Wondering what you’ll need to take when planning a Three Passes packing list? Here’s a breakdown of everything that you’ll need for the Three High Passes Trek in Nepal and where to buy it.
Many trekkers planning trips in the Nepal Himalaya get hung up on the question of what to pack. The truth is that everyone’s gear list might be a little different, based on various factors including; seasons, preferences and tolerance to pack weight.
However, if the Three Passes trek is going to be your first big trek in the Himalayas, then I’m sure that this useful packing list guide will serve as a foundation for your gear setup.
Three Passes Trek Resources
In the planning stages of the Three Passes trek in Nepal? I’ve written comprehensive trekking guides that aims to answer all of your independent itinerary questions.
You can check out this itinerary guide or, alternatively, explore trip reports and day-by-day guides in the list below.
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 1 – 3
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 4 – 6
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 7 – 9
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 10 – 12
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 13 – 15
- Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 16 – 20
Three Passes Packing List
So, here is my recommended Three Passes Packings list. I developed this list based on my personal experience on the Three Passes trek, as well as with the help of several trekking shops in Thamel.
I’ve included optional links to each item as a recommendation. However, you can also pick up most of these items cheaply in Thamel (although typically at a lower quality).
So, if you’re at home and using this Three Passes packing list, you’ll need to decide what you want to bring to Nepal, and what you’ll plan to buy in Thamel before the trek.
Insurance for Trekking & Climbing in Nepal
Read the fine print– Most travel insurance companies void coverage as soon as you step over 5,000 m. That’s why I use and recommend Global Rescue, which offers yearly or expedition-based rescue coverage with no altitude caps.
Don’t miss: Guide to Picking Trekking Travel Insurance (no altitude caps)
1. Upper Body
Keeping your core warm and dry during the days on the passes is going to be essential.
- 2x Long-sleeve thermal base layer – merino wool offers the best quality
- 1x Trekking shirt – lightweight but durable
- 1x Insulation layer – lightweight fleece is a great bet
- 1x Down layer
- 1x Hardshell jacket – essential for keeping dry
Here are some essential accessories that you’ll want to include in your Three Passes packing list.
- 1x Warm beanie or ear-warmers – cheap, fleece ones are fine
- 1x Sunglasses – absolutely essential to prevent snow-blindness, side-protection is very useful
- 1x Buff – very versatile and useful for a range of applications
3. Legs and Boots
Boots are arguably the most important piece of trekking gear you can have, but what do you need to bring for your legs?
- 2x Lightweight trekking pants – ones with a zipper to quickly turn them into shorts are great
- 1x Good quality trekking boots – don’t skimp on these unless you like blisters, make sure to wear them in too
- 3x Trekking socks – merino is best
- 3x Lightweight and quick-dry underwear – the lighter the better
- 1x Thermal leggings – lightweight merino is great
4. Pack and other Essentials
While I consider the bag the most important component of any trekking system, there are multiple things you’ll want to consider taking on the Three Passes Trek.
- 1x 40-60L hiking backpack and a rain cover – good brands include Osprey, Deuter and Berghaus
- 1x Field first aid kit
- 1x Water Bottle – I swear by Grayl bottles since they filter your water, meaning I don’t need to bring water purification tablets
- 1x Water filter or purification tablets – Lifestraw in a Nalgene bottle works well
- 1x Physical Khumbu trekking map – can be found everywhere in Thamel
- 1x Sleeping bag – you’ll want at least a minus 15 Celcius rating. They sell very warm and lightweight down sleeping bags in Thamel cheaply.
- 1x Warm gloves – the gloves you find in Thamel are pretty low quality, you’ll find a better deal online
- 2x Trekking Poles – can also be purchased cheaply in Thamel
- 1x Microfibre towel
- Toiletries: toothbrush, deodorant, sunscreen
- Cash – there are only two ATMs in the Khumbu, one in Namche Bazaar and one in Khumjung (thanks Goo Yong Ahn for the update in the comments)
- Optional: Diamox – prescription medication for AMS, also can be purchased in Thamel easily and cheaply.
Useful gadgets for your Three Passes packing list.
- Optional: Battery pack
- Optional: Small universal charger – some huts ask for money per socket to charge
- Optional: Kindle – great for reading in the tea huts and to have lightweight ebook guides
- Optional: Solar charger – not really necessary but can help keep your electronics topped up during the day
- Optional: Camera – GoPro is great but the mountains will look small and distant on ultra-wide cameras. A small mirrorless camera like the a6500 is a good bet.
6. Essential Tea House Packing List
For all the items that you’ll want to bring for the tea houses along the Three High Passes Trek.
- 1x Head Lamp
- 1x Set of lightweight, fleece sleeping pants and top
- 1x Cotton shirt for bed
- 1x Pair of warm sleeping socks
- Optional: 1x set of playing cards
Breaking Down The Layering System
When researching what you’ll need to bring on the Everest Three Passes Trek, or for any overnight alpine treks for that matter, you’ll often come across the term; layering.
But what is it?
Essentially, it’s just that. Using several lighter layers to keep warm, rather than having a heavy, bulky, all-in-one snow jacket.
Layering gives you more control over temperature regulation through using breathable fabrics suitable to the conditions.
Related: 15 Essential Items for Digital Nomads
How Heavy Should My Bag Be?
Minimizing pack weight is usually the number one priority for long-distance through-hikers. Making sure your pack is not going to weigh you down too much on the long days at altitude.
So, how heavy should by Three Passes pack be? Aim for 10-14 kg.
To keep the weight down when planning out your Three Passes gear list, don’t bring more pairs of clothes than you really need. Most trekkers usually wash their socks and dry their sweaty shirts and underwear daily after getting changed at the tea house. The dry, Himalayan conditions mean that things usually dry overnight.
Thamel Shopping Guide – Where to Buy Budget Trekking gear in Kathmandu
Looking to buy gear for the Three Passes trek once you arrive in Kathmandu? Good call.
The demand for cheap trekking gear in Thamel has created a huge grey market for everything from fake North Face hard shells to rip-off Lowa hiking boots.
It’s true, you really can purchase everything that you need for the Three Passes trek in Thamel. However, just know that the quality isn’t always going to be the best.
For decent quality cheap gear with shop owners that will tell you what you’ll need and not just try to make a quick buck, visit Kalapatthar Trekking Store, and Shona’s Alpine. I bought all of my non-essential performance items like fleece, t-shirts, beanies, buffs, socks and even trekking poles from these two stores.
Tips for Saving Money
Remember that bartering is commonplace in all market shops in Nepal. Don’t settle for the first price, but don’t drive the business owner’s profit margins to near-zero either.
There’s a good balance that should be maintained when bartering, and that is usually answered by the question; how much is this item really worth to me?
Besides bartering, here are a few more tips to save money when shopping for your Three Passes packing list.
- Think about whether you really need a $1000 Arc’teryx shell or if a regular Goretex jacket will suffice
- Don’t buy more than you need – follow this packing list and you’ll shave off the grams too
- Great items to buy in Thamel for cheap include a sleeping bag, trekking socks, base layers, fleece, trekking pants, and beanies.
- Watch the ATM fees – they usually charge a set fee per withdrawal in Nepal for foreign VISA cards.
- Invest in quality gear – things like Goretex jackets, trekking boots, a good pack, and a filter bottle last a long time and can be used for many years. Skimping out on these essentials will probably cost you more in the long run because you’ll end up replacing them anyway.
Where to Stay in Thamel to Shop This Three Passes Packing List
Choosing the right place to stay before and after the trek is important because you will most likely need to leave some non-trekking gear with a trustworthy caretaker. Secondly, trust me when I say that you will want a nice bed with a warm shower once you return from the mountain.
Therefore, it’s best to choose the same hotel or hostel for the nights both before and after the Three Passes trek.
I stayed at Beehive Hostel, which is a budget lodging just 3 minutes from the main shopping district and offers warm showers and large, comfortable private rooms. They also let us leave our bags there for 20 days for free while we were in the Khumbu.
If you’re looking for something a bit classier, try Hotel Blue Horizon or the Fairfield by Marriot.
Three Passes: Trekking Ebook
Since internet connectivity is limited in the Khumbu, I’ve written a comprehensive trekking guide to the Three Passes which you can download as an eBook for use on your mobile, tablet, or e-reader.
More Three Passes Guides and Blogs
I hope that you found this guide to the Three Passes packing list helpful. For a complete day-by-day Three Passes trekking guide, make sure to check out my blogs below.
If you have any suggestions or updates on prices and shops in Thamel, make sure to let me know in the comments below or email me so that I can keep this list up-to-date.
Why not save this Three Passes Complete Guide and Packing List for later? While you’re at it, if you follow We Seek Travel on Pinterest, then you’ll be able to stay in the loop with all the new travel guides and blogs.
Thursday 13th of April 2023
Hey Olly, thanks for the comprehensive guide, what is your opinion on what capacity hiking pack to use, I saw you mentioned 40-60L, as I have heard many different opinions on pack size for EBC + three passes.
Goo Yong Ahn
Wednesday 10th of June 2020
Cash – there are no ATMs in the Khumbu --> At Namche Bazzar, there is a Siddhartha Bank Branch with ATM and another ATM of the same bank is located at Khumjung just above Namche Bazzar.
Thursday 11th of June 2020
Thanks so much for the update, I'll add it to the article.