So you’ve decided to plan an epic trip to Peru and you’re thinking about doing the Inca Trail Machu Picchu hike and you’ve either got months, weeks, or days left before you head out. Not sure what to bring and need a little inspiration?
What we have here is a comprehensive Peru packing list and a what-to-pack guide of sorts that breaks down everything that I brought for my 2 weeks in Peru that included both the Inca Trail hike and a stay in an Amazon jungle eco-lodge.
- Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Hike Guide and Review of Alpaca Expeditions
- Ultimate Peru Amazon Jungle Trip Planning Guide – Our Stay at Refugio Amazonas
- Review of the Refugio Amazonas
- All the best from Peru
Where to stay in the Peru?
Here's what we're covering:
Creating our 2 week Peru itinerary
With only so much time to work with, planning this trip was a bit of a challenge but doing research on all the highlights of the country, we decided on two things we absolutely wanted to do:
- Machu Picchu – This was a no brainer
- Amazon Jungle – At first it was the Amazon River but after realizing that it wasn’t feasible logistically, the jungle was just as enticing
The full 2 week Peru itinerary covers our decision making and everything we learned from pulling off this big trip which I highly encourage you to read.
Here’s a quick map of everywhere we included in this 2 week trip. It turned out to be quite the contrast with city sights in Lima and Cusco, the “countryside” in the Sacred Valley, high altitude trekking along the Inca Trail, and finishing off in the lush jungles of the Amazon. A trip like this is extremely diverse.
Outfitted with OutDry
A special shout out has to go out to Columbia and Mountain Hardwear for outfitting Chantelle and I on this trip. Needing a full compliment of hiking and backpacking gear, they graciously provided several pieces that you’ll see below. What you’ll notice across several of the pieces I have is that they all have this new OutDry technology which is their version of complete waterproofing.
I’ve always held both Columbia and Mountain Hardwear in high regard for both their technology, quality, style, and overall functional-ness. The great part about Columbia is that despite producing very solid gear, they’re always reasonably priced which as a traveller I appreciate. I also just think of them as the guys that make good outdoor gear that just works. Then you have Mountain Hardwear that may be less well known but trust me, they make kickass backpacking and hiking performance gear.
The Peru Packing List
This Peru packing list (for guys) is broken down into various sections that’ll make it easy to digest. I meticulously documented everything I brought on the trip before we head out. Here we go!
The backpack is the central piece of gear for the entire trip and with that you want to make sure you get it right. It’s important because this is the thing that will be sitting on your back for most of the trip and will also be carrying everything you’ll be living off of while on the road.
Having done several trips to Europe with a backpack and most recently, Competitours, the perfect backpack size that isn’t too big or too small is 50L. When I found out that I’d be able to test out Mountain Hardwear’s Ozonic 50 Outdry, I was very excited. This bag is packed full of features and constructed to withstand all weather conditions while still providing comfort and functionality. Here are a few photos of the backpack:
Where I had the most trouble was figuring out what to do with my day pack especially since I had decided on using a backpacking backpack for the trip. The dilemma is always around “do I want to run a two backpack set up?”
In the end I decided that I still needed another backpack considering all the camera gear I was bringing. That’s why I brought my F-Stop Loka backpack which is designed for hiking and photography. It’s got features that allow for quick access and the ability to put a Geigerrig hydration bladder with 2L capacity as well.
With Alpaca Expeditions, we learned that we’d be given a large duffle to put up to 25kg of things to be carried up by the porters. Knowing that, for the Machu Picchu hike, what I ended up doing was putting all the loose items into this duffle and use the F-Stop Loka exclusively while leaving the Mountain Hardwear backpack behind in Cusco.
- Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50 Outdry – This backpack by Mountain Hardwear is one tough son of a gun. Immediately after I got it, I could tell this thing was constructed incredibly well. What really makes this backpack shine is the fact that it’s COMPLETELY waterproof. Not a lot of backpacks can say that and with the unpredictability of the Inca Trail, that’s a very welcome feature. Other features include a top flap zipper compartment that flips around if you need the top of the backpack to be fully waterproof, flexible side pockets, and waist pockets. I have the M/L size which increases the capacity to 55L. I was also left with tons of room to spare after fitting everything in.
- F-Stop Loka – This is unfortunately discontinued but I’ve since them upgraded to the Peak Design Travel Line.
Shirts & Underwear
Deciding what to wear clothing wise was a challenge because our 2 week Peru itinerary took us to quite the extremes in climate. On the Inca Trail, we had to deal with cold and damp weather while in the Amazon Jungle, it was hot and humid. I also had to try to pack as light as possible.
As a result, I had to really leverage layers to allow for mixing and matching depending on the situation.
For t-shirts, I decided that having 7 tees was good enough to cover a minimum of 4 nights on the Inca Trail and a few extra days in case we won’t have enough time to hand wash our clothes.
For underwear I went with 6 pairs which I calculated based on needing to last 4 days along the Inca Trail plus a little extra. 4 of these pairs are the Exofficio’s which you know I rave about.
You’ll also notice that I packed a bunch of base layers for this trip. This was necessary to handle the changing weather conditions throughout the trek and the cold nights.
Another key part of the packing were the two buttoned shirts. While mosquitos aren’t that big of an issue at high altitude, they were a concern in the Amazon. As a result, it was very important tot pack long sleeve layers that were highly breathable but also offered good protection.
I’ve mentioned this before but having stuff sacks for your backpack is key to stay organized. I always use a combination of my shirt cube, mesh sacks and some water proof ones. I like how they’re all different colours and eventually you get so familiar with what you have in your pack that you can literally spot the coloured sack and know exactly what’s in it.
- Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube (M) with 7 t-shirts– This packing cube was one of the best discoveries. This helps keeps my shirts nice and tidy.
- Drawstring Mesh Bags (M) with PJs – These used to be sold at MEC in Canada but they seemed to have disappeared. Honestly any mesh bag will do but make sure they’re color coded. I have 3 sizes. This particular one is the medium.
- Cactus Creek Mesh Bags (M), 5x socks and underwear – If I could, all of my underwear would be the Exofficio Give-N-Go Boxer but I only have 4. Sock wise, I probably don’t need that much since I’ll be alternating between hiking shoes, flip flops and sandals but I figure why not since I have the space.
- North Face Short Sleeve Button Shirt – Picked this up at the outlet not too long ago. I packed this just to mix it up if I wanted to. The great part about this shirt is that it’s still very light.
Pants & Jacket
This Peru packing list is different from my other travel packing lists in that again, varying climate was the main issue and needing mosquito protection was important.
For warm weather, I would often pack shorts or capris but they just don’t make a lot of sense and so I elected to go with 2 khakis and one versatile short with lots of pockets that could double as swim trunks if needed.
A waterproof jacket like the Patagonia one I have is absolutely necessary. If you have a good one, it should be light and packable. As we learned pretty quickly on the Inca Trail, this came in handy when rain hit us pretty hard on Dead Woman’s Pass.
- Level Six boarder shorts – Great versatile shorts that I can wear as regular shorts or as swim trunks
- Eddie Bauer khakis – Another great purchase from the outlet. These pants have served me well for the past couple of trips.
- Khakis from GAP – This one doesn’t have a lot of pockets but I really don’t own any other khakis.
- PJ pants – One of those comfort items I always bring on all trips.
- Patagonia H2No Shell Jacket – It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring an umbrella when you can bring a waterproof jacket like this that can also double as an additional layer. Shells like this are perfect for travelling because they’re versatile, light and easily rollable.
- Kathmandu zip-up fleece – I love this one because it’s super warm.
I was able to be quite minimal for this trip in terms of shoes. With the Columbia Conspiracy Razor OutDry that is incredibly light weight, the rubber sole is extremely grippy and designed for hiking trails, and waterproof, this was essentially my everyday shoe for all conditions.
The only thing on top were my Rainbow flip flops that we used in the hostels we stayed at, doubled as slippers, and the dip in the water we did in the Sacred Valley.
Since our eco-lodge, Refugio Amazonas, had boots covered, that wasn’t something we needed to pack.
Some of the additional things here include the quick dry towel which brought in case since we didn’t know if the budget properties we booked would have towels or if Alpaca Expeditions would have it for our “Inca shower”. In the end, we didn’t really need it.
You’ll notice that I also packed a sleeping bag liner. Many said it wasn’t necessary but I figured for sanity reasons and as an additional warm layer that it would be a good idea. It definitely came in handy for the second night on the Inca Trail where it was absolutely freezing.
What’s not depicted is a first aid kit that we brought for emergency purposes. That said, our Alpaca Expeditions guide Juan Carlos and our Amazon lodge were fully equipped so we never really needed tot use it other than to pull out a bandaid or two.
- Dry Bags – The 20L is for dirty clothes and the green one to store miscellaneous gear
- Rainbow Sandals, Double Layer Leather Sandal – I have reviewed these extensively before but I can’t go on a summer trip without these. They’re just so damn comfortable and great for extended periods of walking. Plus you never know when you’ll be hitting up a beach right?
- Columbia Conspiracy Razor OutDry – Can’t wait to use these shoes on the trail. Love that they’re water proof and the grip on these are amazing
- MSR Packtowel Personal – Don’t make the mistake I made with quick dry towels and buy a small one. It’s just not worth it to annoyingly dry yourself with something the size of a hand towel. This one is great because it’s large (XL in fact), packs into a small form factor, and dries quickly. While mostly used in hostels, this is the kind of thing that’s always nice to have with you because you never know.
- Sleeping Bag Liner – These are nice packable pieces whenever a sleeping bag is involved. Increase warmth and keeps you and the sleeping bag clean.
Products from Amazon.com
Here was toiletry set for the trip. Most of it is pretty self explanatory.
- Hair Gel – Yah forget what I said about not needing to look good.
- Cetaphil Face Cleanser – It’s all about the travel size bottles. I got this as a sample somewhere and I’ve been using it for my trips ever since.
- Bandaids – I have an assortment of sizes with me. Waterproof ones are good to have too.
- Reactine – When allergies strike.
- Immodium – This has you covered if you ever get traveler’s diarrhea.
- Electric Toothbrush – I know it’s a bit overkill but this cheap electric toothbrush keeps my teeth clean. I also pop in new batteries before I leave the house.
- Toothpaste – I really should have a travel-sized one.
- Body Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner – Courtesy of the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello.
- Tylenol Day/Night Cold – This has come in handy on numerous occasions on the road.
- Pepcid AC – This is more for the Asian Glow than anything.
- Systane Balance Eyedrops – I have dry eyes.
- Ear Plugs – I don’t normally use these but Sam might be a snorer.
- Advil – The new tablet form factor is pretty nice.
- Off Mosquito Repellent – Big cities usually aren’t a problem but again it’s one of those things where you never know.
- Alcohol Wipes – I have hand sanitizer below. This is more for use as an antiseptic to clean wounds or what have you.
- Digital Thermometer – I’ve been sick on the road before so this has always been nice to have because to buy one on the road would be very expensive.
- Sunscreen – Got this nice package courtesy of the folks at St. Pete’s.
- Tide Single Packet – Purchased this as a package of 3. I’m only bringing this because I’m trying to kill off this last one. To be perfectly honest, using regular bar soap or liquid body soap or even shampoo are just as effective for the hand-washing of clothes.
- Emergen-C – This is a great boost if you feel the onset of a cold or flu.
- Multi-vitamin – Who knows is this is actually effective or not but I usually try to take a multi-vitamin a day just to ward off anything bad. It’s hard to keep a balanced intake of vitamins when travelling so the theory is that this helps with that.
- Muji Paraglider Cloth Hanging Travel Case – Last but not least is the case that carries it all. I’ve been very happy with this Muji toiletries organizer because of it’s simplicity in design and comprehensiveness in terms of pockets, zippers and elastic holders. The must-have feature for any toiletries organizer is the hook. Hanging your bag is always a better option than letting it sit on the sink especially if you’re using communal hostel washrooms.
Here are a collection of miscellaneous items that I brought that were either packed into my day pack (the f-stop Loka) or stuffed away into the main pack.
- GoPole Grenade Grip – At this point in my career, I wasn’t doing a lot of serious video so a simple grip like this for my GoPro was enough. The funny thing is I never ended putting together any video for this trip.
- Rocket Air Blaster – This is part of my camera kit to clean the lenses on an as-needed basis. This is a very useful tool because you really don’t want to be blowing with your mouth to get dust off which leads to spit flying all over.
- Mamut Headlamp – This model has since been discontinued but in general it’s a good idea to bring a headlamp because you might be doing a sunrise/sunset hike or if a power outage occurs.
- Aquapac Waterproof Case – This soft case is great because it’s extremely easy to roll away and still provides you touch control if you put your phone inside. I bring this only if I think there’s a chance I’ll have to go out into the water (i.e. kayak or canoe).
- Euro Plug Adapters – I read somewhere that some places in Peru still use the Euro round plugs so I’ve brought two in case.
- Black Diamond gloves – I brought this in case but didn’t actually need to use it at all.
- Air Canada Amenity Bag – This is currently being phased out but it’s a great bag because I can perfectly fit my portable power bank, cables and the MacBook charger all in there.
- Belkin Mini Surge Protector – This one’s great for travel because I find most hotels don’t have enough outlets. This has 3 additional outlets + 2 usb ports.
Odds and Ends
Here are additional random items that I brought to round things out.
- Rick Steves’ Silk Money Belt – I have a love-hate relationship with the money belt. On one hand, it did totally save me when I had my backpack stolen in Paris many years ago. On the other hand, it’s annoying, uncomfortable and sweaty to wear all day. I usually end up making a game-time decision about it but if we’re thinking 100% about safety, having the money belt is a no-brainer.
- Buff Headwear – I love my buff because it’s something I can wear on my wrist to wipe sweat away or around my neck if it’s cold or even on my head if I’m looking for more protection from the sun. It’s a pretty sweet piece of travel gear that everyone should own. Read my full review of the Buff.
- Flag Bag – I picked this up locally at the MEC here in Toronto and this is essentially a protector bag for backpacks. This makes the checking-in process of your backpack a lot easier because there are no loose straps that could cause problems. I also like to have this because it’s essentially another big bag that I could use if I end up buying way too much stuff. Over the years, I’ve collected flag patches and I’ve been trying to grow my collection ever since as I hop around the world.
- Chapstick – Dry lips are no fun.
- Victorinox Travel Organizer – This helps keep me organized with my cards, travel documents, money, and pens all in one spot. So when I’m at the airport, all I need to do is pull out this organizer and I’m good to go to check-in, go through customs, and get through the gate.
- Xiaomi 10000 mAh Power Bank – For me, I know I’m going to be going through a lot of power throughout the day on my devices (especially my phone). This is my safety net to know that I’ll always be able to charge USB devices during the day if I need to.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Mini Tissue Pack
- Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses
- Sea To Summit Travel Wallet – I don’t like using my leather wallet from back home because I need something a bit more rugged and something I don’t care if it gets poorly treated. This wallet is great because it has a zippered component for coins and has tons of slots and dividers.
- Oceanic OCS Dive Computer – Yes it’s a dive computer but I use it as a normal watch a lot of the times because it’s got the sporty rubber bands and is completely waterproof.
For this trip, I had to make a pretty calculated decision about how much I was going to bring. You know how it is though, I had serious FOMO when I was packing it all.
I needed something long for the people photography I wanted to do hence the 40-150mm lens was thrown in. That’s how I ended up with a 3 lens set up (12-40mm + 7-14mm which isn’t shown in the photo below).
You’ll also notice that I didn’t pack a laptop for this trip to help with the weight. That’s why I packed my Hyperdrive Colorspace since I knew I didn’t have enough SD cards for the whole trip and this allowed me to back up my photos on-the-go.
Not sure why the GoPro isn’t here but it was also part of my camera kit.
- Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 7-14 f/2.8 Lens – Not depicted in this photo since it was used to take the photo but a solid mirrorless combination that I used for most of my photos in Peru.
- Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 Lens – This is my all-purpose lens that will be paired with the body most of the time.
- Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Lens – This is a new one to the collection and really got this to shoot wildlife when we’re out in the Amazon.
- Olympus MC-14 Teleconverter – This will give the 40-150mm 1.4x extra reach.
- Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA3 – On-the-fly memory card backup.
- Carbon Fiber tripod
- Lots of batteries
- Extra memory cards
- GoPro Hero 5 Black – It was top of the line back then but these days you’d be looking at the Hero 7.
There were a bunch of items that didn’t make the photos but for the sake of thoroughness I added them below.
- Shaver – I’m not a razor kind of guy so this is pretty much a must. What I usually do is charge it full before I leave so I don’t have to bring the charger with me. There’s plenty of juice for 2 weeks.
- Snacks – Quick energy boosts will be important for the Inca Trail and so I’ve packed a bunch of Cliff Bars.
- Headphones – Easy one to forget especially if you can’t stand the headphones that airlines provide.
- Mosquito repellant – We brought our own but we also treated our clothes with Permethrin before heading into the Amazon.
- Elastic bands – This sounds peculiar right? Another tip I got from a few travellers is that you’re going to want to close up your pant legs when you’re in the Amazon. Those mosquitos get pretty crafty and could get in there so you want to make sure you deny them the opportunity. I’m sure there are fancier ways to do this but I figure elastics will suffice.
- Binoculars – We purchased the Bushnell Falcon binoculars that we used quite a bit in the Amazon.
Vaccines and Medicine
Packing for this trip didn’t involve a big shopping trip because I had most of these items but what required a lot of advanced prep was figuring out what shots and pills we needed.
Months prior to the trip, I visited my family doctor and through a blood test, we figured out I had Hepatitis A and B antibodies. Beyond that, I had to get the following:
- Typhoid shot – This is for salmonella. This can be administered by your family physician.
- Malaria pills – While the risk factor for malaria is low in the Amazon, I picked this up to be safe.
- Yellow Fever shot – This was the most annoying and expensive simply because the family doctor wasn’t able to do this. I had to go to a special “Travel Clinic” that charged a bogus consultation fee. On top you’ll read that there are some flu-like symptom side effects to taking the shot so I had to plan around when was the most convenient time to feel sick. The good thing was that I never got sick so it really depends on the person
- Altitude sickness pills – This was re-iterated to me 100x by every person that’s been on the Inca Trail. Don’t f*** with the altitude. Don’t be a hero. Pick up those altitude pills and follow the instructions or else you’ll be in a world of hurt.
- Dukoral – I’ve taken this before for my trip to Asia and it worked remarkably well. Since I took it only 3 years ago, I only needed a one dose booster.
Note: Most of these weren’t covered under my health insurance policy so these were all out of pocket expenses.
Tip: Doctors will ask you how long your hike is but what you have to realize that your’e already at high altitude starting from Cusco. Count how many days you’ll be in Cusco + Machu Picchu and that is how many days you’ll be at high altitude.
Things you probably didn’t think about
These are tips I’ve shared with in the past but I figure would be worth reminding you about.
- Two separate photocopies of your passport, credit cards and other important cards – After making the photocopies, just make sure the are stored in two separate bags. If you ever get one stolen, you’ll always have the other. This is a worst case scenario kind of thing where if you lost your passport and need some sort of way to prove your identity to the embassy.
- Call your credit cards – Before you head out, it takes literally 5 minutes to call each credit card company and let them know about your travel plans.
- Adjust your camera clocks beforehand – A huge pet peeve of mine is having the wrong timestamp on my photos and videos. The best way is to either adjust it beforehand or you can also set up a calendar reminder to pop up when you land.
- Format your memory cards – The worst is when you start taking photos/videos with your camera and you run out of memory really quickly because you forgot to clean out the old photos from a previous trip. At this point, you’re stuck with switching to a new memory card or deleting old photos one at a time which is extremely painful.
- Third-party batteries will expand in high altitude – I learned this the hard way. I noticed that my cheap camera batteries
So I hope that helps you for your trip to Peru. I sure as heck didn’t know what I needed when I started planning for it and so my hope is that this gives you a really good idea of what to think about and what you need to buy in preparation.
Got questions for me about your upcoming trip to Peru? Let me help you! Just drop a comment below.