Hiking the W or O trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is at the top of many an adventurer’s bucket list. Planning a trip to the Torres del Paine and not sure what to pack? We’ve got you covered.
The Torres del Paine is a place of legend – soaring peaks, jewel-coloured lakes, stunning scenes and some of the best hiking you can find in South America. It’s hands-down one of the best things to do in Chile and should be at the top of your list if you’re planning a trip to Patagonia.
I loved my time in the Torres del Paine National Park the W trek was one of the best experiences I had on my last trip to South America. I’d wavered about whether I’d be able to do the hike solo, or whether I had enough time to complete the trek and still see more of Patagonia. In the end, I’m so glad I went.
That said, preparing for the trek wasn’t the easiest of tasks. When you’re travelling for a long-term (or even if you’re not) we all know that every kilogram counts.
Deciding what you need and what to bring is a tough call – the park has notoriously changeable weather conditions meaning you need to come prepared for rain, hot sunshine, gale force winds and even snow in the course of one day (this actually happened to me while I was on the hike).
Thanks to some savvy advice from friends and travellers, I think I got the packing balance just right – not too much but enough stuff to keep me comfortable throughout the trip.
I’ve assumed that you are going to be camping and eating your own food during your hike – if you’re not, you can cut out the camping kit and most of the food items and rejoice in the knowledge that your pack is going to be significantly lighter.
- The Perfect Torres del Paine Packing List at a Glance
- What Backpack and Daypack Should I Bring to the Torres del Paine?
- Camping Gear: Which Tent Should I Bring? What Other Camping Gear do I Need?
- Other Essentials for Your Torres del Paine Packing List
- Which Clothes do I Need to have on my Torres del Paine Packing List?
- Should I Bring Toiletries?
- What Food Do I Need to Bring on my Torres Del Paine Hike?
- Nice to Haves
The Perfect Torres del Paine Packing List at a Glance
- Waterproof cover if your backpack doesn’t have one
- A lightweight tent
- Four seasons sleeping bag
- Roll mat
- Collapsible water bottle
- Head torch
- Clothes (more detail below)
- Toiletries (more detail below)
- Bin bags
- Mess kit
- Camping stove
- Swiss army knife
- Hiking poles (optional)
- Small first aid kit with any medicine you need
- Camera (for all those awesome photos you are going to take) + spare battery or portable charger
- Duct Tape
- Earplugs and eyemask
What Backpack and Daypack Should I Bring to the Torres del Paine?
The short answer is the ones you have. The answer will depend on if you are long-term travelling around South America or whether you are going on a specific trip to hike in the Torres del Paine.
If you’re going straight to the Torres del Paine, you’re best off with a small carry on backpackcarry on backpack and a packable daypack. The Lowe Alpine Cholatse 50 is a good option – it has hiking pole attachments, is lightweight, front opening (as well as top opening) and has a waterproof cover to keep your stuff dry if it rains. For the packable daypack, the Matador Freerain24 Backpack is a good choice if you have the money, as it’s fully waterproof, light and rolls up into a tiny bundle.
If you’re long-term travelling around South America, you’ll need a bigger backpack for the rest of your trip (unless you travel super-light), in which case The Osprey Farpoint 70 (pictured above) also comes with a detachable 13 litre daypack that can be clipped to the back of your pack, or to the front harness to help with your balance.
Leave anything you don’t need with you on the trek at your hostel in Puerto Natales – my hostel The Singing Lamb (highly recommended) had huge lockers just for this purpose, as do most of the hostels in the town.
Camping Gear: Which Tent Should I Bring? What Other Camping Gear do I Need?
You can bring your own camping gear – but I’d only recommend doing that if you are camping in other places in South America. If you’re just going to be camping on this trip, Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales has a fully-stocked rental outfit for you to rent your stuff from.
- A lightweight tent- You need to tread a careful balance between making sure your tent is up to the task of keeping you snug and dry during the park’s notoriously unpredictable weather, and yet light enough for you to carry with ease. The Snugpak Ionosphere 1 man tent (pictured above) is the best one man tent for camping that I’ve used. It’s pretty small and low but is really quick to pitch and only weighs 1.5kg. Check it out.
- Four season sleeping bag – the Venom 600 from Vango is a great value option.
- Roll mat – one thick enough to make it worth bringing
Other Essentials for Your Torres del Paine Packing List
- Collapsible water bottle or Water Bladder– you’ll need to drink plenty on the hike, but there are lots of glacial streams for you to fill up from.
- Head torch
- Mess kit (can be rented from Erratic Rock)
- Camping stove (same as above)
- Swiss army knife
- Camera (for all those awesome photos you are going to take) + spare battery or portable charger – I travel with a Sony A6000– you can also read my travel camera reviews here.
- Printouts of refugio or campsite confirmations
- Travel insurance details – make sure you have travel insurance.
- Cash (US dollars or pesos) and cards. Make sure you have enough cash for what you need though, the refugios have card machines but they’re not that reliable.
- Duct Tape
- Earplugs and an eyemask – there’s always someone in camp who snores really loudly and the sunrise can be pretty early.
- First Aid Kit. Bringing a first aid kit might feel a bit OTT but can come in handy. At the very least make sure you have a few emergency painkillers, diarrhoea tablets (trust me on this one, you can save yourself a lot of difficulties) and plasters.
Which Clothes do I Need to have on my Torres del Paine Packing List?
- Waterproof and windproof jacket – the Patagonia Torrent Hardshell is good value and packs up into its own pocket so you can put it away when the sun is shining.
- Fleece jumper or hoodie – The North Face Women Osito 2 does the trick for me.
- Thermal base layer top
- Hiking trousers or leggings
- Hiking shorts (optional)
- Thermal bottoms
- Sports Bras
- Brimmed hat
- Wooly hat
- Waterproof Gloves
- Neck gaiter or buff (optional but really useful for keeping your neck warm)
- 3 pairs of hiking socks
- Hiking boots – I’ve had my Berghaus Expeditor AQ Ridge boots for a while and they’ve always been reliable as well as being lightweight. I hiked all across Patagonia, including on the W Trek in them without any blisters or sore feet. Yep, you heard me right. No blisters.
Should I Bring Toiletries?
Hell to the yes. I know some people are perfectly comfortable going for days on the trail without bringing any toiletries but I’m not one of them and I’m guessing that you aren’t either. If you are, feel free to skip this section and make sure you’re not sharing a tent with anyone along the way 🙂
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Eco-friendly soap
- Dry shampoo
- High factor suncream
- Lipbalm with sunblock
- Insect repellent
- A fast-drying travel towel (we’ve reviewed our favourites here)
- Toilet paper
What Food Do I Need to Bring on my Torres Del Paine Hike?
If you’re staying in refugios, you can book breakfasts and dinners to eat at the refugios and packed lunches that they give you to bring along with you.
The food in the refugios is varied – my advice is to expect for it to be bland and then be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to have some flavour. Better than the other way round. Even if you are booking all your meals at the refugios, make sure that you bring some extra snacks to keep you going throughout the day.
If you’re not staying on refugios then it goes without saying that it’s completely up to you to make sure that you’ve brought enough food for the trip. The people you meet on the trail are nice, but not so nice that they’re going to share their post-hike meal with you like it’s the last supper (some are though, ‘cos hikers are a lovely bunch overall).
The quantities that you will need of the food listed will vary depending on how many days you’re hiking in the park. Be generous to yourself.
- Quick-cook oats (oat-so-simple’s a great choice) or oatmeal mixed with meal powder
- Dried pasta, couscous or rice (can bring boil in the bag instead)
- Ramen noodles
- Instant potatoes
- Instant packet soup
- Sachets of tuna in oil
- Salami or cured meat
- Nut butter
- Oatcakes or crackers
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Beef or vegetarian jerky
- Tea bags and coffee granules (this is a hike, not the end of the world – coffee is necessary)
Nice to Haves
- Kindle or book
- Playing cards
- Hiking poles (optional)
So there it is, the ultimate Torres del Paine Packing List. I’d love to hear your favourite parts of the trek or if there’s something that you think should be added to the list. Otherwise, happy hiking and have a great trip.