Nearly nowhere on the planet is the earth so pristine and awe-inspiring than Patagonia. Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park are the region’s top highlights, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. And most trekkers pack wisely and make a logistical plan to get the most of this remote piece of heaven. We recently caught up with a group of backpackers that brought us along on their journey and we can’t be more excited to share it with you.
This is what our backpacking friends had to tell us about their trip:
Our group of five wearing Coolibar, including little trekker 2-year-old baby Sóle, traversed the popular “W” trail of Torres Del Paine National Park over the course of 8 days. While we methodically planned and packed, what we didn’t plan for was the high winds, temperature swings – and we were there in the summer months! This was Coolibar put to the test in extremes, and we can universally say, bravo, we LOVE our Coolibar.
Juanpablo, dad to Sóle, was the master planner. Here’s what Juanpablo recommended for a pack list: 1) Light pieces to layer for cold evenings. You’ll likely wear your clothes, sleep in them and wear them again – if you’re really trekking. So bring things that breathe and insulate at the same time. We had some of Coolibar’s Merino Wool pieces. They insulate in cold, then wick and breathe in heat – made from New Zealand sheep and all the good sun protection Coolibar offers; 2) Breathable, wicking UPF 50+ sun protective clothing for high and hot points on the trip, and even just for sunny days despite temperatures. This is where Coolibar is your best friend; 3) A waterproof jacket and trekking boots; 4) The highest rated sunscreen for you and the environment. We recommend anything with Zinc Oxide as the active ingredient; it’s easy on sensitive skin, often these brands are non-toxic to people and environments and new formulas go on very smoothly; 5) Invest in the best sunglasses you can afford; eyes are needed for a lifetime. You’ll want lenses that don’t distort the color of the scenery but offer the best UV protection for your eyes from reflective surfaces like water and snow-capped mountain peaks. This is not the time to dabble in drugstore sunscreen or sunglasses; 6) A hat for blocking the sun is also a must-have. Your head will thank you; 7) Insect repellent and long sleeves to protect against these little biters called midges.
As with any mountain hiking (or skiing), be mindful the higher the altitude, the closer you are to the sun, the more UV sun exposure you receive. What’s more, snow surfaces can reflect up to 80 percent of UV radiation back at you – that’s roughly double the dose of what you’d receive in the course of an average day. By comparison, water is about 10 percent and dry beach sand is about 15 percent. All these surfaces bounce UV rays back at your face. Sunscreen and eye coverage is vital.
On the trail, temperatures vary between 5 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the course of a single day. Regardless of temp, we layered up our Coolibar. UVA rays are omnipresent, and UVB at these altitudes is much stronger. In hindsight, a gaiter would have been a great addition – both for sun protection and for shifting temperatures. We had some turtlenecks, but they are cotton and not nearly as UV protective as a Coolibar gaiter.
In addition to our camp gear and dehydrated meals in backpacks that we left at camp, we recommend a lightweight, packable daypack. These proved invaluable for water and snacks, particularly with Sóle. With all the exertion of climbing and hiking, having energy sources on hand is essential. Also, sunscreen was packed in daypacks, pockets and lip balm was on virtually 24/7.
For all our preparation, we were compensated in one-of-a-kind vistas of sweeping freshwater lakes, teal lagoons, ice floes, glimmering glaciers, lush valleys, and finally, the soaring mountain “towers” for which the park is named.
Our adventure proved how well Coolibar performs in extreme sun and heat, is a great layer in cold winds and evenings. Thank you for outfitting our trekking team. We are fans for life.