We’ve all been there. You arrive at your destination and within a short space of time realise you left something vital at home. Whether it’s your toothbrush or undies, usually the stakes aren’t too high as you can pop to the nearest shop for a replacement. But when embarking on an adventure like trekking the Annapurna circuit, it’s not all that easy. You need your ducks in a row when it comes to packing, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive Annapurna circuit packing list for you. Everything you need to pack, and why, is detailed below, offering you a one-stop resource for preparing yourself for this epic adventure.
What should I have on my Annapurna circuit packing list?
We’ve divvied up your Annapurna circuit packing list into the following categories:
- Passport and visa
- Money and bank card
- Vaccinations and first aid kit
- Tech items
- Optional packing list items
You can’t pack for the Annapurna circuit trek in a hurry – you need to ensure you have all the necessary equipment
Everyone’s Annapurna circuit packing list needs to include the following equipment:
Follow Alice arranges one porter for every two trekkers. This means you’ll need a duffel bag to give the porter and a comfortable backpack which you’ll use as your daypack. If you’d prefer not to use a porter for whatever reason, you’re more than welcome to carry all your belongings yourself. You’ll then need a comfortable and durable rucksack instead of a duffel bag and backpack.
Choose a duffel bag that is hardy. Rather opt for one from an outdoors outfitter like First Ascent or North Face than one from your local 99c store. Also opt for one that doesn’t inspire any precious feelings in you – it’s almost assuredly going to get scuffed, dusty and bumped about. We recommend a duffel bag that has a capacity of around 65 litres.
Zip it up!
Your duffel bag will be going in the hold of planes, so ensure it has double zippers you can lock with a cable tie or small padlock. Also, ensure your zippers aren’t flimsy and likely to break. You don’t want your porter leaving a breadcrumb trail of your belongings on the path.
Keep it light
Given that our porters carry our duffel bags from pitstop to pitstop, be a gem and don’t pack the kitchen sink. We suggest packing a duffel bag that weighs no more than 10 kg.
Not only is 10 kg manageable for an experienced porter, but that’s the weight limit on internal airplane flights. Near the end of the Annapurna circuit trek we catch a plane from Jomsom to the city of Pokhara. We fly through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, which offers gorgeous (pun intended) views of the surrounding Annapurna mountains. There are strict weight restrictions on this flight, as you fly in a light aircraft. Your hold luggage cannot exceed 10 kg, and your hand luggage 5 kg. You can pay for extra weight, but only to a point – a small plane has a small hold! We recommend wearing your trekking boots and heavy jacket when we fly to help reduce your luggage weight and size.
As already mentioned, you need a backpack that will serve as your daypack on trekking days. There are more than a handful of things to consider when selecting a backpack, such as capacity, material and strap width.
Choose the right size
Firstly, the capacity of the bag needs to be decided based on variables such as how many days you’re trekking, whether or not you’re going to use a porter, how much you need to carry, and how strong you are. Trekking the Annapurna circuit requires you to bring along quite a bit given the harsh climate in the high portion of the route, but you don’t have to concern yourself with food, crockery and camping equipment, so that’s a win. We recommend a backpack that has a capacity of around 35 litres.
Choose quality fabric
When it comes to the fabric of the backpack, canvas is a traditional choice as it’s very hardy, but it’s also relatively heavy, which is why most people now opt for polyester or very strong nylon backpacks. Either way, you want a quality bag to ensure there are no unnecessary tears, broken zippers and other frustrating nonsense. You can get backpacks that are rainproof, but this isn’t a critical aspect as you can buy a cover quite affordably. That said, it’s a nice-to-have aspect to any pack.
Find the right bag opening
Different backpacks open differently. Some open on all three sides like a suitcase, others have a roll top, some have a lid, others are closed with a drawstring, a few have a central zip, and still others have a splayed opening. What you want is a backpack that allows you to set the bag down upright and open the main compartment without risking spilling the contents onto the ground. Packs with splayed openings and lids are particularly good options in this regard.
Different backpacks open differently – you want one that doesn’t spill your stuff onto the ground every time you open it.
Look for useful compartments
We recommend choosing a backpack that has a few carefully considered compartments besides the main bin. These compartments make it easy to store and find things (think binoculars, tissues and snacks). Most backpacks also have a water bottle holder to the side of the main compartment, which is very handy.
Look for airflow channels
Well-designed hiking backpacks have airflow channels that help to keep your back a little less sweaty. Look for a backpack where a netted panel rests on your back while the inner bones of the backpack keep the pack itself arched a few centimetres away from your back. This airflow space allows some of your body heat to escape.
Look for the right straps and clips
We recommend a backpack that has wide shoulder straps as these distribute the weight better. You don’t want thin straps digging into your shoulders as you trek. You also want padded and adjustable hip belts as these let you carry some of the weight on your hips! Further, chest straps are great for helping to keep your pack squarely on your back. They also prevent it from sliding too far to either side when you lean left or right.
Look for gear loops
Backpacks that have gear loops are also a winner. As the name suggests, gear loops are fabric loops on the outside face of the pack where you can attach gear like picks or poles. You’ll enjoy being able to stow your trekking poles there when you’re not using them. (We discuss the need for trekking poles with you in a moment.)
Look for pig snouts
Yes, you read that right. Pig snouts, or lash points, are those two small parallel slits ion the outside of a pack that look like a pig’s nose. They allow you to loop or tie items to the back of your pack. For instance, if you wish to take your sports cap off, you can thread its adjustable closure through the pig snout.
Look for a hydration pack
The ideal backpack has a built-in hydration pack. This is a water bladder with a hose that allow for hands-free drinking.
Pack a rain cover
A wet bag is a heavy bag, never mind the state of it contents, so a backpack rain cover is essential. That’s unless, of course, your backpack is already waterproof. Rain covers, we’re happy to report, can be bought cheaply, are lightweight, and don’t take up much space. As with all waterproof gear, you’re going to want to pack this item in a side pocket that makes it easy to retrieve. You don’t want to be caught rummaging through the depths of your backpack in a sudden downpour.
Hydration bladder and water bottles
Dehydration is a common issue amongst high-altitude trekkers. High altitude increases urination, makes you breathe more rapidly, and causes the air to be drier. All these things equal rapid dehydration. You therefore want to carry at least two litres of water when trekking the Annapurna circuit. Three litres is better.
Drinking water actually helps to ease the symptoms of altitude, which include headaches, dizziness and nausea. Remember that you shouldn’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink – if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Many backpacks have built-in hydration packs, as discussed. If your backpack has a hydration pack: perfect! If it doesn’t, choose a separate pack carefully in terms of how it will fit into your backpack.
It’s a good idea to take a water bottle or two in addition to your hydration pack. For starters, the water bottle could be where you add a little ‘fix’ to your water, like an electrolyte solution.
Most of the Annapurna Circuit trek is done within the Sagarmatha National Park. The trails are rough and treacherous in places, as you’d expect from a vast mountainous park. Trekking poles are therefore important, as they help with balance and confidence, especially when tackling something tricky like a river crossing or uneven surface. They can also take some of the weight off your knees on steep descents.
A good trekking pole has wristbands so you can use your hands without putting them down or dropping them. A good pair is also made from a lightweight but sturdy material like aluminium or carbon fibre. If you have the choice, choose adjustable trekking poles as they are easier to transport and store and you can tailor them to your height. Also, if you’re walking along a trail that is cut into a hill you can extend and shorten the poles to allow you to keep using them. You might like to watch this two-minute video from REI Co-op on how to choose the right trekking poles for you. If you have ski poles and don’t wish to buy trekking poles, then of course you should use the former.
Winter sleeping bag
The average nighttime temperature does of course vary depending on the time of year you do the trek and where along the trail you are. Nepal, which lies north of the Tropic of Cancer, has a cold, dry winter from December to March and a warmer, wetter summer from June to September. October and November are some of the best months for trekking, and you can expect the temperature to stay above a balmy – 10º C at night.
Temperature and insulation
You’ll need a winter sleeping bag that can handle below-freezing temperatures for the Annapurna circuit trek. If you have a sleeping bag that’s rated around – 6º or – 10º C you can bring that along for an autumn trek. If, however, you’re buying new or borrowing one, we recommend going for one of North Face’s Inferno sleeping bags or something similar. These bags can handle deeply cold sub-zero temperatures and we use them ourselves. Remember to also factor in what you know about yourself – if you always get cold when everyone else is feeling fine, then bring along a warmer bag than is the norm. Most teahouses and lodges have spare duvets you can use if your sleeping bag isn’t enough, but these shouldn’t be relied upon.
Another thing to consider when choosing your sleeping bag is its insulation material. Down bags are excellent, as they’re very lightweight, compress easily (making them easy to stow), and are durable. Their only down side (pun intended) is that they can be pricey. Note that if you do decide to purchase a down sleeping bag, we encourage you to look for the acronym RDS (responsible down standard) or TDS (traceable down standard) on the label, as this means the goose or duck down has been responsibly sourced.
Note too that down sleeping bags, while often given a water-resistant treatment, can benefit from a sleeping bag shell, which you purchase separately. This protects your expensive down bag from dampness. Your other option of a sleeping bag – and still a good one at that – is a bag made with synthetic insulation, which is more affordable.
Down sleeping bags are warm and lightweight, making them a great option for a high-altitude trek.
Sleeping bag shape
When it comes to shape, the mummy sleepy bag is arguably a better choice for this trek than the rectangular or semi-rectangular bags as it weighs the least and the narrow foot end will keep your feet warmer. However, if you know you get claustrophobic in a narrow space, then work with who you are! You might also like to source a bag with a hood and stash pocket.
Some companies have the option of two different lengths to each sleeping bag. If you’re on the shorter side of humanity, a shorter bag is better as there’ll be less air at the bottom of the bag needing to be heated up.
Compression stuff sack
Finally, you’ll definitely need a compression stuff sack for you sleeping bag, as winter sleeping bags are bulky. A quality bag should have one accompanying it; if it doesn’t, why not suggest the retailer throw one in?
Buying vs renting
Note that you can rent a sleeping bag in Kathmandu. Some might find the idea of a rented bag off-putting. But there is certainly a practical appeal. You might not want to invest in an expensive sleeping bag if you’re not a regular trekker, for instance. Or perhaps this trek is your litmus test for how much you like the activity before investing in the necessary equipment? Possibly your budget simply can’t extend to a pricey bag right now.
Thamel, the district of Kathmandu where we spend our first and last nights in Nepal, is chock full of businesses renting suitably warm winter sleeping bags. You can pop out to rent one after settling into our hotel on arrival day and then drop it back off on our last day in the country. The abundance of rental shops fortunately helps to keep prices competitive. You can rent a winter sleeping bag for roughly €1 a day. But be sure to check the zip works well before leaving the shop.
It’s important you have the right clothing for the Annapurna circuit trek. We’ll be climbing deep into the Himalayan mountains, and for this one needs to be properly prepared.
- Sports underwear
- Base layers
- House clothes
- Trekking shirts
- Trekking trousers
- Fleece jacket
- Waterproof winter jacket
- Ski trousers and/or overpants
- Neck gaiters or balaclavas
- Inner gloves
- Waterproof gloves or mittens
- Warm hat
- Sunhat or sports cap
When trekking, you need your underwear to stay as dry as possible. Some days you might be trekking for up to 8 hours and building up a record sweat. Cotton doesn’t dry well, so look for synthetic underwear that incorporates moisture wicking. Ladies, ensure you pack sports bras that don’t pull on your shoulders – you’ll need to be comfortable wearing them for hours.
You’ll need to add some good thermal base layers to your Annapurna circuit packing list. Base layers are the clothes that sit against your skin and help to regulate your body temperature. Think long-sleeved thermal vests and long johns or warm leggings.
Like your underwear, you want all the clothes sitting against your skin to have high wicking capability to help keep you dry. The cloth used is therefore important, with synthetic fabrics combining polyester, nylon, spandex and lycra being good options. Merino wool works well too. You also want to choose thermals that have good stretch and are hardy.
You want all the clothes sitting against your skin to have high wicking capability to help keep you dry.
When you’re relaxing at a teahouse in the evening, you’re going to want comfortable clothes that can double as your PJs. Think along the lines of a long-sleeved fleece top and leggings as well as a tracksuit or stretchy sweatpants and a hoodie. We suggest you also pack a pair or two of regular socks like ankle socks for warmer evenings.
Trekking shirts are lightweight, breathable shirts that you’ll wear every day on the trek. Mostly you’ll want long-sleeve trekking shirts, but not exclusively. Naturally you should consider the time of year you’re trekking to help you decide the ratio of short to long sleeves. (We offer advice on when is the best time of year to hike the Annapurna circuit in a separate post.)
As with your inner layers, you want to buy trekking shirts made from materials like merino wool as these have good moisture wicking. (Side note: you are going to get smelly on the trek, but if you wear cotton you’ll scare the wildlife.)
Every day you’ll be wearing trekking trousers. Trousers with a few pockets, especially zipped ones, are a great option as they allow you to put things like your lip ice within easy reach. While you could pack trekking shorts, we think a better option is zip-off pants which allow you to whip off the bottom half of your pants without undressing. The weather is very changeable in the Himalayas, and being able to layer up and down quickly is incredibly useful.
In fact, we can’t stress enough the need for multiple layers. The weather can turn on a dime, and you need to be able to bundle rapidly. You want to be able to layer up and down easily to allow for adjustments in temperature as well as your own body heat as you sweat it out on the uphill climbs.
A very important part of your gear is a good polar fleece or microfleece jacket to wear over your trekking shirt to keep you warm. Fleece is fantastic at trapping body heat. You can’t wear it as a base layer, however, as it absorbs moisture readily. This is why the fleece goes over your trekking shirt. While wool is also highly insulating, we recommend a jacket made from fleece as it’s more lightweight.
Waterproof winter jacket
Next you need an insulating, waterproof, windbreaker winter jacket. This final upper layer is very important because fleece, as already mentioned, isn’t water resistant. We recommend looking for a winter jacket made from down given this material, as already mentioned, is an excellent insulator while also being lightweight. If you go for a synthetic jacket, ensure it offers adequate warmth in ratio to its weight. A jacket with a detachable hood is a great option, as is one with closed pockets.
This jacket will likely be one of the more expensive purchases you make in terms of gear if you don’t already have one, but we encourage you not to stint on this item. See it as an investment, because a quality jacket can travel with you through life.
That said, you could also opt to rent a winter jacket. As with sleeping bags, Thamel has numerous vendors renting high-quality winter jackets. You can rent a jacket for about €1 a day. If you rent a jacket, inspect it thoroughly before leaving the shop. Especially look to see that all the zippers are in good working order.
A light windbreaker can be a great addition for times when you don’t want to wear your heavy winter jacket but are feeling the wind cutting through your clothes.
Ski trousers and/or overpants
On days when it’s raining or snowing, it’s a good idea to head out in a pair of ski trousers, as these are warm, insulating and also waterproof. But you likely won’t want to wear these everyday, as they can get too warm. It’s therefore a good idea to also pack lightweight overpants that can be slipped over your trekking trousers when there’s a downpour or unexpected turn in the weather.
Neck gaiters or balaclavas
We love the versatility of the neck gaiter, as unlike a scarf it never falls off and it also moves effortlessly between being a neck warmer, headband and beanie. Importantly, it can also be stretched across the lower face to help protect your mouth, cheeks and nose from the cold air.
A balaclava is an alternate option to the neck gaiter and offers a warm hat into the bargain.
Note that you’re going to need more than one neck gaiter or balaclava so that the one you wear when gripping a steaming drink and looking at the constellations at night isn’t the same damp one from that day’s trekking.
Inner gloves – also called thermal gloves or glove liners – are close-fitting gloves you wear to keep your hands warm. You want ones that are moisture wicking. Also look for gloves that fit snugly as these will offer the best insulation while also affording you some finger dexterity. When you spot an eagle flying above, you want to be able to operate your camera properly.
Waterproof gloves or mitts
When choosing a pair of outer gloves, ensure you try them on over your inner gloves. While mitts can offer greater warmth, during trekking hours you might appreciate the dexterity afforded by fingered gloves more.
We lose so much heat through our heads, as we know you already know. A warm hat like a fleece or down beanie is therefore essential, especially in the evenings. An aviator or pilot hat is a good option as it also offers ear flaps. Alternatively, bring a pair of ear muffs in addition to a hat. If you opted for the balaclava instead of the muff to keep your neck warm, this can double as your warm hat.
Sunhat or sports cap
Yes, much of the Annapurna Circuit trek is going to be cold. But it can also occasionally get very warm, especially in the lower altitudes at the beginning and end of the trek route.
Heat isn’t, however, the main reason for bringing a hat. More importantly, you want to keep the sun off your face and neck. You may remember from geography class that the higher the elevation, the easier your skin burns. This is because the sun’s rays have less atmosphere to pass through. In fact, every kilometre upwards that you travel exposes you to up to 10% more UV rays. And we climb to well above 5,000 m above sea level!
The sunhat is preferable to the sports cap as it protects the back of your neck. A sunhat with a drawstring is ideal to ensure it doesn’t get redistributed by a strong wind. If you go with a cap, we recommend one with a wide brim.
With many of the items discussed in this post you need to pack spares. The closer the item sits to your skin, the more spares you need. That said, understand that everyone trekking the Annapurna circuit is temporarily and necessarily lowering their hygiene standards, so your BO won’t be noticed among the bevy of BOs. And that’s it for the clothing you need for Annapurna.
Let’s now talk footwear …
We cannot overstate the importance of having the right shoes and socks for a long-distance trek like the Annapurna Circuit. The non-negotiables you’ll need are:
Other items that we highly recommend are:
A good pair of properly worn-in trekking boots is essential to an enjoyable trek. Your boots should be comfortable, light or mid weight, and waterproof. They should also have good grip.
For the Annapurna circuit trek you should ideally wear backpacking boots, which are the hardiest and most supportive walking shoe out there. That said, hiking boots are also perfectly fine, especially for the hiking newbie, as they take less time to wear in and still offer a decent degree of ankle support.
Choose the right size
When it comes to choosing the right size boot, you first need to have the socks you’ll be wearing. Once you’ve got your hiking socks on, slip your feet into the boots and, leaving the laces untied, push your feet as far forward as they’ll go. Then insert an index finger between your heel and the back of the boot; you want your finger to fit in snugly (too much space and the shoe is too big, too little space and the shoe is too small). Also, about 60% of people have differently sized feet, so always try on both the left and right boots.
Choose the right material
While highly experienced trekkers may well have nicely worn in leather boots, for most of us a full-on leather boot isn’t required and it adds unnecessary weight. We suggest you look for a shoe made from split-grain leather (which is leather paired with nylon or nylon mesh) or synthetic fabric.
Wear them in
It probably goes without saying, but just in case, we’ll say it: be sure to wear in your boots before coming on the trek. Wear them on at least a couple of hikes so you can suss out any potential issues. Ideally, however, you and your boots should have bonded for over 100 km before coming on the Annapurna circuit trek together.
When you arrive at a teahouse for the night you will not want to wear your hiking boots! We recommend packing a pair of lightweight sneakers you can slip on. Be sure they allow plenty of space for warm socks.
The socks you wear can make or break your trek. We don’t advise you wear any brand new socks on the trek; like shoes, you should test them out beforehand to ensure there are no issues like a worrisome seam. And as with underwear, you want to avoid cotton socks as they retain moisture.
The main things you want in a hiking sock are:
- flat seams
- moisture wicking
Sock technology has come a long way in recent years, so we recommend you go to a store with a wide range or look online to find the best options. Merino wool socks are a good option as they’re very breathable.
The higher we climb in elevation, the colder it gets. And we climb very high! You’ll therefore need to add some thermal socks to your Annapura circuit packing list. The same guidelines apply that we’ve given for hiking socks, only you’ll be looking within the thermal sock range.
Blisters are the worst. Enter sock liners, which are thin moisture-wicking socks that go between your feet and your hiking socks. Sock liners help prevent blisters caused by friction, and they also wick moisture away to the outer sock layer. You’ll want at least a couple pairs of these on the trek.
It’s a good idea to bring along a pair of gaiters that you can put over your lower legs and boots on days when you’re trekking through snow or mud. They’ll keep your legs and feet dry when overpants are overkill. Gaiters also help prevent small stones and dirt working their way into your socks and boots.
Passport and visa
There can be no wonderful and life-changing Annapurna circuit trek without a passport and visa.
Given that this is a post about what to pack, we can’t leave off these two important items! You’re going to need to bring along your passport, which as always with international travel must not expire within three months of your expected return to your home country.
As to a tourist visa to Nepal, this can actually be obtained quite easily at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu when your flight lands. Of course you may prefer to obtain one while still at home. But to learn all you need to know about getting a tourist visa for Nepal, read Annapurna circuit cost. You can save some time at the airport by having a pen with you for filling out your visa application.
Money and bank card
Nepal has a closed currency, meaning you can only get your hands on Nepalese rupees (NPR) within the country. Given that your Follow Alice fee covers almost all your expenses within Nepal, you’ll actually need very little in the way of cash. That said, one should never be without a little green in a foreign currency. You can exchange most major currencies for NPR within the airport upon arrival in Kathmandu. Be sure, however, to pack your notes neatly, and don’t bend them. Some money exchangers won’t accept ‘spoilt’ notes.
Alternatively, you can draw money from an ATM with an international bank card. There’ll be many ATMs during the earlier and later stages of our trip, when we’re in cities and towns. There won’t, however, be ATMs when we’re trekking, as we’re visiting a rural and remote part of Nepal.
For all you need to know about drawing money, what’s covered by your Follow Alice fee and what you’ll need cash for, read Annapurna circuit cost.
Vaccinations and first aid kit
Whenever travelling to a different part of the world we need to do our due diligence in terms of looking to any possible health hazards. Do our veins need to be packing some essential antibodies when we visit Nepal? (See what we did there?) We should also pack certain basics into a simple first aid kit to prevent being unnecessarily put out of action.
There are no mandatory immunisations for those travelling to Nepal. The main thing is to check that you received those all-important vaccinations as a kid for things like measles and polio. The primary culprits you want to be vaccinated against (for both Nepal travel and life on planet Earth) are Hepatitis A, typhoid, meningitis, tetanus, polio, mumps and measles. We recommend checking in with your GP, and maybe getting a booster vaccine in the lead up to the Annapurna trip.
Given that we travel to rural parts of the Annapurna mountains, you might also ask your GP his or her advice concerning vaccinations against rabies, Hepatitis B and Japanese encephalitis.
First aid kit
Acute mountain sickness (AMS), which is the mildest form of altitude sickness, generally strikes at elevations greater than 2,500 m. The Annapurna circuit trek takes us as high as 5,416 m above sea level!
Triggers for AMS include exertion (which you’ll be experiencing) and rapid changes in elevation. AMS affects roughly 40 to 50% of lowland people who then go and sleep at high altitude. Common symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. While we don’t wish you to scare you, forewarned is forearmed. It’s best that you visit your GP before you trip, get a check up, and then have him or her prescribe the anti-altitude sickness medication that’s best for you.
We recommend you visit your GP before the trip to get some anti-altitude sickness medication.
A few other things we recommend you include in your first aid kit are:
- antiseptic cream
- blister plasters
- sports tape
- anti-nausea tablets
- anti-diarrhoea tablets
- anti-constipation tablets
- allergy meds
- petroleum jelly or anti-chafing cream
- throat lozenges
- a good multivitamin
When it comes to your toiletries on your Annapurna circuit packing list, try to take only the amount of each item that you’ll need. To do this, decant your liquids into plastic, travel-size containers. Some items to consider are:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- face wash
- a hardworking moisturiser
- hand cream
- lubricant eye drops
- SPF lip balm
- wet wipes
- waterless hand sanitiser
- biodegradable soap and soap box
- ear plugs
- baby powder
- dryer sheets
We can’t stress the wet wipes enough. You won’t always be able to shower along the trek route, and so wet wipes are your bath on such occasions. When the water supply is frozen or you need to ablute on the trail, you’ll want wet wipes or waterless hand sanitiser for a hand wash.
The ear plugs can be used on the flight as well as at night. The baby powder is for sprinkling in your boots after trekking to mitigate the pong. You might also want to put a little on your roots if a hair wash hasn’t been possible in quite a while. The dryer sheets are for rubbing on smelly clothes to help freshen them up just that little bit.
The following items are all the other essential Annapurna circuit packing list bits and bobs that defy easy classification:
- Water purification tablets or UV water purifier
- Microfibre towel
- Waterproof carrier bags
- Toilet rolls
Water purification tablets or UV water purifier
You also need to pack water purification tablets or a UV water purifier as the drinking water in Nepal is not safe for drinking. At the teahouses you’ll be given boiled water, but during the day you’ll need to take care of things yourself. While you can buy bottled water, we wouldn’t recommend relying on this. Also, we’re sure you feel us when it comes to ugly, single-use plastics.
There are many sunscreens on the market, so you need to know what you’re looking for to ensure you purchase an effective one. The sun protection factor (SPF) promoted on sunscreens refers to the degree to which the cream protects you from ultraviolet (UV) B rays, which are the ones that make you turn pink. We now know that you also need protection from UVA rays, which penetrate deeper and are believed to be even more damaging over a lifetime. So look for a sunscreen that offers a high SPF as well UVA protection.
The same goes for sunglasses – ensure your glasses are actually protecting your eyes from solar radiation by purchasing a pair that offers broad-spectrum UV protection. The best option would be to have your optometrist evaluate your sunglasses – many professionals now have instruments capable of measuring the exact UV protection offered by a lens.
Take note that you should wear your sunglasses even in the shade and on overcast days, as reflected rays are still harmful. And speaking of reflected rays, fresh snow can reflect up to 80% of UV rays, so you’ll need to wear your specs at pretty much all times during the trek. You can actually get a condition called snow blindness, which is temporary but painful blindness caused by overexposure to the sun’s reflected UV rays.
We recommend investing in a pair of wrap-around sunglasses like sports sunglasses to prevent sun rays sneaking in from the sides. We also suggest a glasses cord if you have one of those noses that tries to ditch your glasses every time you look down. With a cord you also won’t risk losing your specs when you take them off for a moment.
Small microfibre towel
You’ll need a towel for drying off at times, whether it’s drying your hands or mopping your sweaty face. But then you’ll need that towel to dry quickly, so we suggest you pack a small, lightweight microfibre towel or two. Microfibre is a synthetic material made from polyester and polyamide. It’s non-abrasive and can absorb up to seven times its weight in water!
The teahouses and lodges provide pillows, but the hygiene might not be your idea of hygiene, so why not bring along your own case to ensure you plop your head on a clean cover?
Waterproof carrier bags
Even with all the preparation and planning in the world, things will still get wet or damp sometimes, and it’s important to having some waterproof carrier bags to wrap them in. You may not wish to buy anything specific for this purpose, which we totally get, and so choose to just bring a few plastic bags. But given that plastic is an environmental scourge, we recommend opting for biodegradable ones.
As a consequence of the growing popularity of the Annapurna circuit, litter has actually become a problem along the trek route. This is terribly sad. If you feel motivated to help keep this beautiful part of our natural heritage clean, perhaps you’d like to bring along bag which you’ll use for collecting litter as part of the 10 pieces movement?
We recommend having a few of your favourite high-energy snacks with you to power you along the route. While experiencing Nepalese cuisine is part of the adventure, during challenging moments along the trail it can be comforting to have a familiar treat. Think protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, and sweets or mints. Also, choose items that won’t fall apart when bumped around for days in a rucksack.
You may also like to pack some electrolyte replacement solutions like Rehidrat. You can tip one into a water bottle for use during a strenuous trek day.
Rather be safe than sorry, and have a back up roll or two of toilet paper with you at all times.
Here are the tech items we think you’ll want to bring on the Annapurna circuit trek:
- Portable charger and international adapter
- Cables and batteries
Most of our cellphones have inbuilt cameras that take fantastic photos, but we’re always concerned we’ll drop the darn things and smash the screens. We recommend bringing along an old-fashioned, single-purpose camera for this trip; not only are they hardier than cellphones, but they also offer no potential distractions. When you bring out your camera to take a photo, all you end up doing is taking a photo. Trekking the Annapurna circuit is all about stepping away from the regular, and we think you’ll be more mindful and present with a standard camera in hand.
There are wonderful animals and birds to be seen along the Annapurna circuit. We think you may well want a small pair of binoculars to hand when you spot some blue sheep on a far mountain, or our trek guide points out an osprey circling overhead.
Every adventurer needs a good headlamp. Choose one with an adjustable strap and use it before the trek to ensure it’s comfortable. Be sure to pack a spare battery.
You might like to bring along your Kindle or other e-reader for diving into a book at night and on acclimatisation days. You always remember the books you read on holiday – they become part of the memory tapestry of that trip – so be sure to download the books you really want to read, not the ones you feel you ought to read.
Portable charger and international adapter
Be sure to pack a portable charger (power bank) and an international adapter. Nepal has types C, D and M power sockets and plugs, so you’ll need an adapter that caters for these. Note that the standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Take a look here if you want to know more about power plugs and sockets in Nepal and how they compare to those of your country.
More and more trekkers are opting for solar power banks that they clip onto their rucksacks while hiking. This option does of course insist on sunshine, so isn’t very reliable. But take a look at this site listing some of the best solar power banks if you’re interested in purchasing one.
Cables and batteries
Be sure to pack all the cables you need for charging your various devices like your phone, e-reader and camera. We already mentioned having a spare battery for your headlamp. But ensure you have spare batteries for any devices you pack that may run down.
Optional packing list items
Below we discuss certain non-essential extras that we still think are pretty nice additions to your Annapurna circuit packing list.
- Sleeping bag liner
- Safety whistle
- Hand warmer or hot water bottle
- Playing cards
- Small gifts
- Journal and pen
- Annapurna map
Sleeping bag liner
A sleeping bag isn’t easy to clean, which makes a liner a good idea. A liner is simply a loose sheet that’s been sewn into a rectangle that you can climb into inside of your sleeping bag to help keep it clean. It’s easy to make one yourself from an old sheet, or you can buy one. You can actually buy a thermal liner, which of course offers extra warmth. Silk liners are popular with trekkers as they’re lightweight, breathable and warm. As already mentioned, if you’re opting for a rented sleeping bag, a bag liner seems really rather non-negotiable.
It’s a good idea to attach a safety or alert whistle to a hook on the outside of your rucksack, for just in case. Some rucksacks come with in-built whistles, but they tend to be cheap and poor quality. A safety whistle is a great item to have for numerous outdoor activities, so it’s something you can use after the trek as well.
Hand warmer and/or hot water bottle
The night-time temperatures along the Annapurna circuit can be very cold. If you do the trek in November, for instance, temperatures will be below freezing point at night for most of the trek, as shown in the graph below. Having a hot water bottle or hand warmer to take to bed with you will help you sleep that much better. Remember that most of the teahouse bedrooms aren’t heated, nor do they have double-glazed windows.
Consider bringing along a deck of cards or a similarly small game for playing with your fellow travellers in the evenings. This can be a great bonding activity. However, if you’re rucksack is getting too heavy by this point, scrap the cards and instead go online to refresh your memory in terms of some verbal games. The Annapurna trek is a great time to reconnect with the games we used to play before tech took over our leisure time. Check out these seven popular games that require nothing but brainpower and a willingness to participate.
You’ll be meeting and getting to know folk from around the globe as well as locals during the Annapurna trek, and in setups like trekking groups you often form fast-and-firm friendships. You may wish to pass on a small memento from your country such as a wood carving or tea that represents your own culture and reminds the person of your time together.
Journal and pen
We never remember as much of a holiday as we think we will. Anyone who has ever kept a journal will tell you how surprised they can be when reading over a past entry to discover things they had completely forgotten. For most of us a visit to the Annapurna region will mean encountering people, animals, views and experiences that are so different from our daily lives. Who knows what thoughts and ideas we’ll have that are worthy of writing down for later reflection? We recommend packing just a very small journal and a pen so that you can ensure your best insights from the Annapurna trek home with you.
Finally, you might like to bring along a map of the Annapurna region that you can mark up along the way. This would be a great addition to your journal, or maybe you’ll decide to frame it when you get home. having a map to hand when recounting your adventure is a really helpful prompt as to places, mountains, heights, rivers and more.
We end now with sharing our top packing tips…
Annapurna Circuit Packing List – Top Tips
We have two packing tips for you that we consider pretty priceless …
Tip #1: Keep important items with you at all times
Our number one packing tip is to always keep your most essential trekking items with you. Your boots and warm jacket, for instance, we suggest you wear on flights. Luggage sometimes goes missing, as we all know. The last thing you want is to arrive in Nepal for a trek with your boots having gone for a walk without you. It’s easy to buy or rent trekking equipment in Kathmandu should your luggage get lost or you realise you’ve forgotten something. But certain things like boots and socks should be tested and worn in before going on a multi-day trek. Items like down jackets are also your most expensive equipment, and so we think it best to keep them on your person.
Tip #2: Insulate your drinking water when trekking
Sub-zero temperatures are a common occurrence at the higher elevations of the Annapurna circuit route. Thorung La Pass, which at 5,416 m (17,769 ft) above sea level is the highest point of the Annapurna circuit trek, regularly receives temperatures around – 10° C. Night-time temperatures also regularly drop below freezing. In such conditions hydration packs and bottles can freeze, leaving you without drinking water.
For this reason we recommend insulating your hydration pack and/or water bottles on cold days and nights. Consider packing a spare pair of thermal socks for this purpose. Another trick is to carry a water bottle close to your body, so your body heat keeps it from freezing over. This is especially important should the water in the hose of your hydration pack freeze.
Did you know that water freezes from the top to the bottom? For this reason we recommend that you carry your water bottles upside down (lid securely shut!) on cold days. That way you can access drinking water even if the upper half of the liquid is frozen.
Finally, if you have any questions, please give us a shout or hit us up in the comments section. We’d love to chat with you – about the gear, your plans, or just your excitement over the upcoming trip.
We can’t wait to see you in Annapurna!