What to carry for a Trek in the Himalayas?

Personal Gear - Essentials 

Right Gears can be a life saver in a trek at best, and at moderation can make the difference between a lifetime experience and an arduos journey. It is critical to choose a trek that matches your preparation level in physical and mental toughness and having the right gears can greatly augment abilities and quicken the recovery. It is even for an experienced trekker like me to forget many things even today, and I have had many episodes in my first time treks I wish I had the list I now provide to you. A number of these gear may be provided by the trekking group/organisers if you go with one, so always cross check your list with them, instead of exuberantly spending a few thousand bucks on each of them. Have a safe and an enjoyable trek in the Himalayas and elsewhere.

Trek/Walk:

Good Trekking Shoes - (pref with medium or high ankle support and water proof. Avoid PVC Soles. Do not wear brand new shoes for the trek. Break in the shoes well before the trek to avoid sore feet and blisters. Optional – You may consider carrying a backup shoe for multi-week long distance treks)

Cotton Socks – 2/3 pairs (Full length. Atleast one with a toe that you can wear with your camp sandals, if it’s a Slip On)

Woolen Socks – 1 pair (To be worn on top of cotton socks. Don’t wear Wool directly on skin)

Sun Glasses – Polarized/ Anti – Glare – This is a must when trekking in Snow areas. as the high intense direct sun rays can be quite blinding. Those who wear spectacles may wear customized sunglasses. This was one of the few things that mountaineers carry a backup of due to its fragile nature.

Retainer Strap – This holds the sun glasses in its place and can be very handy in a trek, where the last thing you want to worry is about is your glasses would fall or where you kept them.

Wear:

Woolen Gloves – 1 – the glove with a cap that can be removed is excellent. I have found it impossible to tie my lace with any other glove on and in that freezing cold getting the gloves off to tie a shoe lace and put them back on is just too much work !!

Waterproof Gloves – 1 (If trekking in Snow areas)

There is no telling when the sky will pour in the Himalayas. So better be ready. Cotton when wet will not only be uncomfortable but also extremely heavy. So choose Dri Fit Wear.

Since you are likely to be wearing several layers of clothing at the same time, choose the Sizes wisely.

Dri Fit T Shirts – 2 or 3

Dri Fit Pants – 2 or 3

Rain Coat/Ponchos – Preferably one that has a separate upper (with hood) and lower for better movement. Don’t even consider umbrellas, you wouldn’t don’t want to hold one and trek. Yoour hands have better things to do in a trek than hold an umbrella for you. Ponchos are easy to carry , but restrict movement when worn.

Thermal Wear (Top & Bottom) - 1 Set

Windproof Jacket/Wind Cheater - Better if hooded and water resistant/repellent

Heavy Jacket – 1 - Double layer/Fleece/Synthetic fill/Down feather (If trekking in high Altitude snow areas. Check with the organizers)

Sun cap/Wide-brimmed Hat/Bandana – 1

Carry:

Rucksack with gearsRucksack with gears

Rucksack/Back Pack – 45 – 60 L (Some organizations like YHAI and HMI provide their own rucksacks. You may still carry your own, but why would you want to carry your own and get it dirty!!)

Rucksack cover (Waterproof) – Protects from Rain/Dust/Stain (Esp if the rucksack is yours or if you are carrying fragile electronics in it)

Water Bottle or Hydration Bag - 1- 2 Ltrs 

Personal Hygiene:

Lip Balm/Chap Stick – 1 (Guys, don’t think it is only for beauty conscious women, cold and dry can really crack your lips)

Moisturizing Cream/ Body Lotion – 1 (For dryness of skin)

Under garments/Inner wear – As required

Sunscreen – SPF 50 or above – (I know too many first timers to the Himalayas who thought it won’t be sunny since it is cold or Sunscreen is for the finicky girls or you would love a tan or you can’t get darker etc… None of them think so now…Personally for me, my office security refused to let me in and my dad almost passed me up in the airport, when I came back!! I hope you don’t want to find that out the harder way!!)

Tooth Brush and Tooth Paste – 1 Carry smallest quantity

Towel – DriFit Light - 1

Soap / Soap Strip – Carry Pocket Size

Hand Sanitizer – 1 Small bottle

Nail/Tin Cutter – 1 (Have your hand and toe nails neatly clipped. This may cause a problem during climbing or descent if not cut closely)

Tissue roll (Toilet) – 1 (This one item is worth its weight in the Gold in the camp and can literally save your ass)

Wet Tissues – 1 

For Women:

Tampons/Sanitary Pads – As required.

Many Women face early and/or prolonged periods due to the effect of high altitude, so be sufficiently prepared. Do not take any drugs for postponement or pain reduction without doctor consultation. Preferably, use cotton pads that can be disposed without any environment hazards.

Sports Bra – Medium Impact – As required.

Camp/Sleep:

Sleeping Bag - 1 

Sleeping Bag Liner – 1 To Maintain hygiene esp in shared/borrowed sleeping bags

Sleeping Mattress (Foam/Rubber) – 1    

Coffee Mug - 1

Balaclava/Woolen skull cap/Monkey Cap – 1

Small LED Torch – 1 (Pref Head Torch with white light, very useful to navigate at night after lights out in camp)

Mess Tin/Lunch Box – 1

Plates - 1

Camp sandal – Floaters or Slip On's - 1 

Misc Essentials

Plastic Covers – 2/3 (To carry wet/soiled clothes)

Dry Food Items –

  • Chocolate bars/energy/nutri bars (Carry ones that need not be refrigerated)       
  • ORS/Glucon C/D/Gatorade sachet
  • Dates/Walnuts/Almond/Raisins
  • Toffees (Mango Bite/Kachikeri)

Personal Safety 

I hope you would never need one of these, but then don't count on it. Always be prepared for emergencies. Emergencies when appropriately handled can avoid serious contingencies and add a unique flavour to the experience.

Needle and thread – To take care of any emergency wear and tear to clothing/shoes etc

Personal first-aid kit – Anti septic cream, Betadine/Dettol/Savlon, Band aid, cotton, crepe bandage, safety pin, scissors etc.

Medicines -

a)   General medicines comprising of headache, fever, vomiting, stomach upset and pain killer (Volini gel/spray/Pain relief Oil)

b)   Anti Diarrhoearal

c)   Antibiotics – ( choose broad spectrum antibiotics for treating a variety of infections – carry a course of each)

d)   Mild analgesics – (Aspirin/Paracetamol etc but DONOT take Codeine based painkillers).

e)   Strong analgesics ( Co-Proxamol/Ponstan/Temgesic, use with care).

f)   Anti-inflammatory (Nurofen or diclofenac sodium)

g)  Diamox – This helps in acclimatization (a proper dosage is must if taken. Drink lot of water as this is a diuretic drug.

h)   Anti – Fungal Powder for your legs

Body reacts a lot different at high altitudes, so do not overuse any drugs and always check with your doctor and your personal medical history before consuming any drugs.

Optional – Personal Gear

Daypack/Knap sack – Easier to carry Camera, Snacks, Water and any other essentials required on the way. Provides an option to offload rucksacks with porters or mules if and when required.

Walking Sticks/Trekking Poles/Ski Poles - Good to have, reduces the pressure on knees and gives balance specially while descending.

Knee Cap – 1 Pair – If you have knee injuries/problems it’s a good to have.

Face Mask – 1 Many advanced mountaineers use this to avoid exposure to the harsh skin.

Bungee Cord – 1 It helps to tie things with a mule or provides required support anywhere.           

Writing Items – Pen and Paper (Himalayas has made many a writers/poets)

Camera – Not all of its magnificent beauty can be captured, but what can be captured itself is rather breath taking.

Rubber Bands – 12  I personally found this very handy and useful to hold things together like a loose socks, to close half used dry fruits pack etc. Very small and extremely useful.

Common Gear

3 Season Tents

Cooking Utensils & Materials

Rope

A number of gear mentioned here are highly technical products that require a level of expertise to be able to review the quality and your needs and choose the best one. A good way is to check with someone who has experience and knows what you want. If you don't personally know someone who can help you make the tough choices, I'd strongly recommend you visit a specialty shop who have knowledgeable staff and can guide you in picking the right gear. In India I have found Decathlon to be a very reliable shop with knowledgeable floor staff. Go offline, try the gear in the shop, ask for advice and pick the right one for you. 

I know its a lot to remember or take down, so I have created a downloadable checklist of items, that can help you pick and pack the right stuff and it can be accessed here

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