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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.
>> Check out our post on water purifiers or clean water hacks.
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.
5. Warm sleeping bag
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.
If you have any other questions, you can contact me here: a turbulent tramp. Or, follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
Happy hiking, ladies!
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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!
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. =)
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!
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.
Hello! I actually used this packing list as a reference guide when I went on this hike in June/July 2016, and it was so helpful! I spent about 17 days on the trail even though it could’ve been done in about 14-15 days. We went through at least all 4 seasons through this trek! Just wanted to add my 2 cents in addition to this list since it was tough to find information about a packing list during this low season. I started my journey Besi Sahar and ended my journey in Nayapul.
– Rain gear was definitely important! I would suggest getting a good quality rain jacket. You’re really taking a big gamble with the quality of the products when you buy them from Kathmandu. I bought a rain cover there and it was definitely tearing halfway through the trip. YMMV.
-Trekking poles: This would’ve been helpful during the trek itself. You can definitely get them there and then give it away after.
– Extra set of clothing not worn during the trek: If you’re in for the long haul, it feels so much better to have a set of clean clothes that has not been worn at all during the whole trip. It’s definitely a personal preference, but after 17 days of rotating between 2 sets of clothes… I felt like a new being.
– Toilet paper: Between my sister and I, we definitely went through 4 rolls of these. It can be bought at the bigger stops at a higher price. If you want to splurge, I suggest getting a 3 ply toilet roll.
– Clothes pin: Since we were usually the only ones in the guesthouse, we didn’t have to compete with other guests, but it still wasn’t enough since we did laundry every other day or so. We also had 2 clothes hangers with us which was useful when drying clothes on out packs or to hang multiple underwear at the same time.
– Shoes: I didn’t wear any hiking boots but wore the Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes. My feet were kept warm with slightly heavier socks and cool with sports socks. There was also a time where we had to cross a small pond on the road that formed after heavy rain. I wore my shoes through it because I couldn’t see through the water, but within an hour or so of walking in 25C weather, the shoes were completely dry. These shoes dried out really quickly when left to dry overnight.
– Hat: If you can get a hat with neck protection, your neck would be thankful when you’re in the lower parts of the trek.
– Swimsuit: If you’re stopping in Tatopani, there is an amazing hot spring there. It’s unisex and you’ll be sharing it with the locals. If you don’t mind the staring no one will really harass you otherwise.
– Travel mug: So good for those cold mornings or if you want to take some delicious tea on the go.
– Sleeping bag: For this type of season, I went with a light weight sleeping bag that went down to 10C. We got heavy blankets along the way of the trip that were sufficient enough. It does make a good extra layer in the higher altitudes though.
I am headed for the trek from May 14-June 4. Did it snow at all during your time trekking? Did you bring a big snow jacket or pants?
Do you think that a 0F bag will be sufficient the end of September? And Soloman shoes for that time as well? Thanks!