What To Take In Your Backpack On A Himalayan Trek

When you’re packing for a high altitude trek, there are a few basic things you need – your warm layers, your trekking shoes, a good backpack and your toilet and medical kits.

Here’s a video to help you with the things to take on your trek.

Below is your backpack checklist if you’re going for a 7-8 day trek, like Roopkund, Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati, Kashmir Great Lakes.

Look out for small notes like this one if you are going on a shorter trek.

Bare necessities

✓ Trekking shoes
You will need trekking shoes with good grip. Sports shoes will not be comfortable enough. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.

✓ Backpack (40-60 litres)
A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.

If you’re going on a weekend trek in the Himalayas, a 20L backpack will do in summer. But you might need a 40L backpack in winter.

Clothes (For a week-long trek)

✓ Three warm layers
You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woolen and one padded jacket). If you’re trekking in winter, then you need at least five warm layers.

We have trekking shoes, backpacks, jackets, poles and rain ponchos available for rent. Click here if you’d like to rent trekking gear.

✓ Three trek pants
Wear one pair and carry two pairs. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.

✓ Three collared t-shirts
Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry two. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet sweaty clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.

✓ Thermals (Optional)
Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.

For a 4-5 day Himalayan trek like Kedarkantha, Dayara Bugyal, Deoriatal, Bhrigu Lake, you can cut down the number of pants and tshirts to two and you can avoid the thermals. If you’re trekking in winter, you need at least five warm layers, plus mandatory thermals

For a two day trek, you just need a spare t-shirt and two warm layers. If you’re going in winter, carry three warm layers and thermals.

Accessories

✓ Sunglasses
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in June. There might be snow at the upper campsites regardless of the season. So carry a pair of sunglasses.

Suncap
The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.

✓ Synthetic hand gloves
One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.

Balaclava
You may use woolen scarves instead as well.

✓ Socks (2 pairs)
Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.

✓ Headlamp/LED torch
This is mandatory

Trekking pole
Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.

You’ll need all of the above accessories even on a shorter trek.

Others

✓ Daypack (20 litres)
If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks. If you’re going for a summit climb too, you’ll need this. For pass-crossings, though, you won’t.

✓ Toiletries
Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.

✓ Cutlery
Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. Here’s why we ask you to bring your own cutlery.

✓ Two water bottles
1 litre each

✓ Plastic covers
While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit 

  1. Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  2. Dexamethasone – one strip
  3. Nifedipine – 5 tablets
  4. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  5. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  6. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  7. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  8. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  9. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  10. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  11. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  12. Gauze – 1 small roll
  13. Band aid – 10 strips
  14. Cotton – 1 small roll
  15. ORS – 10 packets
  16. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  17. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
  18. Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
  19. Anti fungal powder

If you’re in a big group, carry just one medical kit and toilet kit for the entire group. That way you’ll save space and avoid added weight.

Mandatory Documents

If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp.

Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF

Your first aim must be to borrow trekking gear. See whose fits, whose doesn’t and only buy/rent the things you cannot find. Picture by Nikshep Trinetra

That sums up everything you need. the list looks a bit overwhelming, but if you get down to it, it’s not much. Your backpack should not weigh more than 7 kg. So make sure you pack light!

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Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy is the Chief Editor at Indiahikes. She heads the content team and runs a video series called Trek With Swathi. Before joining Indiahikes, she worked as a reporter and sub-editor at Deccan Chronicle. She holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications such as Deccan Herald. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates that mind like nothing else can. Through her work at Indiahikes, she hopes to let more people experience this sense of liberation, by spreading information about trekking and by instilling the right spirit of trekking in them. Read Swathi's other articles. Watch Swathi's video series here.

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