Inca Trail Pack List

While chatting with a co-worker about her upcoming Inca Trail trip this November, i realized i never included a recommended “what to pack” list on my blog. In honor of her upcoming trip, here is a packing list of things you really need.

As the italics indicate, the key word in the above sentence is *really.* Friends and tour operators will give you advice about what to bring. But here’s the thing. Most people hike the trial as part of an organized tour. And for most people (including everyone I know) that is the right way to go. In those instances, you are given a small pack and told you can put six pounds of items in the bag. Anything else that you want to bring will not be carried by the porter. Who might lug the extra pounds over a demanding terrain, where altitude is a factor, you ask? You.

The beginning of the Inca Trail
Welcome to the Inca Trail

If you are seasoned hiker, this is probably not a big deal. If you are new to long, steep and demanding hikes, i strongly recommend you follow this guidance. Friends will tell you to bring unnecessary things. What I recommend below equates to personal pack light enough to enjoy the hike.

Inca Trail Pack List #1. This is the stuff that goes in pack your porter will carry:

  • 4-5 pairs socks. Invest in heavy-duty running or hiking socks so your heels and toes have some “cushion.”
  • 3 dry weave type shirts, short sleeve
  • 2 dry weave type shirts, long sleeve
  • 1 pair of hiking pants (converter style that double as shorts are best—in a fabric that dries out fast)
  • Select toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, travel size deodorant, bug repellant, sunscreen. That’s all you need. This is a hike, not a beauty pageant.) (Second note here: depending on how much your sleeping bag weighs, these may have to in your backpack)
  • 1 Headlamp and one small flashlight—invest in a good, light LED headlamp, you’ll thank yourself later.
  • 1 Deck of cards
  • 1 Sleeping bag

My body temperature tends to drop quickly after a hike. As a result, i get very cold. If you are genetically wired the same way, i strongly recommend sucking it up and packing two additional items: a long sleeve cotton shirt and a warm sweater. As soon as you get to your campsite, change into these. Immediately, don’t wait, or you’ll get cold and body temperature is key.

Not referenced above but necessary: dry bags. Invest in some dry bags for your clothes. I got my dry bags locally at Hudson Trail Outfitters. REI is another option—and I bet LL Bean has some terrific ones—they’re one of my favorite retailers out there. You don’t need anything super fancy, just something that has a very tight seal to protect your clothes. Tip: weigh your dry bags before you get to Peru! Once i was assigned my duffel, i realized mine were adding weight causing me to repack about six times.

One of the many types of dry bags you can purchase for your Inca Trial hike.
One of the many types of dry bags you can purchase for your Inca Trail hike.

Inca Trail Personal Pack List #2. This is what you carry up the mountains.

  • Water bottle—Alternatively is a Camelbak hydration system
  • Camera
  • Book or journal if you use them
  • Band-Aids and moleskin
  • Poncho
  • Rain jacket (yes, both)
  • Travel pack of kleenex
  • Any meds that you take regularly
  • Pocket Knife—Swiss Army variety is always useful
  • Sun Glasses
  • Passport, ID and $100-$200 in cash.

The cash is in the event you want to buy treats (candy, gum, Gatorade) along the trial. You may also want a t-shirt at Machu Pichu and of course you need to tip your guide. Regarding a camera, several people took photos on their iPhone. I love to take pictures and hauled a larger, more professional version with a zoom lens. The choice is yours but I do think you’ll be happier with at least a point-and-shoot camera. There are some images older iPhone cameras just don’t capture well.

I packed my bag a few different ways. Ultimately, the above is the smartest way to go. Pack list #2 are the items you will need throughout a given day. Don’t be foolish and have them miles ahead of you with a porter.

Now, i met a person on my trip who had a full on first aid kit on her back. It weighed a ton but she wanted to be prepared. I thought it was excessive but totally admit, we borrowed her duct tape. If you have questions about optional gear, shoot me an email. I’m happy to weigh in with my two cents.

Since i migrated my blog from Tumblr, i will be updating the Peru posts. As a side note: I am really unhappy with how the pictures transferred. I debated editing my posts but decided not to. It’s a reflection of my writing style and how it’s evolved. Thankfully, i’ve evolved a lot and found, what i think, is a better style. What do you think?

And so, good luck Ms. Toher!

Turn Lemons Into Lemonade


People always say “turn lemons in lemonade.” I believe in the wisdom behind the phrase but i have a deep appreciate for the fact that it’s easier said then done.

We made it to Machu Picchu only to have it pour buckets and buckets of rain. This picture is evidence of the rain. Only one person in our group wasn’t soaked. And that’s because he was wearing a rubber rain suit.

Me and one of my besties making the best of the rain at Machu Picchu
Me and one of my besties making the best of the rain at Machu Picchu

I’ve wanted to go to Machu Picchu for years. No joke. I cannot begin to describe my disappointment over the rain. It was actually closer to despair and resentment. The time, the energy, the money… And finally some new friends of ours said it best: F—- it!

Side note: I actually made my best friend pose for this picture. What an amazing person: she was tired, soaked and not feeling well but still put on a smile. I knew she’d be mad if we didn’t take the picture. (I was right and she happily admitted it, after we got out of the rain.)

The agony of defeat. You get up at 3:30 in the morning to wait outside the gate to enter Machu Picchu for an hour. And once you get in the park, you hike for another hour. Why? To get to the Sun Gate for sunrise where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the ruins.

Here’s where the agony comes in. 30 minutes into our hike it started raining. About 15 minutes later, it was pouring. Buckets and buckets of rain. With no end in sight. No sunrise for us.

Almost there… Machu Picchu


Getting close to the goal: Machu Picchu. After kicking butt and making it up Dead Woman’s Pass, our next day was our longest day hiking. We were rewarded throughout the day with amazing views.

Stunning. And the mist adds to the history and allure of the hike.
Stunning. And the mist adds to the history and allure of the hike.

Check out the “stairs” we had to climb to get to this site.

Gotta be sure-footed to navigate these stairs!
Gotta be sure-footed to navigate these stairs!

Not Your Four Seasons Kinda Holiday


I get asked this a lot: ‘did you really camp along the Inca Trail?’ It seems a bit silly to me. I mean, do people really think the Four Seasons dropped in a built a place for campers? Anyway, here is proof. Our day three campsite.

Yep, we camped on the Inca Trail.
Yep, we camped on the Inca Trail.

The question i think people really want to ask is, ‘what was it like.’ Camping was fine, i loved that our porters brought us hot water for washing every morning followed by “tent side” coffee or tea service. Nice touch GAdventures!

What Goes Up…


…must come down. The thing about hiking up to Dead Woman’s Pass is that you still have to hike back down to your campsite. I mean, if you paid attention you saw: there aren’t too many places to pitch a tent up there.

If you look closely at the second picture, you can see our trail snaking around the side.

It probably doesn't look like much here, but man was this a beast to climb up!
It probably doesn’t look like much here, but man was this a beast to climb up!

I’m not really sure what i was doing in the first picture. I thing we were exhausted from the first part of the day and resigned ourselves to an afternoon of joking around.

Yay! We made it! We are so exhausted!
Yay! We made it! We are so exhausted…now we have to go back down???