What to Pack For a Trip to Nepal
So you're thinking about going to Nepal, are you?
Well, let me start this off by saying, stop thinking and start booking. Nepal is an incredible travel destination that doesn't get the credit it deserves. It's been, possibly, my favourite country I've ever visited. Big call, I know. And I just cannot wait to return.
Nepal is absolutely full of culture, incredible landscapes (I mean, eight of the worlds tallest mountains reside there) and the kindest people you'll ever meet. Although people flock to Nepal every year to climb these magnificent giants, there's still so much to be discovered off the beaten path.
Now, you can't visit Nepal without considering going trekking. Whether you're going for a three day trek or a month-long trek, you need to be prepared. But trekking and touristing are two totally different styles of travel, that you have to fit into one bag.
So, what do you pack for a trip to Nepal?
Rain Jacket, Kathmandu - Down Jacket, Kathmandu - Thermal top, Kathmandu - Sun Cap, The Iconic - Beanie, Kathmandu - Gloves, Kathmandu - Sport Top, CottonOn - Tees, CottonOn - Leggings, First Base - Pants, CottonOn - Trackies, Bonds - Sports bra, CottonOn - Hiking boots, Colombia - Slides, CottonOn - Thermal socks, Kathmandu - Headlamp, Kathmandu - Sunglasses, The Iconic
Clothes For Trekking
I want to start this by saying I'm the kind of person who is very happy wearing the same thing every day. If it weren't for my anxiety, I'd probably just set myself one outfit and wear it forever. But you might get a little fed up with your trekking outfit.
The thing is, you don't have the space for extra, unnecessary clothes. So you end up wearing the same thing, every day. Trust me, your back will thank you later.
This packing list is based off my experience trekking for 7 days and travelling around Nepal for 10 days.
Waterproof Shell | No matter what time of year you're trekking, it's best to bring a waterproof jacket. The lighter and smaller it packs down, the better. Some things are worth splurging on, and GoreTex is one of them. It's waterproof and breathable, which means you're not going to sweat even more when wearing it.
Down Jacket | I absolutely hated down jackets when they first became 'on-trend' again. I scoffed when my boyfriend bought one. But I finally caved and bought myself one solely for this trip. And let me tell you, I'm absolutely smitten. It's the perfect travel companion. Soft, pliable, and oh so warm. Nights on the trail get pretty cold, particularly the higher you go. A down jacket will keep you happy, cosy and warm.
Thermal Top | Another item that's worth splurging on. Get one that's 100% merino wool and no matter how much you wear it, it won't smell. I actually put this to the test and wore mine for 7 days of hiking, day and night (gross, I know), and I can honestly say it didn't stink at the end of it.
Hats | For the cold nights you'll need a beanie. Buy it in Nepal. They're made locally by hand out of yak wool, making it a nice souvenir. I paid around 300NPR (US$3) for mine. You can also pick up a relatively cheap sun cap in Nepal too.
Gloves | Just take whatever you have at home. It's likely you won't need gloves very often but when you do, you'll be glad you have them. Again, the smaller they are, the better for your pack.
Sports Top | You'll want a top that's breathable and dries quickly to wear each day while hiking. Truth is, for 7 days, I didn't need more than one top. If you're going for longer treks, bring two (or three).
Leggings | I didn't bother buying hiking pants and wore my leggings instead. Either one would be fine though. I got caught in a storm at one point and they dried really quickly, much to my surprise. I generally like to spend a bit more money on leggings, as I've found the cheaper ones lose shape pretty quickly.
I also bought waterproof pants with me, and to be honest, I wore them once. This just wasn't enough wear to justify the space they took in my bag.
Sports Bra | Necessary to keep those puppies in place. Get one that's comfortable enough to wear ALL of the damn time.
Hiking Boots | See below for more information about hiking boots. Especially if you're on the fence, like I was, thinking about bringing your Nikes.
Slides | The moment you get to camp each evening you'll be desperate to take your hiking boots off – no matter how comfortable and worn in they are. Be sure to bring a pair of shoes you can slip into each night. I recommend slides instead of thongs (flip-flops) because they allow you to wear socks with them.
Trackies | For ultimate comfort in the evenings, pack some warm trackies you can slip on and sleep in. At night, I'd be wearing my thermal top, trackies, puffer, beanie, thermal socks and my slides – so #fashun.
Socks | For a week-long trek, you'll only need two pairs of good quality merino wool socks. One pair you'll wear during the day, and the other pair will be for lounging around at night. It won't matter if your day socks get smelly, you'll take them off and air them outside every night.
Headlamp | I can't stress enough how important a headlamp is. Most camps don't have lights outside, and if they do, they're pretty lacking. So making your way to the toilet (which will most likely be an outhouse squat toilet) can be very difficult in the dark of the night.
Sunglasses | Even during winter, the sun gets pretty harsh the higher you are (especially when surrounded by snow).
Additional Clothes For Travel
Loose-fitting pants | Nepal is a relatively conservative country. No matter how warm it gets, you'll never see a local walking around in short shorts. So as a tourist, we shouldn't either.
You'll find a lot of articles out there saying that you can get away with wearing short shorts. And sure, I saw a few tourists wearing them without any issues – although they stood out. But be considerate and leave them at home. Instead, bring some lightweight loose-fitting pants or a midi skirt. Or better yet, just buy some pants when you get there.
That said, skinny jeans seem to be quite popular amongst the locals these days. Although I find tight jeans uncomfortable when it's warm out.
Tees | Avoid the dreaded pit stain and stay away from greys and lighter colours. It's going to be warm, and you're going to sweat. Again, with the conservative nature of the country, covering your shoulders and a high neckline is the best option.
Shoes | I'm the first to admit that hiking boots are hideous. I swear there's a gap in the market for nice-looking hiking boots, and I swear I'm going to fill that gap one day. But for now, we're stuck with them. You'll probably head over to Nepal thinking you'll wear your slides every day while exploring the country. But the truth is, it's dusty and dirty out there. I'd take hideous footwear over standing in some unknown substance, any day.
I get it, hiking boots are seriously ugly. I avoided buying them for as long as I could. I even considered just taking my Nikes to trek in.
I asked as many people as I could whether I needed hiking boots.
"Do you REAAAAAALLY think I need hiking boots?" I'd ask, hoping at least one person would answer with a clear "naaaaah". Often, the person would pause and really think about it, before responding with a very stern "yes".
I um-ed and ah-ed, I Googled, I YouTubed. I tried my best to argue my way around not buying hiking boots.
A month before leaving, I bought some. And guess what, I'm really really glad I did.
On the trail, I trudged through thick, sticky mud, I saw people being eaten by leeches, and stumbled over one-too-many rocks. Without my hiking boots, I probably would've had a pretty shitty time.
You'll read people saying that hiking in heavy trekking boots will make you lose your balance. This is bullshit. Hiking boots aren't actually heavy, despite what they look like.
I recommend taking a day to go in-store and try some boots on. That way you will make sure you find the right shoe and size for your feet. Once you've found a pair you want, try to find them online as they'll likely be discounted.
Buy ones with the ankle support. If you don't believe me, try on the boots and the trainers and notice the difference. To me, the boots felt much more 'one with your body' whereas the trainers strangely feel disjointed, as though I could roll my ankle just by walking. But again, try them on and see what you think.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to wear them in. Seriously, you will get blisters. It took my boots three hikes to get over the blister stage. I can't stress this enough.
What to Pack and What to Buy There
You can actually buy all your trekking gear in Nepal. Kathmandu and Pokhara are inundated with trekking shops selling absolutely everything you'll need. Although what they're selling are fakes, they will get you through your trek. But don't expect to take them home with you after.
I'd recommend buying a few things from reputable companies at home:
- waterproof shell
- down jacket
- merino wool* thermal top
- merino wool* thermal socks
- hiking boots (worn in)
* To avoid stinking, merino wool is important and worth the investment.
Guides, Porters and Backpacks
If you don't overpack, carrying your pack isn't actually that hard. You get used to it. I took a 36L Deuter backpack which was perfect for me along my 7 day trek. This included a sleeping bag.
So a porter, a guide and a sherpa are all different things. A sherpa is actually a group of people who have grown up in high altitudes around the Everest region. A guide is a person who is qualified in mountaineering, first aid and altitude sickness. A porter is a person who carries your luggage for you.
A good guide will cost you from US$50 - 70 per day (remember, you get what you pay for). A porter will cost you around US$25 per day.
If you're hiring a porter, please, I beg of you, be considerate. Check in with them, make sure they're having breaks when they needs them. And for gods sake, don't overpack your luggage. Too many times did I see a porter carrying well over the legal limit.
Before you go, be sure to check with your guide what your luggage allowance is (often its 10-15kg) and the best way to pack.
It's nice to tip your porter and your guide. These people don't make a lot of money, they work hard, and their job is seasonal. Just keep that in mind. I'm not very good when it comes to tipping, coming from Australia and all, but I think 10% is a kind gesture.
If you're trekking alone, and find yourself talking to another persons guide, be sure to tip them too. It's not fair to be asking for free advice, that knowledge is their livelihood.
If you're looking for a guide, I highly recommend my guide Ankit. I honestly couldn't recommend him enough! He was friendly, liked to have a laugh, and was incredibly knowledgeable about Nepal and its landscape.
Should You Bring a Sleeping Bag?
If you're trekking along a teahouse trail you don't actually need a sleeping bag. The teahouse accomodation comes with blankets.
But it certainly is comforting sleeping in your own bed linen every night.
Not to mention hygienic.
You can pick up a down filled sleeping bag for around 5000NPR (US$50) or less. Bargain.
The Things You Need But Might Forget
Aquatabs | Buy from trekking stores or supermarkets. These little tablets purify water for you in 30 minutes.
Waterbottles | Bring two 1L water bottles with you. Each teahouse has fresh tank water available for free, which you can drop an Aquatab in for safe drinking water.
Headlamp | Bring some extra batteries just in case. You don't want to be without a light at night.
Day bag | A small, compactable day bag will be handy on the days you're trekking without your pack.
Sunscreen | The sun is really harsh the higher you go, particularly when it gets snowy.
Toilet paper | Tip ladies, 1 roll lasted my 6 full days of trekking.
Wet wipes | Nice to have after a long, sweaty day of trekking and with no available slower.
What Do You Do With the Things You Don't Want to Take Trekking?
You'll likely have a day-bag worth of things you don't need to take with you trekking. It's actually really safe to leave a bag with the hotel you'll be staying at when you get back from your trek.
Discuss it with them before you book your room for when you return.
I even left my laptop with a hotel. I know, I felt pretty nervous about it. But I locked it away in a day bag, wrapped in all the clothing I wasn't taking. And it came back to me exactly as I left it.
Got any more questions about Nepal? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org