For serious hikers and those hoping to discover unrivalled natural beauty in Peru, the 135km Huayhuash Circuit is one of the most spectacular alpine trekking routes in the entire world. It’s definitely a challenging trek, taking most hikers 8-12 days to complete the full loop— but the feeling of doing it without a guide or tour group is also infinitely rewarding.
Wondering what clothes you need to bring, how warm your sleeping bag needs to be, or even what to eat on the trail? I wrote a super detailed post on planning every aspect of your independent Huayhuash Circuit trek, but this post provides an even more comprehensive packing list that will get you prepped and ready to embark on an amazing Andean adventure.
What's in this travel guide
Packing list for the Huayhuash Circuit
Considering that you need to be prepared for below freezing weather, rain/snow, and medical emergencies, plus carry all of your camping equipment, food, clothing, and personal items for 10-days over 5,000m mountain passes, packing smart is a big deal on this trek.
The name of the game when packing for the Huayhuash Circuit is less, lighter, smaller. Think about clothes you can wear for the entire duration of the trip, ultra-light gear you can invest in to save weight, and how to pack smarter so everything fits into your bag without having to do too much external gypsy-strapping.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium: if you want to go really light, shove your clothes into a stuff sack or packing cube; but for not much weight, a pillow really improves the quality of your sleep (115g)
MSR Reactor Stove: make sure you do your research in advance and bring a stove with a good efficiency rating in cold temps and at high altitudes (420g)
1x 8oz fuel canister (per person): the typical conservative calculation for hot water on a backpacking trip is 1L per person per meal (I recommend cold lunches, so that’s 18L for all 10 days). Look then at the efficiency for your stove: in this case, the MSR Reactor boils about 2.5L of water per ounce of fuel, so a standard 8oz canister is plenty! Keeping your fuel canister warm (just put it in your sleeping bag for 20min before each meal) will also help maximise performance in cold conditions. You can buy fuel in Huaraz when you arrive (230g)
Sea to Summit X Set Bowl & Cup and Sea to Summit Delta Cutlery Set: aim for a bowl and cutlery set that’s as compact as possible; save additional weight by using just a spoon and leaving the rest at home (180g for bowl & cup + 40g for cutlery set or 12g for just the spoon)
Everyone’s taste when it comes to hiking food is obviously different, but here’s a detailed list of all the food and drinks I packed for myself on my 10-day Huayhuash Circuit trek, just to give you a starting point. Since loss of appetite and stomach upset are common at high altitudes, the best plan is to bring things you know you like rather than new, adventurous meals. Carb-heavy snacks are also a good idea for the first few days, since these are easier to digest and can minimise altitude-related stomach upset.
Keep in mind that there is a little shop in Huayllapa that most trekkers will hit on day 7 or 8, so it’s possible to do a small re-stock of food here if you run low or if you want to save weight by intentionally packing light. You’ll be able to find things like cookies, crackers, chocolate, and a few fresh items, like eggs and bread. Otherwise, you need to pack everything with you.
TOTAL FOOD WEIGHT: about 5.27kg
9x tortilla soup from Packit Gourmet: I loved these dehydrated tortilla soups for breakfast, because they were filling, salty, AND a great way to sneak a bunch of water into my system early in the day to prevent dehydration on the trail (99g * 9 = 891g total)
9x Land-o-Lakes Hot Chocolate: seriously, these are the most insanely delicious powdered drinks I’ve ever had, and another excellent way to make sure you’re starting the day hydrated (35g * 9 = 315g total)
All of the food and snacks listed here cost me about S/1060 (brought from home; $480AUD), which should give you at least a rough idea of what it costs to eat for 10 days on the Huayhuash Circuit.
Weather in the Peruvian Andes is typically grouped into two seasons: a cool, dry winter (also referred to as the “Andean Summer” from May to September and a minimally warmer, but much wetter summer from October to April. The same is true of the Cordillera Huayhuash. Whatever time of year you’re doing the trek, prepare for nighttime lows -10 to 0C and daytime highs of 18 to 22C. And even is it’s the middle of the dry season, always prepare for rain and snow, because it can happen!
The most important things to remember when packing clothes for the Huayhuash Circuit is (1) you’re going to re-wear clothes the whole time and you WILL be smelly, so just deal with it, and (2) LAYERS. It is below-freezing at night and in the early morning, yet it can get pretty warm and sunny in the afternoon, so packing a series of tops/jackets that can be layered is absolutely essential.
TOTAL CLOTHES WEIGHT: about 2.97kg
Arc’teryx Bird Toque: it gets seriously cold at night, you’re going to need a good beanie to keep your head warm (50g)