Patagonia Trekking Equipment Report

1) Tent: Terra Nova Superlite Quasar, weighing 2.5 kg. I was happy with it but Les thought it somewhat flimsy. It was reasonably easy to erect and dismantle.

2) Osprey 60 litre backpack weighing 1.8 kg. It would have been easier to squeeze in all the gear if it were 70 litres rather than 60, but small is good. Comfortable and practical.

3) Western Mountainering Ultralite sleeping bag. Very light and small but not so warm.

4) Thermarest Prolite 4 seasons self-inflating mat. Expensive but light, compact, and comfortable. It insulated me from the ground. It requires a bit of blowing up.

5) MSR stove. This is light, very easy to use and worked flawlessly. The separate tripod (the stove does not go on top of the gas tank) is stable, the shield and top (used as pot cover) were also very useful.

6) Scarpa Escape high altitude Goretex trekking boots. These are heavy and rugged, the soles almost inflexible. I had done about 70 km on four walks before going to Patagonia and this was sufficient walking-in, as I got no blisters at all in South America, though I occasionally used plasters to prevent rubbing. These shoes gave me a real feeling of safety, especially on boulders and loose scree. Despite many slips, twists and falls on extremely rough terrain, plus some climbing, I never felt in danger of spraining my ankle. They are definitely water-proof.

7) Paddy Pallin Goretex jacket. It was good for wind and rain but the hood kept flapping around - fixing it in place is an intelligence test that I failed.

8) Warm, preferably waterproof gloves are definitely needed, especially for the Garner Pass.

9) The 50 cm x 40 cm micro fibre towel was sufficient to dry my entire body.

10) The dehydrated meals were easy to prepare and the taste was acceptable. I felt a bit hungry at times after eating a portion labelled as being "for two people", as I am a good eater. I ate two muesli bars for breakfast and two for lunch. The bars were practical, as for their weight they are very filling. However, they are way too sweet and I got thorougly sick of them by the end. What is good about them is that after eating two you cannot face the idea of eating a third one! They weigh 35-50 gms each, so my daily food weighed 180 + 4 x 43 = 352 gms, which is half what Lonely Planet suggests. I also took along one bar of 70% chocolate, one halva bar and one packet of macadamia nuts. These were an excellent supplement.

11) Water purification tablets. Water treated with the chlorine ones tasted awful. The iodine ones gave a bit of an unpleasant taste but this was acceptable. I did not use taste neutralisers, though I tried vitamin C powder, which didn't help with either of the two tablets. Les drank untreated water all the way through in Paine and Los Glaciares, with no ill effects. Despite avoiding untreated water, my diahorrea persisted for quite some time.

12) The water bag for carrying water is handy but not necessary, as the campsites are never more than a five minute walk from a stream.

13) Rid brand insect repellent. This worked OK on the clouds of mosquitoes present at some of the campsites.

14) Canon 40D digital SLR camera with 70-300mm and 18-55mm lenses and spare battery. This stood up well to being bashed around and took 3,000 photos without a hitch. Once you become used to a long telephoto (300mm translates to 480 mm in film terms), you never want to go back. I also took a Canon Ixus 850 IS. I broke the lcd screen during one of my falls. It was still usable after that, as I could use the viewfinder. However, it did less well after being dropped into a few inches of water. Luckily, the memory card survived the bath. I used two cameras mainly to avoid changing lenses, as this is cumbersome, time consuming and gets dust on the sensor. The battery in the 40D lasted until the last day of the Paine trek ie 7 days of active use (about a thousand shots). I do not recommend using standard AA batteries.

15) The ordinary compass (ie not a special one adapted to Patagonia) worked well enough. We did not need to use it often. Route finding in the Paine is very straightforward, except for the Valle del Silencio.

16) The JLM Torres del Paine and the Zagier and Urruty Patagonian South Icefield (for Los Glaciares) trekking maps were both good. Even the free map handed out at the park office is enough for the Paine circuit (except for the Valle del Silencio).

Tad Boniecki
July 2009

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