Early mornings in camp can be chilly, but a down jacket or vest (and hot coffee!) can keep you comfortable.

Early mornings in camp can be chilly, but a down jacket or vest (and hot coffee!) can keep you comfortable.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when packing for your trek on the Inca Trail is that you will not need as much “stuff” as you think.  The old guideline of laying out all your necessities on your bed at home and then removing two thirds (or realistically, half) is fairly accurate.   Packing light in Peru is especially important because there are weight restrictions for in-country flights as well as on the trail.

On our Inca Trail treks, we provide group camping gear including tents, stove, cooking equipment, sleeping bags, pads, food, and utensils.  The Peruvian government has placed restrictions on the weight porters can carry on the trail.  You are allowed a total of seven kilograms (16 pounds) of personal gear to give to the porters to carry for you (including your sleeping bag which weighs approximately four pounds).

Inca Trail Packing List

In the mountains the weather can change drastically and quickly.  You should be prepared for cold, hot, rain, and sun.  Two theories crucial to your comfort are and “synthetic fibers” and “layering.” Synthetic fibers are vital when at altitude because they help to wick moisture away from your body.  Layering is the system which allows you to add and subtract layers as needed, before you get either too cold or too hot.  For instance, during the day, you might leave camp wearing a polypropylene tank top under a wicking t-shirt, under a long-sleeved fleece and covered with your waterproof and windproof jacket (with a hood) and pants (a material like Gore-Tex is great).  Throughout the day, you might become warm enough to shed three of those layers!  At night, you might be most comfortable with a bottom layer of polypropylene underwear, topping that with a fleece or wool layer, adding a down jacket, and finally your waterproof outer layer.

When the temperature on the trail rises during the day, you will be happy to have a sun hat and shorts!

When the temperature on the trail rises during the day, you will be happy to have a sun hat and shorts!

Comfortable hiking boots are essential.  You should wear your boots in advance to break them in!  Equally important are lightweight and comfortable sandals or shoes (we love Crocs!) to wear once you get to camp.

Other clothing to pack: hiking pants and shorts (zip-offs are nice because they are pants AND shorts!), fleece pants and top, socks, a down jacket or vest, a couple extra under-layers (these are the ones that will bear the brunt of your sweating, so it is nice to have a clean one each day), a sun hat, fleece gloves and a pair of warm waterproof gloves or mittens.

What else?  A headlamp with extra batteries is very useful for nighttime bathroom breaks or to illuminate the inside of your tent.   A camp towel or bandana is useful for taking “bird baths” on the trek.  A cheap plastic rain poncho will cover you and your pack in the event of a downpour (you can buy this in Peru right before we depart on the trek).  Although we provide a fleece sleeping bag liner for you, you might consider bringing your own lightweight silk liner.

Rubber tips on trekking poles help protect the ancient stones of the Inca Trail and also eliminate the sometimes-annoying "clicking" sound when the tips hit the stones.

Rubber tips on trekking poles help protect the ancient stones of the Inca Trail and also eliminate the sometimes-annoying “clicking” sound when the tips hit the stones.

We also highly recommend one or two trekking poles!  Studies have shown these reduce muscle wear and knee strain and can help with balance.  You must outfit your pole(s) with rubber tips to bring them on the Inca Trail.

Finally, you should have a daypack that is comfortable and large enough to carry water, snacks, and extra clothing during the day.  Plan on packing at least 2 one-liter bottles that won’t melt when hot water is added.  Hydration packs (like Camelbaks) also work well.