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Packing for an Expedition: What to Bring?

We love expedition adventures. They leave you with a unforgettable experiences! You immerse yourself fully into the nature, the soul and the culture of the area you’re in. Whether you’re exploring rugged jungle, barren mountain peaks or paddling wild white water rivers. Expeditions are meant to be hard, testing endurance but also, the most fun! As guides one of the biggest questions we get asked before people join us on expedition is, what should I pack for expedition trips? So here it is our 10 tips of what you should be packing for an expedition trip!

Packing for an Expedition: Kali Gandaki Panorama

1. How Much to Pack?

On an expedition you want to be packing light! There’s no one to carry your bags on these types of adventures and so unless you’re happy to carry a heavy pack, we recommend travelling as light as possible. This means, pack the essentials and no more. A good rule of thumb is lay out what you think you need, half it and that’s what you want to bring.

Leave things like heavy books, notepads and laptops at home. Keep a re-charger, first aid kit, and wash kit in. If your expedition is leading you into the wilds, is it worth bringing a lot of electronics and chargers you can’t use with you? If you think you can live without it, leave it at home!

Whitewater rafting and kayaking kit laid out at camp on the Kali Gandaki

2. Keep it green keep it clean!

Expedition trips typically take you into wild, remote areas which have delicate ecosystems. When we enter these areas, we practice the ‘leave no trace’ rule and encourage our clients to do the same. Packing for an expedition means thinking about the environment you’re in and the impact of what you bring will have on it.

To continue working in the areas we love, we have to protect them and this starts with our wash products. On expedition your shower will be the freshwater available to you. This could be in rivers, waterfalls or buckets of water from the nearby stream. Choosing eco friendly, biodegradable soap, shampoo and other cleansing products will keep the area pollution free. You can pick these products up from all outdoors stores, weigh the same (if not less) than your favourite high street brands and will keep you smelling and feeling fresh!

3. What to wear?

Of course you need clothes and it can be difficult to find a good balance between adventure and comfort. When packing for an expedition think about the weather, the terrain and the activities you’ll be doing. You’ll know what’s best to pack for during the day adventures, but we recommend packing a fleece, warm socks and comfortable chill out clothes for the evening. Check out our kit list for more information of what to pack for an expedition with us!

Our final tips for what to wear, accept that you are going to smell – everyone is. So don’t worry about wearing the same t-shirt and trousers more than once or twice. When it comes to underwear though, make sure you change these. This is all about keeping yourself healthy. You will normally be able to carry at least 1 weeks worth of underwear & socks. This should allow time to find somewhere to wash them.

4. Keeping yourself entertained

Packing for an expedition should include something that will keep you entertained for the quiet times and there will often be a lot of time to kill! Once the adventure of the day is done, the tents are up and you’ve changed into dry clothes there’s not much more to do while you wait for dinner. The campfire will be going so a pack of cards is always a must have! If you want some quiet time alone why not bring a kindle full of books? Callum often brings his Ukelele on expedition trips to offer some campfire songs. Whatever you bring make sure you are happy to carry it and teach you games, sing your songs and share your books with others on tour!

Ball games - packing for an expedition

5. Safety First (or fifth here)

Safety should be your No.1 priority when packing for an expedition. If you are using a tour company then they should have most of this covered for you. Group First Aid kits, emergency shelters, and even some emergency rations should all be provided by your tour company. But it’s always a good idea to bring along your own first aid kit, filled with products you know how to use and any medications that you need to take while on trip. Depending on the activities included in your expedition trip will depend on what safety equipment you’ll bring with you. It could be solid boots, adventure knife, compass or first aid kit. Being a responsible traveller starts by keeping yourself safe.

Check out what River and Soul does to keep you safe on our tours!

6. Technical Equipment

All expeditions will need to you have some kind of technical equipment with you. If you’re hiking you might need to pack hiking boots or if participating on a River and Soul white water expedition you might want to bring your own water kit. For many expedition tours the main equipment will be provided. But for more than a day trip, expect to pack technical equipment for it. If your expedition is going to take you into the white water of Nepal and you want to bring your own kayak, remember to check with the airlines as well that you’ll be able to carry it on your ticket! If you’re heading out with River and Soul Adventures we supply all white water technical equipment for the rivers, so that’s one less thing to pack on an expedition with us!

Gearing up to go Whitewater Rafting: Packing for an Expedition

7. What to eat and drink?

If travelling on tour, your food will be usually be covered for you. So that’s one less thing to pack for an expedition! If not, you want to carry light, energy filled, quick cooking food with you. There are great ready to eat meals that can be purchased from any outdoor shop. If you’re savvy enough you can re-hydrate your own meals at home if you really want. Just remember, that if travelling somewhere rural you may need to buy your expedition meals before you get there or in major cities. When on expedition you want to have plenty of water with you. So packing water sterilizing tabs and re-hydration sachets are always a good idea. When packing for an expedition always pack more food than you think you need, just incase! We can guarantee you’ll probably eat it all anyway! Adventure works up an appetite!

Campsite Dinner - what to eat: packing for an expedition

8. Valuables

Laptops, Tablets, Phones, Gaming Gadgets, Jewellery and more. We love our precious products and often don’t leave the house without them. On expedition though, do you really need them up a mountain or in a kayak with you? Do you want to carry them through jungle and forests? Camp with them on beaches and in the rain? The answer is probably no. We don’t recommend bringing valuables when packing for an expedition. It’s likely you will lose something, they may get damaged and they will take up valuable space and weight! But we do all love recording and having pictures our adventures, phones now have great cameras for this! If you are bringing your phone with you, think about casing it in an adventure case or a waterproof case to help protect it. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can’t afford to replace it, don’t bring it on an expedition trip!

9. Pack the Luxuries, you’ll be thankful later!

Whenever I ask Janey what her No.1 thing to pack on an expedition is, that answer is always “CHOCOLATE!”. As I’ve said before, expeditions can be some of the most fun you ever have. But at times they can take their toll on you a little and you may even have a bad day! Even the best of us can’t keep a smile up on those, wet, muddy and no way to get dry days. So it’s important for mental moral to have a little pick-me-up to make you feel better. For Janey (and me tbh) the answer is often a good piece of chocolate! Easy to store, lightweight and delicious! Who knew you could have a practical luxury! Of course, chocolate isn’t always the best move if you’re heading somewhere super hot… So why not bring something like Jelly Beans?

10. Let There be Light!

The final, and potentially most important thing to pack when on an expedition would have to be a head-torch! Nepal is near the equator and so the sun goes down between 5pm and 8pm throughout the year. This means that practically half your time when in Nepal could be spent in the dark! You’ll want to have a head-torch on your for night time. Head-torches are also way better than hand-held torches for 2 reasons: 1) they are smaller. 2) they keep your hands free. They are a great investment if you need to buy one!You may laugh, but we know someone who actually fell down a 10 foot hole in the dark because they didn’t have a head-torch!

The second item under this section would be to bring a lighter. Who doesn’t love campfires? Although some true Wilderness Survival enthusiasts will say that its cheating and that you should carry flint and a tinder box, a lighter is way easier and lighter too (see my pun there?).

Sharing stories round the campfire

There you have it, the 10 top things to think about when packing for an expedition! We love expedition trips and while packing can be a pain and has a lot more thought involved than a normal holiday would. When you’re there and back, it’s all worth it. The stories, memories and accomplishments are the greatest things to hold on to! Here at River and Soul Adventures we run expedition tours to Nepal, if you fancy building memories and taking a trip of a lifetime, check out our upcoming tours!

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