The Ultimate Female Packing List For Jungle Trekking in Sumatra.
Adventure and travel addict, Ellie McManus, shares her packing list for jungle trekking in Sumatra, Indonesia.
I’m not new to trekking, much of my youth was spent traveling to remote destinations for trekking or sports. I’ve endured a 6 month unguided exploration of the Himalayas in Nepal, trekking the rugged mountain ranges of Haiti and walked much of the Gorge du Tarn in France looking for great climbing spots.
However, my first true jungle trek was in the Gunung Leuser National Park, from Bukit Lawang. I did a 3 day trek in the middle of rainy season, I got lucky, it really wasn’t as wet as I had expected. But of course it made knowing what to pack all the more difficult!
Jungles can seem intimidating at first glance, because for many it means heading into the unknown. But with the right guide, jungles are full of incredible beauty and an array of adventures you will never forget. I’ve now been in the jungle trekking countless times, and decided to put together a packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything and you can focus on having a great adventure.
Most modern outdoor travel clothing is designed to be fast-drying and light-weight. Given the humidity and frequent rain in the jungle, it’s almost impossible to stay dry! So it is important you bring more than one set of clothing, your trekking clothes to get dirty and then a dry set to change into in the evening once at camp. These dry clothes can also double up as pajamas at night. If you plan to go for multiple days, you don’t need a set of trekking clothes for each day, it might sound gross, but better to use the same ones from the previous day as you will just be getting wet and dirty all over again.
Jungles are full of creepy-crawlies and mosquitos. Certain clothing can help to keep mosquitos at bay. Check out Craig Hopper’s anti insect range for women.
Another tip to avoid mosquito bites is to wear lose fitting clothes. While leggings are great for running and hot weather, in the jungle they can invite mosquitos and leeches close to your skin.
Talking of leeches, if you decide to trek in rainy season there will be many more leeches around, but don’t worry, they are not dangerous, only annoying! During this time of year it is advisable to use leech socks, which you can then tuck your trousers into to prevent the leech entering your trousers or into your shoes. Bring normal hiking socks too, I recommend a fresh pair for each day to protect your feet from getting damp.
Because you will be entering the rainforest, there is never really a time without rain. Even in dry season there are still frequent showers in the jungle, but often they are predictable and come later in the day or at night. Be sure to bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho, preferably a breathable one with a small packable pouch to save on bag space.
All our campsites in the jungle are located near swimming spots, for you to be able to wash and refresh after your trek. Therefore, don’t forget to bring a swimsuit or bikini, and a light-weight, quick-dry towel.
Now to underwear! It is important to wear clean underwear for each day trekking. Considerfabrics that will not cause chaffing like lyrca, or fabrics without exposed seams.
Remember, in the evening the temperate can drop, especially after rain. Consider bringing a light-weight windbreaker or pull-over.
The type of shoes you buy depends on the severity of your trek. For a one day trek from Bukit Lawang wearing regular hiking shoes will be adequate.
For two days trekking, bring your hiking shoes as well a pair of flip-flops to walk around camp in the evening, then you can let your jungle trekking boots air out and also let your feet dry.
If you trek for more than two days you will be crossing and following rivers, as well as facing some more challenging terrain. For serious jungle trekking it’s best to invest in some high quality hiking boots or army boots. Good quality boots will allow your feet to breathe, preventing your feet from getting too sweaty and hot.
If you chose to trek beyond 2 days it is recommended to bring water shoes. During these longer treks, you and your guide will follow the river, which provides a higher chance of seeing tigers and elephants, but the route can be challenging with poor footwear. A pair of anti-slip hiking sandals would also work well if you can’t get hold of water shoes.
At Sumatra Orangutan Discovery we adopt the moto “take only photos, leave only footprints”. Jungles are unspoiled environments and we wish to leave them that way. Therefore when it comes to females hygiene there are a few considerations we should make.
If it will be that time of month during your trek, try investing in a menstrual cup to avoid having to carry your tampons or pads with you. This is by far the most environmentally friendly option on the market right now.
If you are trekking for longer and thin you will be wanting to shave, we recommend that you don’t. Shaving can cause small cuts or skin abrasion, which in the jungle poses the risk of becoming infected. Avoid bringing anything unnecessary, either go natural for the duration of your trek, or have a wax before you arrive if you feel it is absolutely essential.
4. Toiletries and sprays
When packing essential toiletries, consider using small re-fillable bottles to avoid carrying unnecessary weight. I love doing this when travelling, not only does it leave me with more bag space, but it also means I am not throwing away plastic containers each time I travel, or worse yet, using single use plastics.
Try to be sparing with your toiletries, bring your most necessary toiletries such as toothpaste and a toothbrush. If you feel the need to bring shampoo, try finding an eco-friendly shampoo as you will be washing in the river. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), shampoos and other products can cause significant environmental damage once they are washed down the drain or into rivers.
While the sun may not always be shining in the jungle, your face will nevertheless be exposed to its damaging UVA and UVB rays. Because of the humidity there is a great chance that you will be sweating during your hike, therefore, look for a water-resistant sun cream, and consider reapplying sun cream every 90 minutes.
Another must have is Mosquito repellent. If you decide to use DEET, I must reiterate the importance of not touching wildlife. DEET is highly toxic, and could be harmful to orangutans. Therefore, remember when you sight an orangutan, try to stay at least 10 meters away for their protection. There are also natural mosquito repellents on the market; it is thought that Citronella can be almost as effective as DEET.
For a one day trek you probably can get away with a small backpack. Depending on how many days you trek, your trekking backpack can be anything from 5 liters to 15. Chose a light-weight, well ventilated backpack. Ventilated backpacks also called suspended-mesh backpacks keep you cooler and provide some breathing space for your back. When buying your backpack, ensure you find one designed for women. We have different body types and needs, and it's essential to find a backpack that suits us. I once borrowed my male friend’s backpack for a trip, and had awful chaffing from the chest-strap, as the placement for men is different than women.
6. Other Equipment
Your trekking company will provide almost everything you need during your trek. All camping and bedding are provided, so no need to think about sleeping bags.
Some additional equipment you should consider would be; a refillable bottle or filter bottle. Investing in a bottle will not only save plastic, but also save you money on the rest of your trip! Here are the three most popular options on the market today: LifeStraw Go Filtered Water Bottle, GRAYL Ultralight Filtered Water Bottle and Sawyer Products Personal Filtered Water Bottle.
If you are bringing your camera or phone, consider investing in a power bank, or bringing a spare battery. Your equipment should be safe during your trek as long as your backpack is waterproof. During your raft ride experience, all bags will be placed inside a dry bag to keep them safe.
If you require medication, ensure you bring enough for your trek. Keep it inside a small dry bag, or a re-sealable plastic bag. Our guides all carry a small first aid kit with most basic medication. However, other medication you might consider to be fully prepared; antihistamine cream for insect bites, antiseptic cream for scratches, and Imodium if you ever have an upset stomach during your travels.
I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to bring jungle trekking in Sumatra! Get in touch if you have a trip planned and need some travel advice.