Posted by Beth | December 11, 2015
Yesterday Caleb posted about our full trip packing list for our nine-month RTW trip. Today we’re moving into reviewing our time in Patagonia, featuring a two-part series on hiking the W-Trek. Today’s post specifically will focus on the camping gear, clothing and food we carried.
The W-Trek in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is one of the most famous and scenic treks in the world, but before our trip we were able to find very little info on the logistics of preparing for and completing the five-day, four-night hike. Really, this mini-series should be called, “everything you need to know before doing the W-Trek the way we did it,” as truly there are lots of different ways you can complete it and even more ways you can day hike, stay in hotels, etc. in the park. All in all it’s fairly intuitive and easy to figure out as you go, but we were very thankful we attended the 90-minute talk at the Erratic Rock hostel in Puerto Natales (3 p.m. everyday) the day before we left for the park. We followed the route and tips they suggested and everything went smoothly for us.
Part one of the series will focus specifically on what to pack, and tomorrow we’ll break down more of the logistics, including our route, transportation and a breakdown of our daily schedule on the trail.
- We each carried our 65L packs, but left anything “non-essential” for the hike behind at our hostel in Puerto Natales. Almost any hostel or hotel in the area will store your belongings in lockers during your trek.
- Camelbak bladders and Nalgene water bottles. No need to carry too much water or filter because all of the water in streams, lakes, etc. you come across are drinkable without filtering.
- Camping stove and equipment. No fires are allowed in the park but all campsites have designated cooking areas. We used the MSR PocketRocket Backpacking Stove, and the GSI Outdoor Pinnacle Dualist Cooking Set (the silverware in this sucked though, we wished we had brought extra cutlery).
- Tent: We used the REI Camp Dome 2 and footprint. Prior to the trip we were very worried about how this tent would hold up in the intense winds. It did more than fine as all the campsites were in wooded areas and mostly protected from the wind. We did use stakes and tie downs on 3 of the 4 nights.
- Fuel: There’s a little camping store in Puerto Natales where you can buy the gas canisters (about 7 USD), or check in at Erratic Rock for any partially used canisters for free. One small canister would have been fine for breakfast and dinner everyday, as well as a couple hot lunches.
- For sleeping: Sleeping pads, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, camping pillows, eye masks and ear plugs. They suggest heavy sleeping bags as it does get cold.
- Headlamps: You’ll hike in the dark on the final day and it’s helpful for navigating around the campsite after dark, though admittedly we went to bed before sundown every night on the trail, as sunset wasn’t until 10:30 p.m. or so.
- Hammock: We carried our beloved Eno hammock but unfortunately never used it because it was pretty cold out, so anytime we weren’t hiking, we were in our tent snuggled up.
- Camping towels: I never used mine (that’s right, five days with no shower), but Caleb did take a shower at one of the campsites (and left his Fitbit Charge in the shower stall, never to be seen again. The price to pay for a hot shower I suppose!) We were actually quite surprised that the paid sites even had showers, which we weren’t expecting.
- Trash bags: This was a pro-tip we picked up from the Erratic Rock lecture, but luckily didn’t need in the end because we never got rained on! But it’s a good idea to have everything in your pack stuffed inside trash bags.
- Toiletries: Face wipes, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, contact solution, sunscreen, bug spray (not too many bugs luckily),etc.
- Electronics: Go Pro camera, small digital camera, our iPhones, Kindles and step-tracking/GPS watches (RIP Fitbit). If you have a nice camera, I’d bring it. The scenery is stunning so it’s worth it to carry. Just make sure you have a way to waterproof it. We also took our Belkin power-pack, which helped keep our devices charged.
- Main hiking outfits: Long sleeve dry-fit tops, hiking pants, hiking boots, smart wool socks, dry-fit under garments, buffs. This was the base outfit we hiked in everyday, though we rotated between items (i.e. I brought two shirts I switched back and forth but brought enough underwear for everyday).
- Warmer layers: We kept our gloves (thin-pair is fine), stocking caps, vest and rain jackets handy so we could take on and off as needed.
- Sleeping clothes: This is a separate set of clothing from what you’ll hike in that you can change into when you set up camp. We wore thermal long underwear, second pair of pants (yoga pants or thin hiking pants), several layers of tops–short sleeve, long sleeve and hoodies/jackets, and wool socks.
- Sunglasses, buffs, ball cap, headband, belt if needed
- Protein: We did not bring anything with us from the States since we were traveling for several weeks prior, but if I could have done anything differently I’d have a jar of peanut butter! Beef jerky would have also been clutch. Our only real source of protein was nuts, and we didn’t feel it was enough. Some people brought boiled eggs and tuna, which seemed to work fine.
- Dried fruit and nuts: There’s a store in Puerto Natales that has a HUGE variety of dried fruits and nuts. But it is fairly expensive.
We liked the dried strawberries, dried apricots and salted cashews the best from this place. We also bought some fresh fruit from the big grocery store in town (where we bought most of our supplies).
- Carbs: We cooked a combination of pastas, risottos and quinoa for dinner, occasionally mixed with soup packets/sauces. We ate oatmeal every morning, and had granola and granola bars to snack on as well. For snacks we had some crackers, chips and cookies.
- Drinks: We had instant coffee packets, tea bags and lemonade/flavored water packets.
There are options to buy food at the paid campsites, but they are more expensive. You can expect prices to be nearly double.
In the end we did just fine with what we packed. Obviously pack as light as you can, but we really used everything we packed, except for our hammock. We did the hike at the end of November, which is the end of spring/beginning of summer. The weather is warmer, and trails more crowded, during December and January.