Salkantay Trek Packing List
So you are planning to trek the famous Salkantay Trek?
This Salkantay Packing List will help you to prepare for your outdoor adventure in one of the most stunning regions of South America.
In it we have provided as much detail on every piece of kit you will need for a safe and successful trekking. The packing list includes personal recommendations on gear that we own and use. We believe these recommended items of gear provide the best value for money and deliver the best performance.
Essential packing list for trekking
Duffle Bag and Backpack
The evening before you start your trek, you will be given a SMALL DUFFLE BAG to pack your clothes for the next four days. Your weight allowance is up to 7 kg/15.4 lbs. Our horseman will carry your duffle bag for you together with the food and camping gear. It is important to be aware that you will not have access to your items in the duffle bag until the end of each day as the horsemen and horses will always be ahead of the group. During the travel, you need a day backpack big enough to carry your personal belongings such as a warm jacket, raincoat, camera, sunscreen, snacks, water, etc. Usually, to 30 litre backpack is sufficient.
If a porter or pack animal (i.e. yak) is carrying your duffle bag or rucksack then you will want to have a light-weight daypack to carry essentials – like snacks, camera, suncream, personal items (i.e. money and passport) and hat.
The best daypacks have compression straps to reduce weight stress on your back and side mesh-pockets for quick access to your water bottles. The Osprey Talon is our recommended daypack.
Make sure to bring a rain cover for your rucksack and / or daypack. If you decide to use an Osprey bag then make sure you get an Osprey Raincover that matches the bag size for a snug fit.
You’ll of course need your passport to get into Peru, but you’ll also need your passport when you start on the Trail. There’s an official government checkpoint at the start of the trail that works to enforce the strict limits on how many visitors can walk the trail per day, and for every foreigner beginning a trek it is required that a passport be shown.
The first and most obvious layer is your underwear. To aid the wicking process we recommend bringing 4-6 x pairs of breathable sports underwear. We are big fans of Icebreaker underwear, Adidas sports underwear or Under Armour underwear, as these brands specifically focus on manufacturing products that can cope with sweat from high-intensity sport.
The base layer, or what is often referred to the next-to-skin or first layer is very important on the higher reaches of the Salkantay Trek.
The best first layers fit snugly to the skin (reducing air pockets and flow) and consist of high wicking materials to facilitate moisture transfer.
We recommend getting 2x top and 1x bottom base layers.
You will need to bring 4-7 trekking shirts (depending on whether you are doing the shorter or longer Salkantay Trek). We recommend these breathable and lightweight shirts from Hanes. Alternatively, shirts from Icebreaker or Columbia are good. Do not bring cotton shirts as these absorb moisture. A mixture of short and long sleeve shirts are recommended.
Hard Shell Jacket and Rain Gear
Encountering rain is always a possibility when trekking, particularly during the rainy season (October-March). You should bring a hard-shell jacket, like the North Face Resolve Jacket.
It is also worth taking a compact poncho rain-suit that can quickly be put on should you encounter rain.
The outer core layer, or third layer, consists of a windproof, waterproof and most importantly warm jacket and trousers. These will be used on the upper reaches of the Salkantay Trek.
We highly recommend getting a good quality jacket as it is one of the few key items that will ensure your warmth and comfort. We recommend the North Face Nuptse Jacket which is a market-leading winter jacket, but there are many synthetic alternatives which are also effective. In terms of the Nuptse, the warmth and weight characteristics are exceptional. The Nuptse is a lifetime investment as the jacket will last years of active trekking and double well as a winter jacket in the city. Other good jacket brands include Patagonia Down Jacket, Arc’Teryx Atom and Mountain Hardwear Down Jackets.
The second layer, or what we call the insulation layer, should be made from fleece material.
You can get an insulation layer for both top and bottom, but as you will need to have outer layer shell trousers (see below), we believe the insulation layer for your legs are unnecessary.
For your torso second layer though we recommend a Polartec 200 Fleece Jacket. These insulation jackets are very good for hiking in as they provide a great warmth to weight ratio whilst allowing effective moisture transfer. The Polartec 100s are lighter but not warm enough for the Salkantay Trek, whereas the Polartec 300s are too heavy, in our opinion.
Recommended fleece brands included Helly Hansen, The North Face and Patagonia.
Trekking Shorts and Trousers
You will also need to pack hiking shorts and trousers. There are many brands to choose from but we recommend Craghoppers, Columbia or O’Neills. You may even want to go with convertible trousers like these trekking trousers designed by Craghoppers. Not only will they save you money as you won’t need to buy shorts, but they are also very comfortable.
Bring two pairs of trousers and 1x pair of shorts.
Hat for Sun Protection
You need to bring a hiking hat that provides face and neck sun protection. Your hat should be light and easy to bend / fold so that it can fit into your daypack or rucksack. Trekking hats with a neck cover are very good. Here are some trekking hats that we recommend.
Head Band or Beanie
Temperatures can get very cold in the evenings and early mornings, particularly as you reach the higher altitudes on the Salkantay Trek.
A warm fleeced beanie or fleeced headband are absolute must-haves. Berghaus and The North Face provide good beanies.
Neck Gaiter or Balaclava
A neckband or balaclava that can keep your neck and face warm when temperatures drop below freezing is also a must-have.
We highly recommend taking 1x fleeced Buff and 1x thin buff.
Buffs are super versatile and can be used as headbands, beanies, neck gaiters and wrist bands, as demonstrated adjacent.
An inner glove acts as your next-to-skin layer, like the base layer clothing we described above. You should bring a light-weight, quick drying inner glove, ideally made from fleece material.
We recommend Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite Gloves which can also be used as standalone gloves when the weather is moderately cold. Karrimor is another good brand.
Outer gloves are like your outer layer jacket – they act as a shield from the cold and therefore need to be very warm, waterproof and durable. Gore-Tex gloves from Dakine or similar options from The North Face, Outdoor Research or Black Diamond are recommended.
Good hiking boots are the most important piece of gear on your trek – your feet are what get you around the Salkantay Trek!
Badly fitting hiking boots will result in lost nails, painful blisters and sore feet. Best fit can be tested by putting your foot in a boot without tying the shoelaces. Once in slide your foot all the way forward until the toes hit the front of the boot. You should be able to put your index finger down the back of the boot between your heel. If your finger has lots of room to move then the shoe is too big, if you struggle to get your index finger into the boot then the shoe is too small!
Here are some recommended and reliable brands: Scarpa, Salomon – we like the Quest range, Berghaus – we like the Explorer range, Hi-Tec and Karrimor.
Trainers (Trekking shoes / sandals)
After a long day of hiking the first thing you are going to want to do is change into a comfortable pair of shoes. We recommend bringing trekking shoes or sandals. Here are some good trekking shoes or trekking sandals that we recommend. We like Merrel trekking shoes. Trekking sandals are great to wear with warm socks.
5-6 x pairs of hiking socks and 4 x 5 pairs or high wicking sock liners.
We recommend Coolmax hiking socks as they provide very good breathability and have excellent wicking properties. Smartwool, Bridgedale and Point 6 also make great socks.
Do not bring cotton socks as these will lead to nasty blisters.
1 x pairs of thermal socks for the cold hiking days around the upper reaches of the Salkantay Trek.
We recommend Smartwool thermal socks as they are very warm, provide great cushioning for the foot and have flat seams (bulky seams result in blisters).
Other good brands include Wigwam and Bridgedale.
Gaiters are made from a waterproof material and extend up from your boot to the top of your calve.
Gaiters are used to stop water, dust, mud, snow, ice and small stones from getting into your hiking boots.
Here are some good gaiters you can check out.
You will need to bring with you a warm sleeping bag as the nights can get very cold.
The best types of sleeping bags are manufactured using a duck / goose down, but they also tend to be the most expensive. If you are stretched for cash then a warm synthetic alternative is fine. Just make sure that it has a rating of at least -10 degree C.
Look out for a sleeping bag that has a mummy-shape with an insulated hood and draw chord so that it fits the contours of your body. Two-way zippers for better insulation are great.
We recommend the following brands: The North Face Snow Leopard, Marmot Trestles, Mountain Hardwear Phantom Highlander or Coleman.
Good walking poles can reduce the impact on your knees and leg joints by up to 20 per cent. Trekking poles are particularly useful when descending as the load on your joints increases exponentially when going downhill.
We recommend getting light-weight (around 350 grams per pair) and adjustable trekking poles as they are easy to store and versatile.
Black Diamond walking poles are excellent, so are Leki poles.
The UV intensity in the Perú - Cusco is high due to the altitude and glare from snow.
You should bring a good pair of UV protection sunglasses (minimum of 80% light reduction). We recommend mountain sunglasses from Julbo.
You will not be hiking at night, but might need to go to the toilet at night or if you want to read after dark – many of the teahouses and campsites are poorly lit or have no electricity at all.
Petzl Tikka is the best headlamp brand. It’s worthwhile bringing spare batteries as well.
Water Bottle or Hydration Bladder
Many people suffer from dehydration at high altitudes. You should aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. Heatstroke and dizziness is common for dehydrated trekkers.
Water can either be carried in a standard water bottle – we recommend getting 2 x 1L Camelbak Water Bottles.
Or, if your daypack includes space for a hydration bladder then the 2L Platypus Hydration Bladder is a very good product.
Camera / Videocamera
The scenery in the Perú - Cusco is amazing! You will definitely want to capture your experience in HD so if you don’t have a good camera now is the time to get one. Here are some recommended and affordable Digital SLR cameras. Remember, you want to make sure your camera is light but still able to capture high quality images. We like the Panasonic Lumex. If you are more inclined to take a video camera then you might want to consider the GoPro.
Notebook / Journal and Pen
To chronicle your Salkantay Trekking experience.
Personal Gear and Medications
- Trekking Towel – A small to medium sized hiking towel can come in great use. LifeVentures or Discovery provide good, quick-drying trekking towels.
- Small Locks – To protect your belongings in your rucksack or duffle bag
- Waterproof Ziplock Bags – These come in handy for storing important / valuable items like your money, a passport and electrical equipment
- Isotonic Powder – Can be used to flavour your water nicely and helps replace electrolytes, improving energy levels and aiding water absorption. Here are some good Isotonic powdered drinks
- Diamox – Also know as acetazolamide, is a medication that can be used as a prophylactic (preventative) solution for altitude sickness. It does not cure altitude sickness and should never therefore never be used as a method to continue ascending to high altitudes. It can however help prevent the onset of altitude sickness and is commonly used by high altitude climbers and trekkers.
- General Medications – We recommend taking paracetamol or aspirin for headaches (a common altitude sickness symptom on the Salkantay Trek) and Imodium for diarrhoea (another common problem as food preparation can be a little unhygienic)
- Basic First Aid Kit – If you are joining an organised trek, your guide will most likely be carrying a first aid kit. If you are hiking unsupported or independently then a first aid kit is a must. Here are some compact and good outdoor first aid kits: Outdoor First Aid Kits
- Suncream / Lip balm – No one wants burnt skin or cracked lips! Be sure to bring 1 x suncream (SPF 30) and 1 x lip balm
- Baby wipes – For quick and easy wet washe when no showers are in sight! bring 1 x baby wipes
- Blister Plasters – The dreaded blisters! We recommend taking Compeed blister plasters
- Hand Sanitizer – Great for disinfecting hands before and after eating, or when they get dirty during the hike
What makes these trips different?
We believe that a vacation should be more than a hotel room, a flight and a rental car. It should be more than the sum of its parts. We also believe a challenge can help you grow and a trip can stir the soul. We create journeys worth taking - for the traveler, for the host and for the world.