What To Pack For The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous hikes in the world, but it is no walk in the park. You need to be prepared and pack all the right gear to give yourself the best chance of having an incredible experience. The hike is a four day, three night adventure through the high altitude Peruvian mountains, ending at the iconic Machu Picchu. It is essential to pack for all the conditions you are likely to face which can include cold nights, warm days, rain, wind, blistering sunshine and simple campsites. 

Typically you will have a day pack which you carry yourself, as well as a duffel bag which you give to a porter. The weight allowance in this duffel bag varies, but for myself it was 4kg which was more than enough. If I can recommend one thing, it is to pack as light as possible, to make life easier for yourself and for the porters. It can be a little overwhelming to plan for! So to make it easier for you, I am sharing my own Inca Trail packing list so you can only take what you really need.

I have also written a super detailed guide to hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, so if you’re taking on the trek then make sure you read that first!

What To Pack for The Inca Trail:

A comfortable day pack. This will carry your gear for 4 days, so it is essential that is fits well and is supportive. I recommend between 20-30 litre capacity maximum, any more than that and you will overpack. Ensure it has waist straps to take the strain out of your shoulders, I carried this Osprey one.

A water bladder. It is super important that you drink a lot of water to combat altitude sickness. A water bladder is by far the best way to stay hydrated on the trail, as it makes drinking water so easy and convenient.  I recommend a 2-3 litre bladder for this trek.

A sleeping bag liner. I recommend a silk liner as it is lightweight, packs down small but also adds a layer of warmth (and hygiene if you’re renting a sleeping bag!).

A head torch. This is essential, you will use it multiple times a day. Specifically when you get up in the morning before dawn, and go to bed at night after dusk, as well as on the final day as you hike towards Machu Picchu. My favourite is from Black Diamond, and I recommend carrying a couple of spare batteries incase you run out of juice.

Technology. As well as your phone and camera, I recommend bringing a couple of portable chargers, these ones carry a few charges each, as there is no electricity on the trail. 

A microfibre towel. In case you fancy having one of the cold showers along the way! It actually is quite nice to have a rinse the day before you reach Machu Picchu to help you feel fresh, so I recommend a lightweight microfibre towel like this.

Cash. I recommend taking between 300-500 soles with you. Most of this will be for going towards tipping the guides, porters and chefs. Carrying a few coins is a good idea, to pay for the local toilets on day one.

Dry bags. I always like to pop my gear into separate dry bags when I am doing a multi-day trek. It just helps to keep things organised within my backpack and makes unpacking/repacking every morning and evening much faster. I usually take a selection of different sizes like a 5, 6, 8 and two 10’s. 

Snacks and electrolytes. There are a few sporadic snack stops along the way on day one and two, but the prices are high and selection is limited. Bring along enough food and electrolyte sachets to keep you fuelled for four days on the trail.

Your sleep essentials. I recommend taking ear plugs and an eye mask to block out the light and noise of other campers. 


How much clothing you bring depends on how fresh you want to feel. If you wanted, you could bring a fresh change for every day of the trip (like I did) if you don’t mind carrying them. Otherwise, you could totally get away with just two outfits and wear each one for two days. It’s personal preference, but here are my recommendations:

  • Walking boots. Make sure these are sturdy, well worn, comfortable and broken in. These ones are my favourite as they dry quickly if it rains.
  • Waterproofs. Opt for high quality but lightweight GORE-TEX pieces. You will need a jacket and backpack cover at least, but you can also take waterproof trousers with you too if the forecast looks a little dodgy.
  • Camp shoes. I took a pair of Teva sandals to throw on in the evening, but any comfortable lightweight shoe will do.
  • A sleeping outfit. I recommend having one dry bag with all your evening clothing, For me this was thermal leggings, a top, a thin fleece and cosy socks.
  • A cap or hat. The sun is seriously strong in the mountains, so a hat can help prevent sun stroke.
  • 4 sweat-wicking tops. I wore a combination of these Lululemon and Adanola ones which act as both a sports bra and a top.
  • 4 bottoms. I took 2 pairs of shorts and 2 pairs of leggings. Typically I would start the day with my leggings over my shorts, then as the day heated up I would remove the leggings.
  • 5 pairs of undies. You always need a spare.
  • 5 pairs of socks. 4 for the daytimes, 1 cosy pair for the evenings. 
  • Sunglasses. A staple. 

Beauty & Cosmetics

This is the area where I find it really easy to bring too much and weight adds up fast with beauty bits! So I really encourage you to try and pack as light as possible when it comes to cosmetics.

  • Mosquito repellent. This natural one works wonders.
  • Suncream. Opt for SPF50 for both your face and your body, the sun is seriously strong.
  • Biodegradable face wipes/body wipes. Or a microfibre cloth you can reuse.
  • Tissues. For the toilets, you could also just bring a toilet roll.
  • Any shower bits you might need. Such as mini shampoo, conditioner or a razor.
  • Meds (I recommend Paracetamol and Imodium as a bare minimum) as well as blister plasters
  • Hair essentials. A hair brush, hair ties and a mini dry shampoo.
  • Basic skincare. Keep it minimal. 
  • Anti-bac hand gel.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and any retainers you might have.

And last but not least, take a positive mental attitude. The Inca Trail is absolutely stunning, but it is also challenging. If you throw yourself into it, respect the trail and prepare appropriately, you might just have one of the best experiences of your life!

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Safe travels,

Zanna x