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.
You 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.
If 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.
Prior 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.
For girls looking for a comprehensive packing list, here is everything I took with me, in addition to the five items above:
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)
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
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
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.
Happy hiking, ladies!