We love life hacks, all of those ingenious little tips and tricks that make life a little easier and a bit more fun. And when you’re hiking in Patagonia with a limit on what you can carry, it’s more important than ever to make the most of every piece of kit and clothing and find crafty solutions to any problems that arise.
There are plenty of life hacks you can apply to hiking, but many of them simply aren’t suited to Patagonia’s chaotic climate or its delicate ecosystem. So we’ve done our homework and put together a list of the truly useful hiking hacks for your Patagonia hiking tour.
1. When you get back to civilization after your Patagonia hike - such as the spectacular W Trek, dry your hiking boots by stuffing them with balled up newspaper and replacing the paper every few hours until the boots are completely dry. Remember that leaving you boots in the sunshine or by a radiator may cause them to crack as they dry.
2. Use a torch or your cell phone light directed through a bottle of water to create an instant lantern that diffuses an atmospheric light much better than a direct beam.
3. On many Patagonia hikes, burning your toilet paper is not allowed, to manage the risk of wildfires. That means you’ll have to pack out your waste paper in small bags, but adding a sprinkling of baking soda to the bag beforehand will minimise any unwelcome odours.
4. A hanging shoe holder is a really easy way to organise your camp kitchen and keep everything neat and tidy.
5. Put a dry tea bag in smelly hiking boots when you’ve returned from your hike. It'll help keep bad odours at bay.
6. If you borrow hiking kit or clothing from your friends for your Patagonia hike, take a picture on your phone of them holding their piece of kit, then you’ll know who to return each item to when you’re done.
7. Line your backpack with a heavy duty bin bag to keep your kit dry during heavy downpours. Elastic waterproof backpack covers are often useless in Patagonia’s strong winds.
8. Use small waterproof bags, meant for medication, to store matches or your phone and music devices so they don’t get wet.
9. Wrap a length of duct tape around your hiking pole so you’ve always got some when you need it without taking the whole bulky roll.
10. When preparing for your Patagonia hike, stand on one leg while brushing your teeth in the morning and stand on the other leg while brushing your teeth at night. The effort of balancing will strengthen your muscles and make you less like to turn your ankle on the trail.
11. Mark out regular sections on a clear water bottle and label each line with times throughout the day to make sure you’re drinking at least the minimum amount you need to stay hydrated.
12. Use hair clips to organise the wires of phone chargers and electrical devices you keep in your pack when travelling and stop them becoming tangled together.
13. Collect and bring miniature packets of honey from coffee houses and hotel breakfasts. Then slurp them down for a natural, energy-filled treat if you hit a sudden low.
14. To dry wet socks when it’s raining out, fill two water bottles with boiling water from the kettle and seal them shut. Roll your wet socks over the top of the hot bottles and simply wait until morning for them to dry.
15. When sharing a bag of trail mix around your hiking group, pour portions into each person’s hand rather than having them reach into the bag. That way everyone keeps their germs to themselves, reducing the probability of a nasty bout of trekkers’ tummy.
16. Hide a couple of bills of emergency money rolled up in an empty lip balm tube in case your wallet should get lost in transit.
17. Make a water filter from a handkerchief. In Patagonia you often won’t need to purify water when it comes from pure and ancient glacial streams, so just filter out any bits of sediment with your hanky and enjoy a refreshing drink.
18. Make homemade herbal insect repellent spray before you leave for your Patagonia hike. That way you avoid putting harmful chemicals on your skin and it’s also eco-friendly since the chemicals won’t wash off and pollute Patagonia’s pristine rivers.
19. Use a pillbox to create your own tiny personalised travelling spice rack and easily liven up basic trekker meals like pasta and rice.
20. Turn one of the batteries the wrong way round in your torch when you’re not using it. That way the torch won’t turn on and run down your batteries even if the switch gets accidentally pushed into the ‘on’ position in your bag.
21. If you wash your sleeping bag after your trek, add a couple of tennis balls to the dryer to help fluff it back up again so it stays just as warm as when you first bought it.
And that's it! We hope this list helps you on your trekking adventure, and don't forget to share it around to help other hikers! If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can help you craft your perfect trip. Also check out our favorite 7-Day W Trek or Paine Circuit.