If you are reading this guide, you are probably already aware of what the Huemul Circuit is. A 4 day, 3 night adventure that takes you to some of the best landscapes and panorama viewpoints that Patagonia has to offer.
Since this is a multi-day hike, you must come prepared with a comprehensive Huemul Circuit packing list. This will include camping gear, clothes, food, and other hiking essentials. Everything of which you must carry in your backpack for the duration of the hike.
Read on to learn more about the hike and what this Huemul Circuit packing list entails to get you ready for your time out on the trail.
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1) Huemul Circuit Overview
The Huemul Circuit is located just on the outskirts of El Chalten, Argentina and covers around 40 miles (60 km), and 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) of elevation gain and loss.
Over the course of 4 days and 3 nights the circuit takes you through valleys, along rivers, over mountain passes, and even includes two Tyrolean traverses over the Rio Tunel river.
The circuit also gives you the only chance in El Chalten to enjoy expansive views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields – the second largest contiguous extrapolar ice field on earth!
I don’t want to get too much more in depth about the circuit in this article. But I did put together one of the most comprehensive Huemul Circuit guides on the internet that talks about everything you will need to know about the trail. Check it out to learn more!
This is a hike that takes you into the openness of nature. There are no bathrooms, mountain huts, restaurants or other amenities along the trail. This means you must bring everything you will need for the 4 days along in your backpack.
Read on to learn more about what exactly you should bring with you to have the most comfortable and stress free time out on the trail.
2) A Huemul Circuit Packing List
There are several different categories to consider when going about a Huemul Circuit packing list. Camping & hiking gear, clothing & layers, food & hydration, as well as the required items for the Tyrolean traverse.
You will want to make sure you have a solid understanding of each of these categories as you build up your packing list.
In the following sections I will dive into all of it in more detail. Below is my recommended packing list for the circuit, but understandingly each person may be a bit different with what type of gear & clothing they bring along. At the end of the day, this should still help you greatly when it comes to putting together a packing list on your own.
Check out this guide to the best El Chalten hikes to consider during a visit to Patagonia
3) Hiking & Camping Gear
The first section of gear I will dive into is all of the different hiking and camping gear to consider. Since the circuit does entail several nights, you will need to bring along the appropriate gear to have a good and comfortable sleep.
Note that much of these can be rented or bought in El Chalten if you do not have everything already. I will talk a bit more about renting in El Chalten in the last section of this guide.
Hiking Backpack | Hyperlite Southwest 3400 (and Backpack Rain Cover)
The first item to consider is going to be your hiking backpack. I would recommend a backpack in the 50L+ range in order to fit all of your gear. While you may be able to bring all along a bag that is a bit smaller, you will need to be certain that all of your gear fits.
The newest pack in my collection is the Hyperlite Southwest 3400 which is a 55 liter pack with an additional 10 liters in the outside pockets.
3-Season Tent | Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL
A comfortable and sturdy tent will an important part of your overnight experience. I would recommend going lightweight here as you will need to carry it along for 40 miles over the course of 4 days.
You will also want to consider the ease of use and setup. The Big Agnes Copper Spur collection is a great place to start. While the tent is more on the expensive side, it is one of the most lightweight and sturdy tents out there.
Depending on preferences you can either buy a tent that fits just the amount of people you are with. Or you can opt to get one size bigger to have more internal room for yourself at night.
A good night’s sleep will mostly rely on your comfort and that is where sleeping bags will come into play. The idea that I go by is to have a strong weight to warmth ratio. You will want to consider sleeping bags that are around that 30 degree Fahrenheit range (0 Celcius).
It certainly can get colder at night and staying warm will be of upmost importance. Thermarest makes some great sleeping bags, but you are sure to find plenty other options if those don’t work for you.
Note with sleeping bags that the degree mentioned on a bag, does not necessarily equate to “comfort level”. Rather they usually refer to the “lower range” of comfort. So, I would always pay attention to those details when purchasing or renting a bag.
Sleeping Bag Liner | Sea to Summit Liner
For increased warmth and to keep your sleeping bag clean, be sure to buy a comfortable liner that will go inside the bag during your night’s sleep.
Sleeping Pad | Thermarest NeoAir Xlite
While sleeping bags are important, so are sleeping pads. You do not want to just lay a sleeping bag on the floor of your tent. The cold ground will certainly be felt if you do so.
Instead, opt to invest in a lightweight and reliable sleeping pad. Thermarest makes some of the best out there, and their pads would be perfect for the circuit.
Camping Pillow | Thermarest Camping Pillow
Lastly from a sleeping standpoint, you will also want to bring along a comfortable camping pillow. While blow up pillows save space and are as lightweight as it gets, I do find them to have lower comfort. Thermarest also makes a great camping pillow that rolls up small and is very comfortable for what it is.
Hiking Poles | Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles
While hiking poles are optional, many would consider them a requirement. There is quite a bit of elevation gain and loss throughout the trek, and hiking poles will help out greatly in these situations.
There are a couple times when hiking poles will be extremely beneficial. On day 2, if you decide to walk across the river instead of taking the zipline, poles will help you keep your balance. On day 3, you will encounter one of the steepest descents you will ever come across. Having hiking poles to help get you down will be a great benefit to your body.
Hiking Map | Purchase in El Chalten
A hiking map can also be beneficial to have during the circuit. This will help you understand the layout of the land, and give you a better understanding of the landscape all around you.
While phone navigation is the way to go (through apps like Maps.me), having a backup paper map is never a bad idea. These can be purchased in El Chalten prior to your departure.
From a clothing perspective, you will want to bring along what is needed for four days and three nights on the trail. Every person will be a bit different here with the types of clothing and layers of clothing that they prefer. But below is going to be a great starting point to build off of.
When it comes to hiking clothing in general, you will want to be sure to focus in on moisture wicking materials (polyester, wool, etc). Try to stay away from cotton as much as possible.
It is also important to note how essential layers will be on a hike like this. The Patagonian weather can change quite often and you never know when that calm sunny weather can turn to windy rainy weather. Be sure to come prepared with all the appropriate layers to keep you comfortable in various weather scenarios.
- Hiking Boxers (2-3)
- Hiking Socks (2-3)
- Hiking Pants (1)
- Hiking Shorts (1)
- Long Sleeve Sun Hoodie (1)
- Short Sleeve Hiking Shirt (1)
- Puff Jacket (1)
- Hard Shell Jacket (1)
- Baseball Hat
- Quick Dry Towel
- Packing Cubes & Laundry Bag
5) Hiking Shoes
A hike like the Huemul Circuit must be done with the appropriate footwear. Be sure to invest in quality hiking shoes for your time on the trail. Some of my recommended shoes include:
You may also want to think about bringing some sort of fitting sandal that can be used at campsites and in the situation where you may cross the rivers by foot instead of zipline. Take a look at some Keen sandals as a solid option.
Most of my electronics were used for photography and navigation purposes. Be sure to also pay attention to the last item listed out – a Garmin inReach. This is key for anyone hiking a trail like this due to the absence of cellular service on the hike.
Photography Gear: Check out my latest travel photography gear list to see what is my camera bag these days
Satellite Communicator | Garmin inReach 2 Mini
For a trail like the Huemul Circuit it is so important to have a satellite communicator like the Garmin inReach 2 Mini. This small device gives you the chance to communicate with family, track your route, and call for SOS in case of emergency.
I love the idea that you can stay in touch with family and even get weather updates throughout a trek like this. Since weather can make or break a hike, having the ability to get an updated weather forecast can better help you along the trail.
Food & Drink
Remember, you will also need to bring all food for four days out on the trail. There are supermarkets in El Chalten where you can stock up on certain items. If you want to come prepared with food that you prefer, then check out my usual food purchases below.
I would recommend going with high calorie / low weight types of food. You don’t want to carry too much unnecessary weight so make sure the food you are bringing along will fill you up and not weigh you down.
Again, this is one area where everyone will be different when it comes to preferences. Here is what I usually bring along on multi day hikes but to each their own.
- Variety of Bars including PROBAR Bars, Honey Stinger Bars, Clif Builder Protein Bars
- Fruit & Nut Mixes
Note that you will easily be able to fill up your water bottle consistently throughout the trek. Along most of the hike you will find rivers and streams, where you can get some fresh Patagonian water.
During my time on the circuit, I just filled up directly from these without any filtration. However, if you do want to play it safe, you can get a filtered water bottle like the Katadyn BeFree water bottle. I also brought along some Liquid IV hydration packets to keep hydrated at the beginning of the day.
- Cooking Stove: Jetboil Micromo
- Spork: TiTo titanium spork
- Cooking Gas (purchase in El Chalten)
This last section of the packing list will be toiletries. Each person will also be different here, but below are the main items I brought along with me.
- Deodorizing Body Wipes | Alcala Bamboo Deodorizing Body Wipes
- Body Deodorant
- Toothbrush / Toothpaste
- Contact Lenses / Solution
- Travel Shampoo & Soap
- Personal Creams & Medications
- Lip Balm
- Nail Clipper
- Small Mirror
- Toilet Paper
Required Gear for Tyrolean Traverse
The last group of items to talk through on this Huemul Circuit packing list is the required gear for the Tyrolean traverse on days 2 & 4 of the circuit.
This gear can also be rented from the various outdoor shops around town, but if you want to play it safe, you can purchase it beforehand. Essentially, there will be 5 different items to consider (of which the first four are all connected to one another).
- Safety Rope
- Steel Carabiner
- Aluminum Carabiner
- 35 Meter Cord
Here is a quick recap on how everything works:
A harness is what will keep your body secure onto the steel wire zipline. Attached to the front of the harness will be an aluminum carabiner that will hook into the pulley system located on the steel wire.
Also attached to the harness will be a safety rope with the steel carabiner attached. The steel carabiner will then connect to the steel wire. This is your backup lifeline in case the pulley happens to break.
Lastly, is the 35 meter cord. This cord is only needed for groups of people to bring the pulley back to the starting point. So the cord will connect to the pulley, one person will go across the river, and then the next person in line will pull the pulley back with the rope.
While it would be much simpler if there was just one 35 meter cord attached, that is not always the case. During the first traverse, groups of people were constantly switching the cord out in between groups. On the second traverse, there was already a cord attached, so everyone was able to just use the single one.
Learn more about the ziplines in the Huemul Circuit overview I referred to at the beginning of this guide.
Renting Gear in El Chalten
For many people out there, renting gear in El Chalten is going to be required. Whether that is a tent, sleeping bag, layers, or the Tyrolean traverse items.
Throughout town you will find several different shops that do rent out this exact gear. In regards to renting gear, I did want to mention a few helpful things to note:
Certain Items Can Sell Out: this is especially tents and the Tyrolean traverse gear. I would actually recommend even renting gear a day or two earlier than needed just to have it and not need to worry about any last minute issues. In my mind, it is better to be prepared with the gear and pay extra, than not have the gear available at all.
Weather Window: If there are several weather windows back to back, this may not be an issue. However, if you have everyone waiting for just one weather window to open up, you will find everyone trying to rent the gear all at once.
When I was in town, some people were waiting for a week to get the appropriate weather window for the trek. I came across a couple of groups who had to just rent one set of Tyrolean traverse items for the entire group due to the pent up demand.
Per Night Charge: Gear rental is usually charged at a per night basis with the cutoff around 5PM on the final day. So, once you are back from the hike, be sure to just head on over to the shop to return the gear to avoid an extra night’s charges. Each rental place may have different rules so be sure to understand them before you rent.
Shops: Feel free to check out Camping Center and Viente Oeste as two of the top shops in town. However, you will come across some smaller shops as well during your time walking the streets.
Below are a couple price lists from the outdoor shops. Note that prices certainly have changed (and will change) over time due to the devaluation of the Argentinian Peso. During my time on the circuit though, rental prices came out to around $6 USD per day for the Tyrolean traverse items.
Huemul Circuit Packing List Recap
To recap, below is a screenshot of the entire Huemul Circuit packing list mentioned above. Feel free to use this and print it out as you are building up your gear list.
I hope you now have a better understanding of what a Huemul Circuit packing list entails. If you have any questions about the list or the hike in general, feel free to add them in below.
Also don’t forget to check out the other Patagonia itineraries and guides up on the site.
Have fun out there and safe travels!