Packing for the Inca Trail can be tricky. The weather ranges from hot and sunny during the day to below freezing at night, with the chance of getting a downpour if you’re hiking during the rainy season. You’re often over a day’s walk away from civilization, meaning you want to have everything you might need in an emergency.
You want to be fully prepared, but at the same time you want to pack light on the Inca Trail since someone (either you or a porter) will be carrying everything you bring up and down the mountains. This Inca Trail packing list has everything I’m glad I brought, some things I wish I brought, and leaves out the stuff I wish I’d left behind.
Also, check out my Peru Packing List for what to bring for the rest of your trip in Peru.
The links below take you to the specific items I brought with me and recommend. I receive a small commission for purchases made through the links at no extra cost to you. This helps keep the site running, so thanks for your support!
- Backpack – I have the Osprey Ariel 65L Pack. This is bigger than you would need for just the Inca Trail, but I used it as my main bag for my trip to Peru so I needed the extra space. It easily cinches down to a flatter pack when you are carrying less, which is really great for distributing weight in all the right places.
- Hiking boots – Mine are big and bulky, but super comfortable even after long days hiking, and I appreciated the extra ankle support. Waterproof is a bonus if you’re hiking in the rainy season.
- Sleeping bag – Make sure it’s warm!
- Sleeping pad – The tent spots are quite flat and rock-free compared to most I’ve slept on, but it’s nice to have some extra comfort when you’re sore from hiking all day.
- Headlamp – Yeah it’s dorky, but you’ll be glad you brought it when you find yourself up in the middle of the night searching for the toilets in the dark.
- Carabiners – For clipping random stuff to your pack.
- Trekking poles – Borrow or rent these in Cusco.
- Combination lock – If you are hiring a porter to carry some of your things, you will need to supply your own lock for the provided duffel bag.
- Pack cover – To keep your stuff dry if it rains.
- Water bottle – I love my Liberty Bottleworks water bottle. It has a good locking seal, and is practically a work of art.
- Small towel
- Watch – It was nice having a watch to track hike times, especially since my phone was turned off and stowed away.
- Bug spray
I packed clothes for 4 days on the Inca Trail plus one extra day at Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes. If you aren’t spending an extra day at Machu Picchu, then you can bring a bit less.
- Trekking pants – 2 – I just couldn’t make myself wear those dorky zip-off trekking pants (whoever designed those couldn’t have been a woman). Instead I found some stretchy, lightweight grey pants (in the photo above) that did the job without making me look like a safari guide. My second pair were my lululemon wunder under black leggings and I love them.
- PJ pants – Another pair of leggings for the chilly Andean nights.
- Short sleeve shirts – 3
- Tanks – 2
- Long sleeve layering shirts – 2
- Warm sleep shirt
- Wool hiking socks – 3
- Sock liners – 5 – Basically just thin socks to go under the wool hiking socks. Doubling up on socks is great for preventing blisters (especially on downhill days) and can make your expensive and bulky hiking socks go a few days before they get gross, meaning you don’t have to bring as many.
- Underwear – 6
- Sports bras – 2
- Camp shoes – This could be flip flops or any other super small shoe that slips on. I didn’t bring these, but they would have been nice to have.
- Warm jacket – Can’t rave enough about my North Face Thermoball Jacket. It’s the best jacket for a traveler because it is so lightweight and compressible while still being very warm.
- Rain jacket – I really like my lightweight Northface Venture Jacket.
- Warm hat and gloves – Got these at the Pisac market. These are the easiest things to find in Cusco or the Sacred Valley, and they make fun souvenirs.
- Travel tripod for the photographers out there – I was so glad I brought this. It was great for my Machu Picchu Sunrise time-lapse, as well as sunset shots, blurred water shots, and some star photography.
- Extra memory cards
- Extra camera batteries – I brought 5. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I actually used them all!
- Diamox – For preventing altitude sickness.
- Pepto bismol tablets – To save you the embarrassment of asking someone else for them.
- Benadryl – Didn’t use it on this trip, but it has helped squelch a few (mild) allergic reactions in the past so I always bring it if I’ll be away from civilization.
- Dayquil & Nyquil
- Hydrocortisone cream – Calms rashes.
- Antibacterial ointment – I bought tiny sample sized packets at Target.
- Antiseptic wound cleanser
- Bandages, gauze, tape
- Ace wrap – So the porters don’t have to carry you if you sprain your ankle.
- Moleskin – Forgot to break in your shoes? Don’t worry, there’s moleskin.
- Scissors and safety pins
- Duct tape
- Digital thermometer
- Water purification tablets
- Contact solution
- Chapstick (with spf)
- Hand sanitizer
- Spare contacts
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes – The official Inca Trail shower alternative.
- Tampons – For the ladies. Hope you don’t need them.
- Hair binders
- Earplugs – People snore strangely at high altitudes.
- Travel pillow – I used my Wrap a Nap.
- Trail snacks – Nothing like some homemade trail mix to share with the porters as they summit Dead Woman’s Pass.
- Wallet – With cash for tipping guides and porters and buying snacks and water along the trail.
- Trek confirmation
- Travel insurance documents
- Contact card – Emergency contact person, health insurance info
- Immunization record
- Copy of passport
- Ziplocks and plastic bags – To wrap smelly/wet clothes.
If you’re staying the night in Aguas Calientes:
- Hotel confirmation
- Universal plug adapter/surge protector
- Phone charger
- Body Wash
- Extra cash
I know what you’re thinking – that’s a lot of stuff! And it is. But it all fit easily in my 65L pack with room to spare, thanks to a few highly compressible items (sleeping bag and jacket). Once we were at the entry-point of the trail, I also off-loaded a bunch of stuff by hiring a porter to carry 6 kg worth (Porters must be hired at time of booking). I didn’t utilize the full 6 kg, but it helped a lot to not have to carry my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and most of my clothes. The rest went in my pack and was quite light-weight!