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.
Annapurna Circuit Packing List
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.
Buying vs. Renting: For those planning to travel light, you will be happy to know that some of the items below can be rented or bought in Kathmandu or Pokhara. However it is very important to note that most of the cheaper local equipment is not up to standard for the harsh weather conditions that one can face on this trek.
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 and 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.
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 highly recommend is manufactured by Smartwool and Icebreaker. Both brands have some of the best and most affordable lightweight merino wool products.
We recommend getting 2x top and 1x bottom base layers.
You will need to bring 4-7 trekking shirts (depending on whether you are doing the shorter or longer Annapurna Circuit). Do not bring cotton shirts as these absorb moisture. A mixture of short and long sleeve shirts are recommended.
Trekking Shorts and Trousers
You will also need to pack hiking shorts and trousers. There are many brands to choose from, but we recommend Craghoppers, Columbia and O'Neills. You may even want to go with Craghoppers' convertible trousers. 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.
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.
Insulation jackets are very good for hiking in as they provide a great warmth to weight ratio whilst allowing effective moisture transfer. You may also like to take a sleeveless puff jacket or gilet.
Some insulation jackets made by Polartec like the 100s are lighter but not warm enough for the Annapurna Circuit, whereas the 300s are too heavy in our opinion. Other recommended fleece brands included Helly Hansen, North Face and Patagonia.
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 down jacket as it is one of the few key items that will ensure your warmth and comfort. There are also many insulated jackets made with synthetic materials which are also effective for an Annapurna Circuit.
Here are some key factors to consider when choosing your insulated jacket:
- Weight and warmth: The weight of a winter jacket can vary significantly. Some are as light as 200 grams whilst others can weigh up to 1kg or more. Down provides the greatest ratio between warmth and weight and thus is perfect for Annapurna. In terms of weight, the heavier the jacket is the warmer it tends to be. Whilst you might want to get the heaviest possible, remember that you will be carrying this around with you a lot of the time. We always suggest getting a top quality mid weight jacket, somewhere in the region of 600 grams.
- Waterproofing: Whilst down is the warmest type of jacket, it does not fair as well as synthetic in wet conditions. A light shower would make no difference, but if it were to downpour, the down jacket may suffer. Therefore, it’s imperative to get a down jacket with a great water resistant outer layer. Pertex Shield fabric is the best we know of.
- Versatility: Always look for pocket space, hood size, zip quality etc. before buying. The more versatile your jacket, the more activities you can do in it.
Hard Shell Jacket and Rain Gear
Encountering rain is always a possibility when trekking, particularly during the rainy season (June-September), so you should bring a hard-shell jacket. It is also worth taking a compact rain poncho that can quickly be put on should you encounter wet conditions during your trek.
Annapurna Packing List
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.
Head Band or Beanie
Temperatures can 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.
Neck Gaiter or Bandana
A neckband or balaclava that can keep your neck and face warm when temperatures drop below freezing is also a must-have.
We highly recommend taking a fleeced neck warmer as well as 1x thin microfibre bandana or buffs.
Buffs are super versatile and can be used as headbands, beanies, neck gaiters and wrist bands.
Annapurna Gear Packing List
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.
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. We recommend wearing outer gloves made with Gore-Tex, a synthetic fabric which is waterproof yet very breathable.
Annapurna Trek Gear
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 5 types 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.
Trainers (Trekking shoes / sandals)
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. Trekking sandals are great to wear with warm socks.
We recommend bringing 5-6 x pairs of hiking socks and 4 x 5 pairs or high wicking sock liners on the Annapurna Circuit.
Be sure to choose hiking socks or liners that provide very good breathability and have excellent wicking properties. Do not bring cotton socks as these will lead to nasty blisters.
You should bring along 1x pair of thermal socks for the cold hiking days around the upper reaches of the Annapurna Circuit.
We recommend thermal socks as they are very warm, provide great cushioning for the foot and have flat seams (bulky seams result in blisters).
Gaiters are made from a waterproof material and extend up from your boot to the top of your calve. They are used to stop water, dust, mud, snow, ice and small stones from getting into your hiking boots.
Duffel Bags and Backpacks
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. They should also have easy to access shoulder and hand straps.
Here are some great quality duffle bags.
If you are hiking independently or without support, then you will want to take a 50-65L backpack. A top-opening mountaineers backpack is the best for the Annapurna Circuit.
Here are some great quality backpacks for Men and Women.
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. Make sure to bring a rain cover for your rucksack and / or daypack.
Here are some great quality daypacks for Men and Women.
Annapurna Gear Requirements
You will need to bring a warm sleeping bag with you 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°C (14 °F.
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.
Sleeping Bag Liner: If you're planning on renting a sleeping bag for your Annapurna Circuit trek, then we definitely recommend purchasing a sleeping bag liner. Liners are placed inside the sleeping bags for two reasons. Firstly, it adds additional insulation and, secondly, it vastly improves cleanliness. Make sure to get a liner that fits your sleeping bag, such as a mummy-shaped liner for mummy shaped sleeping bags.
You may also want to bring an inflatable pillow with you for increased comfort on the rocky terrain.
Annapurna Circuit Gear
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 is the market leader in trekking poles. You can read our full reviews of the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Ultra Distance trekking poles, which is a cheaper alternative. We also highly recommend Leki's walking poles for their durability and affordability (read our review of the Leki Micro Vario poles).
Here are some great quality trekking poles for Men and Women.
The UV intensity in the Nepal Himalayas is high due to the altitude and glare from snow. You should bring a good pair of UV protection sunglasses (minimum of 80% light reduction).
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.
It’s worthwhile bringing spare batteries as well.
Here are some great quality headlamps.
Water Bottle or Hydration Bladder
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 2x 1L bottles. Or, you can invest in a daypack which includes space for a hydration bladder.
Here are some great quality hydration bladders.
Personal Gear and Medications
Trekking Towel - A small to medium sized hiking towel can come in great use. LifeVentures or Discovery provide good, quick-drying trekking towels.
Here are some great quality 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 find themselves in a really poorly lit teahouse.
Here are some great quality peeing accessories.
Small Locks – To protect your belongings in your rucksack or duffle bag.
Here are some great quality travel locks.
Waterproof Ziplock/Stasher Bags – These come in handy for storing important / valuable items like your money, a passport and electrical equipment or perishables like food items.
Here are some great quality Ziplock/stasher bags.
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.
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.
Read our full review of the best cameras for hiking.
Book / Kindle – Bring some Himalayan reading material. Our favourites are “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer or Ed Viesturs’ “No Shortcuts to the Top”.
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.
Here are some great quality water purification tablets.
Isotonic Powder – This can be used to flavour your water nicely and helps replace electrolytes, improving energy levels and aiding water absorption.
Diamox – Also known as acetazolamide, Diamox is a medication that can be used as a prophylactic (preventative) solution for altitude sickness. It does not cure altitude sickness and therefore should never never be used as a method to continue ascending to high altitudes. However, it can 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 great quality first aid kits.
Sunscreen / Lip balm – No one wants burnt skin or cracked lips! Be sure to bring 1x sunscreen (SPF 30) and 1x lip balm.
Wet wipes – Bring 1x wet wipes for quick and easy wet washing when no showers are in sight!
Here are some great quality wet wipes.
Toiletries – Toothbrush and toothpaste (note: please use purified water when brushing teeth as bacteria enters cracked gums easily), bring 2x rolls of toilet paper (this can easily be bought on the trail, but the quality is often poor). Bring a small bag dry bag to store all your essential toiletries in.
Here are some great quality toiletry bags.
Blister Plasters – The dreaded blisters! We recommend bringing some blister plasters for walking along Annapurna's rocky terrain.
Here are some great quality blister treatment packs.
Oximeter – This device is useful in testing Sp02 levels, a good indicator of altitude sickness.
Hand Sanitiser – This is great for disinfecting hands before and after eating, or when they get dirty during the hike.
Here is some great quality hand sanitiser.
If you feel anything is missing from this Annapurna Circuit packing list, we would love to hear your suggestions. You can contact us here.
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