The Inca Trail packing list below is based upon our personal hiking experience in Peru and we have taken great care to produce a list that is both detailed and accurate. We recommend bookmarking this page for future reference as the list is quite extensive. This Inca Trail packing list can be used for all hiking routes to Machu Picchu including the Lares, Vilcabamba and Salkantay routes.
We are always on the lookout for feedback from trekking experiences and constantly update this page when we receive a useful tip or insight from our readers.
Although the list can seem quite daunting in terms of weight, many items can be purchased or hired in Cusco before departing on your trek. Please be aware though that equipment quality is not guaranteed when renting locally and it is usually best to provide your own.
Everything in this Inca Trail packing list has either been tested by us or recommended to us by experienced trekkers. The gear listed below provides, in our opinion, the best value in terms of quality and price.
Whilst the weather around Machu Picchu has two dominant seasons - the dry (April - September) and the wet (October - March), weather throughout the year is relatively consistent with most days being in the mid 20s Celsius. However, at night temperatures can get quite low, particularly in winter when it often gets below freezing.
A little rain is fairly common in the region, even in the dry season when most people descend upon the trail. This packing list is based upon the assumption that you will be trekking in the dry season and may experience the occasional shower. Please click here for our detailed article on weather in the Machu Picchu region.
Inca Trail Packing List - Clothing
When trekking anywhere with variances in temperature, layering becomes very important. This is particularly important on the Inca Trail where the temperature drops quite rapidly as the evening draws in.
- Base Layer
This layer is often called your 'skin' layer or 'base' layer. This is the most important layer for the colder sections of your hike.
Clinging to your skin, the base layer traps in your body heat and reduces airflow out. However, thanks to the high wicking material, moisture is able to escape whilst retaining heat. This layer is used for the higher sections of the Inca Trail or at night when the temperature is coolest.
We recommend base layers by Smartwool. Very affordable and using market-leading lightweight Merino wool, the smartwool base layers are the perfect choice.
For a standard 4 day trek you will only need one base layer.
- Long sleeve shirt/tshirt - light or medium weight, moisture wicking (x 1). Short sleeved shirt/tshirt - lightweight, moisture wicking (x1)
Trekking shirts should be light weight, fast drying, breathable and most importantly - comfortable! Icebreaker, Patagonia, Craghoppers and Columbia all make great trekking shirts.
We suggest taking at least 2 shirts, 1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve.
- Fleece Jacket and Windbreaker
For the colder stretches on the trail you should bring one mid-weight fleece jacket or parka top. Fleeces that use Polartec materials are great. Typically Polartec fleeces come in 100s, 200s or 300s. Hundreds are a little light and 300's too heavy. Two-hundreds provide great warmth and comfort, and are perfect for the Inca Trail.
Helly Hansen and The North Face offer good quality and affordable fleeces.
- Water resistant and wind proof jacket
In addition to your fleece jacket you will also need a water-resistant and wind-proof jacket or 'shell layer'. This is not a winter jacket and should be fairly light whilst still being warm. This is your rain jacket and the quality should be good, otherwise you run the risk of getting very wet!
We recommend Marmot Precip Jacket or the Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket.
- Rain Poncho
The jungle terrain around Machu Picchu attracts a certain amount of rain fall each year and it is more than likely that you will encounter some rain at one point or another along your trek. A full body lightweight rain coat or poncho is a great option and is super easy to fold and pack away.
- Convertible hiking trousers and shorts
We recommend bringing 1-2 x pairs of convertible hiking trousers. 1 is enough for 3/4 day treks, however, an additional pair is perfect for treks longer than 4 days. Craghoppers make an excellent pair of convertible trousers. Make sure to also bring one pair of trekking shorts. Columbia made shorts are a great option.
We recommend bringing 2-3 pairs of sports underwear. Icebreaker make good quality affordable underwear.
For ladies bring two sports bras.
Clothing to avoid on your Inca Trail trek
- Jeans: Jeans are terrible for trekking as they absorb moisture, let heat out and take forever to dry!
- Cotton: All cotton material clothing, like jeans, has no breath-ability, absorbs moisture and is slow-drying.
Inca Trail Packing List - Headgear
- Sun Protection Hat
Trekking in Peru can get hot, particularly in the summer months. It is important to keep your body temperature regulated and a good hat with neck and face protection will do just that. Make sure to purchase a hat that is breathable, lightweight and can fold down tightly. Here are some of our recommend trekking hats.
- Beanie or Headband
On the high passes temperatures will become lower. This is where a beanie or headband come in useful. Keeping your head warm is a must, particularly when sitting still at night. Both The North Face and Berghaus produce excellent beanies.
UV intensity is fairly high in Peru in the summer months and you'll want a good quality pair of trekking sunglasses . We recommend purchasing a pair of 100% UV protection sunglasses with a minimum of 80% light reduction. Julbo sunglasses are the market leaders in this sphere and we highly recommend them for high altitude treks, although they might be a little overkill for the Inca Trail.
Anyone who has ever tripped over a tent cord at night will understand the usefulness of a headlamp.
Camping along the Inca Trail will inevitably led to some midnight excursions and a headlamp will certainly be essential. Look for a lightweight headlamp, no more than 270 grams and make sure it has a long battery life with a max beam of at least 70 metres.
The lighter the headlamp the better, we recommend no more than 270 grams. We recommend Petzl Headlamps.
Inca Trail Packing List - Gloves and Trekking Poles
On the Inca Trail you are very unlikely to encounter severely cold weather that requires thick insulated gloves. However, nights will get cold and you may want a nice lightweight breathable pair of gloves for sitting around the camp.
- Trekking Poles
A good set of trekking poles are crucial on the Inca Trail as the terrain is extremely undulating. Trekking poles will reduce the force of impact on your joints, in particularly your knees, by up to 20%. This is even more important when you're descending as the impact on your joints will increase exponentially. We recommend purchasing adjustable light-weight trekking poles that are easy to fold away and carry. The more versatile and durable the better - look for poles weighing around 350 grams (per pair). Black Diamond trekking poles are excellent. You will also need rubber tips for your poles when trekking on the Inca Trail, as these are required to prevent damage to the trail.
Inca Trail Packing List - Footwear
- Hiking Boots
Walking is what you'll be doing most on the Inca Trail, therefore, your footwear is one of the most important items on your Inca Trail packing list. When purchasing a good pair of boots you need to look for three things - fit, quality and use. Getting the fit right is crucial as no one wants to get blisters on their trek. A good guide to getting the right fit is to press your toes against the front of the shoe and see how much room there is behind your heel. If there its a finger width then that is usually about right. Quality is also very important as holes and tears in your boot will make your trek very uncomfortable. Make sure to purchase a boot with good ankle support, but keep in mind that the boot will be heavier the higher it is. Look for a boot with a high rubber content sole that has nice deep groves for better grip.The boot should be waterproof with a -D-string lacing system for tight support and quick lacing. Please remember that you will need to wear your boots in before taking a long trek. Do not attempt the Inca Trail in new boots! We recommend brands such as Asolo, Salomon, Hi-Tec and Timberland.
- Trekking Sandals
Taking your boots off after a long day hike is a great feeling, however, you will still need to get around camp. A pair of trekking sandals is a great option for this as they're lightweight and let your feet breath. If it's cold you can just pop your socks on underneath & become a style icon! Alternatively you could bring your trainers but these won't be breathable.
We recommend Keen trekking sandals.
- Trekking Socks
We recommend bringing 4 x pairs of trekking socks. Purchase light-to-mid weight trekking socks that are made from a high wicking material. Wool is generally the best material, preferably merino, as Merino wool promotes breath-ability and is an exceptionally high wicking wool. Please avoid cotton socks as they absorb and retain moisture making for a very uncomfortable trek that may result in blistering.
- Gaiters (optional)
Gaiters are made from a waterproof material that protects your calf down to your boot. Gaiters are mainly used to prevent elements like water, dust, mud and stones from entering your boot. There are many different types of gaiters, but all are seemingly very similar and you will have to decide which suits you most. Here are some example gaiters. We recommend purchasing a mid-range gaiter.
Inca Trail Packing List - Bags
- Duffle bag and Daypack
Your bag size will vary depending upon your trekking itinerary and this is certainly true of the Inca Trail where a maximum bag weight of 7kg is allowed. If you want more weight allowance you will have to hire another porter. Because of this, we suggest taking a 40 - 50L duffle bag or a 30 - 35L rucksack. The best bags will be waterproof and made from a durable laminate material. Your bag zippers will need to be strong and rugged to handle any rough treatment. Be sure to bring a small lock to secure your bag. Make sure your bag has easy-to-access shoulder and hand straps. We recommend The North Face duffle bag.
In addition to your duffle bag, a daypack is an essential item. With porters carrying most of your gear, you'll still want to take a light-weight daypack to carry personal items such as sunscreen, camera, hat, wallet, passport, snacks etc. An ideal daypack will have compression straps to reduce the weight and stress on your back. Make sure your pack has side pockets to allow for your water bottles or an internal pocket to hold a water bladder. The Osprey Talon 33 rucksack is a good choice.
No-one wants their personal items to get wet and a raincover for your bag is a great option to stop this. Remember that it is important that your raincover fits your backpack. Osprey Talon produce a great raincover.
Inca Trail Packing List - Sleeping gear
- Sleeping bag
Key to a good Inca Trail packing list is a sleeping bag. Regardless of season, a warm sleeping bag is always preferable, especially in the cold Peruvian nights. No matter the time of year, it's always fairly cold at night and you'll want to purchase a 3 season sleeping bag. Alternatively there is the option to rent sleeping bags from Kandoo Adventures. Out of the two types of sleeping bags (down and synthetic), we recommend the warmer, more comfortable option of down. Sadly, this comes at a higher price. However, if you're planning on trekking often, this is definitely the option to pursue. We suggest Mountain Hardwear Lamina, Marmot Trestles or The North Face Snow Leopard.
Inca Trail Packing List - Accessories
- Sleeping Accessories
Earplugs - anyone who has been kept up half the night by a loud snorer will know the benefits of earplugs. After a tiring day you don't want to be up all night, especially if you are a light sleeper. If you like a good pillow at night you could also consider bringing your own inflatable pillow.
- Water bottle or Hydration bladder
Dehydration on any trek can be dangerous, especially in humid conditions when your body sweats more. When on the Inca Trail, try to drink between 2 and 3 litres of water per day. Depending upon your backpack, you may have the option of taking two standard 1 litre water bottles or a 2L hydration bladder such as the Platypus Hydration Bladder.
- Camera / Video camera - There are some incredible views and sights along the Inca Trail and you'll want to capture as many as possible! Here are some of our recommended Digital SLR cameras. Please try to purchase a lightweight camera that still takes high definition pictures. If video is your thing then we strongly recommend the GoPro Hero as they're very light, very high quality and very cool!
- Small Locks - To secure your backpack or duffle bag.
- Book / Kindle - If you're into your reading then make sure to bring a Kindle as books will take up too much valuable space.
- Waterproof Ziplock Bags - These are great to keep your essential items in like your wallet and passport.
- Playing Cards - Without any home comforts the nights can sometimes seem quite long. A good set of playing cards will have everyone joining in and passing the time.
- Ducktape - Blisters are sometimes unavoidable and some double sided ducktape is ideal for protection.
- Notebook / Journal and Pen - Why not? You may write something incredible!
Inca Trail Packing List - Medications and Personal gear
- General Medication - We suggest taking Paracetamol for any aches or pains along the journey including headaches. Imodium may also come in useful, especially for nausea which is a common symptom of altitude sickness. Your Kandoo guide will be carrying a basic first aid kit including paracetamol and imodium, however, it's always nice to carry your own in case something happens.
- Snacks - Eating three energy bars daily on the trail will increase your energy levels. Remember, do not buy milk based snacks as these will melt. Nuts are another good source of energy and great for nibbling on the trail. Don't buy salty nuts as this will increase dehydration.
- Toiletries - You will definitely need one roll of toilet paper per trekker. Remember to remove the inner cardboard tube to save space. You will also need to bring a toothbrush, toothpaste and some small travel soap.
- Blister Plasters - Trekking up to 4-5 hours a day can result in painful and debilitating blisters. Treat blisters early and take immediate measures to reduce friction.
- Insect Repellent - This is very important. Be sure to purchase a reliable brand that has a high Deet content (higher than 90% ideally). Insect repellent by Repel is very good. If you are looking for a product that smells good as well, check out Aromaflage.
- Wet Wipes - Perfect for giving yourself a quick clean down after a day trekking. An antiseptic hand-gel for doucing your hands prior to meals is also recommended.
- Swimsuit (optional) - The hot springs near Aguas Calientes should not be missed so bring a swimsuit if you can!
- Small Umbrella (optional) - A small, foldable umbrella may come in handy if you can spare the space.
- Sweat Resistant Suncream - Don't just get any sunscreen. Peru can get very hot, especially when trekking and you'll need 30+ SPF suncreen to keep you protected. Make sure it is also sweat resistant as you'll be sweating in the humidity.
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