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Thread: Trekking Hints & Tips

  1. #1
    Escher Guest

    Wink Trekking Hints & Tips

    After reading some of the advice on the "how fit for Mera" thread I thought it would be a good idea to put together a hints and tips thread to help out any prospective trekkers.

    I have done 7 treks in Nepal and a couple of climbs. I have whittled down my kit list from 22kgs the first time and I went through 17kgs, 14kgs, 24kgs (climbing) to finally 8kgs. So this list works for me (it may not for everyone). I am not taking unnecessary risks with this amount of stuff it is based upon my experience of trekking and climbing in Britain, the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Andes and Nepal and contains only the stuff I do use and nothing else, even when conditions have been bad. I would not recommend for everyone to wear trainers but I am happy carrying 30kgs in them. I find my feet are a lot less tired and more comfortable when I use trainers, but sometimes they get wet and they aren't great on snow, and for anyone without much trekking experience ankle support is very important. If you aren't used to it it is easy to turn an ankle. You might want to take more first aid stuff too and if you suffer from the cold a warmer bag and another layer.

    Also I acclimatise very fast and very well (at least so far) so I must add that the advice I have written here works for me and you use this advice at your own risk! For me the trekking is much more enjoyable with a very light pack and in trainers, that at least allows me to take two cameras, a tripod and four lenses without needing a herd of yaks to carry them!

    The trick for me is to take as many things as possible that have a dual use, 8kgs is for everything including what I am wearing (but does not include my camera equipment):-
    (I can't remember how much all this stuff weighs individually but it weighs around 8kgs including pack, 1 litre of water plus everything I am wearing including shoes)

    1) 35 litre pack - 700grms
    2) Down jacket - 850grms
    3) -5 down bag - 850grms (the coldest it has ever been in my room in a lodge outside of January/February was -5 apart from once on the Annapurna Circuit - that's from 7 treks)
    4) 2 long sleeve tops (1 merino, 1 synthetic) 300-400grms each
    5) 2 pairs merino underwear
    6) 3 pairs walking socks
    7) 3 pairs liner socks
    8) lightweight trainers (I walk in these and don't bother with boots) 350grms
    9) 1 pair lightweight trekking trousers (zip off into shorts) 200grms
    10) 1 pair schoeller mountaineering trousers (the pants I use are made by Haglofs and button down over the top of boots meaning there is no need for gaiters)
    11) 1 lightweight insulated windproof (like a RAB photon) doubles up as insulation layer and windproof - is also pretty waterproof too - these are fantastic - 350grms
    12) Warm hat
    13) pair of gloves
    14) Jag bags silk liner (very light)
    15) 1 carbon fibre pole 200grms
    16) 1 litre water bottle
    17) Aqua Mira water treatment
    18) Sunblock
    19) E45 moisturiser
    20) Anti bac handwash
    21) Toilet roll
    22) Ear plugs
    23) 1 gig MP3 player and 1 battery and headphones - 50 grms
    24) Couple of strips of ibuprofen
    25) couple of strips of aspirin
    26) Sunglasses
    27) Toothbrush and toothpaste
    28) Headtorch including batteries - 90grms
    29) Superfeet insoles for my trainers
    30) a couple of stuff sacks
    31) Notepad and pen
    32) book
    33) Map
    34) Watch (includes compass)
    35) Sometime down slippers!
    36) Passport
    37) Money
    38) Wide brimmed sun hat
    39) 2 x lip balm
    40) A little bit of travel wash
    41) Maybe a pair of scissors (lighter than a knife and can be used as a screwdriver if you have the right sort)

    I think that is it!


    1) I keep my toilet roll and handwash together in a plastic zip bag. Then I always wash my hands when I go to the loo - no germs, you don't get ill

    2) The antibac dry handwash I use requires no water and I use it all the time - all the time before eating or handling food, again no germs you don't get ill.

    3) I have one stuff sack that I keep all my stuff that I need in the lodge of an evening (toilet roll, book, hat, gloves, mp3 player, wate rtreatment, ear plugs, notepad and pen, headtorch, etc). When I arrive at a lodge I get a room, lay out my sleeping bag, change into dry clothes, put on my down jacket, grab my evening stuff sack and put on my down slippers if I have them. Then when you go into the dining room you have everything you need. I don't need to go back to the room to get my headtorch or any more warm clothing, or loo roll to go to the toilet. I can hang my clothes out to dry, kick back and relax. Read my book, listen to music, write my journal without having to go to and fro. This has taken a bit of practice though and always on the first few days of a trip I have got the list wrong and have to make a few extra trips to the room.

    4) If it is cold and the foam mattresses on the bed are a bit thin I try and get a room on my own and steal the foam mattress from the other bed to double up

    5) If it is cold, wear only thermal underwear to bed (you need to warm the bag with your body to be warm), run around or on the spot before you go to bed and get into your bag warm (you get in cold you will be cold), wear a hat and put your down jacket over the top of your sleeping bag (don't wear it)

    6) At drink stops and lunch stops, take off your shoes and socks, take out your insoles from your shoes/boots and dry them in the sun, look after your feet and they will look after you.

    7) When ascending at altitude take little steps and you will find it easier going

    8) From breakfast through to late afternoon (around 3 to 4pm) drink lots and lots (4-5 litres plus if you can). I drink a litre as soon as I get out of bed. That way you will be well hydrated but hopefully avoid having to get up in the middle of the night. Note you only know you are hydrated when your pee is clear. If it isn't keep drinking until it is.

    9) If I am having difficulty dropping off to sleep I take half a ibuprofen and it helps me to drop off (an old mountaineers trick). If you are worried at all about masking a headache and AMS then don't do it.

    10) Take half an aspirin a couple of times a day, it will help to thin your blood.

    11) Monitor your pulse rate. This is how I tell I am acclimatised. For example your resting pulse rate might be 60. Your resting, acclimatised pulse rate at altitude might be 80. Your pulse rate will increase even when resting while you are acclimatising to probably somewhere over 100. Learn how your pulse operates and you will start to work out when you are acclimatised. Here is how it works for me:-

    For instance if I trek up Namche hill to Namche, when I arrive I will check my pulse, it is normally 80 while acclimatising at this height. After 8 hours it will go down to 60. This is my resting pulse for around this height. I know at this point I am acclimatised (see above for disclaimer)!

    12) I prefer to cover up than plaster myself in sunblock. I wear a long sleeved high necked merino top and brimmed sun hat which means I don't have to put any sunblock on unless I am walking on snow. Then the reflections off the snow mean it is important to put sunblock on your face and when really high even up your nostrils! Sunburnt nostrils are no fun I can tell you!

    13) I always wrap some gaffa/duck tape around my trekking pole. You can repair everything with it from tent poles, holes in tents to treating blisters (I have done this on my own blisters as I found this stuff was the only thing that stuck to my feet, regular blister treatements didn't work for me).

    14) You may notice the lack of toiletries! Well merino wool is the secret you can wear it for weeks and you don't stink, honestly!

    I hope this is of some help to some of you.

    So come on you experienced trekkers please add you hints and tips for the newbies out there.

    Happy trekking everyone!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Default Pack Weights

    Awesome post Escher but how much does the pack weigh when you add the camera equipment ?

  3. #3
    Escher Guest

    Talking Camera equipment

    My camera kit comes to about 2.5-3 kgs if I take all of it. With my pack at 8kgs I'll take:-

    Canon Digi SLR
    Wide Angle Lens
    28-135 IS Zoom Lens
    50mm prime lens
    Remote control
    a few filters
    5 gig of cards
    4 batteries
    Compact film camera loaded with slide film
    10-12 rolls of provia/velvia
    Lowepro camera bag (has strap system that means you can wear it like a front mounted rucksack - handy for keeping snickers bars, water treatment and mp3 player in when on the move)
    Ultralight full size tripod (about 750grms) or mini ultrapod if going lightweight!

    So ironically even though I am quite good at getting my pack weight down I am terrible with my camera kit! That said I do you use it all and get a great deal out of pleasure from spending endless hours reviewing my pictures at home.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Default equipment list and advice list

    Fantastic contribution Escher. I need a bit of time to process it. It looks spot on. I like the bits of advice, good stuff!

  5. #5
    Escher Guest

    Wink Kit list

    I missed off the list a pair or two of long johns (long underwear). I normally have one pair of powerstretch and one of merino. The 2 sets of long sleeved tops I listed serves as long underwear for the top half. One dry and ready to change into, one to wear during the day, swapping them around every day.

  6. #6
    ian2u Guest

    Default Duck tape

    Terrific list.
    When you wrap it round the pole do it when the pole is warm. First time I did it was when it was fairly cold and it jambed the locking nut. Even using a vice I couldnt pull it appart, had to ram a steel rod down it and then replace both bits of the plastic lock nut. This was a Komperdell, but I suspect most are the same.
    X-Static clothes work the same as merino wool but usually wick and dry quicker.
    My Vegas are 3.6Kg! I would do better cutting the ends off my feet than off my toothbrush. Vegas plus SLs plus crampons = 7.2Kg.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Spot on!

    Great gear list & top tips. Not much can be removed from the former or added to the latter. Personally I'd ditch the ear plugs - that'd save about 5 grams. But instead I'd pack some tiger balm - great for acting feet, oh and one of those tiny LED keyring torches for when I've misplaced my headtorch, and then there is that useful [gadget] etc... and before I know it my bag is way heavier than yours.

    IMO the quality of your photo portfolio certainly justifies all that camera gear, I don't think I'd get much benefit for anything better than my point 'n' shoot 35mm camera.

    Last trek I had my duck tape wrapped around the innards of a biro = emergency pen - I used both.

    I think my boots are too heavy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Wink Photography

    Thanks Oli for the compliment, I certainly had a lot of fun taking my pictures and a lot more fun looking at them again and again when I am at home.

    You are right, I would absolutely kick myself if I didn't have the opportunity to shoot as many pictures as I have, I would have missed some of the most spectacular sights I have seen. After lugging all of my camera kit it really motivates me to always get up for dawn and climb up to a nice viewpoint every morning and evening to see the sunset and sunrise. Although it was often cold and difficult getting out of bed, the memories of the things I have witnessed are absolutely priceless. After all I can sleep in at home as much as I want (apart from having to go to work)!

    I trekked with a mate of mine once who used to get out of bed between 8-9 and never once saw the sunrise in the mountains. He didn't see the point. If only he knew what he was missing!

    Did you make it to the Kendal Film Festival? Did you see anything interesting? I have recently moved to Lancaster from Kent but didn't make it over there this year.

    Supposed to be dump of snow at the end of this week, although it might only be in the east. I am praying that we get some in the Lakes or Wales, I am desperate to get some Winter routes done!

    All the best.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK


    Amen to "amazing views" - worthy of photography. I've just had a couple of my favourites enlarged & framed, wishing I done that ages ago. But I've always been crap at early morning starts.

    Yes, the KMFF was as good as usual. I attended the Jo Brown evening, hosted by Jim Perrin with a few of the original Rock and Ice club to regale us with tales of the man was too cumudgeony to put in an appearance. Most interesting (for me) was the George Band & Doug Scott lecture on their Kanchenjunga climbs. And then Leo Houlding told us about his exploits on Cerro Torre (bonus video of him & Tim Emmet doing some crazy base jumping). But unfortunately I missed the "flight over Everest" microlight & hangliding film (9am & bad ticketing policy). Looking forward to next year already

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Another item for the list

    a small but sturdy padlock

    Useful for anyone teahouse trekking. Lodge bedrooms are typically secured by use of a small padlock, generally (but not always) supplied when you rent the room, you get one key and trust the lodge owner to have the other(s) somewhere safe.

    I have a decent combination lock - using this my roommate and I don't have to worry about which of us has the key if we wander off in opposite directions, or loosing keys etc

    Actually, this isn't really an essential item to take, and Escher's list is elegantly minimalist. I've tried hard to think of any obvious or significant suggestions and this is the best I've managed to come up with so far.

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