Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Tips for Travelers in Nepal – Equipment

Here are some suggestions regarding equipment you will need for the Annapurna circuit trek, and my recommendations for the best way to manage it.

  1. If you are not a frequent and dedicated backpacker hiker with your own tried and true equipment, and you are doing a tea-house trek with someone else carrying most of your gear, consider a rental option for items that are necessary but not size – related.  Why schlepp a down sleeping bag, back pack, down jacket, and trekking poles half-way around the world if you can rent them from your trekking guide group at a total charge of less that $2/day? These necessary items can be rented in Thamel or Pokhara and save you a lot of baggage bulk on the way to and from those locations.  Some necessary rentables:
    1.  1. Down sleeping bag – you may hike all day in a T-shirt but the temperatures plummet when the sun goes down, and there is no central heat in the guest houses.
    2. 2. Trekking poles.  They will save a lot of wear and tear on knees and hips, as well as saving you from a fall here and there.  The extra security – priceless.
    3. 3. Down Jacket – I needed mine three times in 12 days of hiking – but oh, when I needed it, it was lovely to have!
    4. Large back pack – Remember – it’s not you that will be carrying this pack, it’s the assistant guide assigned to you, so it doesn’t matter how well it fits you. It will hold your sleeping bag, extra clothes, and everything else you don’t need during the day, as well as a small amount of the guide’s gear. Instead of traveling with a backpack as my main piece of luggage, I took an expandable suitcase as far as Pokhara, stashed it at the guest house, and had lots of room for gifts and mementoes.
  2. Bring a silk liner for the down sleeping bag – it will add extra warmth at very little weight and if you are renting it is nice not to worry about who last used the bag. I recommend sewing a bright strip of bias tape across the top opening edge of the liner so it is easy to find when you need to slither in after dark. (thanks to a customer comment on the REI site for this tip!)
  3. Take good care of your feet.  This includes
    1. Good hiking boots, well broken in
    2. Several pairs of wool hiking socks
    3. Silk liners for the hiking socks to wick away sweat and help prevent blisters
    4. Dr. Scholls’ Blister Prevention pads, because you will get “hot spots” despite the good boots and the silk liners. (mentioned already in “Sanitation“, but worth saying twice)
  4. Bring a headlamp.  If you are getting up early to see the sunrise, by definition you will be hiking in the dark.  You will need both hands free for your hiking poles, so an ordinary flashlight will not do.  You will be pleased at how useful it will also be if your roommate in the guest house wants to sleep while you want to read about next day’s route, or if you need to find your way to that outside toilet in the middle of the night.
  5. Bring a deck of cards.  In the evening, a game of cards around a charcoal brazier bridges all culture gaps –French, Swiss, and Dutch and American guests joined by our Nepali guides with the common language of gin rummy.
  6. Bring a long-sleeved cotton shirt with a front breast pocket into which your camera will fit.  Your camera should be on a lanyard around your neck so that if you drop it, no harm. The pocket will take the weight off your neck.


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