What clothing and equipment to take is normally caused for more consideration than any other aspect of preparing for an adventure travel trip. We regularly receive reams of advice and suggestions, good and bad, as to what equipment is needed for our trips. However, since being suitably equipped is the single most important consideration contributing to your welfare, we have provided the following information which we ask you to examine in a flexible manner, adapting it where you feel necessary to your own outdoor experience or preference. There is a fine balance between taking too much and too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate. Over the years we have seen all extremes, from trekkers who have brought everything but the kitchen sink, to others with the bare minimum. The following equipment list is suggested and necessary for both camping & trekking in the Karakoram. Use this list as a guideline; some of the equipment can be hired in Skardu as well. Also bare in mind trekking gear can be bought in the many mountaineering shops in Skardu, the majority of gear is Chinese manufactured.
The following basic checklist should help you with your packing for any of our trips. Please remember that you should always try to keep the weight of your clothing equipment down to a minimum. Your packed trek bag, should weigh no more than 15 kilograms Please remember this is just a checklist and you do not necessarily need to bring everything that is listed below. Use your own experience and judgment to make your decision.
- Light and expedition weight thermal tops
- Fleece jacket or pullover
- Fleece Wind-Stopper jacket (optional)
- Waterproof shell jacket (preferably breathable fabric)
- Lightweight thermal gloves
- Underwear (4)
- Shorts (2)
- Lightweight cotton long trousers/pants
- Light and expedition weight thermal bottoms
- Sun hat or scarf
- Warm fleece hat or light balaclava
- T-shirts (2)
- Thin, lightweight (inner socks) (4)
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees (3/4 season)
- Head lamp (eg Petzl) spare bulbs & batteries
- Small padlock to lock trek bag
- Basic First Aid Kit (see First Aid Medicine below)
- Plastic bags - for keeping items dry inside trek bag
- Daypack (35-40 litres/2500-3000 cubic inches)
- Camping mattress, eg thermarest pad
- Water bottles (2)
- Small wash towel
- Footwear appropriate to the trip
- Waterproof shell trousers/pants (preferably breathable fabric)
MOUNTAINEERING / CLIMBING CHECKLIST:
In addition to the checklists for general and trekking equipment above, and depending on the trip you have chosen, various items of mountaineering equipment may also be required, eg:
- Plastic boots and crampons (preferably step-in bindings) with front points.
- Mountaineering harness.
- Mountaineering ice-axe (60-75cms long - depending on your height and personal
- 120cms (4ft) climbing sling and two locking carabiners
- Telescopic ski-sticks (optional)
- Prussik loops
- Climbing helmet (optional)
Most if not all of this equipment will be needed for any Mashabrum Expeditions trips that crosses steep, snow-covered ground, or which includes sections of glacier travel. Our recommendation that you take no more than 15 kilos of trekking equipment does not include your plastic boots, ice axe, crampons or harness/carabineers. (During the trek, climbing hardware will be carried separately from your personal trek bag, in group bags until needed).
FIRST AID MEDICINE:
- Bandage for sprains
- Iodine or water filter (optional)
- Moleskin/Second skin - for blisters
- Antiseptic ointment for cuts
- Anti-bacterial throat lozenges (with antiseptic)
- Aspirin/paracetamol - general painkiller
- Oral rehydration salts
- Broad-spectrum antibiotic (norfloxacin or ciprofloxin)
- Anti-diarrhea medication (antibiotic)
- Diarrhea stopper (Imodium - optional)
- Antibiotic for Giardia or similar microbe or bacteria
- Diamox (altitude sickness - can be bought in Kathmandu)
- Sterile Syringe set (anti-AIDS precaution)
- For more details please see our staying healthy topic.
- Reading book
- Trail Map/Guide book
- Journal & Pen
- Travel game i.e. chess, backgammon, and scrabble
In addition to the items listed in our general checklist you will need to take the following on your trekking trip:
- Heavyweight gloves or mittens with a waterproof shell outer
- Down vest and/or jacket (optional)
- Fleece or wool trousers/pants
- Trekking/Hiking boots with spare laces
- Thick, warm wool hiking socks (4)
- Footwear for around camp, eg running shoes and/or sandals
- Gaiters (optional)
- Telescopic trekking/ski poles (optional)
- 1 medium sized quick drying towel
- Toothbrush/paste (preferably biodegradable)
- Multipurpose soap (preferably biodegradable)
- Nail clippers
- Face and body moisturizer
- Feminine hygiene products
- Small mirror
Talk about the equipment:
1) Footwear: This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of lightweight trekking boots, suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. If you are considering a trek where you are likely to encounter a couple of days of snow-covered trails, you should opt for a waterproof trekking boot - either a Gore-Tex-lined fabric boot or a leather boot. If you prefer to do your walking in a more substantial pair of leather boots, that's OK, but make sure that they are well worn-in prior to the trek. Choosing a pair of trekking boots is a very individual process, and you should be guided by your own experience and preferences. A good outdoor equipment store will be able to advise you as to the fitting of your boots. For wearing about camp and walking the easier sections of trail we recommend gym shoes or similar.
Mountaineering Footwear (Trekking Peak trips only): For modern day climbers, plastic boots are now standard equipment. They are lighter in weight, warmer and more waterproof than leather mountain boots. Also, you can sleep in the removable inner boots to ensure warm toes in the morning! Climbing and trekking at altitudes of up to 6000 meters/20,000 feet, the temperatures can be very cold indeed (as low as minus 10 degrees), and leather boots are really not suitable for these cold conditions. Plastic boots are also designed to take step-in crampons, quickly and efficiently, and this combination of plastic boots and step-in crampons is by far the most sensible option when considering a trekking peak climb. Asolo and Koflach are examples of excellent plastic boot manufacturers, and each of these companies make models of plastic boots which have been designed primarily as winter walking boots. Recommended Asolo Supersoft and Koflach Viva Soft.
Gaiters: Gaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet and snowy conditions. The simple "alpine" style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications. These "alpine" gaiters are widely available.
Socks: If you prefer to wear two pairs of socks, your inner socks should be thin cotton, wool-based or a mixture - natural fibers are best. Bring 2 pairs. If you prefer to wear a single pair of thicker socks (and some sock manufacturers are producing excellent socks which are designed to be used without a liner or inner sock) then these should also be mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort. Take 2 or 3 pairs. Thor-Lo is an example of a sock manufacturer, which markets a wide range of technically advanced trekking/walking socks.
Clothing: Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. Modern thinking supports the adoption of the principle of "layering" which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. Patagonia Capilene thermal clothing is very good and comes in three weights - lightweight, midweight and expedition weight. On top of these thermals you should add layers of fleece. Patagonia, Marmot, The North Face and many other manufacturers make a wide range of fleece garments, jackets, pullovers, pants and vests. These are generally made from Polaritic 200 and 300 fabrics, which is warm, light and quick drying. Warmer still, are the new windproof fleece garments. Extremely, if it starts to rain, or if you are making a high, cold climb or pass crossing, you will have your waterproof shell outerwear, jacket and pants, to fall back on.
Active outdoor pursuits such as trekking and climbing require protection from the chill of the wind more often than protection from rain, especially in mountain ranges. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are to be preferred for the following reason. Thermal underwear or base layers work on a 'wick-dry' principle, wicking the perspiration away from the skin to where it can evaporate without cooling the body. A non-breathable shell garment prevents this drying process from being effective, by trapping the moisture as condensation on the inside of the shell material. The enclosed thermal layers remain wet, and their insulating properties are reduced as a result. There is an enormous range of waterproof and breathable outerwear on the market. This includes technical mountaineering shells as well as simpler (and less expensive) garments which are ideal for general outdoor use and, at the same time, perfectly suited to trekking holidays.
Extremities: It is important to keep your extremities warm, and you should not neglect your head and hands when selecting the equipment for your trip. A balaclava and inner gloves are thin and lightweight and make excellent base layers for your head and hands. As additional protection, you should take a fleece hat or cap, which has earflaps, a fleece lining and a waterproof shell. You should also select a pair of warmer gloves or mittens to go over the inner gloves.
Most people will find that they will be warm enough with their thermal clothing and two layers of fleece, and then the windproof outerwear. However, on our highest trips, with camps at altitudes approaching 5000 meters/16,500 feet, a down jacket is recommended. Without doubt the best insulator in terms of warmth for weight is pure down - it is at least 100% more efficient than the best synthetics when dry. (Its performance when wet is not so good, so if you have a down sleeping bag or jacket, keep it dry!) In fact, down clothing is often too warm to wear while climbing and a lightweight synthetic jacket is ideal. On cold nights at base camp, however, a down jacket is a welcome luxury.
Sleeping bag: For any of our treks, you will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled. A mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat or you should consider the more expensive self-inflating Thermarest pads. We advise everyone to bring cotton or fleece sleeping bag liner.
Sun protection: In a land where the air temperature may be only 75 degrees, a thermometer left in the sun can reach 120 degrees, so sun protection is to be taken seriously! A wide-brimmed sunhat is a very good idea, or an Arab-type headscarf to keep the sun off your head. At altitude, the sun's rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended, such as Vuarnet PX5000, Cebe 2000/3000 or Bole Irex 100. These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection, especially from reflected glare, and you should give serious consideration to such ''glacier glasses'' for any trek which includes walking or climbing on snow. You should bring a plentiful supply of sun cream - a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity) for lower down, and some total block (factor 15-20) for above the snowline. Lip salve of a suitable filter factor is also necessary.
(A) Daypacks for trekking: A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) Fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks, gym shoes. c) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) Camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your daypack before leaving home.
(B) Daypacks for climbing trips: 3000-4000 cubic inches. For climbing trips, you will be required to carry more warm clothing during the climbs and also your personal climbing gear. For this reason, you will need a slightly bigger daypack than for a trekking-only trip. If you have any questions about gear, please do not hesitate to telephone our office for advice.
MOUNTAIN BIKING CHECKLIST:
The following basic equipment checklist should help you with your packing. Please remember that you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment down to a minimum. This is just a check-list. We are not asking you to bring everything on this list; much will depend on personal preference. As a general rule, cyclists will need similar clothing to trekkers. The one additional item is good quality padded cycling shorts (loose and baggy, as previously discussed).
- Cycling helmet
- Fleece headband (to keep your ears warm)
- Lightweight long sleeved thermal shirt
- Lightweight windproof biking jacket
- T-shirts (3)
- Padded cycling shorts - baggy style
- Underwear (4 pairs)
- Lightweight trekking boots
- Camelback or 2 x 1 liter water bottles & cages
- Sleeping bag
- Small padlock & spare keys
- Fingerless biking gloves
- Waterproof (breathable) jacket
- Fleece jumper (eg Polartec 200)
- Light weight ‘trekking style’ pants
- Warm cycling tights
- Socks (4 pairs)
- Cycling shoes
- Spare laces
- Small towel
- First aid kit (See first Aid medicine above)
- Head lamp eg. Petzl Zoom (spare bulb & battery)
- 4 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in kitbag)
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