What to Pack: Patagonia W Circuit (Seven Days of Backpacking)

I completed the amazing W Circuit of Torres Del Paine in the Patagonia region of Chile recently and was very happy with what and how much I packed. Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure my pack was the lightest of the group of 12 I traveled with (18 lbs before food, water and camera). So, I wanted to share my complete packing list and brief product reviews with you!

Packing list for backpacking Patagonia

What: The W Circuit of Torres Del Paine
When: Late December – Early January (Summer)
How Long: Seven Days
Pack Weight: ~16-18 lbs
Other: We stayed in refugios (basically hostels) along the way, so you will not see any shelter or cooking supplies on this list
Budget: Most of the items I didn’t already have, so I purchased new for this trip. I had a year to collect this gear and never bought anything for full price. Yet, I only purchased quality, durable gear – think of it as an investment in your trekking future. Look for annual 20% off coupons or clearance sales at Backcountry and REI!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-25,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

The Basics

  • 40-50 liter backpack: I have an Osprey Ariel 55 liter pack that I found on clearance from REI. When choosing a pack, nothing beats trying on different brands loaded with 20-30 lbs and walking around the store. The staff at REI is really helpful in helping you find the right size and style. Osprey was easily the most comfortable pack for me, and I love that this one has a removable top compartment that transforms to a day pack. 55 liters was bigger than I needed for this trip, but the outer compression straps help with that!
  • Rain cover or trash bags: Yes, you’re going to get rain in Patagonia. If your pack doesn’t have a rain cover built in, try the REI duck back or line your pack with trash bags. I did both.
  • Trekking Poles
  • Mid-weight hiking boots: Make sure they are waterproof and comfortable. Again, go to the store and see what feels best for you.
  • Three pairs of wool socks: Darn Tough is all I wear!
  • Sleeping Bag: This was nice to have since not all the beds at the refugios had sheets. I like my Mountain Hardware Women’s Heratio 32F bag because it’s warm, lightweight and has two zippers so I can vent my feet if I need to!
  • Water bottle: I brought my 32 oz Hydroflask. You can fill up straight from the streams which is pretty amazing – so make sure your bottle has a wide mouth.
  • OPTIONAL – sleeping bag liner: I use one so I can keep my sleeping bag somewhat clean from sweat and dirt.
  • OPTIONAL – compression/dry sacks: I loved having these! I kept my sleeping bag in one to make it a bit smaller in my pack and to keep it dry. I used another to compress the clothes I wasn’t wearing that day (be sure they’re dry first). This saved me a lot of space and time packing!
  • OPTIONAL – small day pack: There were a few days of day hiking where I ditched my larger bag, so this nice to have! Some packs (like mine) have these built in. If not, there are plenty of options for pack-able day packs. Or, you can simply remove gear from you main pack and store in a trash bag.
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-30,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Filling our water bottles with fresh water and a view of the French Valley


Base Layer Clothing

  • 100% Merino wool shirts: I rotated between one long sleeve and two short sleeve shirts. Some people may prefer synthetic materials, but I like wool in both summer and winter because it helps wick sweat away from your body and doesn’t get smelly ever after wearing for several days. Again, looks for sales! I like Icebreaker and Ibex (which is sadly out of business now).
  • Hiking pants: You really only need one pair! I love these Dynama Pants from Mountain Hardware – light, comfortable and water resistant.
  • One pair of wool or synthetic long underwear: I have a synthetic pair that I brought but didn’t wear/need.
  • One sports bra: I tried this wool bra since I was going all in with the wool tops. Go for your preference as long as it’s comfortable.
  • Three pairs of underwear: Yeah, you don’t need a new pair for every day. I bought a few pairs of ExOffico underwear (they put certain colors on sale!) and would wash them in the shower every night. They are comfortable and dry so fast!
  • One pair of shorts: I don’t like hiking in shorts, but I brought a pair for hanging out in the refugios and to sleep in.
  • Flip flops: for hanging out in the refugios and as shower shoes. It feels so good after 8-10 hours with your hiking boots on!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-25,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

Jackets/Layers

  • Gortex rain jacket (hard shell): A must on any packing list. I love the Beta LT from Arc’teryx. It’s super lightweight and didn’t feel too hot/stuffy to wear while moving.
  • Soft shell jacket: A soft shell is a versatile layer that is breathable but wind and water resistant. Mine has a fleece lining, so if we were hiking, I was warm! Either I didn’t wear a jacket or I was wearing my hardshell to protect myself from rain/wind. While I didn’t wear this particular layer, but you may wish you had one just in case!
  • Down jacket: It can get chilly if you’re not moving, so this is nice to have for rest and lunch stops. Down doesn’t like water, so layer with your hardshell if it’s wet out! I love the Cerium Superlight Jacket from Arc’teryx. It is only 5.8 ounces but keeps me warm and packs down really small!
  • Fleece pullover: This was probably my bulkiest item! I kept this clean and wore it during evenings in the refugios. A clean T-shirt would have done, but oh well!
  • Rain pants: You’ll need these for hiking in the rain or even walking through the forest-y areas where the bushes and trees have dew on them. Look for pants with snaps or a zipper so you can get them on and off with your shoes on. I’m extremely happy with the Women’s Stretch Ozonic pant from Mountain Hardware. They are lighter and more comfortable than any other rain pant I’ve seen. You will get wet if you sit in a puddle, but for Patagonia they were perfect.
  • Fleece gloves: Nothing fancy here!
  • Warm hat: I wore mine every day!
  • Baseball cap: Nice to have, but I didn’t wear mine because I thought it would blow away!

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Other

  • Passport and immigration paper: Every refugio asks for these when you check in. The immigration paper is the receipt like document you get from immigration upon your arrival at the airport. Keep this safe!
  • Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-30,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veCash/Credit card: Necessary for the post-hike beer at the refugio! I brought pesos with me, but I was surprised to see that all refugios accepted credit card.
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Sunscreen: My skin got dry, so bring face moisturizer that doubles as SPF (30+).
  • Lip balm
  • Quick-dry/light towel: The Packtowl in X-Large is my GO-TO travel item!
  • Power adapter: If traveling from the US, you’ll need a Type L for Chile.
  • Portable charger: More of a luxury item, but I used this to keep my phone charged (for pictures!).
  • Camera: You’re about to see some fantastic views! It’s worth it to lug up your camera (and possibly tripod). Make sure your battery is charged or bring an extra so you can save weight by ditching the charger.
  • Headlamp with extra batteries: Never used it, but a good thing to have on any trip.
  • Ear plugs: You don’t want to listen to your refugio roommates’ snore, do you?
  • Toiletries: Keep it light! I brought a travel container of Dr. Bonner’s soap to use for body, hair and clothes and it was more than enough.
  • Small first aid kit
  • Snacks! The lunches from the refugios were filling, but it was nice to bring our own chocolate and candy for the trail. Get these in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.

Finals notes: I was really happy with this list and my pack weight! I had all the right layers I needed. I probably could have gone without the long underwear, fleece and softshell, but I have no regrets!

Daises and Torres del Paine at dusk in Patagonia, Chile

Daises and Torres del Paine at dusk in Patagonia, Chile

Have any questions about gear or this list? Is there an essential I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Click here to read details about the Torres Del Paine Patagonia trek!

Click here for a list of things you need to know before planning your trip!

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