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Inca Trail pack list

So much for packing light. My backpack for 2 months in SE Asia is my day pack for South America. Sigh! This time I'm the one at a loss as to know how people can pack so little.

Highlights: Here's my lessons learned on packing for the Inca trail.
Cast of Characters: I went by myself & met some new folks from the tour. Mel was supposed to join me but totally flaked out. Boooo!!!
Logistics/ Links: I booked the trip 5 months in advance with Peru Treks. They were excellent!
When: I did Inca trail on May 7-10. The weather is perfection. Its cold, but not as cold as it can get during their winter months of June- Aug. It drizzled maybe a total of 30 minutes during my whole 3 week trip. The sky was always this gorgeous blue with the fluffy clouds adding to more dramatic photos. It was soo pretty. The temps on the trail got down to about 4 degrees Celsius on the coldest day (2nd day). If it dips lower than that, its probably going to be late enough that you're gonna be curled up in your sleeping bag & not noticing it.
Location: Classic Inca trail, Macchu Pichu, Peru
Cost: n/a 
Trip Report: O-m-gee. Figuring out what to pack for this trip was agony. Agony!!! I spent many sleepless nights thinking about it. I grew up in tropical weather so the thought of being outside in -15 degree environment freaks me out. The Inca trail weight limits also do not help.I ended up bring the 25L Jansport backpack for my daypack. Peru Treks provided a duffel bag for 3kilos of my other stuff.

I think those big, bold initials actually help deter people from stealing your bag

Inca trail pack list:
I hired a porter. This was essential for me to finish the trail. Out of 17 trekkers, only 4 people got porters. The wussies like me are the minority. So for the trail I carried daypack & a duffel bag for the porter to carry. I left my big bag at the hotel. Here's pretty much what I brought on the trip (keep in mind I'm from the tropics so I easily get cold):

Daypack/ What I was wearing:
Here's a little list of my essentials for the hike. I tried to keep my backpack light as much as possible.
- 1 pair gore-tex pants: Burton jean pants. These are awesome! I thought the trail was too cold for those lightweight nylon zip-off pants. The pants I have are great because you can snap it up so you don't drag your pants in the poopy squat toilets. It also has side vents so when it gets too warm, you can just unzip & it feels perfect again. Its waterproof, in case it rains.
- Shirts:  I was wearing 1 tank top + 1 cotton shirt the whole time (just a shirt for the last day).
- Undies, 1 pair liner socks: bra & panties. I wore 1 pair of wool socks. During the descent, my toes were hitting my shoes. Pretty painful. I recommend bringing an extra pair of thinner socks just in case you need foot layers. 
- Down jacket: 1 Montbell Alpine light down parka. This is a very good lightweight down jacket. I was wondering how something so light & thin can be warm, but it works! Its also a great windproof jacket. Very handy for that godawful Dead Woman's Pass.
- Softshell jacket: 1 Patagonia Adze jacket. I wore a soft-shell jacket almost the entire time on the trail. I'm not sold on this product though, I returned it to REI after my trip. Not very good wind protection & it gets stinky! I have a $15 soft shell that works better.
- Poncho: 1 rain poncho from Target. I brought a 'real' poncho. With the amount of rain we got, I kinda wish I just brought those smaller, $1 plastic disposable ones that weigh nothing.
- Blister kit/ your meds/ coca leaves: Oh yes, altitude is a bitch. This is my first real experience with altitude problems. It was very hard to breathe. Our guide instructed us to chew coca leaves (did not do shit for me). So I guzzled my 'Sorochi' pills which I think helped a bit better.
- Water bottle/ camelbak: You don't want to carry too much, also don't want to have too little. I learned that I usually consume 1 small bottle of water (about 12oz) every 2 hrs. There's stops along the way, about 2 hrs apart except for the 3rd day or something. So if you're the same as me, just buy 1 bottle each stop.
- Sunglasses + hat
- 1 pair hiking boots: On my travels, I always bring my Keen shoes. I was trying to decide whether to buy some mid-rise boots for ankle support. The hike is a month away & they always say to use worn in shoes...So I bought my spanking new boots & just suffered the consequences later. Now I know dead toenails grow back. The boots were cute.
- iPod: This is absolutely essential if you're a slow hiker who is always at the very last- all alone *Sniff*. Make sure you save the batteries for the 2nd day.
- Camera + extra batteries + memory cards: My travels would not be complete without these.
- Hand sanitizer, sunblock, bug juice, lip balm, toilet paper, money for toilets/ snacks/ drinks
- Walking stick: The walking stick helps for stability but I think it was also slowing me down. This is an essential though.

Duffel bag for porter:
Argh! How on earth can I keep all of this under 3 kg!!??! I sadly parted with my instant Kopiko & hot chocolate mix...sigh. Of course if you don't have a porter, you will be carrying all of this yourself. I somehow managed to keep my things within the weight limit.
- 3 regular cotton t-shirts + 2 tank tops.
- Baselayer: 1 heavyweight Powerdry base layer from REI. I used this every night, works good.
- 1 pair fleece leggings: I actually brought another pair just in case it gets too cold, ended up not using it. The leggings I got were pretty thick, not the skinny,  fashionable stretchy ones. Actual heavyweight utility ones. I wore these to bed.
- 1 pair of cotton cargo pants: In case you get cold at night, use this as extra layer. Also good for the last day while exploring Macchu Pichu. I recommend wearing the  pants while walking around your campsite. Do not wear your sleep pants to go to the bathroom (there's poo all over the floor).
- Fleece: 1 Dickies sherpa lined fleece. I love this sweater! So warm & comfy! It gets reeaally cold at night so bundle up!
- Undies & Socks: 3 panties & 3 wool socks
- 1 pair wool gloves: I also brought hand warmers which were oh-so-nice!
- Headlamp + extra batteries: Just going to the bathroom at your campsite is already a mini-hike. Make sure you have light. Make sure you see where you're going! Don't step on poo!
- 1 Camping towel: This is pretty good Sea to Summit Drylite medium
- Toiletries, wet wipes: No showers on the trail
- Sleeping bag, mat: I just rented. These had to fit in with all my other things.

What I brought (or considered bringing) & did not need:
- Collapsible walking sticks: Yes, I actually bought a pair of collapsible walking sticks. When I received them, I discovered they do not fit anywhere!!!! Ggrr! Apparently pretty much every walking stick out there is about 1" too long for most standard bags. Good luck trying to figure out how to fly with them too. I recommend leaving these at home. Just buy some cheap ones on the first day.
- Flip-flops: Leave these in your big bag at the hotel. You'll normally want to wear these around the campsite, but its going to be too cold. Also, the toilets are nasty. I would not expose my bare feet to those poopy squat toilets. You're better off just wearing your socks & boots whenever you're outside your tent.
- Down booties: I was looking at these online & they seem so nice...and expensive. While I was collapsed in my sleeping bag, I realized I was perfectly warm & cozy with just the fresh wool socks I'll be wearing on the trail tom.
- Freshette: There's enough bathroom stops along the trail. You do not need these.
- Swim wear: I thought I would be going swimming in the hot springs at the end of the trip! Nope! Turns out they are actually just warm springs & not too many people really do it. Just skip this.
- 1 wool beanie: I have a baseball hat, a down jacket with a hood, a fleece with a hood. Why did I bring a beanie?!
- Extra pair of leggings & track pants: I think 1 pair of fleece leggings will be enough for the cold at the trail. Those extra regular pants are also enough, you do not need 2.
- 1 extra pair of fleece gloves: 1 pair of wool or fleece gloves is enough.
- 1 lightweight synthetic base layer: Wow, I just realized how much extra crap I brought. Yup, did not need this extra piece. 
- Snacks: Peruvians LOVE chocolate. The company was advising us to bring snacks for the trail. I found out that I did not really need them. I ate my doritos anyway, but I think I could have lived without it. The weight is not worth it. There's small shops along the way that sell snacks if you absolutely must have some. The trekking company fed us often enough that I just ended up with uneaten snacks in my bag. My body normally binges to recover from exhausting activities, but this was a whole different level. I was too exhausted to eat! I have never been this tired in my life!  =O
- Extra sleeping mat or fleece blanket: I don't think you need this. What they provided was enough. You can also just layer on all your other clothes if you're still too cold.

Hope this helps you with your packlist. Did I miss something? Should I delete something? Let me know what your thoughts are. Post it below!


  1. Anonymous17:26

    Im doing the trek in 3 weeks and am going through the same 'what should i pack' anxiety that you went through!! Thank you sooooooo much for this very useful blog, really, its great and gives me a much better idea of what I should pack. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Anon! Good luck & have fun on your trek!!! =D

  2. We're going in about a month and heading to REI today for some stocking up. Great list - thanks!


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