Planning a trip to the gorgeous Patagonia region is one of the most exciting travel preparations you can undertake. However, packing carefully is just as critical as choosing which trails you want to do. If you’re not sure where to start, never fear! We’re here to help with a detailed Patagonia packing list.
A too-heavy bag is sure to slow you down, while forgetting essentials like waterproof gear, layers, or navigation tools, can compromise both your safety and your enjoyment. On the flip side, a well-prepared backpack offers peace of mind and ensures you’re able to adapt to changing conditions as they occur.
Following a carefully curated packing list for Patagonia means that you’ll be well-prepared to withstand the region’s fickle weather, challenging terrains, and rapid temperature shifts.
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Packing for Patagonia – Things to Consider
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Both the Chilean and Argentinian sides of the Patagonia region are absolutely swoon-worthy. From the peaks of Torres del Paine to the Perito Moreno glacier, the W Trek, the O Circuit, or the ultra-challenging Dientes de Navarino… the opportunities for hiking, trekking, camping, and falling in love with the region are endless.
The following Patagonia packing list will provide you with some guidance about the necessities to bring. While they vary slightly based on the season you visit, keep in mind that the weather fluctuates quite a bit year-round, with snow in the summertime not an impossibility and lots of windy days.
Be sure to always keep an eye on the weather conditions, and note that much of the region’s more challenging hikes are inaccessible in the winter months. Many of the most famous treks are doable self-guided, but there are also several that are not recommended solo unless you are a very, very experienced hiker. As you research, take note of the precautions needed for each hike – these will also help guide your Patagonia packing choices.
Relatedly, if you’re keen to do some camping but the thought of flying and traveling with all your gear is too much to bear, don’t worry, there are few options!
- Rent your own gear: It’s possible to rent hiking and camping gear for visiting Patagonia in cities like Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, Calafate, and Ushuaia.
- Rent a pre-setup campsite: On some of Patagonia’s most popular treks – think the O or W Treks – it’s possible to spend each night in a pre-set-up campsite, saving you the hassle of carrying and pitching your tent! You need to book these spots well in advance and make sure you know what else is included. It’ll be a cold night if you don’t have a sleeping bag!
- Take a guided trek: These often include gear rental as part of the price.
Ultimately, there’s no shame in experiencing the region however you feel best. While it’s good to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, Patagonia is sure to deeply impact you no matter how you choose to explore it. Plus, if you’ve decided camping in Patagonia isn’t for you, there are plenty of hut-to-hut treks or day hikes you can tackle from your accommodation in the area!
Patagonia Packing List
Whether you’re camping and carrying all your gear, visiting pre-set-up campsites, tackling a hut-to-hut trek, or completing a bunch of day hikes from your accommodation, you’ll need a comfortable, lightweight backpack for visiting Patagonia!
However, it’s not as simple as going to your local outdoor store and grabbing the cheapest bag off the shelf. Each type of trip requires a different type of bag!
- For day hikes, you’re not going to need a full-size hiking pack. Instead, consider a daypack for hiking. Make sure it’s big enough to fit all your essentials such as warm clothes, waterproof layers, food, water, and your emergency shelter – 20-30 liters should be more than enough. It’s also worth choosing a backpack with a frame, good shoulder straps, and a hip belt to help distribute the weight of your gear across your entire body. Osprey’s range of daypacks are excellent for use in Patagonia. You can’t go wrong with the Tempest 24, Talon 22, or for a more all-round daypack, the Daylite+ is a good choice.
- For hut-to-hut treks or hikes between pre-set-up camps, you’ll need a bag of around 30-45 liters, depending on how much gear you need to carry. If you’re carrying your sleep system and cook kit, opt for the higher end of this range. Make sure the bag is comfortable, supportive, and the right size for you! Osprey’s Exos/Eja 38 are lightweight, super comfy, and bang in the middle of this size range. Another great option is the Gregory Facet 35!
- For carrying all your own gear while trekking in Patagonia, including your tent/shelter, chances are you’ll need a bag of 45+ liters. At this size, it’s very important to make sure the bag fits you well, has a good suspension system, and distributes weight evenly across your body. Trust me, a heavy, ill-fitting bag can make for a miserable hiking experience! Osprey’s Exos/Eja 48 is one of our favorite multi-day hiking packs thanks to its lightweight construction, solid durability, and amazing comfort. A larger option is the Sierra Designs Gigawatt 60!
Many travelers visiting Patagonia will be doing so as part of a longer South America backpacking adventure! If this is you, then take a moment to consider a hybrid backpack like Osprey’s Farpoint/Fairview Trek. Most hiking bags are great for trekking but come with disadvantages when used as general travel bags. However, general travel bags are often not good for hiking. Hybrid backpacks combine the best bits of both types of bag, and while they aren’t quite as good as specialized packs, they’re good all-rounders and an excellent choice for visiting Patagonia as part of a longer backpacking trip!Tim – South America Backpacker Gear Expert
- Waterproof layer: Patagonia’s weather is known for its unpredictability. A waterproof jacket or poncho is essential to stay dry during sudden rain or snow showers. It’s also a good idea to bring waterproof or quick-dry pants, which are really helpful for trekking through varied terrains and will keep you warm and comfortable. If you get cold, you can also add a pair of hiking leggings underneath.
- Moisture-wicking underwear and socks: Staying comfortable starts with the basics and moisture-wicking socks and underwear help keep you dry and prevent chafing during longer hikes. Go for socks with toe and heel padding. Wool is a durable material that helps prevent blisters and stands up well to being washed by hand.
- Other layered clothing: Temperatures vary year-round, so lightweight, moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a durable outer layer (can be the rain layer mentioned above or a fleece) are always worth packing. If you’re visiting Patagonia in the winter, a merino wool base layer is a pricey but worthwhile investment piece.
- Swimwear: Patagonia is packed with stunning lakes and hot springs perfect for unwinding after a strenuous hiking day. Thankfully, a swimsuit doesn’t take up much space!
- Insulated jacket and/or windproof shell: No matter when you visit, the weather can change fast in Patagonia and the wind can be relentless at any time of year. Insulated jackets and windproof shells are a necessity for safely traveling through the region.
- Warm hat and gloves: For those colder days and nights (which do still occur in summer!), a warm hat and gloves help to preserve your body heat and protect you from the elements. Again, wool is a good material here, though it can be pricey. Fleece is a less costly but great alternative.
- Buff: Versatile and lightweight, a buff not only provides extra warmth but also sun protection, as it can be used as a face covering when the sunshine gets a bit too intense.
- Waterproof hiking boots: Sturdy, waterproof boots with strong traction are absolutely crucial for navigating Patagonia’s ever-changing landscapes and protecting your feet in wet conditions. We saw quite a few people trekking about with sneakers on and can’t say we recommend it – you’ll be wet and sliding around and at risk for injuries like chilblains or ankle sprains. A good pair of hiking boots is a gift that keeps on giving and an investment for many years of outdoor fun.
- (Optional) Gaiters: While not strictly necessary, if you’re hiking in wetter seasons like spring, gaiters are a nice option for protecting your lower legs and hiking boots from mud, water, and debris, helping you have a more comfortable trek.
- Camera: A reliable camera, whether a DSLR or your smartphone, ensures you document your adventure. While DSLRs take amazing, high-quality photos, they are quite heavy and bulky so if you’re on a longer hike, a smartphone with a waterproof case may be your best bet. Honestly, unless you’re a whizz with a camera, new smartphones take way better photos than DSLRs anyway!
- Portable charger: Patagonia’s more remote areas are likely to lack power sources. A portable charger or solar charger is great for keeping your devices juiced up while you’re in between outlets.
- Adapter/converter: Confirm the power outlet types in Chile and Argentina compared to where you’re from, and be sure to bring the necessary adapters to charge your devices.
- GPS device, maps, and compass: If you’re trekking somewhere less known or doing a solo trek, reliable navigation tools are crucial.
- Trekking poles: While not always necessary, many people opt to bring along foldable trekking poles. These add stability, assist in navigating tough terrains, and reduce strain on your joints. We’ve regretted not having these on a few hikes for sure!
- Backpack rain cover and dry bags: Keep your gear dry during unexpected rain showers with a waterproof cover. Many are designed for specific backpacks, while others are more general, designed for backpacks within certain dimensions. On the inside, dry bags and packing cubes do a fantastic job of keeping your most critical essentials from getting wet or exposed to the elements.
- Sun protection: We cannot stress this one enough – high-altitude sun is intense! Even if it’s cold out, those UV rays are definitely present. Be sure to pack sturdy sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and high-SPF waterproof sunscreen, and reapply religiously. A lip balm with SPF also helps prevent chapping and sun damage.
- Biodegradable soap and shampoo bars: Environmentally friendly soap and shampoo bars keep you nice and clean while minimizing your impact on the region’s ecosystem.
- Travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Insect repellent: despite the cool temperatures, mosquitos can be quite bothersome after a summer storm. It’s worth bringing along some environmentally friendly insect repellent, such as citronella oil, to prevent getting lots of bites.
- Emergency kit: basics like a whistle, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, pain relievers, and blister plasters always come in handy, as well as any personal medications you’ll need.
- Moisturizer: while the air in Patagonia is as fresh, clean, and pristine as can be, it can also be quite harsh on your skin. A hydrating moisturizer will help protect your skin barrier against the elements.
- Toilet paper and/or wet wipes: Some remote areas may not have readily available facilities, so carrying toilet paper may be necessary. However, keep the tenets of leave no trace in mind and be sure to carry any toilet trash with you until you find an appropriate receptacle.
- Quick-dry towel: most of these can fold up into an almost-negligible size, and are a compact and efficient thing to tuck into your pack, perfect for drying off after an unexpected rain shower or a swim.
As we said above, there are many, many companies, guided treks, and trail options where you can rent tents and other camping gear as needed.
- Sleeping bag: Good luck getting through a cold Patagonian night without a good sleeping bag! Due to hour to hour variability in weather conditions in Patagonia, make sure you have a 3-4 season sleeping bag with a comfort rating close to 0ºC (32ºF). When it comes to choosing the best sleeping bag, be sure to consider the packability, weight, and type of insulation. Down bags are lighter and more packable than sleeping bags with synthetic insulation but they don’t hold up well if they get damp. Synthetic bags are a safer choice for Patagonia because they keep you warm even when wet.
Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
– Comfort Rating
– Extreme Rating
– Survival Rating
Really, the only one of these numbers you should pay attention to is the comfort rating. The others are to keep you alive, not to keep you comfortable. If a sleeping bag has a survival rating of 2ºc, it will keep you warm enough to survive in those temperatures but you won’t have a good night’s sleep – which will leave you miserable and probably hating the whole camping experience!
- Sleeping pad: Staying warm when camping isn’t just about your sleeping bag. A huge amount of heat is lost to the ground, so much so that a good sleeping pad is more important than a sleeping bag! Insulated pads like the Thermarest Neoair range are fantastic but expensive. For a cheaper alternative, the Trekology UL80 is a good choice but it’s not insulated, so you’ll need to place a foil blanket beneath it for a warm night’s sleep!
- Inflatable pillow: While not strictly necessary, a good pillow can make all the difference when camping. Sure, you can use a rolled-up jacket or jumper but a dedicated pillow means you can wear said insulation layer if the night gets really cold!
- Camping stove: Look for a camping stove that is compact, efficient, and suitable for backcountry use, and pack along the bare minimum of accouterments (e.g., a lightweight pot, and utensils.) Keep in mind that open fires are strictly forbidden in Patagonia and camping stoves are only permitted in authorized camping areas where there is sufficient wind protection. There are plenty of pocket-sized stoves available online for <$20USD. Pick up one of these before leaving home, so you only need to worry about gas when you arrive!
- Emergency shelter: Lightweight emergency shelters like tarps or survival bivvies provide extra protection in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as sudden weather changes.
- Lightweight tent: A camping essential is a compact and lightweight tent suitable for Patagonia’s diverse conditions. In particular, be sure it’s sturdy enough to withstand wind and rain, but not so heavy that it’ll be burdensome to carry.
- Water bottle and filter: A durable water bottle and a filtration system for refilling from natural water sources are another must-have here. At risk of stating the obvious, water is really heavy, so it’s not worth packing it in your backpack. A refillable water bottle is perfect. While it’s largely considered safe to drink from the glacier-fed streams in Patagonia, a lot of folks get peace of mind from using a water filter or filtered water bottle just in case. The only thing everyone should agree on is that plastic bottles are a huge no-no.
- Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife: A multi-tool is a versatile tool for various tasks, from cutting things to fixing gear. Note that if you’re not checking your luggage, you probably won’t be able to fly with a multi-tool. It’s probably best to pick one up when you arrive!
- Repair kits: Small repair kits for your gear can address minor issues on the go. Duct tape is also a reliable fix-all for patching up tears in tents, jackets, or backpacks. A needle and some dental floss are also excellent additions. They weigh very little but can be used to repair almost anything, from tents to human skin! Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!
- (Optional) Binoculars: For all you bird-watching or wildlife-spotting enthusiasts, a compact pair of binoculars is sure to enhance your Patagonian experience.
- (Optional) E-Reader: Cozying up with a good book in the tent after hours spent hiking is the ultimate way to finish a tiring day. And, an e-reader is a super space-efficient way to bring multiple books along for the journey. Kindle e-readers have a super long charge time, often lasting two weeks or more.
- (Optional) Portable speakers: For sing-alongs around a campfire and pumping tunes to get you up those tough peaks, portable speakers are great. Our choice is the JBL Go 3, adorably pocket-sized, with fun color options, a fantastic battery life, and shockingly good sound quality for its size. Just please don’t play music if there are other people around – they may not appreciate having their peace broken by your new favorite band!
- (Optional) Smartwatch or other fitness tracker: if you’re into tracking your activity levels and hike maps, a smartwatch can add a fun and informative element to your exploration.
We love looking back at past hikes on our Apple watches and reminiscing about the fun memories we made, zooming in on the toughest parts of the hikes where our heart rates got into the red zone, and fondly remembering the views from the top!
Tips for Packing for Patagonia
- Layer Wisely
We know we said this above, but it bears repeating. Patagonia’s weather is super unpredictable! In order to have an enjoyable time, it’s essential to pack versatile, moisture-wicking clothing, with a rain layer close at hand. In general, opt for lightweight fabrics that can be easily taken on or off as temperatures fluctuate.
- Don’t Forget the Weather-Resistant Outerwear
Be sure to prioritize at least one waterproof and windproof jacket to combat sudden rain and strong winds. As above, ensure that it’s breathable to prevent overheating during hiking or other physical activities.
- Invest in Quality Footwear
Believe us, nothing ruins a hiking trip faster than a poor choice of footwear! Opt for waterproof hiking boots with good traction and ankle protection, paired with good socks. It may sound cheesy, but your feet are your means of exploration, so it’s never a bad idea to protect them and ensure their comfort. A good pair of shoes makes blisters, ankle sprains, and wet feet a thing of the past.
- Limit Redundant Stuff
As hard as it is, you won’t regret being ultra-strategic about every item you pack. Heed these tips if you’re struggling to get your pack weight down:
- Consider unpacking and repacking several times, challenging yourself to remove anything with a duplicating function, and paring yourself down to only the most essential essentials.
- Choose gear that serves multiple purposes whenever possible, such as a rain shell that can also be used as a windproof jacket or water bottle that includes a filter!
- As you pack, critically assess each item’s importance against its weight. While you should of course prioritize comfort and safety essentials, relentlessly question the necessity of heavier or less versatile items – anything that minimizes the weight of your backpack is worth doing, as you’ll be the one carrying it!
- Use Packing Cubes
Full disclosure, there are few things we love more than a good packing cube. These help keep your backpack organized and optimize space, allowing you to separate different types of clothing and gear for easy access, avoiding having to unpack your whole backpack to find what you need.
- Research Trail Conditions
As you plan what to pack, check out what other travelers or official sites recommend for the particular trails you’re doing, and tailor your packing list for Patagonia accordingly for those specific trails and conditions.
- Think Lightweight in Terms of Tech
Perhaps a DSLR is a necessity for you, but remember, it adds quite a bit of weight and bulkiness. Wherever possible, opt for lightweight and compact versions of electronics, such as a more travel-sized camera or smartphone, or a portable charger.
The Patagonia region is a hiker’s paradise and well worth a top spot on your bucket list. To ensure you have the time of your life, it’s worth spending time and attention on gear.
A good Patagonia packing list will prepare you for the region’s many uncertainties while not bogging you down with gear that you don’t truly need.
We’d love to hear your recommendations. Please share them with us in the comments below!