Ecuador is a diverse country in the north of South America and is home to Cotopaxi (the world’s largest active volcano) the Otavalo market and the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador has attractions for all travel styles. Travelers can visit cultural museums, shop for indigenous goods in the Otavalo market and even climb Cotopaxi. This Ecuador packing list contains a list of recommended items and travel gear to take on your trip to Ecuador and cities in Ecuador such as Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil.
- How to Pack for Ecuador’s Weather
- Luggage and Backpacks to Bring
- Clothes to Pack for Ecuador for Men
- Clothing to Pack for Ecuador for Women
- Toiletries and Hygiene
- What Not to Bring to Ecuador
- Ecuador Travel Tips
How to Pack for Ecuador’s Weather
Ecuador’s climate can greatly effect what you should pack when visiting. Ecuador is known for having one of the most diverse climates – it can feel like winter in the morning, summer in the afternoon and winter at night.
What to pack when visiting Ecuador depends on whether you’re visiting the highlands or the coast. The highlands – including Quito and Cuenca – are much cooler than places like the Galapagos and Guayaquil (the most populous city).
If traveling to the Galapagos, stick with mainly warm weather clothes. If traveling to Quito and other high elevation cities, bring layers and other warm clothes.
Guayaquil, for example, is extremely hot and humid since it is right on the equator. The temperature in Guayaquil can be in the 90s°F.
Average Temperature in Guayaquil, Ecuador (somewhat similar temperature to the Galapagos):
On the other hand, Quito, capital city of Ecuador is temperate due to its high elevation. Quito is the highest capital city in the world and is 9,350 feet above sea level. The temperature in Quito is constant all year. Cuenca also is located in a high elevation area, meaning that it has a similar climate to that of Quito.
Average Temperature in Quito, Ecuador:
Note: Quito has a similar climate to Cuenca (although Quito is a bit colder from my experience) since they are both in the highlands.
The high altitude can cause headaches, nausea and other discomfort, and it usually takes a few days for your body to get used to the elevation. For more information on coping with Quito and Cuenca’s altitude, check out my 5 Tips for Adjusting to High Altitude.
Ecuador is in the Southern Hemisphere, so summer is between the 1st of December and 28th of February. The temperature in Guayaquil is constantly in the 80s°F T so it is important to pack t-shirts and other clothes for warmer climates. It rains often in Guayaquil, primarily in the summer months. You would be best off bringing a rain coat or an umbrella when traveling to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
The temperature in Quito ranges between 69°F to 48°F, so it is important to bring your warm clothing. It rains extremely frequently in both Quito and Cuenca, mainly during Spring and Fall. It rains almost every other day in Cuenca. I highly recommend bringing a rain coat or an umbrella when traveling to Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador.
Backpack or Luggage to Use When Packing For Ecuador
- Main luggage or backpack
- Secondary packable bag for day trips
Depending on your style of travel, you may want to bring either a suitcase or a backpack. I happened to pack relatively light, so I only needed a backpack. If you are looking for a suitcase to bring on your trip to Ecuador, you may want to check out Dakine Split Roller Bag (depicted above). I’ve tested and reviewed the Dakine luggage and it’s a great choice for adventure travel. For other options, check out our article listing the best luggage under $50.
In addition to my main luggage, I also brought the REI Flash 18, which is an 18-liter daypack. If you’re a woman you can replace the daypack with a purse.
Whenever I left our hotel to explore Ecuador for the day, I would take my 18-liter pack with some essentials such as a water bottle, camera, cash and snacks. My primary backpack would be left at the apartment or hotel. When not in use, I would pack the Flash 18 into my main backpack. The the Flash Pack weighs less than a pound and can be rolled up to take up less space, which makes it a good choice for being a secondary backpack.
Clothes to Pack for Ecuador for Women
- 1 scarf
- 1 insulated jacket
- 3 blouses
- 2 t-shirts (one long and one short sleeves)
- 2 pants
- 1 cardigan
- 1 fleece
- accessories (costume jewelry, belts)
- 3 bras
- 5 underwear (or more if you don’t plan to use the laundry service)
- 1 leggings
- 4 pairs of socks
Clothes to Pack for Ecuador for Men
- 2 pants
- 1 shorts
- 3 t-shirts
- 1 polo shirt
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 insulated jacket
- 1 pair of swim trunks
- 4 pairs of socks
- 5 underwear
This a list of clothing that I packed when for visiting Ecuador for a month:
*Note: Depending on your needs and activities, you may need to bring more or less clothes.
1 Pair of Jeans – Jeans are perfect to wear in Ecuador since they are warm and versatile. Jeans can be heavy and take up lots of space in your suitcase, but their versatility and durability makes up for the extra weight. Wear your jeans when flying so you don’t have to carry extra weight. Also, if you are planning on staying in Ecuador for a longer amount of time, you may want to bring another pair of jeans.
1 Pair of Convertible Pants – Pants that convert into shorts are especially useful in Ecuador because they can be used as shorts in Guayaquil and as pants when visiting Quito or Cuenca. When it gets hot during the day, you can easily unzip your convertible pants into shorts. Some convertible pants such as the prAna Stretch Zion Convertible Pants are water resistant and UV protective. Convertible pants are also much easier to hand wash and are faster drying than jeans.
2 Pair of Athletic Shorts/Shorts
3 T-Shirts – I prefer for my travel t-shirts to be made of materials like polyester rather than cotton. Polyester is usually lighter, easier to hand wash and faster drying. I would highly recommend are the Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight T-Shirt, which is quick drying, UV protective and odor resistant.
1 Polo Shirt- For dinner in certain fancier restaurants.
2 Long Sleeve Shirts – I brought two long sleeve shirts, one being the Columbia Baselayer Midweight Mock Neck Long Sleeve, which I wore often. The Columbia baselayer is both odor resistant and extremely warm while being lightweight.
1 Rain Jacket – Since it rains often, mainly in the spring and fall in Ecuador, it is important bring a rain jacket with you. Waterproof jackets with waterproof and breathable technologies such as GORE-TEX, are fit for serious outdoors enthusiasts and can handle the most extreme conditions. They can be expensive, but worth are the cost if you wear them often. If you aren’t planning on using your rain jacket often, you can just bring a poncho.
1 Jacket– It can get cold at night in Quito and Cuenca, so you should definitely bring a jacket with you. I wore the First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hoodie, which is extremely lightweight and moderately warm.
Undergarments – amount depends on the length of your trip, though I wouldn’t bring more than 7 pairs of underwear.
4 Pairs of Socks – socks are easy to hand wash, so you probably won’t need to bring too many. I brought 3 pairs of below ankle socks, and 1 pair of long warm merino wool socks for colder weather. You can read my review of my merino wool socks here.
Be sure to save space inside your backpack or suitcase, because Ecuador has several great places for purchasing souvenirs, such as at the Otavalo Market.
1 Pair of Sneakers – I wore a pair of Vivobarefoot trail running shoes as my ‘go-to’ pair of shoes in Ecuador. They are lightweight, comfortable and have good traction.
If you’re going hiking and doing some hardcore mountaineering, you’d probably want to bring a pair of boots, but it’s also possible to rent them.
1 Pair of Sandals – I also brought a pair of Adidas Superstar Slides. They are really comfortable and great for wearing casually. I primarily used these sandals when walking around the hotel.
Toiletries and Hygiene
There are several places in Ecuador to purchase toiletries, so it isn’t completely necessary to bring all of your toiletries from home.
- Etc. – See the general packing list for a full list of toiletries you may or may not need to bring.
Electronics to Pack For Ecuador
Ecuador uses 120-volt outlets, which is the same as the 120-volt outlets in the US. Just in case, I brought a voltage converter and a plug adapter to prevent my electronics from burning or frying. This is a voltage converter review that I wrote for the voltage converter that I used while in South America.
Though Ecuador isn’t an extremely dangerous place, be sure to be watchful over your electronics and valuables. Just in case, I tried to use my laptop and other electronics only in areas such as in our hotel or other areas which I knew were safe.
Phone and Charger – You may want to purchase a protective case for your smartphone before leaving, just in case. The case in the image above is the LifeProof case, which is waterproof and shockproof. You can read my review of the LifeProof Case here.
Laptop and Charger – In my case, I brought my MacBook Pro. Internet connection in Ecuador was not an issue as it wasn’t hard to find places with internet and the speeds were fine.
External Battery – To keep my electronics powered up on the go, I brought the Anker External Battery, which can recharge an iPhone 4-5 times and an iPad 2 once. Another possible external battery that you can bring while traveling is the RavPower Element 5600mah, which is lighter weight than the Anker. You can watch my video review for the RavPower Element here.
Flashlight – just in case there is an outage, or in an emergency.
Hard Drive – for backing up images, in case you’re a photographer
Other miscellaneous things not to forget for your Ecuador trip
Money – The primary currency of Ecuador is the US dollar, which makes it easier for American travelers.
Money Belt – Money belts are extremely helpful when traveling around Ecuador because you won’t need to fear pickpockets. Money belts are great for keeping large denomination bills just in case. My money belt, the Travelon Money Belt, can hold about 8-12 bills.
Sunglasses – Ecuador can be really sunny, so you would probably want to bring a pair of sunglasses.
Camera – I’m not a photographer, so my only camera was the one on my phone. If you are serious about taking pictures, you may want to consider taking a DSLR camera.
Lock – Though all of my bags were carry-on, I still opted to lock the primary compartment of my backpack. I used the Master Lock TSA Luggage Lock.
Watch – I brought my Wanderlust minimalist watch
What not to bring to Ecuador
- Large denomination bills. U.S. dollars are used in Ecuador, but it’ll be hard to find change for $100 bills. Things in Ecuador are cheap by American standards.
- Impractical shoes. Unless you’re going for a business trip or not sight-seeing, heels or dress shoes won’t be too useful.
- Showy jewelry. No need to attract undue attention.
Ecuador Travel Tips
- Live Like a Local in Cuenca, Ecuador
- Trekking on the Inca Trail, Ecuador
- General Travel Packing List