So you are planning to trek the famous Annapurna Circuit! That’s awesome news!
This Annapurna Circuit packing list will help you get ready for the trek of a lifetime.
In it we have provided as much detail on every piece of kit you will need for a safe and successful Circuit expedition. The packing list includes personal recommendations on gear that we own and use. We believe these recommended items of gear provide the best value for money and deliver the best performance. We have written the list in such a way that it can just as effectively be used for other popular treks like the Everest Base Camp trek and the Langtang trek. Although, if you are planning to trek to EBC, we recommend you use our specific EBC packing list.
The list is very long and detailed so please feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.
If you have any recommendations or insights from your experience on how we can improve this Annapurna packing list please use the comment section at the end of the article to let us know your thoughts.
An important concept to understand when trekking the Annapurna Circuit is layering.
Effective layering relies on the process of wicking moisture from one layer to the next. Certain fabrics, like wool, have great wicking properties, whereas other fabrics like cotton or denim actually absorb moisture.
All your layers should work in tandem to 1. provide sufficient comfort and warmth as temperatures fluctuate, and 2. they should support the wicking process.
The reason why layering is important is because weather at high altitudes can change quickly and dramatically, as illustrated by 2014 tragic Annapurna Circuit trekking season. The ability to layer up or down as weather conditions fluctuate, from the low altitudes of 1,000 meters in Besisahar to the high altitudes of 5,416 meters at Thorong La Pass, is important.
Moreover, seasonal differences are also an important consideration. You will definitely want warmer clothes if you plan to trek during the cold winter months of October-February. See what to expect weather-wise on the Annapurna Circuit here.
So now that you understand layering, lets look at the specific layered clothing you will need.
The first and most obvious layer is your underwear. To aid the wicking process we recommend bringing 6-8 x pairs of breathable sports underwear. We are big fans of Icebreaker underwear, Adidas sports underwear or Under Armour underwear, as these brands specifically focus on manufacturing products that can cope with sweat from high-intensity sport.
For the ladies we recommend bringing 2 x sports bras.Recommended Options on Amazon
The base layer, or what is often referred to the next-to-skin or first layer is very important on the higher reaches of the Annapurna Circuit.
The best first layers fit snugly to the skin (reducing air pockets and flow) and consist of high wicking materials to facilitate moisture transfer.
We recommend getting 2x top and 1x bottom base layers.Recommended Options on Amazon
You will need to bring 4-7 trekking shirts (depending on whether you are doing the shorter or longer Annapurna Circuit). We recommend these breathable and lightweight shirts from Hanes. Alternatively, shirts from Icebreaker or Columbia are good. Do not bring cotton shirts as these absorb moisture. A mixture of short and long sleeve shirts are recommended.Recommended Options on Amazon
You will also need to pack hiking shorts and trousers. There are many brands to choose from but we recommend Craghoppers, Columbia or O’Neills. You may even want to go with convertible trousers like these trekking trousers designed by Craghoppers. Not only will they save you money as you won’t need to buy shorts, but they are also very comfortable.
Bring two pairs of trousers and 1x pair of shorts.Recommended Options on Amazon
The second layer, or what we call the insulation layer, should be made from fleece material.
You can get an insulation layer for both top and bottom, but as you will need to have outer layer shell trousers (see below), we believe the insulation layer for your legs are unnecessary.
For your torso second layer though we recommend a Polartec 200 Fleece Jacket. These insulation jackets are very good for hiking in as they provide a great warmth to weight ratio whilst allowing effective moisture transfer. The Polartec 100s are lighter but not warm enough for the Annapurna Circuit, whereas the Polartec 300s are too heavy, in our opinion.Recommended Options on Amazon
You may also like to take a sleeveless puff jacket or gilet. The North Face Nuptse is great!
The outer core layer, or third layer, consists of a windproof, waterproof and most importantly warm jacket and trousers. These will be used on the upper reaches of the Annapurna Circuit.
We highly recommend getting a good quality jacket as it is one of the few key items that will ensure your warmth and comfort. We recommend the North Face Nuptse Jacket which is a market-leading winter jacket, but there are many synthetic alternatives which are also effective. In terms of the Nuptse, the warmth and weight characteristics are exceptional. The Nuptse is a lifetime investment as the jacket will last years of active trekking and double well as a winter jacket in the city. Other good jacket brands include Patagonia Down Jacket, Arc’Teryx Atom and Mountain Hardwear Down Jackets.Recommended Options on Amazon
Encountering rain is always a possibility when trekking, particularly during the rainy season (June-September). You should bring a hard-shell jacket, like the North Face Resolve Jacket.
It is also worth taking a compact poncho rain-suit that can quickly be put on should you encounter rain.Recommended Options on Amazon
A neckband or balaclava that can keep your neck and face warm when temperatures drop below freezing is also a must-have.
Buffs are super versatile and can be used as headbands, beanies, neck gaiters and wrist bands, as demonstrated adjacent.Recommended Options on Amazon
An inner glove acts as your next-to-skin layer, like the base layer clothing we described above. You should bring a light-weight, quick drying inner glove, ideally made from fleece material.
We recommend Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite Gloves which can also be used as standalone gloves when the weather is moderately cold. Karrimor is another good brand.Recommended Options on Amazon
Footwear is incredibly important as your feet are what get you from A to B. Having comfortable footwear will make your trek far more enjoyable as no one wants to be plagued with foot pain or blisters.
Make sure you properly break-in your boots before trekking the Annapurna Circuit. This means doing at least 2-3 long distance hikes (5-6 hours) in your new boots before arriving in Nepal.
To help you on your way we have listed the 5 pieces of footwear you should bring with you on your Annapurna Circuit trek.
Good hiking boots are the most important piece of gear on your trek – your feet are what get you around the Annapurna Circuit!
Badly fitting hiking boots will result in lost nails, painful blisters and sore feet. Best fit can be tested by putting your foot in a boot without tying the shoelaces. Once in slide your foot all the way forward until the toes hit the front of the boot. You should be able to put your index finger down the back of the boot between your heel. If your finger has lots of room to move then the shoe is too big, if you struggle to get your index finger into the boot then the shoe is too small!
Important characteristics to look out for in a good hiking boot: 1) make sure it is a mid-weight boot (full leather boots tend to be too heavy, however uppers of the boot can be made of leather or leather condura), 2) make sure it has high tops for ankle support, 3) look for rubber soles with deep lugs for best traction, and 4) try get a boot with a lacing system that uses d-rings or speed hooks for further ankle support and quick lacing.
After a long day of hiking the first thing you are going to want to do is change into a comfortable pair of shoes. We recommend bringing trekking shoes or sandals. Here are some good trekking shoes or trekking sandals that we recommend. We like Merrel trekking shoes. Trekking sandals are great to wear with warm socks.Recommended Options on Amazon
5-6 x pairs of hiking socks and 4 x 5 pairs or high wicking sock liners.
Do not bring cotton socks as these will lead to nasty blisters.Recommended Options on Amazon
1 x pairs of thermal socks for the cold hiking days around the upper reaches of the Annapurna Circuit.
We recommend Smartwool thermal socks as they are very warm, provide great cushioning for the foot and have flat seams (bulky seams result in blisters).Recommended Options on Amazon
If you are joining a guided tour with porters then most of your gear will be carried for you.
In this case we recommend bringing an 80-90L duffle bag. The best duffel bags are made of laminate waterproof material and have strong zippers that can be easily locked (bring a small bag lock). They should also have easy to access shoulder and hand straps.Recommended Options on Amazon
If a porter or pack animal (i.e. yak) is carrying your duffle bag or rucksack then you will want to have a light-weight daypack to carry essentials – like snacks, camera, suncream, personal items (i.e. money and passport) and hat.
The best daypacks have compression straps to reduce weight stress on your back and side mesh-pockets for quick access to your water bottles. The Osprey Talon is our recommended daypack (see our full review of the Osprey Talon).
Make sure to bring a rain cover for your rucksack and / or daypack. If you decide to use an Osprey bag then make sure you get an Osprey Raincover that matches the bag size for a snug fit.Recommended Options on Amazon
You will need to bring with you a warm sleeping bag as the nights can get very cold.
The best types of sleeping bags are manufactured using a duck / goose down, but they also tend to be the most expensive. If you are stretched for cash then a warm synthetic alternative is fine. Just make sure that it has a rating of at least -10 degree C.
Look out for a sleeping bag that has a mummy-shape with an insulated hood and draw chord so that it fits the contours of your body. Two-way zippers for better insulation are great.Recommended Options on Amazon
Good walking poles can reduce the impact on your knees and leg joints by up to 20 per cent. Trekking poles are particularly useful when descending as the load on your joints increases exponentially when going downhill.
We recommend getting light-weight (around 350 grams per pair) and adjustable trekking poles as they are easy to store and versatile.Black Diamond walking poles (see our review of the Black Diamond Distance poles) are excellent, so are Leki poles (read our review of the Leki Micro Vario poles here). Recommended Options on Amazon
You will not be hiking at night, but might need to go to the toilet at night or if you want to read after dark – many of the teahouses and campsites are poorly lit or have no electricity at all.Petzl Tikka is the best value headlamp brand. It’s worthwhile bringing spare batteries as well. Recommended Options on Amazon
Many people suffer from dehydration at high altitudes. You should aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. Heatstroke and dizziness is common for dehydrated trekkers.
Water can either be carried in a standard water bottle – we recommend getting 2 x 1L Camelbak Water Bottles.
Or, if your daypack includes space for a hydration bladder then the 2L Platypus Hydration Bladder is a very good product.Recommended Options on Amazon
Trekking Towel – A small to medium sized hiking towel can come in great use. LifeVentures or Discovery provide good, quick-drying trekking towels.
Pee Bottle or Funnel (optional) – These are ideal for ladies who need to answer the call of nature at night and don’t have easy access to a toilet or are find themselves in a really poorly lit teahouse. See Freshette Pee Funnels
Small Locks – To protect your belongings in your rucksack or duffle bag
Waterproof Ziplock Bags – These come in handy for storing important / valuable items like your money, a passport and electrical equipment
Camera / Videocamera – The scenery in the Nepal Himalayas is amazing! You will definitely want to capture your experience in HD so if you don’t have a good camera now is the time to get one. Here are some recommended and affordable Digital SLR cameras. Remember, you want to make sure your camera is light but still able to capture high quality images. We like the Panasonic Lumex. If you are more inclined to take a video camera then you might want to consider the GoPro.
Playing Cards – To keep you and fellow hikers entertained in the evenings
Notebook / Journal and Pen – To chronicle your Annapurna hiking experience
Water Purification Tablets – Treating water is standard in Nepal. Please don’t buy bottled water as this just adds to the waste problem in the Nepal Himalaya. When using water treatment tablets make sure to add the right number based on the volume of water in your bottle. A pack of one hundred tablets should be more than enough.
Isotonic Powder – Can be used to flavour your water nicely and helps replace electrolytes, improving energy levels and aiding water absorption. Here are some good Isotonic powdered drinks
Diamox – Also know as acetazolamide, is a medication that can be used as a prophylactic (preventative) solution for altitude sickness. It does not cure altitude sickness and should never therefore never be used as a method to continue ascending to high altitudes. It can however help prevent the onset of altitude sickness and is commonly used by high altitude climbers and trekkers. Please seek proper medical advice before taking Diamox. You can read a detailed article on Diamox here.
General Medications – We recommend taking paracetamol or aspirin for headaches (a common altitude sickness symptom on the Annapurna Circuit) and Imodium for diarrhoea (another common problem as food preparation can be a little unhygienic)
Basic First Aid Kit – If you are joining an organised trek, your guide will most likely be carrying a first aid kit. If you are hiking unsupported or independently then a first aid kit is a must. Here are some compact and good outdoor first aid kits: Outdoor First Aid Kits
Suncream / Lip balm – No one wants burnt skin or cracked lips! Be sure to bring 1 x suncream (SPF 30) and 1 x lip balm
Baby wipes – For quick and easy wet washe when no showers are in sight! bring 1 x baby wipes
Toiletries – Toothbrush and tooth paste (note: please use purified water when brushing teeth as bacteria enters cracked gums easily), bring 2 x rolls of toilet paper (this can easily be bought on the trail but the quality is often poor)
Blister Plasters – The dreaded blisters! We recommend taking Compeed blister plasters
Oximeter – This device is useful in testing Sp02 levels, a good indicator of altitude sickness. Here are some Finger Pulse Oximeters
Hand Sanitizer – Great for disinfecting hands before and after eating, or when they get dirty during the hike
If you feel anything is missing from this Annapurna Circuit packing list we would love to hear your suggestions. You can contact us here or leave a comment below.
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If you have any further questions or queries about this Annapurna Circuit Packing List then please leave a comment below and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
Thank you and happy trekking!