Annapurna Circuit Packing List

by Kshaunish Jaini

The Annapurna mountains of Nepal bring thousands of tourists a year to the country to experience the wild Himalayan landscape. The region is known for its excellent trekking, including some of the world’s best rated trails: The Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp trek. Visitors enjoy multi-day treks (like the famous Poon Hill trek ) with stunning mountain views through quaint tea house villages offering food and accommodation along the way. Because you can trek the Annapurnas at almost any time of year and its varying altitudes and weather, you need to be well prepared. It’s difficult to know exactly what you need to bring, and with a tight weight limit for treks which can last a week or longer it’s important to only take the essentials. But we’ve got you covered - in this very comprehensive packing guide we’ll look at everything you need to pack for your Annapurna trek.

Annapurna Trek - Luggage

Fortunately, if you have planned your trip well you don’t have to bring all of your holiday luggage with you. Tour companies and accommodations in the Annapurna trekking hubs of Pokhara and Jomsom offer bag storage for low prices (or for free). Leave everything you don’t need for the trek safely behind and pick it up again afterwards. Remember to bring an extra bag if necessary for this purpose, and it’s a good idea to choose one which can be locked. Take your lighter valuables with you on a trek - travel insurance may not cover you if anything should happen to your stuff whilst you are away. Note though that this is just to be safe, in general it’s completely fine to leave your bags - Nepal has a low crime rate and accommodations and tour companies can usually be trusted to keep them safe.

ice and snow covered Annapurna mountains

When trekking in the Annapurnas, one should be prepared for the weather. Photo by Jeanne

Annapurna Trek - Weight Limitations

For these multi-day treks it’s vital that you keep packing to a complete minimum. Only bring the essentials. After many days on the trail you will curse yourself for bringing extra things that you don’t really need! Also, always favour lightweight kit and clothing - even if it costs more it’s usually worth it in the long run. Remember to take into account the extra weight for carrying large bottles of water and snacks too.

Porters - Annapurna

First of all, will you have a porter to carry kit for you? Most tours provide porters or you can easily hire them independently for a cheap daily rate, depending on your trek . You should always consider a porter if you are doing a mountainous trek of more than a few days.

Porters can carry between 15-20Kg of your gear, and check how much they will be carrying themselves so they aren’t overburdened. Do not exceed these limits as it’s bad for the porter’s welfare - bear in mind they must carry their own kit as well. Of course many porters will carry more, there are no laws to safeguard their well-being. It’s common for them to be feel pressured into taking more than they should. Don’t be a part of the problem and keep your luggage to reasonable levels.

If you have a porter, you can offload the kit (especially the heavier stuff) that you don’t need through the day, such as changes of clothes, sleeping bags, equipment, etc. Bear in mind that on some tours porters will travel well ahead of the main group (leaving early in the morning) meaning you might not get access to the kit they’re carrying until lunchtime, or the end of the day. You will carry a smaller day bag (usually a small/medium rucksack) with gear like extra clothing layers, water, camera, sunscreen, light valuables and so on. Try to keep weight in your day bag to a minimum.

Hiking Annapurna Solo

Without a porter, carrying all your gear is tough. You will carry everything you need on your back. Trails can be steep and difficult even with just day bags, with a full rucksack it’s even harder. Many of the Annapurna trails enter high altitude areas where the going becomes even tougher with lower oxygen levels - carrying everything yourself compounds this.

Guide at 4400m on the Annapurna trek

Temperature are quite low at 4400 m. Make sure to pack warmly. Photo by Jeanne

We would not recommend carrying all of your gear unless you are very fit or the trail you are doing is flat, or only a short length, or you are visiting nearby places in the region , before/after your trek - meaning your luggage will be lighter and easier to carry. If you do want to carry your own gear on any of the mountain treks, then allow plenty of extra days to complete it. It’s much slower going with at least double the weight to carry and of course much more tiring.

Porters are very cheap for what you get and will greatly ease your burden, allowing you to enjoy the trek more. As a bonus you provide extra income for poor families. We don’t recommend trekking without a porter unless you are confident in your fitness level, have done plenty of training beforehand with heavy luggage or the trail is very short.

Buying Trekking Gear in Nepal

Do remember to account for equipment and clothes in your final calculations for budgeting for your Annapurna trek . You can buy everything you need in the country if required. Starting places for your trek , like Kathmandu and Pokhara have huge numbers of trekking shops selling everything you could imagine. However the majority of stock are brand imitations at much cheaper prices than western stores. Quality varies. You can find original trekking brands, always ask if they have genuine products and know what to look for with labels and signature giveaways for the real deal. There are a few genuine brand shops such as the Kathmandu store in Kathmandu (really) but they can be even more expensive than back home.

If you are buying gear, after getting to Nepal , you need to balance quality versus need. With some products like sleeping bags, down winter jackets, walking sticks and flashlights, the knock-offs can be just as effective as the real thing - the build quality may be poorer but if you’re only using it for a week then it’ll be fine. For items like walking boots, bags, waterproofs and clothing it’s usually worth investing in a quality branded product at home and bringing it with you - they’ll be of a higher standard and a long-lasting investment that you can use for years to come. Nepali knock-offs can do the job but don’t expect them to last for too long.

Annapurna Packing List

Clothing and Footwear

What clothing to bring depends on the time of year you are visiting, and whether you are doing a high-altitude trek. Check our “When to do an Annpurna Trek ” article for more information on weather conditions and temperatures in the Annapurnas during the year. In winter you will need much more warm clothing - in peak seasons you will want to bring t-shirts and shorts.

In general though you need to be prepared for any weather. Nights and early mornings in the mountains get very cold - dropping below zero once you get into the mountains. High altitudes can see see sudden weather changes and snowstorms, especially places like Thorong La Pass (over 5000m) at any time of year. You’re likely to experience rainfall even in peak season. Days can be hot and sunny including in winter. So, pack with every kind of weather in mind, and especially for cold weather. Winter clothing is heavy but worth it when you’re struggling to sleep during a sub-zero night at 3000m!

If you are unsure what you need for the current season, ask a tour company, guide or other trekkers for advice before you trek - you can always pick up anything you missed in Nepal.

local women walk across the stony ground

Be prepared and you can always ask the locals for help. Photo by Jeanne

Some teahouses in the trekking villages offer laundry services, but you can only really take advantage of this if you are staying in one place for a day or two. Be prepared to have pretty dirty clothes and be smelly by the end of your trek. Don’t worry - everyone else is in the same boat!

Boots for Nepal Trek

Don’t underestimate the importance of good footwear regardless of the route you’re taking . You need a good, comfortable pair of hiking boots and out of everything else this is where you should be prepared to invest money. Note that the good condition of many of the trails means that hard boots are not usually necessary, you can get away with trail running boots if they have good grip and waterproofing. Many porters do Annapurna treks in Crocs or flip flops, although when it rains and the tracks get slippery this gets dangerous and we don’t recommend it!

If your feet are going to be in pain, or you end up with a twisted ankle thanks to poor boots, your trek is going to be miserable and you may even have to give up. If your boots are expensive, you can always sell them after the trek, or maybe you can borrow a friends, providing they fit you well. You need something with good grip, waterproof and with adequate ankle support as the inclines can be steep. A pair of spare laces is also a good idea. If you buy new boots for your Annapurna trek, make sure you break them in properly before you go. It’s usually better to buy at home than in Nepal as boot knock-offs tend to be of poor quality.

Some Amazon suggestions:  Boots for men , Boots for women .

Base Layers for Annapurna

Once you get up that mountain, the temperature drops and at night it can get below freezing. Get hold of some decent base layers - preferably not cotton as you will sweat more causing you to be colder. A pair of leggings/long johns and a long sleeve top or t-shirt with thermal properties and moisture wicking provides a good foundation for warmth and saves you having to wear big and bulky layers instead. If you can afford it, base layers made from Merino wool are extremely warm and comfortable.

Some Amazon suggestions:

Women’s base layers:

Men’s base layers:

Upper Layers

You need to think about layering on top of your base layer, with the ability to remove layers if you get too hot. Thinner is better but as long as you have the required warmth/resilience to weather with all your layers on, that’s what is important. You’ll want something on top of your base layer like a long sleeve shirt. On top of that should be another warm layer such as a good fleece for evenings and early mornings. Add to this a number of t-shirts or thin long shirts or two for to wear on sunny days - you might want an extra one if you’re travelling in a good weather season.

For your legs, go for something durable like trekking pants. In winter or for high altitudes you may want a pair of fleece pants too. Jeans might seem like a good choice but if they get damp or wet it will be very difficult to get them dry again. Shorts are a good option for good weather seasons, or instead you could get some of the trekking trousers that have zip-off legs, converting to shorts. They may not look cool but they are certainly practical!

Some Amazon suggestions:

Men:

Women:

Socks and Underwear

Take a couple of pairs of hiking socks in case one gets wet. Some people take one thin pair and one thick pair. If you are doing a long trek like the Annapurna Circuit then bring an extra pair. When trekking in the Annapurnas, you’re going to have to accept that a fresh set of clothes every day is not going to happen, unless you really want to carry a backpack full of dirty clothes with you. Don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat. If you get really smelly feet you could take a small amount of shoe powder or spray to help. The amount of underwear is at your discretion depending on the length of your trek. Women should opt for a couple of sports bras for extra support.

Amazon suggestions:

Innerwear: Women , Men

Hiking Socks: Men , Women

Jackets

A soft shell jacket or thin fleece provides a good jacket base layer. For any trek going to high altitudes, or during colder months, you’ll want a good insulated jacket for the cold, either synthetic or down (you can buy cheap down jackets in Nepal). Finally you need a decent wind and waterproof jacket to wear on top, of or instead of these. Goretex is a good material to look for as it can handle both and is breathable. Windproofing is a good idea for high altitudes and exposed trails like the Annapurna Circuit.

It can rain even in dry seasons - unless you want to get wet then your jacket being waterproof is wise. Having some way to protect your bags from rain is a good idea too - whether that’s a waterproof cover or just a cheap poncho or similar. There isn’t much shelter on some trails especially in the barren north.

Amazon suggestions:

Men: Shell Jacket , Down Jacket , Waterproof Jacket

Women: Shell Jacket , Down Jacket , Waterproof Jacket

Hikers and porters carrying their day packs on the Annapurna trek

Hikers and porters carrying their day packs on the Annapurna trek. Photo by Jerome

More Clothing Advice

Don’t forget to try on all your layers at once before you settle on what to buy or take. If you’re going clothes shopping, wear the under-layers that you want to take and take you so you can see if the new clothes fit. Always try to go for breathable and moisture wicking fabrics if you can, they will be much more comfortable as you sweat. Finally, light-weight is key - whether it’s in your pack on on your body, you need to be able to handle all of those clothes!

Hats

On your Annapurna hike you will be going from hot periods to freezing temperatures at higher altitudes. For this reason, it’s advised to take two hats - one sun hat and one warm thermal hat (lightweight is better as you won’t need it that much). Try to make sure the back of your neck is protected by a hat or clothing - there’s lots of exposed areas and in peak seasons and winter you can get sunburned. Amazon suggestions: Merino Beanie , Wide Brim Sun Hats

Gloves - Annapurna

For high altitudes or winter, bring gloves. Thin but thermal ones are good as they’ll let you more easily use walking poles and items like cameras without having to take them off. For early mornings you will really appreciate these, and for places like the Thorong La Pass they’re vital in case of snow. Amazon suggestions: Thermal Glove Liners , Waterproof Gloves , Very Waterproof Gloves (probably best with thermal liners)

Trekking Equipment for Annapurna

Little Things

Other Optional Items

Prepare for Annapurna trek

We hope you found this comprehensive Annapurna packing list useful. Remember to check your bag weights and keep your luggage as light and compact as possible. Go for hikes at home carrying the things you will take on your trek - this will help you figure out if you are carrying too much. Go through your packing and ask yourself if you really need each item. After a week on the mountain trails you will hate yourself for having to carry anything extra! Once the tedious affair of packing is out of the way, you can relax and look forward to the trek - safe in the knowledge that you are well prepared for anything it can throw at you! Happy trails!

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