In Patagonia: Windy Weather (and What to Pack to Survive)

by Chris on May 24, 2012

How I packed for the extreme winds and weather of Patagonia and Torres del Paine, in Chile.

This is the third in a series of articles on my visit to Torres del Paine and Patagonia, Chile.

 Patagonia weather, Torres del Paine, Chile

As I rose in the dark for the two-hour drive to Torres del Paine, the piercing winds coming off Last Hope Sound in Puerto Natales reminded me that the environment in Patagonia remains a force to be reckoned with, no matter how many luxuries that the Hotel Singular provided. Clearly, dressing for the day would be a challenge.

Patagonia weather, Chile

I had some serious packing issues before my trip. Based on the research that I had done, I figured that Patagonia in April – their fall – would be a lot like Alaska, only much windier (and it’s even windier during their summer months, believe it or not). My husband Don is a gear-hound – I swear his favorite part of going on vacation is accessing what stuff he’ll need to buy – and so I had plenty of warm clothes and layers from our Alaska Inside Passage cruise.

Patagonia weather, Torres del Paine, Chile

Yet while I have rain pants for kayaking and a windbreaker that I bought in New Zealand, I had never purchased true hiking pants, the kind from REI that everyone on the trail wears. Don decided that I needed to remedy that, so we went to the flagship REI before my trip. While I thought I’d hate the selection, I did find a pair of (how appropriate) Patagonia-brand wind pants.  “She’s going to actually wear them in Patagonia,” Don boasted to the clerk.

Patagonia weather, Chile

Besides the wind pants, I packed my REI fleece tights, a neck scarf, a wool hat, gloves and wool arm warmers. I also had my warmer  Scottevest coat, a fleece sweatshirt and an REI-brand, long-sleeve undershirt that I borrowed from Don.

There’s no shame in borrowing outdoor gear from friends or loved ones, especially if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Luckily, the one thing that you don’t want to skimp on – warm, quick-drying hiking socks – is relatively inexpensive.

I added a Shetland sweater for evenings in the hotel, along with jeans that I wore on the airplane (jeans aren’t the best choice for hiking, because if they get wet, they can take forever to dry out). Hiking boots and a pair of walking boots made up my footwear.

Patagonia weather, Chile

It all seemed like overkill when I was putting the suitcase together. But surprise! I ended up wearing everything at least once and – best of all – I didn’t get cold through activities that included hiking, boat rides, horseback riding and glacier sightseeing. That qualifies as a success in my book.

So how windy was it? There were times when the blasts of cold air from the snow-capped peaks above were so fierce that we had to double over just to walk a few feet. For proof, check out the video I took on the walk to the Salto Grande waterfall. You can’t hear it, but here’s what one person in our party is saying at the end – “Does anyone else have rocks in their butt?” I’m not sure how you pack for that.




| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) May 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Such a beautiful place. My husband and I really want to go trekking there one day. How sweet that your husband bragged that you would be wearing the pants in Patagonia. We use REI for most of our hiking clothing, too. Good choice.


Chris May 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Yeah, it is sweet of him, isn’t it? We live in the home of the REI flagship, so we go there often.


Chris Collins May 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

Any chance you will do a review of the Singular (similar to the Explora in Rapa Nui)? We are thinking of taking a trip there in October and would love to hear/see another opinion of the hotel. Thanks!


Chris May 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Hi Chris – I will be writing a review of The Singular, probably within the next week or so. Stay tuned!


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