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Packing list for Trekking in Huaraz
Tried and tested packing list for Trekking tours in Huaraz:
A cursory search for an Trekking Cordillera Blanca packing list on the net returns a number of unsatisfactory results that admittedly go some way in providing an overview of the key gear requirements, but fall woefully short in terms of explaining why and what is needed in detail.
We know that for our readers the devil is in the detail, so on this page we have set out the Ultimate Packing List that can be used as a complete and reliable resource for anyone thinking of trekking in Cordillera Blanca & Huayhuash.
It is important to note, that our packing list continues to evolve as new and better gear comes onto the market, and we encourage you to contact us after your trek to add or refine any bits that you think will benefit future readers.
Please also share our list with fellow trekking parters, or link to it from your blog or social networks as a resource for future trekkers.
We start with the most important question, what to pack given the seasonal weather variations on the trail?
About the weather:
The weather along the Cordilleras of Ancash splits into two dominant seasons. The dry, winter season runs from April through to September, and the wet, summer season from October through to March.
The trekking routes in Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash are busiest between June and end August, so to avoid the crowds you may want to consider a trek on the shoulder months of late March into May, or late August into October, or even early November. Trekking in December, January, February and March is not recommended as trails get very wet. In fact, the trekking routes isn´t closed any time.
Temperatures stay relatively consistent throughout the year, with daily highs in the low 20s, and daily lows in the mid single digits. At night, particularly in the winter season, temperatures can drop a few degrees below zero. The charts below give a good sense of what to expect weather-wise by month, and dictates your packing list.
In general though we recommend to plan for some rain all year round, moderate temperatures during the day and cold to sub-zero temperatures at night.
The trekking packing list below provides a perfect fit for the above assumption.
Monthly rainfall by Volume (mm) -- aprox
Monthly average temperature highs and lows (Centigrade)
The best way to think about your clothing for trekking tours in Huaraz is through the lens of layering.
The ability to layer your clothing up or down from morning when it is rather cold to the mid afternoon when temperatures reach their peak and then drop back down to freezing at night is key.
Layering also comes in handy as you ascend high passes that are exposed to winds or descend into shaded valleys.
Effective layering only works if each layer allows moisture to pass through and escape to the external environment. In fact the best layered clothing, like wool, promotes moisture transfer through it’s wicking properties. Cotton and denim absorb moisture and should therefore be avoided.
Below we set out the types of clothing you should bring with you and provide specific recommendations on what characteristics to look for in each.
You should bring sports underwear, like those made by Icebreaker, or indeed any sporting brand. For women to bring sports bras.
Over your underwear you should wear a lightweight base layer (or next-to-skin layer). You won’t wear this everyday day, just when it gets cold in the mornings, on the high passes and in the evenings.
Typically you only need a top (i.e. torso) base layer, but it is worthwhile bringing one bottom (i.e. legs) layer just in case it gets very cold in the evenings.
In terms of shirts we recommend short and long sleeve shirt. Ideal fabric is a breathable, lightweight and quick-drying polyester, merino or nylon. Make sure that your shirts are not cotton.
Hiking Trousers and Shorts
Bring hiking trousers – 1 is fine for 3/4 day treks, an additional pair is ideal for treks greater than 4 days. Hiking trousers from Craghoppers or Fjällräven are great. You may prefer to take convertible trousers, for example these by Craghoppers are brilliant.
Also bring one pair of trekking shorts. Columbia make good and affordable hiking shorts for men and women.
Fleece Jacket and Wind Breaker
For the colder stretches on the trail you should bring one mid-weight fleece jacket or parka top / jacket. Fleeces that use Polartec materials are great. Typically Polartec fleeces come in 100s, 200s or 300s. The 100s are a little light and 300’s too heavy.
Hard Shell Jacket
In addition to your fleece parka or jacket you should also have a water-resistant and wind-proof jacket shell layer. Again, you want this to be relatively light (not a winter jacket), but still warm and sturdy. It needs to withstand any rain that you will encounter (although as you will see below we recommend taking a cheap poncho / rain gear in addition to your shell jacket).
Rain Gear / Poncho
Finally, you can never truly predict the weather on trekking tours. As an extra precaution you should bring lightweight rain gear, or preferably a poncho that sits over your body.
You should bring a lightweight, easy-to-store sun hat to protect your head and face from getting sun burnt and reduce the probability of heat stroke. We prefer sun hats that have an adjustable neck cover, like the one shown adjacent. Do not bring a large bulky hat, like a straw hat, as these are difficult to store.
Neck / Head Band / Bandannas
If your hat doesn’t have a neck cover you might want to bring a neck or head band which can help protect against sun burn whilst doubling as a scarf or head and ear warmer during the cold nights.
Fleece Beanie or Head Band
As we have already mentioned the nights get cold on the Cordilleras. We suggest bringing a winter fleece beanie or head band.
Good sunnies are a must. At high altitude (greater than 4,000 meters) the UV intensity is high and visible light strong. This can be damaging to your eyes. The leader in mountain glasses is Julbo. All their lenses provide 100% protection from UVA, B and C and their category 4 lenses block 90% of visible light.
Headlamp / Torch
You should also bring a headlamp or torch which will be used in and around camp, and as a back-up if you are a little slow on the trail and finish your trek around dusk. Headlamps are preferable as they allow you to keep your hands free.
On the trekking tours you are going to experience blistering cold environments that require seriously insulated, heavy gloves or mitts, you will likely encounter cold nips on the higher passes and in the mornings and evenings. A pair of lightweight, breathable and weatherproof gloves that are built for high-output aerobic activities like trekking, yet provide some warmth in cool environments, is what you should be looking for.
Walking or trekking poles are a must on the trekking tours.
You will be trekking along an undulating landscape for up to 5-6 hours a day, for 3-4 days. Your leg joints, particularly your knees, will take a battering. With the aid of good trekking poles you will reduce the impact on your joints by up to 25% (a 1999 research study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine showed even better results than 25%). Poles also give you better balance.
Your trekking poles should be lightweight (250-350 grams per pole), adjustable (ideally with a lever-locking, not twist-locking mechanism), aluminium or carbon-fibre (not steel which is heavy and susceptible to snapping), and with a good, water-resistant grip (cork is most durable and performs well in wet conditions, rubber and foam are fine but not ideal for wet conditions).
Hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of gear in your trekking tours packing list. It is paramount that you bring a good pair of boots that are well-worn in (i.e. the inner sole should have started to mould to the shape of your foot). Do not arrive with brand new boots that you haven’t worn yet – you will get blisters, sore feet and even loose toe-nails!
After a long day trekking the first thing you are going to want to do is take off your hiking boots and air your feet. We recommend bringing a basic pair of lightweight trekking sandals that you can slip into, whilst still wearing your socks for warmth. Alternatively you can bring a pair of lightweight trainers.
You should bring trekking socks. Look for a light-to-mid weight trekking sock made of high wicking material. The best trekking socks are made from wool, preferably merino, as they promote breathability and are very good at wicking moisture away from the foot. Avoid cotton as they absorb and retain moisture making your foot susceptible to blistering. If you are allergic to wool you can go for a synthetic acrylic or acrylic-blend sock.
Backpacks & Accesories
- Good backpacks; should be Waterproof, multi-size and adjustable. Don’t forget to purchase a rain cover.
- Water Bottles / Hydration Bladder; Due to the effects of altitude you need to stay well hydrated on trekking tours. You should aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. Another option could be to bring a Camelbak Water Bottle.
- Sleeping Bags; A good quality and warm sleeping bag is a must on trekking tours. Please note: It is possible to rent a sleeping bag in Huaraz but we recommend bringing your own as rented sleeping bags are often not great quality, and sometimes have questionable hygiene standards.
- Sleeping Bag Liner(Optional).
- Inflatable Pillow (Optional).
- Ear Plugs (optional)
- Passport – You need your passport to enter the Huascaran National Park. We recommend bringing a few copies of the identity page as well.
- Insurance – You should have trekking and travel insurance for trekking tours. Remember to write down your policy number and ideally carry a copy of your policy on you. If something does go wrong the trek you will want to contact your insurance company immediately.
- Trekking Towel (optional), Small Umbrella (optional), Sweat Resistant Suncream, Insect Repellant, Wet Wipes, Dry Plastic Bags, Blister Plasters, General Meds, cash money (for tips and extras on the way)
- Cameras – The scenery along the trekking routes in the Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash are extraordinaries. Bring a decent camera to capture the experience. Remember to make sure your camera equipment is fully charged as there are no charging points along the trail, or bring a spare battery and SD Card for safety. If you want you can bring one of these backpack solar chargers.