As always, when planning a major trip into the mountains, having the right gear is one of the bests ways to prepare yourself for a happy and successful trekking experience.
Showing up unprepared is pretty much a one-way ticket to the ultimate suffer-fest.
Whether you decide to do this trip with Epic Backpacker Tours or not, please, don’t be “that person” who shows up to trek to the base of the world’s second highest mountain with a summer sleeping bag, no down jacket, and city trainers.
You will suffer the consequences, and you will possibly put yourself and your group at risk by being underprepared.
Below, I have assembled a list of everything we recommend our clients to bring on the K2 Base Camp trek.
Keep in mind that we provide each trip participant with a 15-kilo porter ”weight budget” for the trek.
This means that you should not have the carry the bulk of your stuff as you move between camps. This porter service allowance is also a game-changer regarding what you can bring and how much weight you actually have to carry on a daily basis.
Read on to get our more in-depth packing list suggestions. This is the ultimate K2 Base Camp Trek packing list!
Packs and Duffel Bags
- Expedition Duffel Bag
These bags are great for keeping the majority of your “camp” stuff organized. Expedition bags are typically very tough, weather-resistant, and are very easy for the porters to strap onto the mules.
To make sure you have plenty of space, we recommend bringing a large 100-120 liter duffel.
This bag is where the majority of your stuff will be, sleeping bag, clothing, alpine boots, spikes, helmet, harness, excess snacks, etc. Be sure to not overpack your duffle (it’s easy to do) as you will have to pay more for porter services if the bag weighs more than 15 kilos
Recommendation: NorthFace Base Camp Duffel XL
- Trekking Backpack
Since you will be packing the majority of stuff into your expedition duffel, you do not need to bring a massive backpack.
This is the pack that you will hike with daily. Going with a 25-36 liter backpack is enough.
You will use this backpack to carry your daily essentials like water, rain gear, clothing layers, snacks, camera, suncream, and passport. You must have experience using this backpack. Make sure it fits properly and is comfortable to wear for long periods.
Recommendation: Osprey Talon 36
Boots and Footwear
- Trekking Boots
Perhaps the single most important piece of kit you pack is your hiking boots. If you are going to splurge on something, splurge on quality hiking boots.
For most of the K2 trek, you do not need a serious alpine boot. That said, you want a hiking boot that can take a beating from all of the rocks found on the Baltoro Glacier, stay dry when splashed with water, and crucially, do not give you any soon-to-be festering blisters.
As always, BREAK YOUR BOOTS IN BEFORE GOING ON A LONG TREK.
Without fail, someone always turns up to tackle the K2 trek with a shiny new pair of hiking boots. After one day of trekking (also without fail), they have blisters the size of small grapes swelling up on their feet. Break in your boots and save yourself from the day one blister blues.
Recommendation: Lowa Renegade GTX
- Alpine Boots (B1/B2) (Optional)
These more heavy-duty boots are great in case heavy snow is encountered. Also, if you use crampons instead of microspikes, you need a boot that has the welt to receive the crampons.
Recommendation: La Sportiva Trango Tower
A pair of camp shoes to change into after a day of hiking is always good.
Recommendation: Keen Targhee 3 Sandals
Essential Personal Gear/ Sleep System
- Sleeping Bag
A sleeping bag is another piece of gear that you DO NOT want to skimp on. Temperatures can plummet well below freezing at any time of the year, especially around Concordia, Goro 2, and Ali Camp. If you bring a summer-rated sleeping bag, you will be putting yourself in a potentially life-threatening situation. Plus, nobody wants to be cold for days on end. Invest in a good sleeping bag and guarantee yourself many nights of solid (and warm) sleep.
Recommendation: Marmot Lithium 0 or Mountain Hardware Phantom 0
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad
We provide you with a basic ground mat. They do make for a good barrier to the cold ground (you are sleeping on a glacier for most of the trek), but in terms of comfort, you’ll need to bring an inflatable air pad as well.
Recommendation: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad
- Camping Pillow
Self-explanatory and an absolute game-changer. Having an inflatable pillow will make you sleep better night after night on the trek.
Recommendation: Nemo Filo
Safety Equipment and Speciality Gear
For the majority of the trek, some stuff like your climbing harness, helmet, etc will stay in your bag, though this kit is needed for descending Gondogoro La.
Here is all the specialty kit we recommend:
Gaiters helps to keep the snow and rocks out of your boots.
Recommendation: Black Diamond GTX Front Point
Only guests with experience using crampons should bring them. We recommend bringing microspikes over crampons, especially if you never used crampons before.
Recommendation: Grivel G-12
We recommend bringing microspikes over crampons.
Recommendation: Kahtoola Micro Spikes
For descending Gondogoro La.
Recommendation: Black Diamond Half Dome
- Harness with a 60 cm Sling and Locking Carabiner
This will serve as your lifeline when coming down GG La, Don’t forget to pack this crucial piece of kit.
Recommendation: Petzl Corax
- Trekking Poles
Trekking poles provide balance and stability.
Recommendation: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ
Get a rechargeable one if possible to avoid needing to pack extra batteries.
Recommendation: Petzl Actik Core
- Grayl Filter Bottle
The Grayl Geopress is the ultimate water filter bottle and is a mandatory K2 Base Camp Trek packing list item.
Recommendation: Grayl Geopress
- Large Wide Mouth Water Bottle or Water Pouch
You can refill this from your Grayl Geopress to ensure you are always carrying enough water. Should be 1 liter.
Personal Clothing and Layering Systems
What is the key to staying warm in the mountains? LAYERS!
Casual clothing for air travel and our time in cities: whatever you need to be comfortable in the plane or in the jeep.
- Down Jacket
A warm Down Jacket is 100% crucial.
Recommendation: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie
- Heavy Weight / Hi-Loft Down Jacket
This jacket is not mandatory but very nice to have in our experience.
Recommendation: Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka
- Hard Shell/Rain Jacket
To lock in your warmth and keep yourself dry for if we have snow or freezing rain.
Recommendation: Arc’teryx Beta AR
- Fleece or light synthetic layer
The perfect middle or around-the-camp layer.
Recommendation: Patagonia Better Sweater
- Base Layer Top
Wear your base layer top during the day to help prevent sunburn and at night for an extra cozy layer underneath your jacket.
Recommendation: Merino Icebreaker 200 Oasis
- Base Layer Bottoms
For cold sleepers, base layer bottoms will be good for you. These are also good for chilly camp nights.
Recommendation: Smartwool Merino 250
- Sun Hat and Warm Hat/Beanie
The skin on your face will thank you. Also, bring a warm hat/beanie for the cold temperatures.
Recommendation: Durable Trucker Hat
- Trekking Shirts (2-3)
Go with something synthetic – Avoid cotton at all costs. Bring one shirt to save your sleeping.
Recommendation: REI Lightweight Base Layer Shir
- Trekking Pants (1-2 pairs)
Comfortable pair(s) of trekking pants – Nothing fancy
Recommendation: Kuhl Renegade Rock Pant
- Synthetic Multisport Trekking Pants
Choose something with a bit of insulation.
Recommendation: Arc’teryx Gamma LT
- Waterproof / Rain Pants (Optional)
These are good in case we get caught in a snow/rain storm or in case you want an extra warm bottom layer
Recommendation: REI GTX Pants
- Trekking Socks (6-7 pairs)
Quality pairs of trekking socks can be expensive, but worth the investment. Merino is the best for sure.
Recommendation: Darn Tough Hiker Boot
- Underwear / Bras (4-6 pairs)
Recommendation: Icebreaker Underwear
- Buff and Bandana
So many practical applications from serving as a dust mask for keeping the sun off of your neck
For keeping your hands warm and mandatory for gripping the rope as the group descends Gondogoro La.
Recommendation: Northface Apex
Other Personal Gear
- Dry bags (optional)
Be 100% sure that your most important items are dry.
Recommendation: Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Bag
- Camera / Extra Battery
Recommendation: A mirrorless camera by Fuji or Sony – or just a good quality smartphone.
- Power Bank and Chargers/Phone Cable: We will have a generator on the trip for charging electronics, but always good to have your power bank as well.
- Personal First Aid Kit
Bandaids, hand sanitizer, lip balm with spf, tampons, strong quality sun cream (50 spf+), antibiotic cream, paracetamol, throat lozenges, electrolyte tabs, moleskin for blisters, antibiotics for stomach/general, earplugs, and Diamox for altitude sickness (optional)
- Polarized Sunglasses or glacier glasses: The Karakoram sun is strong and having a good pair of polarized sunglasses is essential.
Recommendation: CAMP Eyewear Trail Polarized Sunglass
Non-Essential Optional Gear
- Satellite Messenger Device
Stay connected to people back home
Recommendation: Garmin In-Reach Mini
- A Good Book / Kindle and Podcasts (Downloaded)
These are almost essential items! Bring what you need to stay entertained at camp.
- Pee bottle – (Optional)
Wide mouth Nalgene clearly marked “pee bottle”. This is to avoid having to leave your tent at night.
Recommendation for Women: Pibella Travel Device
- Combination Lock
Easily lock your portered bag if you wish.
Recommendation: Pacsafe Loc
Toiletries and Personal Hygiene
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Bodywash / Shampoo
- Sunscreen (minimum 30 SPF)
- Fast Drying Microfiber Travel Towel
- Whatever else makes you feel clean and comfortable
That’s a wrap on our K2 Base Camp Packing List blog.
If you have any specific gear-related questions, drop us a comment below!