Update: This post was written before I hiked the Inca Trail for the first time some years ago. I’ve now visited Machu Picchu three times and I still believe this list is on point, plus I added a few more items based on my experience.
I have this huge excitement that I almost can’t contain… I’m packing for my trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
I will be spending the first half of my trip to Cuzco and the Inca Trail (on a G Adventures Tour) and the second half solo in the area of Huacachina, Nazca, Paracas, and Lima.
Curiously, these two Peruvian regions have very different climates. The former is a chilly mountainous rain forest while the latter is a pure dry desert.
Packing for a trip like this is a challenge. I want to take enough with me to be covered for the duration of the trip (roughly two weeks), but I want to be as light as possible for the hike.
I’ll be taking my 40 liters Gregory backpack (not full to capacity), which will have everything I don’t need during the Inca Trail hike but that I’ll use during the rest of the trip.
That backpack I will leave stored in a hotel during the hike. For the hike, I’ll use a 22 liters Gregory backpack with barely the essentials.
It’s kind of weird and challenging to pack for cold and warm weather on a single daypack and still manage to keep it “feather” light. This is what I’m carrying with me: (have in mind that I’ll have an extremely fit porter that will carry up to 6kg of my personal belongings throughout the Inca Trail.)
Packing for the Inca Trail on my 22 Liters Gregory Daypack
- Sea to Summit Sleeping bag Liner
- Petzl Headlamp
- 3 Liters Camelback
- Water Purification Tablets/Powder – I’ve heard too many “slight” diarrhea stories already…
- 1 Icebreaker base layer shirt (200g/m2) – to keep me warmer and less stinky… although I know we’ll all reek after a few non-shower days.
- Thin gloves – my hands get cold very fast…
- Hiking boots (with Gore-tex for the rain)
- Sunblock cream
- Purell hand sanitizer (we’ll never look at Purell the same way after Covid!)
- Baby/body wipes – apparently, the first shower will be available after the third day of hiking (…that was correct).
- Small First-aid Kit
- Fleece top
- Windproof/waterproof jacket and pants
- Thermals (for the chilly nights)
- 2 pair of shorts/swimwear
- 2 pairs of long trousers
- 4 t-shirts
- 4 underwear
- 5 pairs of socks
- Laundry bag (mesh) for dirty clothes
- Camping towel
- A point-and-shoot camera or DSLR camera
- iPhone – for photos and entertainment/music
- A set of playing cards – you know, socializing is good.
- Reading/writing material (small)
- Impermeable bags – to keep daypack and clothes dry.
- Important documents (i.e. passport, tickets, permits)
I never thought I would be packing shorts/swimwear and sunblock along with scarves and thermals, and to be used on the same day… so surreal. Slap, slap… that’s a reality on this trek.
The Inca Trail tends to be warm enough during the day to make you sweat it all while you’re hiking but chilly enough during the night to make you want to stay hidden in your “warm” sleeping bag.
What I’m renting there before hiking the Inca Trail
- Sleeping Bag
- Hiking Pole (ended not renting it)
Update after the trip: Here are some of the things I forgot to take with me, so I either bought them there or borrowed them from fellow hikers.
- Jungle Mosquito Repellent (a must while at Machu Picchu… my experience: 107 mosquito bites, even with repellent. So wear long pants at Machu Picchu.)
- Hiking Pants (decided to buy “real” hiking pants instead of the ones I had)
- Lip Balm (the dry and cold weather will affect your lips)
Packing for the rest of the trip on my 40 Liters Gregory Backpack
(the previous 22 liters are also counted on the total space of the 40 liters, that way, I won’t carry two packs)
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts (in addition to the 2 pairs I’ll have on the Trail)
- 1 pair of TropicFeel sneakers – Not planning to spend all the time using my hiking boots. I’ll just look ridiculous.
- 4 more undies/socks
- 4 more t-shirts
- Power adapter/converter
I won’t be taking my laptop on this trip since I have no intention of carrying its dead weight during the trail (hello, no plugs on trees…), and leaving it behind on my backpack is just asking for trouble.
Hmmm, am I missing something?
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I’ve been reading so much on the Inca trail lately. I think that is a sign that I need to start packing for it too. Have a fantastic time, i am insanely jealous.
hahaha… it’s a sign! You should go there sometime. I’m sure you will love it.
Thank you so much!! I hope to have a great time over there. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. 🙂
I ran across a few blogs about the inca trail, but nothing is as detail as yours. Thanks for the great post. It sure helps me prepare myself for the hike in 2 weeks.
Thanks Karen! Good luck on your hike! 😉
great list. Just wondering…
Did you carry all those multiples in your 22L bag? (e.g. socks, tshirts, trousers)
What of that list did you have the porters carry?
Hi Arpan –
On my 22l I carried only the necessary for the day, like: camera, snacks, water, rain jacket, light jacket, some toiletries, and maybe a few other small details. The rest was carried by the porters and each day we had access to our stuff by the end of the day’s hike. The porters will carry a maximum of 6kg, and it is recommended that you carry less than that on your daypack.
Thanks for the quick reply. I have set my packing list up the same way as you!
One more thing, as I was browsing around your website, I saw you also did Kilimanjaro…can your recommend a good size pack that would be suitible for both trips?
I’m doing the 4 day Inca trail in 3 weeks and the 7 day kilimanjaro trek 9 months. I wear XL clothing so that may take up more space than the norm. I have a read that 28L may be too big for Peru..but I also read that you need at least 30L for kilimanjaro if not bigger. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks again! Safe travels
Oh, great to hear you’re also doing Kili!
I used the same 22L Gregory daypack on both hikes, and it worked great for me. Technically, if you have porters, you don’t have to worry about the space your clothes will take in your daypack since they will be carried by the porters in a given duffel-bag. The only clothes you will carry yourself while hiking will be whatever layers you’ll need during the day to protect yourself from sun, cold, or rain.
During Kili, instead of 6kg, the porters carry up to 13kg. (at least with G Adventures – I did Kili with them). So, in theory, even though is a longer hike, you will still be carrying the exact same things in your daypack.
It is true that a 28L is big for the Inca Trail, but if you buy a good 28L backpack, you can use the straps to compress it and fit it well on your back.
On a separate note, I recommend you have good warm clothes for Kili, as it gets really cold at the summit.
Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂
I ended up getting the Camelbak Highwire 25…64% off last years colors. Its a lightweight hydration pack with a 3L bladder and has 22L of addition space. I hope it works!
Also I saw your blog about Gap vs Intrepid. I ended up chosing Intrepid because they had a BOGO offer for the Inca Trail Express tour. Luckily I’m going with 3 others so thats $1230 savings!
Sounds great! 25L sounds like a good size. I recommend to fill your hydration pack no more than 2L, or else your backpack will be very heavy. Your porters will mase sure you can refill water along the way.
With Intrepid you will be more than fine too. They are also good. And hey, that’s a great saving!!
Good luck on your hike! If you need any tips, don’t hesitate to ask.
Thanks for the very useful advice – we go with Intrepid in 7 weeks’ time. Can’t wait!
Thanks, Julia! Hope you had an awesome time there!
I just completed the Inka Trail hike with G Adventures a month ago! I went to the Peruvian Amazon, after…another climate, altogether. The Inka Trail was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I’d trained well…but those uneven Inka steps, especially the down-mountain in steps!