The Proper Gear for Trekking in the Himalaya

Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket
••• Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket brings down comfort to a Himalayan Hike. Jöttnar

Nepal is one of the most popular trekking destinations in the world, and for good reason. It is home to some of the best trails on the planet, including the spectacular Annapurna Circuit, and the very popular hike to Everest Base Camp. The truly adventurous might even take on the entire Great Himalaya Trail, which stretches for a mind-blowing 2800 miles through alpine settings that are unmatched by any other mountain range on the planet.

But before you go, you'll want to make sure you have the proper gear to keep you safe and comfortable along the way. Here's what you should take with you.

(Note: All prices are MSRP. Most of these items can be found online for less.)

Whether you are trekking independently, or with guides, you'll want to have a comfortable backpack with plenty of storage capacity to carry all of your gear. During the day, you'll want easy access to extra layers of clothing, snacks, camera equipment, and various other items, and your pack will be key to carrying all of that stuff. Make sure that it is also hydration-ready, meaning it can hold a water bladder, allowing you to easily take a drink while out on the trail.

Recommendation: Osprey Atmos 50 AG ($230)

Sleeping Bag
Most nights in the Himalaya will be spent staying in traditional teahouse or sometimes even tents, depending on the location. As the altitude increase, the nights will get colder, which means you'll need a good sleeping bag to help keep you warm.

That bag should feature a temperature rating of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -17 degree Celsius or you'll run the risk of getting too cold. If additional warmth may be needed, you can augment the sleeping bag with a liner as well. 

Recommendation: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram ($549) with DownTek waterproof down

The  hiking trails in the Himalaya can be remote, rugged, and demanding. Thats why you'll need a good pair of boots to help keep your feet, ankles, and legs well protected and feeling fresh. Light hiking shoes won't cut in the big mountains, so invest in a pair of boots that are built for backpacking or mountaineering. As the days on the trail pass, you'll be glad you did. 

Recommendation: AKU Superalp GTX ($359.95)

Most people don't put a lot of thought into their socks, but they are a key element to keeping your feet happy and healthy on a long trek. You'll want socks that are comfortable, breathable, and provide plenty of protection. Stick to merino wool for the best all around performance.

Recommendation: Smartwool Hiking Socks (prices vary)

Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are essential for a long distance hike like the ones that you'll find in the Himalaya. They can provide stability and balance both while climbing up and descending back down, saving you a lot of wear and tear on your knees. Using these walking sticks can take a bit of getting use to, so practice with them before the trip. Out on the trail, the trekking poles will become your new best friend.  

Recommendation: Leki Corklite Antishock ($159.95)

Down Jacket
As you climb higher into the mountains, temperatures will drop considerably. That's why you'll want to carry a down jacket with you on your visit to Nepal. Lightweight, highly packable, and extremely warm, down jackets are a mainstay in the mountaineering and trekking world. When the winds begin to howl and the snow start to fly, you'll still stay warm and cozy.

Recommendation: Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket ($300) with DownTek waterproof down

Storm Shell
You'll also want a more versatile jacket to wear for most days on the trail. A storm shell fits those needs nicely, providing protection from both the wind and rain. Lighter in weight, and a bit more versatile than a down jacket, a shell is built for active pursuits in the mountains. When paired with a layering system, it provides the outer layer that helps keeps you warm and dry when the weather takes a turn for the worse.


Recommendation: Outdoor Research Furio Jacket ($375)

Base Layers
When creating a good layering system for staying comfortable in the outdoors, everything starts with the base layer. These are the articles of clothing that sit closets to the skin, and help wick away moisture to keep the wearer drier and more comfortable. Highly breathable, most base layers are versatile enough to be worn on their own, or in conjunction with other clothing as well. Be sure to bring both a top and bottom.

Recommendation: Patagonia Capilene Series (prices vary)

The middle layer of any layering system sits between the base and the shell, and provides important insulation for warmth. Often made of fleece, the mid-layer adds versatility to the system by allowing it to be added or removed as needed. While hiking in the Himalaya, it will definitely be a much appreciated addition to your wardrobe, especially on colder days at higher altitudes.

Recommendation: Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Jacket ($150)

Trekking Pants
Trekking pants are designed specifically for hiking, providing support in the knees and seat, while allowing the wearer to walk unimpeded even through demanding environments. They are also built to work as part of a layering system, allowing you to wear a base layer underneath if necessary. 

Recommendation: The North Face Arroyo Cargo Pants ($80)

Depending on which route you're trekking, and the weather you encounter, you may need to carry two pairs of gloves with you. A lighter pair for keeping your hands warm when the weather begins to cool off, and a thicker, more insulated pair for when temperatures really take a plunge. Conditions could include snow or freezing rain along the way as well, and gloves will allow your hands to stay plenty warm when that happens.

Recommendation: The North Face Power Stretch Glove ($35) or Outdoor Research Stormtracker Gloves ($70)

You'll definitely want to carry a hat with you on a hike through the Himalaya as well, and quite possibly more than one. At lower altitudes, a wide-brimmed hat helps to keep the sun out of your face and eyes, and when you go higher a warmer beanie stocking cap may be in order. Either way, you'll be glad you have some protection for your head throughout the trek, as conditions can vary dramatically from one day to the next. 

Recommendation: Marmot Preclip Safari Hat ($45) or Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Beanie ($20)

Finally, I'd recommend carrying a Buff with you, not only on a trip to the Himalaya, but pretty much anywhere you might go. This versatile piece of headwear can serve as a headband, neck scarf, balaclava, facemark, and so much more. I carry my Buff with me everywhere, and it comes in incredibly handy in many situations. Available in a wide variety of prints, weights, and styles, you'll be glad you have one for your next adventure too. (price varies)

This is a solid overview of the gear you'll want with you on trek through Nepal, Tibet, or even Bhutan. There are other items to bring as well, but these products serve are a good base to get you started.