Gear List for High Altitude Trekking
I've been leading climbs and high altitude treks since 1999. Naturally, my personal gear list has been refined into a great system that works really well. Many clients have noticed the system and wished they had the same gear, but by the time we were on the mountain it was too late. So, I've provided my gear list below! I receive no kick-backs or commissions, and remain unbiased. I use all the gear or the previous version that has been discontinued and replaced. The list format is based on the original trekking gear list for International Mountain Guides, but has been modified to reflect my system. Unlike climbs, you can choose lighter duty clothing for a trek since you won't be using ice axes and crampons or scraping up a rock face. (This doesn't apply to duffels. They will take a serious beating!) I have provided links for your convenience. If you find broken links, please let me know so that I can update them. Enjoy!
- Duffel Bags: Two duffel bags with your name, address, phone number and email(?) written on the bag with permanent marker. Use a silver or white marker if your bag is a dark color. The XL bag that goes on the trek with you will be carried by either porters or pack animals. Your bag will get hammered with rain, snow, sun, abrasion, and daily physical abuse. Get the most rugged bag you can find. Bring 5 large plastic garbage bags to pack gear inside duffels to protect gear from rain. My second duffel has wheels. I stack my durable bag on top for transport through airports and the likes, but the rolling bag is not suitable for porters, yaks, mules, or camels.
- Backpack: Large daypack. Large enough to carry warm clothes on a "high-pass" day and for overnights during in-country flights. Also as your carry-on.
- Locks: TSA Combination Padlock (2-Pack).
- Travel Wallet: RFID Deluxe Security Neck Wallet for passport, visa photos, duffel inventory list, and money.
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months after the trip ends with sufficient extra pages for visa stamps and in same name as airline ticket (or with endorsement-for women who changed name w/ marriage).
- Trekking Poles: Poles lessen the impact to your knees during downhills and help with balance on river crossings.
- Backpack: See above.
- Pack Liner: Keep the internal contents dry with a 15 to 18 gallon trash compactor bag.
- Sleeping Bag: Rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Trekkers DO NOT NEED A SLEEPING PAD unless indicated by the leader of your trip. A thick foam trekking mattress will be provided. If you do go on a trek that doesn't provide sleeping pads then I recommend a very light yet thick inflatable trekking mattress.
- Bring 5 large plastic garbage bags to pack gear inside duffels to protect gear from rain.
- Socks: 3 pairs of socks. This is a super personal choice. Go with your experience and what has worked for you in the past. If you choose a sock that is too thick, it will make your boot tight and restrict circulation in your foot. That is a recipe for cold feet!
- Lightweight Shoes: Lightweight athletic shoes for camp, around town, etc. A full shoe protects your foot much better than a travel sandal. Aggressive tread in nice! (Women's version)
- Hiking Boots: Medium-weight hiking boots, pretested and broken-in.
- Light Gaiters: For occasional snow and scree.
- Underwear: How many? That's up to you! (Women's version)
- Lightweight Schoeller type climbing pant: Bring 2-3 pairs. Light weight and trim fit with no bulging pockets, these pants go from a mid-day trekking pant to your base layer and back again.
- Trekking shirt: Lightweight sun protection. Bring 2-3 of these. Light weight and trim fit, these shirts go from your mid-day trekking shirt to your base layer and back again.
- Warm Hoody to layer over trekking shirt.
- Super light hooded wind breaker to go over trekking shirt and warm hoody.
- Insulating Layer Top and Bottom: Windproof insulated pants. Windproof insulated jacket. These go right over your climbing pant and trekking shirt.
- Shell Jacket: Super light with a hood. Make sure this fits over your insulated jacket.
- Shell Pants: Waterproof and breathable pants with a full or 3/4 length side zipper. Make sure this fits over your insulated pants.
- Big Parka: Down or synthetic. This should be big enough to go over other garments.
- Casual Clothes: For cities and travel I like light weight cotton shirts with a collar. Jeans or casual pants work great.
- Bathing Suit: A bathing suit can be nice if any of the hotels on your trip have a pool. Ask your trip director.
- Gloves: Light gloves for hiking and warm ski gloves. If we get storms on the high passes then you'll need warm mittens or a very warm glove.
- Hats: Warm wool or heavy fleece hat (I use Wapiti Woolies hats, but you can't get them anymore), sun hat with sun skirt or a bandana.
- Buff: An incredibly simple piece of gear that protects your head from the sun and cold. AND, when you breath through it in the cold dry (or dusty) air, it will keep your throat and airway healthier.
- Headlamp: With several sets of batteries. See "charging system" below.
- Water Bottles: 2 water bottles.
- Water Treatment: Potable Aqua Iodine and Taste-Neutralizer Tablets.
- Camera: With extra batteries and enough memory for the trip. Example, the manual for my Canon 5D II camera says to expect 850 shots out of each battery at 73°F and 750 shots at 32°F. If I bring enough memory cards for 2000 pictures then I know that 3 cold batteries will suffice. See the "Cameras for Expeditions" page for highly detailed recommendations.
- Pocket Knife. I like a small yet stout Multitool.
- Wrist Watch with Altimeter: There are a lot of altimeter watches available these days. In my experience the Casio Pro Trek watches last the longest, are solar powered, and you don't need a manual to figure them out.
- Eyewear: Bring good sunglasses. You don't need glacier glasses specifically, just high-quality dark lenses with wrap around frames. For contact lens wearers, ski goggles might be useful in windy conditions that cause blowing dust.
- Charging System: Battery bank for charging Eneloop AA and AAA batteries and in turn charging iPhones, etc.
- Charge batteries in the battery bank via the USB input port by plugging into an outlet with a USB power adapter or similar. I charge many AA's at home with this set up...
- Charge devices like iPhones via the USB output port.
- Vision correction: Bring extra prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses if you wear them. Lens solutions are not widely available, bring enough.
- Skin Care: Maximum SPF sunscreen and lip balm.
- Basic First Aid: Hand sanitizer (Purell), moleskin, tape, aspirin (some climbers take a baby aspirin every day up high) and/or ibuprofen / acetaminophen, Imodium, Band-Aids, antacid, ear plugs, and several rolls of toilet paper, small towel, soap/shampoo.
- Prescription Medications:
- Antibiotic for upper respiratory problems (Zithromax Z-Pak)
- Antibiotic for GI problems (Cipro and/or Z-Pak)
- Diamox (acetazolamide) for acclimatization (125 mg tabs recommended; enough for a week)
- A few sleeping pills for the first few days of jet lag
- Malaria Chemophrophylaxis (not needed unless you go to low areas in Nepal or Thailand, in which case we suggest Malarone)
- Asthma medication, if any history (for example an Advair inhaler — many people find this VERY useful for "Khumbu Cough" bronchitis/irritation which can ruin your expedition and prevent you from climbing.)
- Nifedipine (for Pulmonary Edema; the 30 mg time-release x 2 tablets)
- Dexamethasome (for Cerebral Edema; 4 mg x 10 tablets).
- Personal Snack Food: The food is great on the trek but you might enjoy a few snacks from home and also some drink mixes if you like these to add to your water bottle (let the iodine have 30 minutes contact time before adding).
- Pee Bottle. Just use one of your old water bottles.
- MP3 Player, Kindle or Books. Plan on sharing books among team members. While Kindles seem like a good idea, there is typically a high rate of failure on these trips... lightweight paperbacks are foolproof!