One Week Packing List: Peru & Machu Picchu

Here we go – we’re off to Peru! I guess we’re as prepared as we think we’ll be! I spent all of February and part of March gathering gear and clothing for our upcoming trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. Finding existing packing lists of previous Inca Trail hikers and recommendations from friends really helped me gather everything I could possibly need to feel prepared. Preparing and shopping is one of my favorite parts about traveling, but also the most expensive! And yes, I tend to over pack. I used REI’s gear list as a concrete guide for what I will need and added a few additions from friends based on their personal experiences. Here is a final roundup for a one week packing list for both the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the rest of the trip in Cusco, Peru. I will be doing a review and budgeting post upon my return so you can better prepare for Peru too!

Packing List: 4-Day Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu

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  1. Backpack: Osprey Kestrel 38 is what I will be carrying during the hike. Mike will be using his Osprey Aether 60 which is much bigger.
  2. Sleeping bag: (not pictured) Rented from Llama Path
  3. Sleeping pad: These lightweight self-inflating sleeping pads will provide much more comfort after a long day of hiking.
  4. Sleeping bag liner: Since we are renting sleeping bags from the tour company, I felt comfortable with a liner to take with us.
  5. Trekking poles: These are not pictured since we are renting them from Llama Path.
  6. Hiking Pants: 2 pairs both water resistant. 1 pair converts into shorts.
  7. Base Layers: 1 Pair Fleece Lined Leggings + 1 Thermal Top
  8. 5  Shirts: 2 tanks + 1 shirt + 2 long sleeves
  9. 1 Fleece Sweater
  10. Rain jacket: waterproof and breathable
  11. Warm Jacket: An ultralight down jacket is great for packing and keeping warm – I got one from North Face.
  12. Poncho: REI had a $30 poncho that seems more durable than others and covers my backpack as well.
  13. Hiking Boots/Sneakers: Your boots should be broken in! I picked up a blister kit since my boots are broken in but I am prone to getting blisters.
  14. Sandals
  15. Casual socks: 1 pair
  16. Hiking socks: I brought 2 pairs of liner socks and  4 pairs of Smartwool hiking socks.
  17. Gaiters: This is optional, but with all the rain we are expecting these low gaiters will keep the inside of our shoes from getting drenched.
  18. All Weather Gloves: Make sure they are water-resistant and insulated – it’s also a good idea to get one’s that have good grip.
  19. Sunhat, Beanie & bandana
  20. Headlamp + extra batteries
  21. Underwear: 2 sport bras & underwear
  22. Travel Pillow: I left my pillow on the plane 🙁
  23. Heavy duty trash bags: Use these to line  your backpacks to keep contents dry and for your items the porter will carry.

Other Essentials

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  1. Toiletries: sunscreen, chapstick with SPF, 1 roll of toilet paper, baby/face wipes, hand sanitizer/wet ones, insect repellent 1 bottle, toothpaste, toothbrush, Diamox for altitude, water purification tablets, medicine for stomach issues, ibuprofen, tinted moisturizer with SPF, blister kit, earplugs, travel towel
  2. Water: This Osprey 2.5L Reservoir fits in my pack and my REI Flash 18 Pack which I like to use when traveling and we have a Platypus 1L Soft Bottle to mix gatorade powder in to replenish electrolytes and calories on the hike.
  3. Ziplocs: Perfect for keeping contents dry and separating wet/dirty clothes from the clean ones.
  4. Passport + Money: small bills for tipping the guides/porters and using the restrooms
  5. Camera +Phone
  6. Portable Battery Charger: This will charge 2 devices at the same time, allowing us to hopefully get some photos on the trail using our phones and GoPro.
  7. Newspaper: I picked one up at the airport to read on the long flight but this will be used to put in our shoes to dry them at night.
  8. Snacks & drinks: For energy we packed Chocolate, Gu Energy Gel, Gatorade powder, Clif Bars, Gu Brew Electrolyte Tablets

Packing List: Cusco, Peru

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In addition to everything brought on the Inca Trail, the following is what I will leave in my suitcase and use while in Cusco. These combined will give you an idea for a week packing list for Cusco and the 4 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.

  1. Suitcase: This is a small carry on size suitcase.
  2. Daypack: My daypack is great since it holds a change of clothes, wallet, accessories and my 2.5L water.
  3. 4 Shirts: 3 shirts + 1 long sleeve
  4. 2 Pairs Jeans
  5. Flats
  6. Swim Suit
  7. Underwear
  8. Sunglasses (not pictured)
  9. Book + Journal

A few of the items included on these lists I was not so sure about, for example I was not sure if I would actually need my sneakers or travel pillow. But I decided to bring them out of comfort. Other things I did to prepare was get consistent exercise by going on several hikes, working out nearly each day and practicing carrying my backpack around.


Some of the above are affiliate links and I will earn a percentage of the sale if you purchase through them- at no additional cost to you. 

  • Kenny

    You need a portable speaker. Nice gear

  • Such a great list! I’ll add it to my Packing list board on Pinterest! And I laughed about you leaving your travel pillow on the plane. I borrowed one from Rocio a few years ago and left it on the plane 🙁 But I replaced it and bought myself one as well, now I’m super careful with it!

    • justcherished

      Oh no! Yes, I was very sad I left it on the plane. I got it at REI and didn’t see one at the airports that was similar. Next time it won’t leave my sight!

  • Pingback: How to Survive the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu | Just Cherished()

  • Claire

    Okay, even assuming you wore an outfit and the hiking boots, how did you fit all of pics 1 and 2 into a 38L bag? Mine is 45L and it just fits the clothing and some toiletries. I don’t have the hydration bag, toilet paper, or sleeping gear yet. I have a space for the sleeping gear & exterior straps, but it will be busting and stressing zippers once I add that. You mentioned your partner had a larger, 60L pack; did he carry some of your items? The pack is a trouble point for me, because I don’t want to get anything bigger than I need. Thanks for any input you may have.

    • justcherished

      We used a porter for the inca trail and the company provided duffel bags for us the night before our hike to put the items that the porter would carry in. I brought my 38L pack and the small carry on suitcase also in the post to Peru. I left the suitcase at the hotel for a small fee. In my 38L while on the trail it only had: extra socks, hydration bag, headlamp + extra batteries, snacks, jacket, fleece, long sleeve, gloves, camera + GoPro, bandanna, beanie,poncho and some wipes.

      • Claire

        Thank you!

      • Monica

        Hello! Can you tell me- did you bring the carry on with the hiking bag folded up inside it? Or did you fill both bags and check the hiking bag? We are doing the trek, and spending a few days before and a couple days after in Cusco. I want to avoid checking any bags on the flights, as we have to take 4 different flights to get there and 4 more to return home. Thank you!

        • Hi Monica! My fiance and I filled our hiking bags and then put them in a very large duffel bag that we bought at REI- so we checked one bag (which contained 2 bags). Then I took a roller case as my carry on and my fiance brought his small day pack on the plane for his carry on. So you’ll likely have to check one bag, unless you go for a smaller backpack then what I used.

  • michelle

    Did you find the 38L necessary given you had porters, or could you have used the 18L? We are getting porters, and I have the same daypack and was thinking of using it for the trek, since they will be carrying most of my clothes. Also, did you find gaiters to be useful / necessary?

    • Thanks for your comment! I did not need the gaiters since we did not have significant rain. The 38L was perfect for me and not too heavy. You can probably make the 18L work. Another woman had a 20L pack and it seemed great for her. Keep in mind that water will take up most of the space.

      • michelle


  • Rick

    Best packing list description I’ve seen to date. Doing this trip 2015. Super helpful for planning. Thx for sharing your intel/perspectives!

  • Susan

    Thanks for the great packing list! I found my way to your site by googling “Machu Picchu packing list” 🙂 My husband and I are doing the Inca Trail trek in a couple months through Llama Path. Did you wish you had brought more stuff on the trek other than what was on your list? Or conversely, that you hadn’t brought some of the items?

    • Hi Susan! How exciting – You’ll both love it! I probably would’ve had more water on me each day because I drink a lot of water. I also would’ve had more Gu Gel because I was burning a lot off during the hike. Because we didn’t have much rain, I didn’t need the gaiters and if you bring a poncho, you probably won’t need a rain jacket because you’ll get too hot in it as you hike.

      • Susan

        Thank you!

  • suarias

    Hi. The Llama Path company says it provides a sleeping mattress. Did you find that taking the sleeping pad was worth it? Or would the llama path sleeping mattress been ok? Thanks for the packing list! I’m definitely using it as a reference for our trip in a few weeks.

    • Yes they do supply those and it would’ve been fine too. Have fun on your trip!

  • Great and useful information. Thanks for your sharing

  • Kaz

    Hi, great list! We’re walking the trail later this year (in September) and we didn’t hire porters. I was thinking of buying a backpack of around 40L. Would this be sufficient when carrying all clothes and a sleeping bag + mattress or would you recommend using a bigger backpack? I currently own a 65L backpack, but this seems a bit like an overkill to me, am I right?

    • That’s so exciting about your upcoming trip! I’m not so sure what the best size would be, but 40L might be too small. Maybe a mid-size? I’d recommend a test pack and just exchange it if it doesn’t fit everything.

  • arskeeter

    Thank you so much for your suggested packing list. I went to REI today and I was overwhelmed with all the clothing suggestions. I am taking my daughter as graduation gift to Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu. We will be in Lima 2 days and fly to Cusco where we will catch the train to Aguas Caliente. I have been told that there is a 15 lb limit to what I can take in my backpack on the train. I am hoping that they will have storage spaces available at the stations any suggestions? We are staying in Aguas Caliente the first night. We will be coming back to Cusco and staying there another 5 days.

    • What a great graduation gift for your daughter! I hope you both have a great time. As far as luggage on the train, I am not sure. I took the train back and carried my backpacking backpack. The rest of my luggage I left at the hotel in Cusco we stayed at. They held it for us for a small fee. So that could be an option since you know you’re going back there. If you do that, my advice is to combine luggage into 1 bag if possible because they will charge by the bag.

  • Samantha Jo

    Thank you for this list & your daily descriptions/pics of the hike! My husband & I are going in May 2017 and we are very excited. If you don’t mind me asking- what brand/model of hiking pants did you wear & were you happy with them? I’ve tried on a couple pairs & just can’t seem to find one that fits well. Thanks!

    • That is very exciting! The “Women’s Just Right Straight Leg Pant” by Columbia are my go to hiking pants. They are very comfortable and are great for layering. I also own the “Women’s Saturday Trail II Strech Convertible Pant” by Columbia. They are a little tight around my quads on some days but I love the convertible function for hot days.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

      • Samantha Jo

        Perfect- thanks so much!

  • Aditi Goswami

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks so much for putting together such a comprehensive packing list! My husband and I are doing the 4-day Inca trail hike with Llama Path over the Christmas-NY break. Quick question about hiking footwear – what kind of hiking shoes/boots do you recommend for this trip? My husband and I hike often, but nothing too extreme and usually get by with regular sneakers. For this trip though, we’re thinking about investing in a good pair of hiking shoes. Any advice/recommendation based on your experience is appreciated, thanks in advance!!

    • Hi Aditi! Thanks for your message. I hope you and your husband have a great time on your trip! We thought it was very helpful to have hiking boots because they provided so much more support than sneakers. I think the most important thing is comfort and stability. If you get new ones, you will want to make sure you can break them in before your trip. If you use your sneakers, you’ll want to make sure they have enough grip/tread on the bottom and won’t slip around on wet stone.
      Thanks so much and have enjoy!

  • Dustin Minich

    Hi Stephanie,

    I was wondering if you and Mike used your backpacks as carry on for the flights? My son and I are going in August so we would like to not check a bag if possible. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Dustin,
      We each brought one regular suitcase carry on and then combined our backpacks into one large duffel bag so that we had one checked bag. Depending on the size of your bags I think you can consolidate and carry them on no problem.
      Have a great trip!

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