Patagonia is the gorgeous, rugged mountainous region encompassing the southernmost tip of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile.
The Argentine side includes a semi-arid climate, grasslands and deserts, while the Chilean side boasts breathtaking glacial fjords. Despite Patagonia’s insanely unpredictable weather, adventurers from all over the world flock to the region to experience world-class trekking, ice climbing, and much more.
1) Hiking Clothes in Layers – Bring all the clothing essentials that you would pack for a multi-day hiking trip. This means leggings, water-resistant pants, base layer tops, fleece pullovers, and a shell jacket. With Patagonia’s ever changing weather conditions, you may find yourself getting warmed up while trekking and want to peel off a few layers, or vice versa when it gets chilly in the evening. Try to bring moisture-wicking or dri fit clothing. This synthetic t shirt is a perfect base layer for a Patagonian trekking adventure.
2) Insulating Layer – Bring a layer of clothing that you can pull on easily when the temperature starts to drop. A fleece jacket or medium weight wool sweater will work, or a down-filled, or synthetic-filled jacket.
3) Warm Windbreaker Jacket – The wind in the Patagonia region can be so strong that it can literally push you over, let alone give you a chill. Bring a totally waterproof windbreaker jacket, preferably with some padding to keep you warm. A hood is also a great feature to have
4) Waterproof Hiking Boots – If you’re planning on hiking anywhere in Patagonia (I recommend Torres del Paine National Park!), packing hiking boots is an absolute must. Make sure that they are waterproof, go up to your ankles, and are suitable for scrambling over jagged rocks and crossing streams. Your hiking boots will become your best friend once you break them in. These ones are my all-time favorites.
5) Multiple Pairs of Wool Socks – For a hiking trip in Patagonia, pack medium-weight wool socks with cushioned soles. Wool socks are great for regulating your temperature, and won’t slide down into your boots like most socks. Try to avoid cotton socks as they don’t dry quickly and will not keep your feet warm. These ones are my tried and true favorite wool socks, and come in a variety of colors
6) Ski Underwear – Since this base layer will be in direct contact with your skin at all times, it should be made from synthetic fabric. Ski underwear is perfect for keeping your warm and temperature regulated. This pair is perfect.
7) Backpack – If you’re going to be doing any amount of overnight hiking in Patagonia, make sure to bring a backpack for your trip that can double as a hiking pack. Make sure you try it on in person at a store like REI to make sure you get the best fit. Bonus points if you find a backpack that has a spot to strap a sleeping mat and sleeping bag to. A 45 or 55 liter pack with an internal frame is best.
8) Trekking Poles – Long hikes and trekking trips in Patagonia definitely call for heavy duty trekking poles. The notoriously jagged, steep uphill and downhill sections of trail will have your knees aching and thighs burning. The use of trekking poles will help distribute your weight, give you some extra balance, and make hiking a little easier
9) Sunglasses – The sun in Patagonia is especially strong, so make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses. Bring ones that give you true protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound glasses that cover your whole field of vision will prove comfortable and useful!
10) Water Bottle – One of the best things about adventuring through Patagonia is that you can literally drink water straight from its source. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill over and over again with cold glacier water. This water bottle is my favorite because its spout top makes it easy to drink from without missing a beat.
11) Waterproof Stuff Sacks – Rain is always a possibility in this area of South America. Whether it’s in the forecast or not, it’s always a good idea to store your hiking essentials in a waterproof stuff sack on day trips and overnight treks.
12) Camping stove – Many areas in Torres del Paine prohibit campfires. Bringing a camping stove is a convenient way to cook meals while trekking. This one is lightweight, easy to set up, has excellent ratings, and you can use it over and over again for multiple trips.
13) Solar Charger – Disconnecting is great, but for safety’s sake, you might want to keep your phone powered up. If you’re doing a multi-day backpacking stint in Patagonia, make sure to bring a solar charger so that you never have to worry about your phone dying. It’s also handy for recharging your camera so that you can get all those gorgeous shots of the Andes.
14) First Aid Kit – A lot can go wrong on any trip, even if its a quick out-and-back day hike. Be prepared for blisters, splinters, cuts, and other blunders with a well-stocked mini first aid kit. Keep this lightweight one in your daypack so that you can whip it out in case of emergency. View on Amazon.com ➜
15) Headlamp – Hikes during the early morning hours (and moonlit night hikes) call for headlamps. If you’re on an overnight hike, there will be times when you’ll need to put up or take down your tent in the dark, and you’ll need light (and both hands) to get it done. A good headlamp is necessary on your Patagonian adventure, and you’ll use it much more often than you think.
16) Bandana – Bandanas are the swiss army knife of backpacking apparel. They can serve as headbands, face masks, napkins for snacks, and so much more. They can be used to protect your neck from the sun, or as a scarf to keep warm when it’s cold. Tie one of these to your backpack before leaving home.
17) Beanie and Gloves – It can get extremely cold and windy in Patagonia, especially if you go during Jue or July. Make sure you bring a fleece beanie and a pair of gloves for your adventure. They will make you a million times more comfortable while walking around town, hiking orice-trekking among glaciers.
In a climate of fluctuating and extreme temperatures like Patagonia, always dress in layers. Wearing several layers of clothing is the best way to stay warm in chilly weather, and it will also give you necessary flexibility in a changing climate. Start with a base layer of ski underwear, then go for leggings, trousers, fleece insulating layers, and down jackets, building up as necessary.
For all of the outdoor activities you’ll be engaging in in Patagonia, you will want to wear mostly casual, athletic clothing. Pack a couple of sports bras, and enough underwear for a week. Bring a few pairs of leggings, which can be worn for hiking, or “dressed up” with a tunic while wandering around one of the region’s cute towns. You won’t be needing fancy dresses or anything formal.
All of the above goes for men, too. A synthetic short-sleeve t-shirt is a good base layer, and if it’s any colder you can layer up with a midweight synthetic or fleece long-sleeve top. As far as bottoms, lightweight synthetic trekking pants (zip-offs) are a good call. Hiking pants can also be worn in casual situations like travel days or to dinner
The absolute best time to visit Chilean Patagonia is November to early March, when the weather is perfect for exploring Torres del Paine National Park and Tierra del Fuego. Prepare for comfortable temperatures and mostly sunny days. The time periods of September, October, and November, as well as March, April, and May, offer similarly mild temperatures but fewer crowds. June and August are crazy cold, and most attractions close. No matter when you visit, remember to pack your layers and a solid windbreaker for the year-round winds, and ample rain gear for unexpected downpours!
Day hiking – Always wear synthetic fabrics, so that they don’t trap moisture. A solid synthetic short-sleeve t-shirt is a good idea. If it’s chilly, make sure to bring a midweight synthetic or fleece long-sleeve top to layer on top.
Overnight trekking – Dress as you would for a day hike, but make sure to bring all the necessary accoutrements for camping out, like a tent, sleeping bag, and definitely extra warm layers for night time. Don’t forget your gloves.
Ice climbing – Double up on wool socks, bring driving boots and ice climbing boots, crampons, wool or synthetic long underwear, waterproof pants, gaiters, and your harness! Sightseeing - Casual or athletic clothing is fine. Wear comfortable walking shoes, or your hiking boots if you’re looking to save space in your backpack or luggage. A scarf, beanie, and sunglasses are all good ideas.
What NOT to bring to Patagonia:
1. Bulky sleeping bag – If you’re camping out during your hike, don’t bring an old-fashioned bulky sleeping bag. With so many compressible options available now, save your precious backpack space for other items. 2. Too much stuff in your backpack - The lighter you pack the more comfortable you’ll feel. 3. Cotton clothing - Always wear synthetic fabrics. Sweat-wicking and quick-dry are best. 4. Jeans – Denim and athletic endeavors simply do not mix. 5. Anything white - The best part of trekking is getting down and dirty!
What NOT to wear:
While adventuring in majestic Patagonia, avoid cotton clothing, and instead opt for synthetic fabrics. Sweat-wicking and quick-dry are best. Also avoid wearing denim, as it is heavy and traps moisture, which can be dangerous if you’re sweating while hiking in the cold. There is no need to dress to impress on a hike, so leave the nice dresses, dress shoes, and anything like that at home.
FAQs about Patagonia vacations:
Should I bring my passport? Definitely. Patagonia spans two countries (Argentina and Chile), so if you plan a day trip to either place, this will be a necessity when crossing over the border.
Should I bring cash, or just my ATM card? Believe it or not, the ATMs in certain areas of Patagonia frequently run out of money! Take out an ample amount of cash before your journey, and make sure to keep it somewhere safe.
What kind of adapter do I need to bring? Argentina and Chile use plug Type I.