I recently went on a 9 day trek in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. You can read more about it here.
It’s hard to know what you’ll really need for a trip like this but I can tell you what I brought and the equipment and food we had for 3 people over 9 days and hopefully that will help you plan your trip.
You are going to smell. That is just a fact. So, I recommend embracing it and just having 2 sets of clothes – a walking set and a dry set for camp. I actually took 2 extra t-shirts and a pair of shorts which I did not use at all and they just took up space in my bag and added to the weight I was carrying.
The Definitive List:
Walking Gear –
1 small foldable day bag between the group(optional for the days on the W when you can leave your pack at the bottom and just take a picnic with you) – you could just stuff your pockets
1 good quality waterproof and wind proof jacket – mine is Northface and Goretex and kept me perfectly dry and warm despite snow and torrential downpours.
1 T-shirt for walking in
1 pair of trousers or leggings for walking
1 fleece for walking
1 pair of waterproof trousers (lightweight)
1 pair of outdoors gloves (not woolly alpaca gloves)
Walking boots with ankle support
Min 3 pairs walking socks
Dry gear –
1 pair of dry camp socks
1 thermal long sleeved top
1 jumper or fleece
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Small packet of wet wipes
1 small first aid kit with alcohol gel, plasters, antiseptic wipes and painkillers
2 Sachets of shampoo – there are showers at most of the campsites but it was often too cold to face getting naked and having wet hair. Everyone is in the same smelly boat – just embrace it and shower once or twice as you go.
1 sleeping bag with a suitable temperature range. It can easily be at minus temperatures in Patagonia.
1 sleeping mat
1 2-man tent for three of us – nice and cosy = nice and warm
1 cooking apparatus and fuel – eat out of the pan to eliminate the need for extra bowls/plates -just bring a spoon and a mug apiece. My mug was an empty plastic peanut butter jar!
1 small water bottle – you can refill your water all over the place in the streams and the water is fantastic quality glacier water that does not require sterilising. In the camps it is probably best to sterilise the water as there have been some issues in the past. I have a water-to-go bottle which has been fantastic on this trip and saved me a fortune in bottled water and my friends favoured a SteriPEN – both of which worked well.
I also took a pack of cards, my camera and my iPod and charger. You can find power points at some of the campsites and having something to do at night or once you’ve arrived at camp is nice.
Breakfasts were porridge cooked with dried apples, raisins and a bit of cinnamon and milk powder thrown in.
Walking snacks were most important. Every day I made up a ziplock bag with my choice of snacks for the day – a varied choice was key to motivating me. I also took some salted peanuts, raisins, dried mango, sweets, chocolate covered cranberries and some crystallised ginger.
Lunch was 2 tortilla wraps per person filled with cream cheese and thin slices of salami.
On arrival at camp we had a snickers apiece (something delicious to look forward to) and cups of tea or hot chocolate.
Dinner was pasta mixed with powdered soup to make a sauce. This is much lighter than carrying ready made sauces. You can take a few different flavours to mix it up and add different things to it too. We tried – Tomato flavour with dried tomatoes and tuna; Mushroom flavour with dried mushrooms added; Chicken flavour with some leftover broccoli we had. Mess around with the flavours to your hearts content but carry light ingredients. 2 days of tuna was enough – we saved them for the hardest days.
Choose quantity over quality whilst walking but make sure you’ll enjoy it. If you hate porridge, you’ll hate it more when you’re cold and wet at 6am.
It is possible to buy some extra provisions at all bar the free campsites so you may choose to carry a little less and replenish your stocks as needed. They sell chocolate, pasta, beer etc – all the essentials. The prices at the shops are much more expensive than in Puerto Natales though – we bought pasta for 500CLP in town and 2000CLP in the park but it may well be worth it especially if you’re hiking alone and can’t share the weight with a friend.
- Line your pack and wrap absolutely everything in bin bags or normal plastic bags.
- Double wrap porridge oats because the packets explode all over your bag as I discovered to my cost.
- Also wrap anything that is on the outside of your bag in 2 bin bags- it rains a lot in Patagonia.
I hope that helps with planning for the trip. Don’t be tempted to take a bunch of extra clean clothes, it’ll just be dead weight.