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Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek
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Morgan Begic
(shamanana) - F

Locale: North Adriatic Coast
Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 00:32:41 MDT Print View

Hi!
My first post here and already begging for a gear list ;) I must say I read a whole bunch of posts here that come pretty close to what I am looking for (like that "himalaya" thread by raj nag) but...

I cannot say that I am new to traveling or to reducing the weight of my backpack and yet while reading the posts here I realized that I have absolutely no clue...

The reason I am concerned about this trek is the variety of weather conditions that are encountered on the way. Apparently, during September, October the days are pretty hot, nights are quite cold/freezing and on the passes (Thurong La...) windy, freezing and even snow is not unusual.
I understand that sleeping in the "tea houses" on the way is how most people do it which is also my plan, but I am definitely getting a nice sleeping bag for just in case...

And, an important thing, no porter...just me and my backpack :)

I'd be happy to hear your opinions about gear options you can give me: materials, layers, brands, amounts... In my corner of the world certain brands are non existent (like Western Mountaineering sleeping bags I so wanted to buy :( so all the alternatives that come to your mind are more than welcome!

Total n00b, I know m(_._)m

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 00:57:01 MDT Print View

Hi Morgan, welcome to BPL.

I've trekked for a couple of months in the Everest region (walked in from Lukla), solo without a porter, about 8 years ago. It was that trip that got me interested in reducing my pack weight... I started out carrying 18kg on the trek and ditched about 5kg of gear along the way!

Anyway, you definitely don't need the latest and greatest gear for the Annapurna trek. I have four pieces of advice for you... gems of wisdom that I wished someone had told me before I left.

1. Get some trekking poles. I ended up buying a wooden staff along the trail. The ascending and descending in Nepal is nuts, and you almost never get to walk on the flat. Pole support of some sort is *essential*. I never used poles before I went to Nepal... thought they were for wimps.

2. Make sure your feet and shoes are well worn in before you go. So many trekkers with blisters in Nepal it's ridiculous, and it can make hiking miserable. I say "wear in your feet" because if you sit in an office all day (like me) you probably have nice and soft feet which will blister easily. Get some shoes that fit really well, and do a lot of walking on stairs before you go.

3. Take a down jacket. Not essential... I didn't have one when I went, but I was wishing I did. It can get *really* cold inside the lodges at night, sitting around waiting for dinner.

4. Definitely take a warm sleeping bag (at least -10C, better -15C). Even when staying in lodges you probably don't want to use the blankets... pretty dirty and nasty in a lot of places, if they are even available. You really do need your own sleeping bag unless you are trying to go SUL for some reason.

5. (OK, so that's more than four things) Highly recommend some down booties. Not fun sitting around in your trekking shoes at the end of the day. It's hot during the day so your feet will sweat a lot. If you leave those boots on in the evening your feet will freeze (as mine did).

If you are strapped for cash you can pick up a lot (or even all) of your gear except for shoes and socks in Kathmandu. Won't be the best quality and won't be ultralight though.

I wouldn't obsess too much about exactly which gear to take. Make sure you have a good jacket, sleeping bag, shoes, socks, and some trekking poles and you can't go wrong. Have fun!

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 00:57:55 MDT Print View

ps. for trekking specific gear lists (general stuff to take, not brands or ultralight) check out trekinfo.com

Morgan Begic
(shamanana) - F

Locale: North Adriatic Coast
Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 01:55:23 MDT Print View

Wow! So fast! Thank you so much!
When it comes to backpack size and trekking poles I learned my lesson on Machu Picchu years ago. My knees are still complaining about those steps... ;)
About those down jackets... Any good light ones that come to your mind? Light and small is important :) And I assume that in the multitude of brands and models there are certain that are not worth the amount of money you pay for them.
Also, some people say that it's enough to use proper layering and on top just a light windproof(!) shell (something like that Patagonia Houdini if it's not sold out...)? I guess it's the sheer amount of different info that confuses a n00b like me :)

Edited by shamanana on 08/06/2008 01:57:58 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 02:07:50 MDT Print View

Morgan, in general the days are hot and nights are very cold. I didn't carry a down jacket last time, and instead wore every bit of clothing I could at night... and was still a little chilly at times. Layers will work but are actually much heavier.

The cheapest good quality, lightweight down jackets seem to be the ones by Montbell. I would get the Montbell Light Alpine Down Jacket... sells for $150, but you might be able to pick it up for $125 at e-omc.com if you don't need a size large (they have all the other sizes in stock). There's also a baffled version of the jacket available (Montbell Alpine Down Jacket) which is warmer but a bit heavier, or you can get a 'parka' version with a hood.

Western Mountaineering and Nunatuk also make great down jackets, but Montbell gives the best bang for buck (the WM and nunatuk ones cost over $200) especially if you pick it up on special.

A windproof shell would definitely be good, as it can be extremely windy. The houdini would be great, though it is hard to find on-special (you can order it direct from Patagonia for $125 and they will ship overseas for a reasonable price). There are cheaper wind jacket options available (see the reader reviews section of this site) but the houdini is a favourite of BPL users. I have one and am very happy with it.

Edited by ashleyb on 08/06/2008 02:11:16 MDT.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 03:25:59 MDT Print View

Hi Morgan,

I plan to do either EBC or AC trek next year. Lot of good advice from Ashley. But I am a obsessive SUL :) So here is my SUL gearlist:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/11777/index.html

I dont plan to carry a down jacket, instead I will use my quilt as a shawl.

Hope the gearlist helps. If you have any questions I will be happy to answer them.

Morgan Begic
(shamanana) - F

Locale: North Adriatic Coast
Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 05:29:50 MDT Print View

lol! The more answers I get (and all of them in a matter of hours!) the more questions pop up in my mind!

Here are just some of them in no particular order...or maybe :)
AshleyB, that down jacket looks real nice and so light and versatile it seems almost unbelievable! I will definitely give it a good consideration and if I manage to find it I will most likely get one.
Now about that sleeping bag... Like I said before Western Mountaineering stuff is light years away from where I live so I was wondering what other brands were comparable to them (in quality and especially weight... a model perhaps that works real well for most people here?
Regarding Patagonia, there are a couple of dealers in the vicinity so even if they don't have them I hope I'd be able to order it through them...

Huzefa, your list is definitely UL, maybe too light? Perhaps I am just too scared of those cold nights and I don't like cold... By the way, I know I probably shouldn't be asking this question here but... you say you plan on going from Delhi to Kathmandu by bus?! That's an interesting idea since flights from EU are so d... expensive. I wonder how long that trip lasts...

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
Re: Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 06:56:49 MDT Print View

>maybe too light? Perhaps I am just too scared of those cold nights and I don't like cold...

I have given a lot of thought to the list even though that thread has been inactive for a while. The cuben quilt will have about 3.5" baffle and will be warm till atleast -20C. Plus with cuben quilt I dont need extra VBL or a bivy. I dont think I will be cold. See cuben quilt thread in MYOG forum for more info if it interests you.

>you say you plan on going from Delhi to Kathmandu by bus?!

not exactly. I live in Mumbai. I first need to reach Gorakhpur which is near India-Nepal border. From Gorakhpur I have to take a bus to Nepalese frontier. From there I take my bus to Kathmandu. The whole journey from Mumbai to Gorakhpur should take 3days -From Delhi it may take 1 day less depending on how you plan.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/06/2008 07:01:44 MDT Print View

Huzefa is a serious ultra-lighter, so don't worry if you find his list is a bit out of your comfort zone.

I can't recommend any European brands of sleeping bag because I'm not familiar with them (I live in Australia). However, if you're looking at a quality lightweight sleeping bag the "main"/best US brands IMO are: Western Mountaineering, Montbell, Marmot and Feathered Friends.

You could either buy a 0-5F bag (around -15C) or you could buy a 15-20F bag (around -8C) and wear extra clothes (such as your down jacket) when you need it. Obviously the 15-20F bag will be cheaper, and will probably be more useful on future trips if you don't experience such cold temperatures very often. It would also be lighter that way to. I would avoid buying any bag rated at more than 20F for this trip.

In the 15-20F range, I would consider:
* any bag from Western Mountaineering (ultralite, apache etc... see their website for details)
* Marmot Helium (15F)
* Montbell SS UL down hugger #1 (15F)

If you want more warmth (cold sleeper, or don't want to wear down jacket etc to bed) then look at a WM versalite (10F), WM antelope (5F), a Marmot lithium (0F), or a Montbell UL SS down hugger #0 (0F).

You can't really go too wrong if you choose a bag from one of those companies with 800 fill power down. They all weigh in the range 0.8-1.2kg. If you want a cheaper (but heavier), very warm bag then consider the Marmot Never Summer (0F but weighs 1.6kg)... I've tried one and it is a great bag, super comfy, just a bit heavier.

My ideal bag for that trip would probably be a Western Mountaineering Versalite (10F)... plus a bit of extra clothing if/when needed.

If you don't have access to any of those brands near you, and you don't want to order over the internet without seeing them first hand then you might need to seek advice from some European BPL members. Since I'm in Australia I generally just do a lot of reading and buy stuff from the US. If you want opinions on particular products, and whether they might be suitable for you, the folks here are always very happy to give you their advice.

Cheers, Ashley

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
British top quality down bags on 08/06/2008 07:17:09 MDT Print View

look up Rab and PHD for down jackets and bags from Britain

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Gear options on 08/06/2008 08:19:03 MDT Print View

PHD sale on now. Deduct 17.5% VAT for US citizens.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 08/06/2008 08:21:18 MDT.

Eric Cheong
(EricCheong) - F

Locale: Malaysia
Annapurna Circuit on 08/06/2008 10:29:13 MDT Print View

Was there during late spring and it was great. Few thoughts:

You might wanna hike from Besisahar to Jomsom and then take a flight back to Pokhara since the journey down might be a bit of an anti-climax.

There are many outdoor shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara so you might want to do your shopping there. UL gear, as someone mentioned might be difficult to find unless you can afford to be fully kitted out in Pashmina lol.

There are power cuts every night so bring a torch with long enough runtime and a flood beam pattern. Zebralight fits the bill nicely or just bring a candle lantern instead.

Bring a scarf/face mask and maybe a pair of cheap alpine style sun glasses as the winds and sand can be quite an obstacle when you're walking through the Kali Gandaki from Kagbeni towards Jomsom.

Oh and lastly, Lonely Planet is your friend and Yak cheese is devine.

Just my 2 Nepali Rupees

Morgan Begic
(shamanana) - F

Locale: North Adriatic Coast
Re: Annapurna Circuit on 08/06/2008 12:31:05 MDT Print View

lol! I am drowning in the abundance of info! Amazing community!
That Zebralight is so tiny! I hope to find it in the shops here. Or at least something that resembles it. I wasn't even aware they were making such small headlamps! I must be getting old ;)
Lonely Planet is ready. It's shopping time I guess. I looove shopping :D

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Annapurna Circuit on 08/06/2008 18:55:37 MDT Print View

One other thing... are you aware of the roadworks that are in progress on the Annapurna Circuit? The trail is gradually being eaten up by road unfortunately, particularly on the western side of the thorung la. It is still a beautiful trek, apparently, so don't let me put you off. But better to be aware of it before you go. If you google annapurna roadworks you'll find some more info about where the building is happening.

Also, I *highly* recommend getting the book Trekking in the Annapurna Region by Bryn Thomas. The trailblazer guides are excellent, and the one I used in the Everest region was much better than the Lonely Planet version (I read both). Because it is focused on a single region (rather than the whole of Nepal) you get much more detailed information. Check it out!

ps. If you think the zebralight H50 is too "floody", they have a new AA version of the H30 coming out with a tighter beam spread (called the H501). Not sure when, but it is expected some time this month or next. All the zebralights seem to have been getting rave reviews on the various flashlight forums around the web

Edited by ashleyb on 08/06/2008 18:57:03 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
warning: addictive! on 08/06/2008 19:02:26 MDT Print View

> lol! I am drowning in the abundance of info! Amazing community!

Yes, it is a fabulous community. I joined earlier this year, and have had a great experience and received lots of great advice. So it is my pleasure to help out with info where and when I can. Hopefully you'll stick around, benefit from what there is to learn here, and help to pass on useful tidbits of information yourself. Be warned though, this site and UL gear is addictive!!

raj nag
(rajnag21) - F

Locale: Currently NY
suggestions for annapurna circuit trek on 08/06/2008 20:58:52 MDT Print View

Morgan,
There's an Indian site that talks about this trek.Here's a thread.
http://www.indiamike.com/india/crossing-the-border-f57/annapurna-circuit-t31365/

I agree with all the excellent advice already provided.Get only the gear you really need. If it's a one off thing and you need anything annapurna specific just get it for cheap in kathmandu.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/07/2008 00:55:32 MDT Print View

Warning : I try to plan for the worst...*
I was there last October. The first 5 days we had very heavy rain (yes, unseasonal but just as cold and wet) so I was glad that I had a waterproof (not water resistant) jacket and pants. I did not even try to keep my boots ( more like running shoes) dry, but changed into my aqua shoes (non branded) a clean pair of socks and a fashionable bread bag over them at camp. ( I had a few with me)
The next few days the rain was sporadic but still more than a Pertex or Epic jacket could take.
Both in Katmandu and Pokhara it is almost impossible to find any genuine gear, IE most is fake North Face and the like, cheap and (in my view) dangerous rubbish.
The brief version is that I had a lot more fun than some of my more than 20 years younger and "fitter" companions. My sleeping bag ( WM Ultralite) mat (Exped 7, you don't need that in the lodges...) and decent weathergear made the difference.
Three of my mates bought trekking poles there, 4 out of the six broke within a few days. They paid about $10 for them. MY Black Diamond were just fine.
We only went up to about 3200m...., the other side at over 5000m is a bit more unpredictable.
The last few days I had shorts and a thin top on, still at over 2500m, so yes when everything is fine you can go ultralite.
Thorung La
One afternoon we saw one of those huge Russian troop carrying helicopters flying overhead (well almost by our side); it was taking injured trekkers ( at least one was dead) down to Pokhara from the Thorung La area. It was snowing rather heavily there. Yes, heavy snow was also out of season.
Franco
BTW, a hot cup of chai is not a bad way to start the day...
*In the sense of "less than ideal" ....

Edited by Franco on 08/07/2008 02:08:10 MDT.

Morgan Begic
(shamanana) - F

Locale: North Adriatic Coast
Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/07/2008 02:21:25 MDT Print View

@ Ashley Those roadworks are one of the main reasons I want to do AC now while there is still some "wilderness" left. Wanted to do it years ago but been postponing it ever since. And then I heard about the roadworks... I understand it's good for the local population to have real roads but...

At the moment all I have is a Lonely Planet "Nepal" guidebook so that Bryn Thomas guidebook would definitely come in handy.

@ raj nag That Indian site thread is excellent! Just the info I was looking for! In a way I thought it would be better to cross the border by road than to fly in as that would give me more time to acclimatize to the higher altitude (I live by the sea). There is also money issue involved as plane tickets for Nepal are going sky high ;) On the other hand, it does take a few days more to get there...hmmmmm Difficult choices I have to make.
And the fact that there is veg food available (I was afraid Nepal was mostly meat oriented place)

@ Franco Those waterproof jacket and pants are gore tex or something? Aqua shoes? and bread bag? ;)
I already have some trekking poles I regularly use for my weekend outings, but I am thinking something sturdier and maybe lighter is in order... You know what they say...You get what you pay for ;)
I am also thinking of getting some gaiters, not so much because of the snow but for debris that likes to find way into my boots.
BTW, that hot chai, do they make it like in Thailand with condensed milk :) I love that one! But then, any kind of chai is good!
Crossing Thorung La has become like an obsession to me (not really but). If I don't do it this time...and it's not like I am getting any younger :)

And when this trek is behind me I'll post my gear list for the future generations :) With notes describing what I really used or wished I had, and what was absolutely unnecessary and was just there to make my life miserable.

If anything else comes to your mind regarding gear or traveling tips...
Thank you again!!!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Newbie seeking gear list options for Annapurna Circuit Trek on 08/07/2008 03:53:38 MDT Print View

Morgan
It is my intention to go back and do the all circuit, including that 5000m pass...
I like Montane gear ( gear snob here) so my Gore Tex is now eVent. I think that it is more comfortable and breathes better, maybe less wind resistant, but works for me.
(my Gore Tex jackets are pre Pro)
Bread bag : not really a brand, just the plastic bag that holds those prefab loaves of bread from the supermarket. Some less demanding individuals use vapor barrier socks or SealSkinz. (after a few day of rain I still had my pair of "nighttime socks" dry, the others were having dinner with wet socks. The porters didn't have any socks...)
Aqua shoes : just a rubber sole with a stretch (thin neoprene ?) top. About 300g. I buy them from the stores that sell car camping and ex-military stuff.
A plainer version of this one
aqua shoes

Gaiters. Not usually necessary on the trail but worked well on the goat trails (soon to be part of the main trail, to avoid the roads) we tested. I have a pair of OR something, light, breathable (sort of) they wash and dry quickly.


Chai
Not sure if it was condensed or powder. All I know is that at 7 am it tasted great.
Mind you even a greasy goat tasted great .
Franco