Machu Picchu. For many, that’s enough said to explain the draw to explore Peru. And it’s probably on your bucket list too – for good reason. It’s a spectacular destination and piece of history that lives up to all its hype. But, Peru, is so much more than the Inca Trail – its varied landscape from the beach, to mountains, to the rainforest – offers adventure at every turn.
Such diversity makes it a bit challenging to know what to pack for Peru. What are your top needs when traveling as a thrifty backpacker? How do you know what to wear in Peru as a tourist who wants to be comfortable and not stand out too much? What are the best shoes to pack for Peru? How different are the seasons really, and how should the weather affect your what to take to Peru checklist?
We’re glad you asked all these important questions – because we’ve compiled all the answers in this thorough Peru packing guide!
Let’s get started, shall we?
The Ultimate Peru Packing List
By the end of this rundown you will know exactly what to bring to Peru, what to wear in Peru and more!
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Peru, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Peru checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. Perfect for your dream Peru trip and for many an adventure to come!
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Peru: Personal Gear
Deciding what to bring to Peru is partially down to what time of year you will be visiting and what you intend to be doing. The country does experience some seasonal variations and temperatures vary a lot depending on altitude and elevation. As a general rule, when visiting Peru it is wise to kind of prepare for 3/4 seasons!
So let’s get packing for Peru then shall we?
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
The typical Peru trip will involve a lot of walking. Whether it’s the Inca Trail, Rainbow Mountain or the hilly streets of La Paz, you’re legs are gonna get a work out. Therefore you need good, sensible walking shoes.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town.
I will admit that in my youth I did some serious hikes in “everyday” footwear. In hindsight though, it as foolhardy, risky and made the treks a lot harder than they needed to be!
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! Peru does get a fair bit of rain. It has a wet season and the jungles are never too far from a heavy downpour.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
There are plenty of chances to get wet in Peru. Whether you hit the beach, dive in a river or simply find a hostel with a pool, swimwear will come in useful at some point. You will be the disappointed guy or girl in the corner if you forget to pack swimwear while everyone else is in the water. Or you might get drunk, lose your inhibitions, and jump in naked with the risk of getting arrested.
Don’t get arrested for being drunk and naked. Instead, just pack whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable in the pool.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. Things can go wrong in Peru. There is crime against tourists, cases of whole backpacks going missing, and risk of injury and tropical sickness when out trekking. If something goes wrong, having good insurance will make it a lot less devastating.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
As above, Peru’s elevation means the sun’s rays can be fierce EVEN when it doesn’t seem that sunny. Is is therefore all too easy to forget to use suncream – don’t!
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
To enter Peru you will need a valid passport – this is not negotiable. When in the country, you will also be asked to show it when checking into accommodation and possibly even when booking transport.
As a rule, it is always worth carrying a few copies of your passport with you in case the police ask to see it.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
There is no point denying that Peru can be dangerous country and tourists are sometimes targeted by thieves.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
As you know by now, high elevation means closer to the sun and stronger the effects of its rays. The best way to protect your head is therefore with a sun visor. No Peru packing list is truly complete with a hat like this one. They are also great for hiding “messy jungle” hair which you will learn all about on your way up to Machu Picchu!
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 panic is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Peru’s infrastructure is not equipped to deal with mass infection so do your bit to keep everybody safe and placate any concerns.
We suggest packing a few choice items of PPE for your Peru trip:
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
It is perfect for taking out on treks when water sources are not treated. Get it on your Peru checklist.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, jungle trip and Maccu Piccu then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Sleeping Bag – REI Magma 15
There are loads of opportunities for camping in Peru and a raft of multi day treks on offer. Whilst some tour companies do provide all the gear you need, the quality can be mixed bag not to mention hygiene standards.
We therefore suggest bringing your very own sleeping bag with you from home. This one is our pick as it mixes lightweight which solid performance.
Headlamp – Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Headlamps are great for traveling for many reasons. Firstly, they are useful as hell if you go camping or on an early sunrise mountain hike. Then, they come in useful for finding your way to your hostel bed at 3am without having to turn the lights on. They are also a Godsend if there is a power cut (pretty common in India, Nepal or Venezuela) and great for navigating darkened alleyways in Turkey & Spain.
In Peru, this will come in very useful for those multrip day treks, for hiking to Machu Picchu fore sunrise and for the odd power cut. Add it to your Peru packing list.
Not all headlamps were created equal and this is one of the best. The Petzl Actik Core comes with a USB rechargeable battery (full recharge in 3 hours or less); however, it is compatible with AAA batteries. Water-resistance is another critical feature. This product can withstand splashing; but keep in mind, water-resistant does NOT mean waterproof.
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Peru
Yes, Peru’s weather and zones are challenging to figure out – and knowing what to pack for Peru isn’t glaringly obvious. But we hope that our Peru survival guide has helped clear things up a bit!
While preparing your gear, just refer to the 22-needs packing list we’ve provided above, and use our seasonal explanation by region with tips on what to pack and what to wear in Peru accordingly. Don’t forget the packing recommendations for ladies and fellas and what NOT to pack.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to the essentials, don’t fret about the rest. Peru is sufficiently stocked with goodies – from hiking gear to wonderful alpaca clothing – that you can always buy there. Now it’s time to just get excited about all the adventure that awaits!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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