I find packing lists super helpful when planning my travels. I have a bunch of generic ones I copy from, depending on the type of trip I’m taking. One for hot climates, one for cold climates, etc. But I don’t have a generic backpacking list because each trip is very different. Also because I just don’t backpack that much.
To create a packing list for my recent trip to Torres del Paine I consulted a lot of blogs and read about other people’s trips to Patagonia. Here’s what I ended up bringing (I’ve excluded the stuff I wouldn’t bring with me again), with some comments on the gear. You can read my day-by-day account of the backpacking adventure here. And also check out my list of things to know before going to Torres del Paine.
Tent, ground cloth and rain fly – obviously
Sleeping bag – make sure it’s rated to at least 0 °C . It gets cold at night!
Sleeping bag liner – I love my cocoon one, in part because it can be washed in the laundry. This adds extra warmth and comfort, and keeps your sleeping bag clean.
Sleeping pad – don’t skimp on this, it’s pretty much the main thing keeping you comfy at night. Unless you like sleeping on cold hard ground.
Camp stove and cooking gear – most popular among foreigners (with access to this sort of gear) was the Jetboil. I love that stove, but it is a bit small in capacity for more than one person.
Sponge and soap – you can actually wash your dishes in a sink in most camps
Lighter – buy this in Patagonia, you can’t fly with it.
Gas for stove – buy this in Patagonia, you can’t fly with it.
I basically brought two sets of hiking clothes (pants, shirt, underwear, socks, long sleeve shirt), one to use during the day and one for nights. The night one served as my dry clothes in case of a rain disaster. That set was also quite a bit cleaner and so it was nice to put it on after a shower (yes there are showers at Torres del Paine camps!) and for sleeping.
Base layer hiking clothes: your favorite, most comfortable, non-cotton, short sleeve shirt and hiking pants, and of course underwear and socks.
Long sleeve shirt for hiking – in Patagonia UV protection is a serious thing. I also like it for protection from plants and insects.
Sun hat – I love having this extra protection from the sun. And who doesn’t want to look super dorky while hiking?
Rain coat and rain pants – essential!
Hiking shoes – I strongly recommend waterproof shoes
Dry clothes for camp – you may get wet on a super rainy day; be sure you have a full set of dry clothes. It’s cold at night, don’t be that sad person shivering wearing shorts because everything else is wet (I met this guy in Torres del Paine).
Sleeping clothes – at the last minute I packed a pair of tights. I was happy to have these for sleeping as it was so cold at night, but you should assess what you need to stay warm at night.
Heavy layer for nights – it gets cold and you’re often and spending your evening hanging out outdoors. I brought a lightweight puffer and was really happy to have it.
Second layer for warmth – many days I was wearing a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, and then a third layer for at least the first few hours of hiking. I also enjoyed this third layer under my puffer to stay warm at night. Take a look at typical temps for the time of year you will visit and use that to determine what you need to stay warm on the trail.
Camp shoes – I didn’t bring these but lots of people did and they seemed quite happy to have something to slip into after a day on the trail. Crocs, sandals, or lightweight sneakers all work well.
Waterproof gloves – I was very happy I brought these. On rainy days it was cold and these kept my hands toasty and dry. I have some lightweight ones that were not cheap. I used them both for hiking and at camp on cold/wet days. It’s quite a luxury to set up/take down your wet tent in the cold with gloves.
Hiking poles – I generally don’t like using hiking poles but yet I found them essential for this trip. The terrain gets difficult in places and the poles were critical for balance, especially on the steep descents.
Water bottle or other drinking system
Sunglasses – it’s bright!
Rain cover for your pack – when it’s not windy this is quite useful
Headlamp – there are some dark mornings you start early and also for nighttime at camp
Map – they will give you an adequate map when you enter the park. You can also buy better maps but that’s not necessary.
Sunblock – you don’t need a ton but bring enough to cover exposed parts daily
First aid kit – especially important are blister plasters and moleskin
Soap/shampoo – you really can shower at most camps
Towel – get one of those lightweight camp towels for the showers
Handkerchief – this was my first try using a handkerchief instead of tissues. My nose likes to run pretty much constantly: in the rain, in the cold, when I’m hiking, etc. I really liked having a handkerchief. I washed in out each night and it was dry and clean by morning.
Toilet paper – you don’t need much, there are toilets with paper at most camps. But bring enough for the one or two camps without, plus for any mid-trail needs.
Ear plugs – this is a luxury for me, camp can be loud and I sleep better with these in. I strongly recommend the moldable wax ones.
Phone charger – if you use your phone as your camera, and maybe want to also listen to podcasts or use it for other stuff, you will probably need to charge it. If you bring a charging cable (and adapter) most camps have places to plug in, though you might find some competition for their use. Alternately bring a small backup battery pack, or a solar charger. It depends on how much you use your phone for pictures and other stuff. And what gear you already own. I wouldn’t buy a solar charger for this trip, but my backpacking partner had a nice Anker solar charger and we were able to charge up most days when we got to the camps while it was still sunny out.
Cash – for incidentals at the camps (4,000 clp for a beer), for the entrance fee (21,000 clp), and for shuttle busses (6,000 clp).
Flask – we bought a bottle of pisco in Chile and filled up a flask. This was a great treat for a few evenings after hard hiking days.
Heavy duty trash bags – you need to put everything in your pack in these to keep stuff dry. And having one or two extra is nice in case you need to separate things later. Or you can be the hero and offer one to someone who didn’t pack well.
Zip lock bags – I put smaller stuff, along with most of my food, in these for organization and preservation. You also want some extras to hold your garbage.
Between my friend’s and my dietary requirements we ended up mostly packing vegan food. That’s a challenge. But for what it’s worth, here’s what we ended up bringing. We did bring a few hot breakfasts and lunches that I’ve excluded because I think were not necessary. If packing again alone this is what I would bring (my friend strongly disagrees as he really likes more diversity in meals).
Museli + powdered soy milk + raisins or other dried fruit to add in
Starbucks Via instant coffee or tea bags + sugar (if you want it)
Justin’s individual peanut butter packets
Dr. Kraker crackers or tortillas or other hearty crackers and bread
Raisins, figs and dates
Cheese – my friend brought some hard cheese, the only non-vegan item we packed
Bars – lots of them! light weight and caloric. I encourage you to buy them before getting to Chile; the “cereal bars” in Chile were not impressive.
Trail mix of whatever variety you like. I made individual baggies of this for each day.
Pre-made dehydrated boil-in-bag meals
If you want to go vegan, we found good options from Outdoor Herbivore and Backpackers Pantry. My favorites were:
https://outdoorherbivore.com/chickpea-sesame-ghetti/ – my friend didn’t really like this one. It was quite soupy but I found it tasty.
A bag of cashews – great for adding protein to any meal
A bag of small crackers – great for adding salt, crunch and extra fun to any meal. Costco recently started carrying some Quinoa crackers that stood up pretty well in the backpack and are quite tasty.
Pisco in a flask