Having the proper Salkantay Trek packing list is a key component to having a successful trek.  I know this because well…I wasn’t the most efficient packer when I embarked on the Salkantay Trek without a guide, reservation or tent!

That’s right, my partner Joe and I took on one of the biggest adventures/challenges of our lives to date and it was tough, challenging and most importantly so satisfying.

In this post I’m going to go over what to pack for the Salkantay Trek and why you need it.  This Salkantay Trail packing list is based on if you are trekking this trail independently and plan on staying at guesthouses along the way.

If you are hiking the Salkantay Trek with a guide, it will be that much easier as porters will carry some of the load.  If you plan on trekking the Salkantay Trail independently and camping along the way, you’ll need a bit more gear like tent, sleeping bag and what not.

This is a minimalist Salkantay Trek packing list which means you’ll be wearing clothes for multiple days and you have to embrace the suck..or  shall I say stink.  Honestly by day 3, you won’t care and you’ll want to get rid of everything in your pack anyways.

Salkantay Trek Packing List

For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase.  All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling and coffee ☕️.  I thank you in advance.

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Duration: 4-5 Days
  • Distance: 46 Miles
  • Peak Elevation: 15,090 feet at Salkantay Pass

The Salkantay Trek, often referred to as the alternative trek to Machu Picchu is some of the best hiking you’ll find in South America.  On this hike you will see some of the most beautiful landscapes in Peru.

Think snow capped mountains, free roaming horses, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys and lush green mountains.  This trek is adventure, authentic experiences and natural beauty all wrapped into one.

Unlike the classic Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trail doesn’t require a guide.  The Salkantay trail is 46 miles in completion that takes you  through rugged mountain terrain and connects Cusco to the iconic Machu Picchu.  The maximum elevation of this strenuous trek is at 15,090 feet at the Salkantay Pass, which is why packing smart and light is mandatory.

Want to see exactly what it’s like?  Check out these Salkantay Trek travel vlog series on Trekking the Salkantay Trail.

Salkantay Trek Packing List

    Salkantay Trekking Gear List

    Gear to bring on the Salkantay Trek
    Hiking pack for trekking

    Hiking Pack

    Before you start packing for the Salkantay Trek, you’ll want a proper, efficient and lightweight pack.  This is your foundation and will set the tone.  When it comes to trekking/hiking packs, Osprey is the best.

    I love the Sirrus 36 Osprey Light Backpack for trekking.  It’s perfect for short or long treks like hiking Salkantay.  Along with lots of pockets and comfortable support, it has a place to attach your trekking poles and built in rain cover.

    Hiking boots for the mountains

    Hiking Boots

    For obvious reasons, having proper hiking boots are an essential item on this Salkantay Trek packing list.  These hiking boots need to be comfortable and waterproof.  They also need to be broke in.

    Don’t pull a rookie move and start this trek with a brand new pair of boots.  You’ll get blisters the size of Montana.  Your body will be sore enough in other places, at least with a broke in, comfortable pair of hiking boots you can save yourself some unnecessary pain.

    These Danner Hiking Boots are great for the rugged mountain that this Peru hike offers and are waterproof.  Plus they are light weight which is great because by the end of day 2, I was tripping over my feet a lot because I was so tired.

    Hiking poles for trekking

    Hiking Poles

    I’ve never been one to use Hiking Poles.  Up until this point, I did most of my hiking in Maui.  I can honestly say, I don’t think I would have been able to get over and down from Salkantay Pass if I did not have hiking poles.  They are great for stability, stream crossings, hills and knee support.

    Not only did they give me a little extra push as I was ascending up to the pass but they were a life savor on the way down.  Once you summit Salkantay, the next 4 or 5 hours are downhill on a rocky, uneven trail.  The hiking poles saved my knees as much as they could and once you get tired, they caught me from falling down a few times.

    My absolute top tip for trekking Salkantay Trail is to use hiking poles.  You can bring some travel hiking poles with you or buy/rent a pair in Cusco.  Joe and I each bought a pair in Cusco for 25 Soles per pole.  In other words it was roughly 25 dollars for 2 sets of hiking poles.

    Life straw water bottle

    Life Straw Water Bottle

    As you may know, tap water is not safe to drink in Peru or most of South America for that matter.  We have the Life Straw Water Bottle which makes trekking and traveling much easier.  We can fill up our water bottles out of the sink and the life straw filters and cleans the water for us.

    This was extremely useful on the Salkantay Trek as we could fill our water bottles up from the river we walked along.  This ensured that we would never be without water and it helped us save a few bucks from buying bottled water all of the time.

    Rain jacket by North face

    Rain Jacket

    When we were hiking up to Humantay Lake on the first day of the Salkantay Trek it drizzled on us for a bit.  But a Rain Jacket is more geared towards the second part of the trek as it takes you through a sub climate of the Amazon.

    Waterproof hiking pants for the Salkantay Trail

    Waterproof Hiking Pants

    The same goes for the Waterproof Hiking Pants.  The last thing you want is a wet bottom.  I bought a regular pair of hiking pants and sprayed a can of waterproof spray/repellent on them and that did the trick.

    Rainfly for your hiking pack

    Rain Fly

    A Rain Fly for your pack is always a good idea.  We travel with lots of expensive electronics and trekking the Salkantay trail was no exception.

    Like I mentioned earlier, the second part of the trail to Machu Picchu is through sub tropical rain forest so it’s not uncommon to rain.  We got sprinkled on a few times on the last couple days of the hike.  You can get a rain fly for pretty cheap on amazon, under $10, if your hiking pack doesn’t come with one.

    Technology

    Technology to bring with you on the Salkantay Trek
    GoPro 10 for capturing the moments
    Joby Tripod

    Camera Gear

    A Go Pro is the perfect camera to take along on your adventure.  It’s light, compact and there to capture the moments.

    I always have my Go Pro attached to a Joby Gorillapod because it can wrap around all kinds of different objects and terrain on the trail.

    Other technology you may want to bring with you on the trail.

    Warm Things to Pack for Trekking Salkantay

    Warm items to bring on the Salkantay packing list
    Warm jacket for trekking

    Warm Jacket

    It’s cold at nights and early mornings, especially on the first two days.  A warm jacket is a necessity.  A nice goose down jacket would do the trick.  I like this Hooded Jacket from Northface.  I can layer up under it, it looks good in photos and it has a hood.

    Comfy Clothes for Night

    You won’t want to bring a lot of extra clothes with you as you’ll want as little weight in your bag as possible but you will want a set of comfy clean clothes for relaxing in the evenings.  

    A comfy pair of lounging pants such as joggers or leggings (for females of course), a tank top or t-shirt and flannel.  These clothes will solely be for resting at night and to sleep in.

    Leggings for outdoors
    Hiking socks for women
    Head warmer

    Other Warm items for the Salkantay Trek Packing List

    • Long Sleeved Thermal – Easy to layer.
    • Leggings – I wore a pair of leggings underneath my hiking pants everyday, even on the days we were hiking though parts of the rainforest.  I felt very comfortable.
    • Warm Hiking Socks
    • Head Warmer –  I absolutely love this head warmer from Ariat.  It allows me to wear my hair up in a pony tail, its so soft and fuzzy on the inside, it stays on my head and doesn’t hurt my ears.
    • Gloves – I just had a pair of basic cotton gloves and cut the fingers off of my pointers and thumbs.  This allowed me to work my cameras with ease and my hands were never uncomfortably cold.

    Other Necessary Salkantay Trek Packing Items

    Miscellaneous Salkantay Trek packing items

    Bandana

    A Bandana will come in handy for several ways.  Not only can you wear it but you can use it.  I mainly used it as a hanky especially when we were hiking through the mountains.  On the second half of the trek when we were at lower elevation, I was using the hanky as a sweat rag.  It’s very versatile 🙃.

    Unseen reef safe sunscreen by supergoop!
    Maui Jim Sunglasses

    Sunscreen

    Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you won’t get sunburnt.  I love the Supergoop Sunscreen for my face.  Being at such high elevation means that the sun will hit harder and quicker.  Don’t forget a hat and Sunglasses too.

    Bug Spray

    You will encounter some biting mosquitos along the way especially in Lucmabamba, Machupicchu, Santa Teresa and Aguas Calientes.  Don’t forget to pack insect repellent with the highest deet % you can find.  These buggers left big bites, that were extremely itchy and lasted weeks!

    Passport

    You’ll need your physical passport to enter Machu Picchu.  Don’t forgot to pack your tickets to Machu Picchu as well.

    Cash

    There are no ATM’s along the trail until you reach Aguas Calientes.  Cash will pay for your accommodations, bottled water, snacks and victory beers along the way.  1200 soles should be suffice.

    If you’ve enjoyed this post, found it useful or if there’s anything I missed that you think would be a beneficial item to add to the Salkantay packing list, give me a shout out in the comments below.

    I’d love to hear if this post was helpful to someone andI try to keep my guides as up-to-date as possible, so your experiences and any useful information that could help out your fellow trekkers goes a long way 🙃.

    If you are planning your trip to Peru, I spent 2 months traveling around this beautiful country so check out my Peru travel page for inspiration.

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