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Heading on a Himalayan trek and worried you are missing out on something? Fret not. Here is a hiking packing list of all that you need to have a safe AND fun Himalayan trek in the winters.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
Hiking Packing List
- Hiking Packing List
- Down Jackets
- Fleece Jackets
- Thermal inners
- Woolen socks
- Warm Gloves
- Rainproof pants and shirts
- Neck warmer
- Cap, Beanie, and Balaclava
- Portable Water Purifiers
- Swiss Knives
- Mouth Wash
- Wet wipes
- Body Lotion
- Dry shampoo
- Power bank
- Lip balm
- Toilet paper and Tissues
- Paper soap
- Travel books
Down jackets are a life saver and have kept me warm more times than I can count on. Opt for a good quality down jacket that can withstand the temperatures you are going to. Having said that, down jackets alone won’t be enough.
During the day, since you are walking around, your body generates heat and down jackets might get too warm and suffocating. In that case, opt for a light fleece jacket. Also, make sure fleece jackets are light and don’t take too much space in your bag, and at the same time offers enough protection too.
Thermal inners are very much necessary for keeping you warm in cold weather. It is important to remember to layer up. Not necessary to wear it during the day while trekking since your body will generate enough heat to keep you away from cold. Important while in the night when it is windy, the temperature drops to subzero and there is not much to do. For chilly temperatures, thermal inners will always make a cut in my hiking packing list.
Pro tip: As they say, there is nothing like too cold. You just don’t know the art of wearing enough layers yet. Try to layer up by wearing thermal inners followed by T-shirts, and then fleece jackets and then down jackets. You can lose some layers and add up more, based on the time of the day and the amount of cold you can tolerate!
If the location you are going, goes sub-zero temperatures, then opt for snow boots. However, this might not help much at other times. My guide even suggested wearing the same shoes for Chadar trek with few more layers of socks. Well, it all depends on your tolerance and state of mind to cold. Alternatively, if it ranges in single degree temperatures, then you can opt for shoes with good grip and good woolen socks.
Woolen socks are essential while going on a winter trek. Cotton socks won’t suffice. If you are feeling extra cold especially during the night, make sure to use 2 pairs of socks one over the other instead of one. Also, cover your hands with good gloves and a woolen cap. Carry at least 2 – 3 pairs of socks for the trek. If your socks get wet, be mindful to use a fresh pair of socks. Else, it might lead to frostbite which is a serious issue.
Buy gloves which work well within the temperature you are heading to. Biker gloves or cotton gloves won’t help much with the cold weather. If you are more prone to cold, then consider wearing fleece gloves within the outer gloves.
Rainproof pants and shirts
It may not be necessary but when you are in the middle of nowhere and no protection from the rain, you will realize how important it is to have rainproof clothes. Especially in the mountains, you don’t know how the weather changes from sunny to rainy to snowy. Hell, it might all happen on the same day. So, going prepared is surely going to help you be in your best health. Down jackets can serve for rain protection for mild rains most of the times.
Either opt for a balaclava or buy a neck warmer separately for additional comfort. Whatever it is, keep in mind to cover up your neck in cold weather.
Backpacks are a point of much contention when it comes to hiking.
Few things to consider while buying a good backpack – if the back of the backpack is comfortable and sturdy, sternum straps, waist straps which helps in distributing the weight evenly such that there is not much pressure on your back. Also, keep in mind that the deadweight of the backpack is something you would be able to handle. Ideally, something 40L and above is recommended for a 4-day trek and above. Needless to say it all depends on what you manage to take in the bags.
Make sure to pack light and pack well. Even few hundred grams can add up soon and make your backpack heavy. Yes, of course, there are mules to carry the bags. Unless you have a serious issue with your shoulders which makes carrying heavier backpack impossible, I recommend carrying the backpack yourself. It adds up to the experience and that way makes you an effective packer as well. Trust me, your backpack tends to get lighter after a while!(Not literally, of course!)
Cap, Beanie, and Balaclava
Cap to protect against the sun on normal sunny days; beanie and balaclava to protect against the cold and snow on harsh days.
Headlamps are hands-free and make for an important accessory while trekking during the night. If you don’t want to invest in a headlamp, then you can rent it from your trekking agency. Or buy a torch instead if you don’t want to rent headlamps either. No matter what, carry either a headlamp or a torch.
Note – All of the above items can be bought from a Decathlon store near you. Or head to Decathlon online site and use a corporate account which has similar discounts for the in-store items. Contact your HR department to know if you are eligible for a corporate account.
Pro Tip – If you are not able to withstand cold with what you are wearing, add more layers, put on another pair of socks and gloves! Mainly, keep in mind to cover the extremities – ears, hands, and feet especially.
A lifesaver for any winter-related activities – be it snow trekking, cycling or skiing. Feet tend to remain cold and numb while in the snow even when you are walking in sunny weather. In such cases, toe warmers come to the rescue. There are hand warmers as well which keeps your fingers warm. Different types of warmers are made for different air-exposure levels. And, foot warmers are made to work in the lowest air-flow environment.
Portable Water Purifiers
It is hard to beat the quality of the water from the freshly melted snow. Yet, in cases when you are not receiving water straight from the source, and unsure of the water quality, try handy water purifiers built specifically for this purpose. Ideal for hiking, backpacking, camping or traveling in general where the quality of water seems questionable!
It can come quite in handy while cutting fruits or ropes or something else. Make sure you have it with you where you can find it easily.
Personal favorite- Victorinox Red Swiss Army Knife
Pro tip – If found in the cabin baggage, the airport authorities can seize the items at their will! In the best of cases, they will ask you to move the items in your check-in baggage. Save yourself time and effort and make sure to keep the Swiss knives or scissors in the check-in baggage right from the start.
It can be quite a task sometimes to brush your teeth in cold freezing water and it can even burn and swell up your fingers. Alternatively, mouthwash is a boon in such scenarios.
Personal favorite – Listerine Cool mint mouthwash
Great alternative to ice cold freezing water to clean up your face. On a side note, it is fun once in a while to experience the depth of cold but also make sure that you are well within safe limits.
Really handy during treks, and travel for that matter.
Personal favorite – Dettol Instant Hand Sanitizer
It is evident to form scales in the skin in harsh and cold weather especially if your body is not used to it. Apply copious amounts of body lotion to moisturize your skin and prevent rashes.
Even if you don’t wear sunglasses while trekking in general, while snow trekking, it is mandatory. Invest in sunglasses that are tight and has UV protection. Due to intense reflections in the snow, it is quite possible to be susceptible to snow blindness. It is said that kajal on the eyes helps in preventing snow blindness, even without glasses, but too scared to check the authenticity on me yet!
Like I said before, especially on snow treks, the reflections on the snow leads to intense heat and might result in burning of the skin. With minimum SPF of 50, sunscreens have been quite handy in keeping away UV rays and preventing burning of the skin.
Personal favorite – Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-touch sunblock SPF 50+
When it is usually not possible to take a shower during the trek, let alone a decent toilet, hair care will definitely take a backseat. Not to mention that the intensity of cold water on your head, might even make you sick. In order to avoid sticky and oily hairs, dry shampoo is quite useful in this case.
Personal favorite – Batiste Dry Shampoo
Having carried both DSLR and GoPro during the trek, I could see the stark differences between a GoPro and DSLR. GoPro turned out to be quite handy during the trek to take pictures and videos. The battery of GoPro didn’t drain off quickly like the DSLR and it didn’t have any performance issues all the while. Did I mention that it hardly takes up space or weight in the already bulky backpack? GoPro will always have a place in my hiking packing list.
Personal favorite – GoPro Hero 5 Black
Pro tip: If in case you are carrying a DSLR, keep in mind to take the batteries out and put it inside socks and place it in your breast pocket so that it is warm to keep the battery from draining.
Invest for a power bank with a turbo charge. Be it trekking or traveling in general, it surely makes your life easier. An added bonus is that it can be used to charge the GoPro too well in an hour in case of a turbocharger.
The fancy lip balms which come in a variety of colors may not be of any use in a Himalayan trek.
Personal favorite – Vaseline or Himalayan lip balm has proved to be quite effective during treks.
Ideally, prefer to buy the following from the nearby departmental store or a supermarket. If you don’t have time for it, then alternatively you can buy it from Amazon as well.
Toilet paper and Tissues
Essential while overnight trekking. Most of the times, you just have a hole in the ground to carry out nature calls. Water will be either too cold or unavailable. In that case, who do you turn to? Welcome toilet paper.
I have been using paper soap for years now while traveling and it has been a game changer. In cases where sanitizer won’t be sufficient, paper soap comes to the rescue. Same in trekking.
Sugar in chocolates can also serve as energy boosters during the trek. It will also come in handy if you want to handover chocolates to the local kids you find in your path during the hike.
Personal favorites for the trek – Dairy Milk, Galaxy Smooth Milk, Snickers, Mars
Books have always been a good companion while traveling for me and I always carry one with me whether I find time to read it or not. Here are a few classic travel books that you might like to read!
Things to rent from the trekking agencies
If you want to make an investment for your trekking, then please do so. It would be a one-time investment and with very less expenditure for future treks. If on the other hand, you are not sure of buying it just yet, then you can even rent jackets, backpacks, and shoes from the agencies.
- Walking sticks
- Mini Crampons
Note – Trekking agencies typically provide sleeping bags, fleece inners for sleeping bags, gaiters, mini crampons as part of the booking. So, check with them before buying.
So, what constitutes your hiking packing list? Let me know in the comments below.
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