Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/9aZ3T1q83CM
These are some of the best tips that were shared with me while sitting in a hostel lounge in Puerto Natales a couple of days before I would set out on the Torres del Paine trek.
Waterproof inside your bag
Instead of relying on a flimsy rain cover over your bag on the outside which usually takes a battering and is frustrating to put back on when the wind picks up, try lining the inside of your backpack with a bin/trash bag to keep contents dry. These are usually totally waterproof and will stop water seeping through in a rainstorm, especially in rainy Patagonia. It also helps ease that anxiety to change your mindset and accept that your bag is going to get wet regardless but knowing that everything inside will remain dry. A backpack is a lot easier to dry out than your expensive camera!
Chocolate is magic! It's compact and packed full of energy, perfect to fit in your bag. After you've been hiking for hours you can suddenly feel drained from low energy levels. A bite of chocolate will instantly pick you back up and give you a quick energy boost to keep you going to your end destination. Although not a substitute for eating proper meals, it really can be a lifesaver in an emergency. I've used this every time on a long hike and it really works!
Space and weight is limited when you're carrying your own food so try to pack calorie dense food that can keep. Pasta, rice, cured meat, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit are all great. While not exactly fine dining you'll appreciate any kind of food when you're hungry. Don't forget to treat yourself though!
If you're walking in an area where water is safe enough to drink from streams then remember to collect water upstream of campsites and grazing animals to avoid the risk of contamination. It might not be the best idea to fill up your bottle downstream of someone having their morning wash right by their camping spot. If you really want to cut the risk down and put your mind at ease then consider using purification tablets or a water filter. The last thing you want while camping is to start feeling ill!
This one might be an obvious one but I've heard stories where people are excited for a trip, buy some new boots, and the first time they put them on is the first day of a 10 day trek. No wonder they complain of blisters after the first day. Always wear in your hiking boots before you walk in them, and don't forget to get some quality socks to go with.
Plan your packing
One you'll appreciate when you need something desperately in the rain. Think about how you pack your bag before you set out on a trip. Items you won't need immediately like your dinner on the third night you should probably pack first so it's at the bottom of your bag. Things you need to grab in an instant when the time comes should be packed last at the top. A rain jacket at the bottom of your bag underneath your pyjamas and the book you want to read before bed while in a downpour is going to make you think twice about how you pack your bag, so why not get it right first time round.