This Patagonia packing list will guide you through everything we brought with us that made our trip such a success. A trip to the Patagonia region of South America is a journey to “El Fin del Mundo” or “The End of the World”. Many explorers find themselves at Torres del Paine National Park to complete the famed W and Circuit (“O”) Treks. If you are also looking for more information on how we planned our entire Patagonia trip, check out that post here!
We, of course, need a passport. We wouldn’t be able to get into the country otherwise. Those traveling from the US do not need any additional visas or paperwork but, it is always a great idea to check before making any trips (Passport Index is a great resource).
Tip: One very important thing all travelers nee is the PDI receipt that you are given when first entering Chile. It is a small receipt sized, delicate piece of paper but, it is vital to your visit and exit of Chile. It does not get enough attention but, just remember to have it handy and do not throw it away!
We talked about how much cash we spent daily in our planning post. While most places accept credit cards, there are a lot who do not. This is particularly important for certain activities or portions of your journey such as entry into the park and the catamaran to exit the park. These two must be paid in cash.
Tip: We kept our bills in a small zip lock baggie to protect it from moisture. There are no ATMs in the park so be sure to get cash in Puerto Natales or earlier.
The refugios with facilities all take major debit and credit cards (yes, including AMEX). So we didn’t only use cash but a mixture of cash and credit. We use a variety of credit/ debit cards on our travels and continued to use them in Patagonia.
Copies of Reservations, Passport, etc.
Although no one asked for copies of our reservations, I’m glad that we had them. You never know if something could happen to your phone and there are certain portions, like the buses to and from Puerto Natales. I find it simpler to just print all the receipts that we need. We kept them in a zip document pouch for safekeeping.
Tip for iPhone users: We saved PDF versions of the reservations and other important docs in the Files app can make things a lot smoother when pulling things up on your phone (just make sure they are saved to your phone and not to iCloud so you do not need an internet connection).
Patagonia Packing List: Bags
You can’t go backpacking without a backpack! Since we were traveling fairly light, we took the Osprey Far Point 40 (also Melanie’s full-time travel bag) and the Gregory Jade 28. Both of these bags performed well for us. Most people we met used a 35-40L bag but, it can vary depending on how much gear you are carrying. Bags as large as 60-70L may be required for people carrying all of their cooking and camping supplies
The Patagonian wind is known for ripping rain covers right off of backpacks. We were advised to get a waterproof bag liner or even an industrial compacter trash bag (our choice for this trip) to keep everything dry. We purchased a large trash bag from a local grocery store the day before our trek.
Because there are a few out and back day hikes along the W and O – treks, a daypack will allow you to leave all of the heavy stuff at base camp. It makes for a much more enjoyable hike. For our itinerary, there were 3 out and back hikes on the W-Trek where a day pack will come in handy:
- Torres Base – out and back from Hotel las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, or Eco Camp, all of which are down in the valley. Even leaving from Refugio Chileno, you still do an out and back.
- The French Valley – you can leave your big pack at Italian Camp and do an out and back into French Valley (the middle of the W).
- Glacier Grey – if you aren’t staying at Refugio Grey, you’ll do an out and back from Refugio Paine Grande.
We live by our packing cubes. They are a great tool for organizing your clothing and gear in your pack. They are not a necessity for this journey but, something we used to keep things in order. The main thing is we were able to keep our clothes separate from other items in your pack. In our opinion, the best are Peak Design and Eagle Creek.
Waterproof Dry Bag
The weather changed drastically by the minute in Torres del Paine. We had a large trash bag for everything in our packs but also a large Ziploc bag for our small electronics. This was only used for items that needed special attention (i.e. electronics).
Patagonia Packing List: Clothing
First, a couple of Notes on clothing:
- The Weather in Patagonia can be extremely variable. We essentially needed to prepare for the possibility of experiencing all 4 seasons.
- It’s nice to have a fresh set of clothes to sleep in at night, especially towards the latter half of your journey. A good night’s rest is key, and this can make a major difference. We’ll include the items on the list as well.
- Wool is the way! Wool is the best natural fiber available on the market today. It helps to regulate your body’s temperature when hot and cold and it’s naturally odor-resistant although it’s not cheap. Since we were only carrying a few items, we found that the price tag was well worth it. If you’re vegan or would like a less expensive alternative, synthetic materials are a great alternative
Socks: 3-4 pairs
- Wool Hiking Socks (2-3) – We used Darn Tough’s full cushion hiking socks. Zero regrets.
- Socks for Around Camp and Sleep (1) – There’snothing better than having a clean dry pair to sleep in after a long day’s hike. Smart Wool has a slight edge in comfort in our opinion for this and we use them full time during our travels.
Shoes: 2 pairs
- Hiking Boots or Trail Shoes – Whether you are doing the W Trek or the Circuit, Patagonia is a long journey. Having good quality hiking boots or trail shoes is paramount. We opted for a couple of different versions of trail runners from Altra.
- Camp Sandals/Shoes – AT camp, we needed something to put on to walk around in after taking those hiking shoes off. Most people opt for some type of sandal (from Crocs to Chacos to Slides). Some people opt for a pair of sneakers, like light-weight running shoes. We chose sandals because they call also be used as shower shoes. Melanie wore Chaco Z1 Clouds and I wore Xero Shoes Z Trails.
Underwear: 3-4 Pairs
- Underwear (Wool or Synthetic) (3)- We carried 3 pairs of underwear. This was based on a 4-day trip and tolerance for re-wearing items. Synthetic underwear can often breathe a little better than wool and dries faster. But, wool regulates body temperature and fights the funk like nothing else. Just keep in mind that you are carrying everything, and your pack will feel heavier as the days go on.
- Long Underwear (1) – I chose one pair of long underwear for those colder nights. Smart Wool was the choice here as well.
Pants: 2-3 Pairs
- Hiking Pants (1) – These are the pants we wore all day. You will want something comfortable, breathable, water and wind-resistant.
- Comfy Pants (1) – These can be just another pair of light hiking pants or even a pair of your favorite sweats to move around camp and the Refugio in the evenings and serve as additional warmth for sleep.
- Rain Pants (1) – This is not a 100% necessity but can make life a little easier, especially if you are fortunate enough to have to spend your whole day hiking in the rain. We experienced one day of rain but also these helped protect against the wind. We both wore REI Rain Pants.
Base Layers: 2-4
- Short-Sleeve T-Shirt (2-3) – These will be for hiking and sleeping. Again, wool or synthetic materials are best.
- Long Sleeve T-Shirt or ½ Zip (1-2) – Long sleeve shirts are not only a good thin layer of warmth; they can also protect from the sun. We had one with a zipper because this will be much better for regulating your body temperature while working and can be easily combined with another short sleeve base layer. Smart Wool was the choice for our ½ zips.
Mid Layers: 2
- Fleece (1) Pullover/Jacket/Hoodie – Fleece is king when it comes to hiking and staying warm while working up a sweat. This is what we wore over our base layers if it got a bit chilly outside. A light to mid-weight fleece is best for this application. I had Arc’teryx Adahy Hoody and Mel had Patagonia Better Sweater
- Insulating Jacket (1) (Warm Jacket) – This layer can be a stand-alone piece, just like the fleece layer, or it can be added on top of the fleece to stay nice and toasty. Because hiking is only possible in the summer, you more than likely will not see temperatures where you will hike in this layer in addition to your fleece. During our trip in the summer, we only hiked in our fleece and used our insulating layer around camp while the fleece dried overnight.
I chose Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket and Mel chose Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
Outer (Shell) Layer
- Rain Jacket (1) – This will not also keep you dry if the rain picks up, it’s also an extra layer of protection from the wind. This is a must-have regardless of the season. We used the REI DryPoint GTX Rain Jacket. This is an essential Patagonia packing list item.
Tip: Make sure it fits over all of your other layers in case you need to bundle up.
Patagonia Packing List: Accessories
- Neck (1) – We rarely took this one off while hiking. Even in warmer temperatures, wool regulates your temperature very well and it provides sun protection.
- Head (1) – Some people may opt for just one buff and have a warm hat instead of the 2nd but for us, we chose to have two.
This is one of the most versatile items we brought with us. It can be used for everything from a headband to a napkin for holding food. We picked up a couple from REI but, of course, these are available everywhere.
A hat was also necessary to keep the sun off our faces. Patagonia has some very exposed sections and there is even an area with no ozone layer, so sun protection is key. I’m bald and I sweat a ton, so I had two options (pictured above) for my head!
Warm Hat (Beanie, Toboggan, Toque, Skully)
This will be helpful on cooler days. You may still want to alternate between a hat and a buff to keep one dry/clean for sleeping and around camp.
Any pair of sunglasses serve their purpose. We were sure to only bring ones that we are willing to lose. Those who normally wear prescription glasses may want to opt for prescription sunglasses because contacts can be a nuisance when camping. Mel got her prescription sunglasses from Zenni Optical and they are affordable.
- We carried a basic pair of gloves each to keep our hands warm.
- We didn’t but considered one set of waterproof liners to keep our hands dry out in the rain. This was a big oops for us since we forgot to bring waterproof gloves but, luckily we did not get too much rain during our journey.
Lightweight/ Quick Drying Towel
We each carried on a lightweight towel for showers at camp each night. We hung it up outside our tent to dry each night.
Patagonia Packing List: Trekking/Hiking Gear
Buy or Rent Your Gear?
This list assumes that you will use the park’s accommodations and at least some if not all of the food available (meaning no cooking required on our part). We only brought food during the day and admittedly not enough. Our dinners were provided through each campsite.
This was our first time using trekking poles and I’m so thankful we did. Trekking poles are the real deal when it comes to long hikes and treks. They are not a necessity but very helpful in saving our knees on all the uphill and downhills. If you don’t own a pair, we rented ours from our hostel for 3000 pesos.
Cooking and Food
Standard need for the hiking you will be doing. Bring something that will carry what you need but, not anything too large. We like the 24oz and 26oz bottles from HydroFlask and YETI, respectively. Nalgene, of course, makes the golden standard when it comes to plastic lightweight bottles.
We used Nuun Electrolyte tablets for recovery and during the day for energy. At the end of every hike at night, we drank a full bottle of the recovery. In the morning we took the basic electrolytes. Throughout our time, we never felt sore or experienced leg cramps.
Patagonia Packing List: Toiletries
As mentioned, there is a hole in the ozone layer in this area! It is cheaper to get it in the US before leaving for your trip. We are big fans of Black Girl Sunscreen and we used them for the first month of our trip.
Lip balm keep our lips from being dry and cracked from the wind and sun.
We may not have showered every day but, halitosis is not acceptable. Obviously, we kept toothpaste on us.
No point in having toothpaste without the brush right?
Some people like to embrace their natural musk but, we like to keep it fresh. We use natural deodorant from Lather and More.
The facilities at the campsites will be suitable for washing hands and cleaning up before dinner. We kept some on us just in case and to use during the day while eating snacks.
Toilet paper was not a guarantee at every bathroom we visited.
Fun Fact: You are not supposed to flush toilet paper down the toilet in Chile! Hard if you are not used to it but keep that in mind during your travels.
Throughout the park, signs are directing you to carry your trash with you (for items like wrapper from snacks and if you do not happen to be at a Refugio, yes your toilet paper), so bring a trash bag or two to keep the park clean. Help preserve nature!
We had issues with a bunch of gnats but, we never came across a ton of mosquitos or anything that would make repellent an absolute must.
For those that have done any long treks or multi-day hikes, not taking a shower is just a way of life. This is the direction we chose to go and we opted for baby wipes instead.
If this is too much for you, most of the Refugios/campsites have shower facilities (Frances is the best). If you are going shower don’t forget the basics: Soap, Face Wash, Towel.
Patagonia Packing List: Electronics
Apart from taking pictures, our phone didn’t get a ton of use. We still chose to carry around a power bank to charge it and our other devices. You will have access to charging ports from time to time but, our power bank was able to charge your phone 2-3 full times. ANKER is our go-to brand including the 3-in-1 cable which cuts down on extra wires.
TIP: During the day, we kept our phones in airplane mode, low battery mode and the Wi-Fi is turned off (there’s no internet out in the middle of the park).
We opted to carry AirPods (MB) and AirPods Pro (KB). For those used to hiking or being out in the wilderness for long stretches, that will sound like just a waste of battery and risk of losing them but, when traveling with other people, you’ll find that you won’t spend all day with your headphones on anyway. We talked for most of the hike each day.
We chose not to bring any additional cameras besides our phones for the trip. GoPros are always a good lightweight option and maybe even a point and shoot.
Tip: If you are just bringing your phone, a good option is getting a case that has an attachment point for a lanyard that you can carabiner to your bag to keep close and out of your pocket while hiking.
We did not bring a big camera for this trip so we did not have a big tripod and we do not suggest bringing one save for maybe those that are serious enthusiasts or pro landscape photographers. We did, however, bring this small Joby Gorilla Pod for our phone.
Other Items to Consider
Map or GPS
You will receive one of these when you are entering the park. Everything is well marked but, it never hurts to have one.
First Aid Kit
Help is not typically too far in the park especially during the high season but, it can be a lifesaver to have medical supplies available in case of an injury like a twisted ankle which I dealt with during our adventure.
We brought and use several on our hike and we use them during our normal travels. Carabiners are super helpful for holding items that you want to have close access to or even for holding temporarily. We also have Hero Clips on our bags in case we need to hang them somewhere. Once you have one it will stay attached to your bag permanently.
Write down all of your thoughts and experiences to review later. If you don’t want to carry one consider keeping a video diary on your phone.
If you are a light sleeper, these can be a lifesaver. We don’t use any of these items but, the tents in the camp areas are nearby and while most people are respectful you can run it to some noisy neighbors. Also, campsites will have ambient noise like the river at Base Torres or the wind at Paine Grande.
Sleeping Bag Liner
At Paine Grande we were offered sleeping bag liners but, we did not receive any at Las Torres or Cuernos (separate companies). Luckily we had our liners. They are good for additional warmth and will give your inner germophobe some peace of mind. We both have silk liners from Sea to Summit.
Medicine or Other Special Use Items
Be sure to pack anything that you use regularly or need. Everything from inhalers to EpiPens need to be included as items like this will not necessarily be readily available in the park.
Binoculars are to spot any wildlife that you might come across (we got crazy close to a fox that happened to be crossing a trail in one of the camps!). We would suggest this only for real hobbyists. For most people, it would just be additional weight in their pack. This is not high on the Patagonia packing list and we didn’t bring any with us.
Thanks for checking our Patagonia Packing List for the W-trek in Torres del Paine National Park!
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