We tend towards minimalism in our everyday life, so when it came to our gear, we knew we were going to go as light as we could. As this was our first trek in Nepal, we did some research in advance to make the best decisions we could. We were happy with almost everything we had and would only make few changes to our gear lists.
Here are our choices and suggestions based on our experience of 20+ days on the road.
Final packing list:
Hiking shoes or boots. Waterproof. Worn-in.
Socks. Merino wool, 100%. Three pairs. Darn Tough.
Sandals. Something to rest your feet in the evenings.
Underwear. Three undies, two sports bras. All quick-drying.
Hiking pants. I didn’t need zip-offs but he did. Dark colour is good.
T-shirt. Lightweight merino dries quick, doesn’t stink.
Long-sleeve shirt. Mid- or light-weight. Merino didn’t stink ever.
Yoga/lounge pants. To wear around the lodge, as PJs. He preferred running shorts.
Tights/Long johns. Layering under lounge pants or under hiking pants.
Mid-weight hoodie. Mine has a built-in, lightweight, puffy vest.
Shell jacket. Water and wind proof, and lightweight.
Warm jacket. Down-filled puffy. Stuffed small. Layers with shell.
Mittens. Windproof, but able to dry fast. Mitts > gloves.
Warm hat. Something that covers your ears too.
Sun hat. Wide brim. Preferably with a string to stay in place.
Neck warmer. A thick, warm neck wrap.
Water bottle. One litre, can also be used as hot water bottle.
Water purification. Iodine works well, is lightweight, uncomplicated.
Tooth brush, paste, floss. Small, travel sizes.
Skin care. SPF 50+ that you will use, bar soap, baby wipes, hand sanitiser.
Eye care. Sunglasses, prescription glasses, daily contacts.
Foot care. Bandaids, blisterpacks, medical tape. Nail clippers.
Hair care. Hair elastics, bobby pins. Comb.
Medications. Ibuprofen, vomex/gravol, something for altitude. Prescriptions.
Electronics. iPhone, camera, battery pack, cords, adapter.
Headlamp. With fresh batteries.
Papers. Passport, permits, visa, cash. Plus a pen.
Small, waterproof bag. A 1 litre bag for electronics, papers, medication.
Sleeping bag. Just a fleece liner or minimal quilt, and rent blankets as needed. We had rented bags in Kathmandu but regretted this. See below for our ideas about all this.
Backpack. This list all fit easily into my old 28L pack.
Random extras that were used:
Safety pins for hanging clothes.
Extra ziplock bags.
Needle and thread.
Trekking map of the region.
Tampons or menstral cup.
Vitamin tablets* for flavour to cut the iodine taste, stay healthy, encourage hydration. No, these were not necessary, but we liked having them and only used about half a tablet per litre. This kind. *Follow instructions on iodine: vitamin C can stop water purification by iodine when you add it before the process is completed!
What we found to be unnecessary:
Extra shirts, extra pants. Just choose stink-proof fabrics and wash when needed.
Makeup, jewelry. No one cares what you look like. Just be clean and you're fine.
Too many electronics. You won't want to be carrying the extra lenses, cords, devices, and battery packs. One device to read, one to photograph. Done.
Towel. We brought at travel towel but lost it early on and found we didn't miss it. Between wet-wipe-showers and using your clothes to dry off, we were fine without.
Snack, candy, extra food of any kind. Every lodge along the road sells cookies and candy. Many also sell soap, batteries, hats, and lots of other small items.
Sleeping bags. Given the choice, we would either go without and use blankets at the lodges or only bring a quality, ultralight quilt. Bags were too heavy and rarely needed.
This is a tough one to keep minimal as the Manaslu trek brings you from 30°C and humid jungle to a wind-swept -17°C mountain pass. We managed happily.
Our plan: wear one outfit for walking, one for evenings/sleeping. This way, the clothes get a chance to rest, and you get a chance to spot clean or hand-wash anything as needed and can still wear the next day.
Get the right fabrics to avoid stink, and to reduce washing & drying times. If you bring just enough clothes in the right weights, you can layer just about all your clothes all at once for the coldest day of your trek (and your pack will be light!). The hardest thing is to not bring too much.
Don't bring any clothing too precious. All your clothing will smell of yak dung fires by the end of your hike, no matter how much you wash. You also don't need to buy an entire new wardrobe at great expense and
We created a budget and exchanged our Euros to Rupees at a bank in Kathmandu. Our arrangement with our guide was to pay for meals and lodges ourselves so we would need to bring enough cash to cover our daily expenses.
Our research suggested a budget of ~$25USD/day per person. In the end, we had lots of cash leftover to pay for our hotel and eating out in Kathmandu.
The average lodge bill (which included evening meal, overnight stay, and breakfast) was approximately 3,500–4,000Rs for two people. Lunch usually cost around 1,000–1,200Rs per person. Things are more expensive the more remote you are so costs will fluctuate.
One thing that may add to your lodge fees: many lodges will add a fee for the recharging of your phone, camera, and battery packs. This fee was usually no more than 1,000–2,000Rs per device.