Published 28th March, 2019 | Updated 27th September, 2020

Essentials for Minimalist Backpacking & Trekking

Your next journey is coming soon and you like to pack light: just the essentials. You will not only be hiking but going out for dinners and possibly going to clubs or bars after your long hikes, so every item must be multi-purpose and durable, in order to see you through your entire trip.

If are a minimalist backpacker, you’ll love alpaca wool! 

Man walking by a lake in black alpaca v-neck t-shirt and base layer

What Makes Alpaca Good for Minimalist Backpacking and Hiking?

To cut down on the number of items packed and overall weight of your bag, you’ll want your clothing to be versatile, lightweight and highly packable. Alpaca wool has these features and more:

  • Lightweight: Our clothing has a great warmth to weight ratio, cutting down on overall packing weight, even with mid layers.
  • Anti-bacterial / Odour-resistant: The natural antibacterial properties of alpaca wool prevents odours from accumulating, so you can use the same item over and over without it smelling.
  • Sweat wicking: As you are hiking or trudging around a new city looking for a place to stay, you are bound to sweat, but alpaca wicks moisture from your body, leaving you feeling fresh and dry.
  • Quick-drying: Alpaca dries very quickly, so if you get caught in a rainstorm or sweat a lot, just hang the garment over a chair for a little while and it’ll be ready to go in no time.
  • Temperature regulating: Alpaca wool is comfortable in both hot and cold conditions, making it incredibly versatile. You can go from the beach in Rio to the highlands of Peru with just the clothes in your pack.
  • Super soft: Clothes made with 100% royal alpaca wool are super soft to the touch, as the fibres are really fine and smooth. You won’t have to worry about itching, chafing or other annoyances.
  • Durable: Despite being very fine, alpaca wool fibres have high tensile strength, making them durable and meaning clothes are less susceptible to pilling, rips and tears.
  • Warm: In colder climates, alpaca keeps you toasty warm, especially when you layer it up.

Why Not Cotton or Merino Wool?

Cotton is a high quality natural fibre that is cheaper than both merino and alpaca, so you might be tempted to choose cotton clothing for your minimalist hiking luggage. However, cotton absorbs moisture really easily and retains it, taking a long time to dry out. Further, cotton loses its thermal capacity when it’s wet, so it will stop keeping you warm. That means that if you sweat in your t-shirt as you climb a hill, as soon as you stop, you’ll feel the cold, clammy fabric against your skin and it may not dry out, even overnight at camp. Moist clothing can also rub against your skin, especially in where the straps of your rucksack sit, so you could end up with chafing and irritation. 

“But merino wool has all the same properties you listed above!”, you might say. And that’s true. The thing is, that alpaca wool fibres have a unique feature – semi-hollow cores – which means that alpaca outperforms merino. For example, like other wools, merino absorbs as much as 30% of its weight in water. On the other hand, alpaca absorbs less than 10% and instead wicks moisture  away from your body, keeping you dry. For the science and to learn more about alpaca vs merino wools, see here.

Man wearing black men's alpaca wool tank top in an archway
woman wearing navy blue alpaca sweatpants white alpaca longsleeve t-shirt, layered with wool tank top and alpaca wool neck gaiter
man wearing black alpaca wool jacket fleece, full-zip, in front of a ski lift

What Alpaca Wool Clothes Should I Pack?


  • Our t-shirts are lightweight and breathable. They are also moisture wicking, so you feel dry even when sweating.
  • The ultimate backpacking t-shirt: wear it around town, to the beach, when you're out at a bar, or as your next-to-skin layer on a hike.
  • Check out our collections of men's alpaca t-shirts and women's wool t-shirts.


  • Our alpaca wool hoodies only weigh 351g (men's size M), which is one of the lightest wool base layer hoodies around.
  • Naturally protects against solar radiation
  • With several options to choose from - with or without hood, full or half-zip - we have the best base layer for you.


  • In cold climates, for snow sports and at high altitude, our mid weight jackets add an extra layer of warmth.
  • Lighter than similar wool jackets, our alpaca wool hoodies and jackets are extra warm but remain flexible and non-bulky.
  • Arms of Andes has alpaca wool fleece jackets for women and men in a range of styles.


  • With a snug fit, our alpaca wool beanie protects your ears and can be used under a hood or helmet.
  • Alpaca wool is water repellent so you won't feel a drizzle; but if you get caught in a downpour, your wooly hat will dry quickly.
  • Wear it at night when camping in the cold for extra warmth; it will stay on your head no matter how much you move around.


  • An alpaca neck gaiter is a versatile garmet which can keep your neck, ears, face and even head (if you forgot your beanie!) warm.
  • Alpaca wool is wind resistant, so you can use your neck gaiter to protect your nose and mouth in blustery conditions.
  • Use it for extra protection on hikes and when snowboarding, as an eye mask on the plane, or as a scarf on visits to the city. 



  • Close-fitting and stretchy, alpaca wool leggings move with you, no matter what you're doing.
  • Wind resistant and thermal, alpaca wool tights protect you from the cold.
  • Wear them on their own for hiking, underneath waterproof pants for snowsports or in the rain, or use them as thermal underwear to sleep in when camping. They can also double up as tights under skirts or dresses for a night on the town!


  • Super soft and comfortable, alpaca joggers are great for sightseeing in the winter or for cold nights when camping.
  • Choose the lighter joggers for more intense activity, while the midweight sweatpants are cold weather minimalist camping essentials.
  • We have women's leggings and sweatpants of different weights as well as men's joggers and alpaca thermals.


  • Alpaca wool socks are perfect as hiking socks, as they are moisture wicking and help prevent chafing and blisters.
  • Being odour repellent, alpaca wool keep your shoes and feet odour free.
  • With a functional fit, our socks will be comfortable during long hikes, as well as when you're relaxing back at the hotel.
Man and woman in black alpaca wool half zip base layers

Alpaca wool clothing can be hand washed with or without a gentle detergent and lightweight and midweight fabrics are wrinkle resistant. Often, rinsing alpaca clothing in clean water - in your hotel sink or a stream by your campsite (please don't use detergent in natural water sources) - and laying it out to dry, is enough to freshen your garment up. For minimalist day hiking, you can pick and choose the garments you'll need, depending on the weather conditions you expect to encounter that day. For travelling and multi-day hikes, alpaca's antibacterial and odour resistant properties mean that you could get away with one of each item (perhaps two when thinking of underwear and socks!) for as long as a week...depending on how minimalist you're trying to be!

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