Here are details of the clothes you will need on a trek to Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit. Many items will be available in Kathmandu, Lukla, Pokhara or Namche Bazaar, but genuine labels will not be and cheaper equipment will often be insufficient for the kind of cold to which you can look forward.
Layering is crucial as the weather can change radically along with the altitude. Lukla is at 9,383 feet and Kala Patthar, 18,373 feet. There are also the seasons to consider. There are three layers for you to think about.
The base, first or next-to-skin layer is highly important at the higher reaches of the trek but will likely see little use at other times. If this layer fits tight to the skin, airflow is reduced. It should be of high-wicking material to enable moisture to escape.
The second, insulation layer is best constructed of fleece material. You may be able to live without a second layer for your legs. For your torso, a Polartec 200 Fleece Jacket is lightweight, warm and breathable. The 100 range is too light and the 300 range, too heavy.
The third, outer core layer comprises a warm, waterproof jacket and trousers which are indispensable at the higher reaches. A top-of-the-range option is the North Face Nuptse Jacket while the North Face Resolve Jacket is more affordable. Think of the Nuptse as a lifetime investment – it will last for years. Trousers should be warm, fleece-insulated ski pants as supplied by Helly Hansen, O’Neills and Trepass.
In addition to these three layers, you will also benefit from trekking shorts for the evenings. Rain might be encountered, particularly around the rainy season from June to September, so bring lightweight rain gear or, at the very least, a poncho. Jeans are to be avoided as they take an age to dry out and are uncomfortable for trekking. Cotton is to be shunned because it absorbs moisture.
There is also the matter of headwear. You cannot contemplate this trek without a hat that protects the head and neck against the sun. It should be light and capable of fitting inside your daypack. A beanie, otherwise known as a headband, will be appreciated when it grows cold in the late afternoon or early evening, particularly as you draw closer to Base Camp. Berghaus and North Face are very reputable suppliers. Sunglasses with a minimum of 80 percent light reduction are another must-have, for example those by Julbo.
Gloves are necessary. Outer gloves should be ultra-warm, waterproof and durable, for instance Dakine’s Gore-Tex gloves. Inner gloves ought to be lightweight and quick dry, like Pearl Izumi’s Thermal Lite Gloves, which can be used without outer gloves if the weather is not too severe.
Your feet are what will get you to Base Camp and back again. Boots should fit correctly or blisters, lost nails and sore feet will follow. The test is placing your foot in the boot with the laces untied and then sliding it to the front; you should be able to insert a single finger down the back of the boot. Full leather boots have a tendency to be too heavy. Trainers can be worn in-camp. Not to be forgotten are four or five pairs of trekking socks, with Coolmax being one provider. A further two pairs of thermal socks will be used on the colder days near Base Camp. Smartwool thermal socks are an example.
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