The Complete Inca Trail Packing List: What to Pack for Trekking Machu Picchu

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Many people struggle to figure out what to pack for Peru and with good reason: the weather is all over the place! Do you pack for rain or sun? And what’s with the whole opposite season thing? Do you *really* need to bring a rain jacket and poncho? I asked myself the same questions before my March / April trip. Not only did I hike The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but I also traveled to five other cities in Peru, each with varying temperatures. I struggled to pack for my trip and brought items I didn’t need and forgot some important ones. So in order to avoid doing the same, I’ve compiled this complete Machu Picchu packing list: everything you need to pack for the Inca Trail. Whether you’re doing a day trip to Machu Picchu, The Inca Trail, or another trek entirely, these are the essentials you need to pack.

Weather in Cusco, Peru

Let me first preface this section by saying that the weather in Peru varies wildly. Like, it could be 55 degrees F and rainy in Cusco and 80 degrees F in Lima. But for the purpose of what to pack for The Inca Trail, we’re going to focus on the weather in Cusco, as it’s similar to that of Machu Picchu and on the trail itself.

April – May / September – October: These are the BEST times to hike The Inca Trail. I hiked at the end of March and still caught some rain. By mid-April, the trails are pretty much dry until October. Note that you may encounter rainy conditions in early April and mid-October (there are never any guarantees) but these are not “the rainy season.”

These months are also considered to be shoulder season. That means, you’ll be avoiding the peak season of tourism (May – August and December) when prices are at their highest and sites (including the trail) at their busiest. If I were to re-do my trip, I would book The Inca Trail for mid-April.

June – August: These are the most popular months to hike The Inca Trail because they’re the driest (and families are on summer break in the Northern Hemisphere). You’re almost guaranteed to avoid rain during these months, but note that the weather is cold (it’s winter in Peru) and you’ll encounter lots of travelers. You have to book your trek far in advance since only 500 permits are issued per day. I did the trek with Intrepid Travel and highly recommend them.

November – March: This is the rainy season on The Inca Trail, and when you should avoid hiking if possible. The trail actually closes in February for maintenance, so you can’t hike then anyway. But trust me, the hike is challenging enough without slippery rocks and pouring rain. Despite the not-so-great weather conditions, December is still crowded due to Christmas vacationers.


What to Pack in: Luggage for The Inca Trail

Over the years, I’ve somewhat perfected become better at only packing things I need and packing carry-on only (for the most part) for most of my trips. Except for like, months and months of travel, in which case, I like to have options. But…that wasn’t the case for my 3 weeks in Peru.

If you’re traveling to Peru, chances are you’ll be visiting at least two or three cities which means you’ll be lugging your luggage from place to place via some mode of public transport. I’ve been the person that drags a wheelie suitcase through cobblestone streets and it’s honestly just not practical. So even if you aren’t usually a backpacker, I highly recommend bringing a backpack to Peru for ease of transport. You’ll have to do laundry after the trek anyway, so no need to overpack.

  • Backpack: IF you’re spending a week or ten days in Peru, you can easily pack carry-on only. The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is hands down the best carry-on-sized backpack I’ve ever used for travel. Not only is it carry-on sized, but it’s also incredibly comfortable and easy to carry, even for a small-framed person like me. It has tons of pockets and compartments for organization, lockable zippers, and it’s weather resistant. If you don’t think you can handle packing in a carry-on, the Osprey Fairview 70 Backpack is just as comfortable but a lot larger and what I personally used while on my trip. Note: You are given a small duffel for your belongings on The Inca Trail – you’ll only need to bring 4 days worth of clothing. The rest stays behind at a hotel. Check with your tour company if you need to bring your own duffel. Intrepid Travel provided me with one.
  • Packing Cubes: I never understood why people needed packing cubes until I got some of my own. Guys, they’re the BEST for keeping organized! I can no longer travel without them. Now I avoid what I fondly call “exploding suitcase syndrome” – that tendency for all your things to go all over the place every time you need to get one thing from your suitcase. I’m a fan of these ones made specifically for the Tortuga Outbreaker but if you have a different backpack, these compression packing cubes are pretty great too! Note: You won’t specifically need these on The Inca Trail but you’ll want them to organize your stuff in your main luggage. 
  • Daypack: The majority of trekkers opt for a company with porters: an amazing group of champs who carry all of your stuff while on the trek – everything from food to tents to your duffel bags. Basically, you pack a maximum of 5 kg in a duffel that they carry for you and you’re in charge of bringing a daypack with everything you need for the day: snacks, water, a poncho, etc. I recommend this daypack specifically: it’s durable, comfortable, AND comes with a water bladder (super important). You spend a lot of time adding and removing layers on the trek and you’ll want easy access to water. This bag is perfect for all of that. Plus, it’s large enough to serve as a solid personal item for air travel. You’ll probably want to buy a rain cover for your bag as well if you don’t want to wear / buy a poncho.
  • Plastic / dry bags: You know what sucks? Arriving to camp and realizing that your stuff got wet along the way because of the rain. That’s why, you should pack 2-3 large trashbags to protect your stuff while it’s in the duffel bag. Alternatively, if you want to be nice to the environment (yay!), bring some dry bags.
An example of what I wore at the start of the Inca Trail: a fleece over my two tops, hiking pants, a scarf, hiking shoes, a beanie and sunglasses. Plus my daypack! | Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
Start of The Inca Trail when it was still chilly / Photo by Ryan Bolton for Intrepid Travel

What to Wear on The Inca Trail: Clothing and Shoes for Every Season

I know that clothing often feels like the hardest thing to pack, but in the case of The Inca Trail, just remember one rule of thumb: wear and pack good-quality layers. The weather on The Inca Trail varies depending on the season and your elevation, so chances are high that you’ll be adding and removing layers along the way. In general, it’s pretty chilly both in the morning at night, but moderate during the day all year round. I’ve included all the items you’ll need, with notes on which season you’ll need them. Tip: Spray all your clothing and gear with Permethrin spray before you leave. It lasts up to six washes and helps you avoid bug bites. I didn’t get a single bite on the trail!


  • (4) Basic temperature regulating t-shirts: No matter what the season, you’ll want your first layer to be a temperature-regulating shirt, like this one or this one. Both of these shirts are specially made to be moisture-wicking and anti-odor and the first one also offers SPF protection. You will definitely need one clean shirt per day since there are no showers on the trail and you’ll be sweaty AF. I specifically recommend these shirts because they’re made of moisture-wicking fabric, which means they won’t cling to you and make you cold when you get sweaty. Plus, they regulate body temperature well and are breathable so you won’t feel uncomfortable on the trail.
  • (4) Long-sleeved temperature regulating tops: I personally don’t get warm easily so I wore my short and long sleeved tops the entire time I was hiking (I was too cold for a t-shirt but others in my group wore just Ts during various parts of the trail). Like the t-shirts, you’ll need one of these tops for each day, especially for the first and last few hours of hiking, as the weather changes rapidly.


  • (2-3) Pairs of hiking pants: If you’re doing The Inca Trail, it doesn’t really get cold enough for winter hiking pants or anything – a regular pair is fine. You can also get away with regular exercise leggings if your legs don’t get cold and / or you don’t anticipate needing pockets. However, I was much more comfortable in my hiking pants. I know it’s tempting to use one pair of pants for the whole 4 days, but they start to smell really quickly. Bring at least 2 pairs. Some people prefer ones that can convert into shorts but it really wasn’t that warm. I recommend one pair of these (or these if you want the convertible version) – they’re reasonably priced, comfortable, and have lots of pockets. For your second pair, I recommend these pants – they’re cute (and look like regular pants!), comfortable, moisture-wicking and have SPF protection.
  • Long skirt (optional): There are a fair amount of bathrooms along the trail, but if you think you may need to go out in nature, it’s worth bringing a long skirt along for coverage just in case. I regretted not bringing one.


  • Hiking Shoes: I didn’t book my trip until a month before I left and the first thing I did was purchase hiking shoes. I wore them everywhere for a month because I was terrified that I’d get blisters on the trail. As SOON as you know you’re going, make sure you purchase quality hiking shoes. They need to be waterproof, supportive, and have good traction. I recommend getting fitted at REI if you’re not confident with purchasing a pair online. Either way, make sure you break them in because they’ll be the most important item you wear on the trail.
  • Hiking Sandals: Why do you need hiking sandals when you have shoes, might you ask? Because there is nothing that feels better than taking off your hiking shoes after 10 hours of walking in them no matter how comfortable they are. As soon as I got to camp, I would soak and wash my feet then put these Keen sandals on. These are so durable that you can even hike in them if you want (and it’s warm enough) – I know because I wore them while I was in Costa Rica. You can also be extra stylish and pair them with socks (ha!) if your feet get cold. If you don’t own or want to purchase hiking sandals, bring some sort of shoe with traction that let’s your feet breathe while you’re at camp.

Inca Trail Packing List: Outerwear, Underwear and Accessories

  • (2-4) Moisture-wicking sports bras, (4) pairs underwear: I always bring this workout bra because it keeps moisture and smells away. Same goes for this underwear (plus, it dries quickly for easy washing). Bring a pair for every day.
  • (4) Pairs of moisture-wicking socks: These are hands-down the best moisture-wicking hiking socks. They’re perfect for all-day wear without smelly or sweaty feet AND they come with a lifetime guarantee. These are also pretty good. Bring four pairs – you’ll want a fresh pair for each day.
  • Pajamas: I like bringing leggings and a basic shirt to wear as pajamas just in case there’s an off chance I need to wash them and wear them as clothes in a pinch. Or layer with them if it gets cold. Either way, don’t forget pajamas and make sure they’re warm (it gets cold at night)!
  • Fleece: You’ll want to bring a fleece the early morning, evening, and to sleep in. It gets chilly along the trail and at camp. Note: If you’re hiking in March / April, you can get away with bringing either a fleece or a down jacket. If you’re prone to cold, bring both. 
  • Packable down jacket: There are some winter days when it gets pretty chilly so a proper jacket does come in handy. I really like this packable one because it’s warm but doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase.
  • Secret pocket scarf: One of my favorite minimalist hacks for travel is to bring several scarves and several basic shirts and mix and match them to create whole new outfits. Cool trick, right? My favorite scarf to pack for every trip is this secret pocket scarf. It’s cute and functional and has the added bonus of having a hidden pocket, where you can keep your passport, some money, or any other valuable you’re worried about. Plus, it kept me warm on the Inca Trail so lots of wins. A regular mid-weight scarf will do as well!
  • Rain shell: You’ll want to bring a lightweight rain jacket to keep yourself dry in the event that it starts raining. You’ll want this even if it isn’t rainy season because nothing dries once it gets wet on the trail due to the humidity and elevation. You’ll already have plenty of layers so you don’t need a heavy rain jacket. This one is comparable to the one I have and it came in handy both on and off the trail.
  • Sunglasses: You’ll want them in the winter too. Protect your eyes from the high UV rays that come with higher elevation and Peru in general.
  • Sun hat: I’m going to be honest. I hate hats with a fiery passion. I brought a baseball cap and only wore it at Machu Picchu for the photos because my hair was a disaster. That being said, I was lucky in that it was hardly sunny during my trek. I imagine I would have worn it more often if 1) I were more prone to burning and 2) it was sunny. So, protect ya neck (literally) and face with a hat. If you’re worried, you can also get one with a neck flap. They’re handy for added warmth and skin protection.
  • Beanie: As much as I don’t like hats, I actually wore my beanie fairly frequently: in the mornings and evenings when it was chilly and at night to sleep in because I was extra cold. You won’t regret bringing one.
  • Poncho (optional): Honestly, you only need a poncho if you go during rainy season or if you haven’t purchased a rain cover for your backpack. Because I already had a cover and jacket, my poncho just came home with me unused. You can buy one for around $2 in Peru if you decide you want it last minute.
  • Gloves (optional): You’ll need these if you’re hiking during the winter because it can get really cold but you can easily get away with not bringing any if you’re going in the spring. I am not a fan of gloves – I even have these nice tech-friendly kind – so given that I wasn’t too cold, they stayed in my backpack. I didn’t see anyone else on my trek wearing gloves but if you’re prone to cold hands, you might want them.
  • Headlamp: This is not optional. There are a few lights on in the main dining tent at the camps, but otherwise it’s pitch-black. You’ll want these for changing, packing / unpacking, hanging out, plus for any visits to the bathroom. You don’t need an expensive or fancy one by any mans. This one will do.
  • Walking poles: First of all: having hiking poles on The Inca Trail is a must unless you’re an ultra-fit, semi-professional hiker. My knees were destroyed after the trail and I can only imagine what it must have felt like for those who opted out of poles. Plus, I slipped like four times on slippery downhill rocks with poles, so I can only imagine the self-inflicted damage I would have done without them. Now, walking poles are technically optional in the sense that you can rent them from your tour operator (most of them from what I’m told) for about $20. If you’re a hard-core hiker or intend to be hiking a lot in the future, then it’s a good idea to invest in poles. They have to be rubber-tipped for The Inca Tail and you’ll definitely want them to be collapsible and lightweight. These are the ones I used on the trail and they were perfect.
In various layers along the trail: some in t-shirts and some in multiple layers. | Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
After a few hours of hiking: everyone in various layers / Photo by Ryan Bolton for Intrepid Travel

What to Pack for The Inca Trail: Toiletries 

There are no showers on The Inca Trail with the exception of the last night and they’re freezing. You won’t be bringing (m)any toiletries along. Here’s what you need instead.

  • Oral care: Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss sticks along. There are sinks and squat toilets at every campsite.
  • Deodorant: Obviously.
  • Body wipes: Since you won’t be able to shower for several days but you you’ll be sweaty, you’ll want to bring wipes to “shower” instead. These wipes are scent-free, durable and biodegradable (although I kept them in a little trash bag just in case). Plus, this pack has plenty for you to use on multiple trips.
  • Hand Sanitizer and Face wipes: The bathrooms on The Inca Trail are hit and miss but most of them don’t have soap. You can bring soap sheets with you, but also be sure to pack hand sanitizer for instances when you don’t have water. Technically, you can use body wipes on your face, but I like having face wipes since they’re gentler.
  • Travel toilet paper: Toilet paper is rarely available on The Inca Trail, so keep it handy in your daypack. You can always buy toilet paper in Peru or take some from your hotel, but I like to keep some of these small toilet paper rolls in my bag and not worry about it. Note: don’t flush anything down the toilet in Peru, not even toilet paper. The pipes can’t handle it. 
  • Pee funnel: There are a lot of squat toilets on the trail and if you’re a female reading this, then you know the struggle is real when it comes to squat toilets. To add insult to injury. your thighs are already on fire from hiking and the last thing you’ll want to do is squat over a hole. Enter the SheWee. Best believe I brought this funnel with me on the trip and all the other women on my trek were jealous. It makes using the squat bathroom a bit easier.
  • Chapstick: Use it often and buy the SPF kind. If your lips aren’t drying out from the air, they’re getting sunburned from the sun.
  • Sunscreen: You know what makes you sunburn really quickly? High altitudes. And just Peru in general because it has some of the strongest UV rays in the world. Eeep. So pack some high-SPF sunscreen and reapply it. I’m 100% African and got sunburned at Machu Picchu. Don’t be like me.
  • Insect repellent: I sprayed all my clothing with Permethrin spray before I left and used insect repellent and I wasn’t bitten once! This insect repellent specifically was voted number one in consumer tests and I can vouch for that fact that I don’t get bitten while using it. Plus, you can use it on your clothes and your skin and it doesn’t make you feel or smell gross!
  • Menstruation things: Altitude can mess with your cycle, so bring some backups even if you aren’t expecting your period. Pads are readily available but tampons and menstrual cups not so much. Pack some along with you.
  • Face moisturizer: My skin is prone to dryness, especially when I spend all day outdoors. I love the Cerave PM moisturizer (shout out to my dermatologist!) and this bottle comes in a 3 oz size, which makes it packing-friendly.
Early morning at The Sun Gate. It was chilly! | Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
My Intrepid Travel group at The Sun Gate – just minutes from Machu Picchu. It was chilly! / Photo by Ryan Bolton for Intrepid Travel

Travel Safety and First Aid on The Inca Trail

  • Travel Insurance: Yes, you need travel insurance for if things (hopefully don’t but often do) go wrong. I was SO sick the entire time in Peru and was grateful to have insurance in case I needed the doctor or if I needed to turn back on the trail (honestly, I almost did). My go-to insurance is World Nomads cause they’re awesome, straightforward and easy to deal with. Be sure to check out the different plan options to pick one that’s right for you – and read the fine print!
  • Luggage Locks: You’ll be leaving the majority of your items back in luggage storage at your hotel in Cusco and taking only your trail essentials with you. Yes, it will be locked up but I’m paranoid and say better safe than sorry (I brought my laptop to Peru and didn’t want to risk damaging it on the trail). I bring a couple of these small TSA-approved locks with me whenever I travel. Sure, I can’t stop someone from running off with my entire bag, but at least I can stop petty theft, heyyyy!
  • Anti Diarrheal: Guess who had diarrhea the entire time she was on The Inca Trail? *ducks head in shame.* I also stupidly didn’t bring anti-diarrheal with me and was incredibly lucky that one of my trail mates had some so I could at least enjoy Machu Picchu. So on the chance that you suffer the same ailments as me, pack some Imodium, every traveler’s favorite treatment for travel diarrhea. My doctor tells me that you shouldn’t stop whatever is making you sick from leaving your system. However, I totally get that there are times where “better out than in” just doesn’t work (ahem, like while hiking for several days). So bring Imodium, but use it only when you need to.
  • Rehydration Salts: This is another item that I regret not bringing and had to borrow from someone on the trail (I know – I was so unprepared for sickness). You’ll be drinking a lot of water, yes, but you’ll also be sweating a lot. If you’re taking altitude sickness medication, one of the side effects is dehydration. And diarrhea also doesn’t help. These rehydration salts are perfect for electrolyte replenishment, especially when you can’t keep anything down. I speak from personal experience here.
  • Electrolyte powder: As an added supplement to rehydration salts, bring powdered electrolyte packets along. This is something I did bring and was so thankful. Not only does it help with hydration but it also masks the flavor of the boiled water. I used an entire box while I was in Peru and it was one of my better last-minute packing additions.
  • Snacks: Honestly, we were SO well-fed on the trail that I hardly ate any additional snacks. Or maybe that’s because I was sick. Either way, if you think you’ll get hungry along the way, bring some replenishment like granola bars, unsalted nuts, energy gels, and chocolate. Just don’t bring anything too salty that will make you thirsty.
  • Advil: Bring some pain reliever with you in case your body aches are intolerable. It’s four days of hiking after all.
  • Blister Plasters: Just in case your hiking shoes aren’t quite as broken in as you though, you’ll want to have these blister plasters with you. I used a couple after the second and hardest day and they worked wonders.
  • Bengay / Tiger Balm: Bengay or Tiger Balm are particularly helpful for muscle relief on The Inca Trail, especially if you don’t want to take Advil.
  • Travel First Aid Kit: I love that this travel first aid kit is small enough to stick in your bag but still has tons of items in it. I’d remove the scissors if you aren’t planning to check your luggage, but otherwise, this is incredibly handy, especially for outdoorsy things.
Nearly at Machu Picchu: this is what I wore on my last day. | Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
Hiking from the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu / Photo by Ryan Bolton for Intrepid Travel

What to Pack for The Inca Trail: Electronics

  • Power bank: I mean, you’ll be on the trail for four days without anywhere to charge your phone, so I’ll be very impressed if you can make your phone last that long without a charge. You won’t have signal on the trail even with a local SIM, but you’ll want to take photos and videos along the way. Bring a full-charged power bank and keep your phone on battery-saving mode. I always carry my Anker PowerCore while traveling. It’s light, holds multiple charges, and charges phones quickly. Win!
  • Travel Camera(s): I know all the cool kids are about that #iPhoneOnly life, but I still like taking photos with a camera. Does that make me old? Whatever, I’m embracing it. Anyway, for adventure footage and photos, the latest GoPro is seriously the best. It’s waterproof, image stabilizing, and has a bunch of other cool features. If you’re looking for a nice digital camera that doesn’t involve complicated lenses, I personally use the Sony RX100 II, which I’m obsessed with. This is the older model (I think they’re on the 6 now) but it works great. The Carl Zeiss lens helps take spectacular, high-quality photos but the camera is small enough to fit in a purse.

Inca Trail Packing List: Travel Accessories

  • Insulated water bottle and water purifier AND water bladder: To preface this – if you purchase the daypack I recommend, it already comes with a water bladder. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to purchase it separately as many daypacks don’t come with them. So – why do you need to pack both a water bottle AND a water bladder? Well, firstly – water bladders are great. They make it easy to drink without having to pause on the trail and hold way more than a water bottle. However, you can’t tell if you’re running low / out of water without opening your bag and digging through, which is what I learned the hard way when I ran out of water for a few hours. That’s why, you should carry both with you. If your bladder runs out, at least you can see how much is left in your water bottle. Also, in case you’re wondering – yes, the porters do provide you with boiled (unfiltered) water twice throughout the day (at least with Intrepid they did) but if you’re particularly concerned about bacteria or have a sensitive stomach, consider bringing along a Steripen, a UV water purifier that gets rid of 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. I use it in combination with my CamelBak Insulated Water Bottle. This bottle is particularly awesome because it holds 20 oz and keeps water cold. If you’d rather purchase an all-in-one solution, Grayl’s water filtering bottle is a great alternative so you can fill directly from the tap and drink almost immediately.
  • Microfiber face towel: If you’re prone to sweat or want to quickly dry off after you “shower,” having a small microfiber face towel with you is handy. I own the Wise Owl Camping Towel and it comes with a bonus face towel. It’s a great item to have regardless as it dries super quickly and takes up almost no room.
  • Inflatable pillow (optional): Depending on the company you use for the trek, you may or may not get a a pillow. I didn’t and can’t sleep without a pillow no matter how tired I am. I used my duffle in combination with this inflatable pillow and it was incredibly comfortable – and the pillow took up almost no room in my bag! I’m a bit of a brat about comfort while I sleep, so I was really glad to have this.
  • Eye mask and earplugs: I have the hardest time sleeping pretty much anywhere that isn’t a bed, which I know is ridiculous considering how often I travel. I really regret NOT bringing both of these items with me on the trek since multiple people in my group (myself included) snored. Yikes. I was trying to be a bit of a packing minimalist and didn’t bring my usual earplugs and funny-looking eye mask. Don’t be like me. Bring, at the very least, earplugs, even if you don’t sleep with them normally.
  • Sleeping bag (optional): You have two options with the sleeping bag. Either you can bring your own or you can rent one in Peru. I initially bought one then returned it because 1) I was traveling for 3 weeks, 2) it took up a lot of room and 3) I don’t have the intention of camping much in the future. However, if you choose to buy your own, it needs to be a 4-season down sleeping bag for both warmth and weight purposes. Porters carry your sleeping bags so the heavier it is, the less weight you have for your duffel. This one meets all the requirements and weights just over 2 pounds, but it’s pricey. If you think you’ll be camping again in the future or doing long treks, it’s worth the investment. Otherwise, it costs around $20 to rent it for the trail in Peru. Note: we were also given sleeping mats on the trek so sleeping in the bag was a bit more comfortable. Most tour operators do this.
  • Sleeping bag liner: I’m not a germaphobe by any means but since I knew I’d be renting a sleeping bag, I was grateful to have this silk sleeping bag liner with me. Not only does it feel ultra-luxurious (in a tent lol) but it also put a barrier between me and my bedding, which made me feel better. Plus, it was an additional layer of warmth that I definitely appreciated.
Slight drizzle on The Inca Trail - happy to have my raincoat handy!| Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
My rain jacket was a lifesaver and made me easily visible in photos! / Photo by Ryan Bolton for Intrepid Travel

What to Pack for Machu Picchu and The Inca Trail: Miscellaneous 

  • Passport: Don’t leave your passport behind at the hotel. You need it to enter Machu Picchu.
  • Cash: Bring the equivalent of $200 with you just in case. You’ll need around $50 – $60 for tipping the porters and your guide anyway, but the rest is for emergencies: in case you need to turn back and pay for a hotel, for snacks or drinks the first couple of days, and more. Also, be sure to bring plenty of 1 sol coins for the bathrooms – change is hard to come by!

Machu Picchu Packing List: What to Pack for Machu Picchu

If you aren’t hiking The Inca Trail and are just heading to Machu Picchu for the day from Cusco, Aguas Calientes, or Ollantaytambo, here’s what you need for the day.

  • Daypack: I recommend this daypack specifically: it’s durable, comfortable, has lots of pockets, AND comes with a water bladder. It can hold everything you’ll need for the day and more.
  • Sunscreen: High altitude makes you sunburn quickly and despite applying sunscreen several times at Machu Picchu, I still got a slight sunburn. So apply and re-apply high-SPF sunscreen. You can apply insect repellent before heading to Machu Picchu but you shouldn’t need to pack it with you for the day.
  • Moisture-wicking top: No matter what the season, you’ll want your first layer to be a temperature-regulating shirt since the weather at Machu Picchu fluctuates. I recommend this top. It keeps you warm in cool weather and warm in cool weather and offers SPF protection. If you’d prefer a t-shirt instead, check out this top. You can wear an additional cute layer on top of this one.
  • Fleece or down jacket: In case it gets chilly or you arrive to Machu Picchu in the morning, you’ll want a jacket of some sort. My go-to is this packable down jacket because it’s compressible and easy to carry but you can also bring a fleece as well.
  • Rain jacket or poncho: There’s always a chance it might rain at Machu Picchu (it did when I was there). Bring a light rain jacket or poncho and keep it in your bag, just in case.
  • Comfortable pants: Honestly, you’ll probably want waterproof pants in case it rains (these are cute and look like regular pants) but workout leggings will do the trick as well.
  • Waterproof hiking shoes: If you want to walk from Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate, you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing a small fraction of the slippery stones from The Inca Trail. You don’t have to wear hiking shoes if you don’t have any but at the very least, wear sneakers with good traction so you don’t slip.
  • Moisture wicking socks: Any socks made of Merino wool are awesome thanks to odor-repelling and moisture-wicking properties. These are the best brand with a lifetime guarantee but pretty much anything by Smartwool or Icebreaker will do the trick.
  • Sun hat: Protect your skin (and your neck) from sunburns. The sun and elevation at Machu Picchu is no joke. Bring a hat.
  • Sunglasses: Higher elevation means higher UV rays. Bring some shades.
  • Scarf: My favorite scarf to pack for every trip is this secret pocket scarf. It’s cute and functional and has the added bonus of having a hidden pocket, where you can keep your passport, some money, or any other valuable you’re worried about. Plus, it keeps you warm. A regular mid-weight scarf will do as well!
  • Water bottle: You’ll be out and about all day so you’ll definitely want to bring plenty of water (and stay hydrated). If you purchase the daypack I recommend, it already comes with a water bladder, so you can just fill that up. Otherwise, I recommend bringing along a CamelBak Insulated Water Bottle and use it in combination with a Steripen, a UV water purifier that gets rid of 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Single-use plastic bottles are so bad for the environment – I urge you to purchase a quality reusable one. Grayl’s water filtering bottle is a great alternative that allows you to fill directly from the tap and drink almost immediately.
  • Snacks: You’ll be out and about for a huge chunk of the day and snacks are overpriced at the Machu Picchu cafeteria (and frankly, so is the food in Aguas Calientes, where you’ll likely have lunch). Bring some granola bars to tide you over until lunch.
  • Camera(s): For adventure footage and photos, the latest GoPro is seriously the best. It’s waterproof, image stabilizing, and a bunch of other cool features. If you’re looking for a nice digital camera that doesn’t involve complicated lenses, I personally use the Sony RX100 II, which I’m obsessed with. This is the older model (I think they’re on the 6 now) but it works great. The Carl Zeiss lens helps take spectacular, high-quality photos but the camera is small enough to fit in a purse.
  • Trash bag: Leave no waste behind. Keep a small trash bag handy in your daypack for any waste you accumulate. You can throw it all away after you leave the site.

Pssst if you’re heading to Peru soon, be sure to read my Peru travel tips – everything I wish I knew before I went!

More Peru Resources

Planning a trip to Peru soon? Check out ALL my posts on Peru below:  


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Planning to hike The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? This Inca Trail packing list includes everything you'll need to pack no matter what the season, plus a guide to the best gear for the trail! | Inca Trail Packing List | Machu Picchu Packing List | What to Pack for Machu Picchu | What to Pack for The Inca Trail
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4 thoughts on “The Complete Inca Trail Packing List: What to Pack for Trekking Machu Picchu

  1. Emily says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this and including all the links. I’m going next week and reading your list makes me feel so much more prepared and at ease.

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