The Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for the Annapurna Circuit

This guest packing list is brought to you by Kimberly Berls.

If you’re planning on hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, I’m sure you’ve read comprehensive packing lists online. You’re probably trying to ditch everything that’s non-essential, at least if you’re carrying your own pack, like I did.

After hiking the circuit, however, there are five things I found are well-worth the extra weight.

1. Steripen

steripenYou may have never heard of this contraption, but in a word, it is awesome. Instead of filling up your amoeba-laden water with chemicals, you simply dip this little wand in your water. It emits a UV light that kills everything in there that would make you sick.

It’s a little unnerving the first few times you use it, because there are still chunks floating around in your water bottle, and no usual chemical taste you get from iodine or chlorine tablets that assure your brain that the water tastes so bad certainly all the bad stuff MUST be dead. But I can tell you, I used SteriPEN the whole time and never got sick. It’s also tiny and super easy to carry around. I wish I had known about this little wand before.

2. Duct Tape

During my time as a rock climbing instructor, I learned that duct tape can fix pretty much any problem. Quick repair for a rip in your rucksack? Repair it with duct tape. Terrible foot blister but all you have left in your first aid kit is some weird gauze? Tape it on with duct tape. Makeshift nighttime operating table to try and extract a nasty splinter from your hand? Mount your headlamp on the wall with duct tape. You get the idea.

3. Headlamp

headlampIf you’re trying to decide between flashlight and headlamp, I’ll be the tiebreaker right here. Headlamp it is. You don’t need both. I hiked the circuit in November, which is the end of the season, and the sun went down by 6pm every day. I pretty much wore my headlamp from that time until I went to bed. Most of the little towns you’ll hit have little electricity, and your room won’t have any lights. If you want to be able to function at all, or be able to pee in that tiny hole in the squat toilet six times during the night (see “Diamox”), you’ll need your hands free.


If you’re anything like me, I was skeptical of taking medication to prevent altitude sickness. I’ve climbed, hiked, and traveled at high altitude before, and I’ve never had a problem, so when my hiking partner pressured me to take Diamox, I said no at first.

Then, after seeing two people get life-flighted off the mountain with cerebral edema, I begged her for those damn little pills.

Diamox will make you pee every fifteen minutes. OK, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but it will cause you to get up at night and pee a lot. Worth your brain or lungs not swelling up and dying? Probably.

5. Warm sleeping bag

subzero sleeping bagPrior to leaving for Annapurna, I read a lot about the grade of sleeping bag to take. Of course, wanting to pack light, I was tempted to take my zero degree bag, which would not have cut it. -10 to -15 degrees F is what I recommend.

When you’re on the trail, you’re going to feel cold every single night. Once the sun goes down and you aren’t hiking, you’re constantly cold. There’s no heat in the teahouses, unless you get lucky and there’s a yak dung fire. I wanted to cut foot holes in my sleeping bag and live in there while eating dinner. It’s cold. You’re going to be cold. Your sleeping bag should be your refuge.

annapurna 2

For girls looking for a comprehensive packing list, here is everything I took with me, in addition to the five items above:

1. Rucksack.
This is sooo important! If yours is uncomfortable, get a new one. The new GoLite packs are AWESOME. I still use my Lowe Alpine bag I bought 10 years ago, and it still fits me well and is amazing. I do not recommend Kelty bags, as I find them very uncomfortable for women, but that’s just my personal opinion.

2. Waterproof cover for your bag. I picked one up in Kathmandu for $1.00.

3. Two pairs of zip-off / roll up hiking pants

4. One pair waterproof pants (I took my snowboarding pants)

5. One pair yoga pants (for sleeping)

6. Two moisture-wicking t-shirts

7. One moisture-wicking long-sleeved shirt

8. One fleece

9. Two tanks with built-in sports bras

10. Six pairs thick hiking socks

11. One warm coat.
I took my Solomon snowboarding jacket, which is wind proof and water proof. Down is worthless when it gets wet, so I recommend synthetic. Skiing/ Snowboarding jackets are designed to get wet and resist the wind, therefore they’re a great option. And they have lots of pockets!

12. Hiking Boots

13. Flip Flops for the lodge at night (TOMs also work well)

14. Travel size bottle of shampoo (used once on the trail)

15. Bar of soap

16. Hand Sanitizer

17. Travel size Eucerin. A little goes a long way.

18. Sunscreen (very important)

19. Sunglasses

20. Water bottle. The plastic ones that roll up are best.

21. Chlorine tablets. Even if you have a Steripen, you need a backup!

22. Spare batteries for your headlamp

23. Hat

24. Gloves – thin gloves for chilly hiking

25. Gloves – Gortex gloves that fit over your thin gloves

26. Walking poles. Don’t skip these!

27. First Aid Kit

28. Compression bags for your sleeping bag and bulky clothing. I love compression bags!

29. Bobby pins. You won’t be able to shower… and you’re going to want to pin your bangs back!

30. Little packets of Kleenex. You’ll go through a ton of these.

31. Extra camera battery.
Charging them gets precarious in the lodges at night. Think 25 hikers and one outlet.

32. Chapstick with sunscreen in it.

33. Baby wipes

34. Tampons.
This might be TMI, but I usually use a Diva Cup, which I thought would be fine. Combine squat toilets with no running water – you’re going to want tampons. Trust me.

35. Pack towel

36. Annapurna Hiking Guide
I recommend this one, if you can get your hands on a copy.

37. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
A great read while you’re in the Himalaya.

If you have any other questions, you can contact me here: a turbulent tramp. Or, follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Happy hiking, ladies!


  1. says

    Hey! Thanks so much for the great info! Me and my boyfriend are actually about to set out to hike the annapurna circuit in two days and are in the middle of getting everything in kathmandu. I had a quick question, what time in the season did you do your hike?? We are thinking it will be warmer in May-June (and definitely wetter!), do you think the sleeping bag will still be necessary? what about the heavy ski jacket?? We are hiking it by ourselves as well so trying to keep everything as light as possible!

    Thanks for the helpful list!

  2. Diane says

    I believe you hit EVERYTHING that I brought and used on my Annapurna trip =) Only thing that I used that you didn’t mention was a small bottle of dry shampoo. I used it every other day, but since you don’t shower a ton, this was really nice to have (just made my hair feel a bit less greasy if you know what I mean!). Otherwise, everything on this list is perfect! Oh, and the headlamp is a MUST — much easier to use (than a flashlight) at night when you need to use the bathroom. =)

  3. melissa says

    Hey I’m planning this trek with a friend for early November, how much of this can you buy/ would you recommend buying once in Nepal? The trek will be coming in the middle of our trip backpacking through some other parts of Asia so I’m trying to stratagize for my pack list and hit the right balance between economy & necessity. Thanks!

    • says

      Melissa, I’m in kathmandu right now preparing for my Annapurna trek (doing a 22 day version of the circuit, which has changed a lot with the road. Make sure you check out the NATT routes if you haven’t already). Everything here, including the steripen can be bought in Thamel.

      Some things are definitely cheaper here – I bought an awesome hat for 100R yesterday, about a dollar. Others, like cheapish trekking trousers, wicking tops etc, are probably as cheap but higher quality you buy at home if you have a budget outdoors shop near you.

      Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions before next Wednesday.


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