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Since you’re reading this list of trekking essentials for backpacking Argentina, it’s safe to say you’re planning on taking this bucket list-worthy journey to the end of the earth. And you are going to LOVE it! Nature doesn’t get much better than the combination of massive glaciers, soaring mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, waterfalls and river valleys that are found in both the Chilean and Argentinian sides of Patagonia. However, it’s important to be prepared for all that time in the great outdoors since there’s no telling what Mother Nature might throw at you, especially if you’re exploring it during a multi-day trek as most travellers do.
Aside from everyday essentials such as toiletries, sunglasses and a camera for documenting your grand adventure, you’ll need to pack a lot of trekking gear regardless of what season you’re visiting in. Here’s a hiking packing list of the must-have items for Patagonia that will get you all geared up for what’s sure to be an epic adventure.
Note: If you’re not doing the trek through a guiding company you’ll need to bring your own camping gear as well. Check out these 10 camping tricks that will make your life easier.
Trekking essentials: Clothing
Layering is key while backpacking through Patagonia, since the weather can turn from sunshine to pouring rain in an instant (read more about the different seasons here).
When it comes to trekking essentials, a lightweight, down jacket will be your best friend since it’s easy to pack, will keep you toasty warm and doubles as a pillow if you need it. Brands such as Canada Goose, Arc’teryx and North Face all have great options, but this jacket from MEC is the winner thanks to its durability and lower price point.
Tip: Be sure your coat has a hoodie on it for a built-in, extra layer. Guides recommend not wearing your coat during the hike if possible, so it will stay dry. That way, you can slip it on at the end of the day when you get to camp and it will keep you toasty warm all night.
Getting soaking wet is the last thing you want when you find yourself literally in the middle of nowhere, so pack rain pants and a light rain jacket. Even if it’s not drizzling out, they can be great at protecting you from the strong wind.
A pair of gloves, a toque and a ball cap rounds out what you’ll need for outerwear.
Don’t skimp on hiking boots—after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time in them. And for goodness sake, break them in before you arrive in Patagonia! Ensure the boots are waterproof, and purchase a pair that goes up high on the ankle for added support.
At the end of a long day of trekking you’ll want nothing more than to kick those big boots off, so bring another pair of shoes you can slip into for wearing around camp. Sporty sandals like these ones from KEEN are a good option.
Finally, bring at least a couple pairs of thick, wool socks, because cotton just won’t cut it.
Comfort and breathability are key on the mountain, so look for tank tops, base layers, sweaters and pants made from fabrics like merino wool, or just about anything made by Lululemon. They’re typically quick-drying, so you shouldn’t need to bring more than a couple of each item depending on how long your trek is.
Tip: If space permits, bring one extra sweater to change into in the event your main one gets wet. Your non-hypothermic self will thank you!
Hiking packing list: Accessories
A durable, large backpack is essential for packing all that gear into. Travellers setting off on a one-night trip will need one that’s at least 30L, while those doing a multi-day camping trip where they have to bring all their own gear will need one that’s even larger. Don’t forget a waterproof cover to wrap around it, to protect the contents if it starts raining.
While you won’t find water fountains set up along the trail in Patagonia, Mother Nature has come up with something even better: glacier water so pure that you can drink it without even needing to purify it! So, be sure to have a water bottle on hand, like this great one from Vapur which is collapsible and has a handy carabiner to attach it to your bag.
As soon as the sun sets the only light will come from the stars in the sky, so bring a headlamp for those inevitable late-night bathroom breaks.
Things required for trekking: Miscellaneous items
People trekking through Patagonia as part of a guided tour will likely have snacks provided for them, but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple extra bites on hand. Trail mix and nutritional bars like CLIF bars are easy to pack and satisfying—just remember not to leave any of the packaging behind.
Even seasoned hikers have been known to develop a blister or two, and protecting feet with moleskin is a sure way to keep the pain away. Band-Aids will also work in a pinch.
Travellers backpacking in Argentina during colder months may want to throw a few HotHands air-activated heat packs in their bag, to keep fingers and toes nice and warm.
Toilet paper and plastic bags
There are outhouses along some well-travelled trails, but they probably won’t have toilet paper so be sure to bring some. Also, throw a couple of plastic bags into your backpack to use for things like laundry and hauling out waste.
And remember…take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints, keep nothing but memories. Happy trekking!
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