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Inca Trail Equipment List: What to Pack for Hike to Machu Picchu


Inca Trail Equipment

Inca Trail Equipment.- The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a wonderful travel experience, we will help you decide what to pack for its various temperatures and conditions for walking is a little less exciting.

We recommend that you take only what is necessary for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Too much gear will make the multi-day trek much less enjoyable while forgetting a few essentials can make your experience not so great, but don’t worry, here we will help you choose what you need for your next Inca Trail adventure.

Inca Trail Equipment
Inca Trail Equipment

We have made a compilation of what our hikers should pack, whether you are traveling in the rainy season or not.
We remind you that to do this trek it is necessary to make your reservation in advance with an authorized travel agency, our agency that duly has the necessary permits.

Before packing for the Inca Trail

The first thing you need to know is that you can leave your non-essential luggage for the Inca Trail at the hotel or lodge where you are spending the night; or if you wish you can leave your luggage at our offices, and then pick it up at the hotel or lodge where you are spending the night.

Machu Picchu Inca Trail Equipment
Inca Trail Equipment


Weather variations along the Inca Trail

The climate along the Inca Trail and in Machu Picchu is divided into two dominant seasons. The dry winter season runs from April to September and the wet summer season from October to March.

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu have the most travelers between the months of May and early September, if you want to avoid the crowds you can make your reservation between the months of March and April or early November.
We do not recommend doing the hike in December, January and February, as the trails get very wet. The Inca Trail is closed in February.

Inca Trail Equipment
Inca Trail Equipment

What are the temperatures like on the Inca Trail?

Temperatures are almost constant throughout the year, with daily highs in the low 20s and daily lows in the mid single digits. At night, particularly in the winter season, temperatures can drop to a few degrees below zero.

Although some rainfall is always predictable throughout the year, moderate temperatures during the day and low to freezing temperatures at night.

The following list gathers the most recommended equipment for the Inca Trail

How to wear to Inca Trail (Machu Picchu Inca Trail Equipment)

Hiking Pants and shorts.- You should bring between 1 or 2 pairs of hiking pants: 1 is fine for 3/4 day treks, an additional pair is ideal for treks of more than 4 days.

Hiking pants are recommended, but convertible pants are better. The Columbia brand is highly recommended for your clothing.

Fleece jacket and windbreaker for the Inca Trail.
For areas where the temperature is much lower, it is advisable to bring a warm fleece jacket. Typically, Pelarte fleeces come in 100, 200 or 300. The 100s are a bit light and the 300s are too heavy. Two hundred provides great warmth and comfort, and is perfect for the Inca Trail.

Soft fabric jacket for the Inca Trail

In addition to your parka or fleece jacket, you should also have a waterproof and windproof jacket cover layer. Again, you want this to be relatively lightweight (not a winter jacket), but warm and durable.

It should withstand any rain you may encounter (although, as you will see below, we recommend that you use an inexpensive poncho / rain poncho in addition to your jacket).

Inca Trail Equipment - Machu Picchu Peru
Inca Trail Equipment – Machu Picchu Peru

Rain Jacket / Rain Poncho

Finally, you can never really predict the weather on the Inca Trail. As an extra precaution, you should bring light rain gear, or preferably a poncho that will settle.

Inca Trail Equipment - Machu Picchu Peru
Inca Trail Equipment – Machu Picchu Peru

For the Inca Trail, you should bring a lightweight, easy-to-store sun hat to protect your head from sunburn to reduce the likelihood of heat stroke. Hats that fit around the neck are the most recommended.

Collar / Headband / Bandanas

If necessary we recommend that you bring a neck or head band to help protect against sunburn.

Fleece Beanie or Head Band

Because the temperature drops on the Inca Trail. We suggest bringing a winter fleece beanie or head band.


Sunglasses are a must, as the UV intensity is high and the visible light is strong. This can damage your eyes. A good brand of sunglasses is Oakley. All their lenses provide 100% protection against UV A, B and C rays, and their category 4 lenses block 90% of visible light.

Inca Trail Equipment - Machu Picchu Peru
Inca Trail Equipment – Machu Picchu Peru


Flashlights are also necessary for hiking, especially in low-light areas, as not bringing one will delay your hike. Head flashlights are preferable as they allow you to keep your hands free. The leader in head flashlights is Petzl.


We recommend lightweight, weather-resistant gloves and hiking poles. Here we show you some of the key features of both and provide some affordable recommendations.

Gloves for the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is also characterized by low temperatures so heavy, highly insulated gloves or mittens are recommended, but you are likely to find it colder on the higher passes and in the mornings and evenings.

Inexpensive, lightweight, warm gloves that provide some weatherproof functionality are made by Outdoor Research, Black Diamond and SealSkinz.

Walking poles for the Inca Trail

For the Inca Trail, walking poles are a must.

The hike is normally undulating for about 5 to 6 hours per day for 3 to 4 days. It is common for the legs to suffer the impact of these walking conditions, but if you carry walking poles they will reduce the impact by up to 25% (a research study published in 1999 in the Journal of Sports Medicine showed even better results than 25%)

Inca Trail Equipment
Inca Trail Equipment

FOOTWEAR Walking boots

Hiking shoes are essential for the Inca Trail. Your feet are what carry you along the trail to Machu Picchu.
Medium-weight boots are best for Machu Picchu. Heavy boots provide great cushioning and are very durable, but can be a bit heavy to walk in.

Machu picchu Llama
Machu picchu Llama

The inner membrane should be waterproof. Gore-tex is the best material for this. The lacing system should incorporate speed hooks or D-cords that provide additional ankle support.

What shoes are recommended for the Inca Trail?

After a long day of trekking, the first thing you will want to do is take off your boots and air out your feet. We recommend bringing a basic pair of light trekking shoes or sandals that you can slip into, while wearing your socks for warmth. Alternatively, you can bring a pair of lightweight trainers.

Inca Trail Equipment - Machu Picchu Peru
Inca Trail Equipment – Machu Picchu Peru

Socks for the Inca Trail

You should bring 4 x pairs of hiking socks. Look for a light to medium weight hiking sock made of high wicking material. The best hiking socks are made of wool, preferably merino, as they promote breathability and are very good at wicking moisture away from the foot. Alternatively, a merino wool sock with a waterproof membrane is also an option.
Great brands of hiking socks that meet all of the above criteria include Smartwool, Bridgedale, Point 6 and Wigwam.

Inca Trail Equipment - Machu Picchu Peru
Inca Trail Equipment – Machu Picchu Peru



For the Inca Trail route, having a specialized backpack is a good idea, although there is the possibility that you can hire an additional porter to carry your belongings, which will carry between 7 to 14 kg; optionally you can use one of our pack animals, which can carry between 5 to 7 kg; remember that if you have things that you will not need for the Inca Trail it is necessary to leave them at the Hotel.

We recommend not to carry more than 15kg of equipment on your Inca Trail trek (this includes your sleeping bag and mat). If you have porters, it is best to give them equipment that you do not need during each day’s trek, such as your sleeping bag, sleeping mat, trekking sandals, spare clothes, toiletries, etc., as they are usually rushed to set them up. Camp and therefore you will not have access to this equipment until you arrive at camp each night.

You will carry approximately 3 to 5 kg of gear each day (i.e., your hiking boots, daily trekking clothes, hat, trekking poles, etc.). This leaves a maximum of 3 kg of gear to carry (i.e. rain gear, gloves, your camera, valuables, fleece, etc.). Be sure to allow for the weight of water and snacks, which can amount to another 2-3 kg. Most people can keep their backpack lighter than 10 kg.
For hikers going for treks like Salkantay, Choquequirao, Lares or Vilcabamba, you can afford to be a little heavier, as you will have mules that can carry 5-7 kg of your gear. For Inca Trail and alternative trail hikers, you should look for the following features in your backpack/backpack.

Backpack for the Inca Trail

Good backpacks are designed to transfer load weight to your hips. Shoulder straps should carry no more than 30% of the weight. Here are the key features to look for in your backpack

Size: the ideal size backpack for the Inca Trail is a lightweight 30-36L pack. These can easily carry a maximum load of 10kg. If you are trekking self-sufficient (no personal porter), you may want to go up a level to a 40-50L pack. If you’ve managed to stay super light and have porter support, all you need is a small backpack for your bits and pieces (a 20L pack will be fine).

Waterproof: backpacks are generally not waterproof, but good ones should be weatherproof. Look for design materials such as fabric pouches for the bag and Condura for high friction areas (i.e., inside the straps). A water-resistant urethane coating is also beneficial.

For proper fit the harness and suspension system should be of various sizes and adjustable. Shoulder straps should be padded and not restrict movement, and there should also be a well-padded hip belt. Top manufacturers, such as Osprey and North Face, design women’s specific bags that have reshaped hip belts that are wider and more contoured.


Due to the effects of altitude, you should stay well hydrated on the Inca Trail. You should aim to drink 2-3 liters of water per day. Water is normally supplied by the trekking team at the beginning of each day. You should check with your tour guide that your crew boils, filters and treats the water with water purification tablets before supplying it to you.

As a precautionary measure, you may wish to bring your own water purification tablets. It is possible to purchase water at certain points along the way, but it is recommended not to do so, as it is costly and leads to unnecessary waste along the way.

To carry 2 or more liters of water each day, you can: Use two 1-liter bottles. Use a 1.5 liter bottle (and take half a liter before leaving in the morning) Use a hydration bladder (they can hold between 2 and 5 liters) As for water bottles, we recommend the CamelBak Eddy 1L or 1.5L water bottle.

There is one mandatory sleeping accessory, a sleeping bag, and four optional pieces of sleeping gear that are part of your Inca Trail packing list. Here we look at each.

Sleeping bag

This implement has to be quality and a warm sleeping bag is a must on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Here we show you some characteristics to take into account:

It is possible to rent a sleeping bag in Cusco, but we recommend that you bring your own, as rented sleeping bags are usually not of high quality and sometimes have questionable hygiene standards.

There are two types of sleeping bags: goose or duck, and synthetic. Sleeping bags are generally lighter, warmer and of better quality. However, they are more expensive.

Warmth: On the Inca Trail it can get quite cold at night. The coldest months coincide with the popular dry trekking season from May to September. During this time, freezing temperatures are common at night.

We recommend a year-round four-season bag rated to -10 C (14F). During the dry shoulder months of March through April and October through November, you can get away with a three-season bag (-4 C / 25F). December, January and February are very humid and not ideal for trekking. Visiting Machu Picchu by train is fine, but we would not recommend a trekking/camping trip at this time of year.

Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu

Weight: As you or your porter, if you hire one, will carry your sleeping bag, the lighter the better. However, there is a trade-off between warmth and weight. Try to get a bag that does not exceed 2.5 kg.

Shape: mummy-shaped sleeping bags are the best, as they are designed to fit the contours of your body and therefore offer great insulation. Sleeping bags that have an insulating hood and a drawstring are excellent. Another useful feature is a two-way zipper system that allows for easy closure at both ends.

Sleeping bag liner (optional)

If you decide to buy a three-season sleeping bag or rent a sleeping bag in Cusco, it’s worth bringing a sleeping bag liner for extra insulation in case temperatures get really cold at night.

Choose one that is shaped like a mummy to fit the contours of your sleeping bag. Here are some good, affordable options.

Inflatable pillow (optional)

A simple inflatable pillow can come in handy if you’re one of those people who needs a soft surface to rest your head. Alternatively, simply stuff the hood of your sleeping bag with some spare clothing.

Optional Earplugs

In the mountains there can be a lot of disturbing noises to sleep through, and you need to be well rested to have a good hiking experience, for this basic earplugs will prove to be very effective in giving you an uninterrupted night’s rest

Do I need my passport for the Inca Trail?

At the Kilometer 82 checkpoint, you will be asked for your passport, without it you will not be able to enter, also, you need your passport to enter Machu Picchu.

Photocopies are not accepted and it must be the same one you used to book the Inca Trail. If you have any problem with your passport, please let us know in advance to avoid any bad experience.

No passport, no Inca Trail. So yes, don’t forget your passport.

Is travel insurance necessary for the Inca Trail?

For any adventure trip you must have your life insurance. If something goes wrong on the trek, you should contact your insurance company immediately.

Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu

Is a towel necessary for the Inca Trail?

A light, lightweight trekking towel to dry your hair, face and hands after a rainy day. There is an option to shower on the third day, so a towel is used. If you decide to take a shower, you may bring flip-flops, sandals or light sandals for hygiene reasons and a bathing suit (see below).

Is an umbrella necessary for the Inca Trail?

A small, collapsible umbrella like those used by passengers in big cities can actually be very useful as a break in between setting out in the rain when light drizzles are encountered on the Inca Trail.

Is sunscreen necessary on the Inca Trail?

Due to the conditions of the trek, sunscreen alone can be «washed off» by sweat, so a sunscreen that resists sweat is necessary; it is the same sunscreen that athletes use; in addition, we recommend lip balm.

Is insect repellent necessary for the Inca Trail?

A basic insect repellent is important. Make sure you get a reliable brand that has a high Deet content, above 90% (Repel is a great product). Cusco and Machu Picchu are considered low-risk malaria zones (see adjacent map), but you can never be too careful, and the flies in Aguas Calientes are large and irritating!

Are wet towels necessary for the Inca Trail?

We recommend wet towels to wipe your hands and face and clean your body after a long day of hiking. We also recommend bringing a small antiseptic hand gel before meals.

Dry plastic bags on the Inca Trail

Bring some large, medium, and small plastic bags that you can use to separate your wet and dry gear. Use zip-lock bags for your small equipment such as your wallet, money, camera, passport, etc.

Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu Kilometro 82
Inca Trail Equipment to Machu Picchu Kilometro 82

Should I carry my personal medicines for the Inca Trail?

SULLPAYPY EXPERIENCES will provide you with a first aid kit and emergency oxygen, but it is a good idea to bring some of the essentials with you (and have them with you when backpacking in South America more generally). We recommend:

  • 1 x box of blister dressings (tip: don’t wait until the blister has fully appeared to apply the dressing).
  • 1 x antiseptic cream
  • 1 x packet of paracetamol
  • 1 x packet of anti-diarrhea tablets (trust us, you don’t want any diarrhea on the way)
  • 1 x packet of rehydration sachets
Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment
Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment

Also, bring any personal medication you need and keep it in your backpack.

Coca leaves and coca tea should be available on the Trail from your tour company, but if you are worried about altitude sickness on the trek or in Peru, read this post. Take paracetamol for headaches (a common early symptom of altitude sickness) and Imedio. Your guide should carry a basic first aid kit, but you may want to carry some light basics available in these outdoor kits.

Snacks and munchies for the hike (Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment)

Take 2 to 3 energy bars for each day on the trail, so 10-15 total. Do not take milk-based snacks as these will melt. Nuts are also a good food to snack on the trail, just don’t consume salty foods as they lead to dehydration.

Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment
Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment

Toiletries recommended for the Inca Trail

  • 1 x toothbrush (use these bamboo ones) + toothpaste (have recently switched to toothpaste tablets, better for the environment and perfect for camping without a good supply of water)
  • 1 x cleanser (took micellar water) and reusable bamboo pads.
  • 1 x quality cream
  • 1 x deodorant
  • 1 x lip balm (be sure to get one with sunscreen)
  • 1 x toilet paper roll/pack of tissues
  • 1 x hand sanitizer
  • 1 x insect repellent. We use and recommend Incognito, which is non-toxic, not tested on animals and, most importantly, really works great.

Storing your toiletries in a separate box or old plastic bag is a good idea.

Note that baby wipes and paper towelettes are a popular choice on hikes like this, but they are riddled with plastic and therefore massively unsustainable (i.e., if you discard one in the wild, it will remain for a long time). An excellent alternative product is these biodegradable wipes.

Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment
Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment

Should I carry cash for the Inca Trail?

Carry cash in US dollars ($5 per day per porter and $20 per day per guide – average tips for a 4-day hike = $100 per hiker) for tips and soles (in coins and small bills) for small purchases, access to restrooms in Machu Picchu etc.

Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment
Machu PIcchu Inca Trail Equipment

Camera for the Inca Trail

The scenery along the Inca Trail and at Machu Picchu is extraordinary. Bring a decent camera to capture the experience. Here are some good digital SLR cameras, or if you want to go super light and capture awesome videos, we recommend the GoPro. Remember to make sure your camera equipment is fully charged as there are no charging points along the way, or bring a spare battery and SD card for safety. If you want you can bring one of these backpack-type solar chargers.

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