Packing for Patagonia

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Planning a trip to the End of the World was relatively simple. As for packing, that’s a whole other story.

This afternoon, I’m leaving on a two-week journey into the heart of Patagonia — one of the world’s last, great, untouched frontiers. It is a harsh, wild and stark place. After connecting through Atlanta and Buenos Aires, I’ll meet Burt in El Calafate, Argentina, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, before making my way further south to Ushuaia, which is the acclaimed southernmost city in the world. After a couple of days of exploring Tierra del Fuego, hiking in the National Park and kayaking the Beagle Channel, we’ll hop on a short flight to Punta Arenas, Chile. From there, we’ll join up with Cascada Expediciones, named one of the best adventure travel companies by National Geographic, for a 7-night trek along the classic “W” route in Torres del Paine National Park, during which time we’ll base out of EcoCamp. This will be followed by an exhausting return trip to the States, via Santiago and Atlanta, that will take upward of 24 hours. I’m scheduled back at RDU at 8:50 a.m. on March 10.

The extreme weather in the remote lands of Patagonia has made packing for this trip more than complicated. The area’s vastness, coupled with its proximity to the Antarctic, subjects the region to highly unpredictable weather patterns. Although we’ll be there toward the end of South America’s summer, temperatures can still range from the low-30s to mid-70s. Snow is not uncommon. And then there is the wind, with gusts topping out at 80 mph. Couple all of this with stringent weight restrictions for internal flights, and you start to see how important a Patagonia packing list really is.

After plenty of research (both online and at several outdoor stores) as well as conversations with friends who had recently visisted, I’ve come up with a list of essentials. It’s comprised of high-quality, layered, versatile clothing that will allow me to easily adapt to nearly any climate. What’s with all the Patagonia gear, you say? Simply put, they make some of the best clothing, are strongly committed to the environment and had a great sale last month. Plus, you can’t go wrong wearing Patagonia in Patagonia. At least I hope not.

Here’s what’s going on my back:

And this is what it all looks like.

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Stuffed into Eagle Creek Compressions Sacs makes it much more manageable.

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And then, finally, a shot of it all shoved into my new (but recycled!) Osprey React Backpack and my travel standby North Face Backtrack 70 (readers of this blog will recognize it from my trip around the world in 80 days).

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Next stop: Patagonia!

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