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.
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.
If you don’t have all the gear you need to do this trek safely and comfortably, it is an option to rent or even inexpensively purchase some of these items on arrival in Huaraz.
You can also read more about my exact gear recommendations in this post: BUILDING THE ULTIMATE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE KIT: THE BEST HIKING & BACKPACKING GEAR FOR WOMEN
TOTAL GEAR WEIGHT: about 6.58kg
Osprey Aura AG 50L backpack: something extremely comfortable and ergonomic for 135km on the trail (1.9kg)
Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover: keep your pack dry when the weather gets wild (80g)
LifeStraw Go Filter Water Bottle: make sure your water is clean and safe to drink even when you fill up from questionable streams (220g for the bottle + 620g of water when full)
Black Diamond Women’s Trail Pro Trekking Poles: absolutely essential for all the steep ascents and descents on this trail (N/A, use them all the time!)
REI Quarter Dome 3-season Tent: something lightweight and compact, but suitable for windy weather and the occasional snow flurry (1.1kg)
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Sleeping Mat: look for a good balance between size and comfort; a great way to save space and weight is to bring an extra short mat and sleep with your legs on top of your pack (115g)
Feathered Friends Murre EX 0 Women’s Sleeping Bag: you need a bag rated to -15C or better, as it will get extremely cold at night (1.2kg)
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)
Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp: you’ll want this for around camp (80g)
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)
Peru’s Cordilleras Blanca & Huayhuash: The Hiking & Biking Guide: the only guidebook for the Huayhuash Circuit; scan and print pages 152-174 or just cut them out of the book (280g for the whole book, or 50g for the relevant sheets in a small folder)
Alpenvereinskarte Huayhuash (Peru) 1:50,000 Trekking Map: the best map available for the Huayhuash Circuit (100g)
iPhone with GAIA GPS app (110g for iPhone 5)
Garmin InReach Explorer Personal Locator Beacon: call for help in case of an emergency (230g)
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)
Lunch & snacks
10x savoury snack bags: in a zip-loc bag for each day, I made my own snack mix with a variety of tasty ingredients (120g * 10 = 1.2kg)
- Buffalo Ranch Seasoned Trail Mix
- Tanka Meat Bars with Buffalo & Cranberries
- Chex Mix
- Hot & Spicy Smoked Sausage Sticks
10x sweet snack bags: in another zip-loc bag for each day, I also put together bags of sweets for some extra fuel on the trail (100g * 10 = 1kg)
- Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
- Twisted Fruit Ropes Raspberry Lemonade
- Starburst FaveReds
- Skittles Wild Berry
- Sour Chewy Nerds
3x dehydrated appetisers from Packit Gourmet: highly recommend the queso dip and a bag of Fritos or other salty corn chips (100g * 3 = 300g)
6x Cup A Soup: in various flavours for appetiser/ camp snack (25g * 6 = 150g)
9x Land-o-Lakes Hot Chocolate: a great desert and some final fluids before bed (35g * 9 = 315g total)
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 Phase SL SS: I’d suggest bringing just one shirt and washing it in the hot springs on day 4 (or in a stream on pretty much any other day) if you’re really fussed about the dirt (70g)
Lululemon Keep the Heat Thermal: great for sleeping and chilly mornings/nights at camp; try Lululemon Keep the Heat Thermal Hoodie (130g)
Arc’teryx Rho Zip Neck: lightweight fleece perfect for layering (150g)
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody: breathable, synthetic-insulation mountain jacket for hiking when it’s cold (330g)
Arc’teryx Cita Hoody: ultra-light wind jacket perfect for breezy high mountain passes and fresh evenings as camp (65g)
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody: a down jacket is absolutely essential for cold nights/mornings at camp and for sleeping (280g)
Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket: even in the dry season, you still need a good Gore-tex jacket because you never know when the weather will turn (315g)
Lululemon 7/8 Compression Tights: just one pair of pants or tights is enough to get you through the whole trip (150g)
REI fleece tights: I wore these on top of my hiking tights for added warmth at night (yes, I hiked AND slept in the same tights for 10 days) (230g)
Lightweight Wind Pants: handy as a third layer at camp (I wore these every single night on top of my hiking tights and fleece tights), as well as during rain/snow or in heavy wind (85g)
3x Injinji Liner Crew Toesocks + Wool Hiking Socks: sleep in compression socks and a pair of clean wool socks until the last few days, when you’ll have to sleep in compression socks and dirty wool socks; by then, you won’t care (200g total)
Compression socks: a great way to keep swelling out of your feet and ankles at night (50g)
9x undies + sports bra: bring a pair of undies that can reasonably be worn in the hot springs, it doesn’t really make sense to pack swimmers just for that one afternoon (~500g total)
Arc’teryx Bird Toque: it gets seriously cold at night, you’re going to need a good beanie to keep your head warm (50g)
Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Headwear: keep your neck warm or keep hair off your face after it becomes a giant grease-ball (20g)
Outdoor Research Women’s Flurry Sensor Gloves: excellent for camp and for high mountain passes (50g)
Salomon Women’s Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boot: comfy and supportive hiking boots are absolutely essential for the uneven terrain (N/A because you’ll be wearing them!)
Teva Universal: the first thing I want to do at the end of a long day on the trail is get out of my stinky boots, and these are lightweight and easy to strap on over wool socks (200g)
Kathmandu Packing Cube: pack all your clothes into a cube to keep things organised within your bag and maximise space (90g)
Hygiene kit: toothbrush + toothpaste, tiny sliver of soap (for the Viconga hotsprings), sunscreen
Body wipes: enjoy a mountain shower in your tent
First aid: ibuprofen and naproxen for headaches/inflammation, immodium for diarrhoea, KT tape and bandaids, etc
Altitude sickness meds: Acetazolamide, Dexamethasone, Nifepidine (read more about it in this post)
“6.30 kit”: toilet paper, hand sanitiser
Camera + spare batteries
Powerbank + charging cables
Cash: S/250 per person should cover all the community fees + any money for snacks in Huayllapa