Packing for the Inca Trail Hike

Now that I’ve survived to tell the tale, been meaning to write a post on what to pack for the Inca Trail. This is tailored for the raining season as we went on the hike at the end of January.

Apart from the basic items (a pair of decent water resistance hiking boots, water bottle/pouch, raincoat, head lamp, wool socks, flip flops, sunscreen, bug repellent (didn’t use), hat (didn’t use), etc), here are some of my “I wish I knew” for the 4 day / 3 night Inca Trail hike: 

  • Bring a sturdy poncho that is large enough to cover your backpack / daypack (including your sleeping bag and mat), and one that allows you to access you backpack easily (maybe one that has open sides). I bought a trash bag looking poncho for like 5 soles at Ollantaytombo right before we headed to the start of the hike (km82). Big mistake. I literally had the poncho on for the majority of the hike (weather was drizzly) and it was so annoying since I had to have someone help me get things out of the daypack constantly (the long sleeves had my arms trapped). The poncho was also very thin and barely kept me dry. Raining season = Poncho. Don’t chance it.
  • Backpack: I hired a porter so I only had to carry my daypack (pic shown on bottom left). However, if I were to carry my own backpack, I’d make sure the backpack is no larger than 45Liter. Also make sure you have room to adequately latch on a sleeping bag and a mat. Try loading everything including the sleeping bag and the mat at home to test it out. When we got to km82, everyone was scrambling trying to load everything, for people that never really camped before, we had no idea how to strap on all these extra things onto the backpack. From what I’ve seen, people strap the sleeping bag at the bottom of the backpack and the mat on top. Make sure your backpack has enough straps / hooks / loops, if not bring some extra straps.
  • In addition to a raincoat, bring a thick / warm enough jacket. My fleece jacket was very thin and there were a few occasions I found myself shivering even when I had many layers on (long sleeve shirt, fleece jacket and raincoat). It didn’t help that everything I had on was damp.
  • Bring snacks, preferably chocolate which gives you that extra boost of energy. I brought some individually packaged trail mix from Trader Joe, sour patch kids, crackers, and granola bars. I ate them all and wished I’d brought more. It was almost life saving when a fellow hiking friend offered me some chocolate while I felt like dying ascending onto Dead Woman’s Pass (13,828 ft). That extra boost helped me get to the top (and then we went straight to downhill hell soon after).
  • Nay to hiking poles. I rented a pair from our guide at the beginning of the hike. Honestly, other than using them to break the impact when you go downhill, they are more of a hassle to use than helpful.
  • Clothing wise, I brought 2 pairs of hiking pants (including the pair I had on), 2 sports bras, 2 pairs of wool socks, 3 pairs of clean underwear, 3 dry fit short sleeve shirts and one long sleeve, one pair of workout capri, and a pair of jammy’s (could’ve done w/o it). I definitely could’ve trimmed down some.
  • Medicine, especially advil / ibuprofen.

Below are some of things I used during the trip (clockwise from top right):

First picture:

  • Sleeping bag liner.
  • Raincoat
  • Headlamp and a regular flashlight (really helpful as you can hook the flashlight inside the tent for lighting)
  • Water pouch (1 L) and drinking tube. This is my DIY version of a camelpak, sans the hefty $$. I also brought a water bottle (not pictured)
  • Daypack
  • Backpack (55L). I didn’t use this during the hike. However this was what I carried during my visit to Peru.
  • Water resistance hiking boots (keen). They are a bit heavy and chunky, but they definitely kept my ankles safe.

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Second Picture:

  • Kindle eReader and a mighty light. This kept me entertained before I fell asleep in the tent.
  • Dry bag. I put everything I needed the porter to carry in the dry bag. Even though the tour operator provided a duffle bag, I found it cleaner and it protected my belongings from the weather (somewhat).
  • Compression socks. Not 100% sure if they really worked but I put them on at night.
  • Wool socks. Don’t go cheap on those since you’ll be wearing them for a majority of the day.
  • Body wipes. Since you won’t be showering for 3 nights, this is a life saver.

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Ahhhh now I feel like going back and doing the hike all over…..:)


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