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Another shopping question, but I do think it is on topic!

I will soon travel to India, the first few months I will spend in the south and lower parts of the country where it will be warm and hot. As I like to travel light, I plan to bring only some light summer clothes.

Later I will visit the more mountainous regions in the North and would also like to do some trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal. For that I do need warmer clothes and boots.

I am sure I can just buy any normal warm clothes locally, but I do like my quality outdoor clothes, they are just more practical for several reasons.

But being a long-term traveller with little income, I buy most of my outdoor stuff on sale or even second hand. In other Asian countries I did find special outdoor shops but the prices were the same as the full retail-prices in the west or even higher, usually too high for me.

Do I need to buy my fleece, jacket and hiking boots in Delhi or can I wait until I am further north?

How about Kathmandu, being a place with many backpackers and trekkers? What are the prices like?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would have advised you to buy your outdoor clothes in Delhi but your trip timing could be crucial to whether you get a good deal or not. Branded sports / outdoor clothing stores have sales of autumn clothes in autumn and spring, i.e., when they are about to bring in fresh stock and when demand drops off, respectively. Right now, by Indian standards, Delhi and a lot of Northern India is experiencing a 'cold wave' so demand must be high. If you're reaching around March, you'd probably find more sales.

Go to the central Connaught Place shopping area in Delhi - most backpackers stay in Paharganj, which is close by - and check what apparel stores have sales, if any. If you find a good deal, take it! You're more likely to find deeper discounts in Delhi than in smaller Indian towns. The Palika Bazaar underground shopping complex in the same area may have better deals but those will usually be fake goods. There are other shopping centres in Delhi too but not any that will sell the kind of quality gear you want at cheap prices.

I haven't shopped for outdoor clothes in Kathmandu so I cannot give any advice on that.

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If you want to visit mountainous region in Nepal and like to buy some warmer clothes and boots then you'll get it in Kathmandu. Normally but I suggest you to visit Thamel in Kathmandu. There you will get as you prefer for the really region.

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+1 I think a lot more trekking is based out of Kathmandu than northern India (with the possible exception of Ladakh) so that the widest variety of equipment can be found there. I bought my fleece, jacket and sleeping bag there, but was advised (in Israel) to come with boots from Israel. I'm not sure if this was so that they would be already broken in or because of concerns with the quality of the Gore-Tex coatings in Nepal. –  Eyal Oct 14 '12 at 21:23

When are you leaving for India? I have a trip planned as well and will also be visiting both southern regions and mountainous regions in North India. Perhaps I'll be of some help if I visit it before you start your India trip. I believe that you should buy jacket, hiking boots and similar stuff at an established shop since you will most likely keep those. And you should maybe buy scarfs, mittens, caps, socks and vests at your destination and if you find them quality clothing, keep them, and if not, just leave them for someone else there.

I will update this answer with some prices once I get there.

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I am ready to go, I just need to get off my butt and apply for a visa. –  Peter Hahndorf Jan 31 '12 at 14:08
    
Still, I'll be traveling for 3 months only so will probably be there before you are. I'm leaving on 29th of February, starting in Delhi. Do post your itinerary on your website and perhaps we'll meet at some point... –  John Doe Jan 31 '12 at 14:12
    
I usually don't have an itinerary, but I always post where I am on my site. –  Peter Hahndorf Jan 31 '12 at 14:14

I wouldn't worry too much about it - for example, Dharamsala is chock full of shops selling cheap outdoor clothing. However, while perfectly functional, they are mostly off-label or pirated Chinese copies, not necessarily the real thing, so I'm not sure if the "quality" will suffice for you. You're unlikely to find authentic branded clothing outside the main cities like Delhi and Kathmandu.

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I haven't been in northern India yet. But my experience of shopping in Nepal has been good so far. Thamel in Kathmandu is a good place to start shopping for trekking gears. You can find cheap copies as well as authentic expensive gear. If you are looking for authentic stuffs, tell the storekeeper upfront. They will take you straight to the authentic items if they have any. There are a few brand stores just a few steps out of Thamel, you can try them out as well.

The stores in Thamel are good for backpacks in general but not so good for foot wear. If you are opting for a full fledged expedition, ask your climbing/trekking guide to help you out. Being locals, they should know the stores better.

Real gore-tex jacket was 4500NR last year. Thermal sleeping bags 4000NR. Hiking boots 2000NR. 45L backpack (Nepali copy) was 1800NR. This is as far as I can remember right now.

How much protective gear you need is subjective. I've seen Nepali porters doing the around Annapurna trek (highest elevation 5400m) wearing sneakers while their clients wore trekking boots. Hope this helps.

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As I write this I'm wearing a fleece bought second hand in Kathmandu.

Plenty of tourists sell warm clothes as they leave or give them to porters who sell them. I would wait for Kathmandu rather than New Delhi.

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