What Do I Need For An Everest Base Camp Trek?
When planning a high altitude trip it's important to remember that you'll have to prepare and pack with a little more thought than your average package holiday in the sun. Lightweight clothing that is effective at wicking while you trek, warm layers for the evenings and something cosy to sleep in will help you have a great trip.
Our kit list is by no means exhaustive but aims to give you an idea of what you should be thinking about and the reasoning behind our suggestions.
When setting out to enjoy a high altitude trek such as Everest Base Camp, it's important to remember that while it will likely be warm as the trek begins, it will get significantly cooler the higher you get, it will also be cold in the evenings and the teahouses usually only have heating in the communal room. In addition to this, it's important to pack light, if you have a porter to carry your kit they'll likely have a weight limit that you should adhere to, alternatively, if you're carrying your own kit, you'll want it as light as possible... and then lighter still.
This will likely be a key piece of your wardrobe so it should be comfortable, easy to wash and quick to dry just in case you want to freshen it up mid-trek. Wicking is important as it will draw excess moisture away from your body allowing you to feel more comfortable and help you regulate your temperature more effectively, especially once it gets cooler. Quick drying fabric is great as you can wash it before you go to bed and it will be clean and dry to wear the following day. For more information see our layering system buying guide.
Ideal for evenings and trekking in at higher altitudes, the fabric should offer warmth but still be able to wick moisture away. Merino wool fabric is excellent for this and is naturally odour free so it won't stink too much, even after a few days in.
The temperature will vary quite considerably on your trip. It’s important to have a good layering system consisting of multiple thin layers so that you can adjust accordingly along the way. A fleece jacket will offer warmth in the evenings but also be breathable enough that you can trek in it during the day as you gain altitude. Synthetic fleece has a better warmth to weight ratio than a cotton hoody and will also offer better moisture management, both things are pretty important when your luggage is limited. For more information see our layering system buying guide.
An insulated jacket will come in useful for early mornings and evenings. Ideal for taking in the views in comfort whether you are searching for constellations in a clear sky or enjoying the mountain silhouettes while you still can. It will also double as an extra layer for sleeping should you feel the cold as the rooms in tea houses aren't usually heated. Our insulated clothing buying guide will help you make a more informed decision if you are at all unsure.
A breathable waterproof jacket is a must for added protection from the elements. It should be a good fit: big enough to have a fleece layer or two underneath but not completely oversized. A suitably sized hood can be cinched in around your face to protect you against wind and rain while pit zips are an added bonus that can be used for extra ventilation while hiking.
Some warm base layer leggings are perfect for relaxing in the evenings, the fabric should offer warmth but still be able to wick moisture away just in case you need them for trekking when it's cooler. As with tops, merino wool fabric is excellent and is naturally odour free so they won't stink, even after a few days wear.
Another piece of clothing that you’ll get a lot of wear out of. They should be lightweight and able to wick sweat away effectively in order to keep you feeling comfortable in the heat. Trousers that can be easily turned into shorts by zipping off trouser leg sections are fantastically versatile and will allow you to switch between shorts and trousers easily and conveniently. Convertible trousers made with sun protection and insect repellent offer an advantage.
Shorts will be ideal for exploring Kathmandu before you head into the mountains as well as for trekking in the lower regions where it will be considerably warmer.
Waterproof trousers are a must-have when trekking in the mountains, they'll keep you dry in a downpour but also add a little extra warmth in the cold, windy conditions you'll likely face as you gain altitude. Take a look at our waterproof trousers buying guide for more information.
Comfort is a huge part of enjoying your trip and choosing the right underwear can contribute massively. Merino is fantastic at regulating temperature and will wick away sweat to keep you feeling fresh for longer, they also happen to be extremely comfortable and naturally odour-free. There are also excellent synthetic options, though care should be taken to make sure they have antibacterial properties to help reduce any odours developing.
A great pair of walking socks will wick away the excess moisture from your feet and provide cushioning in key areas to help reduce premature fatigue. It's usually worth taking lighter socks for the warmer conditions before progressing onto a thicker warmer pair as you ascend and the weather gets cooler. Having said that, feet can be very personal and you may prefer to walk in lightweight pairs and just take a single pair of thicker socks to wear in the evenings, either way, your footwear must fit comfortably with whatever you choose.
Walking boots are possibly the most difficult to get right but also most important to get right. They should be supportive at the ankle and through the midsole and be comfortable enough to wear for long days trekking over difficult terrain. Learning how to properly lace-up walking boots can make a huge difference to their performance while a little care and maintenance after use will make them last for many more adventures.
Taking some sandals, sliders or some lightweight trainers will give you an alternative for use in the evenings around the tea houses and on rest days before, during and after the trek. Ideally, it'll be something you can wear both with and without socks as you'll need the insulation when at higher altitudes but you'll also benefit from the comfort of wearing something without socks, or with really thin socks, when conditions are warmer.
As with any mountain adventures, a hat and pair of warm gloves is a must. They'll keep you cosy when it's cold and won't add too much weight when it's warmer. For extra versatility or as an additional item, you could opt for a neck tube; Buff do a huge range, each is highly versatile and can be worn in a multitude of ways from beanie to balaclava, to headband to scarf.
The type of sleeping bag you need will depend on what time of year you are going as well as your own personal preference. Down insulated sleeping bags will usually have a better warmth to weight ratio but can be expensive in comparison to synthetic sleeping bags. You can rent sleeping bags locally if you know you won't get much use out of it after but many prefer to have their own for hygiene reasons. Our sleeping bag buying guide offers more detail to help you make a more informed decision.
A sleeping bag liner is a handy piece of kit that will help you keep your sleeping bag clean. It can also offer peace of mind if you are renting a sleeping bag and concerned about hygiene. It’s also a great way to maintain a modicum of modesty when in shared rooms, you can have your sleeping bag zip open if it’s warm but the sleeping bag liner will keep you covered.
Your type of luggage will depend on whether you are carrying your own kit or not. If you are carrying all your own kit you’ll need a large multiday pack that fits your frame and is comfortable to carry, it’s important to get this right as carrying heavy loads can lead to injury if not done correctly. If you have a luggage porter or a yak service, you’ll likely be asked to use a duffel bag, this is because they are exceptionally durable and easy to strap down. You’ll also need a small rucksack for carrying your personal kit during the day. This will need to be a good, comfortable fit and have plenty of space to fit everything you’ll need on the trail as you won’t be able to access your transported luggage between your accommodation stops.
Sun protection is important when trekking at altitude and on glaciers, even when it’s cloudy harmful rays can still be present and you will burn without effective protection. While it’s worth considering a higher SPF factor than you might normally use, the most important thing is that it works and you feel comfortable using it. If you don’t like it because it leaves you a greasy mess, you are less likely to reapply appropriately.
There will be insects at lower altitudes of your trek, some more irritating than others and some with the ability to cause harm. Using insect repellent will help to mask your presence but at their most active times, dawn and dusk, it's worth covering up with clothing. Securing cuffs, hems, and collars will mean they can’t get inside your clothing to bite or sting. Read more about insect repellents in our buying guide.
A sensible itinerary will include plenty of rest time to help you acclimatise. You'll likely spend some of this time exploring close to your accommodation or looking at the stars if it's a clear night, but it's always worth taking a good book to relax with, even if it's an informative book on stargazing or something to help inspire your next trip. A pack of cards is a good alternative if you don't enjoy reading and these can also be used to play games with people you'll meet along the way.
Finally, a good camera that you know how to use will allow you to capture your favourite scenes. If your camera is rechargeable make sure you have the means to charge it by the form of a power pack or solar charger. Electricity is not widely available in the mountain villages if at all, so use it sparsely. Alternatively, make sure you have enough batteries to last for your trip and be sure to look after them along the way, extreme temperatures can make them deteriorate.
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