Before we get into the Inca Trail packing list, we wanted to talk about booking your trip. There is a restriction of the number of people allowed on the Inca trail every day, so they recommended booking at least 4 months in advance.
Although we were flexible with our dates, we booked 4 months ahead and even then we saw that some of the dates were not available. We booked Info Cusco as our tour group and did the traditional Inca Trail hike for 4 days and 3 nights in early August.
They were not the cheapest option or the most expensive, but overall we loved our experience. We also recently went to Patagonia with OneSeed (use LOCAL10 when booking for 10% off) and they now have the Classic Inca Trail hike.
Your Essential Inca Trail Packing List (what they recommended + additions of our own):
Last Updated: January 24, 2020. Originally: August 17, 2012
I updated the photo to look nicer and links below, but here’s the old one. :)
Inca Trail Packing List For Your 4-Day Hike
- Backpack: We tried out pretty much every pack they had at REI and decided Ospreys fit us best. Jacob ended up with this backpack, and I used this youth backpack since I am petite and kids stuff is always cheaper. Go to REI and try them all on!
- Water! We use a 3L platypus big zip and an extra 0.5L soft bottle. Platypus > Camelbaks. They’re easier to use and clean. See our top travel water bottles we tested on the road.
- Sleeping Mat: Info Cusco had sleeping pads available, but we decided to bring our own since they are lighter, smaller, and warmer.
- Sleeping Bag: REI sleeping bags are great for the price. We try to find the warmest and lightest there is. They say it sometimes goes below -10 degrees celsius, but it didn’t for us (early August).
- 3L platypus big zip: these babies saved our knees. Carbon fiber is pricier but investing in something lightweight was worth it since we were already carrying so much weight.
- 3L platypus big zip: Ever since we discovered these hiking shoes, they’ve been our go-to for everything.
- Towel: We brought these lightweight fast-drying towels in M and L
- Toiletries: Toilet paper (one roll per person), Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Sunblock, Chapstick with SPF, soaps, Wipes, and medicine (for headaches, altitude sickness medicine, Imodium, & Pepcid AC). It happened to be that time of the month for me, so I had my feminine products & midol. Also this! It might seem weird, but trust me.
- Flashlight: 3L platypus big zip are much better than the handheld ones. If you’re a slow hiker, it’s possible that you may end up hiking in the dark, and you will need your hands on your trekking poles.
- 6 x Quick Dry Tees: One per day + two extra in case we got drenched in rain. These are my current fave quick dry tees (I have 3). They’re great for hiking and day-to-day.
- 2 x Zip-Off Hiking Pants: I brought these two convertible hiking pants. Personally, the Columbia one is a fit better than the REI ones. Jacob brought these in the color blade.
- A Light, Warm Jacket: We absolutely love these nano puff jackets from Patagonia. We wear them all the time.
- Layers! We brought Patagonia Capilene layers (2 each) in midweight and thermal weight and 2 x Zip-Off Hiking Pants. It’s good to have options since the temps fluctuate so much. The long underwear is especially great to sleep in at night as it gets very cold.
- 2 x Zip-Off Hiking Pants: We wore these compression socks during the night to reduce muscle soreness.
- Undergarments: The ExOfficio ones are awesome! Jacob got the men’s boxer briefs. They stay really dry during the hike. I know their package says “17 countries, 6 weeks, One pair of underwear.” We brought one for every day. *shrug* If anyone has tried the 6 weeks in one pair of underwear, please tell us how it is!
- Gloves: It gets really cold in the mornings and at night. Preferably ones that have grip for morning hiking. And waterproof if you get rained on.
- Rain Jacket: We have these rain jackets since they perform well and pack light. When we got to Peru, we were told that we also need long ponchos (when it rains, it pours), so we bought them for 5 soles (approx 2 USD) at Day 1’s breakfast stop. Again, it didn’t rain, so we didn’t end up using either.
OPTIONAL ITEMS IN THE INCA TRAIL PACKING LIST
- Flip Flops: to give your feet a break during stops. These are the comfiest ones I’ve found.
- Lightweight Hat: to keep the sun off your face. I’ve done longer hikes both with a hike and without. Sometimes it feels like it’s in the way.
- Camera / Phone / Journal: to record all the beauty you’ll encounter. We carried a Canon 5D.
- Earplugs: If you’re a light sleeper and you have snorers in your group, you’re going to need these.
- Bug Spray: We used these. They recommended 2 bottles per person. We only used a total of one bottle between the two of us, but the amount of bugs probably differs for everyone depending on the season & weather. These wipes can be handy too.
Now, as you can see below, I take my snacks very seriously… it ended up weighing over 10 pounds. If you’re an avid hiker, then you probably know this is a big mistake. The energy blasts & the bars were the most useful on our trip. We even had some extra to share with our guide and porter. If I had a do-over, I would have tossed the Haribo gummy bears. As much as I love them, they were so so SO ridiculously heavy. I felt like an idiot.
Now enjoy your hike!! Book your trip HERE.
Anything else I missed on our Inca Trail packing list that you would like to add?
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.