Ideally maybe it would have been nicer to camp with either warmer weather, or proper cold weather camping gear. We did camp a few nights but were really freezing cold (there was ice involved) so whenever possible we stayed in hostels (which were so expensive, like US$30/night compared to the rest of SA, avg US$10). The coldniss and rainyniss also made hiking slightly less enjoyable, though for the most part we had pretty good weather, considering.
We started our two week truck rental in Puerto Montt (see travel map, southern Chile) and decided to also return it there since it would cost an extra US$500 to drop it off in another town, jeeeesh. We got the extra insurance to be able to cross the border into Argentina (about $100 extra) and then headed out! Our itinerary was a bit screwed up since we didn't have much success researching the best routes to take etc. So if you are reading this as a travel guide for yourself I have a number of recommendations at the bottom of this so you don't waste time like we did!
Chiloe Island and 3 wasted days
Bariloche and the mountains!
Bohemian El Bolson
Lake General Carrera and the Marble Chapels
North to Volcán Chaitén!
Futuleufu and back to Puerto Montt
Next, since we had determined that heading north in Chile to Puerto Montt from Chaiten would cost us another $200 in ferries alone even though it is sooo close by on a map, we headed into Argentina to backtrack our way back to Puerto Montt. We went through El Bolsón (another reason for this route home was that I left my iphone in El Bolsón at a hostel, oops!) where we stayed for the night and then carried on. It was a long haul, but we really enjoyed seeing this side of the mountain range withought rain or clouds. Also, we were listening to an awesome audiobook (The Goldfinch) so we were happy to have some more listening time.
Afterthought & Recommendations
If you are planning to do a similar trip in Patagonia I would have a few general recommendations to make before you do:
Get the border crossing permit - in Northern Patagonia Bariloche and El Bolsón on the Argentine side are amazing, while Chaitén and the Capillas del Marmol further down you cannot miss on the Chilean side. Crossing the border is easy and relatively painless and they don't mind if you are constantly going back and forth.
Pay the Reciprocity fee for Argentina online - If you are from Canada, the USA or Australia you have to pay a $115-180 (depending on your country) reciprocity fee to enter Argentina and you must do it online before crossing into Argentina. Print it out and bring to the border with you. The one time payment lasts 10 years. We forgot to do this an the people at the border were nice enough to let us use their computers, but not all agents will be as nice, especially in busy seasons, and not all crossings have internet. They would normally tell you to go back to the closest town in Chile (which might not be very close at all) to pay and print out your info.
Check ferry schedules - On the Chilean side of Northern Patagonia (further south as well) ferries can limit where/when you can go. If we had timed things better we might have been ok to go from the Chiloe Island to Chaiten, but since we missed the ferry we had to waste two days going back up and around the Islands via the Argentine side. Not much fun. We found out that while we were here, the Chiloe Island ferry at Quellon leaves bound for Chaiten on Thursdays at midnight. They might be more frequent in the summer.
Skip Chiloe Island - It was nothing special in my view and really didn't represent anything about the Patagonia in my mind (no mountains!!).
Try and make it further south! - We ran out of time due to our bad planning but it would have been amazing to see Torres Del Paine or other mountain ranges in the south and do a few multi-day hikes. In fact, I hope to return one spring and make it all the way to the southern point. This wouldn't be so practical in the fall or winter, it would be worth doing in a warmer season for sure.