2014-01-22 14.57.53

Going high for 5545m!

Only a few days away til I jet off to Kathmandu, Nepal to start my trek to Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar, altitude 5545m!

I’m booked in with the travel company Intrepid, who have organised the guides, porters and teahouse/guesthouse accommodation along the way.

Not sure about how I’m going to fare on this trip.  The trip notes recommended 12 weeks of preparation involving running, cycling, swimming and weekend hikes.  Though I’ve been doing a lot of walking and some hiking, travelling around means that I haven’t been able to prepare as much as I would have liked.   We’ll see how it goes…

In terms of packing, can I just say that it is my personal opinion that the packing weight limits and recommended packing lists put together by a heap of blogs and travel companies do not line up.

In general, it is advised that your pack weigh no heavier than 10kg, (max 12kg for the porters) and your day pack weight no more than 5km.

Then they also say to pack the following items (a list taken from various site such as this, this, this, this and this….:

  • 2-3 changes of clothes (long sleeved shirts, hiking pants)
  • 1 set thermals
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 waterproof shell
  • 1 waterproof pants
  • 1x 4 season sleeping bag
  • 3-4 pairs of socks and underwear
  • snacks
  • fleece
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • sandals
  • + other accessories like headlamps, first aid, gloves, scarf etc…

In their daypacks (which weights around 5kg), they claim to have:

  • Kindles
  • Books
  • 1L water bottle
  • 3L hydration pack
  • snacks
  • camera
  • first aid kit

Can I just say that there is no way in hell you can pack all of that into a daypack that weights less than 5kg.  You’re dreaming.

First of all, you’re carrying 4L or water.  That’s 4kg.  A really lightweight daypack weights around 700g.  Add in your books, Kindle, cameras and electronics, snacks (60g per bar…), batteries etc, you’re pushing 6-7kg already.

As for your main pack, I’ve cut down my list to the following:

2014-04-10 14.35.25
From L to R, Top to Bototm: GoreTex + Waterproof pants, 3 season sleeping bag, hat and gloves, clothing bag 1 (shirts, pants), toiletries, down jacket, clothing bag 2 (socks and jocks), trek towel, snacks.
  • 1 down jacket (.55kg)
  • 1 GoreTex jacket (.8kg)
  • 1x 3 season sleeping bag (1.2kg with case)
  • 2 short sleeve merino shirts (clothing total: 2kg)
  • 1 Nike Dri-fit short sleeve shirt for layering and sleeping in
  • 1 long sleeve hiking shirt
  • 1 hiking pants
  • 3 sets of socks and underwear
  • 1 thermal leggings
  • Snacks (1,8kg – 1 muesli bar (80g) and 1 snickers per day (70g), 12 days)
  • Trek towel (.25kg)
  • Toiletries and wet wipes (no showers) – (1kg)
  • Misc supplies (flip flops, batteries, water purifier, etc) (1.5kg)
  • Pack weight: 2.72kg

Total: 11.8kg.  And that’s without the down booties or ugg boots, hiking poles, fleece, fleece trousers or track pants.   Also bear in mind that temperatures beyond 5000m are expected to be around -8’C, not including windchill…

In terms of my daypack, I’m already at a weight penalty because I’ll be carrying a DSLR (the tiny 100D) but with two lenses (1.6kg  + batteries, charger).  Add to that my first aid pack (400g), the snacks for the day (150g), GoreTex (I’ll be carrying it in my day pack during hikes, or probably wearing it at high altitude – 800g), water (3kg),

If you haven’t guessed my gripe here, it’s that there is no way in hell these people could have packed all of the things they claim to have packed without nearing 15kg in total.  Stop lying and be honest because it doesn’t help others who are trying to pack for a similar trip! (Not to mention some person talking how they bought all of their clothing, including a Goretex jacket, soft shell, down jacket, waterproof pants, 2 pairs trekking pants and shirts, merino thermals for $100 USD… – good for you, but then they also said that no one should ever spend more than $100 for all that equipment… )

I’ve been researching, buying and testing outdoor gear for  the past 8 years and whilst it’s not always the case, it very well is nearly always the case that the weight or mass of equipment is inversely proportional (or even inversely exponential) to the cost of the item.  Add the ‘quality’ factor to complete the triangle and the following relationships result:

  • You can get lightweight stuff of good quality, but it will be expensive,
  • You can get good quality, cheaper stuff, but it won’t be as lightweight
  • You can get cheap, lightweight stuff but it won’t be of good quality or of good performance

I’ll add a fourth, which is,

  • You can get lightweight, quality gear, cheaper, if you look out for sales, buy last season’s gear, shop at an outlet, have a massive discount code etc.

Hopefully I don’t freeze in my time there and survive the altitude!

8 thoughts on “Going high for 5545m!”

  1. Just remember everything is cheaper in nepal. Good luck with the expedition mate. It will be an experience of a lifetime.

  2. Hi Ben. After our chat at Kathmandu airport, I checked out your blog and completely agree with you about the weight limits – though yours was a rather more reasoned analysis than my “how the bloody hell can I fit all this lot in?”.

    1. Hey Andrew. Good to hear you’ve arrived back safely – although I guess after the flights in and out of Lukla, anything else is much of a dream. I was surprised how relaxed they were on the weight for the return journey? With 300m of runway, some of the guys in the my group were almost questioning their purchase of yak bells and the like…

      1. Maybe they figure that since the plane would drop off the end of the runway into space rather than hit anything, it will be “flying” …. I thought about buying a yak bell in Namche, didn’t because of the weight then wasted hours trying to find one in Kathmandu. How’s Edinburgh?

        1. Your point may have some merit! Yeah I was looking for one in Thamel to use as a wind chime but couldn’t find one either… Not sure what its like down your end but it’s T-shirt weather in Edinburgh! Though I won’t be here long- heading off to Norway next week.

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