Trust me when I say that when you’re at an elevation of 5335 metres, having trekked about 65 kms, with another 65 kms to get back down, you 100% want to be travelling as light as possible. Every last ounce feels 100 times heavier when your oxygen levels are at 75% and you can barely string two sentences together.

So, to start with, plan to pack all the necessities without over packing. And don’t worry, you will rarely change your clothes, have a shower or put on clean underwear so it’s probably easier than you’re imagining. Plus, you save a tonne of space not having to worry about bulky toiletries due to lack of washing facilities. Bonus.

Be sure to pick a durable, light weight trekking rucksack with padded shoulder straps and a waist strap for extra support. You will really benefit from one that is compatible with a water bladder and has a built-in rain cover too. Once you’ve selected the rucksack for you, it’s time to start the mammoth job of considering what you might need.

Just to note, I trekked Everest Base Camp in May, spring time on the trail. I guess during winter months you may need to consider warmer, bulkier attire.

Clothing

What I took

  • 2-3 t-shirts. Perfect for warmer days and in the colder days provide much needed insulation.
  • 1 thin lightweight fleece. Ideal for underneath outer jackets and for throwing in your day pack.
  • 1 thick thermal fleece. I slept in this and layered it up under my outer jacket on colder days.
  • 1 set of thermals. Absolute must for the days leading up to reaching Base Camp. Also doubles up as ideal night wear. The nights were seriously freezing!
  • 1 outer layer jacket. Breathable, waterproof, windproof and should fit comfortably over all your layers. This was my go to jacket, worn most days.
  • 1 down jacket. Honestly, in May I could have managed without this but there was a couple of absolutely freezing evenings in the teahouses that I was grateful for the warmth of my down jacket.
  • 2 pairs of leggings. Perfect for the warmer days. Light weight and breathable. I layered them up as the days became colder.
  • 1 pair waterproof/ windproof trousers. I wore these a lot after the first few days. Make sure you get a comfortable pair that don’t make trekking even harder.
  • Thermal socks, sports bra and underwear. Obviously!

What I wish I took

More thermal socks. Once your socks get wet, there is literally not a chance on this earth they will dry. Take plenty.

Top tip

You wont wear as many clothes as you think. Honestly. You will stop getting changed and start to just add things on top, layering up until the day you reach Base Camp and you realise you’re wearing almost everything you brought in a bid not to freeze. Likewise, on the way down you’ll start peeling the layers back off.

Footwear

What I took

  • Hiking boots. This goes without saying. Splash out on a really good, waterproof pair and make sure you thoroughly break them in! I’d trekked the Great Wall of China in mine and done several smaller hikes. They may not have been in tip top condition, but I didn’t get one single blister.

What I wish I took

More than anything in the world I wish I’d taken a pair of camp shoes. Walking around in your boots in the evening is not the way forward. Trying to put them on in the middle of night when you get up to the bathroom is even less so.

Top tip

Take fleece lined camp shoes. A few people I trekked with had these and oh my god I was so envious of their comfy, warm feet on a night time.

Equipment

What I took

  • Water purification tablets. Hundreds of things. There are some alternatives to these such as iodine and life straw flasks, but most people use chlorine water purification tablets. Access to clean drinking water becomes harder and harder the higher you get so these are an absolute must. Especially as you’re going to be drinking litres and litres of the stuff to combat the altitude sickness.
  • Down sleeping bag. I actually hired this in Kathmandu from a reputable company. Trekking guides can advise you about these (be careful, there’s a lot of knock off companies in Kathmandu). A decent, four seasons sleeping bag is a necessity or you will get zero sleep and probably end up with frost bite. A sleeping bag liner was a good idea too for extra warmth (and extra hygiene if you’re hiring).
  • Camel pack (water bladder) and water bottle. Staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do to help fight headaches, dehydration and altitude sickness. I took a 3-litre water bladder and refilled this at least twice a day. A 1 litre water bottle is a great back up in case you run out of water or you water bladder freezes.
  • Head torch. Mainly so you can find your way to the bathroom on a night time! I use the word ‘bathroom’ loosely.
  • Sunglasses. Extremely important to protect your eyes up there. Everything is extremely bright, especially with the light reflecting off the snow. Beautiful but dangerous!

What I wish I took

Trekking poles. I was the only one in my group without trekking poles. In the grand scheme of things, I managed relatively well without them. By the end of the trek I realised life would have been a little easier with them. Especially on the way down to take some pressure off my knees.

Top tip

Berocca type effervescent vitamin tablets are great to take the chlorine edge off the purified water.

 

Accessories and other stuff

What I took

  • 2 hats are essential. One sun cap with a wide brim for protection from the midday sun, and one thermal hat for when the days get freezing. I actually had a 3rd woolly hat that I wore to sleep in. They’re also essential for covering up dirty hair. I’m not exaggerating when I say my hair wasn’t washed for 12 days.
  • 2 pairs of gloves. One thin and thermal with touch screen compatible fingers. Totally necessary for using a phone camera with cold hands. I also had one pair of down mittens which I used the day before and the day we reached Base Camp when times were especially cold. There is nothing worse than icy fingers, and I wasn’t willing to take this risk.
  • 1 balaclava. Might seem crazy excessive but seriously when the air is well into the minus degrees this was a life saver worn over my mouth, nose and ears for extra warmth.
  • Lip balm with SPF. If you take nothing else, take this. Well, maybe not, but seriously my lips were so dry from the cold and the wind. I thanked god every day that I remembered to pack lip balm!
  • Sun cream. Take SPF 50. The sun is crazy strong that high up in the world.
  • Moisturiser. Take a small bottle of good moisturiser for your face on a night. I assume it’s the wind, the cold and sunshine that makes your skin so dry and uncomfortable.
  • Baby wipes. Take loads! This is going to be your shower for 14 days. Believe me when I say that these save lives. I literally looked forward to my baby wipe shower on an evening. Simple things.
  • Quick dry towel. Even though you wont shower, if you get the opportunity then washing your hands and face literally feels like heaven. I took a small quick dry towel and was eternally grateful for it those days I was able to wash my face.
  • Snacks. Take lots of snacks to provide you with energy. Crisps aren’t going to cut it. You need protein and high energy sports bars. Oh, and chocolate! Always take chocolate.
  • First aid kit. I just took a basic one. Pain killers and anti-sickness tablets being the most important. Just in case the altitude gets to you. Elastoplast and antiseptic creams are also sensible.
  • Camera! To capture amazing views and amazing memories of course. Assuming your hands aren’t too cold, and you have the energy to get your camera out your bag intermittently.

What I wish I took

A pack of cards or Uno. A great way to bond with your trekking group and often you reach the tea houses in the afternoon so there is plenty of time for afternoon tea house fun (if the altitude isn’t affecting your concentration too much!)

Top tip

Pack extra batteries and take some form of personal entertainment for an evening. A kindle, book or iPod are all good suggestions but bear in mind charging facilities are hard to find and when they are available, they’re extremely costly.

Keep electrical equipment nice and warm where possible to help them retain their charge. This is a great top tip, handed down to me by previous trekkers. Be sure to pass it on!

But most of all, stay healthy, breathe deeply and enjoy every single second of the life changing adventure you’re about to embark on!