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10 Essentials for Hiking in Patagonia

The original ten essentials for hikers include tools for navigation and basic first aid, but if you’ve made the excellent decision to chose a Patagonia tour with Cascada Expediciones, our expert guides will take care of all of that for you. You will still want to bring a daypack, and what goes in there will depend on just how much you’re prepared to carry around. Here are our suggestions for the top 10 pieces of kit you won’t want to be without:

  1. Flashlight
    Even if you’re spending most of your stay in a cosy eco-friendly dome at EcoCamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park, a multi day trek such as the W Trek or the longer Paine Circuit will involve at least one night in a mountain lodge or refugio. These lodges are comfortable enough but the dormitories are not lit through the night so take a flashlight or head torch to avoid late night or early morning stumbles. You don’t want to risk a trek-ending injury just by getting out of bed!
  2. Hiking poles
    Some people swear by hiking poles whilst others are less convinced. Your best bet is to borrow a set from a friend and have a practice with them on a long hike before you invest in your own. Make sure you try them out on a trek with long downhill stretches, where hiking poles are designed to limit the impact on your knees. If you already suffer from problems with your joints, this piece of kit could really enhance your hiking experience.
  3. CameraCamera
    It’s true that no matter how hard you try and no matter how good your camera, no photo can ever beat the experience of seeing Patagonia’s melodramatic landscape for yourself. But that’s not to say that even an amateur won’t come away with a whole portfolio of fantastic snaps and we’re sure that you’d regret forgetting to bring along a camera with plenty of spare batteries and memory space.
  4. Sunblock
    We might harp on about how cold and wet it can get in Patagonia, but even when the sun is out of sight its harmful UV rays can still get through the clouds and they’re stronger in this part of the world that anything you’ll be used to at home. Lather on the high-factor sunscreen before you set off and keep reapplying throughout the day as necessary. Many drug stores now sell small, single-use sachets that are perfect for popping in your pack.
  5. Reusable water bottle
    Ready-filled flimsy mineral water bottles are fine slipping into your bag as you trot about town, but for unbridled Patagonia you’re going to need something with a little more chutzpah. Think heavy duty, flexible plastic that won’t split or shatter when repeatedly squashed down the side of your daypack. Opt for a good quality screw-tight lid and a spout that you can open without having to take your gloves off. The easier it is to use, the more likely you are to stay properly hydrated.
  6. Towel
    When out on a multi-day trek, you can pretty much guarantee that most refugios you come across aren’t going to leave a pile of  freshly-laundered, fluffy white towels on your bed each day. This is the wilds of Patagonia after all! They do, however, have perfectly pleasant washrooms with lovely hot showers. It’s really best not to rely on the Patagonian sun coming out at the right time to dry you off again afterwards so take a small, quick-drying towel instead. You can even send it ahead with the porters if you’re using them!
  7. Multitool knifeMultitool
    The old fashioned Swiss Army Knife or multitool is in its element on occasions like these. These days you can find tools with USB pens and laser pointers, but for Patagonia, you’re better off with the traditional knife. Whether you use the tweezers for removing splinters or thorns, the nail file for dealing with toenails that are digging into your skin, or the scissors for getting into that particularly stubborn pack of chocolate raisins, you’ll be glad you brought it!
  8. Insect repellent
    It’s difficult to overstate how annoying just one bug can be. Whether it actually takes a bite or just spends the night whining menacingly around your bed, the result is a poor night’s sleep that makes for a miserable day’s hiking. Available as a roll-on, spray or even moist towelettes, there’s a whole armoury of weapons available to you in the war on bugs.
  9. Foot tape
    Specialist foot tape, blister pads or even regular household duct tape can make a huge difference to the health of your feet during a hike. Not only can they help to prevent blisters occurring, they can also reduce your pain and suffering if you should happen to be struck down. Check out our article on looking after your feet for more information on how to apply tape and prevent blisters.
  10. Plastic bags
    Waterproof plastic bags make for a surprisingly versatile piece of kit in Patagonia. Place your camera, phone and any other electricals inside sealed bags so they’re protected if the heavens open. They’re also great for sitting on (take the camera out first though!) when the ground is wet through. Finally, use plastic bags to take litter and toilet paper out of backwoods areas to protect the natural environment.

We’ve shared our 10 essentials for hiking in Patagonia, what do you think we’ve missed?

For more information, check out our articles on what to wear for your Patagonia hike and how to turn your iPhone into a modern Swiss Army Knife with apps for hiking in Patagonia.