View of a couple kissing at Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten, Argentina.
Argentina,  Chile

What to pack for Patagonia and what not to pack [2021]

What to pack for Patagonia?

Well, it’s quite easy to answer – winter stuff!

Even if you’re travelling to Patagonia during summer, that is, December or January, you still need winter stuff.

Patagonia is located in the very south of South America where the Atlantic and Pacific winds meet, so it’s one of the windiest regions in the world.

When we visited Patagonia back in December 2017, we spent 5 days in Torres del Paine national park in Chile and the other five – in El Chalten and Los Glaciares national park in Argentina.

During our time in Torres del Paine, though, we had altogether just a couple of hours that were sunny – the rest of the time the weather was rainy, windy, and snowy. And that was the middle of December, so – summer!

It was a bit better in Argentina, but still, winter stuff was needed at all times.

If you’re lucky, the temperature will climb up to the middle teens in Celsium.

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What to pack for Patagonia?

I have a bit of a foreword for this “What to pack for Patagonia” list.

If you checked the table of contents, you could see that I’ve put quite a lot of hiking stuff here. I believe if you’re going to Patagonia, you want to go hiking. And you should be dressed appropriately for the conditions.

As for “how much stuff to pack for Patagonia” – I cannot tell you that, so I didn’t state any numbers. How much you pack depends on too many factors – how long is your trip? How many hikes have you planned? In the end, how much do you sweat and how clumsy are you?

For me, I usually number of days on the trip +1 for underwear and socks, as well as for t-shirts. The rest of the stuff is usually either just the one thing (hiking pants) or an extra just in case (jeans). Lately, though, I’m trying to pack as lightly as possible, so might go without extras.

On the other hand, I do pack a bit of washing liquid with me so that in an emergency I can wash the dirty stuff in a hotel sink.

So, let’s dive in then!

What hiking clothes to pack for Patagonia

When we visited Torres del Paine, I saw some people who clearly were not prepared for the weather and trail conditions in the park. Or maybe they cared about getting that perfect shot more than about warmth or comfort? I don’t know.

Let me explain more why you should take these things when packing for Patagonia.

happy couple hiking on glacier perito moreno
At some points, it got warm enough for me to take 2 of the 4 layers off, but I was still happy to have my thermal underwear and winter jacket. You can see, though, that Michal still has his gloves on – doesn’t happen too often.

Layers

Hiking pants, water- and windproof winter jacket and soft-shell jacket, fleece jacket, long-sleeve t-shirts, thermal underwear.

If you’re wondering what to wear in Patagonia, then my best answer would probably be “layers”.

Since the weather is usually very changeable and out on a trail you won’t be close to your suitcase, it’s important to just be able to take clothes off and put them back on. And even more important for the top layers to be wind- and waterproof.

When we hiked our one and only hike in Torres del Paine, it was rather ok weather-wise on the trail on the way to the viewpoint, then it was crazy wind by lago Nordenskjold, and on the way back it started raining and a snowstorm was rolling in. And that’s in a period of 2 hours!

And, when hiking the day hike to Laguna de los Tres in Argentinian Patagonia (it’s one of the best hikes in Los Glaciares National Park!), at some points we could dress down to t-shirts, but at the very top, we had all the layers (besides the thermal underwear) on, as it got cold.

Where we needed the thermal underwear, though, was when hiking Perito Moreno glacier – not exactly warm on a huge piece of ice. But it’s still better to have it packed with you, as the temperature tends to drop later in the evening. And it’s even more important to have thermal underwear with you if you go to Patagonia in winter, spring or autumn!

Make sure all of your stuff is waterproof, as it’s much more convenient than struggling with a raincoat. And definitely windproof – the wind in Patagonia sometimes pushes cars over. All of the layers with weatherproof clothes should keep you as warm as possible.

A fleece layer is nice to have, as fleece things are quite warm, yet don’t take up too much space when you pack them.

Long-sleeve t-shirts which are made from synthetic material will help keep moisture away better than cotton ones and they dry faster, so if you’re all sweaty on the top of a mountain, you can just put it out to dry. Make sure to pack an extra t-shirt, though, when hiking! As for why “long sleeve” and not short – with the average temperature high in Patagonian summer being 15 degrees Celsius, I’m pretty sure you’ll never use them anyways.

Many people suggest packing zip-off hiking pants that double as shorts. Actually, I think that’s a great idea! Although we did manage just fine with the standard ones as well, that’s why I wrote just “hiking pants” on my Patagonia packing list.

Oh, how the weather can change!

Hiking shoes

One of the most important items that you should be packing for Patagonia is good and sturdy hiking shoes. Although the trails are well maintained, the rain and wind can make them slippery and unstable.

You wouldn’t want to be out in the wilderness and twist your ankle, so find shoes that have a good sole, proper ankle support, and a sturdy front to protect your toes.

Waterproof ones are a definite bonus!

I recommend getting hiking shoes in a brick-and-mortar store, though. They need to fit perfectly, not just good enough. In proper stores, you can try them on different slopes and different surfaces, so that you know that they fit nicely.

If you buy your shoes just before the trip to

Accessories

Hiking socks, scarf, gloves, and hat.

If I haven’t mentioned it enough already, let me repeat – the weather can get cold really fast in Patagonia. So, it’s important that you are protected from it!

Hiking socks will help you with keeping your feet warm and wick away the moisture. Plus, they tend to be thicker, thus protecting you from blisters. Even if your shoes are broken in, they still sometimes rub the wrong way, especially on strenuous day hikes.

If you don’t feel like buying hiking socks, consider taking wool socks with you – they should do the job as well.

I usually pack a shawl wrap instead of a scarf when going anywhere because it has more uses (like, it can double as a blanket). I almost never use a scarf when hiking, as the jacket covers my neck quite nicely, but once in a while, it will be necessary – when the wind is extra harsh. Or, when it’s warm enough to have the winter jacket off, but I still want more protection for my neck.

couple in front of glacier perito moreno
My shawl wrap – using it as a scarf here. The picture was taken just before going for the hike on the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentinian Patagaonia.

For the gloves, I used skiing gloves, and they seemed to do the job well. And for the hat, just a normal one, nothing fancy. Didn’t have to use it too much as well, since my jackets all had hoods, but it was needed on the ferry ride to the Perito Moreno and Isla Magdalena.

What hiking gear should be on your Patagonia packing list?

If your bag doesn’t already include one, definitely pack a rain cover. It’s not pleasant when a sudden rainstorm makes all of your stuff wet, especially if we’re talking camera and other valuables.

Speaking of bags, a good hiking backpack is a must. We managed with 20l and 30l ones from decathlon since we only went on day hikes. If you’re planning on overnight trips, definitely check out bigger ones that fit all of your gear. And consider taking a daypack so you can leave your bigger bag with most of the stuff in the camp and go and conquer that summit as a day trip.

Hiking poles are a big one to have on your Patagonia packing list. It’s just so much easier to hike the steep segments – up and down – if you have that extra support. Make sure your backpack has straps for the trekking poles, though! Because, when not needed, it’s much more comfortable to put them away than carry them in your arms.

As a side note: airlines will not allow you to carry hiking poles in the cabin – only as a piece of checked-in luggage. I’ve read that it’s possible to rent them in Puerto Natales, though.

One thing I wish I took with me, though, is a microfiber towel or something similar. If you wish to wash your hands during hiking, it’s nice to be able to dry them afterwards as well, you know?

Michal leaning into the wind at lago Nordenskjold in Torres del Paine, Chile.

What to pack for Patagonia for those times when you don’t hike

  • Long pants
  • Sneakers
  • Long-sleeve layer
  • Jacket
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimsuit

These things are beside the obvious stuff such as toiletries, socks, and underwear, which are essential things to have on all your packing lists.

Patagonia is quite a casual place. Most of the people go there to enjoy the outdoors, so you’re rarely going to meet people who dress up all fancy.

The weather doesn’t change just because you’re not hiking, though, so long sleeves and pants are the best choices. Although in the restaurants it might be warm enough for a t-shirt – especially after a couple of drinks, haha! Just remember to take a jacket with you for the walk back to the hotel.

For shoes, sneakers or whatever else you find comfortable is definitely enough.

You can consider packing some pyjamas or an extra comfortable t-shirt with you for the nights, as they can get quite chilly. Many hotels turn the heating off at night to save electricity, so especially in the morning it might be rather hard to get out of the warm bed!

One thing you probably didn’t expect to see on a “What to pack for Patagonia” list is a swimsuit, haha! But many of the hotels in Patagonia have some kinds of pools or hot tubs, so it’s a good thing to not forget at home so you don’t miss that nice soak!

swimming in laguna de los tres - don't forget to pack your swismsuit to patagonia!
Some people went swimming straight into the Laguna de los Tres in Argentinian Patagonia. Can you find them? /Disclaimer – I’m not sure it’s allowed to swim in the lagoon.

Miscellaneous stuff to take when packing for Patagonia

Sun protection

You might be thinking – sunscreen? When you’ve been telling us that the weather in Patagonia is all cold and rainy??

But yes, even when cloudy, it’s possible to burn, especially when you’re up high in the mountains. So sunscreen, and sunglasses for that matter, is important to have.

Electronics adapter

Even if you’re coming from Europe, it’s better to have an adapter for electronics on your packing list for Patagonia – and in your luggage. Although most of the plugs in Patagonia are with 2 round pins, there are places that use 3, and for those places, adapters are needed.

And don’t forget the charger for your electronics!

Water bottle

A good thing to have with you to Patagonia is a collapsible water bottle. If you’re very opposed to drinking water from a tap or from streams, you can buy bigger – 5l or 7l jugs – in a supermarket and fill it up to take on the hikes.

An alternative to these is a water bottle with a filter – in that case, you don’t have to worry about any dirt or bacteria in the streams or the tap, as it would be filtered out.

Essential stuff

As for the essential things to pack when travelling, I have a whole article on those – check it out! In that article, I go over the things that you should take on every single vacation.

It includes some of the stuff already covered in this article and some other things like documents and what you should always have in your travel first aid kit.

Camera

To memorize your Patagonia adventure, you need to take a camera with you, right? We actually had three different ones with us, haha!

Michal had his Nikon D810 DSLR camera to take the incredible pictures you can see in most of our Patagonia articles (like, for example, the Patagonia travel diary).

I took some images on the Canon EOS650D and on my phone, of course.

And as for the action camera, we had a GoPro5 with us. You can see how some of the videos turned out right on our YouTube channel.

If you want nice high-quality pictures, it’s good to have something more professional than a phone with you. Not necessarily two cameras, of course, that’s not really necessary. I just knew that Michal will be using his camera to take some landscape photos and wanted my own to take some pictures of us.

I liked having our GoPro, as it was easy to take out and I didn’t have to worry too much about damaging it. Action cameras usually are quite durable and are ok to use in water.

Travel insurance

One thing you definitely shouldn’t forget when packing for Patagonia is travel insurance, and a good one at that. Make sure it covers hiking high in the mountains (some plans have specific altitudes above which you wouldn’t be covered), plus a helicopter rescue – you know, just in case.

What you don’t need to pack for Patagonia

Unless you’re going on multi-day treks and staying in campsites and refugios, you don’t need any camping gear such as a tent or sleeping bag with you. And even then, it’s possible to rent all of these things in almost all of the refugios, at least in Torres del Paine.

I’d argue that you don’t need to take shorts with you as well. The weather is just not that warm – it’s quite possible to hike all the trails in long lightweight hiking pants, and in the evenings when going for dinner it’s definitely not going to be warm enough for shorts.

I’ve seen things like portable batteries, WiFis or VPNs on some other lists, but I’d say, unless you are an influencer on some social media who needs to update your followers all the time, it’s not necessary. Just enjoy the incredible nature around you and take a picture here or there!

And the same goes for other electronics like laptops – do you really need those on a vacation? If you want to write things down, a good old pen and paper are more than sufficient. Unless, of course, you want to work a bit during some of the down times – then I’d recommend not making my mistake and buying a small laptop or a tablet + keyboard instead of a 17” laptop that weighs more than 3kg…

What to pack for a trip to Patagonia – last thoughts

So, I think this packing list should answer your question “What to pack for Patagonia”. It covers the most important things that should be in your luggage, doesn’t it?

This is actually pretty much what we had in our luggage when we spent 10 days in Patagonia! This packing list for Patagonia is improved, though, because we didn’t have things like collapsible water bottles (didn’t know such things existed) and microfibre towel.

As for the amounts, as I stated in the beginning, can’t exactly tell you how much stuff to take. It really depends on your comfort level and how long your trip is.

Obviously, there are many more things that CAN be taken, but those would be extra already, right? And why would you like to lug the extra stuff that most probably wouldn’t be used anyways? That’s just extra struggle!

Is there anything I have forgotten? Or is there something you definitely wouldn’t take with you? Let me know in the comments!


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Kristine is the owner and main blogger of Wanderlust Designers. Her main goal is to show everyone that you can travel and see the world even when working full time.

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