Packing and Dressing for a Nepal Trek

Here is a simple trek gear packing and dressing system that will help you stay well organized, with the right clothes available, clean, dry and fresh when you need them, while avoiding bringing too many items. This is especially important for Everest treks where there are flight baggage weight restrictions. I call this the 3 bag/4 layer system that applies to most trek weather conditions throughout Nepal.
Packing in the porter bag
Bring 3 large plastic packing bags in which you will fit all of your trek clothes. These should be the zip sealing type bags, although the bags don’t always need to be sealed.
Bag 1 is for clean clothes only – not worn or only lightly worn but still fresh
Bag 2 is for clothes you’ve worn during the trek but are clean enough to wear again
Bag 3 is for dirty clothes you won’t wear again during the trek (unless/until you are able to wash them)
All other non-clothing items can be put directly into your duffel bag, or in other small bags/containers in the duffel bag.
As your clothes get dirty bag 3 will get filled and bag 1 will empty. Bag 2 will stay about the same after filling up the first few days. You can use bag 2 for clean clothes when you start out.
Layer 1 – Quick dry underwear and T-shirts (3). These get washed each night if possible and worn again or put in the clean clothes bag. If they aren’t dry by the morning they can hang dry on your day pack. Your pack should have stretch webbing on the back that will hold your drying clothes. A half dozen clothes pins are also useful. You might have to hang your underwear, t-shirt and a towel to finish drying on your pack each morning.
Layer 2 - A light, quick-dry jumper/pullover or shirt that is always worn over your t-shirt. This can be worn for several days or even a week without washing. Two jerseys are enough. (The second one will be warn initially as sleepwear)
Trekking pants (2), preferably with zip-off leggings, can be worn for several days without washing, and alternated with your second pair in case one gets wet or very dirty.
You may also want to have one or two pairs of thermal underwear for high altitude or winter treks. These are not as convenient as wearing wind pants over your trekking pants or even heavy trekking pants, and they are difficult to wash and dry. But thermals can be good for extreme weather conditions.
Socks (4) can be either layer 1 or 2 in terms of washing and re-use depending on how many pairs you have and how you feel about dirty socks. Thick trekking socks can take a long time to dry so washing is often not practical. But make sure that reworn “dirty” socks are dry and completely free of debris. Before putting them on you can smack them against a railing or rock, inside and out, to get rid of any loose particles.
Layer 3 - This is a fleece, either full or a vest that will keep your core warm in almost any conditions. This will be taken on and off as the temperatures rise and fall and you warm and cool throughout the day. At the lower altitudes during the middle of the day your jersey will also come off and on. This layer should also include wind-proof pants to wear over your trekking pants. Over pants are usually better than heavy trekking pants since the temperature changes can make heavy pants uncomfortable when the temperatures rise during the day.
Layer 4 – This is a shell or medium-weight insulated jacket, with the weight varying depending on the trek altitude and time of year. A shell is more flexible unless you’re expecting very cold temperatures.
Your day pack should be large enough to hold all the pieces of extra clothing for each day along with the other items you’ll want to have with you before the porter gets to the teahouse at the end of the trekking day. Usually a 40 liter pack is sufficient.
Sleeping and Lodge clothes
Fleece pants and a t-shirt are a base layer to which you can add a light jersey. Depending on the temperature in the lodge you will also want to use your fleece or down jacket (teahouses are not heated). A pair of light socks can be worn with sandals in the lodge at night. Although you’ll sleep in your t-shirt and jersey keep your fleece or down jacket nearby with tissue in the pocket for possible night visits to the toilet.
Near the end of your trek when you’re descending to lower, warmer altitudes you’ll be able to use the jersey you wore at night as trekking gear during the day and retire your well-worn dirty jersey to bag 3.
Other gear
There are several Items that you will always want to have with you and should check that you have them on you or in your daypack before you leave the lodge in the morning. A warm hat, gloves, glasses (sun and reading) sun block and lip balm, water bottle(s), phone, e-reader/tablet/book, headlamp/torch, and scarf/balaclava. If any of these items are left in your porter’s bag they will be hard to retrieve during the day.

10 Essential Uses for Trekking Poles

Many trekkers do not uses poles (“sticks”) or use them sparingly or incorrectly when they do have them. Poles should be an essential part of every Himalayan trekker’s kit and are incredibly versatile. Here are ten ways that you can use your trekking poles, and there are probably others we haven’t considered.

  1. When using poles to help you climb steep slopes you’ll be increasing your overall strength by 25 to 30% while reducing the strain on your legs. When using poles on steep slopes be sire to place them far in front of you and pull yourself up from your shoulders. Your arms should strain as much as your legs.
  2. When using your poles to descend steep slopes extend them about 6 inches (10cm) longer than for climbing up. You can place your palms on the tops of the poles to avoid too much strain on your wrists.
  3. Poles can even be helpful on flat trails, either to help propel you along in the same way that they are used for cross-country skiing, or to give you a little extra support when you are very tired near the end of a long day trekking.
  4. If you find yourself “bushwacking” on a rough trail you can use your poles to shield yourself from foliage that might hit your face or other exposed parts of your body. They are especially useful for keeping thorny branches away.
  5. When crossing a stream, marsh, or area with lots of fallen foliage where a firm trail is not visible, use your poles to test the ground for firmness before stepping forward.
  6. Along with testing for firm ground you can use your poles to navigate across streams and other very uneven, unstable trail surfaces. It’s like having four feet! You can even use them as a sort of pole vault to help you jump across a stream or other obstacles.
  7. If you are confronted on the trail by feral dogs or are uncertain whether a large animal like a yak or pony might kick at you when you are passing on a trail you can use your poles as a shield. With something as large as a pony or yak this is mostly a psychological shield but then yaks are rarely known to kick at anyone (it’s the horns you need to watch out for). Dogs will usually just bark or growl and rarely attack, so only use your poles in self-defense when animals are actually aggressive.
  8. If you need to bury waste beside (away from) the trail, a trekking pole can be used as a shovel.
  9. If you are resting and don’t want your backpack laying in the dirt, rest it on your trekking poles. Poles can also be used as part of makeshift lean-to for a variety of purposes.
  10. If you find yourself on a particularly difficult, steep trail where you can find a way up to the next level, your guide or another trekker can pull you up by extending your poles to him.

Lukla Flight Changes

There have been some significant changes since the start of the 2013 trekking season in the way flights to Lukla are being managed. As you might know Lukla is the take-off point for almost all Everest treks.

There used to be three airlines operating daily flights to Lukla, but all except Tara Airlines were forced to discontinue their Lukla flight schedules as of this year. Fortunately Tara Airlines (an affiliate of Yeti Airlines, the largest in Nepal) has always been the most reliable airline flying to Lukla, and we can expect continued good service from them. Unfortunately, however, their new monopoly on this route has given them the freedom to impose some restrictive changes on the flights schedules and passenger rules and regulations.

There are now 35% fewer planes and flights (on average) scheduled into Lukla so this presents more difficulty securing flight reservations, especially for the more reliable early morning flights. Anyone planning to join an Everest trek during the main trekking seasons should confirm their booking as early as possible to insure that space on the Lukla flight will be available. The airline is also now requiring copies of passports to confirm reservations so these need to be sent as soon as you confirm your trek booking.

The other major change has been with the baggage weight limits. Previously, passengers were allowed up to 15 kg (33lbs) of checked luggage. This has now been reduced to a 10 kg/22 lb limit. The carry-on weight limit (5kg/12lb) has not been changed as yet.

There is also the possibility to pay a fee for excess baggage weight, but Tara Air has not confirmed the new guidelines for this. One thing to keep in mind is that Tara is applying these new restrictions to insure that total flight weight limits are not exceeded so that the flights are as safe as possible. This also applies to most flight delays in and out of Lukla, which are almost always because of greater caution and safety guidelines being applied by the airline.

ITrekNepal is addressing these changes as best we possibly can with some specific actions. We have always been very resourceful getting Lukla flight reservations, even under the most demanding conditions. The ITrekNepal operations staff have very close connections with Tara Air and will do whatever is required to secure the best flights for our trekking guests. However, please keep these limitations in mind when you make your trek plans since it may be very difficult to change flight dates at the last minute as we were able to do more easily in the past.

To deal with the luggage weight restrictions we are planning to store more trekking gear (sleeping bags, down jackets, etc.) at Lukla. We will also purchase the extra trek food in Lukla rather than Kathmandu to avoid having to check this as luggage. This will cost us a bit extra but is worth the cost to us so that our guests don’t have to restrict the amount of gear they bring any more than necessary.

We will keep our trekking guests updated about any new developments in this area, and welcome any questions or concerns you might have.