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17 Top Inca Trail Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for the Inca Trail
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If you’ve been craving a bit of adventure and thrills and looking to tick off a Word Wonder, set your sights on hiking the Inca Trail. Walk along ancient ruins, climb over Peru’s spectacular countryside and look over breathtaking valleys on your way to the famous Machu Picchu. So what are you waiting for: book your tour, get your hiking gear ready and begin your 4-day exploration on the Inca Trail!

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What To Pack for the Inca Trail - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    Embarking on the Inca Trail is a monumental moment and why not let it run smoothly with packing cubes? While you’ll be backpacking through this beautiful region, remember that you will be carrying your own belongings and you’ll want to find them with ease. Whether you set off early in the dark morning or want something quickly, packing cubes will keep you organized throughout the trek.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Altitude Sickness Medication

    Do not underestimate altitude sicknecss on the Inca Trail! While the chances of getting altitude sickness are quite common, this natural medication can help your body adjust quicker and help you perform better. Use this throughout the journey to adjust quicker and enjoy the trip right away! I highly suggest staying in Cusco a couple of nights before you embark on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, this can sometimes lower the risk of sickness.

    Altitude Sickness Medication

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  • 3. Neck Wallet

    While you’ll be carrying your backpack, make sure to keep your essential items close to your chest with a neck wallet. From having a safe spot for your passport to always being within reach of some sunblock, get to the top of Machu Picchu with your favorite things. Whether you carry this throughout your journey on the Inca Trail or use it traveling between destinations, own this wallet for life and future traveling holidays!

    Neck Wallet

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 4. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    Water will fuel your body when it comes to hiking. While water is provided for you through the group tour, this life straw water bottle will purify it more. Attach it to your backpack for easy sipping and feel confident drinking clean water. This water bottle is perfect for hiking and will really help to filter all the impurities out!

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

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  • 5. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    There is no cell service along the Inca trail, however, this portable charger allows you to keep a full charge on your cameras or phones to document this monumental moment. With unbelievable sights and landscapes surrounding you, a few pictures need to be taken to show all your friends at home! This charger is small, strong, and can easily fit in your bag!

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 6. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    While a rain jacket is more than enough when hiking, an umbrella saves the day while resting between treks. Whether you’re popping from tent to tent searching for a snack or nipping to the bathroom without putting on all your rain gear, this strong and durable umbrella is fabulous. Use it daily to stay dry throughout your travels.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 7. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Unfortunately there are no showers on the Inca trail, however, this quick-drying and compact travel towel will be in constant use. With cool water available, use the towel for a quick body wash after a long day of hiking and feel just a bit cleaner. Dry yourself off after a potential rainfall or use it after washing your face and brushing your teeth. Quickly fold it up and put it away until your next resting stop!

    travel towel

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  • 8. Luggage Locks

    It’s important to secure your luggage whenever traveling internationally. TSA-approved luggage locks are the best solution to keeping your belongings safe from theft while being airport security-approved.

    luggage locks

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  • 9. Cooling Towel

    Stay cool and fresh with a cooling towel! With it’s all purpose design, this super soft microfiber towel can be used to cool you down while the sun is hot by simply dipping it in water and getting instant relief. Wear the towel as a bandana or place it on the back of your neck for an instant chill! This will really come in handy during those long hours of hiking.

    cooling towel

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  • 10. Hiking Pants

    What is a hiking trip without hiking pants? Investing in a comfortable, lightweight, and movable pair of hiking pants will only better your experience on your way to the top of Machu Picchu. With water and wind-resistance pants available, get something that can withstand time and endure different conditions. Chances are you’ll be wearing them throughout the trek, so choose wisely!

    Hiking Pants

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  • 11. Paracord Bracelet

    Hiking the Inca trail should spark excitement and wonder, however, being ready for any situation makes a great hiker. While you’ll be following a guide the entire way, this 20-in-1 Survival Paracord hiking bracelet gives you a boost of security and safety. From its flashlight, and compass to fire starter, always be ready for something new. Take it with you not just in Peru but the whole world!

    Paracord Bracelet

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  • 12. Sunblock

    No matter the time of year you decide to trek the Inca trail, the UV rays are out. As you will be in direct sunlight for all hours of the day, sunblock is an absolute necessity. With days reaching a UV index of 10, even on overcast days, don’t let a sunburn ruin your journey. Apply sunblock every few hours and make sure to wear clothes that are breathable and protected.

    Sunblock

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  • 13. Travel Backpack

    Your backpack is going to be your home and closet during your trek. From keeping your clothes safe to carrying snacks, toiletries, and sleeping supplies, a good backpack is a key part of this journey. Please remember that what you bring you will have to carry; so pack light and efficiently to make your journey a bit easier. Make sure you have plenty of pockets, and the straps are adjustable for optimal use!

    Travel Backpack

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  • 14. Hiking Shoes

    While this may be self-explanatory, a good pair of hiking shoes is imperative while hiking the Inca trail. From winding uphill paths, to uneven ground, the trail is not always smooth sailing. I highly recommend breaking in your shoes first for ultimate comfort and preparation. For those wanting more support, look into mid-height shoes to help support the ankle. These shoes will become your best friend, so invest wisely.

    Hiking Shoes

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  • 15. Travel Insurance

    Hikng the Inca Trail is an amazing experience, but it can also be scary and daunting. There are so many unknowns and there is a slight risk for accidents. Feel at peace with the help of travel insurance that will have you back along the trail and traveling between destinations.

    Travel Insurance

    Compare policies at TravelInsurance.com ➜

  • 16. Rain Jacket

    While unexpected rains can occur throughout the year, during the wet season a rain jacket is your best bet to stay dry during rain showers and keep you a little warm too! From start to finish keep your rain gear in an accessible spot and make sure it’s comfortable, a little loose, and has a hood. While you want it to fit comfortably remember you will also be carrying backpacks and other gear!

    Men Rain Jacket

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  • 17. Travel Toilet Paper

    Unfortunately, there are no proper toilets along the trail, but there are squat toilets. Bringing toilet paper with you will be an absolute life changer, especially since toilet paper is commonly not provided. Whether you’re in the camp or have to go along the trail, keep the toilet paper close. These squat toilets are not always the cleanest, so be sure to carry hand sanitizer too.

    Coleman Campers Toilet Paper Rolls

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What to Wear for the Inca Trail

Whether you choose to hike in the wet or dry season, you’ll want to wear plenty of layers so you can easily adapt to the warmer days and cooler nights. Wearing clothes suitable for hiking will be your best bet, think about hiking pants, worn in hiking shoes, wool socks and breathable tops.

Clothing that is waterproof is always a great option and wearing a proper sun hat is important to shield your face from the sun and protect the back of your neck. Remember to pack for changing temperatures and pack light!

What Should WOMEN Wear for the Inca Trail? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience)

Women planning on hiking the Inca Trail should wear appropriate hiking clothes that can be layered. During the day, hiking pants, leggings, and either a t-shirt or tank top is great, however, always have a rain jacket handy. When you reach the campsite make sure to wear warm, comfortable clothes for resting and sleeping. The night can become quite chilly, so joggers and hoodies are appropriate. I highly suggest bringing a pair of sandals to slip on during the middle of the night so your feet can rest while dinner. Remember to be comfortable, and casual and invest in durable clothes.

What Should MEN Wear for the Inca Trail? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Again men should wear plenty of layers so they can easily change to fit the changing weather patterns. Wearing durable clothes and hiking boots are extremely important as you will be wearing them for four days straight. Besides having wool socks, a hat, and sunglasses, think about compression shorts to wear under hiking pants. Most importantly, feel confident and comfortable as you’ll be wearing this all day exploring.

Packing for the Seasons on the Inca Trail

Wet Season – October, November, December, January, February, March, April

If you prefer to hike in cooler weather, don’t mind a little rain and want to hike with smaller crowds, then book your tour during the wet season. Make sure all your hiking gear is waterproof, and bring plenty of warm layers. The nights can get a bit chillier, and the mornings can be a bit misty I suggest getting a 3-in-1 waterproof jacket to appeal to the changing weather patterns.

Dry Season – May, June, July, August, September

If you want hot days and cooler nights, the dry season is perfect for you. While there will be significantly more crowds, the chance of rain is much less, which is sometimes nice while hiking. Prepare to wear breathable clothing like Hiking Shorts and Short Sleeve tops but make sure if you have skin exposed to wear plenty of sunscreens. It is also crucial to wear a large hat as you will be under direct sunlight. Make sure to bring a few warmer pieces for the cooler nights.
Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Hiking: All things hiking will be relevant for this journey. From Wool Socks to Sunhats and everything in between, hiking attire should be taken seriously. If you prefer workout leggings over hiking pants, that’s totally acceptable, but remember to always be cautious of the weather and try to be as comfortable as possible for your Inca Trail experience.

Resting: The only other thing you will be doing during your trek will be resting and you want to be as comfortable as ever. The nights can sometimes be a bit chilly and while you’re only sleeping in a tent, think about getting some warm Joggers and a Hoodie to relax in, after you’ve finished a long day of hiking. I would also suggest packing slip on shoes like sandals that you can wear around the campsite and let your feet breathe!

What Not to Bring on the Inca Trail

  • 1.DON’T Bring Expensive Jewelry

    If there was ever a time to not bring jewelry or fancy clothes, it’s on the Inca trail. You really just need the essential to get you through this and anything else will be a waste and completely useless. Save your favorite pieces for when you return home and show your friends all the fabulous pictures.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Books

    It may be tempting to read a nice book while resting at camp, however take that time to relax and recharge your body before another day of hiking. Books will aso weigh you down on the hike so try to resist packing one.

  • 3.DON’T Bring Cash

    While you should keep a small amount of cash tucked away in case of emergency, there’s no need to bring a lot. Everything on the Inca Trail will be paid for through your travel company so technically you won’t need any. Once entering Machu Picchu cash can be used to purchase some drinks and use the toilets.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Lots of Electronics

    There is no service on the inca trail, so electronics are completely useless. The only thing I would suggest bringing is a phone or camera to take pictures, however make sure you bring a Portable Charger to keep them fully charged as there will be no outlets.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Tents

    Your travel company will provide tents for you on this journey. They fit two people and you either share it with your partner, friend or an assigned tent roommate from the tour. You can however rent sleeping bags and mats if you don’t own one.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Sneakers

    While sneakers are super comfortable to wear while walking or exercising, Hiking Boots really are the only closed toe shoe you need to bring. Sneakers do not have enough support for your ankle or feet and they will not help you while on uneven footings.

What Not to Wear for the Inca Trail – (Click to expand)
I would avoid bringing anything that is fancy or stylishish. This is a completely outdoors camping trip where things may get ruined and you should lead with comfort over fashion. Sneakers, jewelry and anything rigid like jeans should not even be thought about. While you want items that are durable, remember these clothes will be worn for 4 days and you want cozy, casual and practical.

FAQs about Hiking the Inca Trail

  • 1. How do I prevent altitude sickness?

    Unfortunately, there is no way to 100% prevent altitude sickness but you can take natural medications to help. Make sure to drink plenty of water and if you can stay a few days in Cusco before your trek so you can adjust to the altitude.

  • 2. How difficult is the trek?

    How difficult is the trek?

    This varies between peoples experience and fitness levels, but the trek is moderately difficult. Day one and two seem very difficult but once you pass Dead Woman’s Pass it feels much easier. Other factors that contribute to the trek’s difficulty are weather conditions, health factors such as altitude sickness, and your group’s overall approach. Trekking during dry season usually feels easier.

  • 3. How long is the Inca Trail?

    The classic Inca trail route is about 26 miles. Along this route you will wind through trails, go up and down cliffs and witness spectacular views. In total the trek typically takes 4 days and you will have reached an elevation of about 2430 meters.

  • 4. Do I need to train to hike the Inca trail?

    Do I need to train to hike the Inca trail?

    While no specific training is needed to complete the trek, you do have to be in shape or fit for this journey. You will sometimes walk close to 10 hours a day and while the pace is comfortable for most, a level of fitness is needed to complete this. Be sure you’re fit and comfortable walking several miles a day. You may also want to consider doing some strength training as you will be carrying a backpack during the hike.

  • 5. Does the Inca Trail cost include my Machu Picchu ticket?

    Yes, the cost should be included in your tour price and the company should provide you with all the information when you book. They typically give you the ticket on the day you enter the site too.

  • 6. What is my accommodation like while hiking?

    What is my accommodation like while hiking?

    Unless you book something very luxurious and expensive, typically accommodation on the Inca Trail is a 2-person tent and a sleeping bag in the middle of nature. Porters will carry the tent but you are responsible for carrying your belongings and sleeping bag. You’ll have a sleeping bag and likely a sleeping mat to keep you warm and comfortable. There will likely be a group tent for eating meals in with your fellow hikers.

  • 7. What is provided for me on my hiking trip?

    All food, drinks and tents will be provided for you by your travel company, however you do either have to bring a sleeping bag and mat or rent them from the company for an additional price. While there is a chef who cooks delicious meals, you do have to bring your own snacks for the journey.