What to Pack / National Parks
If you are making plans to go on an outdoor adventure this summer and have no idea what to pack, this list of hiking essentials from outdoor enthusiast and Roam Guide Kelly Moorman will help you get packing. We have added a few additional contributor favorites as well.
1. A warm base layer- this depends on what time of year you are traveling, but be aware temperatures can dip at night even in the summer. This SmartWool layer is super soft and will keep you warm without overheating. If hiking in the heat, the short-sleeve version can help keep you cool.
2. A guide book- if you want to learn the in and outs of the parks before your visit, I highly recommend purchasing a Falcon Guide to review. A comprehensive overview of the region, and valuable information for planning.
3. Waterproof hiking boots- I’ve gotten many years of use out of the Montara boot from Ahnu. This lightweight, waterproof boot offers a little more flexibility than a super stiff boot, making it extremely comfortable.
4. A good daypack- You absolutely need a daypack for all your adventuring. I am a huge fan of Cotopaxi, whose tagline is “Gear for Good.” They dedicate 2% of their revenue to alleviating poverty and they take a stand against the wastefulness by making their gear out of scraps of leftover fabric, which is pretty bada$$. My husband and I each have a Luzon 18L Daypack, which is the perfect size for day hikes. This simple pack doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but it more than gets the job done, is of sturdy construction, and is at a great price point. If you choose the “Del Dia” option, the team at Cotopaxi will surprise you with a one-of-a-kind pack of their creation. If you prefer to have control over the final look of your pack, you can also purchase one of their standard designs.
5. A water bottle- Hydro flask, Kleen Kanteen, CamelBak...take your pick, just make sure you stay hydrated! I have this 2.0L water reservoir from Platypus and use it religiously on hikes. I love being able to take a sip of water at any point without having to stop and take my pack off. I also have the .5L and 1L water bottle from Cotopaxi, and will be the first to tell you that these things can take a beating. This stainless steel water bottle keeps drinks cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 12, and it comes in a wide variety of fun colors.
6. Packable Rain Gear-Hikers and backpackers should be prepared for any weather and this affordable option from Marmot is durable, waterproof, breathable and roomy enough to add layers.
7. A pair of comfortable hiking socks-these hiking socks from Bombas are great quality, and the company has an inspiring social mission: for every pair of socks purchased, one pair is donated (did you know socks are the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters?). They're a bit pricey, but Bombas often offers coupons and you can rest assured knowing your money has gone to a durable, high-quality pair of socks not just for you, but also for someone in need. Pro-tip: I always keep an extra pair of socks in my hiking pack.
8. Portable speaker- For those who want to bring their music with them, this rugged and waterproof speaker from JBL has great sound quality and clips easily on a backpack or belt loop.
9. First Aid Kit- it is always better to be safe then sorry, this Surviveware kit is compact, durable and thoughtfully packed with basic essentials while not being overweight. Additionally, this is a family-run company that gives back to the Handsfree non-profit.
10. A vest- a great option as it’s often not cold enough to warrant a jacket, but also not warm enough for just a shirt. I have an older version of this Eddie Bauer Vest and I love it.
11. Waterproof Gaiters- Wherever I go, my gaiters go to. Gaiters are always a good idea, not to mention a must-have for any adventurer.
12. Retractable/collapsible hiking poles can be super helpful, especially if you're a newer hiker. They're great for navigating steep and uneven terrain and are particularly helpful on descents (they've saved my knees on more than a few occasions). Hiking poles range in price, but these $15 ones from Walmart are a total steal and have outlasted more expensive poles I've owned.
13. Sunscreen- I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a hundred times more, wear sunscreen! I’m all for aging, but I’m not exactly jonesing to speed the process up. The “Unseen” from Supergoop is the bomb. For added protection, a hat is always a great idea.
14. A good flannel- As far as clothing goes, I highly recommend packing layers. A flannel is a great option for hiking around the canyons, which shield you from the heat of the sun. I used to splurge on flannels, but recently found this more affordable option from Old Navy (similar). This shirt is made of 100% cotton and is a fraction of the cost of flannels from other brands. And did I mention it’s super cute?