Hiking and camping in Patagonia. What to pack?

Cooking gear unpacked. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia
Cooking gear unpacked. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

We spent two months hiking, camping and hitchhiking in Patagonia mostly on Chilean side. In these months we had all kind of weather from hot sunny days to hail and snow with storm wind and in all that time our gear never failed. Don’t think we had an expensive professional gear not at all. We bought most of it in Cusco, Peru and for everything in total paid less than US$200 for both of us. Some of our gear was cheap fake stuff some real but bought on special. In our experience Cusco was the best and cheapest place to buy hiking gear comparing to the prices in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. I hope our What to pack for hiking in Patagonia? article will be useful and help you to prepare for the beautiful and sometimes rough Patagonia.

Camping gear prices

1. Tent for two persons (National Geographic OTTAWA 2) – 38$
2. Sleeping bag (second-hand, Robin, down, for -2C) – 47$
3. Sleeping pads – 10$ per one
4. Fleece inner for sleeping bags – 10$ per inner
5. Gas stove (fake) – 12$
6. Gas (230g) – from 4$
7. 2 pots – 17$
9. Thermal pants – 6$
10. Socks (4pairs) – 2$

Our National Geographic OTTAWA 2 tent. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia
Our National Geographic OTTAWA 2 tent. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

What to pack for hiking in Patagonia? Complete gear list

Camping gear

Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, torch, stove, pots, plastic cups, gas, lighter, knife, utensils, plastic food containers (used as plates), can opener, map, extra batteries, first-aid kit, water bottle, toilet paper, plastic bag for rubbish, hand sanitizer, humid tissues, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and of course backpack.


Rain jacket, fleece, beany, gloves, waterproof trekking pants, vest, T-shirt (1 or 2), good trekking shoes, cap, sunglasses, socks, flip-flops, change of clothing for sleeping, towel.

We brought most of the clothes from home but one day I lost my big backpack and we had to buy some second-hand stuff in Coyhaique (Patagonia).

If you plan to spend some time in Patagonia and don’t want to spend too much it’s essential to have camping gear. And not only because you’ll save a lot of money on accommodation, there are camp sites everywhere in Patagonia and wild camping is allowed. But as well because there are so many national parks and places to hike and it can be difficult to do without your own gear. Because of our camping and hitchhiking strategy nevertheless Patagonia is a quite expensive place we spent less than 12$ per day each. The total budget for Chile and other South American countries you can find in our South America travel budget article.

Weather in Patagonia even in summer is very unpredictable it can be nice and warm and all of a sudden cold and rainy so it’s better to be ready for it. And not to forget about famous Patagonian wind it’s really strong! Sometimes it felt we with our tent were about to fly like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Cooking at Laguna de los Tres, El Chalten. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia
Cooking at Laguna de los Tres, El Chalten. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

What kind of gear do you need for Patagonia?

Camping and hiking gear


Must be water proof with proper rain and wind cover, it’s better to have geodesic (semi-geodesic) or dome shape because those tents are more stable in strong wind. One more thing pens it’s better if a tent can be attached with more tent pegs to the ground to secure your it (8 or more).

Sleeping bag

Definitely for 0C at least, at night it can be really cold, even below 0C sometimes. If your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough you can buy a fleece inner which adds about 5C to your bag. Whcih one to buy a dawn or a synthetic one is up to you. I really liked my dawn sleeping bag it was small, light and warm. The main disadvantage of dawn bags is if they get wet it’s difficult to dry them.

Fleece inner for sleeping bag

It was quite handy for us sometimes when it wasn’t very cold we used them as sheets for our sleeping pads to make it softer. If you have proper sleeping bag and nice mattress it’s probably unnecessary.

Sleeping pad/mattress

We had the cheapest foam sleeping pads and were too stingy to buy a nice camping mattress but I’d recommend to invest in it. First because it’s definitely softer and more comfortable and second, the isolation from the ground is better. Self-inflating camping mattress is a very good option it’s small and light not expensive and easy to use.

Cooking stove

In some places in Patagonia you’re not allowed to make fire. The wind is very strong so it can be difficult and even dangerous for you and for the forest without a stove cooking will be difficult. We bought a cheap fake stove and one year later it still works, we never had any problem with it. So it’s up to you to buy a real or a fake one. They all have standard screw-thread and can be used with gas canister of different brands e.g. Doite, Coleman etc.

Camping gas

Don’t worry about it nowadays you can find it in any gear shop even in South East Asia and definitely in South America, except maybe Venezuela but you can’t find anything there. It is a mix of butane (70-75%) and propane (30-25%). Like everything else gas gets more expensive the more South you go. Especially in Argentina where one small canister costs from 15$. So if you can buy some before you come to Patagonia. Just remember you can’t fly with them! We usually bought small 220ml and one was enough for 3-4 days of hiking but we cooked only twice a day. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a big one than two smalls but not always. After using you can unscrew it from the stove and screw back for next cooking.


We had two light aluminum camping pots; one for cooking and one for boiling water for tea. You can always find them in any gear shop.

Cooking gear unpacked. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia
Cooking gear unpacked. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

Water purification pills/UV filter

We never used any in Patagonia everybody drinks tap water in camping sites or water from lakes, rivers or creeks in national parks and never had any problem. We did use pills hiking in Peru.


We used the same backpacks we travel with mine Quechua for 50L and Campbell’s for 70L it was more than enough. Important to have rain cover for your backpack otherwise everything inside can be wet.

Trekking polls

We never use them I just feel uncomfortable to carry them around. Actually mountains in Patagonia are not that high you’ll have some steep ups and downs but not as much and long as in Peru or Nepal. But if you are worried about your knees it’s better to have them.

Water bottle

Must have for hiking anywhere. In Patagonia there are many water source we saw some people walking with cups attached to their backpacks.

Torch/head lamp

Definitely must have in Patagonia. In National parks there is not electricity and in some camp sites there is not light around the camping area.

Stove with big pot on it screwed to the gas canister. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia
Stove with big pot on it screwed to the gas canister. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

Clothes for hiking in Patagonia

Hiking shoes. Yo need proper ones Campbell always uses leather Hi-Tech shoes and his previous pair died after many tough hikes including the one in Nepal. I had fake shoes that we bought in Peru and on the last day in Torres del Paine they were completely destroyed. You can buy shoes in Patagonia but it’ll cost you a lot more than anywhere else.

Jacket. You’ll need a good water/wind proof jacket even if it’s not very warm it’s ok for walking. We both had thin one layer water proof jackets and wore them with fleeces and never were cold.

Trekking pants. Water proof as well actually everything for Patagonia must be water and wind proof.

Warm and comfortable clothes for sleeping. It’s very nice after a long hiking day to change into something dry.

Beany and gloves. We bought them in Peru and did use in Patagonia quite a lot. But they were wool and when they got wet it took some time to dry them.

Patagonia hiking and camping tips

  1. In camp sites always check free shelves where guests leave everything they don’t need. Sometimes you can find even almost full gas canisters.
  2. When cooking pasta or spaghetti to save gas put them in cold water wait till it starts boiling and switch it off covered with a lid. After 7-10 min. you food will be ready.
  3. Buy instant oats/soups for trekking.
  4. For hiking buy some snacks (nuts, chips, granola bars etc.) that you can eat for lunch without cooking.
  5. Always find a place for camping near water source.
  6. Find spot for camping in a protected from wind place; behind the rocks or trees.
  7. Take a book it’s always nice to read a good book in the tent after a long hiking day.
  8. Cook some food before the hike if you stay in a place with kitchen, e.g. boil eggs, vegetables, beans, rice you’ll save time and gas during hiking.

Campbell hiking in Patagonia. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

Campbell hiking in Patagonia. What to pack for hiking in Patagonia

Where to buy camping gear in Patagonia?

There are several “big” and touristy towns with gear shops and supermarkets so if you need to buy something for hiking or camping it’s your chance. Just be ready to the prices everything will be more expensive than in Peru or in other places outside Patagonia.

Puerto Montt (Chile)

The start of Carretera Austral, quite a big city with big malls and gear shops. There are many ATMs here as well so draw money because in Patagonia it can be a problem.

Coyhaique (Chile)

Town already half way on the Carretera Austral, the capital of the region. Not very big but has a mall, two supermarkets, expensive gear shops (North Face, Patagonia etc.), local gear shops (Doite) and several second-hand shops where you can find not bad things for cheap. We had to do shopping here because I lost my backpack right on the way to Coyhaique and we bought everything I needed.

El Chalten (Argentina)

 A small town that lives only in summer during the season. But it’s famous as Argentinian hiking capital so you can find here everything for hiking and climbing but the prices are absolutely unreal!!! For example exactly the same National Geographic tent we bought in Peru for 38$ we saw here for 300$! 10 times more expensive and everything is like this. So it’s better to shop for gear somewhere else.

El Calafate (Argentina)

Bigger than previous place with many fancy gear shops and supermarkets prices for some things are a bit cheaper than in El Chalten.

Puerto Natales (Chile)

The closest to Torres del Paine town and everything here is about hiking. There are fancy gear shops, fake stuff shops and second-hand shops. As well as gear rental places but to rent is quite expensive it’s better to buy second-hand or fake stuff.

Gear rental prices per day in Puerto Natales

Tent (2pers.) – US$6,5;
Sleeping bag (-8C) – $4,5;
Sleeping pad – $1,5;
Waterproof jacket – $4,5;
Waterproof pants – $5;
Down jacket – $3;
Backpack – $4,5;
Trekking poles (2) – $5.

As I mentioned we hitchhiked everywhere in Patagonia and traveled all the Carretera Austral from the very beginning to the end.





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  • Hi,

    Great tips! Wondering if you brought ALL the things you were traveling with while camping in Patagonia, or if there are places to leave a bag and only bring the hiking/camping stuff? We will be traveling for a bit and doing more than camping and definitely could not lug it on a multi day hike. Thoughts?

    • Hi, Nicoletta! When we went hiking we took only gear and food that we needed for a hike, not all our stuff. We usually left it in hostels/campsites in towns, e.g. Cerro Castillo Village, Puerto Natales, El Chalten. If you stay or camp in a place before a hike they will usually let you leave your extra stuff there for free. The only time we had all our things with, plus food for a couple of days is when we walked from O’Higgins, Chile to El Chalten, Argentina and it was quite tough walk with two backpacks each.

  • Hi, what secondhand shops did you find in Coyhaique? I’ve just finished up dayhikes in El Chaltén and my shoes are nearly unuseable- I’m on a student budget so it would be fantastic to find something affordable to see me through to Bolivia! Thanks

    • Hi, Amanda! Thank you for the question! There were second-hand clothes shops in Coyhaique as well as local shoe shops where we bought a pair of hiking boots for cheap though they were bad quality and were destroyed after 3-4 long hikes. Good luck!

    • Hi, Kim! We didn’t see any secondhand gear shop in Coyhaique, only clothes. We couldn’t find a second-hand sleeping bag there and had to buy a brand new backpack in a local gear shop. You have better chances with second-hand in Puerto Natales.
      Good luck!

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