I’ve received a few e-mails regarding equipment, specifically, whether a 15 degree Fahrenheit sleeping bag would be warm enough or did you use trekking poles. To be honest, I had questions like these prior to my trip and relied on members on trip advisor for the answer.
So aside from sharing the highlight’s of my trek to Everest Base Camp(EBC), I thought I provide detailed information on the gear I brought to the Everest Region. In addition, I want to explain the logistics of the Mountain Monarch itinerary so that readers planning to take this trip can take my own experience and plan accordingly.
From this post, I clearly stated why I choose Mountain Monarchs as my guide for the EBC trek. At the time of this writing, the 18-day trekking itinerary offered Mountain Monarch is as follows:
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu, Welcome dinner
Day 2 Cultural Tour / Preparation for the trek
Day 3 Fly to Lukla (2800m) and trek to Phakding (2650 m)
Day 4 Trek to Namche (3440m)
Day 5 Acclimatization rest day
Day 6 Trek to Khumjung
Day 7 Trek to Photse village
Day 8 Trek to Dingboche (4360m)
Day 9 Rest day at Dingboche (4360m)
Day 10 Trek to Lobuche (4930m)
Day 11 Trek to Gorak Shep (5288m) Excursion to Everest base camp(5545m)
Day 12 Climb Kalapathar and trek to Pherichee
Day 13 Trek to Namche
Day 14 Trek to Phakding (2600m)
Day 15 Trek to Lukla (2800m)
Day 16 Fly to Kathamandu (1360m)
Day 17 Kathamandu / Explore the city
Day 18 Trip ends / Departure
Before our Mountain flight to Lukla, we had a mandatory briefing with our Mountain Monarch guide at the hotel. This is when the guide hands out the sleeping bag, down jacket, sleeping bag liner, toilet paper, plastic bag (for your dirty cloths), and bright orange duffle bags to each trekker. The guide also explains the logistics of the trails and the duffle bags at this time.
After the guide assigns your gear, you have the rest of the afternoon to pack the necessary gear into your duffle bag and daypack. If you need last minute supplies(such as socks, water bottles), there are loads of out door shops in Katmandu where you can find these items.
Separating Street Cloths and Trail Cloths
After you picked up last minute supplies, that night in your hotel, you need to separate your street cloths from the cloths you want to pack in the bright orange duffle bag. Your street cloths will be stored safely in the hotel luggage room when you’re on the trek. The morning of you mountain flight, you’re going to be carrying the bright orange bag to the airport and check it.
Upon arriving in Lukla, you’ll have one more chance to access your duffle bag to separate stuff between your daypack and duffle bag. Your daypack should contain the essential items that you want to have with you while you’re on the trail. From then on, the porters will carry the duffle bag from tea-house to tea-house where you’ll have access to your duffle bag each night.
The porters Mountain Monarchs used were pro. The porters arrived before us at each tea house and the duffle bags were in each of our rooms waiting for us.
Every morning before breakfast, you have to pack your duffle bag and leave them outside your tea house room for the porters to carry to the next tea house.
You’re allowed to bring up to 15 kg (about 30 lbs) in your duffle bag.
What I Specifically Packed on the Trek
The items listed below are the specific brand and model of clothing I packed. Far too many web sites were vague in the description, the type of clothing, and the quality. I really wanted to write a gear lexicon after I finished the trip so that other readers can get a better grasp on the clothing needed for the EBC trek.
I also want to note that I didn’t pack much in my duffle bag even though I had porters carrying my bag. When I say I didn’t pack much, I pretty much had two changes of cloths in addition to my outer layers for the entire time on the trek. I know this probably won’t work with many people, but I found this extremely convenient for the following reason:
1. It was a lot easier to keep track of things when I was checking into one tea house and checking out the next morning.
2. It made it a lot easier to search your duffle bag in the rooms of the tea house. Some of the rooms in the tea houses were tight with barely any walking room with your duffle bags on the floor.
So that’s my argument on packing light.
Without further ado, here’s the complete list of stuff I brought:
Boots – I rocked the Asolo TPS 520 GV. These boots are the favorites of many hikers. I broke a new pair in for prior to going on the EBC trek.
Gaitors – Black Diamond GTX. These were helpful in keeping your pant legs clean.
Sneakers/trainers – Any pair of sneakers would do. It’s just nice to change out of your trekking boots to something that is more comfortable to wear around the tea-house.
Wools Socks – I packed three pairs of the heavy weight wools socks. One pair from Smart Wool and two from REI, either brand will work fine.
Sock Liners – I packed two smart wool sock liners from Smart Wool. I found them useful to wick away moisture and given the fact that I only packed three pairs of the aforementioned wool socks.
Trekking Pants – REI Sahara convertible pants. I practically lived in these pants. I wore them everyday during the trek and changed to fleece pants when I slept.
Fleece Pants – Again from REI, something to lounge around in during acclimatization/rest days. I also wore these pants to sleep and found them warm enough with the supplied Mountain Monarch sleeping bag.
Briefs/Underwear – I packed two pairs of the Exoficcio boxer briefs. These Exofficcio briefs have anti-bacterial, anti-order, and moisture wicking properties. The nice thing about these boxers is that you can wash them with sink water and they will be dry by the morning(assuming you can find a warm enough place to dry them).
Their tagline is “17 countries, 6 weeks, 1 pair of underwear, well maybe two.” With that said, I wanted to test the slogan and so I didn’t change my underwear for nearly two weeks.
Thermals – Ice Breakers Body Fit 260 top and bottom thermals. These thermals are high quality 100 % merino wool. I found the Ice Breakers brand made from 100 % merino wool to be more than adequate for environments. I didn’t end up trekking on the actual trail with the top thermal layers because it got too warm once you get moving. The bottom thermal layer worked well with the REI convertible pants.
I was debating between the Body Fit 200 and 260 while gearing up the trip. After ordering both types, I returned Body Fit 200 and went with the Body Fit 260 because I felt the difference between the two were so subtle that it was better to go with the warmer one.
Cotton/Polyester Blend T-shirt – I packed two shirts, both of them were the Nike Dry fit shirt(50% cotton/50% polyester).
Polyester Mid layer – I brought the Arc teryx Delta LT full zip jacket. In the lower elevations, this is what I wore in the mornings when the temperature was cooler.
Light Weight Insulated Jacket – Arc Teryx Atom LT jacket. This is a light weight filled jacket. As we trekked higher in elevation, The mornings became colder and this is the additional layer I over my Polyester Mid Layer.
Soft Shell Jacket – Marmot Approach Jacket was my choice. I wore this jacket over my light insulated jacket and polyester mid layer on mornings of the higher elevations. As the temperature warmed, I stripped this layer off. Sweat management is key on the EB trail, you want the ability to take off a layer when it gets warm and put on layers when it gets cold.
Rain Jacket – Arc Teryx Theta AR Jacket. This is an extremely high quality jacket what will keep you dry. I ended up using this jacket on the two days it snowed or rained. By luck, it happened to be on our rest days so it was not needed as much.
Rain Pants – Arc Teryx Beta AR Pants. I didn’t end up wearing this once during the trek. It was nice to have just incase if it did substantially rain or snow. It would also prove beneficially as a second pair of hiking pants incase my one and only pair of REI convertible pants tore.
Down jacket – Supplied by Mountain Monarchs, which was a 650 fill down jacket. I didn’t end up hiking in my down jacket because once your moving and when the sun is out, you’re going to be warm. You primarily use it when you sitting around the tea house at night and on the morning trek to Kala Patthar.
Down Sleeping Bag – This was supplied by Mountain Monarchs, which was rated to zero degrees Fahrenheit. I found the combination of the Ice Breakers Body Fit 260 merino wool, the fleece pants, and sleeping bag to be more than warm enough for the cold night experienced in the Everest Region.
Water Bottles – I didn’t pack any water bottles because it take too much space. Nalgene water bottles are cheap enough(about $4) to buy in Kathmandu. I would suggest brining 3 one-liter water bottles on the trek. Keep reading the post for further information on potable water.
Trekking Poles – Leki Trekking Poles. More trekkers in the Everest Region had them. I found them useful on the decent. If you don’t have a pair, you can buy them at the numerous outdoors shops in Kathmandu before heading to the Everest region, which will set you back $15 for a knock off set.
Gloves – I brought two pairs. The first pair was the Outdoor Research Alti gloves. These gloves were overkill for the environments on the trek. In addition, it was too bulky to use with the trekking poles. I would suggest bringing any pair ski gloves, which feels comfortable with your trekking poles(if you decide to use them).
The second pair of gloves I bought were the Nike ACG running gloves, I used these glove the majority of the time to keep my hand warm and covered from the sun.
Baby/Wet Wipes – With the lack of shower facilities, I found these extremely useful to wipe off the day’s sweat, sun tan lotion before going to bed.
Toilet Paper – Mountain Monarchs supplied a few rolls, but if you want the luxury of perforated toilet paper, I suggest bringing a few rolls from Kathmandu or bringing a few rolls from where ever you’re traveling from. After using non-perforated toilet paper, you’ll quickly realize the joys of perforated toilet paper.
Extra Batteries – Bring Extra Batteries for your head lamp/torch and electronic devices. You can charge electronic devices at the tea houses, keep reading further into this post.
Head Lamp/Torch – Got to have these. Tea houses do have lights, but at some houses, the lights in the rooms are extremely dim.
Buff – The trail is dusty to the point when you blow your nose, black snots come out.(I know, disgusting, but I’m being honest). I bought these last minute in Kathmandu for $1 (USD).
Day Pack – North Face Recon, about 25 Liters. This pack was more than ample if you have porters carrying your stuff.
Sun Glasses – Julbo Dolgan. These are glacier sunglasses. I would highly recommend bringing a pair of glasses that block 100% of the UV light and limit light transmission. The Dolgan glacier glass transmits 5% of visible light so it’s a pretty dark pair of glasses.
Pocket mirror/contact lenses – I wear contacts and need a mirror to put in my contacts. I feared that the tea houses wouldn’t have a full bathroom setup so I packed a simple 2” x 3” mirror. If you need one, send me an e-mail, I may be able to hook you up if you throw a bit of money my way to cover the shipping costs.
Digital Camera – I brought along a camera, specifically the Cannon S95. This a compact point and shoot camera that has options like a digital SLR. You can bring along digital SLR, but the trail is dusty and you camera will collect some of that dust if you wear it around your neck all day. Remember to bring a charger, extra memory cards, and other accessories.
Entertainment Items – iPods, books, deck of cards. During the night and acclimatizing days, the days are filled with time. Although, you do go on short walks to higher elevations during acclimatizing days, you still have the better part of the afternoon to rest, so it’s definitely necessary to pass the time with entertainment items.
Micro Fiber Towel – Great for washing your hands if the tea houses that have any kind of sink like facility.
Medication – Acetazolimide, commonly called diamoxx to alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. Loperamide to prevent massive “system downloads.” Mountain Monarchs does have a pretty comprehensive medical kit and if you don’t have your own medication, it’s not a big deal.
IT’S NOT A FASHION SHOW
No one is going to judge you on the expansive trekking wardrobe or compliment you on your outfit of the day.
Clean cloths on the trail is overrated on the trek, it’s just going to get dirty from the day’s sweat and dust. I wore the same pants, shirts, and underwear for 11 days straight until I was able to take a shower at Namche Baazar on the decent, at which point I changed into a fresh set a cloths. Needless to say the porter carrying my gear had it easy with my two changes of cloths. With this in mind, no one really cares if you wear the same cloths or what your hair looks like, everyone on the trail is going to smell and look a little funky.
LODGING IN THE EVEREST REGION
Nearly everyone that treks in the Everest region stays at tea houses versus camping. Mountain Monarch arranged all the accommodations, which was included in the total trip cost. Since our group consisted of 5 people, we all stayed at one tea house where as larger groups were split amongst two or more tea houses.
The tea houses are pretty well built. It’s not some dilapidated wooden shack on a mountain side. All the tea houses we stayed at have solid rock foundations with sturdy walls. The walls may not have any insulation, but it doe provide good shelter from the elements. In the mornings, I never found the water in my water bottle frozen or frosted over. That should give you folks a good idea how well they are built.
The common areas where everyone gathers to order food and eat will have a wood stove. At nights, these wood stove won’t be burning wood, but petrified yak poop laced in kerosene. Now, you may think that’s got to smell awful, but the kerosene odor trumps.
This isn’t the Hilton nor the Hyatt. Some tea houses will have western style toilets, some will have squat toilet, some will have both. If you’re unfamiliar with the squatty potty, watch some vides on youtbue for some points. I also suggest adding air squats to your pre-trek work out. It does take some strength and aim to pull of a system download.
There are some advantages to the squat toilets, for instance, in cold weather, I preferred using the squat toilets because your ass wasn’t touching a frigid toilet seat. Just have an open mind.
How to Avoid Food Poisoning
During the orientation, our guide suggested that we do not eat any menu items label “yak meat” because meat such is carried up from the low lands and the meat is susceptible to bacteria due to the lack of refrigeration during transport. It was highly recommended to avoid eating meat on the accent. That’s why my diet consistent of fried rice, fried noodles, and eggs. I did have chicken dishes at some places after consulting my guide.
Some tea houses mimic western menus with items such as pizza. However, it’s not the same, to avoid any disappointment in quality, eat the fried rice, noodles, dal baht, and momo because it’s what they excel at preparing.
Nearly all tea houses have provisions to charge your camera battery or electronic devices. In Namche, an hour worth of charging ran about 100 rupees. Higher up in elevation, the price would be slightly more. Just remember to bring the appropriate adapter as the tea houses do no have these on hand.
Mountain Monarchs provides boiled water. Every night, we would give the guide our empty water bottle and they would fill them up with boiling hot water. This water they give you is your source of potable water, which is what I brushed my teeth with.
I had three one liter bottles and found it ample enough to carry me through the night and next days hike. I found three bottle ideal. It allowed me to have cold water on hand while one or two of the bottles held freshly boiling hot water giving it a chance to cool over night.
Buying Supplies on the Trails
Once you leave Kathmandu and head out for the Everest Region via the mountain flight, the only other major village you can purchase trekking supplies is Namche Baazar. There you’ll find outdoor shops, internet cafes, and bakeries. Keep in mind, the price is slightly more expensive than it would be in Kathmandu.
Nearly all the tea houses we stayed at sold snack items such ash:
I didn’t end up splurging and buying any of the aforementioned items. Keep in mind that you’re in Nepal, a developing nation where administrations such as the FDA equivalent is almost non-existent. Snack items may have expired, soda could be flat, and potato chips could be stale.
Check the expiration date before you buy!
I hope this gear lexicon helps trekkers plan out their packing list. I haven’t been on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, but if I were going to go on that trek, I would base it off my EBC trek experience. This packing list may be applicable to the Annapurna Circuit. I would like to note, I embarked on this trip during the early spring months of mid-March to early April