Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Everest Base Camp Trek Kit List

When I was preparing for my trek to Everest Base Camp, I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for kit lists to prepare myself as much as possible. It was great not just reading other peoples experiences of Nepal, but what they brought with them, what they wish they didn't bring and what they wish they did.

I mean, what do you bring to a country you've never been to before? This was an entirely new experience for me, and while it was exciting counting down the days, it was also nerve racking. I didn't even know anyone who had been on a trek even remotely similar to ask for advice! Its quite daunting to not have any clue what-so-ever of what to expect.

I'd be surprised if I am the only one who felt like this before embarking on this challenge, so I thought I'd write a kit list myself for any of you budding EBC trekkers! It is an honest account of what I thought was needed and necessary, (including a god-awful photo of my sunburn, but I feel it's needed to emphasise just how freaking important decent sun cream is!) and I've added a few tips in here I have taken from other trekkers that were with me (down slippers? WHY DIDN'T I THINK TO BRING THOSE BEAUTIES??!!).

Everest Base Camp Kit List


*All my gear, laid out, ready to pack.*




Baggage & Sleeping

Sleeping bag + fleece liner - Make it multi-season, and at least -10 degree comfort rating.

Large kit bag - This will be your main kit bag, usually carried by porters or cattle.

Small day pack - For your essentials, including sun cream, waterproofs, water, snacks etc. Even better if it's water bladder compatible (see below).


Top half

T-shirts - Make sure these are breathable and comfortable. I took a total of 3 t-shirts with me. One of these was merino wool - it's soft, comfortable and most importantly, the material is designed to stop you stinking too much.

Long-sleeved tops -  You'll need these for colder days, and mornings. Mine were both base-layer designs, one of which had a turtle neck, for extra cold days.

Under top -  You can go with a base layer t-shirt here, that gives you a little insulation. Personally I just wore a standard tank top underneath my clothes and it did me great. It added an extra layer, but also meant I was able to change around my layers without having to find a tree to hide behind.

*Here, you can see the pink base layer under the grey t-shirt. Layering = very important.*

Cosy fleeces -  I took 2 fleeces with me. In general, I used one for night and one for day. But that's a personal choice.

Waterproof/wind-proof jacket - MUST. BRING. JACKET!!! You will get rained on and it will be freeze-your-bits-off cold. Be sure to test both the waterproofing and wind-proofing before you go.

Comfortable bra - Ladies, we all need some support, especially during exercise. But whatever bra you take will be your best friend for the next 2.5 weeks. So make it comfortable AND breathable.

Down Jacket - I HATE DOWN JACKETS - with a passion! But I am definitely glad I bought one for this trek. I never needed to wear it during the day, but it was essential in the evenings for dinner. Like a duvet you can wear!

*Waterproof jacket. My hair sticking out of my hood actually FROZE on this day.*


Bottom half

Trousers - You'll need one warmer pair of trousers, and one lighter pair. My warmer pair wear obviously heavier, but really helped when we were trekking through snow. As for the lighter pair, I recommend a pair of zip-off's, so you can transform them into shorts. Not only is this helpful on the warmer days, but if the bottom of your trousers get wet or muddy, its handy to be able to get rid of the bottom part over your boots without having to take your boots off or have a full change.

Ankle gaiters - optional. Great for keeping your ankles dry and mud-free.

Waterproof trousers - For when you're caught in a snow storm, as in the photo above, its important to keep your trousers as dry as possible. They will not dry fast at altitude.

Breathable underwear - Yup, gross, but get used to it! Get yourself cotton or merino wool underwear. Even if you've got a fresh pair every day, you will be sweating a lot and you won't be showering often (showers become pricey and few and far between as you climb higher. Most of us didn't bother.).

*Wearing my lighter, convertible zip-off trousers.*

Feet

Walking Boots - Your best pal on the trek, these babies can be a life saver or breaker. I ADORE my La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX boots. They were pricey, but you need to make the investment. Waterproof is a must since you will be encountering snow. Also make sure they are boots and not hiking trainers - you'll need the ankle support. Buy them early and break them in!

*My bootiful boots.*

Trainers - Bring a pair of comfortable trainers for the evenings. It's a nice breather from the boots and it's good for the sole (sorry...).

Thin socks AND thick socks - Thick hiking socks for with your boots, and (still warm) thinner socks for the trainers. Tip: the thinner socks can also come in handy if you get blisters. Wear them under your thicker socks as an extra barrier between your feet and the boots.

Night

Thermal Top & Bottoms - Thermals are what dreams are made of - cold, trekking dreams that is. They'll keep the heat in enough to warm you up, but won't suffocate you. Again, merino wool is the best choice.

Down slippers - Now, I did not have a pair of these, but a Welsh couple on our trek did, and I am determined to buy some just for in the house! The same down as in your down jacket, but for your feet. Warmest toes EVER.

Accessories

Woollen hat -  Most body heat escapes from the head, so you'll have this on most days and all evenings.

Wide brimmed hat - Sun protection. The sun's rays are strong when at altitude.

Thick gloves - Decent, thermal lined gloves are needed, but make sure you've still got a little movement, especially if you're using walking poles.

Sunglasses - High UV protection.


*Sunglasses + woolly hat close-up.*

Other gear

Walking poles - They'll help keep you balanced, especially coming down hill, and take a lot of pressure off the knees. They were optional on our kit list, but I would have suffered a lot more without them.

Water bottle - This needs to be able to hold both boiling water and frozen water. You'll be given boiled water regularly, and you'll need something to store it in as it cools. On the other hand, your water will also freeze at some point during the colder nights on the trek.

Water bladder - For use with compatible backpacks. Incredibly helpful for making sure you're drinking the hefty amount of water your body will need, the mouth piece hangs down your shoulder for easy access.

Neck scarf/Bandana - Protection from cold and dust.

Crampons - Definitely optional. When we were trekking right down on the banks of the Bhote-Koshi river, the ice was extremely slippy, and you wouldn't want to fall into that fast-flow right next to you. Crampons would have come in extremely handy. But, on the other hand, we all survived and this was the only moment I think that they would have been useful.

*With my walking poles in the snow.*

Other

Hand warmers (optional) - Great for warming you up when you first clamber into the tent on cold nights!

Camera - A definite must! I found my camera on my phone was much better than my actual camera. Though high quality can give some spectacular results - a few trekkers had GoPro cameras that they wore, which were pretty awesome.

Clothes for Kathmandu (optional) - If you can leave clothes in Kathmandu, it might be nice to have some clean clothes to come back to. Also, we had a pool at our hotel, so swimwear might be a good shout.

Energy gel sachets and energy bars - You'll need something to snack on to keep your energy levels high. Some people like the energy gel sachets for a burst of energy, but definitely have some tracker bars, or similar, with you.

Watch - An alarm and source of time without needing to stare at that damn phone!

Head torch - You'll need to be able to see when you head for the toilet tent in the middle of the night. Unless you're okay with stepping in yak poop. Your choice.

First aid kit - Personal choice of its contents, but must include: plasters, blister plasters, diarrhoea tablets (+ electrolyte sachets), ibuprofen/paracetamol.

You can also bring Diamox if you get a prescription for it. This is a medicine designed to help the body acclimatise. I personally did not take any, and myself and most other non-Diamox-users were fine. Of the people who were taking Diamox, some were fine and others weren't so great. Overall: its a personal choice, and there's no guarantee whether it will make a difference to altitude sickness. Whether you take it or not, you're likely to still get at least an altitude headache.

Nappy bags - My Dad just about had a heart attack when he heard I was buying nappy bags. Chill Dad, no grand-kids yet, just somewhere to pop the dirty toilet paper.

Solar charger (optional) - These can be hung on your backpack during the day, and used to charge your camera/phone at night. It's worthwhile noting that plug sockets are very dodgy in Nepal - my camera charger did not work over there, but I was lucky one of the Sherpa's had a charger I could borrow!

Resealable bags - Wrap your clothes in waterproof bags. Your bag will possibly freeze at one point, as mine did, and when it defrosts you're better having dry clothes than wet ones.

Notebook and pen - Take a note of your thoughts! Its amazing read back once it's over and reminisce :)

*My travel journal. The blue ribbon I tied on is from my large pack. The top picture is some writing from during the trek, the right is the outside of the journal and the left picture is from the scrapbook I put at the back.*

Toiletries (obviously this is more a personal thing, but here is what I'd say is essential)

Toothbrush/Toothpaste

Deodorant - Roll-on. Lets not suffocate your tent mate with a spray.

Baby wipes/cleansing wipes - These wipes are your shower. Bring them.

Toilet Paper - Enough for the duration of your trek.

Moisturiser & Lip balm

Hair brush

High factor sun cream - I took sun cream that was designed for skiers. Factor 50, created specifically for areas where a strong sun will be reflecting off of snow. Well, no matter how often I reapplied, this photo is evidence that the sun cream I had was - forgive me - UTTER SHITE. So I'll say make sure it's decent sun cream and make sure you're reapplying, and hopefully you won't get a dodgy crap tube like I did.

 *My patchy sunburn that caused my face and lips to swell up. Ouch. Doesn't even look like me.*


TIPS

Layer, layer, LAYER! Layer your clothes like your life depended on it!

Train on stairs - You'll be climbing a lot of hills, and they can get very steep. Training on stairs will really help build the correct leg muscles to help you power through.

Stick to the weight limits - The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla has a 15kg weight limit - that's for all of your gear, both in your large bag and your small bag. They will be weighed together. Do not bring items that are not essential! I promise you that no one cares if you have no make-up on or stink - everyone is in the same boat. It almost brings the group closer together.

*The teeny plane to take you to Lukla. You can see why they're particular about weight.*

Food = monotonous - You will get bored of the food. I still get a sickly feeling thinking of plain rice and cinnamon potatoes. It's incredible what they manage to cook up there, and you will have some immense meal that make me drool and the thought of them. But at the higher altitudes it is more difficult to get a hold of some foods, so it will get repetitive. Bring some snacks, like your favourite chocolate, for those days.

eBay + borrow - It is expensive to buy all your gear from new, so if this is a one-off, or you haven't got much gear already, don't feel everything has to be brand new. A lot of my gear came second hand off of eBay. As I mentioned, I'm not a fan of down jackets, and knew I would rarely use mine after the trek, so I was not impressed with the high price marks for new ones. I managed to get myself a Karrimor down jacket, almost new, for £6 from a fellow eBayer. Bargain! Other items I bought from eBay and Amazon: Sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, t-shirts, thermals. Do your research before bidding on items by looking for reviews online and for professional websites selling them brand new that will have spec information.

*The group at Base Camp in our warmer gear. What a moment :)*

I hope this list has helped give you an idea of what you might need if you're doing this trek. You will have an INCREDIBLE time, and if you forget anything, there are opportunities in Kathmandu, Lukla and Namche Bazaar to pick up anything extra. Has anyone else done the trek and have items they'd add? Anyone preparing to undertake the trek and have any questions or thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Also: I found this blog post at Her Packing List really helpful when I was preparing, so do check it out too!

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