THE QUILOTOA LOOP: 6 USEFUL ITEMS YOU SHOULD BRING ALONG
1. Fanny Pack
As you are carrying around a smaller backpack on the 3-days, any extra storage you can find and utilise is ideal.
You are going to want to pack as light as possible, which may mean your smaller backpack gets a bit crowded, so having a fanny pack strapped to your waist or around your shoulders is helpful. You can put essential items in there that you want to access quickly like sun cream or your phone so you don’t have to keep taking your bag off every time and search for items.
We are big fans of the Matador range.
All their carry items are designed to pack down into small cases so they can be stored and put away easily when you aren’t using them. They are also waterproof, which is always handy, especially if you are travelling during rainy season.
2. 40L Day Pack
You won’t want to be carrying any more than this. Trekking up and down steep valleys is hard work even without a backpack full of stuff.
If you can, waterproof is always best, especially if you are visiting in the rainy season. And a backpack with breathable, comfortable staps along with chest and hip clips for support help take the load off your back and shoulders.
3. Merino Wool Socks & Underwear
To save space in your bag and avoid straining your back, you should remove as much from your backpack as you can.
Merino wool is unique in that it absorbs odour caused by bacteria—trapping their smell and keeping them from building up. This means you can wear Merino wool odour-resistant clothing for longer without having to worry about smelling.
Another reason that merino wool is so popular is its warmth relative to weight. The fabric has a natural loft that traps heat very efficiently between the fibres, making it warmer than a synthetic of the same weight.
For the 3-nights/4-days before returning to civilisation, you can get away with two pairs of merino wool socks and two pairs of underwear, saving space in your bag.
Also, best to purchase hiking socks with some extra padding to help with all the kilometres you will be covering.
We had to leave the Quilotoa crater after about 20 minutes. The wind was freezing and so powerful. Our hands froze, and our eyes and nose were constantly watering due to how strong it was. We didn’t come prepared for this trek.
A good windbreaker along with a snood, hat and warm base layers means you will be able to enjoy the crater a little longer than we did and even do the full trek around without worrying.
This waterproof windbreaker from the North Face is ideal and packs down easily into a hand-sized package with a strap, saving room in your bag.
5. Hero Clip Carabiner
Continuing the theme of saving space in your bag, a Hero Clip carabiner attached to the outside of your backpack means you have the option of clipping on that final stubborn piece of kit that won’t fit. We tend to loop it through the straps on our backpacks and attach our flip flops, bottles or packable jackets to it for the added security.
The clip is excellent as it also doubles up as a hook/handle. We mainly employ it in hostel dorms that lack storage or places to hang things. Clip it on to a curtain rail or dorm bed rail and then hang your coat or travel towel out to dry.
6. Camera Clip / Camera Strap
If you are taking a DSLR along on the trek, then you are going to want to invest in an innovative carry solution for it. It’s another bulky piece of kit that doesn’t pack neatly and will take up excess room in your bag.
You have two options for carrying it:
A Camera Clip is an excellent piece of kit that easily attaches to your shoulder straps to provide a secure, convenient, and accessible way to carry your camera. This saves you carrying it in your hands, or via the strap adding another uncomfortable weight to your neck and shoulders
Or you can purchase a comfortable, looser strap. This versatile strap can be worn as a sling or shoulder strap and is designed with a smooth side that glides over clothing in sling mode and a grippy side that prevents slipping in shoulder mode.
HOW TO PACK FOR THE QUILOTOA LOOP
On your trekking adventure, you just need a day pack.
Any luggage you won’t need is best stored at a hotel in Latacunga where you can pick it up after you finish the loop. Some hotels will let you store your luggage safely for free, while other hotels may charge a couple of dollars.
Read our Quilotoa Loop Hostel guide for recommendations for places to stay and store your luggage in Latacunga.
Make sure you PACK LIGHT and only take essentials.
We provide this tip with the beautiful clear view that is hindsight. We strongly recommend travelling light because of the challenging nature of the hike. You’ll cover around 15km per day. It’s challenging but undoubtedly achievable.
Head here to read more about how to plan the journey and what to expect.
As mentioned, limit your luggage to one bag between 25L- 40L. This should be a general day backpack that is comfortable and has good support. Any extra weight will make the experience less enjoyable.
We overpacked, and it made the hike a much more physically and mentally challenging experience. If you’re packing and asking yourself “Do I need this?” – the answer is probably no, you don’t, leave it behind.
Feel free to read about the other mistakes we made on the loop and why you try to should avoid them or keep reading for the general packing list below.
Clothing & Toiletries
- Hiking Boots – if it’s the dry season the hike is possible in trainers, we wore trainers, but we’d recommend hiking boots as some of the trails are steep and the extra grip is helpful
- 2x sets of merino wool underwear
- 3x socks – 2 merino wool pairs for hiking days, 1 other pair for the evenings
- Hiking shorts or trousers – we usually wear shorts as our legs don’t get cold
- 3x Base layers (gym or hiking t-shirt) – one for each day. Maybe pack an extra normal t-shirt to change into in the evenings.
- 1x Top layer – thermal jumpers – avoid thick wool jumpers if you can – a necessity for the evenings which are freezing. Change your layer if you stop and are sweaty as you’ll get cold quickly at altitude
- Cap – to shield you from the sun
- Sunglasses – the sun is intense, and the trails can be quite dusty so good to protect your eyes
- Windbreaker – it’s incredibly windy at the Quilotoa loop and gets cold quickly
- Swimming trunks – for the hot tub if you decide to stay at Lulu Llama
- Flip flops – for the evening to give your feet a rest and for around the showers/hot tub in the Lulu Llama hostel.
- Lightweight slip-on shoes – if you aren’t a fan of flip flops then bring a pair of slip-on shoes that don’t weigh much to wear in the evenings.
- Sunscreen – the sun is intense at this altitude
- Bug repellent – assume mosquitos are everywhere
- Basic toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Keep it simple and reduce weight
- Blister plasters and medical supplies
- Money – cash as there are no card machines or ATMs along the way. Check out our budget blog here where we’ve covered all the expenses
- Camera – an absolute must – the views are stunning all the way
- Phone – download maps.me and Eastern Ecuador section for navigation
- Headphones – if you need some motivation while walking or for the evening’s downtime
- Book or kindle – there’s no internet, so something to keep you occupied in the evening
- Relevant chargers and adapters for your electronics
WHAT NOT TO PACK ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP
Avoid packing these things to save space:
- Soap/shower gel – the hostels on the loop provide it
- Towel/travel towel – again, all the hostels provide towels.
- Food – you can buy snacks/packed lunches in each of the towns
- Laptop – no internet in the towns, leave it in Latacunga
Regarding food – we recommend eating at the hostels. Food is cheap, and they serve substantial, hot meals for dinner and breakfast. Eating at the hostels means you avoid needing to bring a stove, gas, and all other heavy equipment. You’ll be happy to save on the weight.
Check out our recommendations on where to stay during the trek here.
Most of all, bring a smile, you’re going to love it!
QUILOTOA LOOP: WHAT TO PACK FOR RAINY SEASON
The rainy season is October – April.
During these months it rains on average 15 days or more during the month (50% of the time).
Best to avoid completing the loop during the middle of the rainy season if you can as some of the trails will become muddy, and some roads to the towns become inaccessible.
The dry season is June – September when rainfall is less than 15 days; August has the least rain with an average of 5 days.
The temperature remains flat throughout the year and with lows of 8 degrees Celsius and highs of 25. Given the altitude of between 2,500m and 4,000m, it will be cold during the night regardless of the month.
The only essential you’d definitely pack if going in rainy season is good waterproof jacket and trousers. Apart from that, the packing list stays the same.
The weather was stunning during September when we completed the loop.
Planning a 3-day trek during the rainy season may not be the best, but a day trip is still an option. Check out our comparison guide for the full loop vs a day trip from Quito to see the pros and cons of both: