The following packing list for trekking in Kyrgyzstan was submitted by Margaux. See all packing list posts here. This post may contain affiliate links denoted by an asterisk.
My boyfriend and I fell in love at a travel fair, while we were getting information about a trip to Kyrgyzstan. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not that far from the truth. We learnt about all the beauty Kyrgyzstan has to offer on our first date and so it was destined for us to travel to this mysterious country.
We traveled to Kyrgyzstan for two weeks in August and did a five day trek to Alakol and Aksu and a four day trek to Song Kul Lake. It was exhausting, cold and hot, but mostly one of the best experiences of my life.
When it came to the weather, this was not the easiest trip to pack for. In the cities it was always quite hot (summer hot), but during both treks we saw multiple seasons in a few days. For instance, in the first trek we saw fog, rain, hail, two thunderstorms and sunshine. We didn’t really get extreme temperatures though.
When we trekked to Song Kul we didn’t see any rain, but the temperatures changed a lot more. In one day, I went from hiking with all of my clothes on to lying in a bikini to wearing all of my clothes again. It reminded me a bit of skiing, being in the sun all day in cold weather.
Since I travelled with my boyfriend, we did share the weight of our equipment, mostly depending on how the puzzle in our bags fitted best. We shared our toiletries and medical supplies, our stove and our tent. If you’re alone I do suggest getting a smaller tent, but other than that I would still take most of the other stuff.
Layering is crucial. It’s not always warm in Kyrgyzstan and I wore all of my clothing on more than one occasion. You might be able to take less tops/t‐shirts, but I also slept in mine and layered them one top of each other when needed and at times it just feels great to have something relatively clean on. We washed our clothing halfway through the trip.
2 short‐sleeved t‐shirts: I went for some loose cotton ones I got from H&M. I prefer them over my quick‐dry sports tops, but these could also work.
2 tank tops: I got these amazing tops at Bangkok’s Kho San Road market. They are cheap, they dry quickly and they’re cute. I also like that they’re loose‐fitting.
1 long‐sleeved t‐shirt: Mine is a running shirt, which I got at H&M. It’s a long shirt, which has really long sleeves with a hole for my thumb. It’s warm and cozy and pink.
1 pair of convertible pants: I have a pair by the North Face (trekker convertible) and absolutely love them. I used to really hate convertible pants, but they are so practical and the ones I have now are really comfortable.
1 pair of quick‐drying loose pants: I got mine in Vietnam, a pair of leggings would probably do just fine. I just prefer something breezy when it’s hot. You need an extra pair of pants, in case you get stuck in a thunderstorm. I also slept in these and wore them under my other pants when I was cold.
1 raincoat: A decent raincoat is a necessity. It also keeps you warm and protected from the wind. I didn’t end up bringing my rainpants and even though it rained, my pants dried quickly.
1 light sweater: I have this 5 euro sweater from Decathlon that is very lightweight and a great extra layer. A light fleece would also work.
2 pairs of hiking socks: Seriously. Do not skimp on hiking socks. Get some decent ones and try them out before your trip. They really do make the difference. One pair is not enough, at some point, your socks will get wet. Which brings me to…
2 pairs of liner/sport socks: I only brought one pair, which I wore to sleep (it’s cold in the mountains). However, my feet were starting to hurt and my boyfriend suggested I wear my sport socks underneath my hiking socks. This really help against chafing. I only resented having to sleep in the same socks I hiked in.
1 buff: Weighs nothing, keeps you warm. Magical.
1 pair of liner gloves: Since I ski, I have great liner gloves, which are quite light and easy to put away, yet warm enough for hiking early in the morning.
5 pairs of underpants: You need as many as your longest hike. Yes, you can wash them along the way, but if it rains, it’s very difficult to have anything dry. I don’t actually own any travel underwear and have found that for me, simple cotton briefs do the trick.
2 sports bras: When I’m hiking, I just want to be comfortable. Also, my tops are a bit see‐through and my sports bras are tops, so nobody gets offended.
1 bikini: It doesn’t weigh anything and I swam in Song Kul lake, so if you are thinking of braving the freezing water of Song Kul, bring one. It was a great experience.
1 sunhat/cap: It can really help you if you don’t want to end up with a red face. Also, it keeps my hair away from my face.
Sleeping bag: I have a sleeping bag that I still think was ridiculously expensive. However, I can compress it to the size of a bowling ball and it still keeps me warm. It also doesn’t weigh that much. I now kind of love it. It’s The North Face Gold Kazoo.
Tent: I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good tent. Since we travelled as a couple, we can share the weight and we still have a lightweight tent. You mostly need a tent that can house both you and your luggage, without it pushing the inner against the outer tent. We can put up our outer tent as a shelter quite quickly and then put the sleeping part in it later, which is great when you get caught in the rain. We have a Hilleberg Nallo 2 GT*, which I love most because it has a vestibule in which we keep or bags. It’s a two‐person tent, so single travelers definitely don’t need such a big one.
Trekking poles: While there are people who don’t like hiking with them, to me, they are essential and they really helped me a lot during this trip. There were some difficult parts while climbing that would’ve been a lot rougher if I didn’t have my poles to keep my balance.
Thermarest mattress: I have a ProLite Plus* Women, which is not the lightest there is, but it does insulate well from the cold ground. I also used mine to sit on in safety position when we found ourselves in a storm.
Wilderness wash: To clean your underwear and your clothes if you don’t find a washing machine.
Headlight: For reading and finding your way at night.
Waterbag: Fill it up every chance you get. We also used water sanitizing tablets when we weren’t completely sure of the water. Which happened on more than one occasion.
Water bottle: Sometimes water is scarce and we always have one extra just in case. Also great for storing stuff in when you’re not using it for water.
Microfiber towel: Big enough to get you dry and light enough to pack.
Trangia or campinggaz stove and fuel/gaz: We use a Trangia*, which you can safely use inside your tent and packs away practically. The fuel is a bit more difficult to find than gas, but it does the trick. We’ve been told you can find gas in Kyrgyzstan, but we didn’t look for it, so not completely sure. Also, check if you can actually take it on a plane. A friend of ours has had his safety bottle removed from his luggage once. Our fuel came in a plastic bottle, which we have now flown with a few times.
A lighter: To light your stove.
Sporkknife from Light my fire: One per person. Cause they’re awesome.
A cup: We like a cup of tea after a long day of hiking.
A mess tin to eat from: Usually we eat breakfast from our tins, since we need a pot to heat up the water we use both for tea and for the chocolate milk we add to our muesli. Not really a necessity, but D.’s also has one with a top, so it’s also used for storage.
A very light dishtowel: To do your dishes with. We also use it to keep the Trangia from jingling while we hike.
A Swiss army knife: It has everything you need.
Shampoo sheets: They’re super light and you can use them to wash your hair. Not the same as liquid shampoo, but it did the trick.
Comb: When you have long hair as I do, this is quite the torture device, but with a lot of patience it also did the trick.
Shower gel: Preferable something biodegradable.
Sunscreen: Bring enough.
Hairbands and bobby pins: To keep your hair back.
Contacts + fluid + case: I forgot the latter and therefore couldn’t actually wear my contacts during the trip.
Glasses: If you wear glasses, and sunglasses even if you have perfect vision.
Good hiking shoes: I have a pair of Hanwags, which I got last year to hike along Hadrian’s Wall Path. Make sure you’ve walked them in and they give you ample support.
Flip‐flops: Practical when in the cities and at night when you want a break from your hot boots.
Paper and Technology
A plastic folder: To keep all your papers together.
Pictures of your family: To show to the locals. This was suggested to us by a friend. We didn’t use it that much, but it was fun at one point to show to some local shepherds.
Basic vocabulary list: Since we didn’t speak Russian or Kyrgyz, I scanned in the word list from our Bradt travel guide and made them fit on one recto‐verso sheet. It came in very handy and was more practical than carrying around the whole book.
A point‐it book: It is a tiny book with thousands of images of things you might need/want to explain when you’re traveling. It has been very helpful.
Notebook + pencil/pen: How does one travel without it, I wonder?
Camera: This is the only travel item my boyfriend and I always argue about, although after every trip he does concede it was worth it. I brought my DSLR (Canon EOS 600D), a 30mm lens (great for portraits and everything really) and an 11‐16mm lens (there’s nothing like a wide‐angle when you’re shooting impressive scenery). I also had a few SD‐cards. After every trek I like to change them, so if one of them fails, I don’t lose all my pictures. I even put the full cards in a different bag (my boyfriend’s) to ensure that if my pack gets stolen, we’ll still have some pics. I don’t actually use a camera bag, I just have a small lens pouch to protect my spare lens.
iPhone: In the cities, it is possible to find wifi and it is still the cheapest way to let the homefront know you’re alive.
A cheap old phone: One that has room for a sim card or a phone with dual sim card ability. We didn’t actually have one and at one point had to rely on a taxi driver to call the guesthouse we were staying at, since we couldn’t use our phones to call local numbers.
Chargers: For all your devices and a converter.
Hiking gps: We have a Garmin Oregon 600. Garmin allows you to use open‐source maps and I found some great free ones online. A great device when the path isn’t clear. Or doesn’t exist. Seriously.
Compeed: For blisters. It happens and compeeds help, a lot.
Band‐aids: The hypoallergenic kind for me.
Antiseptic and compresses: I slipped on some rocks and got a bunch of scrapes on my leg. You don’t want those infected, these are great to clean out wounds.
Antibiotics: You never know what will happen and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Painkillers: We ended up giving some to other travelers and I also needed them when I made the mistake of being polite and eating bread.
Something against nausea and diarrhea
Steri‐strips: For when you get a deeper cut. Didn’t need them, but they’re tiny.
Birth control: I mention it ‘cause I’m always afraid I’ll forget to bring my pill on a trip. I also just like to know that I can choose when I have my period when necessary. If you’re not on the pill and have the misfortune of getting your period while trekking, I suggest a menstrual cup. Cause it’s practical, cheap and great for the environment.
Food: Since I am gluten‐free, we brought a lot of food from home. I had enough bread for two treks. We always bring enough nut/chocolate/energy bars. A bit more than one a day per person. We also usually take a bag of dried fruits. We brought dehydrated food with us (enough for 6 days I think). You can get some dried food and noodles in Kyrgyzstan, but since we had enough with us, we didn’t really check. For breakfast we both had our own muesli and chocolate milk bags. For lunch, we bought bread for my boyfriend and sausages and cheese. We also got some tomatoes from the local market. We also have a small bag of herbs with us to spice up our food and some tea bags.
Biodegradable toilet paper: You can’t expect to find a toilet halfway up a mountain.
Zip‐lock bags: We put our toiletries in one, our energy bars in another. I always bring a few extra just in case.
A garbage bag/large plastic bag: Great for putting your clothes and sleeping bag/mat in. In case your bag falls in the water or your rain cover doesn’t do the trick anymore.
A foldable daypack: We have a Sea‐To‐Summit one that is strong enough to hold my camera equipment, so I can use it as my carry‐on. I also have a cheaper one from Decathlon, but it’s a bit less comfortable to carry. Does the trick though.
Make sure you have a good backpack which comfortably fits all your stuff. I have a 65liter from Decathlon, which has a removable top part. I left both the top bag and the side bags at home and it still fit all my stuff. On our second trek, we actually left all of our camping gear at the travel agency and our bags were a lot lighter. It is really safe to leave a lot of your stuff at the hostels if you’re going back there. We didn’t know that we’d be doing this in advance and were fine by compressing our bigger bags, but a smaller (25l) daypack would have been sufficient. If I were to do this trip again, I would’ve taken that and just left my big bag behind.
Also make sure you have a raincover for your bag. We met some people who didn’t and their stuff was soaked for days. It’s also practical to sit on if the grass is wet.
You might also enjoy these posts about hiking and camping:
- Trekking Must-Haves
- How to Pack & Prepare for Hiking Trips
- My Camping and Hiking Packing Disasters
- Camping and Outdoors Hacks
About the author: Margaux is a high school language teacher from the tiny country of Belgium. She is a firm believer of the travel universe, a place where magical things happen. A big fan of day trips, she also loves all the yearly weekend getaways with friends and family in her own country and adventures to faraway lands. Her travel companions know her as the girl with the camera. Sometimes she blogs about her trips at http://intraveluniverse.wordpress.com and occasionally she posts very short videos here. Currently she’s planning her next six trips.
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