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Three Passes Packing List: What You Need to Bring

Three Passes Packing List: What You Need to Bring

Here’s my recommended Everest Three Passes packing list with all the things you need to bring and where to buy them online or in Thamel (Kathmandu).

Many trekkers planning trips in the Nepal Himalayas 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 Everest 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 Packing List

Here is my recommended Three Passes packing list and what I usually bring on most hikes in Nepal, including the Three Passes, the Manaslu Circuit, and the basic trekking kit for climbs like Island Peak and Mera Peak.

I initially 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. Below is an overall summary of what you need but I'll include a more detailed packing list below with specific items.

  • Backpack - 40-60L is adequate
  • Boots - Sturdy, worn in trekking boots. Boots with Goretex or similar waterproof membranes are ideal.
  • Layered clothing - Layers for your head, upper body, and legs. (suggestions below).
  • Electronics - Phone, camera, battery packs, etc.
  • Tea House/sleeping gear - Headlamp, sleeping clothes, sleeping bag
  • Other essentials - first aid kit, water bottle filter, etc.
  • Trekking Travel Insurance - Ensure you are covered above 5,500 m (most regular cheap travel insurance doesn't).

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).

Olly gaspar mountaineering we seek travel

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, as the best high-altitude trekking insurance (no altitude caps).

1. Backpack

I consider your pack the most important component of any trekking system since it'll make or break your experience. There's nothing worse than carrying a poorly fitted backpack for days on end.

As a photographer, I trek with a camera backpack made for hiking, but most people will just trek with a regular 40-60L hiking backpack with a dedicated rain cover.

Good backpack brands include Osprey, Deuter, and Berghaus.

Tip: If you are trekking the Three Passes or the EBC route with a porter, then you only need a 30-40L backpack with your essentials and buy a decent duffel bag like the North Face Base Camp Duffel.

Trekking the renjo la pass on the three passes trek in nepal

2. Boots

Your boots are going to be the second-most important item on your EBC or Three Passes packing list. I highly recommend that you wear in your boots to avoid blisters.

The best trekking boots for Nepal are generally full leather or synthetic with a Goretex or similar membrane. I'm currently using the LOWA Ranger III for extra support as I carry a lot of camera gear. However, these are quite heavy.

Alternatively, there are several other brands available but the Lowa Renegades are very popular for the Three Passes. This is the boot I used the first time I trekked in Nepal and they were great.

More recommended brands to consider:

Three high passes trek cho la pass

3. Clothing & Layering

If you're a beginner, the most important thing you need to know about gearing up for treks is that you need to layer. Layering is crucial for adapting to the Everest region's unpredictable weather. Here's a breakdown:

  1. Base Layer: Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you dry from sweat. In the Everest region, this helps maintain body temperature during strenuous climbs.
  2. Insulating Layer: Fleece or down jackets provide warmth. Temperatures can plummet, especially at higher altitudes, making this layer indispensable.
  3. Outer Layer: A waterproof, breathable shell protects against wind and rain. Weather in the Himalayas can change rapidly; a sudden downpour or snowstorm is common.

Layering allows for flexibility. You can add or remove layers as conditions change, ensuring comfort and safety throughout your trek. This approach is far more effective than relying on a single, bulky jacket, which cannot adapt to the varied conditions you'll face on the Three Passes trek.

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
The kongma la pass chortens and prayer flags on the three high passes trek, nepal

Upper Body

Keeping your core warm and dry during the days on the passes is going to be essential. Here is a detailed list of the layers to bring.

Himalayan dog, top of the cho la pass nepal three high passes trek

Lower Body

What do you need to bring for your legs?

Trekking the renjo la pass on the three passes trek in nepal

4. Electronics

Useful gadgets for your Three Passes packing list.

  • Phone
  • 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. Read my guide to camera gear for travel and adventure for more recommendations.
Hiker with garmin inreach satellite device

How I Stay Connected Off-Grid

I've been using the Garmin InReach Mini satellite communicator for all serious treks and expeditions since 2020.

It lets me send unlimited SMS anywhere on earth and has an emergency SOS feature that could save your life.

5. 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 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 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
Three passes trek teahouse
Typical teahouse accommodation

6. Other Essentials

  • 1x Field first aid kit
  • 1x Water bottle filter - I swear by Grayl bottles since they filter your water, meaning I don't need to bring water purification tablets. Alternatively, a Lifestraw in a Nalgene bottle works well but not great.
  • 1x Physical Khumbu trekking map - can be found everywhere in Thamel
  • 1x Warm gloves - the gloves you find in Thamel are pretty low quality, you'll find a better quality gloves online
  • 2x Trekking Poles - can also be purchased cheaply in Thamel but they are often cheap Chinese fakes. It's better to buy a set and bring them to Nepal.
  • 1x Microfibre towel
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, deodorant, sunscreen
  • Cash - there are only three ATMs in the Khumbu, one in Namche Bazaar, one in Lukla (new), 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. Best to consult with a doctor.
Ryan egglestone handing out books in nepal
Bringing some books and pens to give to the local villages is also a great idea!

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 by using breathable fabrics suitable to the conditions.

Layering offers versatility: a rain jacket serves as a shield against rain without overheating you during warmer spells. When the temperature drops, like during the cold morning climb to Kala Patthar, the passes, or on Gokyo Ri, simply add a mid-layer underneath for warmth.

This adaptability prevents overheating in milder conditions and keeps you warm in the cold, ensuring comfort regardless of weather changes.

Trekking gear for thre three passes

Pack Weight: How Heavy Should My Bag Be?

Minimizing pack weight is usually the number one priority for long-distance through-hikers. Make 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.

Three high passes trekking gear, what to pack

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. The source material and labor involved in making these garments is also questionable.

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. On my first trip to Nepal, I bought all of my non-essential performance items like fleece, t-shirts, beanies, buffs, socks, and even trekking poles from these two stores.

Streets of thamel, kathmandu, nepal

Tips for Saving Money When Buying Gear in Thamel

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.

  • 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 and Mastercard.
  • 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

I originally stayed at Beehive Hostel when I trekked the Three Passes. This 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 trekking.

However, these days there are better options available.

The trekking and tourist hub in Kathmandu is called Thamel. This is where you will find all of the best trekking shops, hostels, restaurants, bars, and hotels in Kathmandu.

If you're planning a trek in the Himalayas, you'll want to find a hotel or hostel that allows you to leave your luggage there until you return. Read my guide to Kathmandu's best hotels, or take a pick from the three best accommodation options below that offer this service.

Aloft luxury hotel room in kathmandu

1. Aloft Kathmandu Luxury

Overlooking the city from the heart of Thamel, this is "the place" where climbers including myself stay before big expeditions. It's a luxury pick with epic amenities like a gym, rooftop pool, and an EPIC buffet breakfast.

Flock hostel in kathmandu

2. Flock Hostel Budget

Best backpacker hostel in Thamel with very clean dorms with curtains & private rooms with excellent views. Amazing on-site cafe & restaurant serving delicious coffees & international meals.

Nirvana hotel in kathmandu, nepal

3. Nirvana Boutique Hotel Mid-Range

A peaceful boutique hotel to escape the hustle & bustle. Best mid-range pick with a 9.7/10 rating on Booking.com.

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.

Related: Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List

Three passes guide book by olly gaspar

Three Passes: Trekking Ebook

Since internet connectivity is limited in the Khumbu, I've written a comprehensive trekking e-book to the Three Passes which you can download as an eBook for use on your mobile, tablet, or e-reader.

Three passes trek, cho la pass
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you.

Guillaume Fortier

Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Hey thanks a lot for this guide! Really helpful Do you think a 2 degrees celsius sleeping bag is warm enough or I should buy a -15 ? Will be there end of october to mid november. Thanks a lot

Olly Gaspar

Thursday 19th of October 2023

Hey, a -2 will be way too cold. I would recommend at least a -15.

Archie

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.

https://www.facebook.com/SiddharthaBankLimitedNepal/photos/a.274223545940643/2508647605831548/?type=3&theater

Olly Gaspar

Thursday 11th of June 2020

Hi mate,

Thanks so much for the update, I'll add it to the article.