Choosing clothes for a long trek is a complicated affair. One must take suitable clothes for the season and the terrain, and enough of them to be comfortable. Yet, if bringing too much clothes, one would need a porter or two, diminishing the joy of walking in complete freedom. Thus, any comment on the issue must start by defining the path parameters. This entry is good for walks along the Everest long trek path (Jiri to Kalla Pattar) during the autumn. I arrived to the area when it was hot and humid and left it during the first snow storm feeling comfortable with my dressing choices.
Seeing the shiny merchandise displayed in Thamel, Kathmandu, it is easy to be tempted into buying special breathing fabrics that will transform one into a fashionable astronaut, while promising complete insulation from what one came to see. These space-era outfits are not necessary. The best approach is to plan for protective clothes that are not restrictive. One must take into account that replacements along the way would probably be necessary; in such a case, sturdy, simple clothes would be easier to find. Thus, why don’t start with them from the beginning?
Luckily, several characteristics of the area converge into common sense choices. Nepal is a rather conservative culture, hence, plan for long trousers and sensible shirts. Then, they must also protect from a sometimes hostile nature; this means mainly from leeches and water. I commented on trekking boots in another entry of this rather long journal, thus I’ll skip them here and begin right away with the socks. Take as many pairs as possible of sturdy socks with as little synthetic fabrics in them as possible. Wool socks are perfect and readily available. This is critical; dry socks are worth more than gold while stopping for a tea break after a sudden shower.
Trousers are also very important. They must be strong and not restricting. Bend your knees while trying them in the shop; if you feel the fabric pressing the knees tightly, then they are too small. Avoid synthetic products; thick cotton is perfect for the task. Now we reach a delicate area. I had described my encounters with leeches in a separate entry. Despite their being a little nothing, avoiding close encounters with them is recommended. The best is to deny them access to exposed skin, which is an easy task in conservative Nepal. A simple solution is to cover the lower part of the trousers with the socks. Yet, despite a trek not being a catwalk, nobody wants to look like that. Autumn is a tricky time. Weather changes rapidly and sharply; especially in the higher parts of the path. A thin pair of longjohns is perfect to insulate the body from the cold, and also helps against leeches. Cover their lower end with the socks, cover them with the trousers, and your legs will be safe.
Another significant point is the waist. Make sure your T-shirt is covered by the trousers and that the area is sealed with a properly fitted belt. I made a mistake while letting the T-shirt free to allow some airing; minutes later a fast leech was feasting on my belly. We both survived.
An efficient way of dealing with changing temperatures is wearing several layers of thin clothes, putting them on or taking them off according to the conditions. A T-shirt and a fleece top are a perfect combination. Fleece is perfect here because it dries fast and folds tightly.
Sunglasses, a sun hat, light fleece gloves and a small towel complete the list. The towel is great for covering the top of the backpack while walking, so that casual water drops won’t enter it. If drizzling, the towel is then perfect for covering your head while searching for the nearest teahouse.
That’s not all. Pack everything wildly in a backpack and sooner or later you’ll find a wet surprise inside. Pack each item in a separate plastic bag, so that you’ll always have dry clothes to enjoy while sipping that well-earned cup of coffee at the end of the day.