Inca Trail Packing List

Excited to embark on the magnificent Inca Trail but unsure about what to pack?

No worries! We’ve got your back with our ultimate list for the Inca Trail. Rest assured, this well-tested and updated list will ensure you’re fully prepared for your adventure! Let’s make this journey unforgettable!

Imagine nights and warm days, cloud forests, and magnificent Incan ruins atop mountains. Picture yourself camping, hiking, and exploring in the picturesque valleys of Peru. As the sun rises, you emerge through the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu, squinting in the early morning sunshine.

Sounds incredible, right? That’s the magic of the Inca Trail, an absolutely awe-inspiring travel experience. But here’s the thing, deciding what to pack for this adventure, considering the diverse temperatures and walking conditions, can be a little less exhilarating.

Fear not! Having completed our very own classic 4-day Inca Trail hike, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate Inca Trail packing list guide. We want to share our knowledge and expertise to ensure that you know exactly what to bring, and perhaps more importantly, what to leave behind for your own unforgettable journey.

Now, packing light and packing smart is crucial for this epic hike. Carrying too much will dampen the joy of the multi-day walk while forgetting essential items can turn the hike into a nightmare.

In this travel guide to Peru, we’ve got all the essentials listed, whether you’re hiking in the rainy or dry season, whether it’s your first time or fifteenth time. Plus, we’ve included some optional “nice-to-have” items that will level up your experience and make the entire journey that bit more comfortable.

If you haven’t booked your Inca Trail Tour yet (remember, it’s not possible to do the hike independently – you need an approved provider), or if you simply crave all the essential details for preparing and conquering the Inca Trail, then this post is a must-read.

Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

Private Inca Trail 4 days
km 82 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Before diving into this Travel Blog

LETS TALK ABOUT BEING A PMA

When embarking on the Inca Trail, the first essential item you’ll need is the knowledge that you’ll gain from your tour guides. It will pave the way for completing the hike and creating lasting memories.

And let’s not forget about the power of a Positive Mental Attitude! Trust me, you’ll need it when you’re gasping for breath on Day Two, trekking at 4,000 meters and only halfway up to Dead Woman’s Pass. Your mindset will be the key to pushing through!

We’ve crafted this comprehensive Inca Trail Packing List to provide you with all the answers you’ve been seeking, along with suggestions for reliable kits and equipment to ensure a successful adventure and many more to come.

For full information on our FQAs Inca Trail tour, head over here. Don’t hesitate to share your own experiences, questions, or suggestions in the comments below!

If you’re still deep in Inca Trail preparation mode, be sure to check out this post next: Everything You Need to Know Before Hiking The Inca Trail.

Before you Pack for the Inca Trail

Understanding the logistics and limitations on luggage is crucial before packing or making any purchases. But here’s the good news – you won’t have to carry the majority of your items along the Inca Trail!

First things first, you’ll leave most of your belongings in a secure storage room at your hotel or you can do with us in Our Office in Cusco. Which will be taken care of by the tour Guide. During the Trail, you’ll need to transfer all the necessary items into two separate bags:

1. Your own small daypack – this will be your buddy throughout the Trail.
2. A bag provided by the tour company, which you won’t have to worry about carrying.

Our Team Take Care of Your Bags?

There’s a dedicated team of support staff and porters on the Inca Trail. These incredible heroes will transport the group’s cooking and camping equipment, as well as most of the food supplies for the entire four days. Amazing, right?

But here’s something even more remarkable – these hardworking porters will also carry a specific amount of each hiker’s personal belongings. Yes, you heard it right! And the best part is, this service is already included in your tour cost.

On our one travel destinations tour, you’ll each receive a small blue duffel bag in Cusco, where we could store up to 6 kgs of gear in each bag. The porters would then take care of these bags along the Trail, leaving them in your tents at the end of each stage and picking them up again in the morning. While 6 kg is the standard allowance among most tour providers, it’s always a good idea to confirm with your own tour company well in advance.

So, when it comes to packing for the Inca Trail, you can relax and rest easy knowing that you won’t have to carry the majority of your items. Instead, you’ll only need to bring along the essentials in your own daypack, while our remarkable Peruvian porter takes care of everything else.

And guess what? The tour company will also provide your tent – talk about all-inclusive Tour!

The Inca Trail Packing List

The exciting part is that, if you’ve ever hiked or spent considerable time backpacking before, you’ll likely have a wealth of necessary equipment readily available at home.
From sturdy hiking boots and comfortable backpacks to essential cooking gear and navigational tools, your existing gear can pave the way for unforgettable Peruvian adventures and countless future escapades across the globe! So, even if you don’t have all the equipment yet, investing in the essentials will not only enhance your experience in Peru but also serve as valuable assets for your future travel endeavors!

Passport – ID

To embark on the incredible journey of the Inca Trail, it’s absolutely crucial to have your passport details checked and verified at the Km.82 checkpoint, along with your permit. And guess what? Your passport is your golden ticket to enter the majestic Machu Picchu too! Remember, photocopies won’t cut it, so don’t forget to bring the original passport—the same one used to book your Inca Trail tour.

No passport, no Inca Trail.

So, let’s make sure your passport is packed and ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Clotes For The Inca Trail

Proper gear is crucial on the Trail, as it can ensure you stay comfortable and protected from the elements. Whether you’re trekking during the dry season (April – October) or the wet season (November – March, note that the Trail is closed in February), anticipate some rainfall and embrace the notion of reusing clothing items along your journey. By getting these essentials right, you can steer clear of being uncomfortably cold or excessively wet at any point on the Trail.

We recommend the following:

1 x Waterproof jacket (with hood) | We use these excellent ones from North Face.

1 x Lightweight Fleece 

3 x Vests/t-shirts for hiking. Sports vests and t-shirts, or hi-wicking versions, are the best for hiking rather than cotton ones which grow heavy with sweat and dirt. Also, white is a bad idea

2 x t-shirts to change into at camp and for the return trip to Cusco

1 x long-sleeved shirt or t-shirt

1 x warm hat/beanie for the cold nights – we also took wide-brimmed hats to protect against the sun, or a cap is a good alternative addition.

1 x pair of lightweight hiking trousers  or these hiking leggings 

1 x pair of lightweight shorts to hike in (it gets hot on the Trail)

3 x good hiking socks (we’re big fans of Brasher’s hiking socks)

4 x pants (that’s underwear for any non-Brits reading this)

2 x sports bras (ladies only)

1 x set of thermal layers (these are essential for the chilly evenings, and you’ll probably sleep in these, particularly in the dry season when the temperatures are lower at night)

1 x Sunglasses

On the Trail, the weather can be quite diverse. Keep in mind that if rain is not in the forecast, mornings are typically chilly, temperatures rise during late morning and afternoon, and it gets very cold after sunset.

Here’s what we found helpful: we opted for vests and shorts during hikes, and as the evening approached, we would switch to warmer clothes and add extra layers. When we set off early from camp, we, along with others in our group, started with hiking trousers/leggings and fleeces, later changing into vests and shorts once we got moving and worked up a sweat. Stay prepared for the ever-changing Trail conditions!

Other Items to Consider

When preparing for your adventure, don’t forget these essential items:

Plastic Rain Poncho: Your guide might suggest bringing one for added rain protection. These cost less than $1 and are available in Ollantaytambo before the trail starts. For a sustainable and lightweight alternative to carry throughout your South American trip, consider a packable poncho.

Packing Cube: A game-changer for organized travelers! We highly recommend storing your clean clothes in packing cubes. We used these ones when we traveled, which proved invaluable throughout our hike.

Nicer Clothes: Yes, we love hiking gear, but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up. If you have some extra space, pack a set of shorts, a dress, or even a pair of dungarees for those stunning day-end photos at Machu Picchu.

Gear up and make the most of your adventure!

Hiking Shoes For The Inca Trail

For your Inca Trail adventure, we highly recommend bringing top-notch, waterproof hiking boots. While some porters may tackle the trail in Converse or old trainers, it’s important to consider the challenging terrain and slippery conditions. While a lucky few have completed the trail in trainers or running shoes during dry weather, we assure you that sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are your best bet. They offer versatility, protection from unpredictable weather, and minimize slips and trips along the way.

Earlier this year, I invested in a pair of Hokas Hiking Boots (check out the picture above) and have been thoroughly impressed with their performance. 

While waterproof hiking shoes are lighter and offer less ankle support, they remain suitable for the Inca Trail and most hikes in Peru. During our 14-month South America trip, we initially used Merrell hiking shoes, which did a decent job. However, we later switched to boots for enhanced ankle support.

Here’s a crucial tip: “Wear in” your hiking boots by taking them on several walks and hikes before embarking on the Inca Trail. This significantly reduces the chances of blisters and unnecessary discomfort along the way. So lace up those boots and prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience on the Inca Trail!

Optional Footwear Items

Flip-Flops: While not essential, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a pair for post-hike comfort on the Inca Trail. We didn’t pack any, but looking back, we kind of wish we did. They can provide a much-needed break for your feet after those challenging hikes. If you have the space and weight to spare, why not consider it?

Hiking Poles: Let’s get one thing straight – hiking poles are not a must-have for the Inca Trail. However, using them can make the entire experience much easier, resulting in fewer aches and pains during and after the trial.

Trust us, we did numerous hikes throughout our four months in South America, and these lightweight travel hiking poles we bought in the UK were game-changers. Don’t worry if you didn’t pack any because you can either buy or rent hiking poles in Cusco or even rent them from your tour provider for around S/. 60 / £28 / $20.

Sleeping Bag For The Inca Trail

Even inside the tents can get quite chilly, especially when you’re up at about 3,800 meters! But fear not, there are ways to keep cozy. The secret lies in sleeping in thermals, donning wooly hats and socks, and of course, having a good sleeping bag.

We personally recommend the sleeping Bag Rei 250 – they’re fantastic, lightweight, and compact. Just keep in mind, that they do come with a higher price tag. Don’t worry if you’re investing in your own sleeping bag though, we’ve got a guide to help you choose the right one before making any purchase.

Now, let’s talk about the duffel bag. Remember, the bulkier and heavier your sleeping bag, the fewer clothes you’ll be able to bring on the Inca Trail. So, choose wisely!

If you don’t have a sleeping bag, no need to fret! You can rent one from us or buy in the outdoor shops in Cusco. They’ll do the job just fine, although they can be a bit bulky and weigh about 2.5 kg. Needless to say, they’ll take up quite some space in your duffel bag.

Oh, and don’t forget about the sleeping mat. Our company usually provides a thin one, but you can also rent slightly better air mattresses. They do improve the sleeping situation a bit, although they’re not absolutely essential. Just be aware that they weigh about 1 kg and take up some room in your duffel bag.

With these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for a comfy and enjoyable night’s sleep on the Inca Trail. Happy hiking!

Optional Sleeping Gear For The Inca Trail

For a one-week overland camping trip in Peru, we invested in a pair of inflatable camping pillows. These ingenious pillows compress down to the size of a mini water botle  can when not in use.

We put them to the test on the Inca Trail, and they performed admirably! Of course, if you prefer, you can always roll up some clothes or make use of your bus travel pillow as an alternative.

Headlamp

When it comes to backpacking on the Inca Trail, having a headtorch is an absolute must! Let me tell you why.
While the tour companies do provide lighting during dinner, once the night sets in, your campsite becomes pitch black. That’s where the trusty travel headlamp comes in, giving you the light you need inside your tent, during those late-night bathroom visits, and even as you make your way towards the Sun Gate entrance before the sun rises.

After using these Petzl headlights for the past 15 years, we can’t recommend them enough. Their reliability and performance are top-notch.

Keep in mind, that you can also opt for a small, lightweight torch as an alternative, but remember, having both hands free can come in handy during your adventure.

So, gear up and let your headtorch illuminate your path on the remarkable Inca Trail!

Toiletries for Hike The Inca Trail

When it comes to packing toiletries for the Inca Trail, it’s important to avoid overpacking. Excess items can create unnecessary weight and bulk that you’ll have to carry. Based on our experience from the Trail and other multi-day hikes, we can categorize hikers into two groups when it comes to “hiking hygiene”:

1. The ones who prefer a refreshing cold shower over a little bit of smelliness.
2. The ones who don’t mind being a little smelly and prioritize enjoying the adventure overtaking a cold shower.

Remember, packing smart and choosing what’s essential will help you have a more comfortable and enjoyable journey on the trail!

We belong to the latter group, and we encourage you to join us (despite the smell). The following items are essential toiletries for the Inca Trail:

1 x toothbrush (we use these bamboo ones) + toothpaste (have recently made the switch to toothpaste tabs, better for the environment and perfect for camping without a good water supply)

1 x cleanser (we took micellar water) and reusable bamboo pads.

1 x quality suncream 

1 x deodorant

1 x lip balm (be sure to get one with sunscreen)

1 x roll of toilet paper/pack of tissues

1 x travel hand sanitiser

1 x bug spray. any of your preference

Storing your toiletries in a separate case or old plastic bag is a good idea.

PRO TIP
Just a friendly reminder that on hikes like this, using baby wipes or wet wipes is a popular choice. However, it’s important to note that they contain plastic and are not very sustainable. When you discard them in nature, they can stick around for a really long time.

But fret not! We’ve got an excellent alternative for you – biodegradable wipes! They are designed for cleaning those dirty bodies after an adventurous day. And don’t forget to bring along your trusty travel towel (we personally recommend the one by Lifeventure). Trust us, it’ll come in handy, especially if you accidentally take a shower in camp one.

Water Container to Drink + Water Filter

Get for an incredible journey! Throughout your tour, we ensure that you have access to safe-to-drink water at camp every night and morning. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with drinks aplenty, whether you’ve already purchased them or are picking them up along the way. Plus, those endless cups of tea at camp won’t go amiss!

Now, let’s talk about reducing your plastic footprint and making a positive impact while traveling.

We’re truly passionate about this (as you may have gathered from the ‘toiletries’ section). So, here’s the scoop: for a guaranteed supply of safe-to-drink water on the Inca Trail and throughout your South American adventures, we recommend investing in either a Water-to-Go or a Lifestraw travel filter water bottle.

These BPA-free bottles are equipped with built-in filters that remove 99.9% of harmful bacteria from water, whether it’s from the tap, river, or any other source (except the sea, of course!).

Trust us, we’ve extensively used and tested them in Europe, America, and South America, and they’ve never let you down. Just imagine filling up from taps all over Peru, drawing water from two rivers on the Inca Trail, and even sipping from an ancient water fountain at Machu Picchu. And the best part? Besides cutting down on single-use plastic waste, these bottles have saved us a bundle of money.

But hey, if you can’t get your hands on one of these fantastic bottles, at least bring a refillable water bottle with you on the Inca Trail. It’s a small step towards a greener journey.

Travel Power Bank

While trekking on the Inca Trail, it’s important to note that charging facilities are unavailable. Therefore, it’s wise to be mindful of your phone usage to ensure it has enough battery for those stunning Machu Picchu photos.

We recommend putting your phone on battery saver and airplane mode. If you plan on capturing numerous photos or videos along the way, grooving to tunes during downtime, or using your phone as your primary torch, consider bringing a reliable power bank or battery pack like the excellent one by Anker, along with your phone charger cable.

Calling all photographers! Don’t forget to stock up on spare batteries and plenty of SD cards for your journey. For a comprehensive list of travel photography equipment comment below. If you have any specific questions about carrying and utilizing photography gear on the Inca Trail, feel free to reach out via e-mail or chat whit us. 

First AID KIT and Medication

While your tour company ensures the provision of an emergency first aid kit and oxygen, it’s wise to carry some essentials on your own, especially when backpacking in South America. Here are our recommendations:

– 1 box of blister plasters (pro tip: apply them before blisters fully appear)
– 1 tube of antiseptic cream
– 1 pack of paracetamol
– 1 pack of diarrhoea tablets (trust us, you don’t want to experience that on the trail)
– 1 pack of rehydration sachets

Don’t forget to bring any necessary personal medication and keep it in your daypack. While coca leaves and coca tea will likely be available from your tour company, if you have concerns about altitude sickness during the hike or in Peru, check out this helpful post.

Money – Casch

Discover all the essential details in our comprehensive guide – Everything You Need to Know Before Hiking The Inca Trail.

During your adventure, be prepared to have some cash on hand for various expenses along the way. It’s recommended to have a mix of small notes and coins to cover these costs. Happy hiking!
Peruvian Soles: s/600 Per Person is enough for your expenses

Inca Trail Backpack

When it comes to carrying your equipment, the choice of your daypack is crucial. Especially on the Inca Trail, where you’ll be responsible for it throughout the entire journey. Opt for a small daypack, ideally under 25 litres, to keep things manageable. Pack all your essentials – snacks, water, suncream, rain jacket, camera, phone, cash, cards, and valuables.

If you’re planning a few months of travel in South America, your regular daypack will do just fine. Just remember not to overpack it, or you’ll feel the strain on the Trail. Look for a daypack with good support, a waist strap, and side pockets for your travel filter water bottle.

But if you’re going on a shorter and lighter trip, here’s a great tip! Consider using an incredibly lightweight daypack stuff sack. We saw three Oregonian girls on our last tour using them, and they attracted envious looks from all of us. Check it out here!

Now, let’s share our biggest packing mistake on the Inca Trail.

We actually used only our main backpack (emptied out, of course) instead of carrying separate daypacks. Cesar had to bear the weight, including all our camera and blogging equipment. my husband ended up trekking the Inca Trail with a whopping 18 kg on his back like back in the day when he was a Tour Guide

Remember, choosing the right daypack can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment on the Inca Trail.

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

INKA TRAIL

It’s important to know what time of year is the best when going on your adventure.

For more information about our Machu Picchu Trek, Contact us an we will send you a PDF of our complete trek guide to Peru and other Alternative Treks.