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.
The type of base layer clothing that we recommend is manufactured by Smartwool as they provide some of the best and most affordable lightweight merino wool products.
We recommend getting 2 x top and bottom base layers.
The second layer, or what we call the insulation layer, sits over your first layer and 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, 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.
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 alternative which are more affordable, yet still effective. In terms of the Nuptse, the warmth and weight characteristics are exceptional but come at an obvious cost. 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
and Mountain Hardwear
For your outer layer trousers you should look for fleece-insulated ski trousers. Recommended brands include Helly Hansen, Trepass and O’Neills.
General Hiking Clothes
Over and above the three core layers set out above, you will also need to pack hiking shorts and trousers – we recommend 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.
You will also need to bring 4-6 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 Icebreakerare good. Do not bring cotton shirts as these absorb moisture. A mixture of short and long sleeve shirts are recommended.
Wet weather gear
Encountering rain is always a possibility when trekking, particularly during the rainy season (June-September). You should bring full-body, lightweight wet weather gear or a compact poncho rain-suit that can quickly be put on should you encounter rain.
To aid the wicking process we also recommend bringing 6-8 x pairs of breathable sports underwear.
For the ladies we recommend bringing 2 x sports bras.
Hat for Sun Protection
You need to bring a hiking hat that provides face and neck sun protection. Your hat should be light and easy to bend / fold so that it can fit into your daypack or rucksack. Trekking hats with a neck cover are very good. Here are some trekking hats
that we recommend.
Head Band or Beanie
Temperatures get very cold in the evenings and early mornings, particularly as you reach the higher altitudes on the Annapurna Circuit. A warm fleeced beanie or fleeced headband are absolute must-haves. Berghaus and The North Face provide good beanies.
Neckband or Balaclava
A neckband or balaclava that can keep your neck and face warm when temperatures drop below freezing is worthwhile having.
During the out-of-season winter months (Dec, Jan and Feb) we highly recommend bringing a balaclava or neckband.
Here are some recommended examples, we prefer Mountain Airshield Balaclavas, but buffs are great as well.
Outer gloves are like your outer layer jacket – they act as a shield from the cold and therefore need to be very warm, waterproof and durable. Gore-Tex gloves from Dakine
or similar options from The North Face
or Black Diamond
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.