Gokyo – Cho La Pass – Everest Base Camp Gear Review

Link to the gear I took to Nepal

If you have any questions about gear or are wondering about something that I didn’t talk about here, be sure to leave a comment or send me an email!

First, here’s a list of everything that I took to Nepal but had to leave at the hotel due to weight restrictions for the flight to Lukla.
thermarest xtherm long
gossamer gear 1/8″ pad
pack towel large
cocoon pillow
two 1.5L nalgene bottles
platypus water filter
flip flops
outdoor research thermal top
zpacks rain skirt
injinji snow sock
qiviut beanie
icebreaker bra
outdoor research flurry gloves
purple rain adventure skirt
mini bluetooth keyboard

Things I took on the trek but didn’t really need/use:
outdoor research expedition gaiters
connect 4 game
glacier glasses
grabber toe warmers
insulated mittens
patagonia sunshade hooded shirt
used hot water bottle instead of down booties

The 15kg (33lbs) limit for the flight to Lukla is very real and needs to be taken seriously. Excess weight costs money and pushes the limits of safety. If your gear weighs too much you risk having to wait for a later flight or go without some of your gear. Also, porters are usually carrying two duffle bags which is nearly 70lbs. HONOR and RESPECT the PORTERS and keep the weight down! It is possible to be strategic and wear your heaviest layers for the flight.

The number one thing is make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag. Nighttime temperatures were usually well below freezing and the tea houses are definitely not heated. Think I’m joking? The flush water in the bathrooms would freeze solid and the water on the floors would turn into an ice rink. Know your temperature needs and plan accordingly. I’m a cold sleeper and my bag was an ultra light 0F bag which could have been a bit warmer. Some of the tea houses also had blankets on the bed so that was an extra comfort. I had wanted to bring my xtherm sleeping pad and cocoon pillow but had to leave them behind. All the tea houses I stayed in had pillows.

I’m not a fan of using a water bladder but brought it along in an effort to drink more water while hiking. Even still, I wish I had left it behind and used my larger nalgene bottles. Given the cold temperatures, it’s so easy for the water to freeze in the tube (if you don’t remember to blow the water back into the bladder) which makes it useless. Towards the end of the trip, my bite valve part sprung a leak (probably from freezing) and was slowly dripping on me. Nothing I tried could get the thing to stop leaking so I stopped using it. Even a simple water bottle would have worked better which is easily purchased in Kathmandu or along the trail. I also had the idea that I could filter water to save money, etc. but I only used the filter in Kathmandu.

~I could have gotten by with one pair of CONVERTIBLE PANTS but it was nice to have an extra in case of seam failure or for the return to Kathmandu. The trail is very dusty and your boots and bottoms of pants will be absolutely covered in it.
~I ended up taking less UNDERWEAR than originally planned. In an effort to keep things cleaner, I would wear a pad with a new pair of underwear and then wear the underwear a second day without the pad.
~RAIN GEAR is a must but we were lucky and never needed it.
~My nose was constantly running so I had to blow it all the time. I had several HANDKERCHIEFS with me and had to wash all of them at least once during the trip.
~My feet are always cold once I stop hiking. It seems logical that the more layers you put on your feet at night in your sleeping bag the warmer they will be. But it just doesn’t work. I wore FLEECE SOCKS and DOWN BOOTIES and they did nothing to warm my feet. I was better off with a pair of regular socks or just the fleece socks. Also, don’t forget the hot water bottle for your bag!
~I took sun GLOVES which were a nice layer to protect the hands from the sun but also to provide a little warmth. I also had a thin liner pair that are intended to be worn inside the insulating mitten. The morning of our approach to Cho La Pass I started with the liners and mittens. My hands were so frozen. I ended up stowing my poles and walking my hands in my pockets. Due to the cold, I did this one other morning too. Would have been fine with just the sun gloves and liner gloves.
~I’m a very temperature challenged person so hiking in LAYERS is crucial. I was often so overheated that I had to strip down to my base layer rei northway plaid shirt. If I started to get cold I would then add my icebreaker long sleeve zip jacket. Tying to regulate temperature with a beanie, buff or gloves is a good idea but usually those also make me too hot. The next layer I would add is my PATAGONIA HOUDINI JACKET. It’s an ultra light wind jacket weighing in at just 3.7 ounces. If you held this jacket in your hands you’d probably think that it is too lightweight to be of any good use. But this jacket is counter intuitive. I ended up wearing it way more than I thought I might. I wore it on the windy approach to Gokyo, over Cho La Pass, to Everest Base Camp and down through the windy Khumbu Valley. While not water proof, it adds such a valuable and versatile layer of warmth and the jacket stuffs into its chest pocket. A down jacket layer is a must for camp, really cold breaks or cold, downhill morning hikes.
~I had one thermal BASE LAYER TOP for hiking and one for sleeping. I think I only wore the thermal top while hiking once or twice so this is a thing I could have gone without. I also wore the patagonia sunshade shirt only a couple times. Maybe it was providing good sun protection for my face but all I can remember is that it kept pulling down my trucker hat and that was so so annoying. I could have gone without this top too.
~Since I have a hard time staying warm once I stop moving, I really appreciated having FLEECE LINED LEGGINGS in addition to the lounge pants for hanging out at the tea houses. If we had done the early morning climb up Kala Patthar, I would have hiked in the leggings then as well.
~I think I had four pairs of SOCKS but I wish that I had taken at least one more pair. The trail is so dusty that your socks and shoes become filled with dust. Or, take fewer pairs and do some laundry (by hand of course) along the way.
~I’m really glad I had warm, light weight SLIPPERS to wear at the tea houses and to slip my feet into when getting up in the middle of the night.

~I brought my CAMERA and five camera batteries but I wish I had just left it behind. This is where you can save a lot of weight. Unless you have a setup with the camera affixed to the straps of your pack while you’re hiking, odds are that you won’t use it. I had mine stuffed in my pack and never wanted to stop and get it out. I did take a few cool pictures of oxen, yaks and Tibetan Snowcocks but I don’t know if the weight and effort to carry the equipment was worth it. At some point I stopped carrying it in my backpack and left it in my duffel bag.
~Keeping your phone in airplane mode helps save the battery. At night I would turn my phone off and charge it using my EXTERNAL BATTERY. It is possible to buy power or charge devices at the tea houses. I could have saved weight by bringing just one external battery and paying to charge. If you’re someone who has to buy wifi at every tea house and be on your phone at all times then bringing additional batteries is probably a must. Also, be careful not to plug your fitbit or garmin type watches directly into the external battery.
~I brought extra batteries for my headlamp but did not need them.

At first I was fine with the food but by day 6 my digestive track was not happy. I don’t know if I ate some bad veggies or if it was the oil used for cooking. For days I ate only bread and started to feel better but obviously was lacking in the nutrition needed to feel strong while hiking. At Gorak Shep I was feeling good and had veggie chow mein for lunch. Big mistake. For the rest of my trek days I only ate plain omelet or bread plus the snacks I had with me. My SNACKS included snickers bars, dried mangoes, lemon zest luna bars, builders protein bars, trail mix and butterscotch candies. I also had orange crush drink mix and electrolyte mixes. I know snickers bars are something you can buy at tea houses but they are very expensive. In hind sight, I wish I had left a lot of gear behind and taken more snacks!!!

~I thought I had enough TOILET PAPER with me but ended up buying two rolls in Gokyo. If I remember correctly, it cost almost the equivalent to $15 USD for those two roles!
~The trail is so dusty! The DUST and dried YAK and DONKEY DUNG are all swirling in the air like crazy! You’ll see most locals on the trail covering their face with either a buff or a mask. I know it’s hard to breathe as you go up in elevation but try to wear a mask while you’re hiking. I had constant allergies or a cold or just general irritation from breathing is all the swirling dung and dust. Also, most evenings the stove would be lit in the tea houses. The fuel source is yak dung and my respiratory track did not like this.
~Skip the grabber toe warmers and put a WARM BOTTLE OF WATER in the bottom of your sleeping bag.
~Take plenty of cash/RUPEES. Also, bring an ATM card as backup. There are a few ATMs in Namche Bazaar that may or may not be working.
~Better to get an NCell SIM CARD in Kathmandu at the airport. Some people in my group got Everest Link sim cards in Namche Bazaar but they mostly never worked. Not sure why but you can imagine that the tea houses would rather sell you wifi. NCell worked at Namche and a bit beyond.

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