The Ultimate Peru Packing List • What to Wear in Peru

Are you heading to Peru and need a packing list? Since it’s a climatically diverse country, travelers are always baffled about what to pack. Depending on where in Peru you’re going and during what season, you might need nothing but swimwear, shorts, or all the thermals you can find!

Lima is the capital, and the average temperature ranges from 12 to 28 degrees. Cusco has a subtropical highland climate with a wet and dry season and cold nights. Iquitos, the gateway to the Amazon, ranges between 21 and 33 degrees year-round, and Northern Mancora stays steady at 23-27 degrees.

If you want to trek in the Andes, you could be looking at mornings and evenings of zero degrees at any time of the year. So, unless you’re just going to one place in Peru, you will want to pack layers and a variety of clothing. I thought splitting the Peru packing list into several sections would be best.


Inca Trail Peru Packing List

An Old Incan Road And Ruin On The Incan Trail In Peru

Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and it has a wide range of climates that stretch across the country. From its beautiful coastline to the Andes and arid deserts to the Amazon Rainforest, you’ll find no shortage of climates in Peru.

In recent years, one of the most popular draws for tourists in Peru has been the awe-inspiring Andes and the valley, which provide fantastic hiking opportunities, including the Inca Trail. In this section, you’ll find what we like to bring on a hiking trip and some of our favorite products.

  • Sports Underwear
  • Thermals
  • Performance Shirt
  • Technical Shirt
  • Mid Layer Sweater
  • Shell Jacket
  • Down Jacket
  • Hiking Shorts
  • Hiking Pants
  • Wool Socks
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Hiking Boots
  • Travel Towel
  • Buff Headwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Hiking Poles
  • Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Pillow
  • Dry Bag
  • Water Bladder
  • Self-Supported Hiking Backpack
  • Porter Assisted Hiking Backpack

Sports Underwear

Natasha Sits High Above Machu Picchu In Peru

It would be best to pack several pairs of sports underwear. I recommend packing two to three and handwashing pairs whenever possible on a hiking trip. Generally, we’ll pack five to seven pairs of underwear for a typical trip.

It’s all about personal preference for women, but it’s best not to wear your typical cheap cotton undies. Women’s hygiene is important, so antimicrobial undies on long hikes are lifesaving. You have two options for underwear: synthetic or wool. Our suggestion is the merino wool pair from Icebreaker called the Siren or Anatomica.


Thermal Layers

Underlayers are the closest layer to your body and maintain your body heat. When we refer to thermals, we refer to long-sleeved thermals and underwear. I always wear quality baselayers when active in cold temperatures. They’re essential if you’re in alpine conditions while hiking, snowboarding, scrambling, or camping.

Generally, temperatures are mild enough to avoid them during the day, but they may provide comfort at night if you run cold. However, as the trekking season does run in the winter, it’s not uncommon to be in temperatures near freezing. We’ve had many base layers, but our favorites are wool-based layers from Helly Hansen, Smartwool, and Icebreaker.


Performance Shirts

Hikers Take A Break Along The Inca Trail In Peru

Any Peru packing list needs a performance shirt! I love to wear a comfortable shirt on hot days. It’s best to opt for shirts made from a performance fabric that handles sweat and the sun. You should look for a fabric that is lightweight, breathable, and has quick-dry qualities, such as merino wool, nylon, or polyester.

The more expensive option would be to bring a hiking shirt with active panels designed to move with your body and withstand the wear of a backpack. We’ve spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and have some recommendations for them in the following articles.


Technical Shirt

A technical long-sleeve hiking shirt looks great and is typically well-constructed. You should look for a nice blend of synthetic materials which allow for quick drying. A long-sleeve shirt like this allows for greater comfort from chilly mornings into warm days. It’s a great travel shirt as it avoids wrinkles, resists stains, and looks better than a relaxed tee. The other option is always a classic flannel. While it’s not a technical shirt and can be bulky, we still love them.


Mid Layer Sweater

On the trails, you often encounter cold temperatures in the mountains. A comfortable sweater is a great way to remain warm in the mornings and evenings. Any warm fleece jacket or sweater will work on the Inca Trail as it’s not some long multi-day hike. Our Patagonia Better Sweaters are perfect fleece sweaters, especially for mid-layers. It’s a slim-cut fleece with a soft lining that is slim cut and moves well with your body, while the outer material feels tough and shows little to no wear. We’ve both had one for years, and it looks like they’ll last for another decade.


Shell Jacket

A great item to have on the trails is a shell jacket designed to protect you from the wind and rain. This is not about wearing a winter jacket, but a jacket that will break the wind and protect you from the elements. Regarding hiking clothes, the best investment you can make is in a quality shell jacket. They’re tremendous at protecting you from the elements like rain, wind, sleet, and even snow. I cycle several shell jackets throughout the year, but the one I reach for the most is my Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket.


Down Jacket

There are only a few travel items we recommend everyone has, and that’s a down jacket. A down jacket is a staple for travel and outdoor activities as it’s tremendously versatile. We always recommend bringing a down jacket on almost any extended trip. When dealing with the mountains and wide temperature shifts, it’s a great way to keep warm without eating up too much space in your hiking backpack.


Hiking Shorts

A great pair of shorts is self-explanatory for keeping yourself cool on a hot hiking day at lower elevations and warmer weather days we love a pair of hiking shorts. Of course, it all depends on the terrain and landscape as sometimes a pair of hiking pants can remain cool while protecting your legs from thick brush or rocks when scrambling up a trail.


Hiking Pants

Alpaca Hang Out Above Machu Picchu

Lightweight synthetic pants are tremendous to have in your pack. We wear them most days in Peru because they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos and branches. We recommend neutral-colored pants because they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is that they’re useful beyond Peru. They are a travel staple, and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.


Wool Socks

We’ve learned to love our feet with a good pair of socks. You will want to keep your feet dry while hiking. Most importantly, wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties. We travel with a couple of pairs of Darn Tough Merino socks, and our feet have never felt cold or wet. As a bonus, they’re produced in Vermont!


Trail Running Shoes

I recommend you look at the weather and your shoe preference before you pick a nice hiking boot or trail running shoe. In cooler temperatures, we appreciate the added insulation in hiking shoes, but in warmer months, we prefer the breathability and lightweight nature of trail running shoes.


Hiking Boots

Peru Packing List

Peru has become a trekking capital, and there is a wide network of trails. In more fashionable destinations with day hikes, we recommend leather boots, but when it comes to multiday hikes, it’s tough to beat purpose-built synthetic boots, as they are lightweight, breathable, quick-drying, and often waterproof.

When hiking in the mountains, loose rocks are a real threat, and it’s a good idea to wear decent hiking boots or shoes. There has been a long debate on whether you need high-top or low-cut shoes to protect your ankles. Truthfully, we own both types and like to wear high-tops on muddy trails or areas with thick vegetation and shoes in warm and dry destinations.

I’d say wear what you’re comfortable with, but if you plan to head to the Amazon, it would be a good idea to bring a pair of high-ankle boots. Seriously, bring proper footwear because many critters roam around. I still have nightmares about getting attacked by fierce jungle ants when I mistakenly walked on a trail in my flip-flops.

We also saw multiple venomous snakes on trails, so the added layer of protection was much appreciated. A good pair of hiking boots will come in handy if you have plans to explore. We love the Merrel Moab III, which comes in both women’s and men’s versions, as well as high and low-cut versions.


Travel Towel

We always recommend bringing a travel towel when you’re on the road, and Peru is no exception. If you plan on a multiday hike like the Inca Trail, you’ll need to carry your own towel, and you don’t want to lug around a big fluffy, space-consuming cotton bath towel from home.

The biggest complaint about travel towels is that they often feel nothing like the plush cotton towels we are accustomed to at home and in hotels. However, with the PackTowl, you can forget about all of that because they set out to create a towel that mimics its cotton counterparts with the technical features of a travel towel.


Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the sun in Peru. There are many sunglasses options, and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to ensure they have UV protection for the health of your eyes. These are particularly important if you plan to visit any of Peru’s glaciers as the sun’s reflection from snow damages your eyes.


Beanie

As I’ve said before, cold evenings and nights are frequent at elevation, so a nice beanie to keep your head warm is always nice to have in your pack. It takes up very little room in your pack. If you forget, you can find a hand-knit one in any of the markets selling local products around Peru—it’s a super popular souvenir, probably because everyone underestimates the chill and forgets to pack one.


Gloves

Heavy winter gloves are unnecessary while hiking in Peru, but a lightweight pair is great for those prone to cold hands. If you’re trekking on the Inca Trail, consider a pair of lightweight, weatherproof gloves to protect your hands from the elements. There are many gloves purpose-built for hiking, jogging, or general sports activities that would be great for your trip.


Hiking Poles

If you plan to take part in long day or multi-day hikes, a pair of hiking poles is a great way to save your knees and prevent injuries. The Inca Trail, for example, requires several days of hiking, often around 5-6 hours a day. You’ll gain and descend elevation along the way, and it’s easy for your legs to get tired, so a pair of hiking poles will pay off.

Hiking poles reduce the impact on your knees and prevent injuries, as they provide an extra level of support. When selecting your hiking poles, you should look at a number of key features and specs. We like to have a pair of hiking poles that have secure clamps rather than twist locking mechanisms, as they are more secure and will hold up long term.


Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle

Cusco Peru City Square

The Grayl water bottle system purifies water rather than filters it, removing viruses and virtually eliminating all threats of waterborne illnesses.


Headlamp

On almost every trip where we spend time outside, a headlamp is on our packing list. If you have a long day on the trails, this could be a lifesaver, and it’s nice to have around camp at night. We even use ours in cities and towns when we walk along the side of a road to increase visibility.

We have several headlamps, but one of our new favorites is the Biolite 200. It took several recommendations online before settling on this one because of its affordable price and durability. It delivers 200 lumens, costs $40, and will likely last a decade or longer. It’s a sweet deal if you like to spend time outdoors. Most importantly, it’s rechargeable, so no more pesky batteries are in the trash—an eco-friendly product win!


Sleeping Bag

Tents Along A Campsite On The Inca Trail

If there is one hiking item I really recommend you bring your own, it is a sleeping bag. Make sure to get something that is lightweight, warm, and of decent quality. If you have plans for future hikes at higher elevations, like further south in Patagonia or Nepal, now would be a good time to make sure you have a decent-quality sleeping bag.

You can rent a sleeping bag in Cusco before you set off on a hiking trip, but you can’t shower on a hiking trail so it’s up to you if you want to follow someone else you don’t know into a sleeping bag. That being said, sleeping bags can be pricey, so the cheaper option would be to bring along travel sheets/liners that you can slip inside the rental sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags come in two different types, down and synthetic. Down bags are considered high-performance and generally offer greater warmth and a lighter weight, but they cost more. The most popular trekking months are the dry months (May – September), which coincide with the year’s coldest months. It is common to see temperatures below zero or freezing at night so you should pack a four season bag rated for around -10C or 14F.

The sky is the limit with sleeping bags, with the top-end models reaching upwards of $500. This is a lot more than is necessary for most hikers on the Inca Trail or many of the other trails around Peru. A great lightweight and affordable option would be the Marmot Trestles Elite, which costs only $150 with a synthetic down fill.


Sleeping Pad

If you’re taking an independent trek, you likely already know you’ll need a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads act as insulation between your body and the cold ground and make for a more comfortable sleep. If you’re on a guided trek with porters, it’s likely that your tour company will supply you with a sleeping pad—we recommend you verify before arriving.


Pillow

We can’t sleep without a pillow, but everyone is different! A small, simple pillow that inflates will be useful while trying to catch some sleep. The alternative would be to use clothes like a down jacket to sleep at night by tucking it into your sleeping bag hood. A pillow is essential for a good night’s sleep in the mountains. Therm-A-Rest makes durable pillows from upcycled foam. These pillows are soft and expand large enough for a comfortable rest.


Dry bag

Dry bags are great if you want to ensure your electronics are protected from the elements. They will protect your phone and any other electronics if it starts to rain or if your bag gets wet. As a plus, they take up little to no room and are cheap.


Water Bladder

You should consume at least two liters of water daily while hiking in the mountains. This often means you carry two bottles of water or purchase water when available along the route. A water bladder is the best way to carry enough water on your treks and extra in case of emergencies. Most hiking backpacks and even daypacks designed for hiking have a sleeve for carrying extra water. With the Grayl water bottle above, you can filter the water and pour it into your bladder, ensuring you stay hydrated and healthy.


Self-Supported Hiking Backpack — Osprey Atmos/Aura

This is a great pack for beginner hikes as it’s extremely comfortable on the trail. I haven’t found a pack that fits better on my back. My largest complaint is its rather odd shape, weight, and inability to stand up on its own due to the internal frame. However, it is rugged and effortlessly carries heavy weight. Backpacker Magazine even gave it the Editors’ choice for the best multiday backpack several times over.


Supported Hiking Backpack

If you have the benefit of a porter on a guided hiking tour like the Inca Trail, you won’t need a large multiple-day hiking backpack. You’re only responsible for your water, snacks, change of clothes, and daily essentials like a rain jacket or sunblock. This means you need a lot less space, so a smaller backpack of around 30-35L should be more than enough.

Your porter will likely carry your tent, sleeping bag, nightly clothes, and food. This means many of the heavyweight items are not in your pack, making the hike a lot easier. You will still need to carry several pounds of gear in your bag, so it’s important to have a backpack that sits well on your back and has good suspension. Opt for a size around 35L, which should be enough to carry all of your necessities.

We have a large number of hiking backpacks in various sizes. If you have plans for other short treks that may or may not have a porter, you can go with a 50L that will lend more versatility without being so large it’s unnecessarily cumbersome on the trail. Regarding our recommendation for smaller backpacks, we love the Traverse from REI and the Exos/Tempest from Osprey.


Amazon Packing List

Lodge In The Amazon Rainforest

The majority of Peru is temperate, so dressing for cool temperatures like fall or spring in North America and Europe is appropriate. Yet, when you head inland over the Andes, you’ll find the Amazon and rainforest. Here, temperatures and humidity soar, and you’ll regularly find they reach 30C or 90F.

There’s a lot of overlap betweren the items listed above, so we’ll just make some suggestions on additional items specific to the Amazon River. Some obvious musts like sunglasses, rain jackets, anti-microbial underwear/socks, boots, and hiking pants. It’s good because outside of the insulating layers there is a surprising amount of overlap between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon River.


Sunhat

If you’re on the Amazon or a river you’ll see a lot of sun from the water reflection when it does make an appearance. We both have a Tilley hat as they have long been famed for their sun protection hats. They have seen the world over and have seen more than a few adventures. It holds its shape, and the material has a stylish look to it. What sets Tilley apart is that they guarantee their hats for life against wear and tear.


Long Sleeve Technical Shirt

There are many little critters around the rainforest, and you’ll be walking around almost every day of your trip. The shirt looks sharp with clean lines and a flattering cut. We love these shirts as they offer UV protection, are lightweight and quick-drying, and offer excellent ventilation. You can check out more technical long-sleeve shirts in our post about safari shirts.


Hiking Shorts

A great pair of shorts is self-explanatory for keeping yourself cool on a hot day, and we love a pair of hiking shorts. You might be worried about bugs in the Amazon, but you’ll be surprised to find that it’s common to see little to no mosquitos during the day. It all varies a lot, depending on the location in the Amazon. Some areas are prone to lots of bugs, while others are virtually bug-free.


Loose Pants

We pretty much live in loose pants when in hot climates. After wearing several different pants, we’ve landed on prAna for the company’s commitment to sustainability and the awesome pants that they produce. Their women’s Summit Pant is made of hemp and recycled polyester, offering 50+ UPF protection. They are perfect for beach destinations, especially if you find yourself in more conservative areas.

These men’s Vaha pants are lightweight and weigh nothing in a carry-on bag. I could live in these pants if it were acceptable to wear them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In Peru, they were a wardrobe staple for nighttime, as they are appropriate to wear out to a restaurant or bar while covering our legs from the pesky mosquitos. For men, most Peruvians wear long pants, so it’s a good way to blend without feeling too hot in a pair of jeans.


Insect Repellant

The Amazon has year-round warm weather and lots of rain, so it is a breeding ground for mosquitos. They love to hang around forests, ponds, lagoons, or anywhere with moving water—still, water actually has the wrong pH in the Amazon. It’s pretty common for unsuspecting travelers to leave with legs full of mosquito bites.

We recommend packing a bottle of insect repellant with DEET in it to scare away those annoying biting demons. In a worst-case scenario, it reduces the chances of Malaria or Yellow Fever. Remember that DEET can destroy plastics, so mind your sunglasses or camera when applying.


General Items

Packing List for Peru

You’ll still want most of the stuff on the hiking list above for your trip to Peru, particularly if you plan to spend time outside. While the items you want for hiking are more technical, you can get away with more comfortable clothes and heavier items like a wool sweater.


Wool Sweater

If there is one article of clothing made for travel in Peru it’s the wool sweater. Sweaters can make a great travel outfit staple. They’re comfortable, stylish, and warm. It doesn’t matter the season either as most of Peru is temperate and remains cool year-round. This means comfortable day time temperatures during the day and chilly evenings in the summer.


Fitted Jeans

Jeans go with anything, and despite the notion that they are “American” casual, the right pair is attractive. I see jeans everywhere I travel, and it’s definitely not just Americans wearing them. We stick with the classic look in jeans. That means fitted jeans in a dark color—no fades, classic blues, or rips!


Chinos

A pair of chinos works for both sexes. It’s a classic look that when combined with a sweater works well in Peru. I always pack a pair of these pants in my bag! Men should opt for more neutral colors like grey, blue, brown, or green. Women can never go wrong with white, yellow, beige, or light pastel colors. Of course, it depends on the season.


Scarf

This is a travel staple and a great wardrobe choice for both women and men traveling in Peru. They act as an accessory to your outfit and they’re super comfortable giving you an added layer of warmth. Scarves are especially great for travelers: They can spice up an outfit that you’ve already worn three days in a row and can be thrown into a bag or purse to pull out when the sun sets and the weather gets chilly.


Accessories For Peru

Natasha On A Hiking Trail In Peru

Sunscreen

Skin cancer is for real! Remember your SPF when traveling around Peru, as you’re close to the Equator. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house, as you will find much higher prices in Peru.

We highly recommend getting eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. These creams are mineral-based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans. If you’re not going to swim in the ocean, just go with a reliable name brand—granted, runoff often still ends in our oceans.


Hand Sanitizer

Walking around and taking part in everyday activities in Peru can get pretty dirty. It became a reoccurring theme to find hand soap nowhere. You can’t go wrong bringing some hand sanitizer and baby wipes in your bag — consider it a travel essential anywhere you go.


Electronics to Pack for Peru

Caral Desert In Peru With Empty Road

Travel Adaptor

You will definitely need an adaptor for your electronics on your Peru packing list. We always keep one handy in our carry-on bags so we can charge electronics on arrival or at the airport. The plugs in Peru are Type A and Type C, but they are not the same Type A in the U.S. due to the grounding.

Make sure you find a good adapter like the one I have to keep you charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for an overpriced one once you land. You’ll need the British “Type G” three-prong adaptor for the United Kingdom.


Kindle Paperwhite

While I love having a good, real book when I travel, sometimes it’s just not practical because of the weight. I’ve recently switched to a Kindle Paperwhite which is small and compact, plus it has a backlight for reading at night without a harsh glare. It’s great for those nights when you’re disconnected and looking to unwind.


 Portable Charger

I love traveling with a power bank to ensure my phone never dies. The majority of the time I don’t need to use it on long flights as some of the nicer airlines provide entertainment systems with USB ports! We also make sure to find a charging point during layovers, but getting to a new city without your hotel reservations and map can be a major pain.


About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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