I am not an expert hiker. Before booking a four day trek on the Inca Trail I had only taken day hikes, so when I was preparing for this trip I had a lot of questions about what to pack. My cousin and I traveled to Peru in December which is during their summer and rainy season. This meant that nights were cold, days were warm, and rain would come. Packing for a trek with a wide range of weather, in addition to four days of exploring the city of Cusco, was quite a challenge. We scoured the Internet hoping to find someone who could tell us exactly what we needed to bring–but we never found a comprehensive packing list. With that in mind, I wanted to share a list of everything we brought, and then I want to explain what we did right and what we did wrong now that I can reflect on the trip.
The Complete Packing List
- REI Trail 40 L Women’s Backpack
- Longchamp tote
- Warm outer vest
- 1 long sleeve fleece shirt
- 2 long sleeve exercise shirts
- 1 short sleeve exercise shirts
- 2 exercise tanks
- 3 shirts for non-hiking days
- 4 pairs of wool hiking socks
- 4 pairs of non-hiking socks
- 1 pair of hiking pants
- 1 pair of exercise pants
- 2 pairs of leggings
- 1 pair of black jeans
- 10 pairs of underwear
- 2 sports bras and 2 regular bras
- Keen Women’s Voyageur Mid Hiking Boots (Very comfortable!)
- Black sneakers
- Flip flops
- Collapsible water bottle (space-saver)
- Bungee cords
- Blister Tape
- Microfiber towel
- Sleeping Bag Silk Liner (Loved this!)
- Toilet paper (from hotel)
- Warm hat
- Baseball cap
- Lip balm
- Face lotion
- Body wash
- Minimal makeup (foundation, blush, mascara)
- Tide pods (for laundry)
- Dry shampoo
- Body wipes
- Face wipes
- Hand wipes
- Lavender anxiety relief oil
- Tiger balm (for sore muscles)
- Mini hair brush
- Altitude sickness pills (prescription from doctor)
- Antibiotics (prescription from doctor)
- Benadryl (for night)
- Canon Rebel t6i
- GoPro Hero
- Portable charger (Extremely powerful + highly recommend)
- Money belt
- Packing cube (Marshalls travel section)
- $300 Cash (American & Peruvian)
- Laundry bag
- Eye mask for plane
Purchased in Peru:
- Trekking poles and sleeping bag (both rented through Llama Path)
Phew! So that is everything we brought. The things that we were able to share we split up between our bags to save space. For example, I brought the bungee cords, bug spray, band aids, she brought blister tape, bandanas, body wipes, etc.
What we did right:
- We each purchased the same backpack (it is a great backpack) from REI. It fit everything we needed going and coming (but just barely after souvenirs were stuffed in!) It was comfortable, built specifically for women, and came with a rain cover.
- Sleeping bag silk liner: This was a godsend! We rented sleeping bags from Llama Path and though they were “clean” they were used. It felt so good to unroll a silk sleeping bag liner to slip inside the bag at the end of a long day. It felt like we were in our own bed. Tip: wash it before your trip so it smells good! We also liked our microfiber towel which we used to stay dry
- Hygiene: We were more than prepared. We had plenty of body/face wipes to stay clean. We brought enough clean clothes for each day and night. The dry shampoo helped our hair stay fresh, and we always cleaned our hands when arriving to camp. Remember to bring your own toilet paper too (this is not provided on the trail.) We took the roll out of the middle of it which helped save space.
- Packing cube: This kept everything tidy and organized in our backpack. I got mine for a few dollars at Marshalls and I love it.
- Electronics: Portable chargers save lives! Not literally, but it was so nice to feel charged for our entire hike. I was nervous about running out of battery before arriving to Machu Picchu.
- Money belt: This made us feel very secure when carrying our passports and cash.
- Medicine: Altitude sickness medicine helped us a lot, and we kept healthy with our preventative medicine too.
- Hiking boots. Highly recommended!
What we did wrong:
- Our backpack: (you may notice this is on the right and wrong list) While our backpack was great because it held everything for our entire trip–it was bigger than we needed it to be for the hike. Hotels in Cusco allow you to keep some of your belongings there since you don’t need to take everything with you on the trek. While we did keep some of our belongings at the hotel, we should have packed differently. Next time, I would bring a smaller backpack for the hike (I like this one) and use a duffel to hold the rest of my belongings I didn’t need. Our backpacks became very heavy after hours of hiking each day.
- Water: We brought collapsible water bottles with us which definitely saved space! But we wish we had purchased the hydration packs that sit in your backpack and have a cord hanging out near your shoulder. We always had to stop to take a water break, whereas others were able to drink water without stopping.
- Bungee cords: We initially planned on carrying our own sleeping bags which would be attached to our backpack. BIG MISTAKE! We decided last minute to split a porter (a person who would carry our sleeping bags and a few other belongings for us). Any extra weight on your back at a high altitude and steep incline really holds you back. So we ended up giving our bungee cords away in Peru. I would definitely advise you to get a porter, but remember to make sure you are booking with an ethical company first, and tip them well at the end of the trip.
Overall, we were very prepared. We really didn’t feel like we were missing anything, and in fact, probably brought more than we needed! I hope this guide helps you form an idea of what to bring with you on an adventurous trip!
How do you prepare for an adventurous trip? Any tips? I would love to hear!
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