When planning an adventure trip through a remote region it’s very important to pack the right gear. In this post, you’ll find a detailed Patagonia packing list that contains the 15 essential hiking items and must-have camping gear.
We spent two months hiking and camping in Patagonia mostly on the Chilean side. During that time we had all kinds of weather; from hot sunny days to hail and stormwind – our gear never failed. We’ve done many day hikes in Patagonia and several long-distance treks and spent quite a lot of time traveling the Carretera Austral. In this post, you’ll find our best tips and gear recommendations based on our experience in Patagonia.
Download our PDF file with the complete Patagonia packing list
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For day hikes you’ll need a small and comfortable day pack to carry only essentials, snacks, and water. We’ve become big fans of Osprey packs now we both have Osprey Daylite Plus day packs. We use them for day hikes and often as hand luggage for flying.
For multi-day hikes having a good backpack is very important. It should be a good fit, adjustable, with padded shoulder straps and several pockets. As for the size, I’d suggest 50-60L for men and 40-50L for ladies. Don’t take a huge backpack it’s very likely you’ll pack unnecessary stuff. A backpack rain cover is a must-have for Patagonia.
Recently we’ve bought a new hiking backpack for Campbell Osprey Kestrel 48. It’s a good combination of good quality and affordable price. The size is just perfect, you can fit all the necessary gear and food for a multi-day trek. The backpack is adjustable and lightweight. It has many pockets and straps and has a long zip which makes packing and unpacking easier.
For a bigger backpack, I can suggest Osprey Atmos AG 65. If you’re looking for a cheaper option check NEVO RHINO backpacks. We have never had a backpack of this brand but it has good reviews on Amazon.
I used to hike with Quechua backpacks from the Decathlon store. My old backpack needs an upgrade and I’m thinking of buying Osprey Kyte 46.
2. Hiking shoes
Hiking shoes are the most important item on your Patagonia packing list. You’ll spend most of the day wearing them. Make sure your shoes are;
- have good grip – sometimes you walk on muddy slippery terrain
- fit good – you have some space to wiggle your toes
- good quality – won’t fall apart after one hike.
Temperature is not a big problem in Patagonia. In summer it’s comfortable, not hot and not cold, nice for hiking. You don’t need to pack heavy winter hiking boots. rain is the main problem here I’d strongly recommend having waterproof shoes.
After having many pairs of hiking shoes Campbell and I finally decided to try Gortex. Campbell has Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX and I have Salomon Ultra 3 Mid GTX shoes. They are really waterproof. We walked in them for hours in snow and pouring rain and our feet stayed dry. They’re great shoes to pack for Patagonia considering its unpredictable weather.
Our video on Salomon Ultra 3 GTX shoes
3. Wool socks
I recommend packing merino wool socks for Patagonia. We always use them when going hiking. They don’t absorb odors, dry quickly, are very durable, and help to prevent blisters. Darn Tough hiking socks they’re famous for great foot support and blister protection.
To prevent blisters; 1. Wear merino wool socks (they are amazing for hiking it’s tested and proven). 2. Put plasters or tape on the areas where you usually get blisters before you start hiking. 3. When your feet get wet, change your socks, walking in wet socks is a certain way of getting blisters.
4. Rain jacket
As I already mentioned the weather in Patagonia is very unpredictable. The day might start with sunshine and end with heil or even snow. We used our rain jackets a lot to stay warm and dry. It’s an item that I would recommend packing for Patagonia. I prefer waterproof rain jackets with a hood and zip pockets.
5. Hiking top
I prefer hiking in long-sleeve running tops. They fit well, are light, and dry quickly. Long sleeves are good for sun protection. I don’t like using sunscreen when hiking. Campbell usually has a couple of short-sleeve running tops. Don’t pack cotton shirts for hiking they are heavy and take longer to get dry. Don’t forget to pack sports bras they’re more comfortable for outdoor activities than normal bras.
6. Hiking pants
Long yoga pants are my favorite hiking outfit. They’re stretchy, very light, pack small, and dry very quickly. I tried normal hiking pants but for me, they’re not as comfortable and stretchy as yoga pants. I don’t like hiking in shorts if you walk through high grass or bush you might get scratches on your legs. I recommend packing two pairs of pants for Patagonia. Campbell always hike in quick dry hiking pants. I don’t recommend hiking in jeans or cotton pants if they get wet it’ll take you ages to dry them.
7. Fleece top
A fleece top is something we wore a lot in Patagonia. In combination with a rain jacket, it works great for windy and chilly days as an alternative to a down jacket. Maybe for colder months packing a warm jacket for Patagonia is a good idea but in summer you won’t need it if you have a rain jacket and a fleece top.
A thermal top and bottom are a useful addition to the Patagonia packing list. You can wear it as a base layer for hiking on a cold day. We often use it for sleeping when we camp. It’s warm, comfortable, packs small, and dries quickly.
9. Flip flops
I would definitely recommend packing flip-flops for Patagonia, especially for the summer season. You can wear them outside and inside. It’s so nice after a long day of hiking to take off your shoes and put on flip-flops. change after a long day of hiking. Havaianas are the ultimate favorites we’ve been wearing them for years.
A cap or a hat is a must-pack item for traveling Patagonia in summer especially if you’re planning to do multi-day hikes. I personally prefer wearing a cap it’s easier to put away but a hat gives better protection for your neck.
In case of cold weather and strong wind, I’d recommend packing a beanie.
Patagonia is located in close proximity to the Antarctic ozone hole and receives enhanced ultraviolet B (UV-B) radiation in addition to the normal levels of ultraviolet A (UV-A) and photosynthetically available radiation (PAR). Good sun protection is a must for this area.
Sunglasses are a must-have item for Patagonia. For hiking, it’s better to buy sunglasses with high UV protection and polarized lenses. If you tend to lose or drop your sunglasses having a sunglasses strap will help you to protect them.
12. Hiking poles
Hiking poles are great to have in Patagonia. Sometimes the terrain is rocky, slippery, or muddy especially if it rains a lot so it’s great to have extra support on steep descents like John Garner Pass on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine. If you have knee or shin split issues we’d definitely recommend packing hiking poles. When choosing your poles ensure that they have an anti-shock mechanism, rubber tip, and comfortable anti-slip handles.
13. Water bottle
Getting water is not a problem in Patagonia, normally it’s potable but just in case I recommend using a filter. From our experience, a LifeStraw bottle is the best and the easiest way to purify water. We use it a lot when going hiking. Unlike with some other filter systems with LifeStraw you don’t have to wait you can basically put a straw directly into a water source and drink safely.
Our video on using a LifeStraw bottle when hiking
14. Quick dry towel
Quick-dry towels are something I’d definitely recommend packing for Patagonia. We use them a lot when traveling, going to the beach, to the pool, etc. They are very light, pack small, and dry quickly. In Patagonia even if you stay in hotels sometimes you have to pay extra for towels.
15. Neck bag
I’d highly recommend packing a neck wallet for Patagonia to carry your documents, money, and phone. We always keep our documents and credit cards in our neck bags not only hiking but on long bus/train journeys or when flying.
Essential camping gear to pack for Patagonia
The following gear you’ll need only if you’re planning to do multi-day treks in Patagonia. Some long-distance treks e.g. the W trek in Torres del Paine can be done without camping gear. On the other hand, if you’re planning to visit more off-the-beaten-path treks such as Cerro Castillo Circuit you’ll need your own camping gear.
The tent must be waterproof, wind-resistant, light, and easy to pitch. If you’re an active hiker and camper we’d recommend investing more and buying a good quality tent that you’ll be using for years. We have an MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent and love it. It’s very light (1,3kg), waterproof, easy to pitch, and packs very small. We used a Hubba Hubba on several multi-day treks including the West Coast Trail in Canada and it worked great.
A sleeping pad is definitely a must-have item to pack for Patagonia if you’re going to camp. I recommend bringing an inflatable camping pad. It‘s more comfortable than a foam pad, packs small, and can fit inside a backpack. When buying an inflatable mat make sure it has a good valve that seals properly.
After years of sleeping in sleeping bags, we’ve decided that we prefer down ones over synthetic ones. Down sleeping bags are very cozy and soft. The only problem with a down sleeping bag is if it gets wet. I’d suggest carrying it inside your backpack and not attached from the outside. For camping, in summer a sleeping bag with a comfort minimum of 0°C/32°F will be enough.
You’ll need a camping stove for multi-day treks in Patagonia. It’s possible to get a ready meal only on some routes in Torres del Paine. We’ve been using our stove for 3 years, camping and hiking a lot and it’s still alive and works great. I’d recommend buying a stove with Piezo Ignition to be able to light it without matches or lighter.
Modern stoves weigh nothing and fold very small, you can basically put them in your pocket. When buying a stove make sure it screws onto canisters (most modern stoves do), so you can unscrew it and pack it away. You can buy screw-in gas canisters in any town in Patagonia.
You can get away with only one camping pot and use it for cooking and boiling water but you’ll have to wash it every time. We’re big coffee junkies and drink coffee every time we have a chance we boil water a lot for this reason we usually pack 2 cooking pots. One bigger pot for cooking and a smaller one for boiling water. As an option, you can buy a cooking set with pots, a stove, plates, forks, cups, etc.
To save gas when cooking pasta put it in the pot with cold water and wait till it starts boiling stirring it from time to time. Once boiling switch it off and leave it under the lid for 5 minutes, it will get cooked in hot water without using any gas.
Weather in Patagonia
Windy is probably the main characteristic of Patagonian weather with strong winds blowing all year round and getting especially furious in the summer months of December and January spoiling nice summer days. There are four seasons in Patagonia; summer – December – February; fall – March-May; winter – June – August and spring – September – November. The best time for hiking in the area is between November and March, the warmest period though it has its disadvantages like strong wind and frequent rainfalls.
November, December, January, and March are the windiest months in Southern Patagonia* when your chances of having a windy day are between 80% and 90%. Out of the summer months, February is the least windy.
*Weather data for Torres del Paine National park.
Find out when is the best time to visit Torres del Paine.
From October to April day temperature varies between 12°C-15°C/54°F-59°F, the warmest nights are between December and March, around 10°C. May to September are the coldest months in some areas temperatures go down below 0°C/32°F. Some trails are closed for the off-season, not the best time for exploring Patagonia.
Summer and fall months get the most rain though the chances of rain are less than 40%. February is the most favorable month for hiking with the least rain. To resume all the above February, in general, is the best month for hiking in Patagonia; not much wind, warm and little rain the only disadvantage of hiking in Southern Patagonia in February is the number of tourists, it’s the busiest month here if you’re planning to trek in El Chalten, visit Perito Moreno Glacier or do hikes in Torres del Paine you’ll have to plan and book your trip in advance.
Recommended books and guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island (Travel Guide). Kindle and paperback.
- Classic Hikes of the World; 23 Breathtaking treks by Peter Potterfield. To get some inspiration for future adventures. Hardcover.
- Patagonia on a budget by Matthew Morgante. How to travel Patagonia on US$30 a day, Kindle.
- Walking Patagonia by Caspian Ray. It’s more of a fiction story rather than a hiking guide.
- To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret by Jedidiah Jenkins. Paperback, Kindle & Audiobook.
The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.
Saturday 7th of January 2023
Hi, relying on your intel again, as you were so helpful on my Camino [norte]. Do you know if the santiago airport has lost/found/confiscated items where we could get free poles like at TSA in USA?
Saturday 7th of January 2023
Hello Lisa. I haven't heard of anything like that at the airport in Santiago and don't find any information regarding it. There is a lost and found department but I'm not sure if they'll hand lost items to anybody or only to the owner. I don't know what they do with the items that nobody came back for. I don't know where in Patagonia you're heading but in El Chalten, El Calafate, and Puerto Natales you can buy walking poles for 10-15USD. Cheers
Monday 12th of September 2022
Hi, Hiking the Torres del Paine W circuit in November. Are rain pants necessary or will my yoga pants dry quickly enough. I'll have a spare pair of yoga pants.
Monday 12th of September 2022
Hi Karen. We didn't have rain pants in Patagonia. I had 2 pairs of yoga pants for the W trek and was okay we did get wet quite a few times but yoga pants dry very quickly. Cheers
Monday 29th of November 2021
Hello, May be a dumb question. I am seeing that we can't take gas canisters on a flight. I am guessing that is something we buy at a store before starting the hike. Is my statement right? Thanks!
Tuesday 30th of November 2021
Hello, Pavankumar. Yes, you're right you buy a gas canister before going on a hike. Most towns in Patagonia have a store or a petrol station where you can buy camping gas canisters. Cheers
Tuesday 5th of November 2019
would you recommend bringing hiking poles with you or renting from puerto natales? thanks!!!
Tuesday 5th of November 2019
To rent small things like poles, a stove, pots, etc. in Puerto Natales for the period of the circuit will cost as much as buying them. You can buy them in Puerto Natales as well but it might be a bit more expensive than buying them at home.
Tuesday 20th of August 2019
Just curious, would you recommend fleece-lined hiking pants? Or two separate layers (warm layer, waterproof layer)? Thanks!
Wednesday 21st of August 2019
Hello, Alyssa! We usually take thermal pants and normal hiking pants if it's cold we put on both. Cheers!