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The ultimate Inca Trail packing list

As a wise man once said, there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear. Cold nights and damp days can turn the trek of a lifetime into a miserable march if you’re not well equipped. To make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during your Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu, we've put together this handy list of everything you'll need to bring along. We won't go so far as to actually pack your bags, though!

The same packing list applies for all other camping treks offered by SA Expeditions. If you book a lodge-to-lodge trek you'll sleep in comfortable lodges at night but you'll still need most of the same items during the day.

SA Expeditions hiker at Cusco, Peru
Take in the panoramic views of Cuzco before setting off on your expedition.

What’s Already Included 

If you’re traveling with SA Expeditions, several essential items are already included in the cost of your trip:

  • An additional porter to carry your personal items (sleeping bag, clothing, etc.)

  • A private bathroom tent, which will be set up and taken down at each campsite

  • A Therm-A-Rest sleeping mat

  • A lightweight but warm sleeping bag designed for Andean conditions

  • A good quality two-person tent, which you will share with your travel companion

  • All meals and related equipment during the trek (ending after breakfast on the last hiking day)

SA Expeditions Great Inca Trail camp set up in Peru
On our camping treks, arrive to a fully set campsite along with a warm, hearty meal.

What You Need to Bring

You will need to adjust this list based on the time of year you decide to hike the trail. In general, you can expect colder nights and sunnier days April through September, while from October through March night temperatures will be cool instead of cold and rain much more likely. For more seasonal information, check out our article about weather in Peru.


  • Personal daypack that you will carry

  • Personal water bottle, easily accessible so you don’t have to waste energy taking off your pack every time you want a drink

  • Shoes adequate for hiking. Lightweight and waterproof hiking boots are recommended as they provide ankle support, warmth, and will keep your feet dry. However, many people (including porters) choose to hike in tennis shoes

  • Headlamp

  • Waterproof casing for your bag (you can also use a poncho or plastic bags)

SA Expeditions Great Inca Trail day hike to Huchuy Qosqo in Peru
Our Great Inca Trail day hikes allow you to wander off the beaten path along pristine Inca trails while arriving to a comfortable hotel stay by night.


  • 2-to-4 base-layer shirts (preferably lightweight and moisture wicking)

  • 1 mid-layer shirt, such as a sweater or sweatshirt

  • 1 top-layer jacket, such as a thick fleece

  • 1 waterproof jacket

  • 1-to-2 pairs of lighweight hiking pants

  • Underwear

  • 2-to-4 pairs of socks

  • Warm sleeping clothes (may double as your “camp” clothing that you change into after you reach the campsite)

Personal Items

  • Passport

  • Money for tipping guide and porters (preferably in soles)

  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, etc.)

  • Toilet paper

  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer

  • Medications (headache tablets, band aids, personal prescriptions)

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat

Templo de la Luna in Cusco, Peru
Templo de la Luna in Cuzco, Peru

What You May Want to Bring (Optional Items)

  • Camera

  • Deck of cards/reading book

  • Cold weather gear (hat, scarf, etc.)

  • Hiking poles (can be rented when booking)

  • Extra snacks (snacks are provided, but you can bring special treats if you want)

  • Bathing suit

  • Towel

  • Shower supplies if you plan on taking a cold-water shower -or- baby wipes to clean off in your tent

  • Flip-flops or lightweight camp shoes

SA Expeditions Great Inca Trail Vitcos trek in Peru
Our team walks along a remarkable, well-preserved Inca wall on the Great Inca Trail Vitcos trek.

Ready for an incredible Inca trail adventure? Have a glance at our Machu Picchu and Cuzco treks. If you're longing to go even more off the beaten path, our Great Inca Trail treks would surely suit you. Get in touch with one of our Destination Experts to start planning your expedition.

Originally published in November 2017.

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