Foto equipo montaña
Backpacking is essential to plan our outings correctly.

Summer is approaching and many people start planning their vacations in El Chaltén. Some will opt for cabins and day trekking (see: What to take in the trekking backpack?) and the more adventurous will have in mind “at least 1 night I want to camp inside the park“.

And that is where thousands of doubts arise: “What backpack do I need?“, “What do I have to carry in my backpack?“, “What sleeping bag do I have to carry?“, ecc.

Let’s go by parts: The first thing is to choose our itinerary. It is not the same to make a trip like Laguna de los Tres – Laguna Torre (3 days and 2 nights – Los Glaciares NP backbone network) than to make the famous Huemul Circuit Trek (4 days and 3 nights – Remote Area of Los Glaciares NP), where beyond the extra weight of food (see: Food for trekking and crossings) we must consider items such as equipment for crossing the zip lines, VHF radio, GPS or a portable charger for the cell phone, etc.

To simplify things, the following categorization is made:

  • Base equipment (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc): The weight and volume do not vary no matter if we stay 2 or 7 days.
  • Consumables (food, water and gas bottles): The more days, the more consumables we will need.
  • Extra equipment / technical (crampons, ropes, carabiners, etc): Necessary material depending on the trekking to be done.

So as we can see the only thing that varies in terms of the weight of the backpack, are the consumables. If I am going to be 3 days, I will carry X weight of food that will decrease as I eat. And that factor is relative to each person: There are those who prefer to carry extra weight and eat a good gourmet meal accompanied by a good wine and others like me, who live on mate and noodles or rice (and the occasional sachet of freeze-dried food). There is nothing written about tastes, especially taking into account that we go to the mountain to have a good time!


The following checklist contains basic elements designed for trekking outings with overnight stay included during the Patagonian summer, each person should adapt this checklist according to their needs and the number of days they are going to be in the mountains:

  • Backpack: According to the number of days we are going to be there. Beyond the materials and brands, the backpack should be comfortable and the weight should rest on the fanny pack (if we feel pain in the shoulders, it is a bad symptom). In terms of liters, a standard hiking backpack is 50-60 liters for women and 70-80 liters for men. Remember: The maximum weight to be carried should not exceed 25% of body weight.
  • Tent: Minimum of 3 seasons, with good ventilation to avoid condensation and good waterproofing. To put the backpacks inside, it is recommended that it is +1 person (If we are 2 people, we need a tent for 3 people) or failing that it has a good apse.
  • Sleeping bag / Sleeping bag: They can be synthetic (cheaper but heavier) or down (lighter but more expensive). As for thermal range, be guided by the comfort temperature: Between 0º and -5º for a summer night in El Chaltén. Anyway, this depends on how cold we are and in case we feel cold, we can resort to other clothes we have in the tent.
  • Thermal insulation or self-inflating mattress: To insulate us from the cold of the floor and for greater comfort.
  • Food: The amount of food varies depending on the days we are going to stay. Consider “strong” meals (elaborate meals) for the nights at the camp and “on-the-go” meals (nuts, cereal bars) to eat along the way.
    Recommendation: Portion out in portions (use zip lock bags) for better distribution and avoid carrying closed packages, cartons or things that generate bulk in the backpack.
  • Cooking: To cook we will need a set of pots and pans and a heater, fire is prohibited throughout the park.
  • Water: All trails have drinking water fountains. With a small bottle of 750cc or 1 liter we can refill water.
  • Clothing: Avoid cotton clothes. The amount and type depends on each person: Some people use the same clothes for a week and others need to change once a day. Take this into account when calculating the weight and space inside the backpack.
    Recommendation: First skins and clean socks for sleeping (do not use the same clothes for walking) and a spare pair of socks.
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat/buff and any other item that protects us from the sun’s rays.
  • Waste bags: To return with all our garbage. Applies also for fruit peels, used weed and everything that is not part of the ecosystem. None of us would like a person to come to our house and start throwing their garbage everywhere…
  • Personal hygiene kit: Toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, comb, etc. As with everything: Do not carry 1 kilo of toothpaste if we are only going to be camping for 2 nights. Every gram that can be avoided will be appreciated!
    Important: Avoid soaps and detergents that contaminate the water. To brush your teeth or wash your pots, at least 50 steps away from the river or stream.
  • First Aid kit: The subject of first aid kit and medicines depends a lot on each person and perhaps needs a separate post explained by a specialist. But depending on the trip we are going to make, we may or may not have medical assistance nearby. In any case, the first aid kit is an indispensable element and should contain at least: bandages, bandages, gauze, disinfectant, painkillers/anti-inflammatories, and any other medication for personal use.
    Recommendation: For those who suffer from blisters, consider extra bandages or anti-blister kits.
  • Repair kit: Essential for long trips. A utility knife, some duct tape or duct tape, thread and needle to sew something, there are even tents that come with their own repair kit.
  • Trekking poles: Very useful both uphill and downhill. These poles can be rented in the village or, failing that, we can use a branch that we find on the ground.
  • Cell phone or camera: Those who like photography have a hard time when it comes to carrying lenses, tripods, etc. Consider the weight and volume factor, also consider extra batteries or portable charger.
    Recommendation: To avoid discharging the batteries during very cold nights, put them inside the sleeping bag.
  • Headlamp (with extra batteries): Indispensable for camping or if we plan to go to see a sunrise. Important: Check the sunrise and sunset time, continuously in both Poincenot and D’Agostini you see many people going down in the dark because they stayed up late and ran out of phone battery.

As mentioned above, each person should adapt the checklist according to the trip to be made, the climate and also the season of the year. Take these data only as a reference.

In case you are planning single day trips without overnight stay, see: What to carry in the trekking backpack?.