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You’ve decided to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you’re now probably wondering how to pack for it. This Inca Trail packing list will hopefully put your mind at ease on how to prepare for both warm days and chilly nights, sunshine and rain, and any other scenario that may come up along the way.
Having just completed my own 4-day/3-night classic Inca Trail hike, I have some thoughts. My packing list was good, but it wasn’t perfect. So, as soon as I got home, I made some notes to myself on what I would have done differently.
After all, it can be difficult to pack both light and thoroughly. But, it is doable!
Inca Trail Packing List
First things first, let’s talk about your bag and the logistics of packing for the Inca Trail. Because there are rules.
Don’t worry if you’re doing other traveling while you’re in Peru. You can easily store all your non-trek luggage in a secure space at your hotel or at your tour company’s office in Cusco.
Everything for the hike itself will then be separated into two bags before you begin your hike:
Daypack – the bag you will personally carry each and every day on the trail
Duffle – this bag will be supplied by your tour company, and the porters will carry it. While each company may be different, Alpaca Expeditions allows you to pack 6kgs (13lbs) in your duffle bag. This includes your sleeping bag (which you may bring or rent from Alpaca).
Your duffle bag will be carried by the porters starting in the morning, and you’ll get it back in the evening at your tent, so it’s important to keep anything in your daypack you’ll need throughout the day.
Required Items for Inca Trail
Your Passport – You absolutely can NOT enter the Inca Trail without your passport. It gets checked and verified at the starting point, Km 82. You’ll also be required to have your passport to enter Machu Picchu.
Photocopies are not accepted. Your passport also has to be the same one you used to book the Inca Trail tour.
Face Mask – A mask is NOT required on the actual trail, but masks are still very much required in most indoor places in Peru (as of June 2022).
Not Required but Highly Recommended Items
- Wipes (there are no showers on the trail – if you do go with Alpaca Expeditions, you’ll have access to a COLD shower on the last night). These wipes are biodegradable.
- Cash (for snacks along the trail and tips for your porters, chef, and guide)
- Travel Insurance
- Liquid IV (or other hydration packets)
- Toilet Paper (never expect there to be TP anywhere – 1 roll per person should be plenty)
- Rain Poncho (Alpaca provides this)
- Daypack Rain Cover (Alpaca provides this)
- Headlamp and Extra Batteries
- Trekking Poles – don’t be “too cool” for trekking poles. They’re invaluable on the Inca Trail even if you don’t have bad knees or are in fantastic shape.
Clothing & Accessories
Likely the bulkiest and most complicated part of your Inca Trail packing list. You don’t want to be too cold or too wet during your four days.
The dry season is April-October and the wet season is November-March (the trail is closed all of February). But, don’t let that fool you. It can and it will still rain in the dry season.
Anything you can get that is quick-dry/moisture-wicking, do it. If you can wear the same thing more than once or twice, you’re going to save so much room and weight.
I would recommend the following:
- Rain Jacket or Windbreaker
- Lightweight Fleece
- Moisture-Wicking T-shirts or Tank Tops (3)
- Moisture-Wicking Long Sleeve Shirt
- Wide-brimmed Hat (for sun protection)
- Warm Hat (for example, a beanie)
- Lightweight Hiking Pants or Leggings (2)
- Lightweight Hiking Shorts (1)
- Hiking Socks (4)
- Warm Socks (1) – for sleeping
- Lightweight Gloves
- Underwear (4)
- Sports Bras (2-4)
- Thermal Underwear
- Sandals or Flip Flops (I used Chacos) – for camp
- Hiking Boots (these ones from Keen are what I used, and I had zero problems)
I highly recommend high-quality, waterproof hiking boots with ankle support. And 100%, break them in before the trek.
Non-Clothing Trekking Items
- Daypack (25L maximum)
- Hydration Bladder (2L)
- Microfiber Towel
- Packing Cubes
- Knee Compression Sleeves (if you have bad knees like me, I would highly recommend something like these sleeves)
- Sleeping Bag (can be rented from your tour company or in Cusco)
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Hair Items (Scrunchies, Headbands, Bobby Pins – whatever it takes to not be miserable)
- Sunscreen (don’t forget the face stick too!)
- Lip Balm with SPF
- Prescription Medication
- Anti-Diarrhea Meds (Immodium)
- Chub Rub
- Tiger Balm
- Hand Sanitizer
- Bug Spray
- Menstrual Cup (if you have the pleasure of having your period during your trek like me, I highly recommend a menstrual cup. It only has to be changed every 12 hours and is a whole lot less messy than pads or tampons. And takes up less (no) space in your bag)
Here is my general zero waste hygiene packing list.
There is absolutely zero electricity on the trail, so what you bring will depend on you. If you want to take a lot of photos and videos, make sure to either have extra batteries and/or a portable charger.
- Solar Portable Charger
- Phone + Charging Cable
- Downloaded Music
- GoPro + Charging Cable
- Extra GoPro Batteries (3)
- Micro SD Card
- Camera + Charger
- Extra Camera Battery
- SD Cards
- Kindle (if it’s fully charged, you shouldn’t need the charger)
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