When buying or renting equipment, remember that weight and versatility are the most important factors in selecting equipment. It is better to bring one item that can be used for several different functions rather than several specialized items. While we will have porters for group gear and a limited amount of personal gear, you will be carrying most of your own equipment. Depending on your flight itinerary, there may be severe restrictions on baggage weight: if you are flying to Kathmandu from most points of departure in Asia, the limit is 20 kg of checked luggage; from Europe, the limit may be about 30 kg; from the United States, 140 lbs.
Much of the equipment listed here can be bought or rented in Kathmandu for considerably less than in the States or Europe. Some items however, such as backpacks and climbing boots are best brought from home. We will have limited time in Kathmandu to purchase or rent additional equipment, so it is a good idea to acquire most of your gear at home. If you are traveling before or after the Summiters program, it is possible to store gear in Kathmandu for minimal charges. After the completion of the course, it will be possible to sell gear in Kathmandu or Namche Bazaar if you no longer want it.
(Recommended) T-shirts: Bring a couple of synthetic t-shirts for the trek up to Rolwaling and for hanging out around town and in camp. Synthetic materials don't seem to get dirty as quickly and dry much quicker than cotton shirts. Cotton is fine for the low elevation trekking, but up high where it is cold it can be a deathtrap. Cheap cotton t-shirts with custom embroidery abound in Kathmandu. Synthetic shirts are difficult to come by.
(Required) Base layer - This is a midweight long underwear layer that is capable of wicking moisture away from your core. Bring one. It can substitute for one synthetic T-shirt above. Best brought from home, though inferior products are available in Nepal.
(Required) Layer two - An expedition weight long underwear or a light fleece top serves as an alternative base layer or light insulation layer. Imitations of popular brands are everywhere in Kathmandu; the real thing is harder to find.
(Required) Layer three - Bring one thick fleece (200 or 300) jacket. Windstopper fabrics are also acceptable. Again, rip-offs are all over Kathmandu; the real thing is not. If you want windstopper or any specialty fabrics, bring it from home.
(Optional) Insulated Jacket- A synthetic or down insulated jacket can come in handy during cold nights in camp or quick toilet runs. Don't buy a heavy expedition style down parka unless you have money to waste. It will be too warm for hiking and climbing and at night you will have a sleeping bag. You will be much better off with a light down jacket or similar synthetic jacket or even another fleece layer. Decent down jackets can be found in Kathmandu at modest prices; however, if you want top quality, youíll pay serious money for it here -- if you can find it.
(Optional) Fleece vest - If you get are particularly sensitive to cold, consider bringing an additional layer in the form of a vest. Vests haven't made a huge splash in the shops of Kathmandu, but they may be available.
(Required) Windshirt and Rain Jacket -or- waterproof breathable shell. For simplicity I favor the jackets made out of Gore-Tex or similar materials. We should not encounter heavy enough rain to justfity a full rain jacket. There are many lightweight models out there, but make sure yours is durable, as you will not be in a position to replace it. A hood is is also required: in extreme conditions it will keep you warmer and dryer. Bring these from home, especially if you prefer a waterproof/breathable shell
(Required) 1 pair mittens, 1 pair gloves- Bring a pair of warm mittens for cold days and a lighter set of gloves for when its warmer. At least one pair should be waterproof. Another alternative is to bring a waterproof mitten shell with both glove and mitten liners. Fleece liners (mittens and gloves) can be purchased in Nepal; there are also a few good sources for mitten shells. It might be best to bring gloves from home.
(Optional) Liner Gloves- To wear under your regular gloves/mittens, handy if you need to remove your heavier handgear in the cold to adjust equipment or perform other tasks. These can be purchased in Kathmandu.
(Required) Ski Hat- A warm fleece or wool hat does wonders to keep you warm when the temperature drops. Windstopper models make it very difficult to hear, if it is windy you are better off pulling on your hood. Wool hats are itchy when worn for extended periods; some companies solve this by lining it with a synthetic layer that also adds warmth. Hats can be found in Nepal or brought from home.
(Recommended) Balaclava or Neckwarmer- Like a hat, a neckgaitor can do wonders to keep you warm when the temperature drops. They also help cut down on frostbite by limiting the amount of exposed flesh. A balaclava combines a neckwarmer with a hat, although it is not a substitute for the hat. Scarves are unacceptable. Bring from home or look around in Nepal. If they don't have it, they can make it.
(Recommended) Baseball cap or sun hat- A hat to keep the sun of your face and out of your eyes is excellent both during the hike in and on the glaciers. There is a limited selection in Nepal, but they serve their purpose. If you are picky, bring from home.
(Recommended) Travel clothes- Clothes for the plane, hanging out in Kathmandu, etc are recommended.
(Recommended) Underwear- Two or three pairs of underwear are plenty. Trust me, you won't want to change them when the temperature is approaching negative digits! Synthetic materials are preferable, but anything will do. Bring from home or find in Nepal.
(Recommended) Hiking shorts- One pair of shorts for hiking when its warm should be enough. River shorts or athletic shorts are quick-drying and light. Some people prefer the convenience of pockets in travel shorts or cargo shorts. No hotpants, please. If you want shorts, bring them from home.
(Required) Layer 1- Mid-weight long underwear bottoms, just like the tops. Bring from home.
(Required) Layer 2- Expedition weight long underwear or fleece pants. Again, fakes abound, but if you are looking for real quality gear, purchase at home.
(Required) Wind pants and rain pants or waterproof breathable pants Ė which we have found more convenient Make sure it is durable! Reinforced knees, rear end and scuff guards inside the ankles all come in handy. Bring these important pieces from home.
(Optional) Hiking pants or skirt. Instead of, or in addition to, the hiking shorts, these also draw less attention from the locals. Can be found in Nepal or abroad.
(Optional) Travel clothes.
(Required) Plastic Mountaineering Boots- We will use these boots heavily throughout the climbing portions of our course. It is important that they be warm, sturdy and comfortable. A good fit and decent boots may mean the difference between enjoying or hating your time in Nepal. Whatever boots you bring make sure they allow room in the toe but can be laced tight enough to prevent the heel from sliding around. It is also important that they don't cut off your circulation. The boots will be used to hike on and off trail, on steep snow and ice, and a limited amount of vertical climbing. Before purchasing or renting boots, we recommend contacting us to make sure they are adequate. Scarpa, Koflach, Lowa and other companies all make excellent models. It is possible to buy, rent and sell boots in Kathmandu, but it would be a disaster to travel all the way there to find they don't have your size. If you are considering this option, please discuss it with us first.
(Required) Campshoes/approach shoes/hiking boots- During the hike between Kathmandu and Rolwaling you will need something other than your plastic boots to hike in. If you are an experienced hiker, have strong ankles and a fairly light pack you can get by with a light pair of approach shoes. However, we recommend a sturdier boot with greater ankle support for most people. The hiking boots or approach shoes can double as camp shoes. Do not bring tennis shoes or athletic shoes, as they do not offer enough support or traction. If you want something more comfortable for around camp a light pair of river sandals or slippers is fine. Hiking boots or approach shoes are better brought from home.
(Required) Socks- Bring four to five pairs of different weight hiking and mountaineering socks. Two warm pairs for up high, two for the hike in and another midweight would be ideal. The newer synthetic/wool blends from Smartwool or Thorlo are excellent choices. Patagonia and other companies also carry good options. It is possible to find socks in Nepal, but not the same quality as can be purchased at home. We suggest bringing them with you.
(Optional) Liner Socks- If you choose to bring Rag Wool socks, liner socks help eliminate blisters and add to your comfort level. Two or three pairs should be plenty. Liner socks are unnecessary if bringing the polypropylene/wool blends.
(Required) Gaiters- Heavy duty full size gaiters keep snow, gravel, and other debris out of your boots and keep your socks clean. They also protect your expensive pants from being cut and ripped by crampons or your ice axe. The ones that Velcro in front work best as there are no zippers to blow and they can be easily adjusted to a small range of boot sizes. This is another item best brought from home.
(Required) Backpack- To carry all of your gear you will need a large backpack. A minimum of 5,000 cubic inches is recommended, although bigger packs in the 6,000 ci range are better. Large expedition size packs are unnecessary, as we will be using porters to haul group gear, food and possibly even some personal gear. If you already own a small (4,000-5,000 ci) pack, you can buy a couple accessory pouches that strap onto the outside of your pack. We recommend bringing internal frame packs from quality manufacturers. This is another piece of gear that you take for granted when it functions properly, but will ruin your trip when it doesn't. At least one attachment point for an ice axe is recommended. A shovel pocket, crampon pouch and other features are also nice. Bring your pack from home as materials and workmanship in Nepali made packs is poor.
(Recommended) Day pack- A small daypack comes in handy around the cities and on the airplane. It can also be nice for summits, although it adds more weight and your large pack will usually work fine. A fanny pack is not recommended. Not only does it scream "rob me I am a tourist" in the cities but isn't entirely practical in the mountains. If the top lid of your pack doubles as a fannypack, it may come in handy, but isn't necessarily a substitute for a decent daypack. Cheap knockoffs are everywhere in Kathmandu, but the zipper quality is questionable. For something that will last, bring it from home.
(Recommended) Stuff sacks/ditty bags, assorted sizes- These help tremendously with packing and organization. Some are waterproof/water-resistant and help to keep gear dry. Simple models can be purchased in Kathmandu.
(Recommended) Trashbags- Another way to keep gear dry is to throw it in a trashbag. Bring a few from home.
(Recommended) Zip-loc Freezer Bags- These also aid in organization and keep things dry. Bring from home, although they may be available in Kathmandu.
(Optional) A few assorted packstraps can come in handy, especially if your pack is small and you need to tie things on the outside. Either bring from home or look around in Kathmandu. It is also possible to make your own with a few buckles and some webbing.
(Recommended) Travel duffel- Not only can we use this to pack porter loads, but it is a good idea for the airlines. It will protect your pack and valuable gear from the baggage handlers and curious eyes. Bring from home so you have it on the plane! If you need extras, they are everywhere in Kathmandu.
(Required) Sleeping Bag- A warm quality made sleeping bag is necessary for both our comfort and survival in the high mountains. Do not bring a bag rated to above 0 degrees F. We recommend having a warmer bag. -10 to -20 will ensure you stay warm in all but the coldest conditions. Warmer than -20 is not necessary nor is it recommended. Down is superior in weight, compressibility and comfort, but takes special care and attention. If it gets wet it becomes completely useless. Synthetic materials have been drastically improved over the years and are another decent option. If you already own a good bag, but it is not warm enough, consider buying a lightweight liner from one of the sleeping bag manufacturers to add warmth to your bag. Fleece liners are generally too heavy, bulky and don't add enough warmth. There are a handful of decent sleeping bag manufacturers in Nepal, but we strongly suggest bringing a quality bag with you from home.
(Recommended) Compression sack- For your sleeping bag and other bulky items. These little wonders really help save pack space. It may be possible to find these in Kathmandu but donít count on it: better to bring them from home.
(Required) Sleeping pad- Bring at least one closed cell foam pad, 3/4-full size. Full size pads are not really necessary: you can always put your coat or other clothing under your legs. Therm-a-rests are acceptable if you bring your own patch kit. A second half length pad adds valuable warmth when sleeping on glaciers. A crazy creek or other light camp chair serves this purpose well and provides a nice seat for around camp. These are available in Kathmandu.
(Required) Eating gear- Bring a bowl, utensils and a mug. Insulated mugs are nice, as are Tupperware bowls with lids. Cheap silverware, and metal mugs and bowls can be purchased in Kathmandu.
(Required) Two or three one-liter water bottles- The wide-mouth Nalgene bottles are perfect. Other models may be sufficient. Consider a water bottle parka to keep liquids from freezing. Some people prefer hydration bladders. These are acceptable as a substitute for one bottle, but since they can freeze and rupture, make sure you have at least one fallback. The fake Nalgenes that are sold in Nepal are prone to leak and crack; real ones are pricey, so bring yours from home.
(Required) Lip Balm- A chapstick/ sunblock combination is vital in the high, cold windy mountains. Available in Kathmandu.
(Required) Sun block- Minimum SPF 15. We suggest much higher (30-45) for the intense solar radiation found at high altitudes. Available in Kathmandu.
(Required) Sunglasses- Either wrap-around type or something with side shields. Must block out 100% UVA to protect against snowblindness, etc. To play it safe, bring a very good pair from home. As a last resort you may be able to find something in Kathmandu.
(Optional) Bandanas- Useful for multiple applications, from a sweat rag to an eyeglass cleaner to a snot wipe to a light hat. Buy in Kathmandu.
(Recommended) Pocket knife- A small light single blade should suffice. Tools with screwdrivers or pliers can come in handy but are heavy. Cheap ones are available in Kathmandu; some shops have quality ones as well.
(Recommended) Extra Glasses/contacts- If you wear prescription glasses or contacts bring adequate backup pairs. Bring these from home. Also bring your prescription as a last resort.
(Required) Headlamp- Due to the possibility of climbing at night, a powerful, reliable headlamp such as Petzl's Zoom is required. Smaller lights are handy around camp, but are not suitable for climbing conditions. Some companies have come out with combination LED/ halogen headlamps that may work well. Headlamps can be found in Kathmandu, although it may be safer to get them at home.
(Required) Spare Batteries and Bulb for your headlamp- Self explanatory I think. Batteries can be purchased in Kathmandu.
(Recommended) Lighter- These little guys always come in handy. Buy from in Kathmandu from one of those guys who hawks Tiger Balm: 5 rupees.
(Recommended- please) Personal hygiene- Travel size toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, lotion, handtowel, etc. Don't bring full size bottles or a makeup kit. Everything can be found in Nepal.
(Recommended) Notebook, pens, pencils- A small notebook and/or journal is a nice companion and a great way to record the trip. It is also handy for taking notes during classes. It is easy to find quality pens in Nepal. There is also an abundance of shops which sell journals and notebooks constructed from handmade paper.
(Required) Watch- Something with an alarm that will wake you up! Those expensive ones with the altimeters are nice, but certainly not necessary. It may be possible to find in Nepal, but I bought one that can't even wake me up! It is better to bring even a cheap one from home.
(Optional) Insect repellent- A small amount may come in handy during the hike in, although bugs shouldn't be a problem this time of year. Can be found in Nepal. If you are visiting malarial areas after the course, and want permethrin, bring it from home.
(Required) Ice axe- A 60-70cm mountaineering axe is necessary. Measure to your ankle bone or slightly below while holding the axe at your side. These can be purchased or rented in Nepal. For a wider selection of models, buy at home. Most quality tools are priced about the same, and the cheap rentals are unreliable. If you want to rent, do it in Kathmandu.
(Required) Crampons- Another necessary piece of equipment. 12 point mountaineering crampons are perfect. Technical crampons are fine, but not necessary. Crampons can also be purchased or rented in Nepal. Prices on quality models are similar to those at home.
(Required) Helmet- Tashi Laptsa is notorious for rockfall. It is possible to but or rent in Nepal, but for safety's sake it's better to buy a good helmet from a reliable company back home.
(Required) Harness- A simple, adjustable mountaineering harness is all you need. The more expensive ones are more comfortable but designed more for rock climbing and technical ice climbing. Some models are available in Kathmandu. Nepali made versions are cheap, but unreliable. As with a helmet, it is safer to bring these from home.
(Optional) Sunglass retainer- You would hate to loose your only glasses in a crevasse, but we can always make a new pair out of duct tape. I hear it's a pain to take the tape off though... Available in Kathmandu.
(Optional) Candles- Save those precious batteries and burn a few of these. Just don't light the tent on fire or it will be a cold windy couple of weeks! Available in Kathmandu.
(Recommended) Camera/film- What better way to bring back memories of the trip? For snapshots a simple point and shoot is all you need. Take weight and durability into consideration when choosing your camera. A complicated SLR setup can be a pain if all you want are a few photos for the album. There is actually a surprising amount of cheap quality photography equipment in Kathmandu. If you are considering buying a new camera, I suggest waiting until you are in Nepal.
(Optional) Filter/iodine- We will supply iodine to purify drinking water while climbing. A bottle or two of Potable aqua will come in handy in Kathmandu or while hiking. If you are sensitive to chemical treatment, consider bringing a small, lightweight filter or purifier to treat your water. Iodine is one of the few items that is actually cheaper to bring from home. Filters can be bought in Kathmandu although you could probably save more by buying one on sale at home.
(Optional) Vitamins - available in Kathmandu
(Optional) Thermalounger- It adds weight, but it's nice at the end of the day! The Crazy Creek type can be used as a second ground pad also. I haven't seen these in Nepal, but they could probably make you one if you asked. Simpler to bring from home.
(Optional) Neoprene socks- warm and they keep your feet dry, but they lock in the sweat too. We shouldn't be doing any stream crossings, but some people like them anyway. Bring from home.
(Recommended) Ski goggles- Goggles come in handy when it's windy or blowing snow. They also protect your face from frostbite when it's really cold. Consider ones with light lenses for use when it's overcast. You can wear your sunglasses when it's sunny and the goggles when it's stormy. Bring from home.
(Recommended) Sewing kit, small repair kit, personal first aid. We will carry group first aid and repair kits, but it is recommended you bring supplies for minor repairs to both your body and your gear -- especially blister treatments and bandages. Prescription medications can be ought over the counter in Kathmandu. We will suggest specific medications at a later date.
(Recommended) Book - One is probably enough, you can trade with other group members. There are very good bookshops in Kathmandu.
(Recommended) Nepali Phrase Book- This can help add to your enjoyment of the trip. Bring a little one to save weight. Also available at the bookshops in Nepal.
(Optional) River Sandals- If you already own them, these will be excellent for the raft trip. However, it is not necessary to buy new ones at home. Cheap imitations can be found in Kathmandu that will work. While they are nice for hanging out in town or around snowless camps, they will have limited use during the course and will be better left in Kathmandu. They are not an acceptable substitute for trail shoes, but can work as camp footwear. Just remember they add considerable weight.
(Optional) River shorts, bathing suit, or cut-offs: you will be soaked on the rafting expedition! Shorts are also more comfortable than long pants when trekking at lower elevations.
(Optional) Booties- Fleece and synthetic booties are comfortable options for around lodges or quick trips to the bathroom. They can also be worn inside the plastic shells of your mountaineering boots around camp. Down is also an option, but not as good for this application. Available in Nepal or at home.
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