What to Pack for Hiking the Annapurna Circuit

In my somewhat limited research for the Annapurna Circuit I didn’t come across much information on what I should bring on the hike. There was some information on what to bring on a hike to Everest Base camp and there are plenty of similarities but here’s what I brought and why.

I’m writing this article more for the beginner hikers but I do think experienced hikers will benefit from this when planning a hike in the Annapurna range.

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Stuff to know

We didn’t use porters or guides – This is an important point to note as many people do choose to use porters on the Annapurna Circuit. If you choose to use a porter then in theory you can take whatever you want, however we decided not to as we’re all fairly experienced hikers and wanted the challenge of carrying our own gear.

The Climate goes from Tropical Jungle to Snowy Mountain Passes – Our first few days were really warm and humid but later on and in the evenings it got to zero degrees Celsius . You need to be prepared for varying weather and temperatures.

Three out of four us have completed one or more Long Distance Thru hikes – This just means we know what gear works for us and what we need. We wouldn’t be considered true ultralight hikers but we’re pretty close.

Im going to list all the items necessary for the hike and any extras I brought. Then I’ll mention what you need to look for when selecting your own gear and finally I’ll list what item I used.

Many of my recommendations will have an associated review or link so check out those for more specific details. Some affiliate links are included in this post, you can help support pieonthetrail.com by purchasing through these links.

Clothing Worn While Hiking

Lightweight Trail running shoes – Many people choose to use heavy boots but I’d advocate running shoes if you’re in good shape and your pack is quite light. Look for something breathable, grippy and most importantly that fits your feet well. What I used – Altra Lone Peak Running shoes with Dirty Girl Gaiters – No better trail shoes in my opinion.

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Good socks – Thinner socks are better in my opinion as your feet are going to sweat when hiking. Merino wool or a synthetic blend is best as they dry fast and last a long time, Merino wool won’t smell as quickly. What I used – Ininji Toe socks – I really love these funky looking toe socks. The running weight version don’t last hundreds of miles but they’re perfect for a “short” hike like this. They are 100% synthetic so they stank towards the end of the trip.

Synthetic Underwear – Fast drying, tight (to prevent chafing). What I used – Under Armour Boxer Jocks – I’ve tried so many different brands over the years and these are my favourite by far.

Fast drying “hiking” shorts – Pants are overkill for during the day as your body produces so much heat from hiking. You want something fast drying (see the emerging pattern?) Strong elastic in the waistband and a couple of good pockets. The best hiking shorts are actually running shorts. What I used – North face Travel Shorts – Not recommended as they weren’t elasticated and bunched up when I fastened my hip belt. They dried super fast though. Get yourself some basic running shorts and you’ll never look back.

Short sleeve hiking T Shirt – No Cotton. Synthetic or Merino Wool. Short sleeves are fine for hiking and works well as the base for your layering system. What I used – Icebreaker Merino T-shirt – I really can’t say good enough good things about these shirts. Comfy, takes ages before it smells bad. The only downside is the price but I totally think it’s worth it.

Some kind of hat with a brim – This is a really personal choice but something to keep the sun off your neck/eyes. What I used – Gregory Baseball Cap – Looks good but takes ages to dry and not super comfy. I love caps from Headsweatz.

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Sunglasses – Used them a few times when the sun was fierce. What I used – Cheap sunglasses I’m not afraid to lose or break

Gloves – Some kind of lightweight gloves is a good idea as even when it’s sunny the wind can be cold. I personally get cold hands easily so I used them often. What I used – Microfleece gloves made by RAB, used them on the AT and the fingertips have worn through but they did the job well.

Clothing Carried in Backpack

Synthetic button up shirt – This was my first layer I’d put on if it was a little cold whilst hiking. Nice to be able to roll up the sleeves or unbutton the shirt when necessary.
What I used – Fake North Face shirt bought in Kathmandu. Nothing to complain about for $6.

Rain Jacket – Goretex is great for a rain jacket but not necessary if the jacket vents well, hood essential. What I used – Marmot Goretex Jacket – Same one I used on the AT and still going strong.

Puffy Jacket – This is essential for the colder spots in the evenings or lunch breaks. Down tends to be lighter but more expensive. Get something rated for three season use that fits well and weighs as little as possible. What I used – RAB Xenon X Hoody – Still one of my favourite pieces of gear. Rarely do I put this on and still feel cold.

Long Pants/Long Underwear – Having a long bottom layer is only necessary for the evenings and mornings in my opinion. Go with the lightest option you can find.What I used – I brought a pair of Arcteryx pants because it’s what I had with me and it worked fine. I’d probably just bring long underwear next time.

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Camp Socks – A “clean” thick pair of socks is really nice to put on after a days hiking. Something warm is the main thing to consider here. What I used – Injinji Mid Weight Wool Socks. Took a long time before they got stinky. Warm

Warm Beanie – Another essential for them chilly evenings. Bring whatever you have. What I used – Green fleece Beanie I’ve been using for years.

Camp “Shoes” – You totally don’t need camp shoes but they’re nice to have. Bring something as lightweight as possible. What I used – Shamma Mountain Goat Sandals. I hate wearing regular shoes unless I have to so having some barefoot sandals to slip my feet into was perfect.

Change Of Underwear – Good to change it up every few days. 1 to 2 pairs maximum, just hand wash them once in a while and strap them to your pack to dry. What I used – Under Armour for the win.

All of this clothing can and was layered in various different ways depending on the climate.

Sleep System

You’re sleeping inside on a bed every night, albeit in draughty rooms with questionable bedding.

No need for camping mattresses but you will need a sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bag – A bag rated 20 to 30 degrees fahrenheit will be perfect. Good sleeping bags are expensive but worth the money as they weigh less and compress really small. Nothing can beat a good Down filled sleeping bag/Quilt. What I used – The awesome Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Degree Quilt. The best in the business in my opinion.

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Sleeping Bag Liner – Nice to have to add some warmth to your sleeping and reduce contact with the sheets in the teahouses. Silk Liners are the best. What I used – Silk Liner from RAB. Packs down extremely small and you’re sleeping in a silk cocoon. You’re basically a butterfly.

I carried a pack towel for the occasional showers and ended up wrapping it around the pillows in the teahouses to reduce the gross factor.

Carry System

The Backpack – Go to an outdoors store and try on different packs to see what works for you. A pack with a capacity of fifty litres should be plenty big enough. Some of the best, lightweight backpacks are only available online from smaller cottage companies.

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What I used – Osprey Aether “70″ Litre. My go to travel backpack for over five years and It’s still going strong. The reason I brought this pack instead of my ULA Ohm is because it’s more durable and can handle bigger, heavier loads. I combined the Annapurna trip with 10 days in Indonesia, 10 days in Tokyo and exploration of Nepal away from the Annapurnas’.

** Bonus tip ** – We left a lot of gear that we didn’t need on the hike in our hostel in Kathmandu for free. This enabled us to hike with only the essentials!

Bags and such for organizing your gear – You need to waterproof your gear and I like to have my gear organized so I know where everything is. What I used – My go to waterproofing method is to line my bag with a heavy duty trash compactor bag and put everything inside it, it’s never let me down. I carried a packing cube from Tom Bihn and a smaller one from Eagle Creek to organise everything.

The Small Stuff

I’m going to quickly list everything else I recommend for the hike and make notes on anything I think relevant.

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Water Bottles x2 – I carried a small Nalgene to make cold instant coffee in and a disposable water bottle purchased on trail, you need to buy or treat all of the water you’ll use on trail.
Water Purification Tablets – Purchased in Kathmandu
Trekking Poles
Headlamp
Kindle/Book
Bluetooth Keyboard – Not essential but I love it in conjunction with my phone for journalling and blogging
Phone/Camera
Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitiser – Nepal is not a very sanitary place and not many places will have toilet paper or soap
Shampoo/Soap – Hardly any of the Teahouses had soap or shampoo in the bathroom
External Battery – A must for charging your electronics as most teahouses did not have plug sockets in the room
Various Chargers – The European two prong style worked everywhere in Nepal
Map of the circuit – These can be purchased in Nepal, the route is very easy to follow. The maps make it easy to plan out your day and calculate time/distance between towns

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I think that covers just about everything you need for the Annapurna Circuit. It may seem like a lot of stuff but if you choose lightweight options and don’t bring too many extra’s you should have a light backpack, making the whole experience that much more pleasant.

If you have any questions or comments then please don’t hesitate to leave them below.

PIE


2 thoughts on “What to Pack for Hiking the Annapurna Circuit

  1. Jonathan Kilroy Reply

    I’m wondering what months you hiked in and whether or not you think the sleeping bag was absolutely necessary. That would easily be the largest item in my pack and I’m looking for justification to avoid bringing it.

    1. Pie Reply

      Ahoy Jonathan.

      We were hiking in October/November and it got down below freezing a couple of nights. Although some tea houses did provide blankets I preferred having my own equipment that I knew would keep me warm. Some of the blankets definitely hadn’t been cleaned for a while as well.

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