What to Pack for Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The weather while you are hiking the Inca Trail can be wildly unpredictable. The best way to prepare for your trek is to make sure you have appropriate clothing and gear.

In our experience the best way to dress is in layers, as it can be very chilly in the morning and evenings, while during the day can be extreme heat, sun, rain or wind. Prepare for all types of weather.

Below is a list of what we packed for our trip and some gear recommendations.

Clothes

  • Rain Coat: A heavy duty rain coat. It rained each day we were on the trail. Most of our group wore rain ponchos, but we had rain coats. These coats were amazing, kept us dry event with hours of continuos steady rain.
  • 2 pairs of hiking pants
  • Underwear and sleeping clothes
  • 5 athletic shirts: One for each full day and one clean shirt to wear at night
  • 2 long sleeve warmer shirts: remember the goal here is layers. Make sure you are using synthetic materials; polyester, wool, etc. You want moisture wicking fabrics, cotton is not your friend while hiking.
  • Hiking Boots: a good pair of boots is key for hiking the Inca Trail. You will be on your feet, hiking for 8-11 hours a day, so you need comfortable footwear. Mark and I have the following boots and we love them! Seriously, the Ahnu Woman’s boots have been the most comfortable boots I have ever owned and Mark loves his Oboz!
  • Post Hiking Shoes: Seriously your feet will thank you when you pull off your boots for the day, slip into something comfy!
  • 3 Pairs Hiking socks: You will want a fresh pair of hiking socks each day. I love Smartwool and Mark prefers Thorlos — go with what you are most comfortable with.
  • Compression socks: I used these at night and they helped reduce muscle soreness for the next day. I definitely recommend bringing a pair
  • Warm Coat: It can get really chilly at night, we brought our down coats and they were perfect, keep you warm without the heavy weight.

Gear

  • Backpack Rain Cover: The weather can be unpredictable, bring a cover to keep your pack dry and protected.
  • NEMO Ultra Light Sleeping Pad: Most treking companies give you a sleeping pad, we brought our own additional sleeping pads and it made the world of difference. These Nemo sleeping pads are so comfy they make you feel like your in your hotel bed!
  • NEMO Ultra light Sleeping Pillow
  • Sleeping Bag: You can rent sleeping bags through your treking company, but we preferred bringing our own equipment. If you are looking for a killer sleeping bag, see some of our recommendations below:
  • Hiking Poles: Again you can rent these through your treking company, but we brought our own. *If you bring your own poles make sure they have rubber tips on the ends, they do not allow you to use the metal tips on the trail. We brought extras too just in case they fell off.
  • 3L water Bladder: Your treking company gives you fresh water daily make sure you have a container you can easily access while on the trail.

Other Essential Items For the Inca Trail

  • 100% Deet: The bugs on the trail are nasty, we recommend a heavy duty bug spray with lots of deet. We used this brand and applied it daily and had very little bites. Make sure you spray around you neck, wrists and ankles!
  • Hat / Gloves
  • Sun Hat: It can get really hot during the day, protect your skin!
  • Sun Screen
  • Hand Sanitizer: Trust me, you’ll want it…lots of it! The best way to make sure your hands are clean. Don’t rely on the water at the bathrooms, it’s not clean. Bring Sanitizer! Expert tip: Don’t even brush your teeth with it, use bottled water!
  • Toilettes
  • Camera: We brought our Sony mirrorless camera with us and captured some really awesome shots. This is a great camera option when you want the versatility without the heavy weight of a true DSLR camera.
  • Extra Camera Supplies
  • Energy Chews: Your treking company will give you a daily snack, but we brought some of our own trail snacks as well. We like using energy chews, they give you a great bust of energy and electrolytes when you really need it.
  • Advil: Always handy to have to help those sore muscles.
  • Solar Charger: Optional, if you want to keep your devices juiced while you are on the trial.
  • Rain Poncho: We did not bring ponchos, because we had
  • Body cleaning wipes: With limited access to showers, your traveling companions will thank you for packing these.

Other

  • Passport: You need this to enter the trial. Expert tip: Make sure you get you passport stamped when you get to Machu Picchu!
  • Wallet
  • Non-Hiking day clothes
  • Large food storage bags: We packed our clothes in these during hikes just in case of rain.
  • Spending cash: Exchanged for sols the local currency. We found the best exchange rates at the Cusco airport or hotel. Keep in mind if you use US dollars, the will not accept your cash if there are any rips or tears in the bills.
  • Cash for your trek  & miscellaneous: Tips for porters and guides.

 

Want more information on booking your trip to Machu Picchu, check out our experience here.

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