Layering for trekking and climbing in nepal

Layering for trekking and climbing in nepal

Of the fundamental aspects to consider when planning a trek or expedition to Nepal, clothing and layering are major considerations. Landing in a warm, temperate climate at Kathmandu (1300 meters altitude) and then reaching the base of the world’s highest mountain at approximately 5300 meters within days—or climbing a peak of 6000+ meters, or even ascending the planet’s highest point—makes clothing and the approach to layering a significant factor in your adventure.

We are here to guide you through everything you need to know about the perfect layering strategy for Nepal. Learn how to do layering for trekking and climbing in Nepal which will significantly improve your overall trip experience.

First, let’s grasp the simple concept of layering. It’s the art and science of arranging the layers of clothing on your body. It’s just that. This knowledge is something familiar to everyone. When heading out in the rain or anticipating heavy downpours, we instinctively reach for rainproof gear. Similarly, we don’t pile on layers of clothes for a jog, even on a chilly morning, because we understand the basic science of our body and physical exertion.

However, things can get tricky when planning a weeks-long trek in the Himalayas, where the elevation gradient is off the charts.

Before we decide on the best layering strategy for ourselves, let’s delve into the basics of layering.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” – Alfred Wainwright

Types of Layers

Down jacket in layering

The Base Layer

The innermost layer, that is connected to your skin and is responsible for generating heat for your body. For example, a thermal set. The perfect base layer is a fabric that offers warmth without irritating the skin and should not make you sweat or get cold in sweat. Woolen clothes are generally preferred for their microfibers and heat-generating plus insulating properties, as they absorb and retain moisture, potentially causing cold or hypothermia. If the base layer absorbs and retains moisture, a good trek is ruined as you might develop cold and even hypothermia. Avoid cotton as a base layer.

The Middle Layer

The middle layer is the most crucial one, working to generate heat for the body, insulate the body to the outer atmosphere, and expel moisture produced by the base layer. Examples of middle layers include fleece jackets, down-filled jackets, and trekking pants. In normal weather conditions, these layers function as the outermost layers. Some gear comes with impressive features such as weather resistance, tolerating wind, water, snow, and other environmental elements.

The Outer Layer

This layer, positioned on the outermost part of the body, is crucial for complete insulation between the environment and the body inside. No matter how warm the base layer, fleece jackets, or down-filled jackets are, mild rain, snowfall, or a steady wind can penetrate to the core of the body. The outer layer blocks these elements, helping the body retain produced and maintained heat. Gore-Tex is a common material for outer layers, designed to allow moisture inside the body to pass out while preventing wind and water/rain from getting in. Make sure you distinguish between Gore-Tex and a raincoat/gain gear. A raincoat might seal you from the water/moisture outside but it is non-permeable from the inside. This means, the moisture produced inside of your body doesn’t escape and it cools down to give you cold/hypothermia.

So, the lesson is, make sure, you have a good quality Gore-Tex suit with you.

These three layers are foundational for any trek/climb in Nepal. After understanding them, let’s explore accessories and other body parts.

Head wears

Head wears come for different weather condition and are best used accordingly. Some of the most used head wears might be woolen caps, balaclava, buff scarf, hats and shade caps and so on. It would require only the knowledge of the weather to choose what to wear and that might not need more explaining. It is wise to put on woolen cap at the start of the trek in morning hours while keeping the shade cap on top of the bag, as an hour after the sunrise makes to switch. In case of extreme winds, make sure you cover head with the top cover of the Gore-Tex or jacket layer.

Hand wears

Frostbite is a significant concern in high-altitude treks and climbs in the Nepal Himalayas, especially for exposed body parts like fingers, toes, ear lobes, and nose. Thus you need to pay a serious attention to choosing the best hand wears.For mild cold or the early stages of the trek, simple liner gloves might suffice. As you ascend to higher altitudes, insulated gloves (Gore-Tex) with fleece or fur linings are better, and more intense and cold endeavors like mountain climbing may require mitten gloves as the outermost layer.

Foot wears

The body part that has to suffer the most intense physical exhaustion in a trek/climb is the feet. So, it is mandatory to take good care of them. Foot wears in a trek/climb basically means socks and gaiters and shoes of course. Socks, as gloves, are of different nature based on their utility. Normal socks are good enough for low altitude treks. As the elevation and cold keep rising, you have to switch to more thick and warm socks. But remember, sweating of feet is normal for many and again, if the socks are moisture retaining, that becomes a huge problem. More intensive days, like the summit push, require two layers: a liner and an outer thick woolen layer. Outside the shoes, you can use gaiters that will ensure no snow or water or debris will get to your feet.

A Good Layering Strategy in a Trek/Climb Means

  • Comfort that boosts confidence
  • Resonance of energy with the body
  • No setbacks or frequent breaks to adjust layers
  • High productivity and professionalism
  • High success rate, as small details like liner socks can impact summit dreams.

Also Read: Equipment list for peak climbing in Nepal and Equipment list for Everest Base Camp Trek

Outer layer for trekking in nepal

Important Considerations in Layering for trekking and climbing in Nepal

1. Over or under layering

On a cold morning, before starting the day’s walk, you might feel like wearing a bit too much, but after only a few minutes of walking, you will be soaked in sweat. So, do not overlayer. Tolerate the cold for a few minutes, and it will be fine.

Similarly, the temperature in the mountains can suddenly drop with a change in weather, which can happen very quickly. As you are walking, it’s nice and warm, but as soon as you stop for a break, it will get cold, so carry appropriate layers for this instance.

Plan the day, layer accordingly, and carry a fleece jacket at all times in the mountains.

2. Carrying too much clothes

While packing, you might think you will wear everything on rotation, but trust us, you won’t or won’t need to. Carrying too much clothing adds extra weight, which might exhaust you. Only carry the most essential clothes, considering both utility value and fashion sense. Find the intersection.

3. Changing the clothes during the trek

As soon as you get to your destination, make sure you put off the layer you are wearing, dry your body with a towel, and put on a fresh/warm set while immediately hanging the recently worn one. That way, you’ll always have a fresh set for every day.

4. Taking care of the clothes

Most clothes come with specific care information on their tags. Common guidelines include not bleaching, exposing or drying them in direct sunlight, and avoiding random storage with haphazard creases. Store clothes in cool places with good air circulation. Check them often and ensure they are up to standard before packing.


So, here we are. Now that we have covered the basics of clothing and layering for trekking and climbing in Nepal, we hope you have found this post to be informative.

Don’t cut corners on the quality of your clothes. While low-cost clothes might fascinate you, make sure to research them well; it’s better to go for genuine ones.


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