As you read this post, I am somewhere on a mountain trail probably struggling to catch my breath. Yes, Jason and I are on a quest to reach Base Camp on an Action Challenge Everest Base Camp trek. We are raising money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in the process, and have raised just over £8,000 at the time of writing. We are desperate to hit £10,000 before we pack up our fundraising boots!
If you can find it in your heart to sponsor us, please head to our Just Giving Page. Please provide us with some much-needed motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Our Everest Base Camp trek involves 115 km of hiking, 2,940 metres of climbing and a loss of 50% of oxygen. Just saying!! Then there is a serious lack of toilets, hot running water, electricity, hard beds, sleeping beds and a distinct lack of Starbucks and wine! What the hell have I let myself in for?
The Everest Base Camp trek kit list
When you sign up for an Everest Base Camp trek, you receive a kit list. This kit list is long! In fact, it is so long it takes up four full pages of A4. Yet, we only have a weight allowance of 15kg (including our sleeping bag) for the flight to Lukla. Surely that list defies the laws of physics?! That list has been a source of much stress. Which items do I take that are not on the list? Which do I not take that are on the list? How does some of this stuff work? Will it stay waterproof? I think you get the picture.
I have been through 4 pairs of boots trying to find a pair that suit me and that are waterproof, comfortable and do not give me calf cramps. Lots of money and pain!
Help for hapless hikers
So today’s post is aiming to help other hapless hikers who may be considering a trip to Everest Base Camp. If you find the kit list a severe headache (even before altitude sickness kicks in!) read on my darlings. I will try to help you out.
Our EBC trek Kit list
We booked our trip with Action Challenge and here is the EBC Kit List that they provided. In honesty, we have got almost everything on the list although I’ve improvised with some stuff. By that, I mean I’m using some of my ski stuff which should achieve the same purpose.
I am however sharing some hard-learned lessons that might help you suffer less stress in your preparation.
The most important tip – boots
Boots proved to be an utter nightmare for me. I previously used a pair of hiking shoes, but as these were not waterproof, I had to buy a new pair. Furthermore, the kit list makes a point of talking ankle support. I spent £130 on a pair of Salomon hiking boots and they gave me hell. The additional height really hurt my calves, making walking painful after short distances. Not a good start for a hike to Everest Base Camp.
After trying several walks in them, I had to admit defeat and purchased another equally expensive mid-height boot. This one proved slightly less painful on the calf but sadly could not cope with wet conditions at all. Back to the shop it went.
By this time, I was starting to panic as we only started wearing in our boots three months in advance of the trip and I was beginning to stress that I would not find a pair of shoes to suit me. Finally, I opted for another pair of Salomon boots with a lower drop and lesser weight. I don’t think I’m going to be pain-free but I think this may be as good as it gets.
Top tip: Get your boots as soon as possible after you book onto a EBC trek. Then wear the hell out of them.
This way, you have time to deal with any such difficulties. Of course, if you do not have any difficulties you simply have more time to wear them in. This will avoid a last-minute panic as I endured.
I highly recommend taking the daypack you plan to use in Nepal and hiking with it in the UK. This will allow you to test it in wet conditions and become familiar with the organisation of your pack. If the temperature is minus 10, do you really want to be spending longer than necessary without gloves trying to get things out of your bag? I also tried it with a variety of clothing and discovered that short strappy tops were not a good mix as the bag rubbed my shoulders.
I bought a Mountain Warehouse Endeavour and absolutely love this bag. It has convenient little pockets on the waist belt plus lots of other pockets. It has a wet cover for poor weather and is surprisingly comfortable to wear (notwithstanding my point above about strappy tops). Despite packing it with water and power banks, it feels surprisingly light due to the design which spreads the weight evenly across your back.
One of the items on your trek is a Camelbak. No instructions come with the water pack so do not leave it until you are in the mountains to test this vital piece of kit. Get it out and get used to setting it up, filling it and installing it in your bag. When you are cold and uncomfortable, you do not want the additional stress of trying to figure this out. You also do not want to be holding up other people by keeping them waiting in the morning.
The other benefit of testing it in advance was that I discovered that I loved this kit. It is a damn site easier than fiddling with a water bottle when you can simply sip at will.
When you look at the amount of gear on the kit list and the size of your backpack, you wonder whether your expedition company is playing a joke on you. Is my backpack magical you wonder? Is Mary Poppins meant to pack this?
I don’t recommend leaving your packing until the last minute. Start practising packing and unpacking at least a few weeks before departure. You want this to be second nature even if you are feeling terrible on the mountain when you start to feel the effects of altitude.
It pains me to say this, but leave your camera at home. Everest Base Camp is a potentially hostile environment for your camera and it will take up additional bulk and weight. You will also be potentially concerned for its security and it may be difficult to operate in thick gloves. We left (begrudgingly) the camera at home and are using our phones alone.
Additions you may like for Everest base camp
In addition to the items on our Everest Base Camp Trek kit list, we also opted for some additional items. When we return I will be able to update you on whether these were worthwhile purchases.
A blow up mattress. This baby takes up little space and I hope it allows me to sleep better than I would otherwise. If Nepalese beds are anything like those in India, I imagine sleep could be in short supply. Given we need our energy and emotions intact, sleep is something I am keen to facilitate in any way possible. I have heard beds in Nepal described as little more than planks and blankets so I am not taking any risks.
Anker Power Core – as we hope to be able to share the details of our trip on the blog, power for our devices is essential during our stay. Often hikers in Nepal have to pay for electricity and to avoid this, we opted for power banks which can recharge our phones several times. We may need to charge the charger but at least we will noy be paying for power every day.
Solar charger – at the time of writing, I have no idea whether this will turn out to be fabulous or a flop. It is reasonably heavy but easily hooks onto the zip on your day back and seems to stay in place without becoming annoying. It handily also has a flashlight and the idea is that it can use the sun’s energy to charge. We have had little chance to use it so far so cannot yet say how successful it is. Watch this space!
Probiotics. A number of people have suggested I take these and anything that potentially helps prevent a major disaster (not sure toilets will be in ready supply should the worst occur) is a good idea in my book.
Flipflops. After walking hours in boots with hot, sweaty feet, a chance to air those tootsies might not be a bad idea.
Other kit (that I love)
Waterproof jacket – I love this jacket because it has a little peak above the hood. Yes, you may look marginally like a strange bird but that peak really helps to deflect torrential rain. You can also loosen or tighten the hood depending on how windy it is.
Hiking boots – this boots are definitely waterproof and they look gorgeous. I have not tested them enough to say they won’t cause problems for my calves but early indications were promising.
Degbit water bottles – I love these bottles as they come in a variety of colours, have a lovely texture, a carry strap and filter inside the top. Since I got my first one last Christmas, it has gone virtually everywhere with me. They are great accessories any time and can help you to stay hydrated with the useful reminders on the bottle.
Merino wool thermals – these thermals were great value and could double up for evening relaxation wear.
Keenflex mummy sleeping bag – this bag is supposed to be good to minus 5.
When I’m back from EBC in a few weeks, I will provide an update about kit but in the meantime, please wish me luck. I have no idea whether this is going to test me to the limit or make me want to quit my job and become a explorer.