For many, summer brings out the inner outdoor enthusiast. But unless you're a Paul Bunyan in a Clark Kent disguise, most city dwellers don't own a lot of nature-appropriate gear. Taking Machu Picchu as one optimal destination, we've rounded up a selection of gear and clothing that will do well on the mountain, while being flexible (and stylish) enough to wear to the gym or into fall. Here are some picks for staying fashionable on any outdoor adventure.
A flexible, softshell jacket should be the staple of your pack. Many these days, like the well-crafted Mountain Hardwear Barisian, shown here in show-stopper red ($175), are multi-functional, worthy both for city snow days and on the trail action. The soft, flexible shell allows for optimal range of movement while still offering wind-resistance and plush comfort (the bonded inner fleece lining).
From there, build with basics that will perform well through sweat and changes in temperature. Nike's sports bra offers support and fun colors (was $40, now $32) while giving active trekkers some ventilation through strategic perforation. Similarly, Uniqlo's Airism camisole ($12.90) may look feminine and casual, but the material is fast-drying and moisture-wicking. Then, slip on your existing workout pants or try these capri tights by Stella McCartney for Adidas (was $90, now $50). The seaming on this pair is leg-lengthening, helpful for on-the-trail good-looks.
When it comes to selecting a pack, be realistic. Better to pack light than overburden yourself. The Deuter Futura 32 pack for women ($139) is a top loader made for day hikes, but considering many Machu Picchu guided hikes include porters, this size is perfect. Plus, the separate bottom compartment is handy should certain items get wet and need to be stowed away from the rest of your valuables.
Machu Picchu, and many easy to medium hikes don't require an investment in highly technical climbing footwear. This Merrell "Pace Glove" cross-trainer ($99.95) fits the bill: it's has gripping trail soles but won't look out of place back in the city or gym after your trip.
Trail-trekking doesn't have to be devoid of style. Locally sourced jewelry, such as this silver bracelet with lapis lazuli from Peru ($100.99), give utilitarian outfits a personal touch. And at the campfire, cozy up with an alpaca sweater in a rustic yet cool pattern ($398 by Ã‰toile Isabel Marant). Add a cute knit cap when temperatures drop at night ($14.96) and a patterned scarf. This stretchy tube style by Buff conveniently doubles as a headband or hood ($20).
The lighter the better when you're carrying your pack and few are more efficient than Mont Bell's Ultralight jacket ($144.95) that stashes away into the smallest nooks and crannies. Underneath, work in a sweat-wicking underlayer. Check the weather in advance, but long sleeves, like this baseball style by Icebreaker Merino ($100), are a good bet for preventing trail scratches, bug bites, and sun burn. Made of odor-resistant merino wool, the top will especially come in handy when camping in close quarters.
Depending on the season, a hiking short with zip or Velcro pockets is great for daytime. These, by Columbia ($40) are made of fast-drying cotton calico. Wear with a good pair of trail running shoes, like these PureGrit style ($100) from Brooks, which offer a good grip but are still lightweight. Don't skimp on the socks. Regular cotton ones are fine, but it's worth packing a pair or two of the hiking-specific kind, such as SmartWool's short socks (was $16.99, now $11.87); they are better at regulating heat and moisture. And if you'll be hiking into the darker hours or camping overnight, this a headlamp ($19.95) will be a smart addition to your stash. It'll prevent a lot of nighttime stumbling whether for a bathroom trip or otherwise.
Considering the masculine vibe of active wear, men have it easier when blending outdoorsy and city style. For a fun twist, try a Peruvian knit hat with ear flaps ($35). Rather than bringing your old college sweats, look for a pair with a tad more tailoring like these by Quiksilver ($45). On top, a classic flannel, like this blue number by Eddie Bauer ($69.95), won't go out of fashion. To add a little something cutting edge and current, try this sleek Nike Fuel band ($149), which will count and log your calories from start to finish.
As the gateway town to the Inca trail, Cusco is often the launch pad for Machu Picchu travelers. A 15th century Incan capital, the city is well worth exploring. The adventurous can sample cuy, or guinea pig, at Kusikuy, a local-loved Peruvian joint. Vegetarians can venture to Greens, situated with a great view of the main square. It caters to gringos (menus in English), but you'll find accessible Peruvian dishes that use ingredients from local farms in the Sacred Valley. It's a great spot to try coca tea—a well-known cure for symptoms of altitude sickness.
At night, prepare to shell out a few more nuevos soles at the romantic Chicha by internationally renowned Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. The ceviches are delectable as are the excellent pork dishes, like the chicharrones or deep-fried pork ribs accompanied by a side of local Peruvian potatoes and onion salad.
Thinking of a trip to Peru?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Peru Travel Guide.
Photo Credits: Women: Left, Mountain Hardwear; Left center, UNIQLO CO., LTD; Center, Sports Authority; Bottom center, REI; Right center, Tennis Warehouse; Right, o2gearshop.com; Top left, Campmor; Bottom left, Overstock.com; Center, Barneys New York; Right, Original Buff® Headwear. Men: Left, Icebreaker; Top center, Eastern Mountain Sports; Center, Altrec.com; Bottom center, Brooks Sports, Inc.; Right, Camp Saver, LLC.; Bottom right, Campmor; Left, Eddie Bauer LLC.; Center, Quiksilver; Top right, Village Hat Shop; Bottom right, Nike, Inc.