Annapurna Circuit Trek Packing List: Get Ready for Adventure of Your Lifetime
Annapurna Circuit is one of the most famous, but also one of the most challenging multi-day treks in Nepal Himalayas. Our detailed tried and tested Annapurna Circuit Packing List will help you figure out what to pack and what to leave behind to enjoy the hike to the fullest.
Are you planning Annapurna Circuit Trek?
That's awesome news.
Until today, hiking in Nepal Himalayas is one of the best things we've ever done, and we still keep fond memories on walking among 8000 meters high giants, waking up in teahouses and pushing our limits. We are not afraid to say that hiking Annapurna Circuit Trek, as well as other famous multi-day treks in Nepal, is a life-changing experience. To get the best experience possible, you should be at least a bit physically fit so you won't suffer (although hiking in such high altitude can disarm even well-trained traveler), and pack as light as possible.
It took us a while to figure out what to pack and what we should leave behind. As always we had a dilemma: on the one hand, we knew we couldn't underestimate the harsh mountainous weather, on the other hand, we knew we would carry everything we pack on our shoulders for more than two weeks, so it was necessary to create our essential packing list.
In that list, we highlighted the stuff we needed unconditionally and crossed out all extra things which would only create an extra weight in our backpacks.
PACKING WHEN HIKING ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT ON OWN OR WITH A PORTER
We would say, when it comes to packing, it does not matter if you plan on hiking Annapurna Circuit alone and carry your backpack all the way from Besisahar across the Thorong La Pass to Muktinath, or if you will use the porter service.
In both cases, we recommend you to pack smartly and as light as possible - you don't want to injure your porter's back as well as you don't want to injure yours. To improve porter's work environment, there is also a limit of kilograms they can carry, by the way, so check it before your trek starts.
Before hiking Annapurna Circuit, we've done many multi-day and overnight hikes, but packing for this trek was different in many ways as we were not sure what to expect in such a high altitude - we've never been that high before visiting Nepal.
If this is exactly your case, no worries, we've tried and tested all gear and equipment in the mountains, and in this Packing List, we will recommend you only necessary things you should carry.
No matter if you are hiking with a porter who carries your stuff or if you carry everything on own, you need at least two backpacks.
When hiking independently, you need a quality large backpack you will carry on your back for more than two weeks and a small day pack for acclimatization hikes when staying for more days at one place - we have a great packing tip below, check it out.
When hiking with a porter, you need a smaller daypack for hiking, a large backpack for traveling to Nepal, and packing cubes, because you will give your things to porters who carry it in their duffel bags.
Rucksack for Him & for Her | When traveling without a porter, it is essential to choose the right large backpack with waist straps and good back support - nowadays you can choose a backpack for men or women, because the physique is different, and the comfort will be better. When it comes to hiking Annapurna Circuit, bear in mind that you should not carry more than 13 kilograms, optimal weight is anything between 8 to 12 kilograms to enjoy the hike without back and knee pain.
Daypack for Him & for Her | If you hike with a porter, this is the backpack you should be focusing on the most. It should be comfortable, have good back support, and you should be able to fit in it a snack, water, and extra layers. You need a daypack even when hiking independently, but check out our packing tip below, you might find it useful.
Ultralight Packable Daypack | For one day acclimatization hikes from Manang or when we went to Tilicho Lake, we carried this small and light packable daypack. It is not the most comfortable thing, but for only a couple of hours hiking with a small snack, water and a couple of extra layers, this backpack was perfectly fine, and we saved space and weight in our rucksacks.
Packing Cubes | Whenever we travel, we always find packing cubes useful. Not only it will keep your backpack organized, but it protects your clothes as well a bit.
Waterproof Drybags | To keep our valuables and electronic safe, we always pack three or four drybags. It doesn't weight anything, and it can save you a couple of thousands of dollars.
WHY IS IT NOT EASY TO PACK FOR ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK
Why did we find packing for Annapurna Circuit quite challenging?
One of the most important reasons was the fact that we wanted to carry as little as possible, but as we intended to hike the whole trek, we knew we need to be well-prepared for many climate zones. We started in Besisahar, which is 760 meters above sea level, the climate is jungle-like hot and humid, so we wore shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts.
When we climbed up higher, it was still hot, but we needed to cover ourselves as the sun was way too strong, and when we reached 4000 meters, it was cold, windy and it even rained and snowed at times!
As you can see packing for the Annapurna Circuit is not straightforward (we believe you can use this packing list for other hikes in Nepal such as Everest Base Camp hike), you need to evaluate all possibilities and choose your favorite gear.
WEATHER ON ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK
Although an old saying says there is not bad weather only wrong gear, we think that Annapurna Circuit is not an all-year-round trek for an average hiker.
Winter months from December to February must be great because of all the snow and lack of people, but there is a high chance of avalanches, and some trails can be impassable. We recommend hiking Annapurna Trek in winter only to experienced hikers with excellent gear and knowledge on what to do in the mountains when a snowstorm comes.
The best season to trek around Annapurnas is from September to November followed by spring months March to May (we visited Nepal in April). During those months you can expect hot and sunny weather, blue skies (although spring can be a bit hazy in lowlands), and also many hikers on the trail. June to September is a rainy season. It rains a lot though usually not all day but you might be annoyed by leeches and there is a danger of landslides and rock falls.
Our packing list is designed for all seasons you only need to add a couple of layers in winter and during the rainy season to have dry clothes for a change.
Clothes will be the biggest item on your packing list.
You need to pack everything from shorts to a down jacket, so always think ahead, know what weather you can expect, and pack a limited number of items.
Yes, you will be smelly a bit, but you cannot bring along fourteen pairs of socks and a clean t-shirt for every day.
We washed our clothes two or three times when we came to a teahouse early, and it was usually dry in the morning. Here's everything we packed from clothes for Annapurna Circuit.
Functional Underwear for Him & for Her | Pack as many as you like, but it is enough to have five or six pieces of underwear and wash it every day a bit. We prefer functional underwear as it works much better with sweat.
Hiking Socks | High-quality socks reduce impact, sliding into shoes, prevent blisters and irritation. Although it seems irrelevant, pack extra socks as it is important to start every day in dry socks. Also, we used one pair of warm socks for sleeping.
Short-Sleeved T-Shirt for Him & for Her | When we started our Nepal adventure in Kathmandu and ended it in Pokhara, it was too hot, and first days of the hike were very warm as well, so you will need a short-sleeved t-shirt. We don't recommend tank top without sleeves, because the sun in the mountains is way too strong.
Long-Sleeved T-Shirt for Him & for Her | We used the long-sleeved t-shirts to prevent sunburnt, or at a higher elevation as an additional layer. Take an extra long-sleeved t-shirt for free time in teahouses and for sleeping.
Waterproof Jacket for Him & for Her | One of the most essential gear for outdoor adventures is a waterproof jacket. It protects you from rain and snow showers as the weather in the mountains is unpredictable.
Hiking Pants for Him & for Her | Hiking pants should be comfortable, breathable and durable because you will spend most of your time wearing them. I usually prefer wearing leggings no matter where we travel but found hiking pants handy here because of cold and strong winds.
Shorts for Him & for Her | Shorts are very useful for the jungle part of the hike as the temperature was hitting 30+ degrees of Celsius. It was quite warm, even higher in the mountains, but the sun was so strong, and we did not want to risk sunburn.
Bandana | Bandana is a great little thing you can use against dust and sun in lower altitudes.
Scarf | You can use it as a head scarf, neck warmer, face warmer.
Winter Gloves | We recommend you to bring winter gloves in case of a snowstorm and extremely cold weather. We had a snowstorm a couple of days before crossing Thorong La in mid-April.
The best thing on packing shoes for Annapurna Circuit is that you will wear the heaviest item almost all the time, so you don't need to worry about weight limits.
If there is one thing we wouldn't skimp on, it would be proper hiking boots. You will wear them most of the time, and it is essential to break them in before the hike. Sneakers are optional, but we found them useful in teahouses because it was quite cold to be only in flipflops.
We also packed flipflops and wore them in lower elevation or when it was shower time.
Ultimate Guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek
4-Week Nepal Itinerary Including Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Besisahar To Chame
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Chame to Manang
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Acclimatization in Manang
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Tilicho Lake Side Trip
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Tilicho Base Camp to Thorong Phedi
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Crossing the Thorong La Pass
Annapurna Circuit Trek - Ranipauwa to Jomsom
Do you also find the most annoying packing gear for hiking?
We definitely do.
But when you don't pack an item from the list below, you will for sure find out on the second day of your hike that you need it.
That's how it usually works.
When preparing for Annapurna Circuit Trek, make sure you have a warm sleeping bag with additional layers, water bottle, headlamp, rain poncho, and proper sunglasses to protect your eyesight.
Sleeping Bag for Him & for Her | There is no heating in the rooms, and nights can be really cold. Well, we don't want to scare you, but they will be cold. I remember one night, when I was wearing down jacket, warm hat and leggings inside my sleeping bag, and was not able to warm up. Accommodation might provide you with extra blankets, but they are not often enough. Generally, we wouldn't travel to Nepal without own sleeping bag.
Mummy Liner | If you want to use blankets in teahouses, we recommend you to bring cocoon. We also use it as an additional layer for a sleeping bag.
Hiking Poles | Nepal was the first country where we used hiking poles, and we had a great experience. Hiking poles will help your knees when hiking downhill or uphill and are great for establishing walking pace and rhythm.
Headlamp | You might be tempted to use only your iPhone flashlight, but we recommend you to bring a proper headlamp. It is often too dark outside when walking from the restaurant back to the room. My broken finger is a witness.
Rain Poncho | Rain poncho is great when the rain is too heavy, you can also use it as an emergency shelter. We even prefer plastic rain poncho over a waterproof jacket when it rains a lot because we can cover backpacks as well.
Travel Towel | Light and fast drying towel is the best choice when hiking in the mountains.
Water Bottle & Purifying Tablets | Refill the water in the ACAP drinking stations or use purifying tablets, avoid buying plastic bottles if possible. They are not environmentally friendly and additionally water is quite expensive in the mountains. Nepal has a big problem with plastic waste, you can help to reduce it.
First Aid Kit | First Aid Kit is a must-have, pack all medications you use on a daily basis, plus pills against diarrhea and headache. You might want to buy Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude sickness.
Duct Tape | When your backpack or boots break down, it is hard to find a replacement along Annapurna Circuit. Duct Tape might do the magic.
Pocket Knife | Because you never know when you gonna need it.
When packing toiletries, always think twice what you really need.
It is not necessary to pack make-up, carry only essentials you cannot live without.
We found quite useful lately when traveling only for two or three weeks to purchase small travel bottles to save space.
Sunscreen | We used SPF 50+ every day on every part of our bodies exposed to the sun as it is extremely strong in higher altitudes.
Lip Balm with Sunscreen | A common mistake when hiking is to use only sunscreen but forget to protect your lips. Lip Balm also helps to protect your lips against the wind.
Glasses | Contact Lenses | Multi-Purpose Solution
We were quite surprised how advanced teahouses along Annapurna Circuit were.
We could almost every day to charge our electronics, and there was even wifi in most of the places. It did not work super-fast, but enough for checking the weather forecast and letting our parents know we are alive.
When packing electronic gear, you can pack quite light, depending on what you use. Because of the nature of our work, we carry maybe too much electronics, but you can take pictures only on your mobile phone if you will.
This is what we packed.
iPhone | We are big fans of Apple products because they simply work. Whether you carry your mobile phone only as an alarm clock or to check the time, or if you use it as the main photo gear, we recommend you to use phone cover.
Phone Cover | I know, it's a crime.
iPad | We wanted to hike as light as possible, so we didn't pack it, but it might be a good choice for you if you want to watch movies or catch up on tv-shows in your free time.
Kindle | When you arrive early, there is not much to do in the hotel room, so you can bring along a portable library and read on a porch accompanied by stunning vistas.
Camera | Camera and lenses were probably the heaviest things we packed with us to Nepal, but they were well worth it.
Tripod | To get even better sunrise, sunset, or night photos, pack a small portable tripod.
Charger | Do not forget cables and chargers to keep your electronics working. You can use outlets to charge your stuff in teahouses, sometimes it is for free, at higher elevation we sometimes had to pay for it.
Spare Batteries | We always carry three extra batteries in case there would be a blackout.
SD Cards | When not carrying backup solution, like a laptop, bring extra memory cards. Trust us nature around is so beautiful that you will need them.
Power Bank | In case you won't be able to charge your stuff in a hostel, bring a power bank or solar power bank just in case.
Photo Cleaning Kit | Paths are dusty, it can rain or snow so take care of your equipment.
Travel Adapter | We solved the problem of different electrical plugs and sockets by buying a multi-plug adapter, so we don't have to think about charging our stuff no matter where we go.
When traveling to a foreign country, always make sure what is the visa policy.
For most of the countries Nepal provides travelers with visa on arrival, but always make sure you know up-to-date requirements before your travels. Contact your bank before traveling to Nepal. We forgot to do so and had to call our bank because ATM first took our card, and then the bank blocked our access to money.
- Flight Tickets | Travel Documents | Passport | Visa Permit | Trekking Permits | Money | Credit Cards | Travel Insurance | Passport Wallet
Travel Guide | Book | If you don't have or don't like Kindle, pack something to read to kill free time if you arrive early in the accommodation as there is not much to do. We purchased a guide about the Annapurna Circuit, and we enjoyed reading about Nepal and life of Nepalese people every day before bedtime.
Snacks | The APC trek is demanding and challenging, and some high nutrition snacks will help you pull through.
We would never ever leave our home country, especially when traveling to a country like Nepal where we planned on hiking in the mountains at high altitude, without travel insurance.
Rescuing from the Annapurna Circuit is very expensive, and you really don't want to pay it from your own pocket. The chance of being sick on this trek is quite high, so please do not underestimate it.
We travel with World Nomads Travel Insurance - it is a worldwide, trustworthy company offering great packages to international travelers.
Also make sure, that your insurance covers hiking above 5000 meters!
Check it out and safe travels!
BUYING OR RENTING GEAR IN KATHMANDU OR POKHARA
Of course, it is possible to buy or rent gear in Kathmandu or Pokhara - there are many shops (especially in Thamel district in Kathmandu), and although some for sure offer excellent gear, some can also sell fake stuff, and for the two-weeks-long hike, we wouldn't be comfortable buying equipment we cannot absolutely rely on.
We know that many travelers do it, especially when traveling in South East Asia for longer but we were not that brave (or foolish) to purchase hiking gear last-minute in Nepal.
WHERE TO STAY IN KATHMANDU
Budget | Kathmandu Mantra Home - Nice, spacious, and air-conditioned rooms, excellent location in a safe area. Overall - great bang for the buck.
Mid-range | Oasis Kathmandu Hotel - Spotless modern rooms, quiet location so you will get a good sleep at night, and walking distance from Thamel.
Luxury | Baber Mahal Vilas - A beautiful boutique hotel set in a lovely quiet place where you will find exceptional service, thematic rooms, and warm-hearted staff.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
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