What you bring to Nepal will depend on what you plan to do when you get here!
Are you planning a mountain expedition? A trek to Everest Base Camp / Annapurna Circuit Trek / Mardi Himal Trek / or any other trekking in Nepal? A jungle safari to Chitwan National Park? A cultural tour? Or mountain biking in Nepal? Or perhaps a combination of the last four.
I assume if you are planning to scale Everest or a similar-sized mountain (and yes, we have eight of the highest mountains in the world) then you are a mountaineer and planning your trip with a very experienced agency and crew. I leave your packing to the experts.
As for the rest of us, the most important point is to pack light.
When trekking, either you are going to be carrying your pack for days or a porter is. Either way, it’s not necessary to carry too much. You are not going to be changing your clothes very often, if at all. Believe me!
Your hotel in Kathmandu or Pokhara will store any other luggage for you while you are trekking.
The season you come might also influence what you bring. The best seasons to visit Nepal are the spring and autumn. But some trekking, adventures and cultural trips can be done year-round. For example, short treks around Kathmandu and short treks around Pokhara can be done year-round.
Since the country is great for family tours in Nepal, as well as small group tours, simply adapt the following list of things to bring to fit your children also.
What to Pack for Trekking in Nepal
There are high altitude treks such as the Everest Base Camp Trek, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek, and to trekking peaks such as Island Peak and Mera Peak.
Then there are lower altitude treks such as the off the beaten track and Homestay Treks in Nepal such as the Millennium Homestay Trek.
In general – for lower altitude treks in the spring and autumn you will need less warm clothes as it will be warm in the day time. But you will still need something warmer for nights.
At higher altitudes, you will need more layers of warm clothing.
Here is a list of basic items you will need for your trek.
- Long-sleeved shirt/ T-shirt
- Hiking pants
- Rain/ windproof jacket
- Rain/ windproof pants
- Fleece jacket
- Insulated jacket
- Trekking boots/ footwear
- Water bottle
- First Aid Kit
- Other personal items
- Electronic equipment
- Optional items
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping sheet
- Day pack
You are going to want some really good thermal undergarments. Both long sleeve, high necked vest (often women’s come with a scoop neck for wearing at home, nope, not that one) vest and long leggings. Make sure they are both lightweight and warm. Those from a good trekking/ outdoors shop are better than those from general clothes shops. For shorter treks, one set will be enough. If you are heading out for longer on the trail you might want to bring another set with you.
There are lots of great light, easy dry shirts on the market. Again check out your local outdoors shop. Personally, I don’t really like shirts – all those buttons, but I guess if you buy one large enough you can slip in on and off over your head without undoing the buttons! T-shirts will work as well at lower altitudes.
Once again, tons on the market. Lightweight and easy dry. Some have those zippers which mean you can turn them into shorts instantly!
Rain/ Wind Proof Jacket and Pants
Even if you are coming in a time where there will be no rain, you just never know! Plus foggy mornings and snowy trails also produce enough moisture to wet you through. And yes, there will be wind! Make sure you get the pants big enough to fit over your regular hiking pants and the jacket big enough to fit over your fleece.
I don’t recommend an all in one waterproof suit. Not as easy to move around and you might want to go pee as some point in the day.
Fleece jacket is a must. Some people also like fleece trousers, particularly good around teahouse in the evening. Trousers are up to you but definitely a jacket! You are going to be wearing this item a lot! If it has a lot of pockets with zips so much the better to keep small items on you and safe during the time on the trail.
If you are going to higher, colder altitudes you might want a lightweight insulated jacket.
Trekking Boots/ Footwear
Probably the most important item! Buy boots well in advance of arriving in Nepal and wear them, wear them, wear them! New boots can be killers on the trail. Make sure they have enough room to fit in two pairs of socks (try before you buy). Waterproof ones are good for walking through shallow streams or snow. They should support your ankles and footwell. Check reviews from customers online before settling on a pair.
Some people like to bring felt boots or flip flops to wear in the teahouse. I find eventually I just wear the boots the whole time. But it is good to give your feet time to breath if you are doing a hard or long trek.
Bring light cotton socks as a base. And then heavy, wool socks for warmth. Again check out those outdoors shops at home for great trekking socks. I would bring 2 or 3 cotton socks and at least one change of wool socks. Depending on the length of your trek. If you are going high then you might want to get thinner trekking socks or thermal socks for extra warmth underneath the wool socks.
Wool for underneath and in the teahouse. Thicker ones for when it’s very cold. Waterproof is great in damp or wet climates.
If you are trekking at low altitudes it will be sunny. Even high in the mountains, you will also need sun protection even if it doesn’t feel particularly warm. So a sun hat is great. For the cold and in the teahouse, a warm, over the ears hat is a must. And make sure your hat isn’t going to fly off in the wind.
Makes sure they have a high UV filter. Again, check out those outdoor shops.
Carry your own! Never rely on anyone else for water in the mountains! Bottled water may be for sale in some area, but not in others. Carry your own bottle or water pouch/ bladder and sterilizing tablets or drops.
Keep them to a minimum. Liquid soap that doubles as a body wash and shampoo are great. You are not going to washing your hair often, if at all, so don’t worry about that! Deodorant? Why bother – it will take up weight and you are going to be sweaty all over. Toothbrush and toothpaste - yes. Washcloth and lightweight towel. I personally don’t like those micro towels and would rather carry a small, light but normal towel. Women – bring any personal sanitary items – you won’t find them on the trail.
First Aid Kit
Your guide will be carrying a first aid kit but it’s handy just to have a small one yourself. Band-Aids, bandages, something for blisters, sun cream, after-sun cream, headache pills and any medicines you normally take. Please bring extra of any vital medicines in case of delays on the trail.
Other Personal Items
You will want a torch. A headlamp is the best, which allows you to go hands-free.
Snacks such as chocolate and biscuits might make the trek more bearable at those stressful moments! Fruit/green teabags are also handy to give a ‘taste of home’.
Buff or small scarf to keep your neck extra warm!
Trekking poles. These are an essential item if you are going for a longer trek, over rough terrain, where it is steep, wet or snowy. Or if you are over a certain age!
Which brings me to knee and ankle supports. Bring them!
Phone and charger.
Camera and charger.
Remember you won’t be able to charge everywhere. And where you can, there will most likely be a small charge. Bringing a backup battery is worthwhile. Consider a solar charger, although I tend to think they are more for an emergency than regular charging.
If you are thinking of a drone – think again! Special permission is required. Please ask your trekking agency.
Even when sleeping in comfortable lodges, I like my own sleeping bag! That’s just me. It gives extra warmth and comfort, not to mention being clean. You can rent sleeping bags in Thamel or Pokhara if you don’t want to buy a new one.
Sleeping sheet – this is a great compromise. Clean! It can go inside a sleeping bag if your agency is providing one for camping treks. Or just a light cover on lowland treks/ tours.
If you are not the kind of person who has a backpack already, don’t worry. Your trekking agency can provide you with one for the trek. Or you can hire in Thamel or Pokhara. If you are buying or hiring, make sure it comes with a rain cover. And has wide straps so not to cut into your shoulders. My backpack is a 50ltr but it doubles as my carry on (with no other luggage) when travelling in Asia. This is of course not full, but around half full in order to double it over and secure it very tightly. If you are trekking and have not experienced carrying your own back for days on end, keep the weight down to around 8 – 10kg. Even if you are having a porter, please don’t burden him. He will carry several clients’ bags at the one time.
I would suggest buying your own…it will also serve you as a great memory of your trek! Some agencies may even give you a free one with their logo on it as a keepsake. Large enough to hold your water bottle on the outside; inside your extra gloves and hat and snacks and whatever else you will need for the day. Small notebook record info or make sketches? Map? Your first aid kit, or a small part of it? Rain gear if you are trekking in the monsoon. Lots of outer pockets are good.
What NOT to Bring on Your Nepal Trek
No need to bring anything fancy to ‘change into in the evening’. No one is changing into anything other than piling on more clothes! If you really want to, bring pyjamas but more likely you are not taking off that final layer in bed. Also, don’t take anything expensive on the trek. You don’t want to lose or break it. The hotel in Pokhara or Kathmandu will lock up your belongings for you.
In general, Nepal is not a trendy country. Even going out in the evening in Thamel or Lakeside you are going to see more trekking boots than high heels, more fleeces than lounge jackets - you get the picture.
It would also be great if your trekking gear at least looks a little worn! It’s always easy to spot the first time trekkers or the older, group travellers by their sparkling new pants and jacket!