The clothing you bring will need to allow for both the warmth of the days and the chill of the nights. While trekking during the day at lower altitudes, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts are recommended. It's always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket and some warmer clothing with you though as mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. For the cold nights, thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket will help to keep you warm.
It's not really necessary to spend a lot of money buying extra equipment and clothing before your trip. Warm fleece and woolen clothing is available quite cheaply in Kathmandu and sleeping bags and down jackets, can be either bought or hired at very reasonable prices.
THE GEAR LIST
Down-filled bags (4 season or – 20 C graded) are the best to bring because high altitude nights will be cold, and there is nothing worse than to be cold at night.
Sleeping bag liner
Cotton, silk or fleece. Saves washing your sleeping bag and adds warmth. Cotton or silk ones can be made in Kathmandu but are more easily bought from home. Fleece ones is readily available in Kathmandu and will cost you next to nothing. Inflatable sleeping pad Thermarest or similar. We provide a sponge foam mattress and if necessary, a closed cell pad, but if you have your own Thermarest, bring it.
This should be comfortable and a good waistband that transfers some of the weight to the hips is most important. It needs to be big enough to take a jacket, fleece, water, camera and odds and ends. You pack your daypack in the morning and give the rest of your baggage to the porters. You should have everything you need trough the day with you, since it is likely that we don’t see the porters again before we camp for the night.
For a comfortable trek you need comfortable feet. Good boots have: good ankle support, plenty of toe room for long descents, a stiff sole to lessen twisting torsion, and are light because with every step you lift your boot up. Look at the inner lining - leather is good and Cambrelle is even better, a material that eats smelly feet bacteria. Good lightweight trekking boots or light all leather boots are perfect. Boots must be lightly worn in before trekking and this should include some steep hills to show up trouble spots. The longer the trek, the better the boots you need.
In the low country your feet will be warm or even hot while walking so quality cotton mix sports socks are best. Three to four pairs are enough. Thick trekking socks are better for higher up and cool evenings, four pairs. I will suggest wearing two pair of socks, since it is my experience that this is the best way to avoid blisters.
At the end of the day your feet needs some air, so bring some sandals or running shoes.
Most trekkers consider this essential, but alternatives are a thick thermal top or a light down jacket. In Kathmandu you can get cheap Korean fleeces but they lack that essential style.
This is something you don’t want to miss on those cool evenings. If you don't already have a down jacket they can easily be rented in Kathmandu for around $1 a day.
Waterproof and breathable. Plastic ponchos or non-breathable raincoats are not suitable. Thermal underwear top and bottom.
Good thermals are one of the secrets to cold weather trekking comfort. Expedition-weight thermals are the most versatile and can be worn as your high altitude trekking top.
Great for the chilly evenings, thicker is better. Readily available in Kathmandu.
Day wear shirt
T-shirts are popular but a cotton shirt or mixed yarn travel shirt is more useful. The collar protects the back of your neck and the sleeves can be rolled up or down. Take two so you can swap damp for dry.
You will live in these. Light material, loose and dark-coloured is best. You can survive with only one pair. Cotton cheapies in the local fashion can be bought in Kathmandu.
If your trekking pants are reasonably windproof then special wind pants are not needed. If you do bring a pair, it is not necessary to have gore-tex or similar, non-waterproof is quite OK.
This is not something people tend to forget, but I put it here anyway bring 4 to 7 pairs. Warm hat or balaclava Nice for those cold mornings and evenings.
Suitable for snow, it is bright up there, and you don’t want to end up snow-blind. Specialized glacier glasses with side pieces are not needed. Contact lens wearers report very few problems except cleaning them in the conditions. Ski goggles are unnecessary.
These don't need to be fancy (pockets are the warmest solution to cold hands), so local Kathmandu fleece gloves are fine.
Should be one litre or more in capacity, take boiling water and be leak-proof. You want a total of 2 litres capacity.
MagLite or Petzl head torch or similar. Head torches are more convenient, and are available in Kathmandu.
Toiletries and odds and ends
Essentials for the month only. There are a surprising number of showers or buckets of hot water available. The smallest tube of toothpaste is perfect for a month. We provide toilet paper. Roll-on deodorant can spare you grief with your tent partner...
Bring only a small one trekking, or even better a sarong. In Kathmandu and Lhasa hotels supplies towels. Sun screen and lip care with sun protection The sun is strong at altitude, especially after snow.
A small tube for sensitive or well cared for skins. The air is dry and the sun harsh.
First aid kit
We carry one with aspirin, paracetamol, various antibiotics for Nepalese varieties of diarrhoea, antiseptic, antihistamine cream, bandages, and tough blister tape (but not moleskin). You should bring any personal medicines that you need.
One bottle of iodine tablets between two. Couglans or Potable Aqua is the best. We tend to use boiled water from the lodges but occasionally take water from the streams. The use of mineral water is discouraged from an environmental point of view.
Nepal and Tibet is particularly photogenic, so take plenty of film. Panorama and instant cameras are a very last resort. Bring a spare set of batteries. Kathmandu stocks all the standard print and slide film brands and the prices are cheap.
Ask. Generally there is nowhere to recharge batteries, and therefore it is not a great idea to bring a video camera, leave it in Kathmandu.
One or two with high swap ability. Kathmandu has some great second-hand bookshops. You will also find a very big variety in Himalayan titles in the bookshops here, I recommend Pilgrims bookshop in Thamel.
Money pouch/belt/inside pocket
Most people find wearing one while trekking a hassle and keep it buried in their kitbag or daypack. The Kathmandu hotel has safety deposit boxes.
Not needed but if you have them, bring them.
Snacks and nutrition
You will feel your best with plenty of good food and keeping hydrated. We provide the food and the water. The last two ingredients are wholesome snacks and vitamin tablets. Chocolate and chocolate bars are readily available in Kathmandu. Bring vitamin tablets from home.
WHAT IS AVAILABLE IN KATHMANDU
There are dozens of small gear shops in Kathmandu but they mostly sell locally made fake gear and a strange variety of new gear. Always available are sale head torches and their batteries, fleece gloves and hats, fleece jackets and pants, sunglasses, Swiss army knives and large kit bags. The items that are better brought from home are: socks, boots, thermal underwear, quality fleece, liner gloves and Gore-tex clothing. North face is planning to open a shop in Kathmandu in July 2001; I don’t know what the price level is going to be yet.
Easy to rent items in Kathmandu are down jackets and sleeping bags and day packs.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
We provide all the tents, sometimes dome tents, sometimes sturdy A frames and normally people share one tent between two; a foam mattress each; all the cutlery and utensils, cooking pots, stoves; candles/kerosene lantern, tables and stools, kitchen tent, dining tent and toilet tent; all the main meals while trekking but not snacks; and the best service we can manage.
GEARS FOR CLIMBING TREKKING PEAKS
Many people spend a lot on gear that isn't entirely necessary, so consider carefully what you need and remember that if conditions are horrible, it is unlikely that we will be climbing. Conditions may worsen during the day but if that is the case, we will be on our way down. However, if you are a real climber and don't mind climbing in rougher conditions, should that be the case, then bring good gear and we won't waste an opportunity.
What to expect -
When it is sunny with no wind a thermal top is enough, backed up by a fleece or light down jacket for rest stops and a windproof breathable jacket for when the wind picks up (Gore-Tex, Windstopper or similar).
This assumes you have all the trekking gear like warm hat etc. The majority of this gear is available from us or in Kathmandu , and some of it can be rented.
+ high quality sunglasses. Side pieces are not essential; we can always use tape for a day. Ski goggles are unnecessary.
+ neck gaiter or balaclava
+ balaclava, only if you don't have a neck gaiter
+ new liner gloves (ie thin gloves)
+ fleece gloves/windstopper gloves
+ windproof gloves/mittens if you don't have windstopper ones.
+ trekking pole
+ ice axe, non-technical is generally better
+ light harness (Black Diamond Alpine Bod is perfect)
+ belay device: ATC or figure of 8 etc
+ two locking carabiners, two ordinary ones
+ two prussics, one short, one longer
+ windproof pants/climbing bibs - these don't have to be fancy and you can buy in Kathmandu cheaply
+ snow gaiters
+ Plastic boots/leather boots - see the discussion below
+ leather boot waterproofing (snow seal etc)
It is always sensible to climb with a helmet, but it is one more thing to carry and only use for a few hours. For the trekking peaks it is rare for climbers to use a helmet, but that is your decision. On Island Peak rockfall is possible but rare.
If you have plastic boots, bring them. If you don't and you are not a climber, consider carefully whether you need to get them or not - you will only be using them for a single day... For Chulu Far East and Tengkoma good all leather boots are quite adequate. For Island Peak in Dec and Mera Peak any time, you need plastics - OR I have 4 sets of super-gaiters, ie full insulated over-boots, and with GOOD (ie stiff) leather boots, these are an alternative to plastics.
Gear for rent
Plastic boots are available for rent in Kathmandu, but during the main Oct season they are often out of stock. For the Island Peak in Dec they will be available though, and also boots can be rented in Namche. You can also rent ice axes, crampons, harnesses and all you need with them. In Kathmandu you can cheaply buy side zip windproof pants (not stylish, but they do the job), fleece gloves, windproof mittens (but not thin liner gloves)
Who carries what for the climb
You carry a day pack with your personal gear including crampons, harness etc, so your pack can end up quite full. If anyone is struggling and the guides and/or sherpas have space, they can lighten your load.