The list of hiking gear and clothes we posted here pre-trip was cut down significantly after we had our check- in with Alpaca Expeditions and received our itinerary and instructions. Their suggested packing list contradicted wildly with the weight limitations allowed to each person. What ended up coming on the trip, was two sets of hiking clothes, not four. One to wear for six days, and one set of clean clothes to wear the day of Machu Picchu in order to look nice for photos and smell reasonable on the train ride home – this was not a realistic expectation. We smelled worse than the ass end of an Alpaca and a clean tee shirt was not going to combat that in anyway. Especially after running all the way to the Sun Gate at 5:30 in the morning. We both also packed a set of wool long johns for sleeping in, and a set for hiking in on the cold days.
My daily hiking clothes and day pack consisted of a sun hat, wool hat, two Buffs – one neck and one headband, thin base layer tank top, sun shirt, a thin wool full zip hoodie, a puffy jacket, rain jacket, wool leggings on the two cold days, quick dry hiking pants, silk liner socks, wool hiking socks, thin running mittens, and one pair of hearty winter gloves.
The items that were invaluable were the following:
The sun hat. I purchased the Sun Sombrero from Outdoor Research. Lots of companies make a good sun hat. I chose the OR hat because it was on sale.
Yes, I looked like a mega-super-dork-tourist, and no I don’t care. This hat saved me from gallons of greasy sun screen that was going to run into my eyes anyway. I wanted to avoid using sun screen because the trail was dusty and dry, and we weren’t going to have access to a shower for an entire week. Multiple layers of dirt, sweat, and greasy sun screen day after day did not appeal to me.
Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin – facial wipes. In general, I try to stay away from single use items, like adult wet wipes, but in this case they were much appreciated. When you don’t have access to a shower, and you have a sweaty, salty, dusty crust on your face – and your arm pits smell like something died, and then fermented, and then died again. It feels good to get that cleaned off. Also – and this is probably WAAAAY too much information, but let me just say – ass crack. Seven days, no shower, the ass crack enjoyed a little tender loving Burt’s Bees care too. We literally rationed these.
The Buff – headband and neck gator. Again I am well aware that the Buff headband makes me look like the long lost love child of Axle Rose, but again I don’t care. It protects my forehead and ears from sun, it keeps bugs out of my ears, it absorbs sweat, and keeps hair out of my face too!
The full Buff used as a neck gator, protects the back of my neck from sun and also absorbs sweat. The Buff is an all-around good tool. I think everyone on the trail had some version of a Buff.
Sun shirt – from Outdoor Research, again because it was on sale (this is a theme you will find in my shopping habits).
I love this shirt, it’s very thin and cool, it’s comfortable to hike in, and keeps the sun off of my arms and shoulders. I do wish it had thumb holes, to protect the back of my hands better. Matt’s sun shirt same brand and style has thumb holes, so mine might just be a design flaw from years past as I got mine on clearance.
Silk sock liners – We got ours from an REI Garage Sale, so they were super cheap. At first they didn’t feel slippery / silky enough, and I was not convinced of their usefulness, but they worked like a charm. I got a few hot spots on very steep areas of trail, but neither of us developed blisters for the entire seven days. Magic I tell you!
Body Glide – Cream for feet and other delicate areas. In addition to the silk liners I also used Glide for the delicate areas between my toes, my heels, and later in the week I was using it in the areas of skin that were getting chafed, under bra straps, and underwear lines.
Boots WITH a Vibram sole!
Get a good pair of boots that fit your foot and pay whatever they are asking. In prepping for Peru I tried to go cheap on a pair of boots that I found on clearance, they hurt my feet right out of the box, but I was determined to make it work. Thankfully, Matt saw fit to intervene, sometimes I’m too cheap for my own good. Salomon boots fit my foot nicely and I don’t think I will ever hike in anything else, BUT I will warn find a pair of boots with a Vibram sole, if you are going to hike the Inca trail. I learned this lesson in Europe three years ago on the ancient cobbled streets, but I forgot and the boots I ended up with in Peru did not have a Vibram sole. On the wet granite steps of the Inca trail I was slipping and sliding along while Matt and our Guide were sure footed and fine. Vibram.
Trekking poles – I have never hiked with trekking poles prior to Peru, but they were on the packing list, so I felt compelled to get a pair as did Matt. Matt enjoyed them right out of the box, but they were mostly in my way. I felt like they were slowing me down, until I needed them. They quickly became invaluable. I would recommend them for very steep up and down hikes. They really helped to take the pressure off of my old damaged knees on the way down, and they helped with stability going up and down.
SaltStick Pills, Huma gel packs, Honey Stingers, and Nuun tablets –
For the gym or a short run I really like the Nuun tablets for electrolytes, but on the trail with a water bladder the Nuun tablets meant an extra water bottle and there just wasn’t time to deal with it. The StalkStick pills were easy to pack and take on the trail, and kept my salt / hydration levels consistent.
I’ve tried other gels for running and they all hit my stomach really hard. The Huma gels are gentile on my sensitive stomach, GF, they provide a nice energy boost mid-morning, they taste GREAT, and they also contain electrolytes. Huma also makes a gel variety with a little caffeine in it too which is also nice for a mid-morning pick me up.
The Honey Stinger gel chews are nice for trail snacking. They aren’t the mega hit like the Huma Gel, but they help keep you going. I like having both the chews and the gel for hiking and running.
Travel Underwear – I would recommend these for any trip where you want to travel light. They wash up easily and dry quickly. The company claims that two pair will get you through any trip. I like to travel with three because sometimes conditions don’t allow the laundry from the day before to dry completely, and putting on damp underwear first thing in the morning is akin to taping a cold dead fish on your ass and going about you day! Additionally, after a long day hiking or sightseeing, sometimes doing laundry is just not an option.
pStyle – female urination device
Again, maybe too much information, but I need other ladies to know about this. I will never hike, camp, or travel without this plastic gravy boat again. It made life in Peru, and all of my training hikes so so so easy! There is not a lot of foliage to hide behind on the trails of Peru, and I understood why all of the local women wore skirts over their pants and legging out on the trails. Add to that, some of the public restrooms were vile and infested with bugs. Not having to take my pants down to my knees and show my ass to half of Peru was nice. Not having to squat over a bug infested hole in the ground brought indescribable joy! And not putting that additional squatting pressure on my already sore knees was also hugely beneficial.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the gear that we took, and/ or decided to leave behind. We’d love to chat!
All of my best,