Your Guide recently did a 5-day trek to Choquequirao with Alpaca Expeditions, a 4-day Inka Trail trek to Machu Pichu with Evolution Treks, and an overnight run up to the Salkantay Pass with Salktany Trekking. On all three treks, I packed basically the same day pack. All that changed between treks was the amount of clothes packed in my duffel bag. I’ll share about some key pieces of gear that are super useful and I definitely recommend. There’ll be some Amazon affiliate links for those. But if I don’t like the gear too much, I won’t put a link. So let’s get into it, with my 5-day packing list for Choquequirao and the Inka Trail…
What should you bring in your day pack?
Your day pack is important because it’s with you. Everything else will go in a duffel bag, early in the morning, and then a mule or a porter is going to take it up to the next campsite. So the day pack needs to have everything you could possibly want to use during the day. I’ll share a generic list in case you want to copy it, and then explain some of the specific pieces I’ve found useful:
That’s pretty much everything you see here:
The Pack: TIMBUK2 Authority Laptop Backpack
When I arrived in Cusco, I planned to buy a day pack for my hikes. I didn’t even think about using my laptop backpack. But when I started shopping around and saw how expensive packs were in Cusco (very), I also noticed my laptop backpack was the same size as many: 28 liters.
It’s handled mountain trails like a llama. TIMBUK2 makes solid bags. I sold two of their messenger bags when I got rid of all of my stuff last January. I’d had them for 10 years. So I bought another one for this adventure. I was concerned about the dividers inside, but they actually made packing and finding stuff on the trail even easier.
Retails for around $240 USD on Amazon: Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack
Stay hydrated: The LifeStraw Go water filtration system
The LifeStraw Go is a water filter fitted inside the cap of an insulated stainless steel thermos. It essentially makes any water drinkable, promising to protect “against 99.999999% of bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella); 99.999% of parasites (including Giardia and Cryptosporidium).”
The LifeStraw Go fits in the thermos holder of my TIMBUK2 bag. It takes the guesswork out of drinking water, wherever I am.
Available on Amazon for around $45 USD: LifeStraw Go Stainless Steel Water Filter Bottle
For light: PETZL Actik Core Rechargeable Headlamp
I originally purchased a different headlamp with batteries because the Petzl Actik Core was unavailable at the store I went to. But then the headlamp with AAAs only worked if I held my hand on the battery casing because they kept popping out. I sent it back and paid to get a Petzl Actik Core shipped to me. It was worth it.
It’s rechargeable by USB, so I use my Anker portable charger to keep it fully juiced.
A headlamp is key for early morning and late night hiking on the Inka Trail. You need your hands free on those steep stairs.
Available on Amazon for around $55 USD: Petzl Actik Core Rechargeable Headlamp 450 Lumens
Recharge: The Anker Portable Charger
A power bank is necessary on a multi-day hiking trip so I don’t need to worry about my smartphone’s battery when I’m snapping photos and videos. My Samsung Galaxy can only last a day of me trying to take selfies with every llama I see. At night, I plug it into the Anker.
In the photo there, the Anker is plugged into my GlocalMe portable WIFI. I don’t need the internet when hiking. But I use it frequently when not hiking. Don’t go digital nomading without one. Learn about it here: GlocalMe DuoTurbo Portable WIFI
The Anker Portable Charger is available on Amazon for around $69 USD: Anker Portable Charger, USB-C Power Bank
Hold steady: GorillaPod + Manfrotto combo tripod
This is an equipment combo I use daily. I run my client videocalls using my phone, held in a Manfrotto smartphone clamp, attached to a GorillaPod tripod. I always take them hiking, too. The GorillaPod allows me to take photos and video of myself, anywhere. They’re also perfect for hyperlapses and night sky photos.
I’ve used this combo for years. As far as I can tell, they’re indestructible. I would replace them immediately if I lost them.
The GorillaPod is around $50 USD: Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit
The Manfrotto is around $20 USD: Manfrotto Smartphone Clamp Pro Version
What to put in your duffel?
Your trekking company will give you a bag for the duffel. They’ll likely give it to you at the orientation. I never filled mine up completely, and I tried. I always had clothes I didn’t end up using, and I packed a pair of shoes in my duffel.
Here’s a generic list of what I packed for Choquequirao and Machu Pichu:
A note on sleeping bags and air mattresses: I always rented the sleeping bag, mattress, and pillow package. Every trekking company seemed to have one. HOWEVER, I never fit in any of the sleeping bags. I’m 187 cm / 6’3″. Some of the nights were cold! But carrying a sleeping bag around the world with me isn’t that doable. Next time, though, I would try to find a way to bring my own bag.
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