“THE GUIDE RECOMMENDS” was an idea Victor and I got because we often talk about our future outdoor adventures and he helps me understand this “world” of trekking, mountaineering and outdoor life since I haven’t much experience (yet!!). Victor has 14 years of experience as outdoor guide and is currently working as guide in Torres del Paine National park and this article is meant to help people who are going for multiple days in the park.
“WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?” PREPAIR YOURSELF FOR ALL KIND OF WEATHER
Number one concern of travellers is always the weather. They try to predict how its gonna be before arriving but in Patagonia its almost impossible to predict how the weather is going to be. Patagonia is known for its quick changes and you can experiences all four season in few days: warm weather, cold weather, strong wind, snow.. So dont worry about the weather – worry about what you have in your backpack!
CLOTHES: THE 3 LAYER PRINCIP
Torres del Paine can be wet. This recommendation takes its starting point in this information when it comes to clothes. We typically refer to the 3 layer princip:
1. LAYER: KEEP YOURSELF DRY!
First layer should be baselayer. There are 2 main types of fabric you can choose for a baselayer, Merino wool, or synthetic fabrics. It could be training pants as well, Nike has a collection called dry-fit, its the same concept; its made to keep you dry when sweating.
2. LAYER: KEEP YOURSELF WARM!
Next layer should be a jacket that keeps your warm. As it can have rainy days in the park I recommend a synthetic jacket, e.g. primalof, and not a down jacket. Why? If its raining and it gets wet it won’t keep you warm. Furthermore the water makes marks from the oil in the jacket. I would use the down jacket for dry climate and not wet. Women are feeling more cold so I recommend them to bring as well a polar or a fleece. The pants should be trekking pants, light or middle soft shell.
3. LAYER: KEEP YOURSELF PROTECTED FROM EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES!
Third layer should protect you from rain and wind. If you are only planning on doing Torres del Paine its not necessary to invest in a expensive GORE-TEX . A simple rain jacket and pants will do.
The same princip when it comes to your feet: Put on baselayer socks that doesn’t have any stitching. Next layer should be synthetic fabric or wool merine.
Shoes should have a tall “neck” to protect your ankles. Dont take the risk with a low neck! GORE-TEX is optimal, water proof is not enough.
I recommend 4 pairs of socks, two sets of basiclayers. One long shirt and one short. Since female underwear doesn’t take up too much space you can bring for each day. As male bring 3 pairs of underwear. Your amount of clothes should not exceed 4 kilos. 5 kilos is maximum!
GATHERS, GLOVES, HATS, EYES AND SKIN
Then there’s all the rest when it comes to clothing and what to wear!
GATHERS: If you want to bring gathers it doesn’t have to be mountaineering. Trekking gathers are more light weight.
GLOVES: For your hands use liners as first layer. Second layer should be more ruff like soft shell. You dont need gloves for climbing, hiking is enough.
HAT: To keep warm you need to protect your head. I recommend two kind of buffs, one for the neck and one for the head. Bring a cap as well for the sun and another kind of hat made of wool.
SUN GLASSES: The sun and radiation are strong here and you need to protect your eyes! I always bring 2 pairs. If one gets broken you have an extra.
SUN CREAM: Bring sun cream factor 50+. Dont put it higher than your eyes because you will sweat and if you get sun cream in your eyes it is very unpleasant!
BACKPACK AND SLEEPING GEAR
TYPE OF BACKPACK: I can not say which backpack you should have – most important is that it fits you and your size. For a 5 days hike I will recommend a 50-60 liter. Nothing bigger – people have a tendency to put more stuff in their back if they have more space than necessary.
SLEEPING BACK: The sleeping backs made of downs are light, but if it happens to get wet it gets heavy and doesn’t work for keeping your warm. Synthetic is therefore better. To keep the warm you need to have a sleeping back that fits your size. If you are 160cm find a sleeping back around that size.
MATTRESS: You can use any type, most important is that it fits your size to keep the isolation.
STOVE: Bring one small and one big. If you drink mate maybe more. One pot for boiled water and one for cooking. You dont want to cook and boil water in the same since its more difficult to clean the one you use for cooking.
GAS: For 5 days, 2 persons I recommend 2 small gas. When the gas is big it has les pression to use at the bottom. Use small stoves. Good brands are MSR or Doite.
SPONGE: By one and cut it in 4 and bring 1 piece. That is enough. Remember is you are using soap remember it has to be biodegradable to protect the environment.
PLASTIC CONTAINERS: If you are bringing oil, spices etcetera bring it in small containers and write what it is inside.
GEAR TO BRING IN GENERAL
DRY BAGS: I am not a big fan of rain covers for the backpacker. When the rain is heavy and the wind is strong its not working anyways. It would be better to put all your stuff in dry-backs in stead. Next you put in all your stuff in a black plastic back, like the once you normally use for garbage. That will keep your things dry and organised.
FLASHLIGHT: Flashlight for the head and extra batteries. Sometimes it happens that you by accident turn on your flashlight in the bag, then its good to have some extra.
TOILET PAPER: Put it in a plastic bag or a zip-lock. One for each person.
FIRST AID KID
LIGHTER: Minimum 2 and make sure to pack them in different places if one should get lost. Put one together with the pot and the other one with the toilet paper.
THERMO BOTTLE: For the warm water.
We hope you will have a great and enjoyfull trip to Torres del Paine. Remember to do your reservations if you are staying multiple days.
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