Packing for overlanding, hiking or mountaineering in South America? Whatever your chosen style of adventure, it’s always essential to be prepared with all the necessary expedition equipment packed and ready to go. From hiking boots to rucksacks and cooking utensils, these are the tools you need for your next South American expedition.
Expedition equipment: hiking gear
As this continent is home to some of the globe’s most revered treks such as Machu Picchu and the ‘W’ in Torres del Paine, whatever style of trip you take in South America is guaranteed to involve at least some hiking. Prepare to stay warm, dry and with comfortable feet throughout by packing the following:
- Daysack, 30-40 liters – unless you’re planning a multi-day hike, a small rucksack should suffice. Invest in one with a comfortable belt strap and make sure you fully adjust the straps so that it sits snugly on your back.
- Hiking boots and thick socks – depending on the intensity of the trekking you intend to do, sturdy ankle boots or low-cut hiking shoes will suffice. Just make sure that they are made from waterproof leather or with a Gore-Tex membrane to keep rain out. Additionally, whether you’re a two sock wearer or a one, pack a few thick pairs specifically for using with your boots.
- Hiking poles – if you’re trekking in dry or wet climates, poles can help give you stability and reduce the impact on your legs, knees and feet, particularly when carrying weight on your back.
- Waterproof jacket and pants – given the range of climates across South America, a waterproof jacket is an essential item. If you’re planning on hiking in mainly hot conditions such as the Amazon Rainforest, a very lightweight, breathable jacket will stop you overheating. However, if you plan to explore Patagonia in the far south, a thicker raincoat and waterproof pants will keep you warm and dry.
- Down jacket and fleece sweater – for extra warmth in cold South American climates (particularly in the south or at altitude) a down jacket and a fleece are extra layers to help trap and preserve body heat.
Expedition equipment: camping gear
There are plenty of opportunities to camp in South America, particularly in Argentina and Chile where campgrounds abound. To enjoy getting close to nature, the following items should be on your expedition equipment list:
- Three-season tent – if heading into Patagonia, a three-season, double skin tent should keep you warm and dry. If you plan on doing any multi-day hiking treks (such as the Circuit in Torres del Paine or to Monte Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares National Park), it’s worth purchasing a lightweight model.
- Sleeping bag – a quality sleeping bag is another important piece of camping gear and a three-season, down bag is perfect for cold weather conditions. Consider a more lightweight option if camping in hotter climes.
- Sleeping mat – nothing makes camping more appealing than knowing you’re going to be snuggling down on a comfortable bed rather than lumpy ground. Invest in an inflatable mat for the best night’s sleep.
- Cooking stove and equipment – some campgrounds in South America include cooking facilities, while others don’t. Do your research and come prepared with a cooking stove, lightweight pots and pans, plates, mugs and cutlery if you plan on doing any al fresco dining.
Expedition equipment: additional extras
To be readyfor any adventure eventuality, you may want to consider the following:
- Water purifier – if you plan to drive out into remote parts of South America or pitch up outside of designated camping grounds, a purifier means you always have access to clean, drinkable water.
- Plug adapter – regardless of where you go on your expedition, don’t forget to keep all of your electricals charged with a plug adapter. Unfortunately, the type that you need varies across South America, so do your research about the places you’ll be visiting before you leave or buy a universal adapter.