Adventure Travel for Seniors, Part 3

Article by Dr. Michael Tobin
Colder than a Witch’s Tit, Filthier than a Pig in Shit – I’d Rather be Here than Bali
Trekking to the Everest Base Camp – Is Adventure Travel for You?
Part III:  Warmer than a Witch’s Tit and Cleaner Than a Pig in Shit  

Okay, so you decided to choose adventure over comfort, to forgo a jacuzzi and sauna for the hard-earned sweat and challenge of a high-altitude trek.  

Good for you! And as a side benefit, you’ll earn bragging rights and enough great experiences to keep your friends and family intrigued for hours. And, let’s face it. Who tells stories about the 70-year-old who went on a cruise and spent the day in the jacuzzi?

So now let’s make it real and answer the question, “What do you bring on a high-altitude trek so you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature will throw at you?”

Challenges Which Await

Here are the weather challenges:

  1. It’s going to be hot and cold
  2. Dry and dusty
  3. Rainy and snowy
  4. Windy and still

Here are the logistical challenges:

  1. If you plan on carrying your own pack, my advice is don’t exceed 9 kilos (approximately 20 lbs. including water)
  2. If you plan on having a porter carry your pack, (which I recommend for nearly everyone except for the super tough among you) 15 kilos is the maximum-allowable weight for a porter.  (You’ll see trekkers taking advantage of the porters, but it is unethical and downright exploitive.) By using a porter, you’re supporting the locals who depend on tourism for their livelihood.
  3. Unless you’re a devotee of Wim Hof, and you love taking freezing cold showers, then don’t expect to have a hot shower more than once per week.
  4. Less is more.  In other words, you want to take quality clothing that is light, rain and wind resistance, and highly rated for very cold weather (-20 celsius/0 Fahrenheit, or colder if you’re going above 5000 meters/16,500 feet.


Here is the complete list of what you need to take starting from your feet to your head. I’ve included links to all of the best products: 

  1. Three pairs of good trekking socks with three pairs of thin socks that you wear underneath the trekking socks.
  2. A good pair of waterproof trekking boots that you must break-in for at least one month prior to the trek. If you have boots, make sure that the tread’s not worn, and the stitching’s not frayed.
  3. One pair of leggings/long johns.  Should be very light and warm.
  4. Three pairs of underwear (counting the ones you’re wearing).
  5. Two pairs of trekking pants convertible to shorts. (Includes the one you’re wearing.)
  6. Lightweight waterproof pants to cover your pants.
  7. Two pairs of short-sleeve trekking shirts.
  8. Two pairs of long-sleeve trekking shirts (look for shirts with Merino Wool).
  9. One lightweight merino wool trekking sweater
  10. One Gore-Tex lightweight, wind and rain proof jacket 
  11. Lightweight down jacket  rated for – 20 C (O F) or warmer.
  12. Thin gloves
  13. Ski gloves
  14. Ski hat – best if it has a flap to cover the face and ears.  
  15. Wool scarf if you don’t have a hat with a face mask.
  16. Trekking poles.  Go here to learn how to properly use poles. 
  17. Backpack and daypack (to carry water and extra clothes for rain and cold). Go here to learn how to pack your backpack. 
  18. Crocs or a pair of light weight shoes that you can use on the rare occasion when you take a hot shower.
  19. Wide tape for your feet to prevent blisters. 
  20. Advil, Imodium for diarrhea, antibiotic cream, sunscreen, sanitizing liquid, wipes, band aids, multivitamin, Chapstick.
  21. Antibiotics. You need to check online for what’s effective in the country you’re visiting. There are pros and cons about getting inoculations. Discuss it with your doctor. 
  22. Diamox or an herbal formula to prevent altitude sickness. Personally, I’ve had great success with the herbal formula and they’re no negative side effects like there are with Diamox. 
  23. Water purifying pen
  24. Head lampbinoculars (small and powerful), and AA and AAA batteries.
  25. A fast drying towel
  26. Toiletries, makeup and shaving paraphernalia – as little as possible.  No one cares how you look. 
  27. If you tend to get cold, then here’s a tip that saved my wife.  Bring a hot water bottle. 
  28. If you’re trekking in Nepal, India, or the Alps, you don’t need a sleeping bag. Your guest house will provide blankets.  
  29. Put all your reading material on your phone – need to be spartan about weight 

And the most important thing to take is:  a really, really positive attitude.

This list is the result of eight high-altitude treks throughout Asia and Europe where I managed to make every stupid mistake you can imagine until I finally mastered the art of less is more. 

Good luck and God Bless.  If you have any questions, feel free to write to me at

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