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So, you’re getting ready to hike the Inca Trail! Yay! But, wait, what in the world should be on your Inca Trail packing list? Well, hopefully you listened to the advice I gave in my lessons learned while hiking the Inca Trail and booked a porter. If not, pause and sort that out. You’ll thank me later.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Hiking Huayna Picchu

Things To Consider Before Packing for the Inca Trail

Assuming you’ve got your porter sorted, let’s get to the nitty gritty. First, the temperature on the trail can be quite cold at night, so do some research on what to expect. Here’s one site I found helpful. You’ll notice that throughout the year, temperatures mostly stay below 45F (or 7C). If you’re traveling in the winter, it can get close to freezing.

Second, it’s worth strategizing ahead of time what you want the porters to carry, what you’ll keep with you, and what you’ll leave behind at your hotel or tour company. I left several pairs of clean clothes, toiletries, and other items in a small suitcase at the hostel in Cusco. If you’re backpacking through South America, you’ll probably have lots of extra items you want to leave behind! Our tour company also offered to hold my bag, but they were going to be closed in the evening when I returned, so I opted for the hostel. From what I found, most hostels will hold your bags for you.

Inca Trail Packing List

So you’ve thought through where you’ll leave your extra stuff and checked the weather. Let’s dig into the prepared girl’s packing list for hiking the Inca Trail. I’ve split the list into five sections: hiking gear, clothing and footwear, camera gear, food, and other essentials.

Hiking Gear

It’s important to note that most tour companies can provide all or most of these items if you ask in advance (for a cost). Also, make note that I don’t travel with a pillow. Instead I ball my clothes up and use them as a pillow.

Be sure to include an REI Brand sleeping bag and Outdoorsman Lab sleeping pad on your Inca Trail packing list.

  • Hiking poles: I brought these Hiker Hunger poles from Amazon. What sold me is that they weigh under 1lb total, collapse to 24” (61cm), and have cork grips that don’t get gross when you’re sweaty. Also, tip covers are required on the trail, but you can buy them in Cusco if needed (covers are included with these poles).
  • Sleeping bag: I brought an older, bulkier sleeping bag and wished I’d had something more compact. You’re going to want at least a 3-season sleeping bag for the temperatures and depending on how cold you get at night, you may want a sleeping bag liner as well. I prefer the “mummy” style because it curls up around your head to keep you warm, but some may find it a bit too confining.
  • Sleeping pad: This is important because it not only makes sleeping way more comfortable, but also protects you from the cold ground. I used the OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad, which is inflatable but also compact at just under 1lb. The pad was a little slippery on the floor of the tent, but for the price and weight it still worked well. Here’s more info about the best backpacking sleeping pads available!

RELATED: 13 Machu Picchu Experts Share Their Packing Tips 

Clothing & Footwear

If your pack is too heavy and you need to leave something behind, choose clothing. I chose to leave some items behind at the last minute and was so glad that I did. One thing that made it tricky for me, is that we planned to stay one night in Aguas Caliente after the hike. So, I needed to plan for this on my Inca Trail packing list. This list does not include this extra clothing.

Also, before I left a friend gave me the advice to always go to bed in clean, dry clothing. She may have gone to bed once with sweaty clothes on and woke up with icicles in unpleasant places. My strategy was to bring one set of clothes to only be worn to bed each night with a pair of clean socks. So, before dinner I would have a baby wipe shower and put on these pajamas. On the last day I  wore the pajamas the whole day.

Image of clothing to include on your Inca Trail packing list, including a tank top, a lightweight v-neck t-shirt, and breathable pants. More clothing to pack for hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, including two tank tops and breathable pants.

  • Lightweight, breathable pants (2 pairs): I love the Athleta brand because they’ve got such lightweight options that are really packable.
  • This lightweight, packable down vest was so helpful while hiking the Inca Trail, especially in winter.Tank top w/ built in sports bra (2): I chose this gray Nike tank because it’s less bulky than others I have.
  • Lightweight, breathable v-neck t-shirt: I chose a t-shirt so that I could protect my shoulders from the sun, if needed, and in case my pack was rubbing on my shoulders with a tank top on.
  • Sports bra
  • Tank top
  • Lightweight, long sleeve functional top: I ended up wearing this at some point every single day. It’s best to start the day with layers, and then adjust as needed. I chose this Nike top because it’s lightweight and packable, but also breathable.
  • Sweater:  I had debated bringing a lightweight down jacket, but left it at home at the last minute as I was panicking about the weight of my pack. After I got to Cusco and realized how cold it gets at night, I ended up buying a sweater at the local market for S/18 ($6). I wore this at night at the campsite over my pajamas and was glad that I had it.
  • Include at least five pairs of Smart Wool hiking socks on your Inca Trail packing list.Packable down vest: Instead of a down jacket, I opted for a down vest. I actually bought this at Costco for under $15 and love it. It folds up into a tiny pouch, is warm (but not too warm), and has great pockets. I also wore this at night at the campsite and at the start of each morning.
  • Hiking socks (5 pairs):  Take a pair for each day, plus an extra. Sure, you could cut back here but you’re hiking 26 miles so it’s worthwhile to double-down on taking care of your feet. The extra pair was mostly in case of rain. I absolutely love the Smart Wool Hike Light Crew Socks.
  • Underwear (4 pairs): I think you get it.

Your Inca Trail packing list should include warm clothing such as a lightweight long sleeve shirt and a sweater.


Don't forget to include pajamas Inca Trail packing list, including long sleeve base layer, sports bra, and base layer pants.


I took my North Face hooded rain jacket with me while hiking the Inca Trail.

  • Hooded rain jacket: Again, check the weather for the time of year you’ll be on the trail. You may not need it, but I chose to bring mine (similar to this one) and use it as a long sleeve layer option. I did end up wearing it on Day 2 at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass because it was quite cold.
  • Scarf/ Buff: This comes in handy not only to keep you warm, but also for dust, wind or sun protection. The nice thing about the Buff Brand is that it also can be a head band. Let’s be honest, your hair starts to get a little funky by Day 3. Plus, they’ve got loads of fun colors and designs.
  • Hat: Not essential, but was nice to have. I brought my favorite hat from TenTree.
  • Wool hat: This was also worn at night around the campsite and while I was sleeping. I love The North Face Black Women’s One Size Cable Minna Beanie.
  • Lightweight gloves: I also wore gloves at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass and was glad I brought them. When the clouds come in and you’re at altitude the temperature can drop quickly, so it’s worthwhile to bring some along. I’ve had these gloves for years and love them because they’re lightweight!
  • Sunglasses

Don't forget your outerwear when packing for the Inca Trail hike in Peru, including wool hat, scarf and gloves.


Footwear to add to your Inca Trail packing list includes hiking boots and sandals.

I can’t stress enough how thankful you will be for having both of these with you. I nearly left behind my sandals but am so glad that I didn’t. Your feet will want a break from your hiking boots when you get back to camp, but with the cool temperatures you won’t want to be barefoot.

    • Hiking boots: Duh. I actually rolled my ankle twice, so was glad to have some ankle support with my Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof hiking boots. Seriously, I’m embarrassed that I put up with my old heavy, uncomfortable hiking boots for so long. These shoes were so comfortable and lightweight!
  • Sandals: Again, you want something you can wear socks with. I brought my Chaco’s.

RELATED: A 3-Day Cusco Itinerary Before Hiking the Inca Trail

Camera Gear

Image of Olympus OMD EM-10 Mark 2 mirrorless camera, recommended to pack for hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. Image of camera gear recommended to pack for Inca Trail hike in Peru.

So, this is one area where I spent the most time strategizing. I love photography and didn’t want to miss any great photo-ops. My advice is to think through how you’re going to carry your camera, because you want it accessible. I wore mine cross body under my pack the entire time and found it comfortable.

  • Mirrorless Camera: After years of carrying a DSLR, I recently downsized to an Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark ii. For longer treks like the Inca Trail, every ounce matters. At just 1.1lbs, this camera is a great option for a novice or more advanced photographer. Plus it’s got a cool retro look to it!
  • Power Pack: Especially if you want to take photos with your phone (or read on the Kindle app like me), you’ll want to keep it charged. I brought the Ventev Powercell 6000 Combination charger. I like this because it has 2 USB ports, plus a fold out wall charger. Here’s another great alternative.
  • Phone + Extended Power Pack: I always travel with a rechargeable extended battery pack charger case on my phone to make my battery last longer.
  • Phone Charging Cable: Obviously, don’t be the person that leaves your cable behind.

Food & Drink

Image of snacks and drinks to pack for the Inca Trail hike in Peru.

The meals provided by my tour company (Inca Trail Reservations) were very impressive! The food wasn’t just adequate, it was delicious. But, you have long stretches on the trail so I strongly recommend including food of your own on your Inca Trail packing list.

  • Reusable Water Bottle: The first couple of days there will be stands along the trail that you can purchase bottled water, but on Day 3 the tour company will begin boiling water for you to carry. I brought a Nalgene 32oz Wide Mouth Bottle and kept topping it up.
  • Electrolytes: I brought both Sport Beans and Propel/ Gatorade Packets. I seriously use Sport Beans on every trip. Whether you’re on the trail or have a *surprise* night of over-drinking (whoops!), they replace electrolytes that are critical to hydration. Some flavors even have caffeine!
  • Protein: My favorites bars are Primal Kitchen Collagen Protein Bars, Larabars, and Mighty Bar Grass-fed Organic Beef Bars. I also brought a couple of packets of Justin’s Almond Butter as well.
  • Protein Powder Packets: I like to add Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Vanilla Coconut to my coffee in the morning to help keep me energized on the trail.
  • Coca Leaves or Coca Candy: This candy is available in almost any store in Cusco and helps with altitude sickness. Whenever I felt a headache start, I popped one in! You can also chew on the leaves as well.

RELATED: USA: How Not To Die While Hiking the Kalalau Trail

Other Essentials

Image of toiletries and first aid items to pack for the Inca Trail hike in Peru. Image of essential items to pack for the Inca Trail hike in Peru, including headlamp, passport, wallet and other items.

  • Sunscreen: Like an idiot, I left mine behind. The sun can be intense at altitude, so don’t be me.
  • Antibacterial Gel: Because squatty potties and camping.
  • Deodorant: I think you get it.
  • Baby Wipes: Bring a bunch so you can take baby wipe showers at the camp each night. I wasn’t brave enough to try the cold showers.
  • Kleenex: Not to be confused with toilet paper.
  • Roll of Toilet Paper (1-2/ person): The toilets will not have toilet paper. I recommend 1 roll per person, available at most stores in Cusco.
  • Dry Shampoo: Not necessary for everyone, but helpful if you don’t plan to shower on the trail.
  • Chapstick: To combat the sun and wind. I love Chapstick Medicated!
  • Bug Spray: There are portions of the trail where bugs are an issue. I make my own bug spray with essential oils, but just make sure you have some sort of spray.
  • Antiseptic Spray: To clean cuts or blisters. I love this little travel size Neosporin spray bottle.
  • Face Wipes: As an extension of the baby wipe shower, I brought face wipes to wash my face each night.
  • Young Living Essential Oils: There are a few I bring on every trip! Deep Relief was awesome for sore muscles or knees at the end of Day 2. Purification is handy for bug bites. And lavender works well for sunburn and to help you sleep.
  • Band-Aids
  • Blister Pads
  • Comb/ brush
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Antihistamine (Benadryl) tablets: I ended up needing this because I had a reaction to some of my bug bites.
  • Anti-Diarrhea (Immodium) tablets:  Trust me, the last place in the world you want to have diarrhea is on a trail with only squatty potties.
  • Aspirin/ Ibuprofen: For aches and pains.
  • Packing Cube: I sometimes opt to just use gallon size Ziploc bags, but chose to use a double-sided Eagle Creek cube this time. It was helpful to keep pajamas/ socks/ underwear on one side and all other clothes on the opposite side.
  • Zipper Pouches: These are great to organize your gear, toiletries, and food. I brought one small and one medium Eagle Creek pouch.
  • Headlamp: This is a must-have. The last day of the hike, you’ll be on the trail at around 330am because the goal is to reach the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu at sunrise. It’s also helpful to have around the campsites. I personally like Petzl brand, they’re inexpensive and durable (I’ve had mine for over 10 years).
  • Wallet: Emergency cash and credit card.
  • Passport: This is required for entry into Machu Picchu.
  • Immunization Records: Because you’re on a trail and if you get hurt, this could come in handy.
  • Poncho: The poncho isn’t just for staying dry (after all you probably have a rain coat packed already), but also for keeping your pack weight down if you get caught in the rain. No one wants to carry a waterlogged pack all day. You can buy in most stores in Cusco for S/ 8 (~$3USD).
  • Dry Bag: Like the poncho, you probably won’t need this, but if it rains you can keep your critical items dry. I brought this Osprey 3L Ultralight bag that was just big enough to hold my camera, phone, and passport. At only 0.05lbs (about the weight of a piece of paper), it was worth it for me!
  • Quick Dry Camp Towel: If you don’t plan on showering this may not be worth bringing, but could be helpful if you get rained on. I would recommend one that is washcloth or hand towel sized if you decide to bring one.
  • Watch: Optional, but I have a Timex similar to this that is water resistant and has Indiglo for at nighttime.
  • Duct Tape: Yep. I bring duct tape. I use this on almost every trip – repair a backpack, bandage a foot, fix a broken shoe. The list goes on. I either buy little rolls or roll some around a pen and bring that with me.
  • Trash bag (or reused plastic bag): Leave no trace, which means no wrappers or toilet paper. An empty plastic bag from any of the vendors in Cusco comes in handy!

So, now that you’ve got your Inca Trail packing list sorted, go ahead and enjoy every step of the trek (well, maybe not every one of those uphill steps). Let me know if I’ve missed anything or if you have questions about any of these recommendations! 

Happy trails!

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Packing for the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is no simple task. This is the Prepared Girl's Guide to what to bring and what to leave behind on your Inca Trail packing list. #incatrailhiking | #incatrailpacking | inca trail packing women

So you wanna hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Great! But, what in the world do you pack for the 4-day trek? The Prepared Girl's Guide to packing for the Inca Trail has you covered, including what to pack, what to leave behind, and more! #peru #incatrail #machupicchu #cusco
Wondering what to pack for the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu in Peru? This Prepared Girl's Guide includes a detailed Inca Trail packing list for women, including hiking gear, clothing, photography gear, toiletries and more! #Peru #IncaTrail #packinglist #machupicchu #hiking


    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Ooh good question! I guess I did leave that out, didn’t I? Will update this post to include it. I used a fairly old REI Ultralight Series UL45 backpack. I love how it fits me and it’s so lightweight. I also like that it has a cinch top with a flap that clips down over it. This allows me to fit more in the pack while still keeping it secure for multi-day treks like this one. I would definitely buy another in the future!

  1. Wonderful article thanks for sharing such a good stuff with us. it’s very helpful for us!!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      So glad to hear that!! Are you headed to hike the Inca Trail soon?

  2. Such a great packing list, so much helpful information! I had a friend do the Inca Trail in jeans. And it rained so he was wet the entire time, he could have used this list hahaha Love the camera tips too, too often I haven’t had a comfortable way to carry it and missed on good pictures because of it.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      OMG I cannot imagine doing this hike in jeans, especially with rain! Ha ha! I can relate on the challenge of figuring out the right camera gear. The ONA brand leather strap that I use is SO comfortable… plus it’s a big longer so I can wear it under my backpack and still easily swing it around for photos 🙂

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Glad you found it helpful! The hike is such a great way to experience Machu Picchu and the surrounding area 🙂 Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  3. I always hear about people hiking this trail but this post is perfect because it’s EXACTLY what you need to know to do it! Thanks girl!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      You’re so welcome! I’m so glad you found it help and hope you get to experience this magical place at some point!

  4. Ooo hiking this trail has always been a dream and this is such a detailed post for the preparation. Absolutely brilliant! Thank you so much for the help!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      So glad that you found this helpful! The trail really is a dream! Happy adventures 🙂

  5. Steph & Zach Reply

    Loved this post! Will have to come back to it when we finally prepare to do this hike. it’s on our bucket list but may not get to it for a few years. Great info!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      So glad to hear you found it helpful!! You’ll love every second of it!

  6. so much planning is involved to tackle this feat. This is a great and comprehensive list. I took the train up to Machu Picchu from Cusco, so I didn’t get the backpacking experience, but I would love to do more trekking in the future in South America so i’ll save this guide. Happy trails

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Glad to hear this was helpful! I was slightly jealous of the freshly showered people that were at Machu Picchu when we hiked in, but I wouldn’t trade the hike for anything! Such an amazing experience. There are so many beautiful places to explore in South America- have fun exploring!

  7. Peru must be amazing and the Inca Trail is definitely on my bucket list. If I am ever going to go there now I know what is important to take with me – thanks for sharing.

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