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Your Ultimate National Park Packing List for 2024

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You: Planning a trip to your bucket list national park destination, but have no idea what to pack. Us: Giving you our item-by-item packing list for the best national park adventures!

In this comprehensive blog post, we present the ultimate packing list for national parks, tailored to cater to the varied activities and terrains you might encounter. From versatile clothing and sturdy footwear to essential gear and optional enhancements, our guide covers everything you need for an immersive and enjoyable national park experience, plus hand-picked products we love.

As a special bonus, there’s a FREE downloadable PDF of this ultimate National Park Packing List at the end of this post!

Women’s Clothing

1. Moisture-Wicking Base Layer

Start with a solid foundation – moisture-wicking base layers keep you dry by pulling sweat away from your skin. Opt for lightweight, breathable materials to maintain comfort throughout your hike.

Whether you engage in running, climbing, or simply relaxing, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily shirt for women swiftly dries, efficiently wicks away moisture, and effortlessly stretches to accommodate your movements.

Sarah’s Pick

2. Long Sleeve Layer

Layering is the key to adapting your clothing to the ever-changing weather of the national parks. A good long-sleeve layer to go over your base layer or t-shirt should be moisture-wicking, fast-drying, and odor-resistant.

The SmartWool Classic Thermal Merino Quarter-Zip Base Layer Top is my go-to wool layer. The quarter-zip Merino base layer top provides practical performance, ensuring warmth, dryness, and comfort. I have these pullovers in so many colors and wear one on almost every hike. They are so versatile, warm, and look great.

Sarah’s Pick

3. Hiking Leggings

I love the way hiking leggings look and prefer to wear them instead of hiking pants. Thankfully, there are some amazing durable hiking leggings out there!

Ideal for both hiking and road trips, the Vuori Clean Elevation leggings for women are a must-have for your national park packing list. They efficiently wick moisture, dry quickly, and flex with your movements, providing total comfort in motion.

Sarah’s Pick

4. Rain Jacket/Water Proof Layer

Be prepared for unexpected weather changes with a waterproof and windproof jacket that protects against rain and chilly winds.

The Arc’teryx Beta LT jacket for women is by far the best rain jacket I’ve ever owned. It reliably keeps me dry, even when hiking in a downpour! Stripped down in design yet retaining weather protection and performance, this jacket ensures a lightweight, dry, and comfortable experience with its breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX shell. This jacket is a must-have if you are visiting national parks on a rainy day!

Sarah’s Pick

5. Comfortable Hiking Shorts

For summer travel in national parks, you should pack some comfy shorts. They should be versatile, allowing you to go from the trail to a casual day in a mountain town.

The Patagonia Baggies are pretty much the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to hiking shorts.
Vintage vibes and enduringly stylish, these Patagonia Baggies shorts are crafted from recycled fishing nets. They are loose-fitting, comfortable, and even have pockets! Swoon.

Sarah’s Pick

6. Moisture-Wicking Underwear

Don’t overlook the importance of moisture-wicking underwear for added comfort and to prevent chafing during extended hikes.

Elevate your underwear game with the Smartwool Intraknit bikinis for women. Featuring Merino wool, these undies provide natural advantages when worn close to your skin, including effective sweat management, optimal thermoregulation, and resistance to odors.

Sarah’s Pick

7. Sturdy Hiking Boots

Invest in sturdy hiking boots with reliable traction for stability on various terrains. Ensure they are well broken in before your trip to prevent blisters.

I wear the Women’s Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Amped Waterproof Hiking Boots on almost every hike I go on. I own these boots in multiple colors I love them so much! They are also one of the best values you’ll find for your money when it comes to high-quality hiking boots that are also stylish!

Sarah’s Pick

8. Breathable, Sun-Protecting Hat

A wide-brimmed hat or a cap with UPF protection shields your face from the sun, keeping you cool and protected.

I like a simple runner’s cap, like the women’s Outdoor Research Sun Runner cap. Designed for summer days on the trail or around town, this hat boasts a versatile convertible design with a wide brim and a removable cape to cover your shoulders and neck.

Sarah’s Pick

9. Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from harsh sunlight and glare with high-quality sunglasses designed for outdoor activities.

Embrace your vibrant style that matches the beauty of nature and your favorite activities with the goodr Circle Gs polarized sunglasses. These sunglasses not only enhance your vision but also keep you looking your best with their rounded lenses and secure, nonslip frames.

Sarah’s Pick

10. Hiking Socks

Invest in moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters during long hikes.

I’ve been hiking in SmartWool hiking socks for over a decade and they do a great job preventing blisters and keeping my feet warm and dry, even on damp hikes.

Sarah’s Pick

11. Hiking Bra

A reliable hiking bra is an essential item on your national park packing list for providing crucial support, minimizing discomfort, and ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience.

Experience lasting comfort during trail adventures and relaxation days with the Patagonia Barely Bra, crafted with breathable fabric and an under-bust panel that provides support for B and C cup sizes.

Sarah’s Pick

Men’s Clothing

1. Odor-Resistant Base Layer

Begin with odor-resistant and moisture-wicking base layers to keep sweat at bay and maintain comfort during extended hikes.


Crafted from a lightweight merino wool-blend jersey, the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino T-shirt for men is designed for year-round exploration, ensuring enduring comfort even when carrying a pack.

Tim’s Pick

2. Convertible Hiking Pants

Opt for convertible hiking pants for versatility, allowing you to adapt to temperature changes on the trail.

From chilly mornings to scorching afternoons, and even when fording icy creeks, the REI Co-op zip-off Sahara convertible pants for men effortlessly adapt—simply zip off the legs (no need to sit down), and voila, you’ve got shorts!

Tim’s Pick

3. Long-Sleeve Thermal

Pack insulating layers like a thermal shirt or lightweight jacket to stay warm in cooler temperatures.

Crafted from high-quality merino wool, the Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Crew base layer top assists in temperature regulation, ensuring warmth during cold-weather activities like hiking or skiing.

Tim’s Pick

4. Waterproof Jacket

Be prepared for unexpected weather changes with a waterproof and windproof jacket.

Durable, breathable, and lightweight, the Arc’teryx Beta AR jacket for men offers waterproof protection during alpine activities, allowing you to confidently navigate through afternoon showers without concern. Yes, it’s expensive, but you will wear this rain jacket for the rest of your life.

Tim’s Pick

5. Moisture-Wicking Underwear

Prioritize moisture-wicking underwear to enhance comfort and prevent chafing during prolonged hikes.

Keep dry during your trail adventures with the REI Co-op Merino Boxer Brief underwear for men—crafted from soft, breathable, and naturally odor-resistant materials, these briefs are designed to ensure comfort throughout the day.

Tim’s Pick

6. Grippy Hiking Boots

Invest in sturdy hiking boots with reliable traction to ensure stability on diverse terrains.

Blending durable design with weatherproof protection, the Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX hiking boots for men are crafted to conquer the trails, allowing you to embark on explorations in every season.

Tim’s Pick

7. Shade-Providing Hat

A wide-brimmed hat or cap with UPF protection keeps you cool and shields your face from the sun.

Create your own shade with the REI Co-op Sahara hiker’s hat, shielding you both front and back. Equipped with breathable mesh side panels, a moisture-wicking headband, and the added bonus of floatation capabilities, it’s your perfect companion for the trails.

Tim’s Pick

8. Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare with high-quality sunglasses suitable for outdoor activities.

Designed for bright mornings and sunlit days, the Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport polarized sunglasses offer durability, making them equally suitable for outdoor escapades or casual strolls around town.

Tim’s Pick

9. Hiking Socks

Opt for moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and avoid developing blisters on your hikes.

Enduring miles of comfort, Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks have been rigorously tested, ensuring a high level of performance with exceptional cushioning.

Tim’s Pick

Essential Gear for National Parks

1. National Parks Pass

We buy an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass every year because we save so much money on entrance fees to parks. The pass pays for itself in just a few visits!

Valid for a full year of visits, the America the Beautiful Pass grants access and covers entrance fees at federal recreation sites nationwide, encompassing all of our majestic national parks.

Our Pick

2. Daypack or Backpack

Essential for any outdoor excursion, a backpack or daypack carries all your gear and supplies during hikes or walks.

For extended hikes and outings, having a straightforward, lightweight, and resilient pack with convenient gear access is crucial. The Osprey Skimmer 20 hydration pack for women checks all the boxes for versatility, and comes in several colors!

Our Pick

3. Headlamp

Navigate in low-light conditions or explore caves with the essential illumination provided by a headlamp or flashlight.

The Petzl Actik Core headlamp is the perfect companion to prolong your outdoor adventures into the evening, whether you’re running, trekking, or exploring the mountains.

Our Pick

4. Water Filtration

Ensure a safe water source by bringing a water filter or purification tablets if you plan to drink from creeks or streams.

Ideal for groups, the portable and high-capacity LifeStraw Peak Series Gravity Purifier, with an 8-liter capacity, effectively eliminates viruses, bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from drinking water.

Our Pick

5. Multi-Tool

A versatile multi-tool or knife serves various purposes, from cutting rope to repairing gear.

Equip yourself with a toolbox of versatility always within reach with the Leatherman Rev multi-tool. Whether you’re under the hood, at the campground, or around the house, this tool ensures functionality is at your fingertips.

Our Pick

6. First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, so a well-stocked first aid kit with bandages, antiseptics, and pain relievers is a must.

Bring along the compact Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .5 medical kit – our go-to for national park trips!

Our Pick

7. Sun Screen

Always wear sunscreen when visiting national parks! You’re going to be outside a lot, so protecting your skin from the sun is super important.

Whether it’s raining or shining, sunscreen remains a crucial step in skincare. The Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 sunscreen spray boasts a zinc-based mineral formula, ensuring broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Our Pick

8. Emergency Whistle

In case of emergencies, an emergency whistle becomes a vital tool to signal for help and alert others to your location.


In certain situations, being heard is the key to being located. The Fox 40 Classic safety whistle delivers a loud and crisp sound that pierces through other noises, aiding in signaling your location for rescuers—up to a mile away.

Our Pick

9. Emergency Shelter

Be prepared for unexpected weather or emergencies with an emergency shelter, such as a bivy sack or emergency blanket, to stay warm and dry.

Avoid being stranded in the cold. The SOL emergency blanket efficiently reflects up to 90% of your body’s heat back to you. It takes up hardly any space and weighs close to nothing.

Our Pick

Food and Hydration Essentials for National Parks

1. Water Bottle

Carry reusable water bottles to stay hydrated throughout your journey. Consider a bottle with a built-in filter for refilling from natural water sources.

Crafted from Tritan Renew copolyester, incorporating 50% certified recycled content, the 32 fl. oz. Nalgene Sustain wide-mouth water bottle enables you to reduce your environmental footprint.

Our Pick

2. Hydration Reservoir

A hydration reservoir or water bladder is an excellent hands-free option for staying hydrated during hikes.

Designed for extensive activities and backpacks with ample space, the Osprey Hydraulics reservoir with a 3-liter capacity is the perfect choice.

Our Pick

3. Electrolyte Powder

Replace lost electrolytes, especially in warmer climates, with dissolvable electrolyte tablets in your water.

Vitalyte electrolyte replacement drink restores lost fluids and electrolytes from physical exertion and exercise. Its rapid absorption enhances hydration, preventing dehydration and heat stress.

Our Pick

4. Travel Mug

For hot or cold beverages, a thermos keeps your drinks at the desired temperature.

Boasting a spill-resistant lid, textured exterior, and a base that fits perfectly in cup holders, the Yeti Rambler 20 oz. travel mug makes for a reliable travel companion to sip and grasp during your upcoming adventure.

Our Pick

5. Instant Coffee

Enjoy a hot beverage during breaks with the convenience of instant coffee or tea bags.

Indulge in exceptional coffee on your travels with Verve Instant Craft Coffee. It’s sourced through direct trade, roasted by hand in small batches, expertly brewed, and now ready for you—simply add your preferred liquid.

Our Pick

6. Reusable Utensils and Plates

For eco-friendly dining, pack lightweight, reusable utensils and plates.

Transcending postconsumer and postindustrial plastic waste, the UCO ECO 5-Piece mess kit emerges for your camping escapades. Complete with one bowl/container, one lid/plate, and one Switch spork, it’s a sustainable choice for your outdoor adventures.

Our Pick

Camping Gear to Pack for National Parks

1. Tent

If you plan to camp overnight, a tent or other camping gear is a necessity. With several campgrounds within the park, choose gear that suits your camping style.

The Mountain Hardwear Meridian 2 tent offers a lightweight and roomy sanctuary, providing expansive views right from your bed—perfect for accommodating two people.

Our Pick

2. Sleeping Bag

Even in the summer, the nights can get chilly, so a warm sleeping bag is crucial for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Striking a balance between backpacking comfort and weight, the Sea to Summit Altitude AtI 25 sleeping bag delivers ample space without compromising the thermal efficiency essential for your outdoor adventures.

Our Pick

3. Sleeping Pad

A good sleeping pad can greatly increase your warmth and comfort when camping in national parks.

Compact, luxuriously soft, and insulating, the 3-inch thick REI Co-op Helix Insulated air pad brings double joy on every trip—first when it’s effortlessly carried on your back, and again when you settle onto it at bedtime.

Our Pick

4. Camping Stove

Bringing a cooking stove is essential for preparing your own meals in the wilderness.

Indulge in cocoa, coffee, or a gourmet freeze-dried meal swiftly with the Jetboil Flash cooking system. Boiling water in just 100 seconds, it enables fuel conservation and speeds up your dining experience.

Our Pick

5. Fuel for Camping Stove

Ensure your cooking stove stays operational by bringing sufficient fuel for the duration of your camping trip.

Loaded with high-performance four-season fuel, the Jetboil Jetpower canister ensures consistent use in cold weather with its elevated vapor pressure. The 230g size proves ideal for extended adventures.

Our Pick

6. Bear-Resistant Canister

Bear-resistant containers or bear bags are essential for preventing wildlife encounters.

Perfect for weight-conscious long-distance hikers or group outings, the BearVault BV475 Trek bear canister provides the ideal bear-resistant storage, safely holding 5-6 days’ worth of food and conveniently fitting sideways into most packs.

Our Pick

Miscellaneous Items to Pack for National Parks

1. Camera

Capture the stunning vistas and landscapes of the park with a camera, preserving memories that will last a lifetime.

The Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Undefined Camera Undefined (V2) has a high-quality image sensor and autofocus system, allowing you to capture clear and detailed photos. It can take pictures quickly and has features to reduce blurriness. It also has a stabilization system, useful for shooting in different conditions. The camera is durable and can be used in tough environments – perfect for your national park adventures!

Our Pick

2. Tripod

For steady shots and time-lapses, consider bringing a tripod to enhance your photography experience.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod features a 20lb weight capacity, low and inverted modes for close-to-ground shots, a built-in mobile mount, an omnidirectional Compact Ball Head, and compatibility with various plates. It is made of weather-resistant materials, has replaceable parts, and comes with a padded case, offering durability and versatility.

Our Pick

3. Microspikes

If you’re exploring the park in winter, microspikes for your boots will prevent slipping on icy surfaces, ensuring safe winter adventures.

Kahtoola MICROspikes provide exceptional traction on icy winter trails and are conveniently portable, fitting easily into a pocket.

Our Pick

Complete National Park Packing List

Here is the complete packing list for everything you need to bring on a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Clothing and footwear:

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing
  • Long-sleeve shirts and pants for sun protection
  • Sturdy, comfortable footwear
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Warm hat and gloves (for cold nights)
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Water shoes or sandals (if planning to wade in the creek)

Navigation and safety:

  • Backpack or daypack
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Multi-tool or knife
  • Map and compass
  • GPS device (optional)
  • Water filters or purification tablets
  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Trash bags
  • Emergency whistle
  • Emergency shelter (such as a bivy sack or emergency blanket)
  • Emergency beacon (optional)

Food and hydration:

  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • Non-perishable food items (granola bars, trail mix, etc.)
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (if desired)
  • Energy bars or gels
  • Instant coffee or tea bags
  • Cooler (if bringing perishable food)

Camping gear:

  • Tent or camping gear (if camping)
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Cooking stove
  • Fuel for cooking stove
  • Cookware and utensils
  • Bear-resistant containers or bear bags (if camping)

Miscellaneous:

  • Sandboard or sand sled (if planning to sandboard or sand sled)
  • Camera or GoPro
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Binoculars
  • Portable shade canopy or umbrella
  • Cash or credit card (for park fees or emergencies)
  • Cell phone or satellite phone
  • Duct tape
  • Rope or cordage
  • Lightweight blanket or sleeping bag liner
  • Camp chair or seat pad
  • Microspikes

Free Printable – National Park Packing List PDF

National Park Packing List – Final Thoughts

In conclusion, gearing up for your national park adventure becomes a breeze with this comprehensive packing list. From essential clothing and gear to optional items that can enhance your experience, careful preparation ensures you’ll be ready for whatever the great outdoors throws your way. Whether you’re embarking on a challenging hike, setting up camp under the stars, or capturing memories with your camera, having the right items in your backpack ensures comfort, safety, and the freedom to fully embrace the wonders of nature. So, pack smart, embrace the adventure, and let the beauty of the national parks unfold before you!

Now that you have the right gear, read our National Parks travel guides here!

Sarah looks at Delicate Arch across the bowl at sunset

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