A trek to Everest Base camp involves a fair bit of preparation, even more so if you are not going with an Expedition company (I chose G Adventures). Being a novice to multiple day hikes (even summiting Mt. Fuji was just overnight), I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me. Luckily, I had the help of a good friend who was more well versed in the great outdoors than me. This roundup is a joint effort with input from my friend of over 20 years and now trekking partner in crime, Kathy. For review – the trek to Everest Base Camp is a total of 12 days. It takes 8 days (including acclimatization days) to reach Base Camp and 4 days back. Our group ended up losing a day due to bad weather, but made up for it by trekking for longer periods during our descent. Here are the essentials and comfort products I took on the trip:
If you know anything about long distance activity, it’s all about the layers. And with that, the fabrics and materials become especially important. As a rookie, I knew this – but did not fully understand how important it would become. Let’s start from outside looking in:
The Shell Jacket
It boggles my mind how the lightest, thinnest jacket is also the most expensive. It has to do with the intense layer of GORE-TEX that coats the shell. The Rab Women’s Kangri GORE-TEX Jacket has 3-Layers of GORE-TEX waterproof technology (70D) with a recycled outer fabric. There is a nice fleece lined chin guard for comfort, the adjustable two-way zipper is great for those with a short torso. And it’s totally waterproof.
Compact Down Hoody Jacket
For the record, I love hoodies. They provide extra warmth in a pinch. Once we passed Namche Bazaar (3440 m), the mornings were chilly until the sun came out to say hello. For the majority of the ascent, I wore the Rab Women’s Microlight Alpine Down Jacket. It’s tried and true – wear it on the mountain or in the city. Besides the quality, I appreciate the Rab’s colorways. If you like something with a bit more of a shine, try The Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer/2™. It has a flattering waistline with the best fitting hood ever. As an added bonus, both of these hoodie’s fold into small packs (included) which can double as a neck pillow.
I knew at some point, my normal exercise tights were not going to cut it. I was going to need something that was waterproof. These Mountain Hardware Women’s Stretch Ozonic™ Pants fit the bill. And since these were my only pair of fully waterproof pants, I wore the same outfit 4 days straight. I liked how the side zips made it easy to de-layer mid-trail so that I did not have to take off my boots in the process. They also kept my tights clean underneath from all the dust and were easy to clean post trek.
Mid and Base layers
The mid-layer, Cotopaxi Teca Fleece Hooded Half-Zip Jacket was great over my T-shirt during the day, or over top layers at night in the Tea Houses. The kangaroo pocket is the best. Useful for hauling your cell phone, the enormous key for your Tea House room and a travel adapter all at once. I love the Cotopaxi’s vibrant colourways. Besides being made from recycled fleece, the polyester taffeta accent is recycled from other companies’ deadstock fabric supply.
The last time I wore a base layer, I was in grade seven, cross country skiing. So yes – it’s been a while. Merino in all forms is the way to go which I rotated throughout the trip. The Rab Women’s Forge Long Sleeve Tee is a lightweight Merino blend base layer, great for warmth, breathability and to add a punch of color to your outfit.
4 days in a row I wore the icebreaker Women’s BodyfitZone™ Merino 150 Zone Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top layered over my Rab top. It was perfect once the sun was out and we were on the ascent. The top is on the longer side and can be a tad itchy, but layered over another top it’s solid.
On day 5 or 6, I switched it up and wore the MAMMUT’s Trift Long Tights under my exercise tights. I found it too hot, but perfect under my thinner waterproof trekking pants. Their tailored shape conforms to the body eliminating the need to pull them up over time. The insulating tights have merino wool which helps regulate body temperature and inhibits odors.
I saved the icebreaker Women’s 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top & Thermal Leggings as my sleeping wear. That was one of the best decisions of the trip. I doubled shirts up past 4000 meters as temperature dipped below zero on cold nights in the freezing Tea Houses.
From the waterproof Gore-Tex® membrane to the secure-grip vibram® tread outsole, these MAMMUT Yatna II High boots worked well on the 12-day trek. Taking a short period of time to break in (less than a month), not one blister was found after the Everest Base Camp adventure. The boots retain their shape and can be resoled.
This vibrant Del Día collection from Cotopaxi turns deadstock material from other brands into backpack and packs. This Coso 2L Hip Pack – Cada Día has more pockets than a substandard zip fanny pack. The two zippered pockets connect and have a helpful reservoir for easy access to your water bottle. Perfect for the acclimatization hikes when our group did not need a full pack. It was extremely comfortable worn crossbody or around hips.
I wanted a pack that checked the boxes – light, supportive and had had tons of storage potential and found all that and more in the Mountain Hardware Scrambler™ 35L Backpack. The 4-Layer Dimension-Polyant™ fabric is durable and lightweight surviving the literal throws of a short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. All the zippered pockets were great for stashing passports and visas while we were in transit. I was concerned that I didn’t have a rain guard for my bag, but thankfully the bag is waterproof.
I knew we would need to have some quality eyewear, something that looks as good as it functioned. SMITH delivered on both of the styles that I sported throughout the trip. The first is the Bobcat, with a slight wraparound fit, with ChromaPop™ lenses. The nose pads were secure and provided the best comfortable non-slip grip ever. There was minimal fogging even when I wore my neck buff. The Bobcat’s hardshell case is big enough to carry a few pairs of shades; I fit three! The SMITH Embark are equally stylish shades with cool white frames and ventilated side shields. I wore them in low lighting, mostly on the descent. Highly recommended for any sport requiring eye protection from the glaring rays.
The Mountainsmith Halite 7075 are my first pair of trekking poles. The updated version is built with aluminum and is collapsible to 16”. The wrist straps and the EVA handles are comfortable, even with gloves. Being a newbie, I really appreciated the YouTube video on how to adjust your poles. All Mountainsmith products come with the Forged for Life Guarantee, the official Mountainsmith lifetime warranty. Used more than not, I found them helpful on the descent with the uneven rocks and stairs.
I first learned of this company a few years ago, but if you are a regular to the outdoors then, you should not be a stranger to Darn Tough Vermont socks. Available in different heights and cushions (I went for midweight), the socks are guaranteed for life. Conveniently available in multipacks, like the Women’s Hiker Cushion Quiver 3-Pack. They kept my feet warm in the frigid cold nights and dry during the day. For half the trek, I wore the Arc’teryx Merino Wool Lightweight ¾ Crew Sock. I was pleasantly surprised about how well they fit well in our hiking shoes, the support given and how well they wash.
It was after the second day when I decided it was time to start wearing some head protection. On colder days, I would wear The Reflective Lid by Smartwool. Made from Merino wool, it also has an interior headband liner which helps wick away the sweat. On warmer days, I wore the Arc’teryx RHO LTW BEANIE which had a lighter weave and accented my Rab down jacket well. After taking a few warm showers and then having to retreat in the freezing cold to get back to the room, I started to wear The Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband to bed. It was great to keep my damp hair at bay and my ears warm.
Although you didn’t need gloves throughout the trek as much as I thought, the Rab Women’s Power Stretch Contact Grip Glove was very comfortable. Made with Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro fabric, the grippy palms made it easy to grab phones and water bottles without removal.
I ended up doubling up on the two coldest days with the MAMMUT Astro Glove. The Gore-Tex Infinium™ Windstopper® material on the back of the hand is windproof and breathable, the synthetic leather across the palm is robust and abrasion-proof. The weather was constantly changing by the hour and by the afternoon – they found themselves back in my pack. The clip is a nice feature to keep the pair together.
Although our group was not camping along the trail to Everest Base Camp, our Tea House quarters were simple. All rooms had a single bed with a mattress, with some bedding provided. Some rooms had insuite washrooms, with cold water showers and others had outdoor communal bathrooms which included squat toilets (arguably more sanitary than regular toilets). All Tea Houses required you to have your own supply of toilet paper and soap (but available for purchase, should you run out).
Speaking of sanitation, along the trek, shower costs would range from $2.50-10.00. These showers were heated by gas and were relatively accessible. I never went longer than two days without one. I used a healthy amount of hand sanitizer and wet wipes, and probably could have brought more.
For sleep, I used the Rab Silk Ascent Hooded Sleeping Bag Liner. Silk is a natural fiber that makes a great base layer,dispersing heat and keeping your whole body warm. It also helped to keep the sleeping bag clean. The liner protected the bag from any sweat or oils too. I found that it enhanced the insolation of the sleeping bag and was easy to pack within my bag every morning.
The Rab Down Hut Slipper was a nice addition to my après trekking look by the fireplace in the common rooms. Made with 100% recycled down and a 100% recycled Pertex® Quantum outer. Read: The slippers were toasty. There were nights when my feet felt like they were so cold (probably just more a side effect of the altitude sickness medication I was on, which affected my circulation) that I would wear them to bed and then kick them off in the middle of the night because they were so hot.
The Himalayas are known for many things, but safe drinking water is not one of them. Besides obvious particulates that can be found, the water can contain many germs and contaminants which I treated additionally with drops . Our group got efficient at treating the water to keep up with our demand on the trek.
I had the CamelBak Eddy® + filtered by LifeStraw®, 32oz Bottle with Tritan™ Renew in one side pocket of my pack. This lightweight bottle filtered the water twice to remove bacteria, parasites, and microplastics, and reduce lead, bad taste, chlorine and other unwanted chemicals. I was being hyper vigilant and would treat my water with drops even before putting it through the treatment system in the bottle. The straw cap is spill proof and easy to prime before taking it on the journey.
In the other side pocket of my pack, I had the LARQ bottle. Every LARQ Bottle utilizes PureVisTM purification technology to eradicate up to 99.9999% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. When set to Adventure Mode, the bottle purifies water in 3 minutes. Although I could have left the drops out, I still used them regardless. I did not want to take any chances of getting sick. It was nice to have the UV-C filter as an added level of protection, as the one charge lasted the entire 12-day trek.
It was important to support the local Tea Houses when our group could, through the purchasing of food and supplies. While food and snacks were available at every Tea House, variety was lacking. Some of the snacks were expired and the price steadily increased as our group went up the mountain.
On our trek I carried a handful of various snacks including the Herbaland Active Electrolyte Gummies and from their Snacks with Benefits line, Shroom Power, Coconut MCT Oil . Each snack tasted like candy, which was a nice change from the more robust protein I was devouring. Each has their own added benefits including essential electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, mushroom varieties like, Turkey Tail, and Cordyceps, and well known MCT and coconut water/oil. My favorite was the Shroom Power which was flavored lemon and black tea. Throughout the hike I was craving an ice tea and ginger ale to no avail, so these were a welcomed treat. All flavors are high in protein, and fiber to help sustain energy.
After our daily trek, I had my fill of Dhal Bhat and at some points, just boiled potatoes with Yak butter depending on how I was feeling. I also brought a few freeze-dried meals including Happy Yak. Our challenge was getting hot water, well -hot enough to adequately cook our meals. But once hot, they were delicious and hardy. My favorites included the Mandarin Beef and Rice and the Granola Raspberry and Vanilla for breakfast.
At the airport, I purchased a N-Cell SIM card which helps me stay in touch abroad and keep up on social media. Once our group was up the mountain, I purchased an Everest Link, which covered spots where the N-Cell SIM card would not work. Charging was not always free and so I relied on a few tech supplies.
The BioLite Charge 80 PD, USB-C PD Powerbank was helpful. First off, you are able to charge multiple devices at once – so I was able to charge the powerbank and charge my phone all at once. There are 2 USB-A Quick Charge Out ports available and 1 USB-C PD port which is more than sufficient for charging our phones constantly. As it got colder, I would keep the charger in my sleeping bag to work more efficiently. For the entire 12-day trek, I recharged the battery once. In a sea of black USB cords, the blue BioLite one was a strong advantage.
To utilize the charger, you need a travel adapter. Mine of choice was the Samsonite World Wide Power Adapter. It fits outlets in Australia, China, US, Europe and the UK. Nepal uses UK plugs. It has a built-in USB as well, which makes it easy to charge more devices at once. It’s red and black exterior makes it easy to spot travel essentials.
Our group were told that if the weather permitted, we could do the extremely challenging hike to Kala Patthar – (at 5,644.5 m it would have given us additional views of Everest, and neighboring mountains Nuptse and Changtse). This trek would require a reliable headlamp. I chose the BioLite HeadLamp750 (800 is now available). Unfortunately/fortunately the weather turned and we were unable to do the additional hike. I still made use of the HeadLamp750 in a few spots up the mountain, notably Dingboche (4,410 m) where the restrooms were outside in pitch black. It has an incredibly comfortable headband. The RunForever pass-thru charging feature enables you to use the headlamp and charge at the same time.
Anyone who sets foot outdoors on an adventure knows the Victorinox Signature Lite Swiss Army Knife is a must-have with many iterations depending upon your needs. On the trek, the most useful function was the pen, which was helpful when changing SIM cards. The sharp scissors came in handy for cutting anything including our dehydrated food packets, to loose strings. The nail file helped my mid-trek jagged nails.
The GoCup and Go Bites Quattro from San Francisco’s Human Gear really put form and function together. First the GoCup, is a collapsible cup made from FDA food-grade silicone. I used it more than I thought, from brushing my teeth to drinking muscle recovery powder drinks. A press-fit lid keeps things clean during transport and features an integrated pill holder. It’s 100% BPA-free, PC-free, and phthalate-free. Having a set of utensils, like the Go Bites Quattro, was incredibly helpful. The carry case made it easy to keep the entire set together. The set includes full sized chopsticks (instead of a knife found in the Trio) and a hidden toothpick.
While Porter’s carried up 22 kg of our belongings in a duffle, I wanted to keep things organized. The AWAY Clear Pouch Set and the AWAY Insider Packing Cubes fit inside my enormous dry bag, which then fit into my duffle. The porters skillfully tied each duffle with heavy duty rope and anything could have busted under the pressure. I lost a few toiletries this way. The pouches and cubes are easy to clean post trip and can work with any sort of adventure – be it city or country.
Inside one of my pouches, I stored my mini pharmacy where I used the Human Gear GoTubb 3-Pack, to keep Tylenol and Benadryl. Though the containers are quite small they are easy to open with one hand. Although I used them for pills, they can be used for other small items like spices (or you have a scenario like mine, where periodically you keep finding chili flakes in your belongings because there was a hole in the Ziploc bag).
My usual routine was trimmed down as getting up early and realizing on the second day, the sun was more potent than I imagined it would be. In fact, my nose is still burnt. I was able to carry both these items from MD Solar Sciences. The Daily Perfecting Moisturizer SPF 30 was a great first layer of hydration and protection. Since I have eczema, I find that some sunscreen can either irritate my skin or dehydrate it. This one is a nice balance. To even out my skin tone, I would use the MD Mineral BB Crème SPF 50 in medium. This BB Cream feels nice and velvety smooth on your skin. It’s made with naturally-derived Eco-cert Zinc Oxide, and infused with caffeine and niacinamide to help minimize discoloration and redness.