How Much Should You Spend On Trekking Gear

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.

The Xplore 50 backpack that we reviewed recently is a great backpack that often sells at a 50% discount. With the discount, the backpack is a steal.

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.

You can look for the discount and buy it here.

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.

Next, shoes.

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.

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34 thoughts on “How Much Should You Spend On Trekking Gear

  1. Beautiful write up 🙂
    Few points that I would like to add on based on my personal experience:

    Back pack:
    When I did my first trek a few years back , I actually just carried the back pack that I use for my laptop and it did just fine 🙂 and later brought a 60L at Decath at a clearance sale for around 2500 since I was sure that I will go back to the mountains (One should just like the Decath page on facebook and will get to know about all the offers and clearance sale that happens from time to time )

    I took a wildcraft amphibia shoes worth 6500 ( with water proofing and cross grip) for 1500 at the factory outlet , in a sale for minor defective pieces that cant be sold at regular price. I payed 300 extra to get a second layer of stitching and it has lasted 6 treks and still doing fine 🙂 .

    Down Jackets:
    One suggestion for Down Jackets – If we have any friends or relatives living abroad , we can look for deals during spring /summer online and ship to their local address which they can bring down when they visit India. The deals are crazy , I brought one extreme down jacket which can keep you warm upto -30deg , with wind and water proofing in one such sale last year from mountain ware house – you wont believe me , the actual price of the jacket is around 22000 INR and I brought it for like 3500 INR or so.

    Eventually I haven’t spent more than 7K for my gear and I am so happy about it , after all who doesn’t love a sale 🙂

  2. Very informative email.Definitely an eye opener for people like me who do 1-2 high altitude/cold treks a year and are confused on brand over price .
    But I am somewhat lucky to have invested in a good bag and shoes ,both from decathlon which I happily lend to my friends .

    Jackets are something which I did not buy -It is bulky to store and there is a fear of moths and the musty smell. I am way too skinny but I still manage by borrowing from friends (doesn’t look very smart but who cares when you are having fun ).
    I did buy fleece though which I can use in Bangalore winters and decathlon has some fun colors. I think almost all my trek gear ( cap,scarf ,goggles,fleece jackets,gloves,trek pants ,rain coat ,bag and bag cover ,shoes and socks are all from Decathlon.They have a wide variety to choose from and prices are affordable).
    But I will definitely try Eastern stores next time !

    Keep the mails going .

  3. Hi Swathi,

    This should be mandatory reading for all would-be trekkers! I myself have followed this philosophy and have never felt under-equipped on any trek – which has included Kilimanjaro climb, EBC Kala Patthar, Gokyo Ri, Markhya valley, Gaumukh etc. All I have is :

    1) Good base layers – bought cheaply in Nepal
    2) A light rain/wind-proof jacket and a warmer Columbia jacket bought many years ago. I’m thinking about getting a proper down one for some time – but trekking agencies lend you one – so I’ve gotten through without buying one 🙂
    3) Couple of light comfortable trekking pants
    4) Rain pants – I often just put them on over regular trekking pants if it is cold and that works really well
    5) One heavy warm and wind-proof ‘snow-pant’ I picked up cheap in Ladakh which is really useful in sub-zero and windy conditions
    6) Quechua shoes – now 5 years old.
    7) Quechua Forzclaz 70 backpack – also old now
    8) A ‘fake’ Deuter 35l backpack picked up in Nepal 7 years back – which I use for small solo treks in India like Kedar/Madmaheshwar/Valley of Flowers etc
    9) A chinese made trekking pole picked up in Nepal
    10) No Sleeping bag – generally the trekking agency lends you one – so don’t have that as well.
    11) Of course gloves, headlamps and most importantly a hand-cranked torch but again mostly local ones

    That said – I do have one indulgence – a Casio watch with an altimeter which I love to look at when I cross 5000m on a trek!

  4. Hi Swathi, That’s really helpful info. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Wish I knew it before. Couple of years back I bought Wildcraft backpack for 6500/- I don’t find it comfortable such a waste of hard earned money :(.

    1. Hi Boobalakannan,
      Any 50-60 litre backpack will suffice for the Everest Base Camp trek. Since this is a tea house trek, you will not be required to carry any additional equipment or gear other than you regular trekking clothes, warm layers, water bottles etc.

  5. Hi Swathi,
    It’s been an experience of it’s kind as everytime i surf through your post and videos. This particular one clearly shuts down the noise around trekking gear being an expensive affair. I will be soon scaling a high altitude trek and this information rolled like a doublesix dice.

  6. Hey, swathi!

    I really think when it comes to doing anything, we should ask ourselves the purpose of what we are doing.

    If we ate talking about buying gears for trekking, then, we should ask our selves “for what reason we are trekking”.

    I think this will help streamline our spending because it makes us to be specific.



  7. That bag in photograph which you are saying is adventure worx. It costs 7000 . You are saying it cost only 2300 . Give me link where can I buy it under 3500 ..

  8. Hi Swati

    I am 44 yrs old & based @ mumbai & in process of planning for hiking trip in the Himalayas between In December last week or in May/June …. as it’s going to be my first major hike I would like to know the options & base requirements. Otherwise I am active person with daily physical excercise routines. Pls advice.

    1. Hi sir, I’d recommend choosing a trek that is of easy-moderate difficulty. It’s best to go for an easier trek and then head over to difficult treks.
      You’ll find out easy-moderate treks here –

      As for when to go, I’d say go in March or April. You’ll get to experience snow and it won’t be bitterly cold (like in December, Jan and Feb). You’ll also get to see flowers in bloom in April. 🙂

  9. Hi,
    I have been using Woodland trek shoes for the past 3 years, for Western ghat treks. I need to know if it works good for Himalayan treks, or should I switch over.

    1. Hi Vishak, we have never heard good reviews of Woodland shoes on Himalayan treks. They are usually heavier than the average trekking shoes and get wet easily. But if you have had a good experience with your shoes and if they are still in good condition then you could use them. Otherwise I’d recommend buying or renting shoes.

  10. I have deal on Columbia conspiracy scalpel around 3100. Just let me know how are they to trek in sahyadri and some easy Himalayan treks. I think it’s breathable and lightweight. TIA

    1. Can you please send me a link to what you are talking about? I’ll be able to help once I see the shoes.

      1. Hello. Am planning to do the Goecha la this month. Went through several articles on trekking kits but none mentioned ‘Tents’. Could you suggest some? Thank you. Also, a trek leader from your company had joined our team when on his initial exploratory trek into the Pin valley(Bhaba pass) in Aug 2016. Could i have his contact details?

        1. We will be providing you with tents on our treks. We have expedition tents that are custom-made for our treks. Which is why we haven’t mentioned tents. As for the Trek Leader, I think you might be talking about Tanmay? You can write to us on [email protected] for his contact details.

          1. Could you please confirm, should we have to buy sleeping bag or it will be provide by India hike.

          2. Hi Neeraj, we will be providing you with sleeping bags when you’re coming on a trek with us. You don’t have to bring your own 🙂

        1. Hi Rohan these shoes are good enough for hiking. But if you’re spending this much, I’d recommend investing in a pair with ankle support. This one has none. While descending, trekkers are prone to twisted ankles. Having ankle support will reduce that possibility greatly. So think about that and then take a call.

  11. The headline of the write up should be In Praise of Cheapskates 🙂 . I have a Marmot Precip rainwear (a must have item on any Himalayan trek). On the Roopkund trail with IH I bought one of those cheap ponchos that they were selling (1/12th the cost of the Marmot). I used the Marmot during my trek from the Roopkund summit to Bhogwabasa in snowfall and rain. I was bone dry inside. But my legs got a bit wet because I didn’t have any rain protection there.
    On the last day I chose to put the poncho on when it started to drizzle closer to Wan. In about half an hour I got completely drenched. The cheap poncho was worse than newspaper when it came to rain protection.
    One of the first things I did upon arriving at Wan was to give it away to one of the guides of the trek.
    Cheap gear is waste of money, in my money. I belong to the generation that used to trek in Bata Hunters. Today, you will have to hold a gun on my head to make me wear that.
    On the same Roopkund trek I lost both the nails on the big toes after a day of continuous walk from Bhogwabasa to Wan. I was wearing a pair of Quechua. I bought a pair of Meindls worth 2 Quechuas after this. I came down from the Stok Kangri shoulder to Mankorma walking for a total of 19 hours that day. Nothing happened to my nails. And the feet never got wet despite walking through fresh snow for hours.
    Spending money on Swiss Army knife is silly. But I wouldn’t try to save money while buying critical gear.

  12. Nice and Informative Write Up Swathi!!. Thanks much!!
    I feel as first timer, you do tend to buy a lot of stuff, but once you do, certain things are for sure, that do remain with you at least for the next 10-12 Trips.
    For instance buying basic and necessary items, like a Good Rucksack, a Pair of Trekking Shoes, a Trekking Pole, Down Jacket, or even fleece Thermals from Decathlon, a Head Torch, a swizz knife or even to an extent buying Trekking Pants. for a High Altitude trek, these are for sure essentials, and buying all of these, at one time would certainly cost you around 10-15K (From Decathlon), or maybe even up to 20K, if buying some of it from Wildcarft.
    And honestly speaking there isn’t any end to buy certain things. For instance, a good 60-70L Rucksack can range anything from starting 2K to almost 7K. A pair of Trekking shoes has absolutely no end to it again. While researching so much about them on certain websites, you do come to know that brands like Salomon, or Columbia could lead you to spending almost like 10-15K on just shoes, however thanks to brands like Wildcraft or even Decathlon, which does offer premium range, which wouldn’t even go beyond 7K, or even lesser.
    But of course, if you are with Indiahikes, then for sure you don’t have to even spend on Sleeping Bags or even tents, as there quality is very good.
    The peripheral stuff like, Sunglasses, Medicines, Toilet Kits etc.. are something which buying every time wouldn’t even go beyond 1K.
    I feel as trekkers we always get excited to buy and get good and premium stuff for ourselves, which is bound to happen and is a state of mind which is at par in getting these jazzy and cool stuff!!:)

    1. Hi Sonal if you’re buying shoes, I would recommend buying something with ankle support, it will be useful longer and for tougher treks in future too! These shoes are alright for more casual hikes. They may be okay for Beas Kund, but not so much for tougher treks.

  13. Is it a must to carry a GPS tracking device or any other tracking device when going on a trek in the Himalayas? For example products by companies like Garmin ?

    1. Hi! Carrying a GPS device isn’t a must for Himalayan treks. However, it’s always preferable to be familiar with navigation using GPS systems- be it in the form of GPS-tracking apps like Geotracker/Gaia GPS or handheld GPS devices like the ones manufactured by Garmin. Keeping track of your movement and following a previously recorded GPX file, greatly reduces the chances of getting lost in remote regions and also helps search teams pinpoint location of lost trekkers accurately.

  14. Hi Swathi,

    Is 7-10k all that it should cost even if its a winter trek, bang in the middle of December? How much should you be willing to spend then (given that you have NO winter clothing/ accessories whatsover)