Gear up for the Himalayas
Ensure that the daypack has features similar to the image shown here.
The Size of the backpack
is usually measured in CC
or Liters (L). Size is from 20L
to a maximum of 65L. Always better to buy the 60+ L big backpack.
Features to check for:
a. Top loading type. This is the most preferred type.
b. To have a chest strap and a padded waist strap.
c. Side pockets to hold 2nos One-litre water bottles.
d. The zippered pouch on the rear bottom conceals a waterproof cover for the bag. Please check. If not you must buy a bag cover. While trekking in rain it would be needed.
e. Outer Casing made of Water-resistant or water-proof material
You will have to carry the backpack throughout the trek. Nobody will carry it for you.
In the backpack you will be carrying the following items:
2nos. Water bottles preferably Aluminium.
Snacks for the day
Fleece sleeveless sweater
Sunglasses with UV protection
Packed lunch (You need to bring a compact lunch box with Cup/Plate/spoon)
Cap /Hat -1 (Day use)
Sunscreen lotion / Moisturizer
½ or ¾ litre Bottle – for Juice/Tang mix
ID Card /ID Proof
* Incase you are taking your Backpack as "Carry-On baggage" in flights please check its dimensions. The accepted size is 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag). Anything bigger and you may be asked to put it in "Check-in Baggage".
Porter bag / Ruck sack
This is the small airbag that the porters/mules will carry during the day, and it will be delivered at the campsite each evening. The bag after packing should not weigh more than 5 kgs. The bag size should be less than (22 inches) x 40 cms (16 inches) x 20 cms (8 inches) and a total weight of 5 kgs. This is almost the same size as your Check-in baggage size on an Airplane. Porter charges will be Rs.250-275 per day. A big backpack with a rain cover which will make it easy for the porters to carry incase the pack animals get stuck in heavy snow. No trolley bags, Suitcases, and heavy air-bags will be taken.
Your porter bag will contain ONLY the following:
Sandals or slippers for campsite use – 1
Monkey cap (night use) - 1
Toilet paper roll – 1
Boroline / lip balm - 1
Mini Toilet kit -Toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, sanitizer, comb, wet tissues
Light/Thin big Towel – 1
T-shirts – 2 (another you wear)
Track suit bottoms – 2 (another you wear)
Thermal wear top + bottom – 1 set
Full sleeve Sweater – 1
Down Jacket - 1
Fleece pants (optional)
Thick Trekking/Sports Socks-2,Woolen socks- 1
Innerwear-4 only (No arguments here !!)
Small multipurpose tiffin box (plate / bowl / spoon)
Insulated gloves - 1
7 small sachets of Dry fruits & Nuts / Chocolates (the rest of your cache)
Tang packet 500gms
Personal Medicine kit incl Diamox Tabs (IMPORTANT & COMPULSORY)
LED Torchlight / spare batteries
THIS IS ALL YOU NEED FOR A TREK. DO NOT PACK ANYTHING ELSE . It won't fit into your Trek bag.
YOUR TRAVEL BAG
A light travel airbag is what you will hold your travel clothes, your gadgets and your travelling paraphernalia. Ensure that you have locks to secure the Zippers, since we are leaving it at guest house Baggage room which might not be safe. Keep extra photocopies of your tickets here.
TREKKING POLE / HIKING POLE -1
This item will be available online. www.decathlon.in is a good place to buy it. Hiking poles come with 2 attachments, do not misplace them or lose it. One is the rubber bush that protects the sharp metal tip,and cushions you in rocky terrain. Another is the plastic cap, which you will use while on the snow. Its also a good idea to roll a couple of rounds of duct tape on the pole, which comes useful to fix shoe soles, holes in tent etc.
TREKKING BOOTS and Trekking shoes
This winter trek you will definitely need Trekking Boots. No shoes ! The difference is shown in the pic above. Boots need to have high ankle support, be breathable, waterproofed and ability to protect your feet from water, ice, snow. So special varieties of Trekking boots need to be got.
Look for boots with:
Look for the special sole - eg.Vibram, Ominitech, Contagrip etc. There is a lot of technology in these soles. Only some models in some brands have this feature
Look for the waterproof or water-resistant layer feature on the upper sole eg. Goretex, Novadry, Outdry etc
The upper should preferably be of suede, leather or equivalent. Most regular boots have a netted/mesh type of material for the upper, which can let in the water and snow.
Boots are are available with Decathlon -Forclaz 500 /600 (economical), Columbia (Good products reasonably priced) , Salomon (top of the line). Your regular running/walking shoes from Nike and Adidas are DEFINITELY not suited for treks. Though Adidas makes some trekking shoes, they are not designed for extreme winter treks.
Good links for boots:
NEVER wear NEW Trekking shoes for treks - Break your shoes in, by using them for walks atleast for 15 days before the trek, this will minimize the “Shoe bite problem”.
BREATHABLE POLYESTER T-shirts & bottoms: It is the fibre used most commonly in base fabrics for performance sportswear, and this is what you see sportsmen wearing. It wicks moisture away from your skin. It accelerates evaporation, increases ventilation and reduces chaffing. Good quality T-shirts of this material is available in branded stores - Westside calls it sphere dry, Nike calls it Dri-fit, Adidas calls it Climacool and Reebok calls it Play-dry. Westside Stores “Sphere-dry” will be the lowest priced. Do not mistake, all polyester sportswear are not breathable, so its best to stick to brands when in doubt.
1. 2 pair of track pants should be synthetic (quick-dry) of which one pair can be wind-resistant or water-resistant and one with a fleece-inner lining.
2. 3 polyester tees and one with full sleeves. Stick with lighter tones and avoid dark colours or black.
Cotton T shirts ? Best avoid them.
Getting the right outer layers suitable for Himalaya treks can be quite frustrating for most people as you end up with uncomfortable outfits not suited for the environment and the net result is you feel miserable. Most Himalaya trek checklists normally suggest one sweater and one windcheater.
Out of personal experience, I suggest the LAYERED clothing system, where during the day any combination of the Layer 2,3,4 is required according to climate. Individually each layer will protect you against a specific weather during a trek or at campsite. While a combination of these layers (add or remove) helps to to cope up with the fast changing weather conditions. The Himalayas can go from extremely hot to biting cold in just minutes.
a. Layer Four – The outer layer.
A thin Rain jacket made of ultra lightweight polyester also doubles up as a windcheater. This is just one thin waterproof jacket that comes with a hood. The purpose of this layer is to keep out the rain/snow and the wind. It will not keep out the cold .This item is to kept in your backpack always. The rain jacket should have an elastic cuff at the wrist, zipper front, a hood with a drawstring. Material: Nylon
b. Layer Three – The Sleeveless Fleece sweater.
This is what you will wear at the start of the day till your body warms up, and at late afternoon when the temperature starts to fall. You can practically wear it most of the time you trek. While you trek, the sleeveless arms radiate your body heat and sweat from your arms and at the same time your body’s core temperature remains constant. If it gets too hot and stuffy, just pull down the zip and let in the air. Material : Polyester
c. Layer Two – Full sleeve Fleece sweater
This is what you will wear while in camp and at night. Incase it gets too cold you can wear it over your Layer Three for more insulation. We suggest a thick Fleece sweater. A thick full sleeve Fleece sweater makes a great base layer, and when used in combination with the layer three, provides excellent protection from the cold, especially on cold nights. Material: Thick Polyester
d. Layer One - Thermals Innerwear (Night Only)
Thermal wear / Inner layer – Good quality thermal wear is available in all branded undergarments shop. The inner wear micro-yarn fabric guarantees maximum warmth even in extreme temperatures. Its available in brands like Jockey, Levis, Crystal etc. This item is to be kept in the Trek bag (rucksack) and worn at night only , and never make the mistake of trekking in your thermals.
COLD WEATHER ACCESSORIES
GLOVES- You will be wearing the gloves every evening in the campsite when the temperature drops to freezing so a glove which can withstand low temperatures is required. In addition you will have to wear it when you are in snowy areas and it should also be waterproof to some extent. Getting good insulated gloves with water proofing will be quite a bit of a challenge in India, and you sometimes end up with a bulky glove that you cannot use your fingers to hold a plate or a cup, use a camera or for that matter do anything useful with your fingers. My personal suggestion is 2 gloves – one thin fleece/woolen glove for Campsite use, and another waterproof glove which you can use on snow and ice which will be made of rubberized vinyl with soft-shell lining.
BALACLAVA / MONKEY CAP - For use in the tents at night and also while you trek on the snow. It should cover most of your face, ears and head.
DOWN JACKET - This is a fairly expensive item, but when the temperature drops to -10 you wish you had it. These are jackets that look like they have been stuffed/padded. Like on in the pic on the left. Here we have 2 choices of padding (filling): Synthetic or Down (goose feathers). Goose feather filling(down) are far superior in keeping you warm but synthetic is cheap but not as good. The price difference can be huge. Please check the inner label on the jacket to be sure you know what you are paying for.
Down jackets are not waterproof so suited only for inside tent use or for nights.
Go for the curved ones to cover your eyes totally. No blue tinted and multi-toned lenses since it does not block UV. Don't fall for that “100% UV Protection” sticker found on those fashionable looking types, they are mostly fake. Check the product quality label. Tints of Black, gray, greens, browns are OK. If you want something economical you can buy an ordinary frame from your Opticals shop and fit a Crookes B2 lens which actually don't cost much at all, and you can be sure of its UV protection. If you use a power-lens its suggested that you either get it converted to photochromatic or dark lenses. At high altitudes the thin air lets in very high level of UV radiation and it reflects on your eye. Prolonged exposure can give you “Snow blindness” or “Colour blindness”. UV Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.
This is an extra fitting that you wear over your boots and ankles. This protects your feet from getting wet or frostbite if you have to be trekking on the snow. Carry this in your daypack and wear it only when required. Also very useful when it rains and you have to wade through slush since it also keeps your feet and socks dry and prevents muck from entering in the gap between your socks and shoes. Forclaz Trek Hiking Gaiters is easily available in India.
SUN CAP / BANDANA
The round rim caps looking like that shown below provide the best protection from the sun. This is what you will be wearing most of the day. The bandana or head scarf can also be used for added protection. There are many ways to wear a Bandana. It can also be used to cover your face and protect you from Sunburn and UV exposure.
1. Chapstick or lip balm.
2. BOROLINE - Here is something that knocks the socks of the most expensive branded Sunscreen lotion. After using it for 4 Himalaya treks The simple Boroline has proved to be a miracle medicine for everything from Sunburn, dried Lip, chapped and dry skin, minor cuts, bruises and a host of other skin problems.
Its not easily available in medical stores and you might have to hunt around for it.
4. Sun screen lotion (SPF 40+ and above) / Moisturiser
5. Water bottles (1L each). Plastic bottles have habit of leaking, warping, smelling etc. The last thing you want on a trek is a smelly, leaky plastic bottle or one with a missing cap. I would suggest that you go in for Aluminium Water bottles since its lightweight, keeps water fresh longer, no plastic taste and most important plastic bottles when exposed to sun tend to leach chemicals into the water.
5. LED Head Lamp or torch, and keep spare batteries. Cold weather drains batteries very quickly, even DURACELL.
6. Leak proof plastic tiffin box, a plate, spoon and coffee cup (You will have to wash it yourself).
7. Thick sports Socks - 3 pairs and 1 pair woolen/fleece socks
8. Personal toiletry kit (minimal) Only essentials and also small sizes. If you are travelling with a friend you can share this and reduce weight.
9. Sleeping bag - Sleeping bag will be provided by the Trek Organiser. However if you are very finicky about using USED Sleeping bags and for your personal comfort or if you do plan to do more Himalaya Treks, you could consider buying a sleeping bag. All sleeping bags are priced based on the temperature they can withstand. So a Zero Degree rated bag will be priced more than a 10 degree rated sleeping bag. Night time temperatures in the Himalaya does go to Zero to -10 max even during summer, so check the temperature rating before you buy.
Note about Batteries & LED Lamps
LED Flashlights are easily available, but the LED Headlamp would be the most preferred choice for trekking, while the Torch would be handy in the campsite. Have both. Good LED headlights are a little pricey but they are worth it. On the box /specs look for the number of hours it can be powered on and its brightness. Chinese Torchlight/ headlamps are cheap but most often they fail.
Batteries - Most Batteries discharge when exposed to cold. So don't be surprised when you find your new batteries dead in the morning after a cold night. One way to prevent it is to wrap your batteries and keep them inside your sleeping bag at night, where they will remain warm. Better get “Energiser Lithium AA/AAA Batteries”. These batteries will work till -40C. You could check out sites like www.flipkart.com where you might be lucky to get them.
Medicines for the Himalayan Trek
1. Calpol / Crocin tabs 10 - 1 tab every 6 hours for fever
2. Lomotil or Lomofen 10- 2 tabs every 8 hours for Stomach upsets
3. Zofer MD 4 – 8 tab for prevention of vomiting
4. Stugeron 25mg 6-1 tab if giddiness esp. due to travel sickness (1 hour before travel time)
5. Brufen 400mg 6- 1 tab 3 times a day for painful swelling
6. Diamox 250 mg 15 - 1 tab daily above 10000 feet *Important * Important * Important !!!
7. Alegra tab 5 - cold and Allergy - 1 tab at night
8. Colimex tabs 4 - Stomach pain - ½ tablet
9. Benadryl Cough Formula - Before sleeping (not before a trek)
10. Electrobien Rehydration sachets 4 - for dehydration
11. Bandaid 4 for cuts and wounds
12. Mycoderm powder – for your feet before you put on your socks
13. Samahan sachets
14. Crepe Bandage
15. Moov spray (or any spray for sprains,muscle & joint pains)
16. Nebasulf/ Soframycin powder or any antiseptic cream
If two or more of you are coming together or plan to share a tent it makes sense to have one common medicine kit to share. Other than Diamox you can share the rest of the items.
Some trekkers feel loss of energy more than others. While there is adequate food provided on the trek, carry a few extra snacks:
1. Hard Boiled Sugar candy – full of instant energy and calories eg. Fox Glacier
Mint/Tropical Fruits mint.
2. Chocolates – Energy Bars are far better than 5 Star,Kit Kat etc
3. Dry Fruits/Nuts – Dates,Raisins, Pista, Almonds,Walnuts - Best for snacks
4. Tang – it does have some good ingredients (though artificial) ,Other products are
Isotonic, Gatorade sachets.
5. Biscuits – Opt for healthy digestive / nutritive biscuits instead of the regular biscuits.
6. Salt or Oral Rehydration Sachets – A small intake of salt prevents leg muscle cramps, which
is a common complaint for many. The ORS also relieves muscle cramps, dehydration and
7. Small repair kit consisting of safety pin, thread,duct tape,needle and spare shoelaces
8. While packing, use plastic ziplock bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra
plastic bags to pack used clothes/socks etc. This prevents your stuff from getting wet in
the rain and your used clothes too can be segregated. Tang packets once opened
have a mysterious way of leaking out into the entire bag.
1. Avoid Non-veg food and oily or fried items in roadside places
2. No Pepsi, Coke and all aerated drinks. No alcohol. No smoking.
4. Breakfast is a must
5. Take Injections for Typhoid, Hepatitis A Vaccine, Tetanus Toxoid at least 1 month before journey
6. Apply Sun screen lotion daily before starting trek, and cold cream before sleep will do
wonders for your skin. Apply cream / Mycoderm powder over bare foot to stop blistering
7. Drink plenty of water daily (even if you are not thirsty)
8. Symptoms to be alarmed about - Persistent headache, swelling of face, dimness of vision,
chest pain, giddiness, vomiting sensation = Altitude Sickness !
9. Pop in a Stugeron tablet a few hours before a Jeep/Van ride since it prevents Travel
Sickness on Hill sections
1. Leave your Jeans behind – these are not suited for treks.
2. Do not carry any non biodegradable material which you might dispose enroute.
3. After packing, weigh your gear. It should be in the range of 5-8 kg – preferably on the
6. Water - though pure ice-melt water is available in many places on the trek, it might be unfit
to drink. The water in the campsite will be filtered with a cloth (floating particles) and
“boiled” (water does not boil well at high-altitudes), and so those of you accustomed to
drinking Can/Mineral water, you better be careful.
Small pocket-size water filters, Sterilising pens, or water purification tablets are
available on websites. You and your tent mate can share the cost. Worthwhile
investing in them.
7. Bath - There is little chance of you having a bath on the trek in the cold /chill water which
will result in fever or cold and it's best to have light wash instead of a bath.
8. Exposure to cold - Though you feel that the weather is pleasant, the extreme and quick
changes in weather can upset your body. So don't step out of your tent in the evenings
without covering your head.