What to pack for your national park trip
Packing for a national park trip
You might be used to packing for all sorts of trips, whether it’s a quick weekend getaway, a tropical resort vacation or a business trip to a major city. But if you’re looking to explore any of the national parks this summer, that packing list will likely look incredibly different. You may not make it out to parks like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite or Rocky Mountain too often, so to make the most of your time and experience, the right gear is important.
Enjoy everything you’ll see and experience to the fullest with some of the top items to bring on your big national park adventure.
Best gear for your national park trip
When deciding what to purchase and pack for your big national parks trip, be sure to consider the elevation, region and weather of where you’ll be. Planning and preparing for anything that may come your way is a must for having a fun and enjoyable trip, no matter where you go or who you’re with.
TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack: available at Amazon
This versatile and durable backpack is perfect for hiking adventures in the national parks, whether you’re going for the day or camping for a few nights. It holds 55 liters and can be adjusted for adults and youth of different heights and sizes.
Columbia Men's Thistletown Park Long Sleeve Crew: available at Amazon
When you’re out and about under UV rays in varying weather, you’ll definitely want to layer your clothing to warm up or cool down at a moment’s notice. This versatile and comfy long-sleeve crew from Columbia helps with that using its UPF 15 fabric that blocks harmful rays and wicks moisture away from your skin.
You’ll need a good-quality water bottle to hydrate during your park adventures, and this reusable one from YETI is a fantastic, environmentally friendly option. Its large 26-ounce size conveniently opens quickly when you’re on the go with just a half-twist of the handle. Water stays cold in the durable, double-walled vacuum-insulated bottle which also keeps hot drinks hot, like your morning coffee or tea.
First Aid Only 299-Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit: available at Amazon
Be prepared for accidents with a travel first aid kit like this 299-piece set from First Aid Only. Perfect for treating minor injuries, it includes plastic and adhesive fabric bandages, antibiotic ointment, burn cream, aspirin and ibuprofen, antiseptic towelettes and more. The kit’s clear plastic case allows you to quickly and easily see what’s inside at any time.
GearTOP Navigator Series Sun Hat: available at Amazon
From fishing and boating to hiking and biking, the national parks offer many outdoor activities, and you’ll need sun protection no matter what you get up to. This lightweight, breathable, windproof hat is a great option with its UPF 50+ protection and wide brim. If it gets wet, it dries in just a few minutes.
SUUNTO MC-2 Compass: available at Amazon
You never know if you’ll get lost in the woods and since some of the national parks are very big, it’s best to come prepared with a compass. This model comes with easy to understand instructions and can be used any time of day or night, and even below water.
Don’t let the wrong footwear slow you down or cause enough discomfort that you don’t enjoy a national park hike. A good, comfortable hiking boot like these from Merrell with their Gore-Tex waterproofing, air heel cushion and mesh lining can make all the difference, especially on longer trails.
CLIF Bars Best Sellers Variety Pack: available at Amazon
No matter your activities in the national parks, you’ll need your energy on the go. Since you’ll likely be far from a store to stock up on supplies and snacks, make sure you’ve got something to eat at a moment’s notice, like these Clif energy bars that come in eight flavors and have the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to keep you going.
Coppertone Sport Continuous Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50: available at Amazon
Protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays while on your national park adventures with this lightweight spray sunscreen that’s water-resistant and lasts 80 minutes. The value pack includes three SPF 50 bottles.
OFF! Family Care Insect Repellent I: available at Amazon
You never know where you’ll run into pesky bugs, so be prepared with OFF!’s insect repellent. It easily goes on with a powdery rather than greasy consistency and will keep mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, fleas and chiggers away for good.
GTHUNDER GlassOwl True IR Night Vision Binoculars: available at Amazon
One of the amazing things about the national parks is that many of them are remote enough to see an abundance of stars at night, to the point that some have even been certified as International Dark-Sky Association Dark Sky Parks. If you find yourself surrounded by twinkling stars, you won’t want to miss out, so be prepared with some night vision binoculars. This durable pair is great for beginners and captures HD photos and videos that get saved to the included memory card.
Lighting EVER Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern: available at Amazon
If you’re camping in the woods of any national park, you’ll need some light to guide your way at night. This USB-rechargeable, water-resistant LED camping light does the job well with its dimmable and versatile six light modes. You can also conveniently use it as a power bank for mobile devices.
When you’re on the park trails or just outside for extended periods of time in sunny weather, you’ll need to protect your eyes. Polarized, anti-reflective lenses like this shield you from direct sun rays and their glaring reflection off the water.
Just like the rest of your body, your lips need protection from the sun. This all-natural, moisturizing SPF 15 lip balm does just that and leaves your lips smooth and soft. Plus, it resists water for up to 40 minutes, so you can jump in a refreshing national park lake to cool off.
Emma Caplan is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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