Inca Trail + Salkantay Trek Packing List

I’ve discussed the bomb experience that was hiking the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and I thought it would be fun to outline a packing list! Inca Trail hikers would have extremely similar lists. Having never camped, hiked, etc. before the trek, I had a rough time getting myself together. Because luggage is carried on horses, it is best to pack inside a soft duffel bag. I used a  huge waterproof PFG bag I’ve owned for years, but filled it only about halfway. I also have a fold-up Eddie Bauer bag I use regularly, and is a much more reasonable size for a five-day camping trip. I’ve included some links (mostly from Amazon!) and some tidbits of realness behind some of the items. If there is anything you’d recommend, or think I forget, let me know!

CLOTHING

  • Hiking pants. If you have never owned hiking pants, the way to find your best fit is really to try on as many as you can find. I could not find a single pair that fit correctly out of the fifty or so that I tried, and ultimately did the trek with athletic leggings – comfy, but I thought some amazonian bug had burrowed into my skin by how eaten my legs were (sorry, gross but true). Since I’ve trekked, Eddie Bauer came out with these drawstring hiking pants that are great for small waists and big booties. But again, I really think you need to try on everything to find your best hiking pants! I’d recommend bringing two pairs.
  • Wool socks. Keep ya warm, keep your feet cushioned, all around great. I had never even heard of wool socks before I trekked, so I bought two four-packs on Amazon to quickly acquire enough for the trip. Eight pairs was perfect as I wanted fresh socks to sleep in every night.
  • Dry fit shirts. I picked up a handful of shirts for a good price as Sports Authority had just declared bankruptcy before my trip, but have since acquired more at REI and specialty stores. Athleisure is not hard to find these days! I’d recommend three long sleeves, one or two short sleeves. Since you’re not showering, it’s nice to have a fresh shirt each day.
  • Long underwear. I high key love long underwear and use mine very often in the winter, even just for lounging. Wear it under your pants on cold days and under your sleep sweatpants at night. One pair is fine since you’re wearing regular panties underneath, and they’re never actually exposed.
  • Rain jacket. I had a lined fleece rain jacket with a kangaroo-type pocket, and it did an A+ job of keeping me warm and dry, and rolled up nicely to fit in my daypack.
  • Fleece pullover. Cozy morning layer. I have this one by Columbia.
  • Beanie or one of those knit over-the-ear headbands for the cold. I also bought a super cute headband in Cusco I wore every single day to keep my hair out of my face and my braid in tact.
  • Hiking shoes. Like hiking pants, I think there is a different “best fit” for everyone. I got fitted at REI – figure out what kind of support is ideal for you, and have a little fake rock thing your step around to get a feel for the shoe.

GEAR

  • Daypack. I refused to buy a pack with a water bladder before my trip because I thought it was just too gross to have water sitting in the straw all day; I bought this VenturePal as it was Amazon’s #1 daypack, and it was waterproof, lightweight, and had good pockets for my water bottles. I have since purchased this water pack from Osprey and I love it dearly.
  • Sleeping bag liner. Because your tour will provide the sleeping bag, there is not a whole lot you need to bring, but this was so nice to have a little extra cozy blanket. It rolls up really tight and took minimal space in my duffle.
  • Inflatable pillow. I can’t remember if my tour provided pillows, but there is no reason not to bring a little tiny one just in case.
  • Head lamp. No one likes going to unlit bathrooms in campgrounds at night.

MEDICATIONS, VACCINES & MISCELLANEOUS

  • Go to your university’s travel clinic. They likely have one inside campus health; just look around the website and make an appointment. You just have to tell them where you are going and they’ll have a list of recommended vaccinations. Because I decided quite spontaneously to go, I did not have the full three/four weeks required for one of the most recommended vaccinations to be effective, so I actually did not get anything before my trip – a year later, I am still 10/10 shocked with how I played like that and would not recommend it to anyone!
  • Altitude pills. Others in my group had enough to share as it’s recommended you only take them for two-three days, and a prescription came with about fifteen. Again, go to a travel clinic and get your own prescription!
  • Bug spray
  • Sleep aids. Had I not taken any my first night, I probably would have just lied awake all night thinking about how scared I was to hike a fricken glacier.
  • Tissues. In extreme altitude, your nose produces more mucus because the air is much thinner than you’re used to. Gross but true.
  • Bathing wipes. You’re not showering for five days, you need these. I also buy face wipes from Neutrogena or Burt’s Bees for hiking trips.
  • Chapstick
  • Sunglasses
  • Nail file

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

Did I forget anything? Any suggestions on items that make a trek more enjoyable? Let me know! 

2 thoughts on “Inca Trail + Salkantay Trek Packing List

    1. Thanks Annie! It was such a dream – I took that photo just as it started to hail pretty heavily, so it was like the calm before the storm.

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