List of Recommended Equipment
Below, Amiwa provides you with a list of equipment for your treks with us or on your own. This list is not exhaustive and its contents should only be considered as suggestions. It is up to you to adapt this list to your own needs, as well as to the environment and the season in which you will be trekking. We welcome any suggestions or helpful hints you may have for us at

Warning: several brand names are cited in the following equipment list. These references are in no way intended as publicity for the brands in question nor is Amiwa in any way affiliated with any of these same. They are referenced entirely for informational purposes.

Checklist :

Backpack: preferably a backpack designed specifically for mountain-climbing, meaning one without external side pockets and with usually only a single interior compartment; it will provide you with better balance and comfort on the trail.

A second backpack, smaller and lighter than the first, would also be useful if you will be doing starburst-style trekking (with a regular return to a base camp) and if you wish to carry the minimum possible… You should never, however, head out without the minimum equipment in your bag (sweater, windbreaker raincoat, water canister, one meal, lamp, possible medications, etc.)

Hiking shoes: preferably shoes with stiff or semi-stiff soles designed for rocky terrain and with a high upper, made of Gore-Tex, if possible. A friendly reminder: it is essential that you break your shoes in for the equivalent of at least one week before you set off!

Hiking socks: take at least four pairs so that you can change them often, sometimes even more than once a day. Decathlon brand are pretty high quality, but it is up to you to determine which socks meet your heat and moisture management needs. Double-skin socks are another option to check out.

Spare laces: consider taking a spare pair or two of laces if yours are somewhat worn. Otherwise, a bit of string will do the trick.

Overpants, breathable if possible, should not be forgotten, especially if you plan to hit the trails during the rainy season (from mid-June through mid-September in Yunnan Province).

Gaiters or mini-gaiters will often prove extremely useful.

Raingear for the upper body; if you have the money, go for a Gore-Tex jacket. A cape or poncho could also be helpful (and is indispensable in the monsoon season).

Something to protect your bag against rain, dust and dirt (especially useful for the dusty baggage holds on buses). Otherwise, consider buying a small plastic tarpaulin once you arrive.

Walking sticks will lighten the load on your knees when descending a mountain and may even help you on the way up. Remember to take into consideration the quality of these sticks: poor-quality sticks that bend with your efforts can be dangerous.

A wide-brimmed hat or a Legionnaire cap will protect your head and neck from the sun.

A pair of sandals (flip-flops or slider sandals) will relieve your tired feet after a long day on the trails. Go for a pair that you can still wear socks with: it gets nippy in the mountains at night! You might also want to use them in guesthouse showers where standards of hygiene aren’t always the greatest.

A pair of lightweight gloves, ideally in silk, can be comfortable and practical, and can even double as a second pair of warmer gloves if need be!

Pants or capri pants, possibly shorts… Avoid cotton underwear as it takes too long to dry.

A belt (in canvas) often comes in handy. Besides, who said you wouldn’t lose a bit of weight!?

A breathable T-shirt with short sleeves and another with long sleeves (for protection against the sun) are highly recommended (like Millet’s Carline shirt, for example, though any ‘outdoor’ brand will make something similar). Avoid cotton T-shirts that retain perspiration and take hours to dry!! Another breathable, warmer, long-sleeve shirt would also come in handy.

A warm polar jacket or warm polar sweater (check the quality as all polars are not equal...) is essential. Some people like to have another warm, longer top handy to keep their back covered when crouching down.

A soft shell (windbreaker, polar) is also useful; the one by Decathlon is perfect for the job. You may be able to find what you need once you arrive (China has some outlets of ‘The North Fake’, among others) but the quality is not the same.

Warm leggings might be of use, especially in the evenings when things cool down after a day on the trails, though this depends on your own preferences.

Sometimes a scarf will come in handy, depending upon your own preferences.

A SIGG-style water bottle or a Chinese bao wen bei (保溫杯) thermos (with a filter inside, often used to drink tea) is absolutely indispensable.
If you have a sensitive stomach or you are as prudent as you are well-off, a Katadyn-style water bottle to filter your water on the fly will prove worthwhile.

A headlamp (miner’s lamp) is an invaluable ally. An LED model is best (better longevity), and it is best if it is battery-powered (R6, AA, or, in China #5: wu hao, 五号). Compare brand, model, weight, range, price, brightness, etc. A little bit ‘nicer’ when you’re sharing a tent: a red LED or a red plastic cover will provide you with the light you need without blinding your neighbour! If you’re using rechargeable batteries (a little less powerful than Duracell-style batteries, but more eco-friendly since they are reusable), don’t forget the charger!

A lunchbox with a 0.5 to 0.8 litre capacity, like the military-style ones made by Au Vieux Campeur, provides good quality/weight/durability for the price.

Basic eating utensils: soup spoon, foldaway knife, and fork or chopsticks (or both).

When it comes to the inevitable sleeping bag, make sure yours has a temperature rating of at least -10°C (+/- 3°C). The options are truly innumerable and you are bound to find the right fit for you. Bags made by Valandre are excellent though, unfortunately, they are as expensive as they are good.
You may also want a sleeping bag liner, preferably in silk.

An sleeping mat that insulates you from the ground often makes all the difference in harsh conditions.  It’s up to you to see what you can get for your budget, but, whatever you do, don’t try to do without. There is little debate among the Amiwa team that Therm-a-Rest is the best brand (and they guarantee their products for life!).

In case of an emergency, a whistle can help you alert others to your location.

A pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun is absolutely essential. To figure out what you need, it’s best to ask your optometrist! Depending upon the planned itinerary with Amiwa, you will need glasses with a UV-index of 3 or 4 (to block 100% of ultraviolet rays).
If you wear regular glasses or contacts, don’t forget to bring a spare pair with you just in case...

A small musical instrument, like a harmonica or a small flute, may help you establish a friendly rapport more quickly with the local inhabitants that you will meet along the way. But remember to practice before you bring it along!

A small toiletry bag, including a toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste (small or partially used, no need to lug around a brand new tube!), and a bar of soap (preferably Marseille soap or Aleppo soap as they are less harmful to nature). You may want to add nail clippers or a razor.  Ladies and couples should be aware that the quality of feminine hygiene products and contraceptive devices available in China may not be the same as what you can get at home, so plan in advance.

A compact, absorbent towel that dries quickly is an investment you aren’t likely to regret, all the more as it will likely save you space in your backpack.

The always vital sun-block (be liberal with the SPF) and chap-stick (Labello recommended).

Pain-killers, such as paracetamol (Doliprane), aspirin or ibuprofen.

Biafine to treat sunburns. (Warning: never expose your skin to sunlight after you have applied Biafine!!! You  should use it at night.)

"Second skin bandages" for blisters have both their supporters and their critics. Up to you…

Whatever medications you require on a daily basis, if any. Make a note of the international names for these medications, as well as the active ingredients (and amounts), in case you need to find the equivalent in an emergency.

Up to you if you want to organise all your equipment into individual plastic bags; if so, it is best to use different colours, especially when you have a mountain-climbing backpack with a single interior compartment.

In addition, you might like to bring along a pen and notebook, perhaps even a paperback book, a camera (don’t forget the battery charger) or small, waterproof zip-lock bags to protect your papers from dust and moisture.

Trekking can be expensive, even if it is possible to slim down the budget. Much of it is a question of comfort, but, whatever you do, don’t neglect the essentials (sleeping bag, jacket, shoes, lamp, etc.): hiking, especially in the mountains and without a guide, can bring you face-to-face with very difficult, sometimes even hostile conditions, and you often face them alone. It is your life, and that of your companions, that is at stake. Knowing how to say "no" and how to leave your pride at home are the marks of a wise hiker. Serious or fatal accidents don’t just happen to other people. Remember this…

Good hiking equipment is often costly (even if this activity is less expensive than cross-country skiing) and low-budget or medium-budget hikers probably cannot afford the highest quality for each product. Keep things in perspective and take care of your equipment! With an attentive eye and ear, it is often possible to get your hands on good equipment at bargain prices during sales, at factory outlets, in overstock stores or even online… Also, don’t forget online forums and their classifieds, where you might find great deals on equipment that is practically brand new. "Pre-loved" stuff may be better than something new but of mediocre quality. Just a word to the wise…

Legal notice: the brands cited on this page, as on the rest of the site, such as Millet, Decathlon, Quechua, Lafuma, Katadyn, SIGG, Duracell, Valandre, Therm-a-Rest, Biafine, etc., are all registered trademarks and subject to trademark law.

Higherland Inn, trek, Dali, Yunnan, Chine