I wrote a version of this blog post a few years ago but I’ve had a few people quizzing me lately on what to take on an Everest Base Camp trek so I thought I’d update it a bit.
We’re all very different when we travel and we all have different things that we consider necessities, but I do think that when you’re doing something as extreme as trekking 5,500 kms up in the Himalayas, basically as high as you can go without becoming a mountaineer, and particularly when you’re heading there for the first time, it’s time to consider taking note of what those who’ve done it have to say on the subject.
I certainly don’t claim to be any kind of expert but, having been up there twice I do know the things that I couldn’t have done without and things that, although not necessities, made life a little easier.
1. The right boots.
This is the most important purchase you’ll make when you’re planning this big trip, your life will be miserable if you have problems with your feet way up there in the mountains of Nepal. So, a few tips on buying boots:
– Don’t rush into buying the first pair you try on, try different brands and different sizes – they all fit differently.
– Try them on with the socks that you’ll be wearing.
– Spend plenty of time walking around the shops in them and if they have a ramp in the shop (as most good gear shops do) use it and make sure there’s no slipping.
– Check the shop’s returns policy, 15 minutes wandering around the shop won’t necessarily bring to light all the issues. Again, most good gear shops will be happy to refund or replace if the boots have only been worn inside and you still have the tags and the receipt.
– Get them in plenty of time too do lots of training walks in them, I’d say a minimum of three months but preferable longer.
2. A correctly fitted daypack.
After the boots, in my opinion, the daypack is the next most important item you’ll be taking with you. You’ll be carrying it for hours everyday and having to deal with a dodgy terrain and the altitude so you don’t want to be having aches and pains in your back and shoulders to cope with as well.
Again, try plenty of them on and get them fitted correctly. The weight needs to be sitting on your hips not your shoulders and the back length needs to be right. Some brands have specific packs for women, taking into account our different physique and back length, although that’s not to say that as a woman you have to have a pack designed specifically for women.
Choose the one that fits you.
3. Hiking poles.
Do. Not. Go. Without. Them!
No matter who you are, how young you are or how fit you think you are, the Himalayas are a great leveller.
Pack the poles.
They save your knees, they help when you’re trudging through snow or slush, they can lever you up and over boulders and help you balance when you’re on top of them and they come in handy to lean on when you’re 5,000 metres up in the air and convinced that you can’t go any further.
They’re not only very useful going up but even more valuable coming down.
4. Hand sanitiser.
WARNING: DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.
Gallons of it!
Don’t buy it in big bottles, don’t get the pump packs – handy at home but useless on a trek in the Himalayas. Buy lots of small bottles, the 50ml ones. Then scatter them around – one in the main part of your daypack, one in the little zip pocket on your daypack, one in your pocket and several in your kit bag.
With the sanitary conditions being what they are up there – the less said, the better – you need to be constantly vigilant when it comes to keeping your hands clean.
An odd thing I know, and before you say ‘I don’t wear crocs’ neither do I – except when I’m on a hike.
Before I started trekking I’d never bought any, I’d never worn any and I had no intention of doing so.
While I was researching the first time around, I came across the blog of a guy who’d done the Base Camp Trek (unfortunately I can’t remember which one it was because I would love to have thanked him), and one of his tips was to take along a pair of crocs (or the cheap equivalent).
His argument made sense – they weigh next to nothing, you can wear them with a thick pair of socks and they’re easy to slip on and off around the camp or in the lodge.
So before I went I bought a delightful white pair with a very fetching plastic flower on the top of each one. They cost me $9.00, they looked stupid and they went back with me two year’s later for my second trek.
They’re simply too change into at the end of the trekking day. With a fresh, thick pair of socks they are so comfortable for walking around in the evening or lounging in the tea houses, and as an added bonus, on the couple of occasions you might get to have a shower, you can wear your crocs in there to keep your feet out of whatever has been deposited on those floors.
6. Plastic bags.
Take lots of ziplock bags with you in various sizes. They are so handy. What will you put in them you may ask …..
- Wet socks/undies/clothes.
- Camera chargers.
- First aid stuff.
- Notebook & pen.
I also took a couple of large, heavy duty garbage bags. They come in handy for lining your kit bag before you put everything in it. The porters carry your kit bags on their backs, from one campsite or tea house to the next, and if it rains the water will get through. Best to line the bag first to at least deter some of the rain.
There are several other things that I also took that I found useful, you might like to consider packing any or all of these if you’re doing any form of trekking, not just the Everest Base Camp trek.
- Travel washing line.
- Head torch – essential if you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night.
- Dry bags – separates your clothing and also keeps it dry. Get one large enough to put your boots in, particularly for packing in your suitcase for the trip back home.
- Small nail brush – this is a particular hint for Australian trekkers. Australian quarantine is very strict on any dirt and soil that enters the country (and rightly so – they’ve kept us free from many diseases and bugs). When they know that you’ve been trekking in Nepal they will be concerned about your boots and your hiking poles. Take a small nailbrush with you and you can give them a good scrub before you return and thereby avoid any issues when you come back into the country.
- Spare boot laces.
- Snacks – You need something to give you a bit of energy during the day and keep you going. You can buy well known chocolate bars at the lodges but they can be expensive and I found that some of them were a tad ancient. Take some with you – I found the mini bars ideal, I put 3 or 4 in a zip lock bag in my daypack and each time we stopped for a break they were easy to handle. Others in the group took a fruit and nut mix or trail mix in individual little bags. Your choice.
- Spare camera batteries and memory card – most lodges on the trek will charge your batteries for you (at a cost – the higher up, the more the cost), but best to be on the safe side with spare ones.
- First aid kit – As I went with a well established and reputable trekking company they had an extremely well stocked first aid kit and the guides are trained in altitude first aid. I still took my own personal kit with me though, it’s better to be over prepared than not have a bandaid or headache tablet when you need one. I put everything in that I could possible have need of and I think it’s a worthwhile precaution. If you’re not going with a travel company it’s essential.
I hope that gives you a little bit of an idea when to start when it comes to packing for your Everest Base Camp trek. If you’d like any more advice on this just ask me in the comments or contact me through my contact page.