Packing for the Inca Trail

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 in 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 55 liters 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 be using a 22 liters 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 Peruvian porter that will carry up to 6kg of my personal belongings.)

Peru Packing

Packing for the Trail on my 22 Liters Gregory Daypack

I never thought I would be packing shorts/swimwear and sunblock along with scarf’s 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

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Mattress
  • 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 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 55 Liters Gregory Backpack (the previous 22 liters are also counted on the total space of the 55 liters, that way I won’t carry two packs)

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 shorts (in addition to the 2 pairs I’ll have on the Trail)
  • 1 pair of 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
  • Voltage 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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13 thoughts on “Packing for the Inca Trail”

    1. 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. 🙂

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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! 🙂

          Safe travels!!

          1. Thanks!

            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!

          2. 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.

            Cheers!

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