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!

If It Ain’t Broke…

My trusted suitcase has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. I bought it roughly 10-12 years ago so it’s been around. The fabric along the bottom has eroded and the metal frame pokes out of one of the corners. The leather finish no longer has that “loved” look. It’s more like an “abused” look.

Despite all this, we’ve had some good trips together and honestly i subscribe to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of thought. My suitcase was worn, loved even, but not broken. So i withstood the taunting, especially from co-workers with far superior luggage.

And then, my suitcase actually broke. On a business trip. There i was, in California, with a suitcase and a handle that would not retract. After some serious struggling you can manage to get the handle down. But the struggling boarders on comical: user must put all body weight on the top of the handle and begin gently wiggling the handle from side to side. After 1-3 minutes, user will feel a difference, the handle is no longer “stuck”. User must immediately pounce and thrust all weight on the handle, pushing it down.

My trusty travel bag was an LL Bean model. I never doubted my replacement would be anything but. I certainly looked at the airport in a moment of desperation but HELLO – overpriced! And what if it’s crap? I couldn’t call Airport X for an exchange like you can call LL Bean.

I debated shopping around but it got overwhelming with all the fancy, superfluous options. Ultimately, i just remembered that i loved my LL Bean model. I mean, sure a set of Louis Vuitton luggage would be fab, but that’s a plane ticket somewhere. And really, if you spend that much money on a bag, isn’t it messed up that you’d allow that bag to be thrown around a luggage conveyor?

The new gear arrived Tuesday and i’m astonished how much luggage has evolved. Those push buttons to retract the handle? Awesome! And the split side compartments cater to my OCD nature. But most of all, my suitcase arrived just in time. I will be on the road all next week and won’t have to endure the harassing or be subjected to embarrassing myself with that ridiculous handle dance.

My new suitcase, the LL Bean Sportsman, in all it's new glory.
My new suitcase, the LL Bean Sportsman, in all it’s new glory.

Am i the only one that hangs on to travel accessories until they absolutely MUST be replaced?