After arriving at your guesthouse hot and sweaty from the day’s uphill climb, you peel off your carefully worn in hiking boots and start to undress. A few baby wipes, a sink of cold water and a change of clothes have you feeling refreshed and as your tummy starts to growl you grab your book, slip on your socks and sandals and head to the dining area. You settle in on a bench and place your order for dinner as the yak dung/wood burning stove begins to warm up the room. “What time you want eat?” Soon, please.
Trekking: you’re doing it right.
I did a lot of research prior to my rather arduous trek to Everest base camp in Nepal in November and I felt pretty prepared. Based on my experiences, I’d like to share some tips which should really apply regardless of where in the world you are trekking. I hope this helps you, cause who doesn’t like doing it right the first time?
1. Warm pajamas. Yes, you’ve got a warm sleeping bag, but is your room/tent heated? Didn’t think so. I recommend bringing pajamas that you feel comfortable wearing in public so they can double as your evening wear. Something sweat wicking is ideal for comfort. The one thing I really wished I’d brought for the evening is sweatpants. Comfy, cozy sweatpants may not have been the most practical clothing item but they would have really made my day (day after day after day). It didn’t cross my mind until I was on the trail that I’d need a separate set of warm clothes for the evening cause it can get pretty darn cold after dark when you’re up in a mountain range.
2. Baby wipes. It’s been said before and I’m saying it again: this is the best possible shower you can have on the trail. Whether or not hot showers are available, how will you survive the shock of the hot water timing out and being left standing dripping wet in minus 10C weather? Freezing cold running water is usually available for washing but to be honest it’s not easy washing with water that contains icicles. Trust me. Baby wipes are the way to go. They’re sanitary, they won’t freeze overnight and they come in resealable packs. What more could you want?
3. Sandals. Flip-flops even. This may seem counterintuitive after my talk of the cold weather, but your feet have spent all day laced up in hiking boots and trekking over punishing terrain. The last thing you want to do is put on a shoe that rubs in the same places. Choose your night wear wisely. The key here is evening socks. Your clean, cold, tender feet will appreciate a pair of clean, warm, soft socks. After the socks, it’s your choice of a sandal, flip-flops, or a comfy walking shoe. Noting that socks alone may not keep your feet warm. This is the only time I would advocate for wearing socks and sandals together (i.e. in dire straits).
4. Layers. If you didn’t already know this, then you should really rethink if you’re ready to trek. As a reminder, the basic principles of layering involve a body hugging base layer that wicks sweat, a fleecy middle layer that traps heat and a relaxed outer layer that is water and wind proof. What I’d like to recommend is that you seriously consider merino wool as your base layer. It’s great for many reasons but the thing that distinguishes it from a synthetic is it’s antibacterial properties. i.e. you can wear it a long time before it starts to smell. This is great for if you want to make friends on the trail or just generally be around people. I particularly recommend Icebreaker merino wool as it’s the softest I could find.
Do you have any tips to add for comfort while trekking?
NOTE: this is not meant to be a comprehensive packing list for trekking. This is meant to be in addition to a list of “must-haves” like you’ll find included in Alan Arnette’s Everest trekking advice