The Inca Trail appears on many people’s bucket lists, featuring as it does breathtaking scenery and Inca ruins. It’s widely-regarded as one of the 10 best treks in all the world. It concludes at the lost city of Machu Picchu, whose image seems to grace every Peru-related brochure or travel book.
If you take the Inca Trail, central to your enjoyment will be your sleeping bag, in which you’ll be spending a large proportion of your time. Nights chill the bones, particularly in winter when the temperature can be below freezing and legend speaks of nights when it was below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be cold at night, whatever the season. The coldest night is the second, which is spent at the greatest height.
A warm sleeping bag will be required, and it’s highly-advisable to bring your own, although it will be one more thing to carry. A down sleeping bag will last forever more, compensating for its higher price, but a synthetic one will absorb less moisture and offer more insulation even when damp. A water-resistant shell will prevent a down sleeping bag from becoming wet. Down possesses a better warmth-to-weight ratio.
If buying is not an option, so long as you have no objection to being the latest in a long line of occupants, a sleeping bag can be hired from the trek provider with ten days’ notice, or more cheaply – $10 – from a multitude of establishments in Cuzco, however its quality will then be in the lap of the gods. You should closely inspect any bag you are considering renting. Apart from anything else, it is not unknown for bags to go unwashed or, even worse, undried between uses. Since there is a weight limit to your accoutrements, a sleeping bag should never be bulky – and cheap ones often are. It is wise to bring a sleeping bag liner to provide extra warmth and stand between you and that rented sleeping bag. Silk is more compact than thermal.
A four-season bag is much preferable in winter, although if you’re on a budget, you may be able to make do with a three-season bag and liner plus warm clothes. Roll mats will be provided, but you’ll be spending at least two nights on the bare ground so your comfort would be enhanced by a Thermorest-style mattress which is a much superior insulator and can be hired locally for $10. It should be borne in mind that there are different types for men and women.
Evidently, the decisions as to whether to bring a sleeping bag on the Inca Trail and what type to use are not to be taken lightly.
For a complete Ica Trail packing list check out this article!