I’ve done nine treks in Nepal, but packing for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek was a little trickier than I anticipated. This region has completely banned plastic water bottles and has banned wood burning fire. This means that the teahouses are even colder than other areas and I found myself without thermals, a sleeping bag, or extra layers. Even in April, we were chilly and I imagine those going in October or November would be freezing. Below is my Annapurna Base Camp packing list which includes the things I wish I’d brought with me (like warmer clothes).
Annapurna Base Camp Backpack & Storage
Pro Tip: Take everything you want to pack out one week in advance. Lay it all out somewhere easy to see. Each day before the trek, go over what you packed and see if you really need it. If you pack at the last minute, you’ll likely add impulse items that are heavy and unnecessary.
I have the 40L Alchemist Bag from Eddie Bauer. It’s water resistant, has a tough outer shell that doesn’t rip easily, and is big enough to hold everything I need for a 4-12 day trek. I don’t recommend taking a bag over 55L because typically when you have more room, you fill it up with unnecessary stuff.
Mudder Waterproof Bags
Even though my bag is water resistant, it will get wet in a downpour, so I always have waterproof bags to store electronics and important documents like my insurance papers and wallet.
I’m a huge fan of packing cubes and can’t live without them. When trekking, you need to unpack and pack every day in a room without a dresser or table. Therefore, having everything in neat little cubes makes it easier. You just take out the cube you need rather than unpacking every single item in your bag.
Single use plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, and have been banned in the Annapurna Conservation Area. Please bring a reusable water bottle and a water purification method to help reduce waste in the mountains.
Backpack Rain Cover
This is a must if your backpack isn’t waterproof. Many backpacks are water resistant but won’t stay dry in a downpour.
Plastic Bag for Laundry
I bring a simple grocery store plastic bag for laundry to keep it separate from my other clothes. I only put dirty underwear in it as the larger items like pants and shirts will be worn more than once. A plastic bag adds no weight and doesn’t take up any room.
ABC Clothes & Accessories
You will need a warmer layer at night and in the mornings when you are at higher altitudes. Along the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, the locals are not allowed to burn firewood ,so there are no fires in the teahouses to keep you warm at night. You’ll probably have all of your clothes on at MBC and ABC. I’m obsessed with my Microtherm coat. It’s super warm, lightweight and packs down small. I just got Suraj one and he couldn’t believe how warm it was.
Have a fleece jacket with you and keep it towards the top of your bag. Even in warm weather, when you trek, you get sweaty. And when you sweat, your clothes get wet which causes a chill. Have your fleece handy for tea breaks. You can also sleep in this at night if it’s cold. Plus, you can wear it around the teahouses in the evening.
Raincoat / Poncho
Another item to have at the top of your bag is a raincoat. In the mountains, you never know when it’ll rain and when it starts, you don’t want to have to pull everything out of your bag to find it. We did the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in April and it rained almost every day. If your bag isn’t waterproof, you’ll want a rain cover for that as well.
Quick Dry T-Shirts (2)
Two t-shirts are important because if one gets sweaty or wet, it might not dry by the next morning. So, you can rotate wearing these. I usually wear one during the day and then switch into the other when we arrive at the teahouse so that my shirt isn’t wet and I don’t get a chill.
Quick Dry Long Sleeve Shirt
I carried one long sleeve quick dry shirt with me as well. I used this when we were at a higher altitude, including the day we hiked to ABC. We opted not to hike early for the sunrise, so it wasn’t too cold, but it was windy.
Lightweight Trekking Pants (2)
I love the pants I have from Eddie Bauer because they are light and have UV protection, so you don’t get too hot wearing them. I like to have two pairs to rotate between on treks that are more than four days.
Thermal Base Layer
I was trying to pack extra light and didn’t pack my thermals. This trek isn’t too high in altitude, but there are no wood burning stoves on the route so the teahouses get cold at night. I regretted not packing my thermals and was kind of embarrassed I made a rookie mistake. Make sure to take thermals. Even at 4,000m it’s cold!
Buff / Scarf
Buffs are a great alternative to scarves because they take up very little room and keep you warm. You can also use it as a mask for protection from dust. I like this one because it is thin enough to breathe through and keep you warm at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend a fleece one as they are too hard to breathe through.
Short Hiking Socks (2)
Socks tend to get wet during treks. Whether it rains, you walk through a river, or you sweat a lot, my socks rarely dry in time for the next morning. So having two allows me to rotate them and keeps my feet dry.
Long Hiking Socks
I save these to sleep in so that I don’t have to wear dirty socks to bed at night. I also used these to go up to Annapurna Base Camp as it was cold that day.
I am obsessed with my La Sportiva boots. As someone who hikes a lot, I invested in these as they will last years. They have great ankle support and good traction. Any hiking boots you get should be treated with Nikwax once a year to ensure they are waterproofed. These shoes have already been with me on several high altitude treks and they are holding up great!
A summer hat is a must. I recommend something made with quick dry material as it will get sweaty. You can also find hats with UV protection which is great.
You’ll want a warm winter hat for the higher altitudes and for the trek to ABC. I also sleep with mine if it’s freezing at night.
Polarized sunglasses are necessary for daily wear. Parts of this trek have no cover from trees. On a sunny day, you are completely exposed to the elements. There are also sections with snow, and at altitude, it can be blinding because the sun is so strong, so polarized lens’ are important.
Gloves are necessary if you plan to do any early morning trekking or if you go in the winter. The winds are strong by ABC so these will come in handy. I prefer a thin glove.
I like a long sleeve oversized cotton shirt and a pair of leggings, but whatever you are comfortable in will work. Long sleeves and long pants are nice because it gets cold at night and the rooms in teahouses aren’t well insulated and have no heat.
I hate doing laundry when I trek, so I pack a pair for each day. Doing laundry isn’t so difficult, but if they don’t dry by the time you leave in the morning, you have to hang them on the outside of your bag which isn’t ideal. Our itinerary was for 8 days so I packed 8 pairs of underwear.
Sports Bras (2)
I have one bra to wear during the day, and one to change into once we arrive so that I’m not wearing a sweaty one as it gets cold at night.
I have a pair of lightweight flip flops. These aren’t necessary; however they make life a lot easier. When you get to a teahouse, it feels so good to kick off your hiking boots. Also, it’s much easier to pee at night because you don’t have to lace up your boots. You can also wear them in the shower.
Annapurna Base Camp Toiletries
Pro Tip: Think about the weight of every item when you choose it. On my first trek, I packed a full sized toothpaste, a heavy hairbrush, and so many excessive items. Find the lightest and smallest version of everything.
This route has some decent showers, but I usually carry wet wipes just in case I can’t take a shower. I forgot to bring them on this trek and missed having them. I recommend decomposable ones to lessen your footprint.
Quick Dry Towel
A small microfiber towel is a must if you plan to shower on the way. These dry incredibly fast and pack into a small space.
I like Badger Bug Balm which is a natural bug repellent. It’s a solid stick, so it won’t spill in your bag and it works very well!
Some of this trek takes place on a path with no coverage from trees. Make sure to have an SPF 50 that is sweat resistant. The sun is stronger at altitude and can leave you with bad burns if you aren’t careful. Use sunscreen every day, even if the sun isn’t out.
Bring a small travel sized tube of toothpaste, a travel sized toothbrush and floss.
There isn’t always soap available by bathrooms, so be sure to have hand sanitizer.
We always carry a tiny vaseline with us. Trekking has an interesting way of chapping one’s lips and nostrils. On one trek, the combination of the strong sun and freezing cold winds left my nose looking like I had a severe burn for weeks. We apply vaseline multiple times a day to avoid this.
Pack a small travel sized deodorant.
Roll of Toilet Paper
You will not be provided with toilet paper so bring your own. One roll per person is enough for this trek. You can buy toilet paper in the mountains, but it’s more expensive (about $3.00 USD a roll)
It’s hard to find pads in the mountain and impossible to find tampons in Nepal, so bring what you need with you. I’m usually a big supporter of Diva cups, but it’s hard to wash them properly on trekking routes.
Bring hair ties and a lightweight travel hairbrush (or comb). Don’t make the mistake of packing a heavy brush.
Bring a small travel sized bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. If you bring soap, make sure to have a plastic zip lock bag to store it in after using it.
Annapurna Base Camp First Aid
Traveler’s diarrhea is a major problem in Nepal. We always carry several tablets with us and even if you don’t need it, someone in your group probably will.
Activated charcoal is great for treating food poisoning. I always bring about 10 tablets with me. Talk to a doctor before you take this as it is strong enough to cancel out some prescription medications.
Dehydration is common at altitude, so be sure to have electrolytes. I like Nuun the best because they taste good. You can buy electrolytes in Nepal, but the taste is kind of gross.
Ankle / Knee Support
I have a bad knee and ankle so I use a brace for the downhill sections. This makes my life exponentially easier and helps manage the pain.
Basic First Aid
Have an array of items including band aids, Neosporin, antibacterial creams, etc. On our last trek, Suraj slipped on a wet rock and got a big gash in his knee. Luckily, I had gauze, antibacterial powder, a large band-aid, and some medical tape to fix him up.
Water Purification Tablets
Water in Nepal is not potable. This means you cannot drink it. Plastic water bottles are banned from the Annapurna Conservation Area. Therefore, you need a water purification system. Water tabs take up the least amount of room and are the most affordable.
I bring a good multivitamin with me on all treks to avoid getting a cold.
I always bring an antibiotic for food poisoning just in case. Talk to your doctor about when to use it.
There are almost no pharmacies in the mountains, so be sure to have all prescription drugs with you when you head out.
The common cold can hit you anywhere. Have a few days’ worth of cold medicine with you. On every single trek I’ve been on, I’ve given at least one person cold medicine. Do not use nighttime medicine at high altitudes as they can affect your breathing which is already affected by low oxygen levels in the air.
I don’t use pain killers, but I always have these in case of an emergency. This is another item that I’ve given to someone else on every single trek I’ve done.
Electronics for Annapurna Base Camp
Camera & Charger
I bring a professional camera with me for work, however, it’s heavy to carry. If you aren’t into photography, I’d recommend just using your phone camera.
Phone & Charger
This probably goes without saying. You likely won’t have service, but can you really go anywhere without your phone these days?
To charge a device, you’ll need to pay between $1.00 to $3.00 USD. This goes for phones, cameras, power banks, etc. It’s best if you have a power bank because you can charge that one time and then use it to charge all your other devices for a few days.
You’ll need a local SIM card to make your phone work in Nepal. You can read my post on SIM cards to see which one you will want. NTC had better service most of the time. SIM Cards in Nepal
Maps.me is a free phone app that has all the trekking trails on it. This is great as a backup if you get lost. Make sure to download it before starting the trek as you need a good wifi signal to download the map. The Annapurna Base Camp trekking route is shown clearly on maps.me.
Many of the teahouses in the area have electricity and indoor bathrooms, but electricity isn’t always guaranteed. You’ll need a headlamp to go to the bathrooms at night. If you decide to do a sunrise trek, you’ll also need one for that. And, worst case scenario, if you don’t reach the village in time, you may need to walk in the dark. Hopefully that won’t happen.
You’ll likely need an adapter to charge things. This one is lightweight compared to chunkier options.
Kindle / Book
I take a Kindle Paperwhite with me on every trek. I like that it’s lightweight, holds a charge that lasts me days (if not weeks), and it has a backlit screen which is perfect for reading if there’s a power outage or poor lighting. There is a lot of downtime at the teahouses, so you’ll want some form of entertainment.
Don’t like carrying a book or Kindle? You can try audible. Sign up for a 30-day free trial and get two books free by clicking the banner below! If it’s not for you, you can cancel any time.
Annapurna Base Camp Snacks
You can buy everything you need on this route, but chocolate is expensive. I recommend bringing some with you in case you need a little sugar to get moving.
There are plenty of places to stop for snacks, but for some reason, it’s impossible to find protein bars or trail mix on the way. These are great for eating at tea breaks and in between meals.
Other Items Needed for ABC
I needed trekking poles for this route. The downhills are steep and I have a bad knee and ankle. Trekking poles help take the weight off when descending.
I almost never recommend a sleeping bag, but this trek is the exception. Since there are no fires in the teahouses, it’s cold at night. During peak trekking season, this route often runs out of beds. That means you may find yourself sleeping in the dining area. In that case, a sleeping bag is necessary.
This area tends to accumulate snow and ice. Especially between MBC and ABC. Having crampons will help you walk without slipping and sliding. Especially if you plan to do a sunrise hike.
Annapurna Base Camp Trekking Map
I always keep a map of the area. It’s fun to take it out each night and go over tomorrow’s route, see the altitude gains, and plan lunch breaks. You can buy one in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Make sure to bring money in small denominations (1,000, 500, 100, and 50) to make it easier for teahouse owners. If you only carry 1,000 rupee notes, it will be difficult to get change when you pay your bill.
An Annapurna Conservation Area Permit is required for this trek. You can get it in Kathmandu at the Nepal Tourism Board Office.
Copy of Passport/Visa
Always have a copy of your passport and visa with you in case of an emergency.
Have a copy of your trekking insurance with you. Consider getting travel insurance because you never know when something will go wrong. This route has no road access and rescues are done by helicopter which is expensive. Because of the altitude gains on this route and poorly written information telling people they can do the trek in three days, this route has a high helicopter rescue rate.
Are you headed out on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.