Let me start by saying that we were very lucky on our trip to Peru. The weather was excellent!! We knew going in that it was the dry season in mid-July, but couldn't have asked for better weather. We spent two days in Cusco acclimating to the altitude and while it was cold, there was no rain in sight except for a few minutes when it was misting. On the Inca Trail, the weather was perfect. Clear skies, hot and dry during the day. I thought I packed appropriately, but the one thing I would change was to add thicker layers for the night time. If you have it already, bring a packable light down jacket. I wish I had it at night. It gets cold being so high up in the mountain. Layers definitely help ensure that your body temperature stays regulated during the hike.
We spent 2 days in Cusco, 4 days on the Inca Trail and 2 Days in Lima. I was able to fit all of my things into a 55L Backpack. We took Spirit Airlines and it was our first time using the airline so I was worried about baggage getting lost or them rejecting our backpacks due to size. We had paid for carry-on only and I wanted to keep it that way. I stuffed the backpack, but added my fleece, toiletries and plane food at the top of the pack along with a small compressible day back. At the airport, I took out the fleece, toiletries, food and put it inside the small day back. This allowed me to have a personal bag and my carry-on looked smaller in size. With your pack, make sure you wrap all of the cords and drawstrings tight so that it looks compact. I also brought my own trekking poles. I was worried they would get confiscated at security, but there were fine going through LGA and LIMA security. I did have someone at FLL question them, partly because he was new on the job. He checked and I was waved through.
I didn't really need to buy any new clothes for this trip. Since I live on the East Coast, I have a bunch of winter stuff already that I just took out of storage. The only thing I bought was a new rain jacket and 1 pair of trekking pants that I found at a thrift store. I did need to get camping supplies, most of which I bought off of Amazon and are linked below. I contemplated renting some of the gear, but after doing some calculations, it would have cost more to rent than to buy. My goal then for the rest of the year is to try to use more of what I bought which means more hiking and camping. I did also try to find used stuff online, but couldn't find what I was looking for at a cost that would have been less than a new item.
I have posted below what I bought on Amazon. These are affiliate links, please see Disclosures to see what this means. After using them for the hike, I would totally recommend them for use on this trail. Time will tell how they hold up.
A note on showers. While some camps had shower facilities, you would be showering with cold mountain water. We didn't shower for 4 days and the stink wasn't too bad. Just make sure you wipe each day especially after using all of the sunscreen, bug spray and getting blown with dry dust.
Before leaving for the Inca Trail, I also left a few items at the hotel we were staying at. Most hotels in Cusco will hold luggage for you. This help bring the weight of my pack and allowed me to remove a few items that I didn't need on the trail such as extra clothes.
What I Packed
- 6 workout tank tops (make sure they have dry wick fabric)
- 1 pair of REI trekking pants (bought thrifted)
- 1 pair of yoga pants
- 1 pair of city leggings
- 1 pair of fleece leggings (for sleep)
- 1 pair of Uniqlo Heattech leggings (used with the fleece leggings above for camp)
- 1 Uniqlo Heattech tank top (for sleep)
- 2 Uniqlo Heattech long sleeves (used with the tank top above for camp)
- 2 merino wool based thin sweaters
- 1 North Face fleece jacket
- 1 North Face rain jacket
- 1 baseball cap
- 1 multi-use headband (good as a neck scarf to prevent sun burn, as a headband, as a mask for dusty trails)
- 1 winter cap
- 2 pairs of gloves
- 9 pairs of underwear
- 3 sports bras
- 1 pair of thick wool socks for night
- 4 pairs of hiking wool socks
- 2 pairs of regular socks
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of Ked's casual shoes
- LE Headlamp LED (Tip: turn the battery so you don't accidentally run it out.)
- BAFX Trekking Poles (A must for me as it helped stabilize me especially on the descent.)
- Outlander Lightweight Daypack
- TETON Sports Scout 3400 55L Backpack (My husband and I used the same bag size, I just adjusted waist and bag strap to fit my smaller frame.)
- Merrell Moab Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Mummy sleeping bag (brought my own, one at 45 degrees, but definitely needed something thicker because damn it's cold in the Andes. You can rent sleeping bags or air mattresses there. They will supply the sleeping mat and tents.)
- Klean Kanteen and Nalgene water bottles (I wanted the KK because I like my water cold, but it was unnecessary and you don't need to lug that much water.)
- iPhone 6 (used as my camera, alarm clock, flashlight)
- Solight Solarpuff Portable Compact LED Solar Lantern (solar powered, good as an additional light source at night. Found on Kickstarter years ago and finally got a chance to use it.)
- Anker Portable Charger (my husband had this in his pack)
- Inexpensive Action Camera (my husband had this in his pack)
- 1 roll of toilet paper with the cardboard removed
- 1 pack of Honest Baby Wipes, 70 count (This was enough for my husband, myself and shared with others. I also like this because you do throw it out in nature sometimes and these are compostable.)
- 1 peshtemal (Turkish quick dry towel, didn't need since we didn't shower, but used as a pillow)
- Chlorophyll Drops (I didn't take any altitude sickness pills. I instead opted to go natural and started using these drops a week before and during the trip along with some coca candy the day of the hike. Some nausea on the second day and sluggishnes, but overall OK.)
- 1 bag of my standard toiletries that I always have with me when traveling with deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, extra hair ties, Vaseline, Band-Aids, soap bars, Qtips, Advil, Imodium)
- 1 sunscreen, 1 bug spray, 1 Chapstick with SPF (important!)
How I Packed
I used the roll method. In this case, I set my outfits per day. I knew I would be reusing some pants so I rolled a tank top and a long sleeve shirt or sweater together for each day. I stuffed an Epic bar for each set of clothes so I wouldn't be tempted to eat them all at once. I secured each with a rubber band. My night clothes were all rolled together so they would be easy to take out. This also reduce the need for me to pack and unpack each day. I did carry a part of my pack on the hike. For the first day, I had everything (around 25 lbs), but it was slowing me down, so for the second day, I left my sleeping bag with the porters. For the third day, I emptied out more clothes. For the last day, I only carried my day pack, since you can't get into Machu Picchu with a large pack. It has to be checked in.
Other Packing Tips
- I wore thin long sleeve wool sweaters on each day of the hike. I was fine. No sunburn and dried out pretty quickly if I was sweating. No bug bites! At Machu Picchu, I went with a tank top and lots of sunscreen and was fine.
- If going in the winter, bring a compressible, down jacket, if not, bring an extra fleece blanket to keep you warm.
- Put your underwear and socks in a zip lock bag to keep them dry, just in case. Someone in our group went on a pee break and the pee rolled down the slope and got someone's pack. Oops!
- I wore a tank top each day with a long sleeve wool sweater over them, plus my North Face fleece and/or my rain jacket depending on the temperature.
- I had lots of just in case items, which, thankfully we didn't need to use like blister pads, Imodium, Band-Aids, etc.