Essential Patagonia Packing List for a Bucket List Adventure in Chile

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A Patagonia packing list includes good hiking boots, waterproof jacket, and layers for warmth
Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

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!

torres del paine national park - travelingmom
Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

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.
chilean glacier in patagonia - travelingmom
Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

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.

gaucho with sheep in patagonia, chile - travelingmom
Gaucho herding sheep on Estancia Lazo ranch in Patagonia, Chile. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

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.
  • CameraPatagonia 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.

26 responses

  1. Great packing list! Thank you!
    We are going for 6 weeks in late November, and I am so excited I can barely contain myself! We have friends in both Buenos Aires and Santiago so we will be bookending our Patagonia Adventure with stops in both cities. Thanksgiving in BA and Christmas/NYE in Santiago. Our Tour Operator did send us packing list but yours is so much more detailed, and I love the woman’s perspective!

  2. Thank you for this list! We are going for 6 weeks in late November. We have friends in BA and in Santiago so we will bookend our Patagonia Adventure with stops in both cities; BA for Thanksgiving and Santiago at the end for Christmas and NYE. Our tour operator send us a packing list but yours is so much more detailed. I do appreciate a woman’s perspective!

    1. 6 weeks sounds like the trip of a lifetime! Check this page for ideas on what to do in Buenos Aires. We spent a wonderful Christmas vacation there. Enjoy!

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  5. Patagonia has been on my bucketlist forever but I’m so glad I read this packing guide before booking my trip. I didn’t realize i would need to prepare for all 4 seasons and will definitely pack lots of layers. Lots of rain gear and waterproofing too. Thanks for these great packing tips. I’ve booked marked it for later 🙂

    1. Yes, and 4 seasons is just for a trip during the Patagonia summer (December – February). If you’re headed there outside of summer, be sure to bring warmer clothes! Layering is key.

  6. This is a great list of what you need to pack if you are heading to the Patagonia region. It is always hard when you have to deal with all seasons but if you think of lightweight layers you can make it happen without gigantic suitcases. Great essential packing list for the patagonias!

    1. And the beauty of those mountains, glacial lakes and rivers, and waterfalls – so worth it!

  7. Patagonian Chile looks incredible! The weather variations sound like they require some complex packing, so I’m glad you’ve laid out the necessities here. Layering is always a great way to approach it.

    1. We would have been lost without the packing guidance we got from Classic Journeys tours. Especially since I get cold easily. And so beautiful!

  8. We absolutely loved Patagonia and you are on the money with needing 3-4 changes in a day depending on what you’re doing. We stayed in the Torres delPaine area for 10 days in late February going into March. One of your tips should be well heeded by all – strong sunscreen, along with good sunglasses. Really great tips for those not knowing what to expect.

    1. Yes, wasn’t that a surprise to need strong sunscreen in February? You must have seen incredible natural beauty in 10 days in Torres del Paine, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen

  9. How smart of Classic Journeys to send you a packing list! I wish more places would do that. My usual struggle is working out what to take in the way of footwear – it looks like you had the whole thing beautifully well organised

    1. You are absolutely right – Classic Journeys did an incredible job of organizing the trip. If we hadn’t had their suggestions, we wouldn’t have known what we already had and what we needed to buy. The knowledgable staff at REI was also really helpful in steering us to lightweight clothes and equipment – and pointing out sales.

  10. It’s always helpful to know what to carry on a trip to anywhere, especially with places that have such unpredictable weather as Patagonia. I have had issues before where I have checked the weather on the app but when I actually landed in the destination, the weather was completely unexpected! I did know that January is actually summer for Chile but it’s good to know that we must still be prepared for the weather to change unexpectedly and carry warm clothes too!

    1. Yes, the weather in Patagonia is hard to predict. The best prediction was to expect sun, wind, rain, and temperature fluctuations – all in the same day. 🙂

  11. I loved Patagonia! Definitely take a light top under everything. I became so excited that I ran with all of my energy then warmed up and needed to take off my jackets!

    1. Completely agree. The mountain views were so breathtaking, I’d hike fast, heat up – and need to shed layers.

  12. Your list is quite comprehensive and very helpful. I’d be one who would definitely need lots of layers so that’s a good tip. I’ve never worn anything but sneakers for the hikes I’ve done. But it sounds like I’d better look into getting some good hiking boots.

    1. For Patagonia, yes, definitely need to get real hiking boots. Lots of uneven trails, rocks, so good tread is essential. Hope you get to go!

  13. My jacket stopped repelling water in Patagonia. Next time I’ll get a real rain jacket. Wish I’d had your helpful list before I visited!

    1. Oh, getting wet must have been miserable. I like to stay dry and comfy – no outdoor hero here. So I was so glad to have a real rain jacket with a hood, even tho we were lucky to mostly have dry weather.

  14. This is a really handy guide for sensible packing that will ensure you are prepared for all weather. When we visited, just ahead of boarding a cruise to Antarctica, we were surprised to find some people had turned up with nothing more than jeans, t-shirts and a thin jacket — they had to spend a fortune kitting up in the few shops available!

    1. Oh my goodness, I would have been miserable with only jeans and a thin jacket. While I’m usually the “pack while the taxi to the airport waits” kind of traveler, that relaxed approach doesn’t work for the tricky, daily seasonal changes of a weather-challenged place like Patagonia. Packing list is the way to go.

    2. Oh my goodness, we would have frozen without multiple, high quality layers. And waterproofing! What a pleasure to hike in these stunning mountain areas.