Patagonia Hiking and Camping Packing List: What to Pack and What to Leave Behind
Weather in Patagonia is very unpredictable, so it is essential to know what to pack to make your trip unforgettable for the right reason. Get prepped for your ultimate Patagonia hiking and camping trip. Read our guide on what you should pack and what to leave behind.
Hiking in Patagonia had always been our dream, so when we were traveling in South and Central America for a year, we made sure to include both Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia in our itinerary.
Although for the big part of our one-year long journey, we swore how heavy our backpacks were and how many layers of clothes we were carrying, eventually we found all our equipment useful in Patagonia.
It does not matter if you plan on exploring Patagonia in your rental car or you are hitchhiking. It does not matter if you prefer to stay in warm lodges or camp for the majority of your trip. Either way, we believe that you arrived in Patagonia to see the majestic beauty of mountains, lakes, and glaciers. That's why you need to come well-prepared and well-equipped to make sure your Patagonia adventure will be unforgettable.
We've put together this ultimate packing list with only one goal.
To help you figure out what is essential to pack and what to leave behind. This post is for every adventurous traveler who wants to explore the raw beauty of Carretera Austral, see epic Perito Moreno Glacier up close or hike in world's top hiking destinations such as Torres del Paine and El Chalten.
After several years of traveling, we came to an important conclusion.
It never pays off to buy cheap stuff when it comes to hiking and outdoor activities.
It is always better to invest in good quality equipment. Not only the feel is different, but it usually lasts much longer as well.
WEATHER IN PATAGONIA
Although Patagonia has four distinct seasons, we are not afraid to say you will need to pack almost everything, no matter when you travel as even warmer summer months can be very cold in the mountains, especially at nights.
Best time for hiking is probably November to March when days are warmer, but winds are strong, and it can rain from time to time.
Honestly, we've never experienced such strong winds in as in Patagonia sometimes it was even hard to stand.
READ MORE - Argentina:
11 Best One-Day Hikes in Patagonia
Carretera Austral Perfect Road Trip Itinerary
El Chalten: The Hiking Capital Of Argentina
Laguna Torre Hike: A Guide on a Classic Trek from El Chalten
Ushuaia: Top Things to Do at the End of the World
Ultimate Guide to Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier
Laguna de Los Tres Hike: The Most Iconic Trek in Patagonia
Border Crossing Villa O'Higgins, Chile to El Chalten, Argentina
It is not a bad idea to visit Patagonia in the shoulder season in April or October when the weather can be pleasant, the wind not that strong, prices lower and crowds fewer.
Winter, from late May to September can be snowy and harsh, and we recommend to explore Patagonia during this time of the year only to experienced hikers. Not only there are chances of avalanches, but hiking trails can be closed. Winds in winter cease, but temperatures drop.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR PATAGONIA
When hiking in Patagonia, or overall in a more remote part of the world, it would have been very unwise to travel without travel insurance.
Given the remoteness and harsh weather conditions, accidents unfortunately happen, and we would have never left our room without proper insurance covering all sports activities, including hiking in the altitude.
After several years on the road, we found World Nomads to be the best travel insurance company, so if you plan your travels in Patagonia, check it out as it is better to be safe than sorry.
WHAT TO PACK FOR PATAGONIA
When it comes to packing for Patagonia, we think the following items are essential when plan on spending your time actively.
Pack layers to make sure you will always stay warm, but do not overpack as it is not comfortable to carry a heavy backpack.
WHAT TO PACK FOR HIKING IN PATAGONIA
No matter if you plan on doing one-day hikes or multi-day treks, there are fundamental things you should pack for hiking in Patagonia.
Backpack for One-day Hike for Him & for Her | We found out that a wrong backpack which doesn't fit your back can completely ruin the hiking experience. For a one day hike in Patagonia is enough to have 35 or 40 liters backpack where you can store your extra layers, snack, camera, and water.
Windbreaker for Him & for Her | As we mentioned above, winds in Patagonia are incredibly strong, and although waterproof jackets usually claim they are windproof as well, having a light windproof jacket was a live saver for us.
Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | Trails in Patagonia can be rocky and muddy, and we would not recommend you to hike in anything else, but quality, waterproof, and broken hiking shoes with sturdy soles are essential to enjoy the trek.
Hiking Pants for Him & for Her | We traveled Patagonia in summer, but even though it was quite warm and we often wore shorts, hiking pants were necessary to have at least once in a day, especially when we stopped hiking for a while.
Down Jacket for Him & for Her | Even in the summer, Patagonia is a cold destination, and we used down jacket on every single trek. Not when moving, but it was really cold when we sat down and wanted to take a break.
Short-Sleeved Functional T-shirt for Him & for Her | When hiking, after a while we started to sweat, so we had to undress and carried on in only short-sleeved t-shirt. We prefer functional t-shirts as they are light and dry quickly.
Shorts for Him & for Her | Although in the mountains, afternoons were usually warm in Patagonia in the summer. However, this item is optional as all hikes were perfectly doable in long hiking trousers.
Hiking Socks | It is important to have good-quality hiking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
Bra | For girls, obviously.
Water Bottle | Patagonia was the only place in South America where we drank tap water or when in the mountains water running in the streams. Reduce your plastic footprint and buy a reusable water bottle.
Hat | Sun in Patagonia is strong, even when it is hidden behind the clouds, so always wear head protection.
Beanie | Pack a small and light beanie in case of strong cold winds. It won't take any space in your backpack.
Sunglasses | As mentioned above, it is important to protect your eyesight from the strong sun.
Hiking Poles | Not sure if you have used hiking poles before, but we found them essential, especially when doing challenging treks almost every other day in Patagonia. If you have knee problems, hiking poles should be no brainer, when fit, hiking poles help you to keep pace.
Rain Poncho | When it rains a lot, we always prefer to wear rain poncho to cover not only ourselves but our backpack as well.
TOILETRIES TO PACK FOR ONE-DAY HIKES IN PATAGONIA
The most important thing when hiking, not only in Patagonia, is to pack as light as possible. We had to learn over the years not to carry unnecessary stuff, and take only the practical things.
Sunscreen | It comes without saying that you should not even think to go outside without sunscreen on. We sunburnt multiple times in South America, so we had to learn the hard way.
Bug Repellent | There were places in Patagonia with not a single mosquito around, while for example when hiking to Laguna Cerro Castillo, we couldn't get rid of them. Either way, we would pack a small mosquito spray.
Lipbalm with Sunscreen | You've probably noticed we don't take sun protection lightly, this is another must-have, not only against the sun but also against the wind.
ELECTRONICS & GEAR FOR PATAGONIA
Camera | Although some memories last forever, we like to remind ourselves of the places we traveled. Some people use only a mobile phone to take pictures which is completely fine as it is more comfortable, but we think mountains in Patagonia deserve a nice camera.
Dry Bags | Because of the unpredictable weather, bring along dry bags to protect your valuables.
Adapter Plug | We solved the problem of different electrical plugs and sockets by buying a multi-plug adapter, so we don't have to think about charging our stuff no matter where we go.
Chargers | Do not forget to pack chargers for all your devices.
Memory Cards | It is possible we take more photos than the average population, but you should still carry a spare memory card or two in case you won't have a chance to transfer your photos every day.
Kindle | If you like reading and cannot imagine your holiday without a book, a portable library is a real treat.
GPS Watch | Smartwatch has been very trendy lately, and you can find it useful for outdoor activities.
READ MORE - CHILE:
Torres Del Paine: Everything You Need to Know About Trekking in the National Park
Grey Glacier: Incredible Day Hike in Torres del Paine
A Comprehensive Road Trip Guide to Carretera Austral in Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia National Park Guide - Visiting the Unspoiled Chilean Nature
Visiting Marble Caves in Puerto Rio Tranquilo
Laguna Cerro Castillo: A One Day Hike in Chilean Patagonia You Can't Miss
Villa O'Higgins, Chile: The End of Carretera Austral
Explore Hanging Glacier at Queulat National Park, Chile
Pumalin National Park: An Unexplored Gem on Carretera Austral
EQUIPMENT FOR CAMPING IN PATAGONIA
Patagonia boasts with many multi-day treks, and if you have time, this is for sure one of the best ways how to explore this sought-after destination. Are you planning on camping in Patagonia? You should pack the following items on top of the packing list above.
Backpack for multi-day treks for Him & for Her | When you plan on hiking multi-day treks such as O or W in Torres del Paine, you need to have a backpack which can fit sleeping bag (because of the high chance of rain, it is not good idea to keep it outside), and other camping equipment. Also, when traveling long-term, you will need a large backpack anyway.
Tent | Conditions in Patagonia can be harsh, so make sure to pack a windproof and waterproof tent, but do not forget you will be carrying it for days, therefore choose the light one.
Sleeping Bag | The same goes with sleeping bags. We prefer down sleeping bags as they are lighter and are easily foldable, the only downside is the cost.
Sleeping Mat | The cold at night usually comes from the ground - air mattress should protect you the best, plus it is small and light.
Linen or Cocoon | We never travel anywhere without the cocoon. We often use it in hostels where we are not sure about the cleanliness, but here in Patagonia, you can use it as an extra layer for your sleeping bag.
Foldable Knife | You just cannot go camping without a foldable knife.
Padlock | When camping, it is hard to keep your stuff safe. You can take a padlock to lock your backpack or tent, but it is not 100% safe. That's being said we think Patagonia is one of the safest places where you can be in South America.
Headtorch | Sun goes down pretty early in Patagonia, and you will need headtorch no matter if staying in a tent or in a basic lodge along the trail.
Cooking Set | To have enough energy, buy a cooking set so you can prepare proper food during and after every hike.
Stove & Gas Cans | For security reasons, bring your own stove but buy gas cans on spot. You can find gas cans even in small not specialized stores.
Stove Screen | Without a shelter around, it would have been impossible to cook in Patagonian mountains because of strong winds. Make sure to pack the stove screen.
Dried Food | We tried dehydrated food for the first time in Canada and liked it. It is a bit more expensive, but it is light, and the food is ready really quickly.
Travel Towel | Even when no shower is around, you can wash a bit in streams, and travel towel will come handy.
Medical Kit | Always make sure you have personal medicaments you use on a daily basis with you.
Deodorant | This one really works.
Hand Sanitizer | Both of us use contact lenses, so we always bring hand sanitizer, but it is useful every time when the water source is not around.
Power Bank | It depends on how long you plan on camping, but the power bank is a great thing which ensures your electronic devices will keep working for many days.
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