Pack exactly what you need for Patagonia so you can enjoy your adventure. This Patagonia packing list will help you prepare – the more you know, the less you need!
Patagonia is, without doubt, where every adventure traveller wants to go right now. It isn’t really that much of a surprise why.
Patagonia offers unparalleled adventures. Incredible landscapes, unique driving experiences and fantastic hiking opportunities. Enough to keep even the most intrepid traveller satisfied.
We travelled through much of the southern half of South America this year. Our 5 months in Patagonia will forever be the highlight.
So, if you’re heading to Patagonia, you’re in for a real treat. Knowing what to pack will ensure you have stress-free and unforgettable trip. Here are our suggestions for your Patagonia packing list.
Who is this Patagonia packing list for?
What you need to pack for travel in Patagonia will depend on a few factors. When will you visit? What you want to do when you’re there? How will you travel around Patagonia?
Packing for a winter trip in Patagonia is a little different from a summer trip. If you plan on taking multi-day hikes, you need more gear than if you only plan on shorter (equally epic) day hikes.
And if you’re travelling around Patagonia in a camper van (totally the way to go), your carrying capacity is greater than if you’re backpacking.
We travelled through Patagonia in our camper van, Baloo during the summer and early autumn, doing some incredible day hikes along the way. So this Patagonia packing list suits anyone travelling in Patagonia in the same way.
Pack for the Patagonian weather
When packing for your Patagonian adventure, keep the weather in mind.
Summer in Patagonia runs from December to February and isn’t like, well summer. If you’ve heard people say they’ve experienced every season in 1 day in Patagonia it’s no understatement.
A day can start out warm and sunny only to have an afternoon blizzard or torrential rainstorm.
Daytime temperatures can be warm, especially in northern Patagonia. Night time temperatures are cool. As the altitude increases (think day hikes), you can experience drastic drops in temperature.
And the well documented Patagonian winds are relentless during the summer months.
Then there’s the infamous Patagonian horseflies or tábanos. Annoying, biting and hang out in huge quantities. Their numbers seem to peek around January and February around low altitude regions and they seem to especially like water.
Dark and brightly coloured clothing seem to attract the pesky things too so try packing neutral colours like khaki and beige. And nope – insect repellent doesn’t deter them.
The brutal winds tend to die down a little during the Patagonian spring and autumn. The temperatures are colder and rainfall increases.
Because the region receives less visitors during this time, the hiking trails don’t get overcrowded. Making it a perfect time of year to go hiking in Patagonia.
Winter travel in Patagonia offers a unique, albeit challenging, experience. Roads often close, as can hiking trails. And finding open accommodation is a challenge too.
For guaranteed tourist services though, head to Bariloche’s Cerro Catedral for the best skiing in Argentina.
Before you travel to Patagonia
Before leaving home make sure you have a few things in order.
- Make sure you check the latest medical advice for travel vaccinations you may need.
- Confirm any advance bookings you’ve made for hire cars or accommodation in Patagonia before you arrive.
- Does you passport have the necessary duration on it?
- Your itinerary will probably involve multiple border crossings between Chilean Patagonia and the Argentinian side. Is there enough space for the stamps in your passport?
- Are you travelling in your own vehicle? Have you got all your vehicle documents with you?
- Have you bought your travel insurance policy?
19 common travel insurance mistakes to avoid
You’ve got your tickets, checked your passport and sorted your holiday money. You’re all set for your next big trip. Not so fast though!
What about your travel insurance policy?
Check these common travel insurance mistakes and make sure you avoid them!
How to choose the best long term travel insurance
Choosing a travel insurance provider can seem like a daunting task. I mean where do you start and what do you look for?
Not all insurance providers offer the right type of cover for you.
So here we’ve cut through all the lingo and laid out everything you need to know to choose the best long term travel insurance policy for your trip.
Base layer tops
Merino wool is a good choice to wear against your skin because it naturally helps regulate your body temperature.
Lightweight, it keeps you warm in cold temperatures and holds moisture in the heat.
It’ll last a few days before you need to wash it and when you do, it dries super fast.
Base layer leggings
If you plan to travel in Patagonia closer to or during the winter months, or if you intend to camp, merino wool base layers will keep you cosy all night long.
Invest in a couple of pairs of decent hiking trousers. Look for quick drying, durable fabrics.
If you buy the kind that have zippers to remove the legs, they convert into shorts. Saves on space and weight too.
If you really want to push the boat out, you can get a pair of waterproof trousers too but we don’t think they’re essential unless you plan on taking multi day hikes
Short sleeve T-shirts
On warm Patagonia days, a light t-shirt is all you need.
Long sleeve tops
Long sleeve tops helps protect your arms from the sun as well as biting insects.
They’re also great when the weather isn’t quite cold enough for a fleece jumper, but not warm enough for a t-shirt.
This is so you can dress up! Seriously.
Everyone in Patagonia is dressed for the outdoors and casual attire is the norm.
Pack a shirt or 2 for walking around town and restaurants.
Fleece sweaters are terrific for a Patagonian adventure.
Lightweight and breathable, they’ll pack into your backpack when you get too warm, without weighing you down.
Did we mention it rains in Patagonia? And the wind is wild too.
You need a good waterproof, windproof jacket to protect you from the elements.
Buy a good quality coat one to ensure the weather doesn’t ruin your trip.
A couple of buffs
A buff is basically a stretchy bandana in a cyclder shape.
You can use is as a scarf, head band or face mask so perfect for hiking in windy conditions.
And Patagonia is windy!
While the temperatures in Patagonia during the summer aren’t especially cold, once you start climbing altitude it can get pretty chilly.
When we hiked Torres del Paine, it was bitterly cold at the top with a lot of snow too.
A wooly hat is essential.
Cold fingers and hiking aren’t a great combination. Invest in a good pair of hiking gloves for warmth and insulation in the mountains.
A good pair of hiking socks can protect your feet. Bear in mind though while thicker socks add more cushion, they’re also warmer so may cause your feet to sweat more too. Pack thick hiking socks and thinner ones too.
It may sound off given all this warm weather gear you need to pack, but to take advantage of Patagonia’s crystal clear lakes you’ll need your swimsuit. Unless you’d prefer to go skinny dipping.
Compact, lightweight, highly absorbent and quick drying, microfibre towels are perfect for your Patagonia trip. Pack 2.
I know they’re heavier than shoes but really. Pack your hiking boots and get the best ones you can afford.
The ground is uneven on most of the walking trails and you need the ankle support.
Don’t even consider not packing them. We lived in ours for the vast majority of the 5 months we spent in Patagonia.
Perfect for relaxing in after a long hike and even to wear in the shower on campsites.
We bought trekking poles AFTER we hiked up Cerro Castillo in Chile.
Wow! What a difference they make to your posture. Even for amateurs like us, they helped so much with our knees and ankles.
On some trails where we needed to scramble in parts they were a massive benefit.
About 35 litres is a good size back pack for 1 day hikes. It’s big enough to carry your camera gear, lunch, water bottles and other essentials.
Hopefully this one speaks for itself but in case you’re in any doubt if you need one….
I lost a camera to a torrential downpour a few years ago. The small price of a dry bag would have saved me thousands of pounds.
FREE iOverlander app for Android & iOS
We use iOverlander almost every day for one reason or another. It's full of wild camping spots, established campgrounds amongst many other things.
Don’t leave home without it!
Our go to navigation app has never let us down. You can even load hiking routes onto it!
Now it doesn't get better than that for a Patagonia trip.
Power pack to charge phone
We use maps.me on our ipad for navigating while we’re driving.
When we’re in towns or out hiking we use the app on our phones. But navigating constantly can drain the phones battery so having a back up battery charger is essential.
Don’t forget your charging cable too!
If you want to reach the peaks of Torres del Paine for dawn, you need to set off way before sunrise. A head torch will help you find your route before the first light.
If you don’t already have a camera, now you’re preparing for a Patagonia adventure it’s a perfect time to get one. Buy a good quality entry level DSLR or Mirrorless camera to save on weight.
Reusable water bottle
Keep hydrated (you can drink the glacier water directly from most of the streams in Patagonia) and save the planet at the same time.
There's no excuse to buy water these days.
Pack your Kindle so you can read some of our suggested books while you fly into Patagonia or as you relax at the end of a Patagonian hike. They take up hardly any space too.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land, Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes.
You'll read this over and over, especially once you've travelled in Patagonia.
Andes by Michael Jacobs
In this remarkable book, travel writer Michael Jacobs journeys across seven different countries, from the balmy Caribbean to the inhospitable islands of the Tierra del Fuego, through the relics of ancient civilizations and the remnants of colonial rule, retracing the footsteps of previous travelers.
His route begins in Venezuela, following the path of the great nineteenth-century revolutionary Simón Bolívar, but soon diverges to include accounts from sources as varied as Humboldt, the young Charles Darwin, and Bolívar’s extraordinary and courageous mistress, Manuela Saenz.
On his way, Jacobs uncovers the stories of those who have shared his fascination and discovers the secrets of a region steeped in history, science, and myth.
A must read for anyone travelling to South America.
Patagonia travel guide
Pretty much the only travel guide dedicated to Patagonia.
We've not used this one, instead relying ou a Lonely Planet book on the whole of South America.
It's too light in respect of Patagonia though so we recommend giving this a go.
Travel first aid kit essentials
Take a look at this post to make sure your first aid kit has everything you need for travel in Patagonia.
Amazon Prime FREE 30 day trial
Lastly, if you're in a rush to get some of the above items, then why not sign up for a 30-day free trial for Amazon Prime?
Not only will you receive free one-day shipping on most items, but it also gives you access to loads of TV shows, movies and Kindle books too.
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