Now I have gone on multiple treks by now. I have been to Roopkund, Goechala and Chadar, in that order (and in under a month of posting this, I would have been to Hampta Pass too). The one this that made me work the most was the trekking equipment list when I was preparing for the first trek. The trekking gear also happens to be the one thing that will change the most as you go from one trek to another and can be a massive drain on the pocket. I know it drained my inexperienced pocket quite a bit when I gathered my equipment for the first time.
But, before I get on to what I take with me I have to warn you about one thing. If your first trek is going to be your only trek then don’t try to buy all the stuff. You can rent or borrow most of what you will need. If you do decide on going for more than one trek, here is what I think you can go with.
List of equipment
Now when it comes to backpacks, you will need something that can carry at least 60 liters or more. I checked out backpacks offered by both of them and found decathlon to be the better choice.
The quality of these two brands is impeccable but the prices are wildly different, and so are the choices. The Wildcraft backpack (65 lit) will set you back over Rs. 7,000 where are you can get a 70 liter rucksack for much less than Rs. 7,000. I use the Quechua Forclaz 70 and it has been on 4 treks now (3 with me, 1 with a friend) and it’s still going strong.
2. Walking sticks
You will need two of these. Even though the recommended minimum is 1 for this, I would advise you to take 2. I have one from Wildcraft but I am not completely satisfied with it since it has a tendency of closing as you walk. This is because of the design of the clasp that holds the 3 parts of the stick in place.
The other options for you would be to buy it from Decathlon which offers ranges from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 per stick. The designs are better and the quality is also good so you can easily go with the Decathlon product.
3. Dry sacks
For those of you who don’t know, these are waterproof bags that you can pack your stuff in before putting it in the backpack. I got mine from Wildcraft and they are absolutely amazing. The combination I use is one 15 liter bag and 2 10 liter bags.
I use the 15 liter bag to keep my warm clothes in and the 10 liter bags for the rest of the stuff. One 10 liter bag is for t-shirts, pants and undergarments. The other one is used to keep toiletries, chargers, batteries, gloves, warm caps, etc. All together, they account for 80% of what’s in my bag and can be packed neatly and easily. More importantly, they can also be accessed easily since each bag has a dedicated purpose.
These are not exactly cheap, at least good ones not, but they are worth the price you pay. Mine cost me a total of about Rs.1,500 but that was because I bought them individually. These days you can get combo packs on Amazon for about Rs. 1,000.
Tip: They can also serve as pillows if you are not carrying one. 😛
The idea of the pants is that they need to be purpose built. Don’t trek in cargo pants or jeans because they won’t be as comfortable. What you need is to take trekking pants or track pants. I use 2 trekking pants from Decathlon and a track pant from Fila.
Tip: You don’t need the trekking pants. Take 3 track pants and they will be comfortable enough to carry you through even a 2 week long trek.
This is the simplest thing to get. The best thing to do is to carry at least 2 t-shirts. The best type would be a quickdry one but even cotton t-shirts will do fine, even though they don’t dry as quickly. They should also be full sleeved t-shirts.
Tip: Buy one that is one size too big because you when you put on thermal inners under the t-shirt, it will remain comfortable to wear. If it’s too fitting, you will feel constricted and uncomfortable.
6. Thermal wear (inner and outer layers)
The thermal clothing (except the jacket; we’ll speak of jackets later) will consist of caps and scarves. The kit I use in this category all comes from Decathlon.
a. Balaclava: This will be very helpful in covering your entire head so take at least 1. Actually you won’t need more than one, so one is enough. You can buy one made of fleece.
b. Skull cap: You can take one of these too as it helps when you don’t want a balaclava around your head but still want the head to stay covered. A fleece skull cap is again recommended here.
c. Neck gaiter: Remember the time when we all roamed around with scarves or mufflers around our necks? Well this is the less cumbersome version of a scarves and a fleece one would keep your neck nice and warm.
When it comes to gloves, I have 3 pairs, all of which are from decathlon. I have two pairs of fleece gloves that have a bit of a rubber patch on the plan to help grip the walking stick. Apart from these two pairs, I also have a pair of Oxylane gloves from decathlon. These are padded gloves meant for temperatures that regular fleece gloves can’t protect against. They are also quite durable and can easily handle some rough treatment without tearing and they are also water resistant.
Now THIS is an area where I made a big big mistake. The first time I went for a trek, I took a padded Adidas jacket and was freezing in it because it was not meant for such temperatures. Thankfully for the second trek I had an HRX jacket and it was plenty warm but not quite there because it is not waterproof. Then I finally upgraded to a jacket from decathlon which has two layers.
The new jacket is actually all you’ll ever need for treks. It’s called Rainwarm 300 and is sold by Decathlon. It has an outer layer, which is waterproof, and a thermal layer inside. The layers can be separated and worn as individual jackets. This jacket kept me nice and comfy even in the low temperatures of the Chadar Trek. It cost me around Rs. 4,000 but was well worth the price paid.
When it comes to socks, you can go with the regular sports socks too. You don’t really need the warm socks if you are trekking in temperatures up to -10 degrees. But the advisable thing to do would be to get thermal socks. Carry at least 3 to 4 pairs of socks because they will get wet with sweat as you walk and not dry overnight.
Now here, I have seen people recommend things like Woodland and Quechua Forclaz 500 but I honest thing you don’t need to worry about that. This does not mean you land up in a pair of floaters or some soft sports shoes. It just means you don’t have to spend thousands of rupees on high ankle shoes. You can go with the simple Arpenaz 50 Hiking Shoes too, and they cost only about a thousand bucks.
Tip: Just don’t bother with those big Woodland pro series shoes because I have them and I don’t like them. They lose all grip on wet surfaces.
There are two categories in this item of clothing. The first is the thermal and the second the regular. Make sure you go for at least 2 pairs of thermal vests and 2 pairs of thermal pants or pyjamas. You can get them from Jockey and they are not that expensive.
For the second category, well I won’t be recommending any styles or brands for other one. All I’ll say is, go with something that is nice and comfortable and does not feel restricted.
Waterproofing also has two aspects to it. The first is the self and the second is gear.
a. For self: We already spoke of the jacket and that is all you’ll need for the top. You can get a light waterproof jacket if you want but I feel it won’t be needed. You should also get a pair of rain pants. They will save you when it rains and even when it gets too windy and your legs start feeling cold.
b. For the gear: For the gear you will need dry sacks which I already spoke about and a rain cover. The rain cover is for the backpack and is very essential if you want to keep the stuff in you backpack dry. You generally get the rain cover with the backpack but sometimes you won’t. You can pick one up if you haven’t got one and it’s not expensive either.
13. First aid kit
No trekking equipment list will be complete without this. If you are a doctor then you won’t need to worry too much because you already know what to carry. If you are not a doctor then you need to make sure your first aid kit can cover most eventualities.
My advice would be to aim to cover most injuries like cuts and bruises. You can also carry some painkillers and anti allergic medicine. Take bandages and Dettol/Savlon. Take ORS sachets too, because you could get dehydrated if you don’t drink enough. Apart from this some people suggest things like Diamox for altitude sickness but I have never needed it. If you are on special medication then speak to your doctor about carrying that as well.
The main thing to remember is that DON’T TAKE ANY MEDICINE WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR!
Hydrating is very important during a trek and for that you can use bottles. You can buy the sipper bottles that Decathlon sells. Make sure you carry at least 2 liters of water so 2 bottles of 1 liter each are best.
Don’t carry hydration packs because even if the water bladder is inside your backpack, the pipe is outside, and if the temperature falls, the water in the pipe will freeze and you won’t be able to drink from it.
Now what trekking equipment list would be complete without a camera? Take whatever camera you want but if it is a DSLR makes sure you economise on the lenses you carry. You won’t be able to carry 15 lenses if you plan to carry your backpack as well. You are a human, not a mule.
What you can carry are those side slung camera bags that can accommodate up to 2 lenses. Make sure you take the microfiber cloth to clean you lenses and spare batteries. If you use the standard 800mAh batteries for your DSLR then you will need at least 3 over a 1 week long trek (also depending on how you use the camera). Always remember that the cold drains batteries faster. That is why you need extras.
No, I’m not talking about reading glasses. I’m talking about dark glasses. You will need those at high altitudes because the sun is more intense as the atmosphere gets thinner. Make sure your dark glasses are at least category 3, if not category 4.
If you have to wear glasses then you can go in for dark glasses with power in the lenses or contact lenses. The second option is not the best because contact lenses in a wilderness environment aren’t easy to put on or maintain.
The supplies will be the things that you need to carry with you other than the trekking gear and accessories.
When on a trek, you will not have the luxury of your porcelain friends (Mr. Pot and Mr. Sink). All you will have is Mother Nature so make sure you carry toilet paper and wet wipes. Also NEVER EVER go to do your business near a stream or a river. Also make sure to carry face wash, hand sanitizers and your regular toothpastes and toothbrushes.
2. Power back up
In most cases your phones will be useless for most of the trek since you won’t get a signal. But if you can’t live without tapping on your phone then carry a power bank with you. You should also carry spare batteries for your torch.
Light will be very important for you on a trek. Though you won’t be trekking in the night, you will still need to get around the campsite. To that end, make sure you carry a powerful torch. LED torches work best because they are small and bright. You can also keep a dynamo torch for emergencies.
Another torch you can carry is a light that you can wear on your head. It will free up your hands to get things done. This is not absolutely essential but it is still very handy to have.
4. Other implements
Though not always a necessity, make sure you carry a pocket knife. Some rope would also be a good idea. A small backpack (5-10 litters) which can be folded up and put inside your backpack would be good too because you could use it for the day you go for a short trek from one of your campsites.
Non essential equipment
When it comes to a non-essential trekking equipment list, the list is generally defined by how you intend to trek. If it is with a trekking company in India then it will be a supported one so you will need stuff only from the first two lists.
1. Sleeping bag
Most trekking companies will provide you with proper sleeping bags but in case you want to carry your own sleeping bag, you can do so. I have the Wildcraft sleeping bag that is rated up to -10 degrees Celsius and I paid about Rs. 2,700 for it.
Again, a tent is something you won’t have to carry. You will get it from the trekking company itself.
3. Cooking equipment
Another thing you won’t need because, once again, the trekking company will make sure you are fed and watered 3 times a day.
Now this is something a trekking company won’t give you but you won’t need it on most treks. If you want to get a pair, you can get it from Wildcraft; it’s not very expensive either.
One thing you have to keep in mind with this trekking equipment list is that this is for the first time trekker who is going with a trekking company. It won’t help you if you are planning on going for a solo trek. While the list of equipment is similar, there are element missing in this trekking equipment list which are essential for a solo trek.
*Disclaimer: This trekking equipment list is based on my experience and opinion and is just a suggested trekking equipment list. You don’t have to take it as sacrosanct and follow it to the t. You can chose to use any gear that you feel is best. I am also, in no way, associated with either Wildcraft or Decathlon so my opinions are my own. I am also not getting anything from any of the brands I mention so if it sounds like one brand is being favoured over the other, that’s just my opinion.