in the cold. Anker’s power bank also made it to my list of long-term backpacking gear you shouldn’t go without.
Another item on my long-term backpacking essentials, my favorite Kindle Paperwhite! Reading on the Kindle is a perfect (and lightweight) way to keep yourself entertained after a day of trekking. The long battery life means you don’t need to worry about charging it during your hike.
Remember to sleep with your electronics in your sleeping bag so their batteries don’t drain in the cold!
3. Little things
- Small day-bag for day treks to Kala Patthar or the Ice Lake along the Annapurna Circuit
- Sun glasses – try polarized ones for the snow!
- Ear plugs for the noisy neighbors at the teahouses
- Snickers bars or other candy to keep you fueled up for the trek
- If you didn’t buy a Gregory bag, you’ll need a separate bag cover for rainy days
Tips On What To Buy In Kathmandu
The streets of Thamel in Kathmandu are filled with trekking gear shops. There are brand-name stores, and knock-off stores where you can purchase every single thing on this trekking in Nepal packing list. However, be weary that the quality of the items you buy in Kathmandu may not be the best.
Anything that would be devastating to have fall apart during your trek, you should buy in your home country (or at one of the legit name-brand stores in Kathmandu, which may cost a premium). This includes your backpack, hiking boots, your outer layers like jackets and hiking pants. Small items, like fleece, long-sleeved shirts, etc. can be purchased in Kathmandu.
Pharmacy goods like ibuprofen, cough drops, and water purifying tablets may be the cheapest to purchase in Kathmandu.
**Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new medication in Nepal, such as Diamox, for preventing altitude sickness.
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Check out my other posts about trekking in Nepal!
- Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp – Which Should You Trek?
- 20 Things to Know Before Hiking the Annapurna Circuit
- Annapurna Circuit Day by Day Itinerary
- Watch a vlog about the Annapurna Circuit: Annapurna Circuit Vlog by Intrepid Road
Three Passes Trek and Everest Base Camp
- Ultimate Guide to the Three Passes Trek + Everest Base Camp
- 20 Things to Know Before Hiking Everest Base Camp