Shona’s – your one stop outdoor shop in Thamel

Thamel is the tourist hub of Kathmandu. Calling Thamel ‘bustling’ would be a gross understatement … like calling global warming, “Slightly worrying”. In Thamel you will find rip-off North Face bags, Yak-wool socks, Indian embroiders, touts saying, “Hello, hash for you?”, fresh tourists pretending not to be intimidated, brightly coloured cotton everything, confused hippies that forgot to leave the famed 1970‘s hippy pilgrimage (Thamel-> Thailand) and food from all parts of the world. Due to Nepal’s proximity to India, the Indian food is easily the best.

From the outside, Shona’s Alpine seems to be just another Thamel shop. The dusty shelves are packed to overflowing with sleeping bags, socks, shirts, down jackets and everything you need to survive the Himalayas as a trekker, mountaineer or cliche’-nirvana-seeker. However, Shona’s has a huge point of difference, one which attracts people in the know in droves.

Andrew and Shona from ‘Shonas Alpine” are like Willy Wonka and Pacha-mamma respectively to outdoor shoppers. Andrew is a skinny, pony-tailed chap from England who is extremely passionate and knowledgable about outdoor equipment. With every item sold, Andrew offers advice and, invariably, anecdotes about when he used the same gear, “One winter I was climbing in the Khumbu, no one was about, and I was solo-ing these lovely lines around Pangboche…anyway, what was I saying? Yeah, I only took one change of clothes!” Shona is a short, serious looking Nepalese lady who efficiently matches explorers with the gear they need with a big smile.

Shonas Alpine is a climbing institution. For a retailer to flourish in such a competitive, and flooded, market as Thamel they must have a noticeable point of difference. While watching Shona systematically deck out a nervous American lady for her first ever trek, it dawned on me what their big point of difference is: trust.

grey Shonas   your one stop outdoor shop in ThamelThey do not mess about with pricing, goods are worth what they’re worth. They will not bullshit you to sell an extra sock. I saw Shona question American-lady if she really needed more than one shirt, “They dry in ten minutes, wash it at night…” They intimately know the products they are selling. From her perch behind the counter, Shona had this first-timer totally kitted out, and had explained the benefits of Merino over poly-propylene, in less time than it takes for Abbott to lube up, and anally rape Australia’s Environmental policy… sorry, sorry, I don’t know where that came from. I’ll leave it alone, Promise! Anyway, Shona’s, trust. A valuable commodity in this tout-ridden suburb.

The reason that Andrew and Shona know their products so well is because they manufacture most of their inventory. It is easy to picture Andrew dancing around a factory upstairs with a bunch of smiling Sherpas labouring at sewing machines, all of them singing, “Ooompa, Loompa, Doooboodee Dooo, I’ve got a lovely Down suit for you”

I still distinctly remember in 2011 when I nervously went to buy a down suit. Andrew took one look at me, pulled a suit seemingly out of his sleeve and had me try it on. He explained why they designed the crap flap the way it was (the zip around your bum for number 2’s), why the hood was made to close how it did (being able to breathe) and why they only come in fluorescent orange (snow is white!) Sweating in the suit like a fat McDonalds employee I asked about sleeping bags, again seemingly out of his sleeve, came two bags, a three and a four season. Their brand is Alpine design, even though not a ‘big’ name quality is assured. Their assurance of quality comes from the fact that most commercial expeditions, and almost every sherpa, use them. If it is good enough for experts, it is certainly good enough for me.

grey Shonas   your one stop outdoor shop in ThamelMy fellow expeditioner, Bish is a tall chap. At 6 foot 4, he has trouble finding gear to fit his frame. When Bish asked Andrew about a sleeping bag, Andrew said, “Yeah, no worries, we have one,” turning to a staff member, “can you run upstairs and grab that XXL bag?” A few minutes later Bish was the proud owner of a massive and warm sleeping bag, which cost him $80aus. You can pay upwards of $400 for it’s equivalent in Australia. I was a bit disappointed that all I needed were a few more pairs of socks. When I asked Shona for some trekking socks her eyes flitted to my boots, “Size 43, Khumbu Valley right?” Not surprisingly my socks are perfect, not too hot, merino to avoid smelly feet, and the perfect size. They might be last year’s design but I’m pretty sure that Merino wool has not evolved too much since 2012. Trust.

So, if you ever come to Nepal to trek, climb or do anything outdoorsy, and assuming you are not aroused by brand name gear, I strongly suggest you arrive a day earlier with an empty rucksack and a few dollars in your pocket. Throw yourself at the mercy of Andrew and Shona. They will see you right.

*Disclaimer* Due to my evangelical gushing this may seem like a sponsored post. It was in no way sponsored, they are just that good.

*Note* To find Shonas go to the Mountain Hardware store, walking back towards the thick of Thamel take the first left, it is about 150 meters down on the right, next to the famous RUmdoodle restaurant. If you get lost, and you will, just ask a local.

grey Shonas   your one stop outdoor shop in Thamel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: I found their phone number and email. If you try them, let us all know if it’s still valid!):  +977 1 4265120

Shonanandy@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you enjoy reading this? Why not check out my book by clicking on the cover below:

grey Shonas   your one stop outdoor shop in Thamel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

54 Responses to Shona’s – your one stop outdoor shop in Thamel

  • Joe says:

    Hi Ben

    Just came across your site and most specifically your post on Shona’s. I am heading off to do Everest Base Camp in October and tonight have been looking at sleeping bags on the Kathmandu website here in Australia. Don’t think I can justify spending so much on a bag when I doubt I will use it again very often.

    I think after reading your post I might just wait until I get to Thamel to buy a sleeping bag there.

    Cheers mate

    • Ben says:

      Hey Joe, Thanks for the message. Good idea not spending a bunch of $ on gear you may or may not use again. That being said my Shona’s sleeping bag has been up to 8000 mtrs with me and on a lot of good treks and climbs and has not let me down! You might need a warm bag up in those hills! Enjoy the EBC trek man. Tell Andy I sent you!

    • hanna loov says:

      Hi! I just came across your comment and we did EBC last year and we bought both a down-jacket and a three season sleepingbag at Shonas! We were very pleased with it and we were never cold in it! I really recomend it! we did our hike in november and it was freezing cold!! Good luck!

      • Joe says:

        Hey Ben

        Just got back from Base Camp trek yesterday. We bought our sleeping bags at Shona’s and were so glad we did, they were amazing bags for the price. Thanks again for the tip.

        For those who are thinking of purchasing, we paid 9500 NPR for a Large bag and 10,300 NPR for a XL bag.

        • Ben says:

          Nice one Joe! Glad they worked well for you. My high altitude goosy suit from Shona’s (and the sleeping bags etc) have always done well for me. Enjoy the trek mate?

          • Joe says:

            Yeah trek was amazing mate. We got really lucky with the weather, clear every day except for day 1 when we had a little rain. What an amazing place it is to visit.

            • Ben says:

              Man that is extremely lucky considering what has gone on over there this season! Had a mate (Mal from my last few adventures) have to turn around on his expedition to a remote peak in the other corner of the country. Would love to see some photos. :-)

  • Stef says:

    Hi, does anybody have an email address of this shop? I will be in Kathmandu in early October and still need a warm sleeping bag before hiking the Annapurna circuit. As I was told that there will be public holidays around this time and that some shops might be closed, I’m interested if the shop will open on October 4. Thanks for your help.

    • Ben says:

      Hey Stef, sorry mate, I just checked all my cards and do not have one for Shona’s. Have never seen Thamel shut down though, too many tourist dollars to be had, even during holidays ;-)

    • Joe says:

      Hi Stef

      I tried to contact Shona’s a while ago via this email address (shonasrentals@hotmail.com) but unfortunately the email just bounced back. I’ll be in Thamel mid October too and plan to buy a sleeping bag at Shona’s.

  • Carole Davis says:

    I have been to Shonas and agree they have great knowledge and there gear is fantastic. I now want to get some sent to Australia but dont have there email address to communicate with them .

  • Ulric says:

    Try this address: shonasrentals@hotmail.com , phone: (9771) 4265120.

    I also saw another address shonaandy@hotmail.com

    Not sure if one or both are working.

  • Andy Smith says:

    Hi..I am doing EBC at the start of June. I am not sure what type of sleeping bag/jacket I will need and been looking at the Kathmandu site.

    The question I have is should I rent or buy and what would the conditions be like at that time of year ?

    Should I buy all I need at a shop like Shona’s (socks/jacket/etc) or get them from home (New Zealand) and take them with me ?

    Are all transactions in US$ or NPR or a mixture of both and can I use a credit card ?

    Thanls

    Andy

    • Ben says:

      Hey Andy, that’s the monsoon-ish season. Monsoon is June-September. Monsoon is an interesting system where the flat lands of India warm up, rising warm air sucks moist sea-air from the Bay of Bengal and The Arabian sea towards the Himalayas. When the air goes high in the mountains, it cools and dumps the moisture as snow and rain. (Then the rain flows back to the Bay of Bengal via mainly the Ganges etc) Anyway, enough weather-nerding!!
      Your question: It will be warm up in the Khumbu, around 20 degrees celcius plus. The thing is, it will be rainy and snowy as well. Check any weather forecasting website for details. I would say that unless you care about brand names, I would buy the lot (apart from Merino undies) at Shonas. Even if you go over your weight limit and courier gear home it will be cheaper man. Transactions are all in NPR I don’t think they have credit card facilities, I’ve always used cash. Pretty much, Shona’s gear is the stuff the sherpas use, it’s great quality, but not a brand name. Any more questions, just give me a hoy mate! Oh, and have an amazing time :-)
      PS: If you want something to read (with a decent chapter about the Khumbu) on your trek try this: http://www.redrucksack.com/book

      • Andrew Smith says:

        Thanks for the advice, Ben.

        I have just bought the book on Kindle and looking forward to reading it.

      • Paul says:

        Hi Ben,
        It’s so nice to read these stories and replies. My wife and I go for the EBC in October.
        Just wondering, why not the merino undies?

        cheers, Paul

    • Joe says:

      Hi Andy

      Not sure what the temperature would be at that time of year. Like I have stated above I just completed the EBC trek finishing late October. We traveled with G Adventures and from their packing list they suggest a -20 degree bag (and they don’t state what time of year so i assume that’s all year round). We had a look around Thamel at sleeping bags but we bought from Shona’s and were very very happy. For myself, I haven’t done much camping at all in the past but my travel partners have done a lot and they thought the value for money was outstanding.

      In terms of paying, we just paid cash in NPR. Not sure if you could use USD. I did not see a credit card option there (nor did I in any shops in Thamel) so I’d suggest you have cash. Don’t stress if you only have USD and need to pay in NPR, there are currency converters everywhere (there is one literally 20 meters from Shona’s).

      You could rent the sleeping bag (which they also do at Shona’s) at I think $1 USD a day so works out very very cheap but we didn’t really like the thought of sleeping in something that a lot of people have used. Also, really for what you are paying you are getting an awesome sleeping bag to use in the future.

      For a jacket, I took a light rain jacket and also a down jacket. Glad I took the down jacket as I got quite cold up high (even had both jackets on at EBC!)

      For your other gear you could buy a lot of it at Shona’s or the million other shops in Thamel. Just make sure you bring your own worn in boots. Most other things you could probably just buy there. Yeah it’s mostly fake stuff but some of the quality is pretty good.

      Enjoy the trip, it is amazing. I’ve only been home 2 weeks and would love to go back.

  • Aweon says:

    I just tried both email address and neither is working any Idea if they have a new email address ?
    Cheers

  • Tuukka says:

    Are the sleeping bags you bought from Shona’s heavy? This would make a difference as I intend to carry my own gear. I don’t expect them to be fancy or ultra-light, but if they’re very heavy it might be justified to do some shopping at home beforehand.

    • Ben says:

      Nope, I carried the three season one to 5500 meters and the four season to 7800 or so.

      • Tuukka says:

        Thanks for the reply! Came back to report that I’m a happy owner of a 4 season down sleeping bag from Shona’s, have slept in it for 2 weeks. Packs small. Warm. The quality seems very good. Actually so good that I went back to buy a down jacket post-trek, to replace my turns-out-not-so-warm synthetic one.

        Anyway here are some specs: the 4 season sleeping bag is 1,6 kg, -10 to -15 Celsius. I’m 187 cm and had to buy an XL one though, adds a bit to that weight. Mine was 10400 NPR, the normal size would be a little cheaper.

        2 seasons is 1,2 kg and 0 to -5 Celsius. And there’s a 3 season one predictably in between.

  • Daniel Rees says:

    Had to admit I pissed myself at the Abbott comment !

    Annapurna Sanctuary next year once I get my butt back into shape and put a stone or so back on. And this looks like the shop for me. I don’t wish to bring all my expensive kit as it took me 1,000 years to gather it all up. Looking forward to popping in folks ! Looks great.

  • claudia says:

    reading through the posts, tried to find the store yesterday but no luck! will go out again today, their phone number is not working so sent them email! Hope to find store and get my rental things! Happy trekking!

  • Na says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great article! Wish I read it earlier. I did most of my gear shopping here in the US and will be leaving next week for the EBC (April 5 – 19).

    One thing I’m still not sure about is a sleeping bag. I’m a female, 157 cm and 52 kg and get very cold at night. So I’d love to get a super warm (-25 c or more) and petite size bag. Do you think they’ll have something for me?

    Thanks!
    Na

    • Ben says:

      I am absolutely sure they will, and waaay cheaper than you’ll find in the states (no name brand though). If they can find something for me to sleep in at 7900 meters and something for my ridiculously tall friend, they sure will have something that will suit you. Tell Andy I said hi!!
      Enjoy your trek to EBC and be sure to wash your hands in the Khumbu ;-)
      Ben
      PS Did you pack alcohol hand wash?

  • Andy Smith says:

    Hi Joe, good advice, what was the cost of the down jacket and do you know the specs ? Thanks Andy

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks for this. I made sure I went to Shona’s while in Kathmandu before my EBC trek. I loved the down vests so much that I bought four – one for everyone in my family back home. Unfortunately I lost my own (XS) after wearing it (and it being warm enough for) a Siberian winter; and now am trying to get it replaced. Sadly Shona’s don’t ship to Australia – I just called them, and that number still works. I can’t recall the cost, it was around 110USD for four + some iodine tablets.

  • Karthyk says:

    thank you all. I live in Dubai and finding it extremely difficult to buy gears for Aconcagua and Elbrus trek but after reading all the above post I believe Shonas will be the right place to pick all my gears (Down Jacket, Sleeping bag, mittens, crampons, “Shoes”, others). I have read above posts on shoes and that one should not compromise. My problem is that I cannot find double boots in Dubai/middle East. I can get a La sportiva (Baruntse) shipped from factory but if the size doesn’t fit well then I am in a fix. Are there any La Sportiva shops or can I find good double boots in Kathmandu?

    • Ben says:

      Yes for sure you can get good double boots in Kathmandu. Just around the corner (away from the centre of Thamel) from Shonas is the proper mountain hardware shop. Also there are a few other proper shops that sell double boots. Are you climbing or trekking though? Generally you don’t need double boots if you’re trekking, I always trek in my Skarpa Trek pro single leather boots…and two sets of good socks ;-)

  • Dhakk says:

    Hey Ben!

    Lovely article, been looking for one like this! I’ll be doing the ABC trek around March 2016. Im 166cm and around 59kg.
    I am looking to RENT a sleeping bag, down jacket and maybe a pair of trekking shoes. Do you have any comments/tips for any of this?? Anything else I should get? Assume that I start from scratch!

    I am also guessing that I’ll be utilising my down jacket or anything to keep warm from Chomrong onwards. Am I wrong? Anything I should know of?

    Will love the help!! :D

    • Ben says:

      Hey Dhakk, Sorry but I have no idea about renting gear in Kathmandu, you could ask at Shonas Andrew might know something. One thing I’d say is don’t rent boots, they truly make or break a trip and you aughta get some well before heading off and break them in. For leather boots I get them wet, throw on thick socks and wear them all day. Especially if you don’t have a brand/type that you know fit well. Don’t pop blisters if you get them, just put strapping tape over them. Your feet are so crucial to your enjoyment of the trip. I always take menthol sweat rash powder, it feels so darn nice to rub into the feet at the end of a long day :-)
      Regarding the down, I have never trekked wearing down, and rarely even climbed in down. I wear 2 layers of merino tops under my waterproof jacket, this allows you to accurately adjust you temp, you warm up tons when moving – think my dad trekking in snow in shorts!
      Heaps of other stuff I could tell you, that’s the main stuff people overlook when starting out. You’ll figure it out, have a hoot! I’m jealous!

      Best, Ben

      Ps, for health information I have a ton of information relevant to what you’ll need over here (was a pharmacist in a past life):
      http://www.redrucksack.com/travel-health-information/
      And a book for you to read on the trail ;-)
      http://www.redrucksack.com/book/

    • Joe says:

      Hi Dhakk,

      When I was in Kathmandu 12 months ago you could rent sleeping bags from Shona’s and I am pretty sure you could rent jackets as well. As Ben has said just ask Andrew at Shona’s, he will point you in the right direction.

  • Dhakk says:

    Thanks Joe and Ben!

    I guess I’ll look around for a good trekking boots to start with before going over to Kathmandu.
    Definitely will to Andrew at Shona’s for more advice. This helps!!

    The info on travel health? Definitely covers what I need to know.

    Thanks again, guys!

    To everyone who will be heading over to trek, enjoy and be safe!!

  • Rich says:

    SHONAS’S was my first stop………. everything I needed was there. E.G., Sleeping Bag, Trekking poles, wool socks, base layer, buff & down vest. Fantastic value for the money. My only suggestion is purchase eye wear from JULBO. Didn’t see any premium high A B or C filtering sun glass’s in Thamel. Also, in respect to foot wear. Leave the heavy trekking boots at home. unless your attaching crampons or carrying a heavy load. (leave that to your porter)

    Speaking of porter. Look out for the porter scam in Kathmandu – they (travel agent in hotels) keep 50% of the money for administration fees and the money never really touch’s the porters hand. because they live a semi indentured lifestyle – meaning… the porter receives 1/4 of the cash you gave up in Kathmandu & live off the generosity of the trekkers (tips, food & housing) and they still have to feed their family & pay off the host tea house in Lukla. Also, to make up for that loss in wages – porters take you to the tea houses that give them kick backs on food. try to factor 3000R a day budget.

    Rich

  • Debbie Lanyon says:

    Hi Joe & Ben
    We are off to trek to EBC in October and looking to buy some gear from Shonas, do you know if the shop is still open after the earthquake sorry to ask
    Thanks
    Debbie

  • Simon Vickers says:

    Hey Ben
    Love all this info
    I’m heading to Nepal in 3 weeks
    Just a quick question, will I get a jumar ( ascender) and a helmet cheaper than I’d pay here in South Africa? And do you by any chance have a rough cost for me ?
    I have a helmet but looking for a new one and I need to get a jumar.

    • Ben says:

      Yes definitely, I wouldn’t know the prices exactly but I have always bought what I need in Thamel. The Mountain Hardware shop is especially good.

  • Surabhi says:

    Hey !

    I would be visiting Nepal this December and will definitely rent a sleeping bag from Shona. May I know the deposit cost for renting a sleeping bag and a down jacket ?

  • Nat says:

    Hey Ben,

    Great to find a post (+ from a fellow Aussie) that’s not trying to sell, but rather advise, so thank you! I’m heading over there in May, ’17, for EBC trek, plus likely to climb Island Peak. I’ve heard there are store’s that sell second hand climbing gear that’s generally in excellent condition, having maybe only been used for an expedition then discarded/sold. Any clue where this might be? I’m an aspiring mountaineer so not wanting to break the bank just yet. I’d be wanting basics such as boots, crampons & a decent sleeping bag. Thanks in advance!!

    Nat :-D

    • Ben says:

      Hey Nat, good to hear from you and thanks for the comments. I’m stoked to hear you might be tackling Island Peak. That was my first Nepalese summit, loved it! (I wrote all about Island Peak in my book – there, I’m trying to sell you something now! ;-) ) You’re quite right – there are many stores that sell second hand gear in excellent nick, many people get a rush of blood and spend big bucks on gear then after a trip or two decide that it’s just not for them. I don’t know of any one in particular that specializes, but just snooping about Thamel you’d be guaranteed to find what you need, so long as you don’t have massively large or small feet…just check the boots for toes (kidding!).
      Also, if this is your first trip to any decent altitude I highly recommend you snoop about my travel health pages and find the article on work at altitude, I researched it heaps and tried to make it accessible and useful. Anyway, have an awesome trip, stay on the hillside of Yaks and go. really. slowly. :-D

      • Nat says:

        Excellent, thanks Ben! You’ve been a fantastic help. (I thought I’d replied earlier but obviously not!)

        Oh, I bought your book- am enjoying the humour, thanks. And well done- there’s nothing like getting out of a rut & taking stock of life to help us onto the right path!!

  • aman says:

    Hi

    We are heading to kathmandu for a short 1 week trip which includes a 3D2N night trek in the kathmandu valley.

    Is it possible to rent sleeping bags, buy merino socks and other basic cold weather gear at sensible prices in Kathmandu/Thamel? I haven’t been to Kathmandu since 2005 so I am out of touch on many things.

    Also looking to buy a sensible priced winter pants for trekking (I am a size 40″). Any suggested shops or brands?

    What is the weather like in december around the Kathmandu valley btw? Cold/Dry or cold/wet? Trying to figure out which type of jacket to bring and to keep the amount of clothes/gear we bring down to the minimum.

    txs very much

  • Martin says:

    I wrote them a mail, regarding Sleeping-Bags.
    Here is there answer, i thought, that might be interesting for you.

    ————————–
    Namaste

    Heres what we have

    Sleeping bags
    ( Selling)
    Goose down fill (95% cluster feather ratio)
    2 seasons bags ( 0- 5 ) weight 1.2 kg price rs 8000
    3 seasons bags ( -5 -10) weight 1.4 kgs price rs 9000
    4 seasons bags (-10-15) weight 1.6 kgs Price rs 10000
    5 seasons bags (-15-25) weights 1.8kgs price rs 12000
    All extra large items for people of above 6 feet there is an extra cost of rs 800

    Thanks

  • thanks for the informative post

Leave a Reply to Ben Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge

Buy this book!
The Red Rucksack - Available now

This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

This week's popular posts
My favourite video
Sometime getting home is the best bit!