Packing List For Mongolia Winter
Layers form a major part of a packing list for Mongolia for winter – specifically a 3-layer system based on wearing a base, middle and outer layer. For all winter trips in Mongolia, you need to bring all three layers. The 3-layer system should protect you from the outside environment and conditions, whilst allowing for maximum heat retention. It should be flexible to allow for changing conditions. Please note that opportunities for washing clothes once on tour are limited.
- If you are travelling with EL and have items or luggage you bring with you to Mongolia but do not want to take on tour, these can be left securely at our small office in Ulaanbaatar. Just ask Jess for details.
The base layer would be good-quality thermals. These will make all the difference (for daytime and sleeping). Not cotton – merino wool, silk, polypropylene, or other various synthetic fibers are best.
Mid Layer (Insulation)
A mid-layer should be thicker than a base layer. Again, do not use cotton it simply does not insulate as well as other fabrics. Some good examples of mid-layers include merino wool, a mid-weight fleece or polyester. If you know you typically feel the cold then you can double up the mid-layer. Make sure all your items fit correctly or your warm air will escape. Tucking your layers in will help too!
The outer layer should be your thickest insulating layer and your warmest layer – and WINDPROOF. A down jacket something similar to a ski jacket would work well. If you don’t have either and don’t want to go to the expense of buying one (understandable as they’re not cheap), you could buy a traditional Mongolian deel (the long coat). Your trip assistant and driver would take you to the Black Market in Ulaanbaatar where you could buy a winter deel for around 100,000 MNT.
- Wool socks are the best – even if they become wet, they won’t freeze and they are great for insulation. Consider taking light synthetic/polypropylene liner socks as wearing these helps to prevent chafing. Then take medium weight wool hiking socks for wearing on top of the liner sock. Wool socks are worth it.
- No cotton socks! For cold weather, a sock made of wool, IsoWool, fleece and similar type synthetic materials must be used. The reason these types socks are excellent for winter wear is because if the socks get wet (due to excessive perspiration from the foot), the socks themselves do not lose their insulating properties. Additionally, the various styles of synthetic socks are also generally far thicker than a standard thin cotton sock, allowing the sock to absorb far more moisture.
Scarves | Hats / Balaclavas | Gloves
Small items so they don’t take up much room but all required for a Mongolian winter. Also, consider a headband for covering your ears. Again, don’t go for synthetic or cotton items. Make sure they are wool, fleece or, if you are in Mongolia already, camel and cashmere are also good and can be bought inexpensively.
- Hiking boots won’t cut it as they are typically purchased for a warmer climate and fit like a normal shoe meaning there’s no room then for additional shocks and not enough insulation on the sole from the ground.
- We do provide traditional Mongolian felt boots but these don’t have the ankle support of a hiking boot. They’re all size fits all and provide excellent insulation and warmth although they are not suitable for hiking.
- If you want to invest in a winter boot in your home country then make sure they have enough room for winter socks. * Do not wear many pairs of socks. It makes your feet too tight and reduces blood circulation, therefore, making your feet cold quickly.
Sleeping During Winter Tours
The following items are common to all EL guests. Without them, you will simply suffer. With them, you will be comfortable.
- A 4 season down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C. However, these are expensive. If you don’t have one or can’t borrow one, let us know and we can help.
- Bring a sleeping bag liner – silk is a good choice because it is small, light, and extremely effective but a microfleece liner is also good.
- Bring a foam roll mat, Thermarest, or other self-inflating sleeping mats to help prevent cold transfer.
- Pajamas – bring a base layer top and leggings, gloves, hat and socks for sleeping so you have a comfortable, warm and dry layer.
If You’re Joining Us On Our Khovsgol Ice Festival Trip
- You need good insulating outer garments for top and bottoms. Aim for insulation not waterproofing.
- For moving on the ice, lightweight down and loft-style outer layers are best. Windstopper-style and soft-shell trousers and tights are recommended for bottoms.
- You may want to consider a spiked/ studded attachment that can be fitted to your boot. If you don’t have any, we will provide them.
- There are no specific dress codes and Mongolian women dress in a contemporary style. Mongolians are open and modern in their approach to clothing and are mostly very well-dressed. You do not typically have to cover up within religious buildings although if visiting western Mongolia, the Kazakhs are slightly more conservative in their dress code.
- A wide range of sanitary products is available throughout Ulaanbaatar. In rural areas, there will be fewer choices of brands. Consider stocking up before departing Ulaanbaatar. Sanitary disposal can also be limited but please do not bury any sanitary items. Although not ideal, wrap them and bring them with you and place them in the main rubbish bin in the vehicle. Alternatively, consider bringing period pants or a menstrual cup with you. Ask Jess for details.
ADDITIONAL LARGER ITEMS
- DAY PACK – You’ll need a lightweight hiking backpack to wear trekking or for daily use to carry your water, extra layers, snacks, etc. Something around 30 L should work perfectly. We recommend getting one that is compatible with a water bladder and hose, and has a built-in rain cover.
- RESUSABLE WATER BOTTLE WITH A FILTER – You’re required to bring a reusable, filtering water bottle (1-liter wide mouth is strongly recommended). We don’t purchase bottled water to reduce our environmental waste, but rather, we use local town water stations to resupply traveller water bottles and our backup water supply (two 20-liter water containers per group). We will have backup water filters (Steripen or Lifesaver brands) in the event our traveller’s filtering water bottle gets damaged or becomes unusable. Eternal Landscapes has arranged a 15% discount on filtering water bottles through Water To Go.
- Our UK/Europe guests can purchase bottles using this link https://watertogo.eu/ and the EL15 code.
- Our US/Canada guests can do the same using this link https://watertogousa.com/ , also using EL15 code.
- If you’re from another region let us know and we’ll see what we can do.
- BATTERY PACK & ADAPTER – Don’t rely on electricity in rural areas! Make sure you bring a plug adapter too (they are the same as European ones, with two circular pins).
- You can find out about our Covid policy here – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-faqs/
- FACE MASKS – These are no longer mandatory although we suggest you bring a few. (Be sure to cut the ear straps of any disposable masks before throwing them out, so wildlife doesn’t get tangled in them!)
- HAND SANITISER – We will provide this but it is advisable to bring your own. It should contain 60% alcohol minimum.
- ENTRY REQUIREMENTS – Mongolia no longer requires proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test. You can use the FAQ link above for the most up-to-date information.
ADDITIONAL SMALLER ITEMS
- Passport – Bring a waterproof bag to keep it safe and dry. Also, it’s always a good idea to travel with an extra photocopy of it.
- Sunglasses – consider with UVA/UVB filter protection and polarisation
- Bandana or neck gaiter (good for extra sun protection)
- Light-weight travel towels
- Laundry Soap/Travel Wash – biodegradable if possible
- Money Belt/Pouch
- A lock for your bag. There are no secure storage facilities. We suggest bringing small padlocks with which you can secure your luggage.
- Headtorch (flashlight) with spare batteries
Travel mug. We provide drinking mugs on our tours but if you know you might be tempted by a coffee on the go when in Ulaanbaatar then consider bringing your own travel mug. A number of coffee chains in UB give discounts to people who bring travel mugs into their stores.
- Travel alarm clock
- Spare memory cards for your camera – although a selection are available in Ulaanbataar
- Binoculars – great for early morning wildlife spotting
- If you enjoy walking then you may want to bring hiking poles with you if you’re used to using them as the terrain is varied. We find the collapsible kind, and three-section, adjustable-height models are best.
- Hot Water Bottle
- Hand Warmers
Here are a few suggestions for toiletries. Please consider our (Mini) Plastic Free Mongolia Challenge which focuses on keeping single-use plastics out of the places we love. It includes details on what EL is doing to help our guests (and team) minimise their plastic footprint as well as how you, our guests, can help us. You can join our Mini Plastic Free Mongolia Challenge Facebook group to share your ideas.
- Remember the essentials such as deodorant, lotion, lip balm, suncream, toothbrush, toothpaste etc. Bring them in reusable bottles. Also, try and bring biodegradable products. (Water run-off from outdoor washes can be tainted with chemically derived suds and impact the natural environment.)
- Wet wipes are invaluable on a tour of Mongolia as they are great for instant washes. Basic brands are available in Ulaanbaatar and rural areas. However, if possible, bring biodegradable options such as the Cheeky Panda Bamboo brand or even bring a washcloth! NOTE: wipes should not be buried or put in family toilets.
Your own experience will influence your choices.
- Sunscreen SPF 30 or higher
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Pain Killers/Medication (for bad backs, headaches, muscle pulls, constipation etc)
- Topical antibiotic (such as Neosporin) for cuts, bites, or sores
- Insect repellent (mainly for May- September)
- Generic antibiotics such as Amoxicillin
- Blister kit. Look for long-lasting gel-type bandages that you can apply directly on blisters, such as Band-Aid Advanced Healing Bandages. “Liquid band-aids,” such as New-Skin, are useful because they dry rapidly to form a tough protective cover over a blister
- Dramamine or other medication for motion sickness (for long days of road travel)
- An antihistamine such as Benadryl Decongestant (daytime and nighttime types) for colds, sinus headaches
- Cough drops (for dry throat caused by altitude)
- Spare contact lenses or spare prescription glasses
For UNCOMPLICATED Travellers’ Diarrhoea
The following is a GASTRO kit suggested by the Fleet Street Clinic based in the UK
- Loperamide / Immodium 2mg capsules
- Ondansetron 4mg: for powerful relief from nausea and vomiting
- Antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin OR Azithromycin 500mg
If you’re a keen photographer seriously consider bringing a Polaroid camera with you or a mini Bluetooth printer. Taking a photo and just showing it on the digital screen or promising to send it is no longer enough. Bring a Polaroid camera and leave the photo as a small thank you gift. See our guide to responsible photography for more details.
Layered up! Davaa – one of our Mongolian trip assistants – at Khovsgol in the winter. Image: EL guest Kairi Aun
If you still have space in your luggage having packed for Mongolia, why not consider bringing a few additional items to help support Asral – a Buddhist NGO that work with Mongolian families in need – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/stuff-your-rucksack-for-asral-ngo-mongolia/. We often get asked about gifts for families – here is our guide – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/gift-ideas-for-when-travelling-in-mongolia/
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes