5 Life or Death Items to Pack when Hiking in Torres del Paine (Patagonia)

I have been lied to for some time now. I was led to believe that the region of Patagonia was just one big outdoor store where puffy jackets grow on trees. In fact, there are hardly any trees at all in this wide open landscape of lakes, rivers, mountains and glaciers.

Patagonia’s reach spans between the countries of Argentina and Chile hiding away some of the most breath talking views in the world. Located south of the equator in the heart of Patagonia is Chile’s national park, Torres Del Paine.

For many first time multi-day hikers, this is the perfect trail to get your feet wet on, literally. Compared to other national parks around the world, the most dangerous element of Torres Del Paine is the weather. With intense winds and relentless rains it is important to pack the right stuff to throughly enjoy your experience in Torres del Paine.

Whether you are doing the W trek or the whole circuit, the following list of items could be life or death (not really) during your stay in the park…

Photos by @peytonhayslette

Trash Bags

You won’t need them until you need them.
Their inexpensive, fairly light, and can be used in a variety of ways on the trail. People may laugh when you pack a roll of trash bags but when they get in a sticky situation they’re gonna ask you for a bag. You won’t have a true appreciation for a trash bag until it saves your life in one way or another. Also, when you hike for 4 hours in the rain, nothing is waterproof.

Silverware/Cup/Knife

A cheap combo utensil, camping knife, and enamel mug will do just fine.
Unless you are traveling with a guide (I believe you have to have a guide with you to enter the park now) who is preparing your food and supplying all of the necessary utensils, these items are vital. You don’t wanna be that guy that is dipping his dirty pruney fingers in the community bowl of rice and beans for the night.

Though most campsites do supply a dinner option, you aren’t going to be eating there for every meal so packing a set cheap camping utensils and a cup would be in your best interest. Plus, what are you gonna drink your box wine out of, the box? C’mon have some class while drinking in a remote part of the world.

I highly recommend bringing a knife of some sort, even if it is a cheap one. If you aren’t checking your bags through the airlines this could be a problem but even if you pick up a shitty one at a store in town its money well spent. Plus, you can just pass it on to the next hiker when you are done and score some good karma points. It’s a community and you aren’t doing this alone even if you are on your own.

Technically, this was 5 items if you were counting but they are all lumped into one for the sake of the article. And 5 is such a wholesome number of life or death items.

Jetboil

This thing will save your life.
Definitely the most expensive item of the list and maybe not a necessity like the others but this thing will save your life. Nothing will lift your spirits more than a shitty cup of hot coffee after an awful day of terrible weather. I mean, its hot, it gives you a little boost, and it keeps you regular. What more could you possibly need?

Also, cooking with a Jetboil is a breeze. It really makes a difference having a hot meal after eating like a squirrel all day. Nuts and dried fruit will only get you so far. Depending on how long you are gone for, one can of gas should be enough for about 5 days of use. Just distribute the weight evenly throughout your packs. The Jetboil is a versatile item that you won’t regret packing if you have the room for it.

Trekking Poles

These things will save your knees!
I don’t care how much you hike or how rock solid your knees are. Trekking poles are not for old people. They’re for young people that wanna have their knees when they’re old. For the less experienced hiker these things will get you through it and turn you into a pro. Whether you are doing the W-Trek or the whole circuit, trekking poles are a necessary item. They help distribute the weight of your pack as well as balance you through the uneven terrain of the trail.

Wherever you stay in Punta Arenas (I recommend Erratic Rock, say hi to Bill for us) you most likely will be able to rent a pair of poles so you don’t have to buy them for this one-off trip.

Box Wine

The most important item of them all.
This is a must. It doesn’t have to be wine, it could be beer or bourdon (the Unimarc may be out of everything but Johnny Walker Black). If you don’t drink that’s fine too but you will need something to take your mind off of a hard day on the trail. It could even be a pack of cards. Something you and your crew can sip on and chat about your plans for tomorrow. A little buzz will help you relax and fall asleep in uncomfortable weather conditions too.

This items have been tested in the field of the W trek (West-to-East) in March of 2017.