When it comes to your choice of hiking gear, some adventures are more forgiving than others. However, for an undertaking like the Everest Base Camp Trek there are a few items we wouldn’t recommend compromising on. These are not limited to, but include: footwear, back packs and thermal underwear.
Since you will be hiking for at least 12 days in rugged terrain, you will want to make sure you have the best choice in footwear. When we did the Everest Base Camp Trek, we saw a few people doing the trek wearing sneakers and sandals. It could be that they had proper hiking shoes stuffed away somewhere in their back packs, but we wouldn’t recommend sneakers or sandals for this trek. The conditions could change quickly and you might find yourself walking in snow or freezing water when you did not expect to.
For any trip where you could encounter snow, water or other obstacles, you really want to make sure that your feet are properly protected. You also want to make sure you have shoes that are not worn out yet. The last thing you want is to be somewhere in the middle of the mountains and in need of new shoes.
It is also important that you walk new shoes ‘in’ before you go on a long trek. By the time your trip starts, you need to be acquainted with, and comfortable in your shoes.
For the Everest Base Camp Trek Hank got the “Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Multifunctional Hiking Boots”, and Lynn got the “Salomon Women’s X Ultra Mid Aero W Hiking Boots”.
These shoes are robust and water resistant, whilst breathable at the same time. They do provide an impressive grip in all terrains and all surfaces you will encounter on your hike. Once you have walked them in, they are really comfortable too. Keep in mind that the terrain includes small stones that easily roll under your feet, and although your shoes might have good grip, it is advisable to consider a shoe with a raised ankle to support your ankles in that terrain. You will also be doing some boulder hopping…
There are other hiking shoes which might be just as good, but after trying various brands we fell in love with these shoes and highly recommend them.
If you are unsure about which shoe size to get, it helps to get assistance in-store. However, for educational purposes only we can say that Hank who usually wears a size 8UK got a size 9 and a half UK in this boot. The reason for the slightly larger shoe is to accommodate thick hiking socks. With the thicker socks the boots fit nice and tight as hiking shoes should.
A backpack is just a backpack, right? Actually, your choice of backpack can make a huge difference to your hike. If you go hiking with a good backpack you might not necessarily remember the hike for the backpack. However, a hike with the wrong backpack might be remembered for all the wrong reasons, especially if you are doing longer hikes.
For the Everest Base Camp trek we loved our 48 liter Osprey Backpacks. These backpacks are perfect for the Everest Base Camp trek for the following reasons:
For longer treks the 48 liter bags should be an adequate size if you have a porter who will carry some of your gear in a duffel bag. It is not uncommon to change your clothing often during the day, and this bag will allow you to carry a variety of layers of clothing, snacks as well as anything else you might need during the day. For day hikes you might want something smaller, and for hikes where you don’t have a porter you might want something bigger.
With frames made from 6065 aluminum alloy, these backpacks allow you to add all the items you need without having to worry about the weight of the backpack too. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of the lightweight frames either, as they do provide excellent support.
These backpacks have sewn-in hip belts which are extremely well designed. They allow for a comfortable fit around your waist, which takes some of the pressure off from your back and shoulders. They also come with adjustable straps to allow for an even more comfortable fit. With the straps you can adjust how the backpack fits while you walk. This allows for a seamless load transfer and you can endure the weight of your backpack on difficult hikes for longer.
Dependent on personal preference, pockets on the shoulder straps and hip belt, or reachable pockets on the sides, come in very handy as they make things more accessible while you are walking. It’s much easier to be able to reach for a snack or rain coat while you are in motion, instead of having to stop and take off your backpack every time.
As with hiking shoes, you need to become acquainted with and comfortable wearing your backpack. It is best to fit one on in a store before you make an online purchase. What worked for us might not be the best choice for you.
Once you have your backpack, ensure you go on a few hikes to understand how your backpack works. Getting “in tune” with your backpack is key to a comfortable hike.
There is actually an art to packing a backpack. If you are unsure how to pack your backpack correctly, we highly recommend reading more articles or watching YouTube videos on ‘how to pack your backpack’. Look out for information on the importance of weight distribution and where the center of gravity of your loaded backpack is.
A successful trek in the Himalayas has a lot to do with the layers of clothing you take with, and this definitely includes thermal underwear. These are essential for cold nights as well as hiking where you are exposed to a chill factor!
Good thermal underwear is your first line of defense when it comes to the layers you choose to wear. While you might change the outer layers frequently during the day, your choice of thermal underwear will determine your overall comfort.
The range of thermal underwear is big, and here you will have to do your own research to determine what will work best for you. However, for comfort during the day and night, we would recommend thermals that are seamless and without a rubber elastic, as these could easily cause chafing or a rash.
Since you will want to take a few pairs, the choice usually comes down to the price you can afford. There are some thermals who are extremely expensive, but you don’t have to be put off by price. There are some really good thermals in the lower range of the price spectrum too. Whether you get cheap or more expensive ones, we highly recommend good thermals and would strongly advocate for it.
Almost just as important as the correct hiking shoes are hiking socks. The shoe(s) and sock(s) need to work together to give you a tight but comfortable fit. When the shoes and socks don’t work together you will more easily end up with painful blisters. This is something you really want to avoid, especially on long treks like the Everest Base Camp trek.
As with the thermal underwear there is no particular sock we recommend. However, customer satisfaction ratings help to make a more informed choice.
When it comes to sunglasses for your hike, you don’t need the most expensive ones on the market. You don’t need the coolest looking glasses either. Rather, in addition to UV protection there are 4 requirements, in our opinion, that need to be met.
Probably the most important thing about sunglasses is they should protect your eyes from the wind. Most glasses leave gaps on the sides, which might prove to be problematic if you end up hiking in wind for long periods of time.
If you are constantly exposed to wind and cold, your eyes could dry and the hike could become extremely uncomfortable.
Chances are your glasses will fall a few times during your trek. Ensure your glasses are robust and shock resistant. The last thing you want is to have your glasses rendered useless while in the middle of your trek. Many trekkers take an extra pair with them just in case.
A head belt is a must as this will prevent the glasses from falling to the ground, should they slip down.
Okay, this one is less important than the others. However, polarized lenses will enhance your experience of nature. If you have never seen what polarized lenses can do for you, go to a shop and compare them to other glasses that are not polarized. The difference is amazing.
Trekking poles, when used correctly, are amazing to assist you during your trek. Perhaps the most important thing about trekking poles is to know how to actually use them. If you have never used trekking poles before, our first recommendation is to search for example videos on how to use trekking poles on YouTube.
There are a few brands and they all offer more or less the same functionality with some variation on the theme. Again, we don’t recommend a specific brand and it helps to read customer reviews. However, we do recommend that you don’t go hiking without trekking poles. When used correctly they are a great help.
Buffs & Head Bands
For any trek you should always use a buff. For colder treks you should always use a head band. Buffs help to protect your nose and throat from dust and cold winds. They also help to dry up sweat quickly.
Head bands help to inhibit temperature loss. They also help to keep sweat from your face and eyes.
These are small items to add to your gear equipment, but they are essential.