25 Packing Essentials for Your Grand Canyon Camping Trip
Grand Canyon Packing List (updated March 2022)
Planning your next vacation? Why not take a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world that’s right in your backyard. The Grand Canyon is truly breathtaking. It was even on the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World at one point in time. The Grand Canyon National Park is a hot spot in the American West year-round, not just in the summer months.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, check out this list of top things you should pack for your Grand Canyon camping trip.
I feel like it is important to say, this list is geared at hiking and light overnight only. If you plan on going full backcountry, you will need a more comprehensive list.
Want more resources on packing a capsule wardrobe? Find more in the following posts:
- How to Create the Ultimate Travel Capsule Wardrobe
- 10 Best Compression Packing Cubes: Pack Like a Pro.
Grand Canyon Packing List
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Sunscreen & lip balm
One of the most important things to remember when you’re at the Grand Canyon: wear sunscreen. Even if you’re there in the winter months, the sun can still be incredibly strong. If your not careful you will get a nasty sunburn.
It’s a good idea to also wear sun-protective clothing. But, wearing sunscreen like this Coola SPF 50 is a great start and will really help you out in the long run. Remember that your lips can also get burnt, so be sure to wear lip balm too!
Hiking shoes | Water Shoes
Depending on the type of hiking you plan to do, you may want a little more ankle support, but these Astral Brewess shoes are great. I have worn them on hiking trails and rock scrambling, and I love them. Plus, they have great drainage so they double as water shoes so you don’t need two pairs!
Why Hiking Shoes?
For any trip to a national park, especially the Grand Canyon, hiking shoes are another must-have. Even if you don’t plan on hiking to the bottom of the canyon, you should still have the proper footwear to help keep yourself safe and comfortable. If you’re not planning on staying long, you can get away with sturdy hiking sandals. For more intense and rigorous trips, be sure to break in a good pair of hiking boots before arriving at the park.
Why Water shoes?
If you have the opportunity to swim in the Colorado River, you should take it. It is a great way to cool off! And, it’ll most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and whoever you’re traveling with. Even if the water looks inviting, water shoes are still a good idea to help keep your feet protected and safe. The last thing you want is to hurt yourself and not be able to finish your hike, so best to play it safe!
Lightweight rain jacket
Waterproof and lightweight clothing is very important. If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking, you want to minimize the amount of weight that you’re carrying in your backpack, which is where the lightweight clothing helps out. As with any other packing list of mine, it’s also a good idea to pack a rain jacket so you’re prepared for all different kinds of weather.
This North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket is an excellent option that is packable.
Looking for other ideas for a packable raincoat? This post can give you inspiration:
Sleeping bag & other camping gear
If you’re going on an excursion through the canyon, you may be hiking or rafting for several days. Make sure you have the camping essentials with you so you can get a good night’s sleep.
The Grand Canyon is hot most of the time during the day. That said, the desert can get cold at night, so a high-quality sleeping bag is important to help keep you warm.
Reusable water bottle
Hydration is also one of the most important things you can remember when you’re at the Grand Canyon. Hot days can drain the fluids from your body and if you don’t replace them quickly, you can become dehydrated which can really put a damper on a vacation. If you won’t have access to drinking water for a few days, water bottles that filter your water before you drink it are good choices.
Depending on the time of year you’re traveling, you may need to include more layers than others on your Grand Canyon packing list. A winter trip will bring cold temperatures, so it’s important to check the weather in advance and dress appropriately.
As with any outdoor trip, it’s a great idea to dress in wicking layers that are made of breathable material so you don’t get too hot while hiking. If you’re wearing long pants or a long-sleeved shirt, try to keep them lightweight in the warmer months. You can always wear something underneath them if you need to shed some layers.
Hats or other sun protection
The sun can be extremely strong when you’re visiting the Grand Canyon. It’s best to take extra precautions to make sure you don’t get sunburnt. A sun hat in addition to your daily sunscreen will help keep the sun off your face and help you stay in the action for longer.
If you’re going to be hiking down into the bottom of the canyon, it’s also important to have a good hiking backpack with you to hold all of the essentials. Even if it’s a day hike, you should still expect to carry some essentials with you like a water bottle, snacks, and a light jacket. Whenever you’re headed out into unfamiliar terrain or terrain that’s extremely hot and dry like the Grand Canyon is, you should have all the bare essentials and some emergency equipment with you in case you need it and a backpack to hold it all.
If your hike or camping trip is going to last a few days, be sure to charge and pack a portable phone charger. You might not always have service, but your phone can still be a great way to capture memories from your trip.
This Solar Charger is great for camping because you can recharge it. Additionally it can be used as a flashlight at night!
Sometimes water just isn’t enough to keep you hydrated. You’ll find all kinds of electrolyte packs and other forms of ultra-hydration at your local outdoor store. They are good things to have on hand if you’re traveling somewhere like the Grand Canyon in the summer. If you find yourself sweating a lot, make sure you’re replacing your electrolytes so you don’t get dehydrated.
Camera or smartphone
The Grand Canyon is located in one of the most beautiful national parks in the entire world, especially the South Rim. That’s not something that you want to miss and if you want to have photo evidence that you were there, be sure to pack a camera or smartphone that takes high-quality pictures.
First aid kit
No one likes to plan on an emergency happening while traveling, but it’s best to be prepared in the event that it happens. On any road trip or hike, you should have some kind of first aid kit with you in case someone in your group gets hurt. You may not ever need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you packed it.
Depending on the season you’re traveling, insects can be a real nuisance even somewhere as dry as the Grand Canyon. Bug bites can put a real damper on your trip and make doing any thing miserable, quite frankly.
Protect your skin before you get chomped on with some bug spray or these Buggy Bands to keep everyone in the group happy.
Headlamp or flashlight
Because there’s no major cities near the Grand Canyon until you get to Las Vegas, it can get pretty dark out there at night. No light pollution makes for some great stargazing but it can also lead to you wandering around in the dark with the potential to get hurt. A headlamp like this Petzl won’t take up much space in your backpack and will keep you from stepping on any unfriendly critters.
If you find yourself without phone service, it’s a good idea to have a general idea of where you’re going. Many phones have the ability to download hiking trail maps, but if you can’t, a good old-fashioned paper copy will get the job done as well.
This National Geographic Map Pack will have you covered no matter which Grand Canyon rim you choose.
Lightweight shirts and pants or hiking shorts
Even if you’re dressing in layers, you should still make sure those layers are lightweight. Any strenuous hike will have you sweating, and it’s best for you if the clothes you’re wearing are breathable and don’t trap sweat. If you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon in the winter, you might opt for something a little warmer depending on the weather, but for the most part, lightweight layers are the way to go.
These Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants are great for hiking. In the summer months, you probably won’t need more than some hiking shorts for your bottom layer.
Travel cooking equipment
This post is really geared at a shorter hiking/overnight trip. If you’re spending a few days hiking the Grand Canyon you may not want to eat granola bars or trail mix the entire time.
In that case you can pack some cooking equipment that you can use while camping. You don’t need to bring an entire huge propane stove kit, but something to warm up a meal can make a big difference.
This Jetboil MiniMo Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System is perfect for fast-boiled water and warmed-up food.
Importantly, check to see if the national park has a fire ban in place first, but if not, bring something to start one up! A small campfire will help keep you warm and help you cook up some of the food you brought with you.
Plus, you can channel your inner survivalist with these handy Swiss Safe Fire Starter tools. They also have a compass and paracord which may come in handy.
Not everyone knows this, but your eyes can get sunburnt too. As someone who’s had sunburnt eyes, I can tell you it’s not something that you want to do twice. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses whenever you’re outside, not just when the sun is out. UV rays can still poke through the clouds!
These Costa del Mar Sunglasses are stylish and will protect your eyes.
Some kind of entertainment (aka Kindle)
When you’re not taking in the stunning scenery and your phone doesn’t have any service, you’re going to want something to do. If you have room in your bag, add a book or e-reader to your Grand Canyon packing list.
I have this Kindle Oasis and love it. I can bring 15 different books read at night without my eyes getting tired.
When you’re on a road trip or hiking through the desert, you likely won’t have access to a refrigerator so it’s a good idea to pack foods that won’t spoil quickly. Trail mix and protein bars are a good way to keep your energy up. And, you can often find a lot of non-perishable meals at your local outdoor store.
KIND Bars like these are an awesome option for your hikes!
Like with any packing list, it’s important to have your base layers covered. Sure, sports bras and tank tops won’t offer much sun protection. But, they’re good items to have with you anyway because they’ll help keep you cool while you’re in the sun.
This POSHDIVAH tank has a built-in bra so is great for hiking on a hot day. Make sure to wear that Coola SPF 50 on your shoulders and arms!
If there’s an opportunity to jump in the river, you don’t want to miss it. When you’re hiking and know that you might have a chance to go swimming at some point during the day, plan ahead! Bring your suit so you can take a dip.
I love this Hilor Women’s Monokini. It’s cute and full coverage.
Just because you’re going on an outdoor vacation doesn’t mean you don’t need some personal items for the trip. When camping you don’t have regular access to running water to wash up.
Your Grand Canyon packing list should include a makeup wipe and some deodorant. It can make an incredible difference!
This GOX Travel Toiletry Bag is super lightweight so won’t add much to your pack weight and will hold all your essentials.
FAQ: Grand Canyon Packing List
Going on an outdoor trip that you’ve never been on before can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Remembering to pack these essentials will help you get off to a great start. If you still have lingering questions, read on.
How should I dress for the Grand Canyon? What is My Grand Canyon packing list?
No matter what season you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon, you can’t go wrong with light layers. The summer high temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But, even in the winter, when you’re expending energy you’ll probably wish you could shed a few layers.
How long does it take to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?
Hiking down is always easier, so it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to reach the bottom of the canyon. However, you’ll want to rest overnight because the hike back up can take about 9 hours to complete. If you’re planning on making this hike, you should be prepared with some camping supplies.
What is the best month to hike the Grand Canyon?
Summer is a very popular time to visit the Grand Canyon because most people plan their vacations around school vacations. However, it’s also the hottest time of year in the summer. If you want to avoid crowds and scorching heat, plan on visiting in the spring, fall, or winter.