What type of trekking clothes & equipment are available in Nepal in 2019?
Alongside trekking agencies the next most abundant shop you’ll find are stores selling all types of trekking clothes and equipment in Nepal. It’s been a profitable business for many since the 1970s. Up until a few years ago some of the clothes also looked like it was that era too! From genuine branded items to Chinese knock offs to Nepali made copies of knockoffs. Just about everything is available!
However, the cravat is that not everything is worth buying in Nepal. Some items are just plain bad. Others, are good. From windproof jackets, to trekking boots to trekking poles. Somethings are cheap, others are better bought at home.
If you want to jump ahead in planning a trek then here is the very best trekking in Nepal equipment list that you’ll need for your trek. If you’re looking to find out what clothing and equipment is really available in Nepal during 2019 and what to avoid then keep reading.
Good trekking clothing and equipment you can easily buy in Nepal
The following trekking items are widely available in genuine, counterfeit and fake options.
- Summit Jackets: big, bulky and super warm to keep going well below freezing
- Windcheater Jackets: medium weight and windproof which are great all rounders
- Rainproof Jackets: light weight and rainproof for treks near the monsoon seasons
When you visit a trekking store in Nepal you’ll probably be bombarded by other yet vaguely similar names to the above. This is just random terminology and sales pitch talk. Windcheaters are often called windstoppers too, or simply light jackets. They are all the same.
Summit jackets do need extra care though. Some are down filled others have foam filling. And the price will go from USD $30 to $300 depending on the quality. Down is far more expensive, heavier and warmer. These jackets are best used for those doing winter treks or peak treks. Down jackets need special washing care so do be careful when cleaning them. In both cases I’d honestly suggest you get them at home if you plan to trek for long periods. If on the other hand you just want to wrap up warm and are going on a single trek, then getting them in Nepal is fine.
Windcheaters and and rainproof jackets are cheap and relatively good to buy in Nepal.
If you are worried about the cold. Then do remember to check out my trekking in Nepal page. Visit the weather and best time for trekking in Nepal pages. And make your own assessments. For most people the above gear is fine to buy in Nepal. If you are on a more technical trek then consider equipment needed for your safety and well being carefully.
Trousers are often called pants in Nepal!
- Lined trousers: usually have a warm fleece lining
- Windproof trousers: hard feeling material that blocks out the wind
- Lightweight trousers: very light weight with no warmth but good in the sun and can usually be zipped off into shorts
Finding a good pair of trekking trousers in Nepal is quite easy. Here’s an almighty good tip. Try them on carefully and wear them in if you suffer from chaffing!
Lined trousers are very good in the wind or even in the cold evenings sitting in a tea house. They are heavy though and can get very warm. Windproof trousers do as they say but after some washes stop being so windproof. They also get quite warm during the day. Lightweight trousers are one of the most popular especially for those that zip off into shorts. If they are not warm enough, many people simply wear another layer under them.
The quality on all trekking trousers is usually quite good in Nepal. Check the stitching though.
T-Shirts and trekking Shirts
- Synthetic t-shirts: easy wash, stretchable and light weight. They can smell incredibly bad after a few days though no matter how much you wash them.
- Base layer shirts: in Nepal these are very similar to synthetic t-shirts. It’s worth spending a bit more and opting for a better material.
- Short/long-sleeve trekking shirts: synthetic again but the material is usually not stretchable and don’t smell so bad. The pockets come in handy and the long-sleeve are good for protection against the sun and wind.
There’s very little warmth or high-quality in the trekking shirts you can buy in Nepal. A good trekking shirt from home will probably last you longer. The “genuine” trekking shirts in Nepal tend not to be so genuine. But for a trek in Nepal the cheaper trekking shirts available are good and will certainly last a while.
Again, it’s worth mentioning the synthetic t-shirt smell. They can get very pungent after getting even a little damp (sweat). They also retain and seem to exaggerate body odor too. If you really like them, my suggestion is to get a quality one from home and test it out first.
- Heavy fleece: thick and heavy for winter treks and evenings in a teahouse.
- Light fleece: light and easy to pack for day time warmth
- Reversible fleece: one color on the inside, another on the outside that you can turn inside out.
The humble fleece remains one the best buys in Nepal for trekking. Cheap and warm they’ll get you through a trek with ease. Great for building and peeling off in the cold mornings, warm days and cold nights. Going with a heavy fleece is usually a good option. Reversible fleeces are more than just for fashion. Like it or not accidents happen and if you spill something down the front and can’t wash it then just turn it inside out. The latter are getting harder to find.
- Winter sleeping bags: thick and heavy made from down or synthetic
- Summer sleeping bags: lightweight and synthetic
Sleeping bags in Nepal are fake. There’s no way to get around it. They look great but they are from China. The Tog (Season 1, 2 or 3 warmth) system is worthless and just a label stuck on. That said, they do the job if you are not fussy. The real issue is if you are going on a remoter winter trek or a peak trek. In that case bring your own high quality sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags in Nepal work well for regular treks. The down ones release feathers after about a week or so. The synthetic ones last quite a while but aren’t that warm.
- Foil backed mats: foil backed on one side so it keeps the moisture out
- Yoga mats: simple foam mats
On a budget, head to a local market and buy foam there. Otherwise these sleeping mats are very thin and don’t offer much protection unless you are camping. Of the two, the foil backed ones are better for trekking. Most teahouses have thin mattresses. A sleeping mat is only about 1/8th of an inch.
Sleeping bag liners
- Silk sleeping bag liner: 90% are fake in Nepal. The ones that are not can be very expensive and cheaper to bring from home.
- Nylon sleeping bag liner: widely available, cheap and strong
- Cotton sleeping bag liner: heavier, warmer but not so practical
If there’s something you really should consider it’s a sleeping bag liner. It brings a level of separation between you and a dirty unwashed blanket in a tea house. The silk ones are the best but are expensive in Nepal but offer good protection and comfort. The nylon ones are good in Nepal but won’t offer the same comfort as a silk one. A cotton one if is not very practical as its heavier and harder to dry.
- 1 liter: the most practical type of water bottle available in Nepal
- 1/2 liter: not so practical
Water bottles are widely available in Nepal. Nearly everywhere water is sold at minimum of 1 liter. So the half liter bottles are not so practical. Water bottles have a screw on lid which used to be problem in Nepal but seem to be water tight these days. The only issue with water bottles in Nepal is the plastic. BPA has been linked as a harmful chemical. Although many of the water bottles in Nepal are labeled “BPA Free” and “Made in the USA” the reality is they come from China and can’t be fully trusted.
- Spring suspension: trekking poles with a little bounce to help with impact
- Regular: standard adjustable trekking poles
Trekking poles are cheap and plentiful in Nepal. The suspension variety can be pricey and don’t last very long. A sure bet is to go with the traditional type.
Hats and gloves
- Wide rim hats: come in many varieties though usually on the small size
- Peaked caps: Slightly harder to find and the quality is not always great
- Nepali wool hats: thick and warm with ear covers making them great in the winter
A hat offers great protection from the sun or cold. The wide rim hats in Nepal do the job but can be on the small size. Peaked caps are basically cheap baseball type hats. Wool hats are worth getting in the winter with ear flaps.
Trekking Clothing & Equipment you don’t really want to buy in Nepal
The follow trekking gear is available in Nepal but the quality and standard is really bad. If it’s important to you, then bring it from home.
Just forget it. For over a decade now trekking boots have been available in Nepal and they are terrible in quality. Including the “genuine” ones. Yes, they will probably get you though a trek. But they won’t be so comfortable. The North Face and Columbia ones may come from a “genuine” store but the product seems to have zero quality control.
Soles tend to be the first to fall apart. The insulation is non-existent and forget about being water proof. On the other hand, if you do get stuck, they are available. Just remember that trekking boots or shoes should be broken in first. So if there is one item you should really bring from home, it’s trekking footwear.
- Tents: available but the quality is dubious
- Cooking stoves: available but the quality is dubious
You’ll be paying over the odds. That said, carrying these items from home can be expensive and impractical. If you are going on a short trek these might just be one of the few items that renting could be better option. They’ll be tried and tested that way too.
All fake. Protect your eyes and get a strong UVA/UVB pair from home.
Again, forget it. Bring them from home. In Nepal they are expensive and don’t last.
If any of your equipment needs batteries then consider be warned battery quality in Nepal is terrible.
The latest trekking equipment available in Nepal
I spent some time checking out what new trekking equipment was available in Nepal compared to some of the older stuff that’s always been around.
Surprisingly there’s not that much that’s new or improved.
Trekking bags and backpacks
These items have improved quite a bit and deserve a mention. They are all fake though. The biggest issue before was poor stitching. This seems to have been resolved. The new issue is that the inside of the bags seem considerably smaller than the 35, 40, 45, 50+ liter capacity written on them.
Several types of Steripen and alternative UV water treatments are available in Nepal. Expect to pay about 20-40% more than you would back home. The Steripens in Nepal do seem to be genuine though. The main issue with Steripens or UV treatment is that the batteries in Nepal are bad quality and you’ll need a lot of them to keep the device running.
I mentioned them already, but they are essential. The new ones don’t leak. However I’m dubious about them being BPA free. If this is important to you, then bring some from home.
Yes, I’m throwing this one is as so many people want to bring chocolate and sweets on a trek as an energy boosting treat. Chocolate in Nepal is all important and expensive. For a 100grm bar of Lindt you are looking at USD $4.50. There are cheaper chocolates but they are full of artificial everything. There’s a new Indian brand in Nepal which is cheaper but it’s harder to find. If chocolate is important to you then consider bringing it from home!
Renting trekking clothing & equipment
You can rent everything from sleeping bags to jackets and tents.
However, I wouldn’t rent clothing unless it’s an expensive summit style jacket for a short trek. To be quite frank with you the laundry services are not that good. Tents, trekking poles etc are no problem.
More details are in my trekking equipment list.
However in summary, if you are going on a short trek then renting some equipment may be a financially better option. Just add up the daily rental vs the cost of buying. If you are going for a longer trek then buying your gear is probably going to save you some cash.
Likewise with camping. Tents, stoves and gas are probably best rented than bought depending on your trek duration and experience.
Likewise with camping then tents, stoves and gas are probably best rented than bought depending on your trek and experience.
Trekking clothing and equipment shops in Nepal
Kathmandu and Pokhara remain the only two locations where you are better off buying trekking clothing and some equipment. These days the pricing is pretty similar between the two. There are more shops in Kathmandu without doubt and certainly more place to buy things like camping and cooking gear. But most sell the same clothes.
Take note of the usual dubious branded trekking clothing stores in both cities. North Face, Black Yak and Columbia sell “branded” items. They look nice, but the quality is less than you’ll get at home and the price will be more. Sonam and Mountain Sherpa chains have also increased their prices to somewhat silly levels in the past two years.
There have been a bevy of cheap Chinese owned trekking stores opening up. While some of the staff are Nepali the products are Chinese and the profits for straight there.
Personally, I prefer buying trekking gear from established local Nepali trekking clothing and equipment stores like Up To Date Trekking Store in Kathmandu. Shiva, the owner, has been running trekking gear stores for many years now. He’s very honest about the gear he sells and is one of the few trekking store owners who will tell you whether it is a fake, a good fake or genuine.
If you visit Shiva do tell you came from The Longest Way Home as he’ll probably give you a little extra discount.
I list this trekking store and many more locals ones along with maps in my First Time Trekking in Nepal guidebook and in my Nepal guidebook. There are also dedicated and very detailed chapters on trekking equipment with much more information than here plus how to buy trekking gear, trekking agents and of course all your favorite treks are in there too.
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