Tuesday, July 08, 2008


This is probably the most comprehensive prep list I've been able to compile for long-duration trekking holidays; please feel free to add.

heavy jacket. Ideally, go for a convertible, with a down inner and a windproof outer that you can quickly attach / remove.
1 set thermals. Every time I ask for one in Bombay - in July - I can see the mayihelpyousirs twitch and look around for security.
2 slightly thick long-sleeve tees
4 regular tees
trackpant - mostly just to sleep in
2 cargos
1 jeans
6 underwear. These and the tees will have to be washed every chance you get to avoid smelling like a dead whale by the end of the week. Regardless of the threatening notices the hotels put up in the bathrooms.
towel. As Ford Prefect said, a towel is the single most massively useful thing you can have when hitchhiking.
hat / cap
beanie / monkey cap / muffler. Only for the ears. Mine have turned, by dint of decades spent growing up in high-heat environments, into extraordinarily efficient radiator-style cooling systems. Which means in temperatures under 20 C, my brain freezes.
2 handkerchiefs, ideally small towels
spare shoelaces. Enough experience of tying shoes together with string in the wilderness.
plastic poncho. This can be used as a bag cover as well, in case it rains - the bag will be likely as not tied to the Qualis roof.
Trekking shoes. Not too heavy - you'll tire out; not too light - they'll be flimsy and not a good idea on rough tracks. Avoid open-toes and meshed shoes; too cold. The wind gets in. No sneakers; the sole tears all too easily on rocks.
Spare shoes. Worst case scenario, if they do tear, you cannot afford to walk in sandals.

1 regular digicam + charger
1 backup digicam + charger
Ideally, go for cameras that use AA batteries. Rechargeables drain superfast in cold weather and you're dead if there's no charge point every day. And the places with the best photo-ops by definition do not have charge points.
AA batteries
Handycam + charger
SLR if you carry it, plus all required accessories - lenses, stands, etc
Carrying case for the cams. Ideally something small, compact, and waterproof, that can be worn inside a jacket to minimize low-temperature exposure, yet also easily accessible.
Cellphone + charger
New prepaid simcard. Don't make the mistake of carrying your old one. You'll be plagued by calls all through wherever there's a network. The point of a mobile phone is to let you contact people when you need, not the other way round.
Spike guard with multiple sockets, or at least a multiplug, so you can charge everything together; charging window is gonna be really small.
Ziploc bags. You'll be amazed at how much stuff gets destroyed by water, and how insidiously water can get into the best bags.
Plastic sheet, 6 X 4 feet.
Sleeping bag
Sleeping mat
Knife. Do not put this in carry-on baggage.
Steel mug. Very versatile creature, this. You can mix stuff in it, cook in it, drink out of it, wash up with it...
Map of the region you're trekking in
Xerox from Lonely Planet of the towns and places to see
Emergency cache of cash - as much as you need. This is NOT for shopping! This is for landslides, accidents, natural disasters, terrorist activity, violent sickness, and extreme vehicular breakdowns. In short, anything that tries to stop you from going on.
Identification. Passport, driving license, press card... with 5 xeroxes for permits. Carry the originals too.
10 passport size photos
Small diary + pencil + pen. Take notes. Keep a diary.
Small travel folder for documents, tickets, etc.
3 liters of water in bottles
a 5-liter container
flask of brandy
elastic cords - the kind you get to attach briefcases to motorcycles - to secure / compress your rucksack
A rucksack. 60-liter preferable. 40 minimum. With compression straps, a waistband, loops to attach bags / sheets / covers, and mesh for sandals / rubbish bag
Day bag for the short trips. Max-to-max 20 litre. should be strong enough to take weight of 2 litres of water, food, and cameras.
Lots of plastic bags to wrap clothes, carry rubbish, etc. Don't litter and don't get wet. In that order.
Medium duffel bag for extra stuff, if you have somewhere to stash it while trekking.
2 torches + batteries. Ideally, one should be a headlamp. Go for white LEDs. And if it has a beam focus, nothing like it.
Sewing kit. For those popped buttons, rips and tears... and you never know when you might need to do some emergency field surgery yourself.
Oxygen. Comes for 300 bucks in good medical stores. You will need for high-altitude treks; emergency only. Over 10,000 feet, oxygen content is 40% of sea level.
Matches. 2 boxes, in a ziploc.
Watch with backlight, date and alarm. I would sell maybe 15% of my soul to own a Casio Protrek at this point, with altimeter, digicompass, depth gauge, multiple time zones, and 200-m waterproofing.

Small toothpaste
Toothbrush. Go for the one that has a snap-shut cover over the bristles.
50-p oil sachets - 1 or 2
Cold cream / vaseline
Sunscreen. SPF 30 is good enough. 45 and more is for the firangs; we already have enough melanin to make heavy-duty creams redundant. But trust me, you will need it; the air's thinner, there's less protection. You will get burned if you aren't careful.
Small dettol soap + case
1 roll toilet paper. Another multipurpose item, can be used to make notes, leave markers, take care of that running nose, blot wounds, pad electronics. Oh, and wipe your ass.
Small mirror. Can be used to heliograph signals in an emergency.
Shaving cream + blade. I personally prefer to just grow the beard.

Chloriwat. 1 drop can disinfect 5 liters of water. Increase the concentration, and you have the squats for a week. Available in all medical stores.
Generic aspirin. Good for heart attacks as well, since it's a blood-thinner.
Norflox TZ for food poisoning
Paracetemol for the fevers
Diamox for mountain sickness
Brufen - or any generic painkiller. Go for the heavy stuff, because when you need it, you really need it.
band-aids. lots of them.
small dettol bottle
hand sanitizer
erythrocin for the throat infections
avil or any generic antihistamine for allergy attacks
pheregan / compazine for nausea. A home remedy is to chew on a lemon slice with salt.

Chocolate for energy boosts
Energy bars are a good alternative, and healthier
2 cans food, emergency only

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