Last week, I read an article about trekking gear in the newspaper. It was a feature on all the gear you need as a trekker.
On the one hand I was pleased that mainstream newspapers were talking about trekking.
On the other, I was aghast at the cost of the products they were suggesting!
They suggested a tent, a sleeping bag, a backpack, trekking shoes, trekking pants, two jackets, a Swiss knife, a headlamp and a power bank. The total cost of these products came up to (wait-for-it), Rs 1,21,000!
I’d have to sell both my kidneys and still won’t have enough to afford that.
Instead, I’d rather buy all gear for less than Rs 10,000 and do 11 Himalayan treks with that money.
So in my mail today, I’m going to tell you just how much to spend on trekking gear. I’ll just cover the biggest pain points — backpacks, shoes and warm clothes.
I may recommend brands and products too. I’m not advertising them. They are simply good for you.
To begin with, what’s the budget you should keep for these three things?
Well, I’d spend just around Rs 6,000 – Rs 7,000 for all of these put together.
Even that seems like a lot if you’re not planning to trek too often.
If you’re not going to trek too often, rent trekking gear!
But if you are planning to trek regularly, then make a budget before you go shopping.
So let’s start with backpacks.
On a backpack, I wouldn’t spend more than Rs.3,000. This is without compromising on quality.
A good backpack needs good structure and balance. It needs enough space to hold all your gear for a Himalayan trek. So a volume of around 55L is more or less required. It also needs to be comfortable on your back. These are things I wouldn’t compromise on.
I’ve seen very few backpacks with all these in place. Deuter, Osprey, all these brands make great backpacks, but the prices are always rocketing!
Of late, I’ve seen Adventure Worx making good backpacks. We even reviewed and liked one of them recently. It is called Xplore 50.
This is actually a good backpack to buy. The MRP says Rs 5,599. But they almost always have a 50% discount. So if you avail the discount and get it for Rs 2,300, the backpack is a steal.
Wildcraft has a few no-frill backpacks too, for around Rs.3000. You’ll find these on Amazon.
If you’re not brand conscious (and I suggest you don’t be), you could go to a place like Moti Bazar in Dehradun before your trek and pick up some good backpacks for Rs 1,500 – 2,000. These are good backpacks, without the branding. They’ll do the job.
I think out of the 35 mails that land in my inbox every day, 25 of them are about trekking shoes.
This seems to be a big worry point for trekkers. But honestly, it isn’t such a big deal. Look at the sole for deep grooves (that give you good grip), check if there’s ankle support. If these two points are met, pick up the shoe.
But how much should you spend? Not more than Rs 2,500.
Decathlon seems to be the go-to place for trekking shoes. And why not! They make good trekking shoes.
But you don’t need the higher end shoes. Trekkers tell me that they’re confused between “hiking” and “trekking” shoes.
Well, take it from me, it doesn’t matter. Unless you’re going on 7-8 Himalayan treks a year, or you’re putting your shoes through a big struggle like our Trek Leaders do, it doesn’t matter.
Just make sure you go for the “mid” ankle support shoes in their store.
The NH100, SH100, the Arpenaz series, all of these will do. They cost between Rs 1,300 and Rs 2,500. Go for them.
Interestingly, I also found some very good trekking shoes at Bata. So you could hop over to the closest Bata store and look for Weinbrenner trekking shoes in there. The one I found was for Rs 2,500.
Again, if you don’t go by the brand, you’ll find good shoes even at local markets. Just know what specifics to look for and pick up a shoe. You’ll know what to look for once you watch this video.
Warm clothes next.
Warm clothes are a major requirement on all Himalayan treks, even if you’re just trekking for two days. But they seem like such a waste because you’ll rarely use them in your home town!
I used to try and borrow warm layers. But I’m a little too thin, so everyone’s warm layers are too big for me.
That’s when I went hunting for layers. Finding fleece jackets was not difficult. Fleece is usually inexpensive. I got two jackets for less than Rs 1000 at Decathlon. I found out later you can get them cheaper at local markets (not branded but similar quality).
For my outer-most layer, I needed a hollow fill jacket that would be well-insulated and wind-proof.
But most such jackets were too expensive at branded stores.
So I went to local markets. And I struck gold!
Most cities have ancient stores, where people travelling abroad would go to buy warm layers. These stores are a treasure trove of all kinds of layers that you need. (I went to Eastern stores in Bangalore).
I could pick up a very good hollow fill jacket with zipped pockets outside, inside, a detachable hood and everything for Rs 2,400. I could even bargain with the poor old man and bring it down to Rs 2,000.
So just scout for these stores in your city and head over there.
The lesson for the day is to not go by brands. Go by the specifications. Know what you need and then pick it up.
If you’re trekking just once or twice a year, the low end products will easily last you many years. Unless you’re gearing up for repeated expeditions (by which I mean rigorous treks 4-5 times a year), you don’t need very high end gear.
Hope this post has helped you! Drop in a comment if you have thoughts around this or if you need help with your trekking gear.