What to Pack for South America: 32 Backpacking Essentials
Written by Lia Garcia
Before we left for 5 months of South America backpacking, we spent months researching what to pack for South America (or rather, I did – Jeremy’s less persnickety about these things). Well, after 5 months of backpacking through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, we can safely say that we’ve fully field tested everything that we packed for backpacking in South America!
While we made a few mistakes on that trip – there are quite a few things that we wish we did or didn’t pack – we also packed a lot of travel gear that was perfect for backpacking South America!
Since that first trip a few years ago during our year-long honeymoon, we’ve been back to South America many times – and on one occasion, we even took a group of Jeremy’s high school students with us. We’ve now perfected our packing for South America!
In this packing guide, we’ll share our favorite travel gear for South America with you. This isn’t meant to be a complete list of what to pack for South America (you know, like, “bring a t-shirt” and so on – you can find plenty of those elsewhere), but rather a specific compilation of our favorite, field-tested gear recommendations.
Whether we use them daily or they’re just incredibly handy in a pinch, this list has all of our favorites: the best things that we always pack for backpacking in South America! I hope you find our packing tips handy when creating your packing list for South America.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.