Trekking: what it is and what clothes, backpack and walking sticks to use

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You have probably heard of trekking and although you probably know that it is a sport, perhaps you don’t know exactly what it consists of.

And the fact is that more and more people are practising it and know the wonderful routes that are found around the world. And we don’t want you to miss out on it either, so we’ll explain what is trekking and how to prepare yourself if you’re going to do some of the best routes in South America.

What is trekking?

Trekking is a sport that consists of walking in a natural area for recreational purposes.

There are routes of all difficulties and usually, the weather conditions put you to the test. For this reason, it is very important to carry good equipment that will make you invincible in the face of any setback.

If you travel to Peru there are many routes to do this sport, such as the Salkantay Trek excursion, an authentic trekking experience through nature, discovering the Peruvian villages until you reach the most famous archaeological site, Machu Picchu.

They can be a real challenge for some or simple treks for those who are already trained from home. Whether you are of either type, you need to be prepared to make the most of the experience.

The altitude and weather factors will determine the temperature of your trek and this is an essential element when preparing your equipment.

person trekking at dawn

Trekking clothing

Clothing is the key element that will mainly help you to cope with the temperature outside. Whether it is to combat the cold or to overcome the heat.

One of the tips when trekking is to select the clothes you want to take with you. Bear in mind that you should carry everything you need for your days on the trail in your rucksack. Although it is preferable to carry more weight with extra warm clothes instead of being short and having to face the cold and have a hard time.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to explain the appropriate clothing for hiking:

  • Top: There is a theory that clearly explains the three essential elements, breathability, protection and warmth.

    According to this theory, we need a layer of breathable clothing, made of synthetic materials so that sweat can be wicked away and dry quickly. Another layer of warm clothing to prevent body heat from escaping and to keep us warm.

    And finally, a layer that protects us from the outside, against wind, rain or snow, so that it does not penetrate our body.
  • Lower part: It is advisable to follow the theory mentioned above. For this reason, the use of thermal tights and hiking trousers or trekking trousers would be the perfect combination for this sport.

    Whether the trousers are long or short depends on the temperature of the area where you do this activity as well as the vegetation.

people trekking on a glacier

Footwear: trekking boots

For the choice of footwear, the climate is very important. For dry areas with high temperatures, breathability is key. However, if you are trekking in the Perito Moreno the climate will be humid and the temperatures low, so waterproofing will be more important.

A basic requirement for both climates is that the shoe should fit the footwell and be comfortable, as it will be the area that suffers the most, so it needs protection and safety.

Specialized shops have a wide variety of hiking boots, fully adapted to all possible situations that you may encounter during the route. Among the most common types are:

  • Mid-calf boots: They offer greater ankle protection and are the most suitable for medium-difficulty routes or mountain trails. The prices of this type of boot range from 50 to 200 euros, depending on the brand and the comfort they offer.
  • Low-cut boots: These provide greater freedom and flexibility of movement to the ankle and are perfect for routes that are not too difficult and flat trails. The prices are similar to the high boots, it all depends on the model you want and the details they have.
  • Trekking sandals: These are especially for routes in hot areas, where the foot requires more breathability and flexibility.

    However, they are not as safe as boots, for this reason, I would avoid them for routes in very steep areas and with a lot of vegetation, as they do not provide as much protection. On the other hand, they are perfect for flat and deserted areas.

When choosing your footwear, the relief of the terrain where you will be hiking and the climate are the two most important factors in making your decision. The sole material must offer excellent grip and waterproofing.

Close-up of a trekking boot in the wilderness

Trekking backpack

The choice of backpack is very important, and you need to know how to prepare your backpack properly.

If you are hiking in Torres del Paine, remember that you will have to carry your backpack for days, so it should be comfortable and have everything you need for the adventure.

The recommended capacity of your backpack should be between 25 and 35 litres, depending on your physical constitution. Bear in mind that you’ll be carrying food, water, clothing suitable for the climate, the essentials for personal hygiene, and basic tools such as a torch, etc.

Gender and size are two determining factors in the choice of the backpack, the anatomy of men and women is different, therefore the backpacks will also be different, as one of its characteristics is the perfect subjection to your body.

For this, you will have to look at the position of the shoulder straps and the width of the lumbar belt attached to the hips.

tourists trekking with backpacks

Trekking poles

Coming to the end of the essentials, we will talk about a tool that many consider necessary in their routes and others do not feel the need to accompany them on the trip, the trekking poles.

They are increasingly becoming an indispensable piece of equipment on mountain routes, adapted to the circumstances of hikers who do not want to carry things that are too heavy and uncomfortable.

The poles provide security as if we were walking on all fours, providing greater balance. It helps to avoid injuries or even to avoid worsening any injuries you may already have. And finally, it increases our performance, relieving the load on our legs through our arms.

There are several types:

  • Carbon trekking poles: In order to make them lighter, materials such as carbon are used in their manufacture, so that hikers do not have to make more effort when using them, making the route more pleasant.
  • Folding trekking poles: Space is a luxury when you are going to climb the mountain, so being able to compress this tool as much as possible has facilitated its fame and expansion among mountaineers.

men trekking with walking sticks

Bycicle trekking

If you like biking and mountaineering, there is the possibility of combining the two, as on the Inca Jungle-Machu Picchu trek.

For this, you need to be quite proficient on a bike as some of the trails can be a bit tricky, but they can give you, even more, adrenaline and satisfaction. The use of a bike suitable for these routes is essential, not just any bike.

These bikes have very thin wheels and allow you to ride in the countryside, on roads, and in the city at the same time. They provide greater stability and adhesion to the ground. Depending on what you want to use the bike for, you can buy a more off-road bike or a more specialized mountain bike.
groups of people doing trekking with bike

You already know what is trekking, everything you need to take, what to wear and what you will need. Check the weather before you pack your backpack and enjoy everything the mountain has to offer. Do you dare to go trekking?


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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