This checklist puts together
a basic list of the things you need to be aware of - baggage, hygiene,
clothing, first aid, medical, etc. Go through it, it has been collated
after being miles and miles on the road and have found them to be
extremely useful. Some of the items are important enough to be able to
save your life at times. Do not ignore them.
• Carry your stuff in a rucksack or a duffel bag. Suitcases are
not a good idea.
• A small pouch bag for immediate essentials.
The guiding principle is to carry what you wear. Usually people carry
more clothes than they will ever need. Clothes should be enough so that
on the coldest day, your rucksack is empty. Some things that need to be
part of your clothing follow.
• A windproof, preferably waterproof jacket.
• 4 T-shirts, preferably full sleeved ones
• Track suit bottoms. Along with good thermals, they work wonders
even during mild cold.
• Cargos. They tend to be warm, more windproof and have
convenient pockets. Jeans are not recommended since they are heavy, not
flexible enough, are cold when wet, take a long time to dry.
• Thermal underwear is a must.
• Warm socks.
• Sturdy and well worn boots. And make sure they have an ankle
support. And remember to pick up boots that are almost two sizes too
big. This will accommodate two pairs of socks for cold weather.
Moreover, if you have to walk, the feet will swell and with shoes that
are a perfect fit, you will develop painful blisters.
• Warm, thermal lined gloves are a must. Spend money to buy a
• Down or polyfill jacket and trousers. Avoid leather.
• A good sleeping bag.
• A thick balaclava (‘monkey’ cap) is a good idea.
• Sun glasses with high UV protection, not just coloured
glasses!. Ultraviolet light and radiation is very high in higher
altitudes. In extreme cases you might end up with snow blindness or
• Wide brimmed hat or cap.
• Toothpaste and brush. Carry spares.
• Shaving kit (if you really want to shave).
• Shampoo (no hot water though at most places).
• Toilet paper rolls (a definite necessity).
• Hairbrush/Comb (if you really want to).
• Towel. A hand towel is also a good idea and should be kept
close at hand at all times.
• Soap paper (not cakes).
• Petroleum jelly (vaseline) and lots and lots and lots of it.
Dab your lips, cheeks, nose and all exposed skin at every opportunity
or soon the skin will dry and turn pink and then black and will
eventually start peeling off making the whole thing extremely painful
and uncomfortable, not to mention that you will have to cancel that
wedding if you were planning to get married right after your trip - you
will look a sight!
• Scissors. You never know when you will need them. Maybe not for
hygiene, but for a myriad other unforeseen and unimaginable
circumstances. Always carry one in your pocket. In fact, carry a Swiss
Army Knife. It has a pair of scissors and a host of other tools you
might end up needing.
• Apart from grooming your nails, you might get ingrown toe nails
that can get very painful, particularly when you have to walk after
being on the road for many tiring days. Carry a nail clipper at all
Personal first aid
Many drugs are listed here. One word of caution, though. Please,
please, please check with your physician about the conditions you will
encounter and the drugs you have been advised by your friends. Take his
advise and only then pack your medicine bag. The body is a unique piece
of machinery and only a doctor will be able to tell you what is
required for you.
• Pain killing tablets - Brufen for aches and pains though
Combiflam is better since it also tackles fever which usually
accompanies pain in a tired body.
• Water purifying tablets. Never leave home without them. Locals
might be drinking water and offering you the same. But they are used to
it and you are not. Use the tablets, they might save you from
contracting hill diarrhoea.
• Paracetamol (also aids in high altitude acclimatisation).
Crocin is good. But if you plan to pop one for acclimatisation, there
is a better option.
• Diamox tablets are prescription medicine for high altitude
acclimatisation. Due to the lack of oxygen, blood tends to
progressively thicken, leading to lesser and lesser oxygen reaching the
lungs. Diamox prevents the thickening of the blood. One tablet in the
morning after breakfast should usually be good and you will not require
it once you have spent a few days in high altitude. But if you feel
that a second tablet might make you feel better, take another before
going to bed. It takes about an hour for you to start feeling better,
so give it time, don’t panic.
• Anti nausea tablets are useful to have around. Symptoms of
nausea are part of acclimatisation and a tablet can ease the queasy
feeling substantially. Also, it will help if the food has not agreed
with you and you develop mountain sickness on the winding roads.
• No amount of medicinal plaster (Band Aid) will be enough. A
nick here, a blister there and out comes a strip. Pack the waterproof
variety, in various shapes and sizes.
• Blister pads and burn creams might come in use when you singe
yourself accidentally or otherwise.
• Crepe bandage is useful for sprained ankles and twisted knees,
which are quite common when you are on non existent roads.
• Antiseptic spray. Needless to explain why.
• Pain spray/balm/ointment.
• Anti diarrhoea tablets. You don’t want to be constantly
searching for the nearest tree or bush.
• A tired body does not always feel hungry. Vitamin supplements
are a boon in such situations or when food is still some distance away.
• Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and salt tablets are good for
instant relief in case of dehydration.
• Any prescription medication you are on.
These days are characterised by security measures pretty much all
around the world and India is no exception. Particularly given the very
sensitive nature of our borders. Apart from the military tension in
some areas, others are also conduits for insurgents, smugglers and also
allegedly routes for a flourishing, though illegal, narcotics trade. It
is always good to carry identification papers.
• Valid driving licence.
• Voter Identity Card.
• Business cards.
• Blank personal letterheads so that you can write applications
in case you are required to do so.
• Passport size photographs, preferably attested by a gazetted
officer of the Indian Government.
• Camera, lots of film, flashlight and spare batteries. Batteries
tend to run out pretty fast in cold weather and it is no fun to be out
of batteries particularly when you are at a fascinating location, want
to record it on film, but can’t because you have run out of batteries.
Or film for that matter. Carry lots of film. Also, protect your camera
from the elements. Sand is no good for the lenses. Wrap the camera up
in chamois leather or put it in its case. Carry chamois leather and use
a blower brush to clean your camera regularly.
• A video camera is a very good option if you really want to
document your journey in moving pictures. Carry lots of tapes.
• Binoculars are very useful to check out distant sights and to
take a closer look at flying birds, distant wildlife and sights way
into the horizon.
• High energy snacks. Food may be some distance away and it
always good to be prepared in case you need to skip a meal. Carry lots
of chocolates and Threptin biscuits. Dry fruits are good too - cashew
nuts, peanuts, raisins, dates, etc - small in volume but huge in
• From cutting things to peeling fruit, a knife is always useful.
• Sewing kit. You never know when you might need it. Carry some
spare needles, thread, buttons, thimbles, etc.
• A small mirror. This will help you look at yourself to remind
yourself from time to time of the person staring back at you. More
importantly, the mirror can be very effectively used as a signalling
device in case you are lost/stranded and cannot move around to get
help. Get a signalling mirror with which you can accurately direct the
glare to the targeted area.
• A note book and pen is very useful to document your journey.
Places visited, names and addresses of friends you make along the way,
distances of various places from important locations, etc.
• Torch (head mounted is best) with lots of batteries.
• Water bottle (at least two liters). One way to prevent
or at least delay the onset of high altitude illness is to drink lots
and lots of water, almost to the point of nausea. Remember to add the
water purifying tablets, though.
• Re-sealable plastic bags are useful for items that have become
wet. Carry at least half dozen, in assorted sizes.
• A whistle can attract attention of people in case you have
gotten into some kind of difficulty, either in the dark or if
passers-by cannot see you or if you are too weak to shout to attract
attention. Attach a string and hang the whistle around your neck so
that it is always with you. Go for a whistle which has a good shrill
pitch, sacrifice aesthetics if you have to.
• A weatherproof lighter, preferably an electronic one since at
higher altitudes there is not enough oxygen even for the lighter to
fire. And, always carry matchboxes as spares. In one of the earliest
expeditions to Mt Everest in the 1920s, an expedition had to turn back
from within striking distance of the summit since they had run out of
matchboxes without which they could not light a fire to melt ice for
water, got terribly dehydrated and turned back! A kingdom can be lost
because of a horse shoe.
• Spare boot laces are something you never remember to pack since
your existing laces are just fine. You would probably never need a
spare pair of laces, but be rest assured that they are going to snap on
that one trip when you are not carrying a spare pair. It does not take
any space, just pack a couple of spares. There may be other things you
might wish to tie.