Packing Guide for Patagonia

Patagonia is all about outdoor adventures in remote and utterly breathtaking landscapes. It is right here, at the southern tip of Latin America, where you’ll discover some of the most enticing – and challenging – trekking routes on the whole planet. Yet as remote and at-times inhospitable as Patagonia is, your chances for stocking up on some essential packing items are numerous, so whether you leave home with your Patagonia packing list complete, or plan to pick up a few items locally, just make sure you are all geared up before you hit the stunning peaks of this most mesmerizing region of the world.

River flowing with mountains in the background at the Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia in Chile

The fascinating views at the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. Photo credit: shutterstock

Truth be told, you could actually enjoy a very luxurious and less-active experience in Patagonia. A healthy smattering of superb lodges and endless options for day trips – including visiting wineries – means you need no spend a single day slogging it out or sleeping on an inflated mattress in a tent, if you don’t want to. Yet as developed as Patagonia may be, in some regards, there are still plenty of sites and highlights which require several day’s hikes and, consequentially, overnighting in basic accommodation. Yep. Even tents. Plus, given the region’s propensity to change its climatic mind every 5 minutes, it also pays to remember that Patagonia can get harsh and inhospitable in the blink of an eye. Even in summer. This is, after all, the portal to the ‘end of the world’ and if this place was easy to get to, and easy to experience, you wouldn’t be getting all those adrenalin rushes you’re bound to have just booking your trip in the first place.

Patagonia: a mystical land of nature’s best treasures and an outdoor destination that has no rivals, anywhere in the world. Be prepared and we assure you that your stellar adventure will be a lifelong memory for all the right reasons.

Woman sitting on a rock with trees and mountain view at Fitz Roy, Patagonia, El Chalten in Argentina

Fall in love with the Autumn views of the Fitz Roy in Patagonia at El Chalten, Argentina. Photo credit: shutterstock

Tips on packing guide for Patagonia

Layers are key – Patagonia boasts the kind of unpredictable weather that’s normally found at high altitude. Even at sea level here, changes in wind and drops in temperature can catch you by surprise. This is why, much like Packing for the Inca Trail, the keys is to pack, and wear, layers. Layers grant you the chance to keep up with the changing weather effortlessly and help you cope with those in-between spells where it’s too cold for a shirt but not quite cold enough for a Michelin-man type padded jacket. A few tops (short & long sleeve), a fleece and a windproof jacket will see you covered for almost all eventualities, with woollen extras (like a beanie, scarf and gloves) for when the proverbial hits the fan. Even in the height of summer, you can experience hail and snow in Patagonia which, although it makes for a mesmerizing spectacle, is less than ideal if you started the day in shorts and a T-shirt. So be prepared!

Rainproof yourself & your gear – Rain can be sporadic and come promptly in Patagonia so it pays to be prepared with rainproof layers both for you AND your bags.

It’s all relative – The abovementioned criterion is quite universal to anyone who travels to Patagonia. But herein the commonalities end. Your packing guide for Patagonia will highly depend on the kind of tour and activities you’ll be doing. In this southern regions of Chile and Argentina, you can go skiing in winter and hiking and horse-riding in summer. You can indulge in a glacier-spotting crawl, do a luxury cruise in search of awe-inspiring fjords or tackle a 5-day hike to some of the remotest corners of Patagonia’s most prized National Parks. You can go 5* all the way (well, almost) or opt for budget lodges and lots of camping. The choice, as always, is yours to make. Keep this in mind when packing for Patagonia, because your activities and travel style will greatly determine just how much extra gear – like a sleeping bag – you’ll need to bring along.

Tourist near the Perito Moreno Glacier, in Patagonia, Argentina.

Get close to the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina. Photo credit: shutterstock

General Packing List for Patagonia

Here are the essential items you’ll want to pack for your upcoming adventure in Patagonia.

Backpacks – Patagonia is not the ideal place to bring a rigid suitcase although you certainly could bring one if you’re not planning any overnight hikes. Nevertheless, the one thing you will definitely need is a soft, small, daypack. No matter where you go and what you do, you’ll want quite a few essentials with you at all times: your camera gear, your wet-weather jacket, sunscreen, hat & sunglasses, water and snacks, and an extra layer in case it gets cold. Make sure your daypack comes with its own waterproof cover.

Zip-lock bags – Airtight bags help you separate your belongs and keep everything dry.

Clothing – When heading to Patagonia you’ll want to stock up on comfortable and functional clothing, which can be washed and dried overnight, soak up your sweat when you hike and pack small. Although you’ll no doubt want to bring a fancy top for dinners in nice restaurants, most of your clothing should be more outdoor than glitz.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to pack the following clothing essentials:

4 x underwear

3 x pairs thick, long socks (your lodge/hotel may have laundry facilities yet remember that friction in hiking boots is the cause of blisters. For longer hikes, consider wearing 2 pairs of socks to keep your feet nice and snug.

3 x T-shirts (in breathable, wick-away materials)

2 x long-sleeve tops (these should be thicker than your t-shirts)

1 x hiking pants (the zip-off kind which easily turn into shorts are a genius option, fashion police notwithstanding)

1 x thermal leggings – to wear under hiking pants when it gets cold, and to sleep in

1 x zip-up fleece

1 x Rainproof jacket & pants (include a rainproof boot covers if your shoes aren’t waterproof)

1 x nice top or collared shirt  – Because after a full day out in the Patagonian wilderness, there’s nothing nicer than dressing up for dinner!

1 x thick warm beanie/scarf/gloves combo

Toiletries – Your usual basics, as well as

Sunblock

Packet of tissues/toilet paper roll

Microfiber travel towel to save on space

Man jumping on rocks during a hike in Patagonia

Get ready for the hike of your lifetime in Patagonia with a pair of comfortable shoes. Photo credit: shutterstock

Footwear

Comfortable walking shoes – If not tackling any major hikes then a pair of comfortable walking shoes will do the trick. If they are not waterproof, however, bring some boot covers.

Flip-flops – For relaxing in your lodge

Trekking – if you’re planning to tackle one of the many hikes offered in Patagonia, you’ll want to bring a few extra bits and bobs, like:

Hiking boots or sneakers – make sure these are well worn in!

Hiking poles – Not essential but certainly helpful

Four season sleeping bag – if planning a multi-day hike

Sleeping mat – Inflatable is best

Head torch – Always handy even if not camping

Basic first-aid kit

Accessories

Hat & sunglasses – A must, especially for sunny days hiking on glaciers

Electronics

Camera, spare batteries and memory cards

External power bank – Especially if camping

 

Patagonia’s unpredictability is arguably what makes it such an enticing place to visit. Aside from the wilderness being awe-inspiring, never quite knowing what lies in store is half the excitement. The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that Patagonia will dish up some of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have. Your impressions of the majestic peaks, breathtaking lakes, glaciers, wildlife and magnificent landscapes will be embedded in your soul forever more. This is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most epic travel destinations.

Want more? Here are a few blogs on special destinations in Patagonia, to scratch that wanderlusting itch:

Here at Chimu Adventures, we can plan a bespoke tour of Patagonia to include your most desired destinations, taking into account your time constraints, budget and travel style. We can also hone in on more specific necessities of your packing guide for Patagonia depending on where you go, and what you do. Simply contact us for more info…and we’ll take you there.

Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”

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