Pin image of hiking the Inca Trail for the ultimate packing list for hiking to Machu Picchu.

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.

If you are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you NEED this Inca Trail packing list. It includes hiking essentials such as boots, Inca trail outfit ideas, camera gear + more.  #packingfortheIncatrail #incatrailpackinglist #incatrailperu

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps keep This Big Wild World up and running!

Things To Consider Before Packing for the Inca Trail

Now that you’ve got your porter sorted, let’s get to the nitty gritty. There are a few things you should consider before packing for your Inca Trail hike.

When to Hike the Inca Trail

The temperature on the trail can be quite cold at night. Throughout the year, average low temperatures generally stay below 45F (or 7C). If you’re traveling in the winter (May-August), it can get close to freezing.

Low and high average daily temperatures on the Inca Trail, by month.

But don’t let the cold temperatures scare you away! From May to September, the trail tends to be less rainy, less crowded and more sunny than the remainder of the year. So, just add a 3-season sleeping bag to your Inca Trail packing list!

Pro Tip: Most tour companies for the Inca Trail will offer the use of a sleeping bag if you don’t have one or don’t want to travel with yours. Ask at the time of booking.

Strategize What to Carry & What to Leave Behind

I recommend strategizing ahead of time what you want the porters to carry, what you’ll carry 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 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. // Check prices on hotels in Cusco now!

Pro Tip: Tour companies in Cusco may offer to hold your bag, but check their open hours to ensure you can access it when you return to Cusco. Most hostels/ hotels will hold your bags for you.

Inca Trail Packing List

Let’s dig into the Prepared Girl’s Inca Trail packing list. I’ve split the list into seven sections: hiking gear, clothing and footwear, camera gear, food and drink, toiletries, first aid and other essentials.

Hiking Gear

Again, most tour companies can provide all or most of these items if you ask in advance (for a cost).

Be sure to include an REI Brand sleeping bag and Outdoorsman Lab ultralight inflatable sleeping pad on your Inca Trail packing list.
My REI 3-season sleeping bag and ultralightweight inflatable sleeping pad.
  1. Hiking poles: These aren’t so much for navigating the terrain as they are for keeping your knees from aching on the long uphill and downhills sections. These Hiker Hunger poles are great because they weigh under 1lb, collapse to 24″ (61cm) to fit in a small suitcase, come with tip overs, and have cork grips that don’t get nasty when you’re sweaty. // Save your knees, buy affordable hiking poles now!
  2. Sleeping bag: I brought an older, bulkier sleeping bag and wished I had something more compact. Bring at least a 3-season sleeping bag to stay warm and, depending on how cold you get at night, consider bringing a sleeping bag liner as well. I prefer the “mummy” style sleeping bags because they curl up around your head to keep you warm, but some may find it a bit too confining. // Stay warm and cozy at night, buy a 3-season sleeping bag now!
  3. Sleeping pad: Sleep is exponentially more comfortable with a sleeping pad. Plus, in the colder months one will also protect you from the cold ground. Find an ultralightweight inflatable one to keep your pack weight down. // Stay warm and sleep comfortably, buy an inflatable sleeping pad now! Here’s more info about the best backpacking sleeping pads available if you’re ready to invest in some higher end gear.

Pro Tip: Hiking pole tip covers are required on the Inca Trail to protect the trail from damage. If needed, most outdoors stores in Cusco carry them.

Clothing & Footwear

If your pack is too heavy and you need to leave something behind, choose clothing. I left some items behind at the last minute and was so glad that I did.

Because we planned to stay one night in Aguas Caliente after the hike, I needed to account for this on my Inca Trail packing list. This list does not include this extra clothing.

Pro Tip: On the trail, plan to go to bed in clean, dry clothing every night so you don’t wake up with icicles in unpleasant places (this actually has happened to me). Give yourself a baby wipe shower before you put on your “pajamas” at night and then wear those as your outfit on the last 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.
Tank top with built-in sports bra, breathable t-shirt, sports bra, and lightweight breathable pants.
More clothing to pack for hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, including two tank tops and a second pair of breathable lightweight pants.
Tank top, tank top with built-in sports bra, and lightweight breathable pants.
  1. Lightweight, breathable pants (2 pairs): I love the Athleta brand because they’ve got such lightweight options that are really packable.
  2. Tank top w/ built in sports bra (2): Choose ones that are less bulky to bring along!
  3. Lightweight, breathable v-neck t-shirt: This is nice to have as an option to protect your shoulders from the sun, if needed, and in case your pack is rubbing your skin with a tank top on.
  4. Sports bra
  5. Tank top
  6. Lightweight, long sleeve functional top: I wore this at some point every single day. Start the day with layers, and then adjust as needed. My Nike top (shown below) was perfect because because it’s lightweight and packable, but also breathable.
  7. 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. In Cusco, I realized how cold it gets at night and ended up buying a sweater at the local market for S/18 ($6). I was glad I had this at night at the campsite over my pajamas!
  8. Packable down vest: Instead of a down jacket, I opted for a vest. Mine is from Costco (<$15) and I love it. It packs 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. // Buy an affordable packable down vest now!
  9. 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.
Lightweight packable long sleeve shirt, sweater purchased in Cusco.

Pajamas

Don't forget to include pajamas on your Inca Trail packing list, including long sleeve base layer, sports bra, and base layer pants.
Long sleeve base layer top, sports bra, base layer pants.
  1. Long sleeve base layer top:  Keep warm at night while wicking away sweat. // Buy my favorite SmartWool base layer top now!
  2. Sports Bra: Or not, whatever.
  3. Base layer pants: Bring something breathable that will be easy to move around in while you’re inside your sleeping bag. // Get a pair of my favorite cozy SmartWool base layer pants now!

Outerwear & Accessories

  1. Hooded rain jacket: Rain jackets are like an insurance policy, you hope you don’t need it but if you do you’re really glad you have it. Just bring one! Mine came in handy on Day 2 at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass where it’s quite cold and windy. // Don’t hike in soggy wet clothes, buy a rain jacket now!
  2. Scarf/ Buff: What isn’t a Buff good for? Keeps you warm. Protects your neck from sun. Keep dust out of your mouth and nose. Works as a headband when your hair gets funky. Seriously, just bring one! There’s loads of fun colors of design to pick from. // Pick out your favorite design and buy a Buff now!
  3. Hat: Cover up your funky hair and shield the sun from your eyes with a baseball hat. I love mine from TenTree!
  4. Wool hat: Essential, especially in the colder months, at night around the campsite and while you’re sleeping. // Buy my favorite The North Face wool hat now!
  5. Lightweight gloves: When the clouds come in and you’re at altitude, the temperature can drop quickly. This happened at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass for me and I was so glad I had these in my pack. // Buy my fave lightweight running gloves now!
  6. Sunglasses
Don't forget your outerwear when packing for the Inca Trail hike in Peru, including wool hat, Buff, scarf and gloves.
Lightweight running gloves, Buff, TenTree baseball hat, wool hat.

Footwear

I can’t stress enough how thankful you will be for having both pairs of recommended shoes with you. I nearly left behind my sandals to reduce my pack weight, but am so glad that I didn’t.

Footwear to add to your Inca Trail packing list includes hiking boots and sandals.
Hiking boots, hiking poles, sandals.
  1. Hiking boots: Duh. Because the trail includes long uphill and downhill sections as well as uneven terrain, I recommend some ankle support in whatever hiking shoes you wear. I rolled my ankle twice and was thankful to have a mid-rise boot. My Merrell boots were so comfortable and lightweight yet affordable! // Buy my hiking boots now!
  2. Sandals: Bring sandals you can wear socks with. It’s not the most fashionable choice, but your feet will want a break from your hiking boots each night at the campsite. With the colder nighttime temperatures, you won’t want to be barefoot. // Buy my Chaco sandals now!
  3. 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 in case of rain. // Buy my absolutely favorite hiking socks!

Camera Gear

Don't forget your camera on the Inca Trail! I love my lightweight Olympus OMD EM-10 Mark 2 mirrorless camera.
Olympus OMD EM-10 Mark ii mirrorless digital camera with Ona leather strap.
Pack essential camera gear for the Inca Trail, including zoom lens, extended battery pack for your phone, memory cards, extra camera batteries, phone charging cable, power bank, and camera insert.
Zoom lens, extended power pack case for phone, memory cards, camera pack, power bank, phone charging cable.

So, this is where I spent the most time strategizing. I love photography and didn’t want to miss any great photo-ops.

  1. Mirrorless Camera: After years of carrying a heavy DSLR, I’ve downsized to a mirrorless camera. Honestly, I don’t feel like I had to compromise on functionality one bit! For longer treks like the Inca Trail, every ounce matters. At just 1.1lbs, the Olympus OMD-EMD10 Mark ii is a great option for any outdoor adventurer, novice photographer or even more advanced photographer. Plus, how awesome is its retro look! // Reduce your pack weight with an Olympus mirrorless camera now!
  2. Comfortable camera strap or camera clip: Accessibility of your camera is key. Think through in advance how you plan to carry yours. I wore a cross body comfy leather strap and found it comfortable. Alternatively, try a semi-permanent camera clip on your backpack strap. // Buy a camera clip now! Or get my favorite ONA leather camera strap now!
  3. Camera insert: A camera insert is a great way to store extra camera gear when its not in use. They’re compact, padded and included lots of storage pockets to keep your gear organized! // Buy my favorite Tenba camera insert now!
  4. Power bank: 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. Look for one that will give you 2-3 full charges on your phone. // Don’t run out of juice on the trail, buy a power bank now!
  5. Phone + extended power pack phone case: An extended power pack phone case is an essential travel item for me! Be worry-free about your phone dying on the trail. // Be worry-free and buy an extended power pack phone case for your phone now!
  6. Phone charging cable: Obviously, don’t be the person that leaves your cable behind.
  7. Camera memory cards: I took over a thousand photos on the hike (excessive? maybe). Bring at least one extra memory card! // Don’t run out of memory on the trail, buy an extra memory card now!
  8. Extra camera batteries: Bring at least one extra camera battery for the hike. // Don’t run out of battery on your camera before you reach Machu Picchu, buy an extra now!

Food & Drink

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.

Bring protein snacks and electrolytes to keep fueled between meals on the Inca Trail.
  1. Reusable Water Bottle: The first couple of days there will be places to purchase bottled water, but on Day 3 the tour company will begin boiling water for you to carry. I keep it simple with Nalgene 32oz wide mouth water bottle when I’m hiking. // Stay hydrated, buy a water bottle now!
  2. Electrolytes: Why do you need electrolytes on the trail? Whether it’s from hiking, an unfortunate bout of diarrhea, or a *surprise* night of excessive drinking, sport beans and electrolyte drink mixes will rehydrate you! I bring Sport Beans (some flavors even have caffeine!) and no sugar added Propel packets on every trip. // Get your electrolytes, buy Sport Beans or no sugar added Propel packets now!
  3. Protein: Protein keeps me fueled on long hikes. My favorite on-the-go protein options are Primal Kitchen Collagen Protein Bars (gluten-free, paleo, no sugar added), Larabars (gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, soy free), Mighty Bar Grass-fed Organic Beef Bars, and Justin’s Almond Butter.
  4. Collagen protein powder packets: Add some to your coffee before you hit the trail in the morning to give yourself a boost of protein and collagen! I love Primal Kitchen’s product because it’s paleo with no sugar added but a yummy vanilla coconut flavor. // Buy my favorite collagen protein powder now!
  5. Coca Leaves or Coca Candy: Available in almost any store in Cusco, grab some to help with altitude sickness. Altitude is no joke on the trail! Every time you feel a headache coming on, pop in a candy or chew on some of the leaves and it’ll disappear!

Toiletries

  1. Sunscreen: Like an idiot, I left mine behind. The sun can be intense at altitude, so don’t be me. // Don’t get burnt to a crisp, buy some all natural biodegradeable sunscreen now!
  2. Antibacterial Gel: Because squatty potties and camping. // Buy some chemical free antibacterial gel now!
  3. Deodorant: I think you get it. // Don’t smell up the campsite, buy some deodorant now!
  4. 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. // Stay fresh and clean, buy some travel size baby wipes now!
  5. Kleenex: For your runny nose on cold mornings! Bring 1-2 packets and save your toilet paper for *ahem* toilet related things. // Buy some travel size Kleenex now!
  6. Roll of Toilet Paper (1-2 rolls/ person): The toilets will not have toilet paper. I recommend 1 roll per person, available at most stores in Cusco.
  7. Dry Shampoo: Not necessary for everyone, but helpful if you don’t plan to shower on the trail. // Look fabulous when you reach Machu Picchu, buy some dry shampoo now!
  8. Chapstick: To combat the sun and wind. // Buy my favorite Chapstick Medicated now!
  9. 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. // Buy my absolutely favorite DEET-free but effective bug spray now!
  10. Face Wipes: As an extension of the baby wipe shower, I brought face wipes to wash my face each night. // Keep your face looking fab on the trail, buy some face wipes now!
  11. Young Living Essential Oils: There are a few I bring on every trip! Deep Relief was awesome for sore muscles or knees after the steep climb on Day 2. Purification is handy for bug bites. And lavender works well for sunburn, inflammation and to help you sleep.
  12. Comb/ brush
  13. Toothbrush & toothpaste: Because it’s not cool to have funky breath even on the trail. // Buy some travel size toothpaste now!
Bring essential toiletries and first aid items on the Inca Trail, including sunscreen, blister pads, antiseptic spray, face wipes, wet wipes and more!

First Aid

No Inca Trail packing list is complete without at least basic first aid. Here are the items I recommend.

  1. First Aid Antiseptic Spray: To clean cuts or blisters. // Avoid infections, buy this adorable travel size Neosporin spray! Band-Aids
  2. Blister Pads: Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but blister pads are a lifesaver if you get a blister! Both Band-Aid and Compeed brands stay on for days and keep water out. // Grab a variety pack of blister pads now!
  3. Antihistamine (Benadryl) tablets: Always carry these in case you have an unexpected allergic reaction to something. I had one to bug bites on the Inca Trail and was so glad I had these! // Buy some antihistamine tablets now!
  4. 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. // Don’t get diarrhea on the trail, buy some meds now!
  5. Aspirin/ Ibuprofen: For aches and pains. // Grab a travel size now!

Other Essentials

Other essential items for your Inca Trail Packing list include a small dry bag, headlamp, wallet, passport, zipper pouches, duct tape and more!
Ultralight dry bag, small and medium zipper pouch, watch, passport, immunization records, duct tape, headlamp, wallet and camp towel.
  1. Packing cube: Keep your clean socks, underwear and clothes organized with a packing cube. I love double-sided ones so I can dirty clothes on one side and clean on the other! // Stay organized on the trail, buy a double-sided packing cube now!
  2. Zipper pouches (1 small, 1 medium): Organize your gear, toiletries, and food in a small or medium size zipper pouch. // Buy the zipper pouch I take on every trip now!
  3. Headlamp: This is a must-have. The last day of the hike, you’ll be on the trail at around 330am in order to reach the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu at sunrise. It’s also helpful to have at the campsite. // Buy an inexpensive but durable headlamp now!
  4. Wallet: For emergency cash and credit card.
  5. Passport: This is required for entry into Machu Picchu.
  6. Immunization records: In case you get hurt or sick on the trail.
  7. Poncho or waterproof backpack cover: This isn’t just for staying dry (you probably have a rain coat packed already) but for keeping your pack weight down if you get caught in the rain. No one wants to carry a waterlogged pack all day. Buy one in most stores in Cusco for S/ 8 (~$3USD).
  8. Dry Bag: Like the poncho, you probably won’t need this, but if it rains you can keep your critical items dry. Get one just big enough to keep your essentials dry including camera, phone, and passport. // Buy an ultralight dry bag now!
  9. Quick dry camp towel: If you don’t plan on showering this may not be necessary, but could be helpful if you get rained on. I recommend washcloth or hand towel size. // Dry off in a flash, buy a quick dry camp towel now!
  10. Watch: Not necessary, but helpful especially if you have a backlit option to tell time at night or early morning when you’re getting ready at the campsite.
  11. 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 buy little rolls or roll some around a pen.
  12. 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!

Pro Tip: If you want to save money on a packing cube, try using a gallon size Ziploc bag instead!

Everything You Need on Your Inca Trail Packing List

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! 

Pro Tip: Did you know there’s a 2-day version of the Inca Trail hike? If you’re limited on time but still want to experience the magic of the trail, try the short Inca Trail hike instead!

Thirsty for more tips on hiking the Inca Trail? Not a problem!

Things to Do in Cusco While Acclimating (Before Hiking the Inca Trail)

6 Lessons Learned While Hiking the Inca Trail

Everything you need to know about hiking Huayna Picchu

13 Machu Picchu Experts Share Their Best Packing List Tips (featuring me!)

Happy trails!

Love this post? Pin it for later!

This tried & tested Inca Trail packing list for women includes hiking essentials for the Inca Trail, Peru as well as hiking tips & lessons learned. #incatrailpackingwomen #incatrailperu #incatrailessentials
Overwhelmed packing for the Inca Trail, Peru? You need this tried & tested Inca Trail packing list that includes hiking gear, Inca Trail outfit tips, first aid essentials & more. #incatrailpackinglist #hikingessentials #incatrailpacking
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
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
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

27 Comments

  1. I’m definitely down for budget travel! :] I’ve never been to Chile but it’d be awesome to explore there (+ Peru) someday!

  2. Thank you so much for this great post! It’s so incredibly detailed, which is so nice as my husband and I will be in Peru this fall. We will definitely be utilizing this guide. Thanks again!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      You’re welcome, Anya! Perfect timing 🙂 Hope you two enjoy Peru as much as I did!

  3. Great post! I love doing hikes around where I live and I’d love to do them more when I travel. I love your photos too. 🙂

  4. There is so much value in this post, thank you so much! This trail is on my bucketlist and can’t wait to go there.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      You’re welcome, Kelly! So glad you found it valuable 🙂 The Inca Trail is absolutely magical – I hope you love every step of it as much as I did.

  5. Your packing ideas are so helpful! I’m “stealing” some of them for city-trip packing! I’ve debated about a water bottle — maybe it’s time to include one on my next international trip.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Thanks, Sharon! I love figuring out the best ways to pack for an adventure 🙂 I definitely recommend traveling with a water bottle. It’s not something I’ve always done, but it’s a simple way to reduce the single-use plastic waste and to be more sustainable. Plus, let’s be honest, those airport bottled waters are way too pricey!

    • 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares