How to: Pack for an Expedition

This is the second in a series of articles Stephen Regenold will write on his experience as a member of Expedition Hanesbrands, a Mount Everest climbing expedition this spring. Regenold will blog live from Nepal beginning this week.


Backpack? Check. Trekking poles? Check. Baby wipes? Got those, too. Gearing up for an international expedition is no small feat. There are dozens — even hundreds — of items large and small, common and esoteric, to remember and bring along. But the bulk of the gear, apparel, and accessories for many trips are common outdoors items. For my trek to Mount Everest Base Camp next week with the Expedition Hanesbrands team, the gear checklist is undoubtedly long. Big piles with boots, base layers, packs, waterproof bags, books, and myriad small essentials are already accumulating in my house. I have two big duffel bags and a carry-on pack to cram it all in. To be sure, Thai Airways’ baggage weight limits will be stretched on my flight next week to Kathmandu!

For the trek, Berg Adventures International, the Canmore, Alberta, adventure-travel and mountaineering company our expedition is relying on, provides an extensive list of required and optional gear. Categories include footwear, clothing, medical, camping gear, “head and hand,” and travel items. In total, there are more than 60 listed pieces to the puzzle, from gaiters and hiking boots to a balaclava, sunglasses (two pairs recommended), Ziploc bags, earplugs, water-purification tablets, gloves, base layers, a camera, books, and a journal. Like most large guiding outfits, Berg Adventures’ list, which is accessible at, is culled from years of experience and dozens of expeditions around the globe.

Food Organization for Expedition copy.jpg

The “pile”: Food and gear at home, ready to be sorted and packed before a trip last month to Chile

What does the Gear Junkie do to pack for this kind of trip? Beyond following a recommend list of equipment, my unique — and admittedly messy! — method to getting prepared for an expedition begins with the aforementioned piles of gear. At home, I clear out a corner in my office a couple weeks before departure and start throwing things into a pile. This gear — anything I may need — is to be sorted and organized throughout the packing process. I switch out items and put in new things at will, liberally adding anything I may want and then whittling it all down to the essentials as the trip date draws near.

Another step: On my computer, I create a simple text file — this trip’s document is called “Nepal-ToBring” — to serve as an ever-growing list where I add random thoughts when things come to mind and notes on items I need to bring. To start the file, I copy and paste the mandatory gear list from outfitters or event organizers (in this case Berg Adventures’ list). I then add in my must-not-forget essentials right away, even the obvious items like my passport, wallet, glasses, and cell phone. Then it’s on to all my outdoor gear for the trip. I list items generically (tent; sleeping bag; wool hat) and also, when needed, by make, model or brand (Inov-8 Roclite 285 shoes; SteriPen; Buff; Nemo tent; etc.). A day or two before departure, I print the list and begin digging through my pile, sorting gear, and crossing things off as they’re packed in my duffels for the trip.

continued on next page. . .

Commenting on post : How to: Pack for an Expedition
Posted by Anonymous - 03/29/2010 08:20 AM

I can back up the filthy water story. nothing worse than being on a hike, all sort of thirsty, and ending up with a parasite on day two. Will not leave without a purifier again. Thanks

Posted by brett - 03/30/2010 09:34 PM

If you had a parasite on day two you brought it with you. Giardia averages two weeks before signs and symptoms, crypto 2 to 10 days with an average of 7 before signs and symptoms.

Posted by I Heart Trekking Nepal - 03/31/2010 02:02 PM

These are great tips on what to take with you for a trekking adventure. Too many people worry about the physical aspect and forget to pack food/energy drinks and bars.

Posted by Bob Wyatt - 04/01/2010 02:05 PM

Let me second RailRiders. Great customer service, excellent products, and stuff that takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. My first pair of RailRiders Weatherpants are about 8 years old and still get worn often as I scramble about the Ozarks streams and creeks looking for photo ops. I am getting ready to try some Ibex stuff myself.

Posted by Tracy Baird - 06/21/2010 05:16 AM

I like the points about baby wipes and clothing options. Instead of baby wipes, you can carry wet tissues. A lot of them are scented, so you can keep smelling fresh and clean. I am also a huge espouser of the “pack light” cause. I carry dark colored clothes, especially bottoms, that don’t get dirty very quickly. Denims are always a great option depending on the type of trip you’re taking. As for bags, I agree with the author that wheeled bags are Godsend. I didn’t have one until recently when I ordered the outdoor duffel from Briggs & Riley’s BRX collection. I’d much rather pull a bag loaded with tons of things than carry it around. And it helps if the bag is lightweight, what with heavy penalties being charged on overweight bags.

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