What to Take
What to take to Ecuador: pack horses loaded with luggage
Example of a capsule wardrobe - volunteer in toning hat and sweater teamed with neutral travel trousers.
Ecuador travel; traveller with backpack
Maps of Ecuador and guidebook
Backpack in Ecuador, being nibbled by a horse
Birders with binoculars at bird watching site in Ecuador

Your Ecuador packing list
depends on the nature of
your trip.  Travel light but
take the essentials in appropriate luggage.

What to take to Ecuador

Ecuador packing list

What to take to Ecuador partly depends on the nature of your trip and the time of year.  Ecuador's climate varies widely across quite small distances so your capsule wardrobe for travel needs to cope with everything from warm torrential rain, to snow at high altitudes and hot, dry weather on the beach.   A wide-brimmed hat is always a useful addition to your travel packing list.
Travel clothing: Of course, the kind of social or business situations you will be in will dictate the components of your capsule wardrobe for Ecuador travel to a certain extent.  As a general rule for travel clothing, layers are a practical and comfortable solution to the significant daily temperature fluctuations in parts of Ecuador.  In the mountains, the temperature drops sharply at sundown.  In Quito, for example, it may be t-shirt weather at midday, but you will need a fleece or jacket by around 6.p.m.
Ecuadorian people are mostly short and slim compared to Europeans or Americans, so don't rely on being able to buy large clothes or shoes.  If your feet are larger than a European size 42, take all the shoes you will need, including rubber boots for the rainforest.  Smaller sizes are available to buy in Ecuador.  Ladies any larger than flat-chested need to pack all lingerie and swimwear needed for the trip as large cup sizes are not available in Ecuador. 
Your capsule wardrobe should include quick-drying travel trousers, which are travel packing essentials in the humid costa where jeans can take a week to dry in the rainy season.  The ones with zip-off legs are great for converting shorts to long trousers at sunset.  A light-weight, long-sleeved shirt with buttoned cuffs will protect your arms from insect bites.  
Practical travel clothing, such as long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, is better than insect repellant to prevent bites from mosquitoes and other potentially disease-carrying insects.   They also protect you from the sun.  Bare feet attract mosquitoes, as do strong scents and dark colours.  Sandals also leave your feet exposed to leeches, snakes and thorns - good walking boots or wellingtons are far more suitable for rainforest walks.
Travel towels, also known as quick-drying towels or microfibre towels, can be useful, but are not the only option.  Some people find a lightweight, quick-drying sarong wrap (pareo, beach wrap or basically a big rectangle of fabric) more useful, since it can double as a sheet, mosquito protection, door curtain, etc.  If your high-tech travel towel is the size of a pocket handkerchief, you will need something to get changed under anyway.  If you really hate thin, synthetic travel towels or miss your beautiful thick bath towel, a small handtowel and a large sarong might be a suitable compromise.
Medication - pack all the prescription medicines you will need for your trip, including malaria tablets if needed, and a copy of the prescription.  Antiseptic cream is not available in Ecuador (locals use alcohol as an antiseptic), so you might like to add this to your medicine list for travel.   If you are going off the beaten track, you might consider taking a travel first-aid kit with sterile needles in case of emergency, also perhaps some antibiotics.  Consult your medical professional or a specialist travel medicine clinic to draw up a personal travel medicine list, based on your itinerary, travel conditions and personal health.
Travel insurance is a must on any packing list.  Take a copy of the policy, preferably in your travel companion's luggage whilst you carry their policy in yours.  Have a note of the emergency number for your travel medical insurance handy.  Keep an electronic copy online in your email account as well, especially if you are travelling alone.   Some maps are available in Ecuador, but you may prefer to bring one with you from home.  A guide book is often useful and your preferred title may not be available in Ecuador.
Backpack or suitcase? A backpack is often the most practical type of luggage.  Ecuador's roads and pavements are mostly not flat, so wheeled suitcases are usually more of a hindrance than a help.  Some people suggest buying a travel bag locally, so as to look less conspicuous, or wrapping your backpack in a plastic sack when you travel by bus.  You may find it more convenient to store the bulk of your luggage in your Quito hotel in a locked suitcase and travel with a smaller bag for trips of a few days.  Many stores in Ecuador will ask you to leave large bags at the entrance, so ensure that you have all your valuables in a small bag that you can keep with you. 
Birdwatchers will want to take good-quality binoculars to Ecuador.  Camera equipment is not easily available, so take all that you will need with you.  You can buy memory cards for digital cameras in larger towns but prices are not particularly competitive and there is a limited choice of brands. 
A wind-up torch will be useful and is more environmentally-friendly than the cheap batteries on sale in Ecuador which do not last long.  Some also double as a mobile phone charger.  Take suitable adaptor plugs if you are carrying electrical equipment and be aware that the power supply is unreliable and spikes may damage equipment. 
If you will be mountain-climbing, diving, biking or doing other specialist adventure activities or sports in Ecuador, check with your travel agent whether equipment will be available to borrow or hire from the tour operator or whether you need to take your own. 
Especially if you are going to the Galapagos Islands or other very sensitive ecosystems, you might consider adding eco-friendly sunscreen, organic toiletries and biodegradable soap or shampoo to your packing list.   Since the islands are so remote, there are extra packing requirements for Galapagos tours.  See What to Take to the Galapagos Islands.

What not to take to Ecuador

What not to take: Apart from keeping down the weight of your luggage, buying locally also helps Ecuador's economy (and may even be cheaper than buying at home).  Waste disposal and recycling facilities are very limited in Ecuador so don't take more packaging than you need to.  Here are some tips on what you can omit from your travel packing list:
Don't bother lugging shampoo, toothpaste or soap from home as familiar brands are easily available.  Sunscreen and insect repellent are widely available, though they may not be a brand you recognise - buy from shops with a high turnover to ensure they are not out of date.  Sanitary towels are available everywhere, tampons can be found in chemists or supermarkets in larger towns but usually not in small villages.  
Large denomination dollar bills (anything higher than $20) will probably not be accepted at most places in Ecuador.   Travellers' cheques are a secure way to carry money for emergencies, but will waste huge amounts of time in the bank if you use them as your main source of funds and cannot usually be used to pay directly for goods or services. 
Most mobile phones from overseas do not seem to work on Ecuador's networks, unless they are quadband.  A mobile phone can be bought locally for around $50 and pay-as-you-go cards start at $3.
The variable quality of laundry services and the brutal tropical sun will take their toll on clothes, while expensive items may attract the wrong kind of attention.  So, best clothes, fine jewellry and flashy watches should all be left at home when deciding what to take to Ecuador.

What to Take to Ecuador - tips for travel packing essentials and ideas for a capsule wardrobe
Ideas for outdoor gear and travel clothing, packing tips for Ecuador travel, travel medicine list. Backpack or suitcase? Luggage tips for Ecuador.
What not to take to Ecuador - what is easily available locally and can be left off your travel packing list.