Patagonia really feels like the edge of the earth. It’s beautiful in a desolate way. It’s rugged. It forces you to come face-to-face with the elements with its winds and rains and freezes more severe than most other places that humans choose to venture. Meanwhile, Patagonia has some of the most legendary hiking in South America. That’s why knowing what to pack for Patagonia is a pretty big deal. Making an appropriate packing list for Patagonia can make or break your experience hiking, backpacking or traveling around the region.
When I hiked the O Circuit in Torres del Paine in 2017, I was REALLY underprepared. I ended up with a bag that weighed upwards of 20kg and I was missing quite a lot of this important gear. But the weather was merciful. It CAN be done. But swear you’ll be a lot comfier if you plan your Patagonia packing list ahead of time.
From recommended 3-season equipment to hiking clothing for Patagonia to a couple of important extras, here’s my complete Patagonia packing list. It’s slanted towards women’s gear and backcountry travel, but most of it will work for anyone. Buy some of it and rent the rest, but be sure to have everything covered before you venture into the backcountry.
Before we get started, I wanted to note that links in this post are affiliate links! When you click over to REI from this post, we’ll get a small commission for referring you. This is paid by REI, not you. The prices are what you’d find if you went straight to the website.
Let’s start with the essentials. Here’s a look at the backpacks, tents, and other equipment that will keep you warm and protected when you’re backpacking in Patagonia.
A good backpack is the foundation of a good backpacking setup. Look for something lightweight with adjustable straps, a hip belt, and exterior pockets. You can use your travel backpack if you have to, but backpacking bags tend to be more lightweight for backcountry travel.
My personal favorite is the Granite Gear Crown2 60 Pack because it’s ultralight at less than 3lbs and super comfortable, even when fully loaded. Priced from $199.
3-Season Tent with Rain Fly
Patagonia is notorious for unpredictable weather. Storms can come on suddenly (and intensely) with wind speeds up to 120 km/h. Needless to say, it’s important that you trust your tent in these conditions. Get something that’s approved for 3-seasons with a low profile, good rain fly, and guy outs.
The Northface Stormbreak 2 ticks all the boxes and retails for an affordable $159. Don’t forget to get the footprint to keep the bottom of the tent protected.
Rain Cover (for Backpack)
A rain cover is essential for backpacking in Patagonia. If your pack gets wet, so too does everything inside. Look for a waterproof rain cover that fits over your pack in case it starts raining while you’re out hiking.
Check out this Duck’s Back 60L Rain Cover from $27.
Footprint (for Tent)
I have absolutely no idea why footprints are sold separately, but you definitely need one to protect the bottom of your tent from abrasion and keep water from pooling beneath your tent.
Find the footprint that fits your tent, like this footprint for the Northface Stormbreak 2 from $45.
3-Season Sleeping Bag
Get a sleeping bag that you love and you may never replace it. A 3-season sleeping bag that keeps you warm to 0 °C is a safe bet for most conditions. Read this post on choosing the right 3-season sleeping bag before you buy.
Sleeping Pad & Pillow
Sleeping pads are not just necessary for comfort; they’ll add a layer of insulation between you and the ground. And while you could always wad up a fleece for a makeshift pillow, there are some good inflatable options.
It may be loud and crunchy, but few would argue that there’s a better sleeping pad than the Therm-a-rest NeoAir from $126.
18L Flash Pack
On a longer backpacking trip, there are often chances to drop off your main bag and hike with a daypack for the day. For those occasions, you’ll want something lightweight and unstructured so you can easily stuff it in your main bag.
REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack is a super basic version that holds up well. Priced from $40.
Cook Stove & Cook Set
A good camp stove for backpacking is lightweight and collapsible. And when choosing a cookset, look for one that nests and includes, at a minimum, a pot, bowl, cup, and utensils. You might also want a spatula, knife, or plate.
MSR makes a nice PocketRocket Stove Kit for $99 that nests into itself, but you can honestly go with anything within budget.
The water in Patagonia is seriously great. In many places, you can fill your bottle with glacial runoff right from the source and drink it without additional filtration.
Klean Kanteen makes good water bottles in a range of sizes, or you can cut weight by using a collapsible bottle from Platypus. From $13.
10L-20L Dry Sacks
In the case of torrential rain, it brings peace of mind to have dry sacks where you can keep your camera or sleeping bag for extra rain protection.
Sea to Summit’s Lightweight Dry Sacks are my personal favorite and they retail from $27.
If you’re going out for a long backpacking trip, trekking poles will help you keep your footing and support some of your pack weight on the trail.
Black Diamond makes the best poles and their Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles start from $129.
I started an REI Wish List with all the products featured in this article. When you click the “Shop the Complete List” button below, all you’ll have to do is remove the items you don’t need, update for the correct size, color, and quantity, then proceed to checkout.
Hiking Clothing for Patagonia
You won’t need to pack a ton of clothing. More important is that you get some really high quality, multi-functional layers. The only rule here is NO COTTON EVER. Go for wool or polyester.
Clothing is such a personal preference, so consider the list below as a starting point for your own Patagonia packing list. Shop around and find the brands that work for you. And don’t feel the need to buy everything brand new! There’s a lot of great used gear and some of the stuff you already have could be sufficient.
- Base Layer (2x Tops, 2x Bottoms): A base layer is the synthetic or wool layer of clothing that you wear under your other layers. It’s designed to keep you dry by wicking away sweat away from your skin. Base layers come in a variety of weights, but you should look for a set that’s mid-weight or heavier for Patagonia. Get two sets of base layers (top and bottom); one should be for hiking while the other can be worn at camp. I like the Merino 250 set from Smartwool (top for $100 and bottoms for $95), but you can take a look at these other base layers.
- Mid-Layer (1x Top, 1x Bottom): Perhaps obviously, a mid-layer is the layer that you can wear between your base layer and your warmer layer to keep body warmth in. Most mid-layers are polyester fleece, down, or synthetic insulation. For backpacking Patagonia, you should probably opt for polyester or synthetic since down doesn’t maintain it’s warmth as well when it gets wet. Get something thick and warm. Again, you might want to have a second set so you’re not wearing your dirty, sweaty clothes at camp. The North Face Canyonlands Fleece jacket is $80 and dependable, or you can check out other mid-layer fleece tops or fleece pants here.
- Hiking Pants (1x Bottom): The pants you hike in are personal preference. Most people would recommend something that dries fast with pockets, but I still prefer hiking in yoga pants. Bring an extra pair so you can change between them if one gets wet. Keep in mind that if you’re wearing leggings, they’ll act more like a base layer while a pair of proper pants are more of a mid-layer. Hiking pants can be UGLY, but North Face has a pair called the Aphrodite 2.0 for $70 that are pretty nice. Shop all hiking pants and leggings.
- Rain Layer (1x Top, 1x Bottom): Your rain layer has an obvious function. Less obviously, it should fit over the top of your other clothing. You’ll want to have both a shell with a hood to throw over your torso and a pair of water-resistant pants that you can pull over your hiking pants. Any rain layer should be breathable while also being waterproof. The North Face Venture 2 jacket and the REI Co-op Talusphere rain pants are awesome quality, but you can shop rain layers here.
- Outer Layer (1x Top, 1x Bottom): Your outer layer is also meant to protect you from the wind. But in Patagonia, I’d argue it’s worth having an outer layer designed for warmth. Something cozy that you can throw on over your mid-layer and under your rain layer for extra cold nights. It’s unlikely that you’ll hike in it, so get layers that are compact enough to pack away that are still warm enough to wear at camp. Also, make sure you get something synthetic (rather than down) since down isn’t too warm when wet. The Patagonia Nano Puff is expensive at $199 (but worth it) or you can check out more outer layer jackets and bottoms.
- Beanie (1x Beanie): Even for summer camping, you’ll want a beanie or other warm hat that covers your ears. Opt for something that is actually warm like a wool or synthetic (not just something that will give you #campvibes). You lose warmth fast when your head gets cold, and if your other layers aren’t sufficient, your hat will be a really important part of your packing list. Shop beanies.
- Gloves (1x gloves): The type of gloves you need will vary by season, but since wind and rain is pretty constant, you should make sure to at least have a pair that allows you dexterity while being water-resistant. You can’t go wrong with a pair of all-season gloves with a warm layer that layers with a waterproof layer. I bought a pair of OR Alti Gloves for $159. They’re probably overkill unless you’re traveling in winter, but they’re a damn nice pair of gloves. Browse more gloves here.
- Sun Protection (1x Hat, 1x Sunglasses): Bring a sun hat like a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat to protect your face from sun exposure. It’s also a good idea to have sunglasses to protect your eyes; you’d be surprised how bright water and ice can be! If you can get past the dorkiness, the OR Sombriolet Sun Hat is a good one. Take a look at sun hats here.
- BUFF (1x BUFF): What is a BUFF? Depends on the day. It’s multi-functional headwear that can serve as a headband, face cover, or ear warmer. The brand says you can wear it 12 different ways, but that might be pushing it. You can read more about the BUFF or just go ahead and buy one.
- Bras & Underwear (varies): Personal preference how many your bring. Bring a pair for every day or go for the inside-out method. Whatever you do, choose underwear that is a synthetic fabric so you can hand wash if you need to. ExOfficio makes really good technical underwear.
- Socks (3x Socks): Hiking socks are worth investing in. Go for wool or a synthetic fabric so that they’ll dry quicker if they get wet. You’ll want to pack two for hiking in and one for camp. Darn Tough makes the best hiking socks I’ve ever used.
- Shoes (1x Boots, 1x Camp Shoes): Everyone has their own opinion on hiking boots. I backpacked Patagonia in trail runners, but I wished for a pair of well-worn, light hiking boots. Oboz and Vasque get great reviews, or you can shop around for other hiking boots here. The thicker soles would have helped me bear the weight of my bag and protected my feet from feeling the rocks underfoot. Camp shoes can be everything from Toms to Crocs to insulated booties. Camp booties are super comfy or you can just bring along a shoe you already have.
Our Best of Patagonia
Other Packing Essentials for Patagonia
Now that you’ve covered for essentials (if you forgot a tent, go back to step one) and know which clothes to pack, here’s a look at some of the other important items you’ll want to have on your Patagonia packing list. Some you may already have stashed away. Some are just nice-to-haves if you have a bit of extra space in your pack. And some can be picked up locally just before you start your backpacking trip.
- Propane / Lighter: These will be absolutely essential for cooking! You can buy new or used propane cans almost everywhere, and lighters are similarly easy to pick up locally.
- Topographical Map: It’s a good idea whenever you’re going into the backcountry to carry a topographical map. The best Torres del Paine map on the market is this Torres del Paine Waterproof Map by Zagier & Urruty Pubns.
- Knife: Cut an onion. Repair a strap. Cut yourself loose. You never know when you’ll need a knife for backcountry travel. Obviously these aren’t suited for carry on, so you might pick one up locally.
- Duct Tape: Similarly multifunctional, duct tape can BAIL YOU OUT. Stick it over a blister. Tape up a faulty tent pole. Seal a hole in your air mattress. Go for a light-weight roll like this duct tape from SOL.
- Sunscreen: Duh. Buy some locally or pack your favorite brand.
- Trowel & Toilet Paper: Some campsites will have a pit toilet while others require you dig a cat hole. Bring a plastic trowel and a portable roll of toilet paper.
- Toiletries: Depends on you. Bring travel-sized toiletries that are multifunctional. I always bring a travel-sized bottle of Dr Bronners for washing up. GoToobs+ are also handy if you want to bring a smaller size of your regular toiletries.
- First Aid Kit: At least a small one with all the basics. The first aid kits from Adventure Medical Kits are great, or you can read about making your own here.
- Microfiber Towel: Dry off after a shower, wipe down your dishes, or dry off your tent. Check out camp towels.
- Head Lamp: Bring a headlamp that you can strap on for evenings at camp or early morning hikes. You can buy a decent one from $20.
- (Optional) Camera: Patagonia is absolutely stunning. You’ll regret only taking photos with your iPhone. Backpacking with a DSLR is a bit of a burden, so look into cameras for hiking with a lightweight body and short lenses optimized for landscapes.
- (Optional) Power Bank: You’ll be without electricity, so pick up a power bank that you can use to charge your phone or other devices.