Don’t let poor packing decisions ruin your bucket list trip. The weather in Patagonia changes quickly. If you’re going to Chile in summer (the winter months in the US), you’ll need to be prepared for cold temps, wind, rain and brilliant sunshine. The key is layering. As the weather changes and your body heats up during your gorgeous hikes, you can adjust your clothes to match the conditions. We’ve taken the guesswork out of packing for Patagonia, Chile with a checklist of items you’ll definitely want to bring and some to consider. Read on to learn more.
My husband and I spent a week in Patagonia, Chile. This was a bucket list adventure to see the gorgeous mountains, glaciers and glacial lakes and waterfalls of Patagonia. Thank goodness the tour company we traveled with, Classic Journeys, sent us packing suggestions. Because they prepared us with a Patagonia packing list, we had everything we needed to enjoy the wilderness. This packing list will work for trips to neighboring countries like Bolivia as well.
Patagonia Packing List – Expect All 4 Seasons
Even though January is winter in the U.S., seasons are reversed in South America. So January in Patagonia, Chile is summer. But that’s just the beginning of weather weirdness. Weather in Patagonia can change by the hour, depending on cloud cover or frequent rain. Plus, weather changes with altitude and wind speed. And when we were hiking, my husband and I quickly heated up. Sometimes on a single day in Patagonia, Chile we needed clothes for four different seasons!
Patagonia Packing List – Layering Clothes
Layering clothes is key. In Patagonia, Chile, a windy wintry morning can easily turn into a warm afternoon. And when my husband and I hiked in the brilliant Patagonia sunshine, we heated up fast. So we needed to be able to strip off outer layers when we got hot.
One January summer morning in Patagonia, I started out layering long underwear, a long-sleeved shirt, sweater, a down coat, winter hat, winter gloves and waterproof pants over my pants. And as we hiked, I stripped off my gloves and hat to store them in the lightweight bag I carried. Later, I tied my lightweight down coat around my waist. Layers of clothes are key to a good Patagonia packing list.
Patagonia Packing List: Clothes for Summer Hiking
- Sun hat. My husband learned the hard way that a baseball hat won’t work. That’s because Patagonia is too windy. Instead, we had better luck with sun hats that tied onto our heads, to keep them secure when the wind kicked up. Also, I was happy to wear a hat that protected both my face and my neck. I wore the same sun hat I also used for desert hiking in Arizona and California.
- Water resistant hiking pants. Lightweight hiking pants are key, to allow maximum easy movement on rocky, uneven trails. Foolishly, I left behind my hiking pants in the middle of our week-long trip. Luckily, I had comfortable jeans with me. But jeans are heavier than hiking pants, and if they get wet, hiking is no fun. Hiking pants are a better option.
- 3 lightweight long-sleeved shirts. We used these to layer. While I get cold easily so didn’t need any short-sleeved shirts in Patagonia, my husband was happy he also brought a short-sleeved shirt. (Also, if your trip to Patagonia, Chile includes time in Santiago, fair warning that a Santiago summer day can be in the 80s, and shorts or a casual dress will be comfortable.)
- 2 sweaters or sweater and a fleece jacket. More layers to be able to put on or remove, depending on that hour’s weather in Patagonia.
- Lightweight down jacket. Key to a Patagonia packing list for me was a lightweight down jacket that I could easily tie around my waist. I did that as the day got warmer. Or as I heated up during a hike. And I get cold easily, so sometimes I wore my down coat all day. My husband and I were both happy with the lightweight down jackets we got at REI.
- Warm winter gloves and winter hat. I know, this is a Patagonia packing list for Chile in summer. But in the Patagonia mountains, where wind and rain might kick up anytime, I was glad to have a winter hat and gloves. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack them but was able to buy them at an airport in Patagonia.
- Lightweight long underwear. Be sure to bring a long-sleeved lightweight long underwear shirt to wear on the hiking trail. And just like for skiing, bring lightweight long underwear pants that easily fit underneath pants, so movement on the trails is easy.
- Waterproof windbreaker with a hood. I wore my windbreaker every day in Patagonia, usually over my lightweight down coat. Both easily tied around my waist when I needed to shed layers. Waterproof and the hood are both key because it rains during summer in Patagonia. I liked this one, because I could unzip it under my armpits when I needed to cool off.
- Underwear, pajamas.
- Lightweight waterproof pants. I was happy I brought waterproof pants to Patagonia, Chile. While I never needed to hike in the rain, thank goodness, these would have kept me dry. And they acted like a windbreaker when we hiked across a windy sandbar to see the Grey Glacier up close. The helpful staff at REI guided me to these waterproof pants, which were easy to zip on and off.
Patagonia packing list – clothes for towns or restaurants
Restaurants in Patagonia, Chile are pretty casual, since most visitors are there to enjoy the great outdoors. So it’s okay to wear hiking boots and jeans, even to a nice restaurant. But we also brought a few clothes that made us feel a little more dressed up than on the trail.
- One pair of jeans
- One pair khakis or slacks
- Blouse or button down shirt, if you want to be less casual
- Silk scarf so I felt more civilized at dinner
Patagonia packing list – socks and shoes
- Lightweight hiking boots. My husband and I got great guidance from the hiking boot staff at our local REI. We looked for hiking boots with ankle support and no need to break them in. After trying on several pairs, we each chose lightweight, waterproof hiking boots with great tread. They were so comfortable, we wore them both on and off the trials. Good hiking boots are essential to a Patagonia packing list. Sneakers are no substitute.
- 2 pairs of heavy warm socks. The REI staff helped us find warm socks that wicked away moisture while we were hiking.
- 1 pair liner socks to wick away moisture. This thin layer went next to our feet, to help keep our feet dry on the trail. While I didn’t wash them, they were thin enough to dry overnight if I’d needed to handwash.
- Sneakers with good tread. This is “Patagonia fancy.” At dinner or exploring a town, we wore either hiking boots or sneakers. But don’t wear sneakers to hike.
- 5 pairs comfortable athletic socks. To wear when not on the trail.
- 1 pair fancier shoes and tights. Not necessary. But I did want to dress up for one or two dinners at our hotel, when I knew I would not be walking.
SheBuysTravel Tip: On the plane to Chile, wear your heaviest clothes, including hiking boots. That lightens your checked baggage.
Patagonia packing list – other stuff
- Sunglasses. Patagonia sunshine is bright! My glasses automatically adjust, and often they were nearly black as we hiked outside.
- Strong sunscreen. We used so much, we ran out. High altitude sun is strong, so bring a lot.
- Bug repellent. While we didn’t run into bugs apart from some flies that were all buzz no bite, bug repellant is handy.
- Camera. Patagonia is gorgeous. The natural beauty of Patagonia is what landed Chile on our bucket list. While I loved taking photos with my iPhone, I wish I’d brought a lightweight camera that also can zoom in on penguins and other wildlife. Like this.
- Phone charger and adapter.
- Lip balm. Wind and sun take a toll.
- Swimsuit. But only if your hotel has a spa. Even in summer, it’s too cold for tourists to swim outside in Patagonia, Chile. (And if a beach vacation is more your style, check out our ultimate beach packing guide.)
- Daypack, lightweight crossbody bag, or jacket with big pockets. Some people on our Classic Journeys trip to Chile used daypacks to carry cameras, water bottles, hats and trail snacks. Instead, I brought a lightweight crossbody bag. And my husband used the huge pockets in his jacket.