Whether it’s the fresh air, the sounds of the wilderness, or the challenge of reaching a summit, hiking is a delightful way to connect with nature and each other. Whether you’re trekking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, climbing up the coastline cliffs of Acadia, or exploring the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone, hiking in the U.S. national parks is a thrilling adventure you will never forget. Before hitting the trails, you’ll want to pack the right gear. Here’s our list of what to pack for hiking in the national parks.
Top 10 Essentials for Hiking:
Use this list to prepare for day hiking in the great outdoors.
1. Comfortable backpack: A good hiking backpack or daypack is a must-have for any hiker. Look for one with comfortable straps and a waist belt to help distribute the weight of your pack. Waterproof backpack covers keep your hiking essentials dry during rain showers.
2. Weather-appropriate clothing: What to wear hiking largely depends on the season and weather forecast for where you’ll be hiking. In general, it’s a good idea to dress in layers so you can easily adjust your clothing as you warm up or cool down. Opt for moisture-wicking materials and wool or synthetic socks to help keep your feet dry and comfortable on the trail.
3. Hiking shoes: Whether you prefer hiking boots, trail running shoes, or hiking sandals, it’s important to choose footwear that will protect your feet, provide stability, and are comfortable for going the distance. Be sure to choose a pair that fits well and is broken in ahead of time.
4. Nutrition: Keep your energy levels up with healthy snacks like nut butter and crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, or jerky. Choose from a selection of grab-n-go items at Under Canvas before you head out for the day.
5. Hydration: Staying hydrated is vital when hiking, so bring plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink one quart every hour you’re hiking. But you may need to drink more depending on the temperature and intensity of the hike. Consider adding electrolyte tablets to replenish your body’s electrolytes and minerals and boost your energy.
6. First aid kit: Having a basic first aid kit on hand is always a good idea. Be sure it includes adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, insect repellent, and any necessary medications should you need them.
7. Sun protection: Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can harm your skin and eyes. Pack a hat or bandana, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and long layers to protect yourself from sunburn.
8. Illumination: Keep a small flashlight or headlamp handy to light your way if you plan to go on a sunrise or sunset hike in low-light conditions.
9. Bathroom kit: It’s a good idea to have toilet paper, wipes, and sanitizer ready when nature calls in case there are no restrooms nearby. Practice Leave No Trace Principles when hiking, so be sure to pack out any trash you generate.
10. Personal items: Finally, remember to bring your ID, credit card, cash, National Park Pass, printed hiking permit (if needed), phone, portable battery, and medications. Consider putting these items in a dry bag when hiking near water.
Additional items you may want to bring:
Pack these extras to make your time on the trails even more enjoyable.
Binoculars: If you’re hiking in an area with wildlife or scenic vistas, binoculars can help you see them up close.
Hammock: String up a lightweight hammock for a comfortable resting place if you plan to take a break or enjoy the view for some time.
Journal or book: Reflect on your surroundings or enjoy a quiet moment with a journal or book.
Trekking poles: Maintain your balance and reduce the impact on your knees when hiking on steep or uneven terrain.
Hair ties: If you have long hair, bring hair ties to keep it out of your face and prevent tangles.
What to Pack for Hiking with Pets
Traveling with dogs can make outdoor adventures even more memorable. That’s why Under Canvas welcomes dogs at all of our locations. Check out our packing list for dogs so you know what gear you’ll need to have a tail-wagging good time. Some national parks are more dog-friendly than others. Visit the National Park Service website for more information.
Let Under Canvas be your base camp for the ultimate hiking vacation. After spending the day experiencing the beauty and adventure of nearby national parks, retreat to your safari-inspired accommodations and relax in comfort in style at one of our 12 locations around the U.S.