Peru Packing List – What Worked And What Didn’t

Taking Flight Before my trip to Peru (which is now slowly being blogged on this site), I posted this Peru Packing List.  One person commented they were astonished all this would fit in one Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On.  I have to admit I actually used two bags, but the second was a small Pack It Cube by Eagle Creek, but I must defend myself!  This bag is perfect to pack all the items I need on board the flights to Peru.  It can either be placed in with the carry on or carried separate. My wife Kim turned me on to this idea and it works great!  The cube is the perfect size to fit magazines, a couple of books, noise canceling headphones, snacks and a few smaller items.  With that in mind, I packed those few things in the Pack It Cube and the rest in the Rick Steves bag.

I thought it might help to go back through that packing list and point out some items that really helped, and some that would have been best left behind (or were disposed of during the trip).  With that in mind, here’s what I found to work well and what didn’t.

  • 1 pair jeans – I ended up not packing these and wish I had.  I tried saving space but there were times I would have liked to have a pain of jeans when heading out for the night in Cusco.
  • 1 swimsuit – I actually brought two and used them both!  I had a soaking tub in one of my cabanas and these worked out well. Plus I had enough water activities that it was nice to have a dry pair.
  • Flip flops – Really useful in the rainforest.  I would have preferred to have my moccasins for the trek.
  • First aid kit – Yeah, bring one.  The one day I didn’t have it on me, I needed it most.  Otherwise, I used it every other day for someone else and it was appreciated.
  • Packtowel – These ultralight and quick drying towels are great!
  • Collapsible cup – I never used this and it should have been left behind.  I used water out of my water bottle directly instead.
  • Hand towel – Made of same Packtowel material above, this smaller towel was great for scrubbing down after a day of trekking.
  • Soap (cut into small single use pieces) – I didn’t need these after all.  I stayed in hostels and hotels that had soap.
  • 3 8GB CF Cards – I didn’t use these
  • 9-volt light – A very handy light I won’t travel without.  It’s spendy, but useful.  I handed it to others half the time when they forgot their lights.
  • Columbus V-900 Bluetooth GPS Voice Data Logger – This unit malfunctioned on me, probably due to my own misuse.  It worked up to a point but then freaked out and kept beeping until the battery died.  Which made me glad I had a….
  • Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger – This unit worked great, although my battery charger didn’t charge the batteries enough, leading to lost track points for part of the trek.
  • Spot Satellite Messenger with GPS Tracking – This unit seems to just keep on working.  I kept it in tracking mode for the trek and it gave reliable information back to family at home, showing my location on the move.  Otherwise I’d send out an OK message when I reached a location….much easier than finding an internet cafe or calling many people at once.  I’d suggest getting this device if you have family back home who worry about you as you travel.
  • SteriPEN Adventurer Handheld Water Purifier – I have already written up a quick review of this wonderful tool for purifying water on the go.  That post can be found here.  Get one and say goodbye to plastic water bottles.
  • iPod Charger (for Columbus unit) – I think I fried the Columbus unit by using this charger.  My bad.
  • small travel inverter for plane – American Airline’s power ports didn’t work and Alaska Air didn’t have them.  This was the largest waste of space in my pack and I lived without it.
  • Dana Design day pack – This pack is heaven on the trail and I’m so glad I made space for it.  It’s funny carrying one pack inside another but I wouldn’t want to trek without it.
  • NUUN Active Hydration Tablets – These helped when the water taste was a bit off as well as adding back in needed electrolytes.
  • Phrasebook – I purchased the Lonely Planet Phrasebooks Latin American Spanish book.  It was handy and very easy to use.  For a non-Spanish speaker, it was relevant and useful.

I could keep going on and on, but those are the highlights.  Having snacks along was very helpful for keeping spirits and energy level up.  I often shared snacks with others including some Turkey Jerky with our entire cadre of porters.  The Sharkies were a big hit with all and I should have brought more.

All in all, I believed I packed well, if a bit heavy.  The bag was comfortable enough while using the waist belt, but was a bear when only using the shoulder straps.  Looking back, I’d leave behind a few things and not worry about them, as listed above.  I’d bring the heavy camera again in a heartbeat even though it was probably 20% of my pack weight.  I’m slowly posting more photos over at Hidden Creek Photography from the trip and am very happy with the results!  Coming in the new year, look for gear reviews on The Carey Adventures from some items from the pack list, taken on both this trip and one to Nepal.  Or better yet, subscribe to this blog and receive the gear reviews automatically!

2 Replies to “Peru Packing List – What Worked And What Didn’t”

  1. Gerd Dossche

    I’m going to Costa Rica in february (so called dry season, norml 8-day trip + 3 day extension very near La Selva). It might be a once in a lifetime experience due to the cost and my age so I want to things good.
    I noticed in your packing list that you carried for Peru a Canon Eos 5D + EF 28-300 L IS lens(I will be taking Eos 7 D body and either a second DSLR (5D II or still to buy crop-camera) or my faithful Panasonic FZ30 as backup + a Pentax Optio W60 as dirty-duty shirtpocket camera) .
    Question : Did the EF 28-300 3.5 – 5.6 L IS lens perform normally under high humidity and low light conditions? Any trouble (dust, moisture, mushrooms developping inside it)?
    I have the trouble of choice between a prime EF 300 L IS f4 (but then I’ll also have to carry something shorter) and the above mentioned very versatile but not as sharp zoom. I will also take the marvellous 100 L IS macro with me as I mainly make pictures of small and mediam sized critters. But you never know : a very stupid macrovertebrate might remain within the 300 mm range ans the 28-300 can go from wide angle to tele with proven close-up capacity. I will also be taking a 580 EX II + better beamer and maby a ring flash. A Tamron 28-300 VC will be riding as a spare in my suitcase.
    So main question is : did the Eos EF 28-300 L IS work correctly? When did it fail? Troubles?
    Thanks for the advise.

  2. pwc Post author

    Gerd, thanks for the comment!

    To answer your question, YES the 28-300 rocked. And still does. In the last 12 months it’s been to Nepal trekking for 17 days in a backpack, to Peru from the humidity of the Amazon rainforest to the cold air of a five day Ince Trail hike, to a bunch of other places that just make me sound like I’m bragging. In essence, it’s seen a wide range of temps from 20F-100F and I never had any moisture or mushrooms inside the lens. I’ve even been mean enough to bring it from a fish processing plant (chilled to 30F) directly out into Hawaii heat and while the Clear Water filter did fog badly, it all passed once adjusted and nothing in the lens itself. No dust problems either, just dust on the sensor of the 5D.

    I came from using a 24-105L and 100-400L and for travel I prefer the 28-300L. It weighs as much as the 100-400mm and likely as much as your 300mm.

    It is a bit darker at times than I’d like, but I have used it in rock concert photography with decent results. With the better noise reduction of the MarkII and 7D, you’d be golden most of the time.

    Costa Rica is a great country and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun. If you do decide on the 28-300mm, I’m sure you’ll be happy with it!


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