Putting together an Everest Base Camp Packing packing list can be a daunting task as you have to keep your total load under 15kg/32lbs while still trying to make sure you bring all of the right gear for your trek. I poured over numerous blogs, videos and other suggested lists to try and hone down my own list and thought I’d share my results with you.
While I found it comforting to think/know that I’d bought and tested everything before my trip and had my relative exact weights down, rest assured that if you forget something you can most definitely find it in either Thamel in Kathmandu or in Namche Bazaar. I found shopping in Namche much easier as it just didn’t seem as congested as the tiny bustling streets of Thamel with its tiny shops. You’ll want to have the big things like your hiking boots bought and broken in ahead of time, but if you want to pick up a few extra pairs of socks, shirts, batteries or almost anything else you can get them in Thamel or Namche. Some of the stuff there is real and some fake. If you find an Arc’teryx shirt for $30 you can be pretty suspect of it. The few shop owners I questioned about items were all forthcoming about their authenticity or lack there of.
Its somewhat easy to overpack and I probably did a little bit, but I think it overall worked out ok and I was still underweight. I was all about shaving ounces wherever I could. Should I admit to the spreadsheet I made with item weights? Ok, maybe I went a little overboard.
I was initially frustrated with lists that just said things like duffel bag and daypack without giving any idea of size or type, so I will list the type of items and then provide a link to the specific items that I used and also some of my thoughts behind my choices.
Side note: Laundry. Some of us liked clean clothes. Some people didn’t care. You can certainly wash things at the hotel before leaving Kathmandu. Our hotel in Namche (Hotel Namche) did laundry for a cheap 80 rupees/item. In Dingboche some of the afternoons were a little warmer and there was a clothes line (see pic below) so some of us washed clothes in a basin and then hung them to dry. Point being that there are places along the way with some possibility of washing clothes. Some people never did any. Just depends on you and what your desire.
Duffel, Daypack & Travel bags
You will need a 2 types of bags for the trek. A larger duffel that will be carried by either porter or yak and a daypack that you will carry with your daily essentials. You should also bring some type of suitcase that you can leave at the hotel in Kathmandu. I used a standard 22″ carry-on for some travel clothes and my hiking boots because I didn’t want to risk losing a checked bag with my well broken-in boots.
Duffel – Most people had either a 155L XL Northface Basecamp Duffel or a 120L Patagonia Black Hole Duffel. I had the Patagonia 120L and it worked well with some room to spare. I thought 155L seemed large for me and with weight at a premium for this trip the 120L Patagoina weighs 3lb vs the 155L Northface at 4lb 15oz. My roommate had a 90L Large Basecamp Duffel and felt it was a little too small and had to work harder every morning to pack it more efficiently. Both of these bags are listed as not being lockable, but all you have to do is get a small TSA Lock and loop it through the holes on the zippers.
Backpacks – Being the bag guy that I am I brought 2 backpacks – an Osprey Nebula for travel and an Osprey Stratos 34 for hiking as neither style works well for the other purpose (hiking packs don’t carry laptops well and travel packs don’t carry water well for instance). I used the extra space in my Black Hole duffel to hold my hiking pack for the flights over and the extra space in my carry-on to hold my travel pack at the hotel.
Daypack – I’ve seen recommendations from 20L to 50L for the size of your daypack. I think 20 would be way too small unless you are a true minimalist. Some of the people in our group had packs >40L and they all looked like they had extra room. My Stratos 34 (which was actually a 32L bag as it was the S/M size) seemed perfect for me. You will sweat on this trip and I appreciated the trampoline style back to help with ventilation. Be sure it has a waterproof cover.
Bag accessories You’ll want a way to organize the clothes and things in your duffel. Some people used stuff sacks. Going for weight saving and water tightness I got some 5L Ziplock bags which worked well. They are cheap, disposable and see through. You won’t see your duffel until the next town where you will likely find it sitting out somewhere at the teahouse. I don’t really think anyone would mess with them, but for peace of mind I put one of the TSA Locks on it. Don’t forget a name tag of some sort as well in case there are others with your same bag (very likely if you have a North Face bag). Our guide also gave us plastic garbage bags with the idea of putting everything in our duffels inside of those to prevent them from getting wet, but I never used it.
The type of sleeping bag you bring can vary from person to person as some people are warm sleepers (you are generally warm when you sleep and require less blankets) and some people are cold sleepers (you are colder when you sleep and require more blankets). Most people recommend a O degree Fahrenheit bag, but I risked it with a warmer bag as I’m a warm sleeper. I brought a Montbell Down Hugger #1 which the label lists as having a comfort rating of 24F. I also brought a sleeping bag liner to add some extra warmth. There is also a cost to weight ratio to take into consideration. You can spend a ton of money and get a really light, but warm bag so its also a matter of how much you are willing to spend. We made it up to Dingboche where it was 32F/0C in our room when the 2015 Nepal earthquake hit forcing us to descend so I can’t really comment on how the bag was up higher. At 32F I was still plenty warm inside it.
Almost every teahouse provided free blankets and pillows as well. Rivendell in Deboche charged 100 rupees if you wanted a blanket, but it wasn’t that cold.
Clothes – Upper Body
“Cotton Kills”. Avoid bringing cotton clothing for trekking. Use wool or synthetics instead.
– 3 Smartwool or Icebreaker long sleeve merino wool shirts. Note that they come in a bodyfit (tight) and regular fit (looser). I didn’t realize this until Namche and found that the 2 Icebreaker shirts I was wearing during the day were were the bodyfit and I’d have preferred the looser fit so there maybe wasn’t as much skin contact wearing them several days in a row. I had one that I keep just for sleeping and wore the other 2 during the day. Merino wool is great for not smelling.
– 2 lightweight synthetic t-shirts. At the lower altitudes it can be shorts & t-shirts weather.
– Softshell jacket. I wore my Patagonia Nano-Air jacket a lot, including several times to bed. Its great for breathability and comfort. Its only somewhat waterproof, so you’ll want a hardshell in case of rain or snow.
– Warm fleece or synthetic sweater, jacket, or vest. I brought a REI Co-op down vest which, although I only wore once on this trip, served me well under my Nano-air and hard shell in the -5F weather snowshoeing in Yellowstone National Park.
– Waterproof hardshell jacket. A lightweight hardshell works great for both rain/snow protection as well as added warmth. Again going for lightweight I paid a little extra for an 8.1oz Patagonia M10 Jacket. It packs into its pocket small and light.
– Gloves/Mittens. A pair of liner gloves plus a warmer pair of gloves or mittens. Make sure they are waterproof incase its raining or snowing. Once you get going your hands should warm up nicely. There was the one day when I was convinced I was getting frostbite despite having several layers on my hands only to realize it was the Diamox making my fingers tingle. Oops. 🙂
– Trekking hat. This was my most worn hat. Lightweight and crushable with a good brim all around.
– Wool beanie hat. I had a Smartwool beanie that I wore a good amount to meals and bed.
– Fleece Headband. I wore this by itself and under my trekking hat when I wanted wind protection for my ears.
– Sherpa style hat. Some form of heavy winter hat. I wore this on the cold days and some to bed. You can see it peeking out under my hood in the above pic.
– A Buff. I brought one of these, but never wore it. It could probably have taken the place of my beanie and headband. Several people wore theirs a lot.
– Sunglasses. I’d seen people recommend 2 pairs (including a pair of glacier glasses) in case one breaks or you lose them. I brought Oakley Half Jacket glasses that I wore 100% of the time and Julbo Explorer Glasses with camel photochromic lenses. It didn’t snow enough through 15k ft to break out my Julbo’s, but you can see them on me in the pic above. They worked very well at 9,000ft in bright and snowy Yellowstone.
Clothes – Lower Body
– Footwear – As you can see by the picture, there can be some variation. Reddy, calling himself “The Arctic Fox”, wore shorts and sandals most of the trip. Most people wore hiking boots, but a few people wore tennis shoes. I’d go with the boots as there are lots of places to twist your ankles.
– Hiking boots. Medium weight well broken in hiking boots. Put these in your carry-on so you don’t risk them getting lost in a lost bag. You don’t want to have to break in a new pair of boots on an 80 mile hike!! There are tons of good brands. I love the Salomon 4d GTX. Four of us, including our guide, were wearing them.
– Lightweight shoes. I wore these around town, on the plane and in Kathmandu.
– Sandals/shower shoes. $0.89 Walmart flip flops would work fine, but would be less comfortable than these Croc sandals. I wore these in the showers, at the tea houses in warm weather, to the bathroom in the middle of the night and in Kathmandu. Well worth bringing them and they are very light.
– Down booties. (optional) These seem warm, but look bulky and the soles are nylon so you can’t really walk outside or on wet ground with them.
– Socks. 5-7 pairs of wool trekking socks and perhaps a few pairs of sock liners.
– Underwear – They are small and lightweight so I brought about 7 pairs. Clean underwear and socks are a nice feeling, but there were several days where I put my clothes on in the morning and didn’t take them off until the next afternoon. One of the guys wore the same pair of underwear the entire trip.
– Long underwear. 2 pairs of merino wool long underwear. I wore these several days in a row with no problem or smell.
– Trekking pants. 2-3 pairs of zip off trekking pants. I’ve used Kuhl Liberator Convertible pants on all of my hiking trips and they works great. If you get warm they have several venting methods with strategically placed zippers.
– Fleece pants. I brought a pair of REI fleece pants that I wore in the evening and to bed.
– Hardshell pants. I brought my REI rain pants, but never took them out of my pack. It neither rained enough or got colder than my long underwear/trekking pants combo could handle. I’m sure it would have been worse weather had I not brought them.
Important Miscellaneous Items
–First Aid Kit. Instead of listing everything I’ll just provide the link to the article and video I did on my IFAK. You might also see how much your guides are bringing along. Ours has a large medical kit. The only thing I used out of mine was a few pieces of mole skin.
– Travel medications. Again, I’ll provide a link to my article. My standard daily regimen was motrin, vitamins and Diamox 125mg in the AM and Motrin and Diamox in the evening. I didn’t require any other altitude medication and had no problem acclimatizing. Most of us had tingling in various places from the Diamox (nose, heels and most commonly in your fingers). It usually happens shortly after taking it, but go on randomly through the day.
– Water purification. You must use treated or boiled water for everything including brushing your teeth. Many possible methods, but chlorine dioxide tablets are highly recommended (these kill cryptosporidium unlike many other methods and do not have an unpleasant taste). Bring enough to purify about 50 liters (4 liters per day). Many of us used Steri-pens which are convenient and efficient, but the cold weather wasn’t kind to the batteries. Be sure to have pills as a backup.
– Trekking Poles. These are optional. Only one person in our group didn’t have them. You are much more stable as a quadriped than a biped. Ever see a centipede fall over. There are dozens of types of trekking poles from cheap to expensive. Good brands include Leki and Black Diamond.
– Sunscreen. 30SPF or greater. You will burn much easier at altitude, so always wear sunscreen.
– Water bottles. Enough carrying capacity for 3 liters. I used a 2L Source Bladder with the insulated tubing and magnetic clip and a 1L Nalgene bottle. The bladder is ideal because you can drink whenever you want and don’t have to make a big effort to get to your water bottle. Once it starts getting colder be sure to blow the water back out of the tubing to prevent it from freezing. I learned this the hard way in Yellowstone. The widemouth Nalgene bottles are easier to fill, but harder to drink out of. Get one of the Humangear Capcaps and you’ll have the best of both worlds.
– Tang. I bought some in Namche and occasionally added it to the water in my Nalgene bottle. It was a nice variation from plain water.
– Toiletry Kit
– Toilet Paper. 1 roll to start. TP is everywhere and no where in Nepal. You can buy it at every teahouse for 200-400 rupees ($2-4), but it is not found in any bathroom. Some people have more GI distress than others so you can see how happy your bowels are to be in Nepal. Its also handy to have a plastic bag to store it in.
– Hand Sanitizer. Every tea house has bottles of hand sanitizer out on the tables. I brought several small bottles, but only use one bottle of my own.
– Cough Drops. You might get the Khumbu Cough which is due to the dryness. Hard candy works well to help with it.
– 3 Passport photos for your VISA and TIMS card. You can also pre-fill out your VISA app online and upload a pic. I did it and it worked great. You may be confused on what to put for some of the address info. I just emailed the hotel and they gave me the info.
– 1 copy of your Passport in case you lose it. I also took a picture of my passport and kept it on my phone. You shouldn’t need your passport on the trek. We left ours at the hotel in Kathmandu. Check with your guide to be sure.
– Camp towel. Most of the tea houses we stayed in had showers, some more appealing and nicer than others. Many people took no showers and a few of us took several.
– Body wipes. I used these to clean at least “the important areas” on days when there were no showers. They worked decently enough.
– Cell phone. There is wifi in many of the tea houses costing 300-500 rupees ($3-5) for the evening. Depending on how many people are on the speeds can be painfully slow.
– Camera. Decide on ‘how much camera’ you want to bring, ranging from a small P&S to a full frame DSLR with 3 lenses and a tripod. Its a trade off between how good you want your pictures to be, how much camera gear you mind carrying and how much of your allotted 32lbs you are willing to give up to camera gear. I tried to go light with a Sony a6000 mirrorless camera with the Sony 16-70 f4 lens and a Canon SX700 P&S for less important pics and movies. There is also always your cell phone.
– Extra camera batteries. I brought 3 batteries for each camera and it worked out well.
– (Optional) Travel Wallet. 50000 rupees ($500) is a good amount for bringing on the trek. Around $200 will go to a tip for the porters and guides and then rest can be spending money for food, showers, etc. Its too much to carry in a regular wallet so I got a travel wallet that I put the rest in and kept it in my backpack which is seldom far from your side.
-(Optional) Lightweight paperback book, cards, mp3 player, etc. There can be a lot of downtime in the afternoon/evening depending on when you arrive at the tea house so having something to help occupy your time (other than a nap) can be handy.
– (Optional) Journal.
– (Optional) Pee bottle. Water bottle to avoid needing to leave room at night (approx 32 oz.) I took an empty water bottle from the hotel in Kathmandu.
– (optional) Solar charger. I debated on this, in the end didn’t bring one and it worked out fine. I figured I could spend $100 on a charger and now know how well I would get it sun exposure or spend $2-3 every few days to charge my cell phone. The latter made more sense and worked out well. One guy did have a multi-panel charger that he hung from his daypack every day and seemed to work well for him.
– (optional) Binoculars. Only one person brought them and he never used them. He said he wouldn’t waste the 2lbs on them again, but some people may really like them for seeing far off things like Everest.
– (optional) Gaiters. Only one person brought them. He only wore them a few times and commted on how they made his lower legs sweat by holding in all the moisture.
– (optional) Wiffle ball bat. Only kidding, but our porters/guides did bring one and played wiffle ball a few times. We were supposed to play them one of the days, but it didn’t work out.
Things I brought, but didn’t use.
– Steripen water bottle filter. All of the water you get will likely come out of a faucet so there is no real need to strain it.
– Ear plugs. I’d heard that the tea houses can get noisy. The walls are very thin and you can hear things in the next room, but not so much that I needed ear plugs. You could bring a set for the Lukla flight, although they will give you some cotton to put in your ears if you want.
– Saline nasal spray. It was suggested that my nose would get really dry and some saline spray would be helpful for it. Not to say your’s won’t, but I didn’t use mine.
– Pee bottle. While the diamox may be unfriendly to your bladder when you take it at night I just toughed it out getting up to go to the bathroom at night. They were at least all inside of the buildings my room was in and in some cases in my room with an adjoining bathroom. My roommate did use his though.
– Rain pants. Maybe I just got lucky with the weather. I’m sure it would have poured if I didn’t bring them.
– Buff. A few people wore theirs all the time, but mine never made it out of the bag. I think likely because I had several other hat options