CHI: Here’s How to Backpack Patagonia

This February, we were graced by Mappy Hour Chicago members David and Marissa Blakeman’s serious knowledge of what it takes to plan an international backpacking trip on Patagonia’s Huemul Circuit and W-Trek.

One folks got settled after logging their Chicago Explore More Challenge adventures, grabbing a Revolution Brewing beer, and meeting a new Mappy Hour friend or two, David and Marissa shared some of their best insights.

But before you read on to learn how, do yourself a favor and watch this insane video recap the two shot and edited during and post-trip. 

Top 5 Tips for How to Plan an International Backpacking Trip

  • Choose your trip vibe. Where do you want to go (warm climate, no bugs, avoiding rain)? And how many days (quick 3-day trip, multi-week hike)?
  • Do plenty of research. How do you want to travel (plane, train, car)? What cities do you want to start your hike from? Are there crazy obstacles you’ll need to cross on trails? Backpacking forums and researching geotags and hashtags on Instagram are a good place to start.
  • What is your skill level? You probably know what you’re capable of better than anyone else. Make sure to research elevation gain and read trail reviews.
  • Check if you need to book in advance. Things like spots in backcountry huts and hotel rooms, bus tickets, and guided excursions. Popular trail transportation, trip guides, and accommodations book super quick – so be prepared.
  • Expect the unexpected. Hopefully, you’ve done enough planning to be prepared for anything. Some last-minute to-do’s: double-check your packing list before you leave; pack the essentials in your carry on bag (if you’re flying); print copies of your passport, travel itinerary, and tickets; and share your itinerary with friends + family (you can also stay connected if you’re in a different county with apps like WhatsApp). If the unexpected does happen, go with the flow – it will all be okay. 

Still lost? That’s okay – David shared his presentation with us to pass around (view it here). He also mentioned these trips take 10+ months (on average), so start early, and don’t rush to figure it all out.

A huge thanks to David and Marissa for the backpacking inspiration to get out to Patagonia (or wherever your backpacking dreams will take you).

Our next Mappy Hour Chicago event is already on the books – Women in the Outdoors: Building Community – as a follow-up to International Women’s Day on March 11, 2020 (6:30 pm at The North Face Wicker Park).

Hope to see you there!

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