This is often termed your next-to-skin or first layer. It is very important on the higher reaches of the trek, but probably won’t be used during the early and late stages of your trek.
The best base layers sit tightly to the skin (reducing airflow) and consist of high wicking material to allow moisture to escape.
Our recommended base layer clothing is manufactured by Smartwool – who provide market-leading lightweight, merino wool products at an affordable price.
We recommend getting 1 x top and bottom base layer.
The second layer, or insulation layer, sits over your base layer and is best made from fleece or micro-fleece material.
You can get a second layer for both your legs and torso, but as you will have outer layer trousers, we don’t think a second layer for your legs are necessary.
For your torso though we recommend a Polartec 200 Fleece Jacket. These jackets are great for trekking as they are light-weight and provide good warmth whilst allowing good moisture release (or breathability). The 100s are lighter but not warm enough for Everest Base Camp treks, whereas the 300s are a little too heavy!
The third layer, or outer core layer, consists of a warm and waterproof jacket and trousers which you will use on the upper reaches of your Everest Base Camp trek.
In terms of jackets we recommend the North Face Nuptse Jacketk or equivalent winter down jacket. The performance from the Nuptse is incredible but comes with a cost – we like to think it is a lifetime investment as the jacket should last your years of active trekking. Other good brands include Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, RABand Arc’teryx. Synthetic alternatives are fine but just make sure they have a good warmth to weight ratio. If you are strapped for cash you can find quite good winter jackets in KTM (admittedly most are fake but surprisingly well made).
For your trousers you should look for warm, fleece-insulated trekking or ski trousers. Recommended brands include Trespass, Helly Hansen or O’Neills.
General Trekking Clothes
In addition to the three layers above, you will also need to bring trekking trousers – we recommend convertible trousers like the hiking trousers offered by Craghoppers
We also recommend bringing 3-5 trekking shirts (short and long sleeve) which you will wear on most trekking days. These lightweight, breathable shirts from Hanes are good or anything from Icebreaker. Note: make sure the shirts are made from high-wicking material like merino wool as you will be reusing them for multiple days. Cotton is not a good material to trek in as it absorbs moisture and therefore gets very smelly, very quickly.
You can encounter rain on the lower reaches of the trek, particularly if you plan to trek on either side of the rainy season (June-September). You should bring a waterproof jacket and pair of trousers, preferably made with gore-tex material. Waterproof gear from The North Face is brilliant. If you want to also get something cheap to throw over your waterproofs then a compact poncho often comes in handy.
To aid the wicking process we also recommend bringing 4-6 x pairs of breathable sports underwear, and for the ladies – 2 x sports bras. Again, you don’t want cotton here as you will be reusing your underwear and trust me after round 3 trekking in a pair of pants things start to smell.
Sun Protection Hat
A trekking hat that provides sun protection to your face and neck is a must. Make sure your hat is light and easily manipulated to fit into your day pack. We like trekking hats that have a neck cover. Here are some trekking hats
Beanie or Head Band
It starts to get really cold in the late afternoon / early evening; particularly as you get closer to Everest Base Camp. A warm fleece beanie or fleece headband are absolute musts. The North Face and Berghaus provide good beanies.
Buff, Balaclava or Neckband
A Buff is a highly recommended piece of kit. Temperatures can get really cold and the air is usually very dry, which can result in the infamous Khumbu cough.
A buff helps keep your neck and face protected and prevents particulates entering your throat when you breath.
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.
Your outer glove needs to be super warm, waterproof and very durable. We recommend Gore-Tex gloves from Dakine or The North Face. You may also want to take mitts, but we find the lack of dexterity a hindrance.
We recommend light-weight, quick drying inner gloves made from fleece material.
Like base layer clothing, inner gloves act as your next to skin layer. We recommend Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite Gloves which can be used as standalone gloves when the weather is moderately cold.
Karrimor also make good liner gloves.