Porters are of two types, Ones who work for themselves and the ones working for trekking companies. The one who works for themselves usually carries packed foods, soft drinks, liquor, food items, meat, vegetables and a range of products that locals and trekkers need while they are in the region. You will get to see a lot of porters on the trails of Everest Base Camp carrying heavy loads which can go up to 120kgs.
The ones who work for companies mostly carry only trekkers’ luggage. They usually carry weights from 20Kgs to 40Kgs. These porters do not have any other secured income source. So if we do not drink coffee, eat bakery products, stay at tea houses, eat food, use wifi, buy accessories, etc this region would be out of jobs and their earnings wouldn’t be sufficient. Having said that, we cannot deny the risk to their health by doing these hikes carrying such heavy loads.
The Everest region or the Sagarmatha National Park doesn’t have any kind of motorable roads. Also, it is very expensive to fly in items, materials, food, equipment in a helicopter. So the only way to carry any item is to follow the same trekking trail. This is where everyone requires the strength and expertise of a porter.
So if you pass by any porters with really heavy loads, be sure that they are working for themselves. The more they carry the more they get paid. There is no restriction on the amount of weight they carry up the trail. However, porters working for companies will have a weight restriction as the money for porters will be directly taken from the trekkers.
everest base camp trek
Porters carrying plywood sheets.
everest base camp trek
Porters carrying trekkers luggage.
everest base camp trek
Stair climbing? They do it with ease.
everest base camp trek
Steep Ascent? Not so steep for them.
everest base camp trek
They keep climbing even if it starts raining. Of course, needless to say, that they take care of the things that they carry.
Need support? They use this ‘T’ shaped stick which also works as a make shift seat to sit when they take breaks.
Looks so compact but this porter was carrying around 50+ 1Ltr coke bottles.
Rain, Muddy Trail, Slippery paths, nothing will stop these porters.

Food supplies for tea houses and lodges.
Luggage of trekkers taken back from base camp.

Luggage from expedition trekkers. If you observe closely, this porter has worn sandals. Not only does it shows how accustomed they are to the terrain but also shows how they need to survive without one of the most crucial necessity while climbing – Good shoes.
Some more food supplies going to the valley.
They are also so concerned about trekkers that always leave walking space on the hill side and take the valley side themselves even though they are carrying really heavy loads.
It is also very nice to hear some really good local music that these porters usually play.
It looks so simple. But we feel these superhumans are real trekkers who can at least carry their own weight.
This was the heaviest we saw on the entire route. Wooden planks for a new lodge construction.
Next time when you are trekking in any Himalayan trail and if you see a porter carrying extra weight, don’t forget to say Hi to them with a smile. They will be very happy.

Tipping System in Nepal

As of what we understand, there is no tipping system in place as compared to rules in other countries where porters MUST be given a certain amount of tip for the work they’ve done by every trekker. When trekking with us, we strongly follow the unsaid rule of tipping well. While the amount to be tipped is at your discretion, we always encourage our trekkers to tip more if they’re happy with the porter’s service. To give you an example, you can tip from anywhere between Rs 100 – 500 per day (depending on your comfort).

Tipping Etiquette

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind while tipping the porters or guides in Nepal.

Handing over the money

Always hand over the money with your right hand, as using your left hand for this is considered to be rude in Nepal.

Tip Discreetly

It’s always better to tip your porter at the end of the trek, in which case, we suggest that you use an envelope, this will not only make them feel good about the tip, it will also give them a sense of respect. If you wish to tip smaller amounts, it’s always better to tip without creating a scene or saying it out loud.

Tipping doesn’t necessarily mean money

During your trek, it’s always a good sense to tip porters with food such as chocolates, energy bars, dry fruits, water, etc. After your trek, you can always leave behind your gear, clothes, shoes etc. that can be extremely helpful to these porters as they would never be able to invest in these otherwise.

The unsaid rule of weight

On our treks, we’ve seen porters more than 80 kilos of weight up and down the trail. While there is no rule in Nepal to check how much each porter can carry, it is always advised that as trekkers, you do not overburden them with heavy luggage. You can even do a ratio of one porter for two trekkers to ensure that they are not carrying too much weight.

The one thing we need to learn from them is regardless of how hard and risky their life is, they are always humble and extremely polite. Most of them talk to you, others smile, make sure you return the favor back to these super humans as well.

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