I am an Arizona local and can tell you from personal experience that you don’t want to miss a single box on your packing checklist for the Grand Canyon.
Whether you’re hiking in and out or taking a multi-day camping trip, I’ve got you covered with this thorough Grand Canyon packing checklist.
I’ll also cover a few tips but the main one is this: only bring the essentials. Take the layers you absolutely need, along with food, water, and shelter. This is your chance to be a true minimalist! Starting with the essentials, here are the 25 things you might forget to bring on your trip to Grand Canyon National Park.
Table of Contents
- Grand Canyon Packing Checklist
- Clothing to Pack for the Grand Canyon
- Grand Canyon Packing Tips
- Grand Canyon Packing FAQs
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Grand Canyon Packing Checklist
Filtration Water Bottle
Water is your number one priority in the Grand Canyon. Above all else, this is the top necessity for survival in case plans go awry.
I recommend taking the Grayl GeoPress Water Bottle along on your trip. This magnificent water bottle, although pricey, filters and purifies water within 8 seconds. Chug a fresh bottle straight from the Colorado River, then use it for cooking wherever you set up camp!
A quality backpacking backpack is key to a comfortable hike through the Grand Canyon. The thing about these is that certain brands work better for every individual. I’ve always been a fan of The North Face and Osprey, but I know tons of people who swear by a myriad of other brands that I don’t particularly prefer.
The Mountainsmith Lookout 60 Pack from REI is a tried-and-true backpacking backpack for a trip to the Grand Canyon because it’s lightweight and easily customizable to any body shape. Purchase a backpack no less than 60 liters to ensure you can bring all your necessities with you. I recommend trying out a few different brands at REI before buying online to get a feel for what fits best on your back.
👉 Pro Tip: If only taking a day hike, opt for a lighter load with the Osprey Daylite pack.
The sun sets early in the Grand Canyon. When surrounded by high mountain walls on a winding trail, a powerful headlamp is a must. And since these are hands-free, they make hiking in the dark much easier than carrying a flashlight.
The Fenix HM60R Rechargeable Headlamp is the best headlamp I’ve ever tested. With a max beam of 1,200 lumens (equivalent to 1,200 candles), this headlamp is ridiculously bright. It lasts for almost two full days. And the best part is that it doubles as a magnetic flashlight. This impressive headlamp is worth every penny.
You’d be surprised by how many times you’ll need a knife, can opener, pair of scissors, etc. on your trip to the Grand Canyon. A multi-tool takes all of these helpful tools and combines them into one. You’ll never feel unprepared with one of these gadgets in your pocket.
I’ve always been biased toward Leatherman products. I’ve never used anything but the Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool, and it has never failed me. Though there are certainly cheaper multitools on the market, this one is guaranteed quality and is as reliable as they come. It’ll last you for years!
If you’re camping overnight in the Grand Canyon, you’ll want to make a campfire (if conditions allow, of course). A good rule of thumb is to always bring two forms of fire-starters with you whenever you camp or hike in a remote destination.
The UCO Stormproof Match Kit is windproof and waterproof, so you’ll be set even in the worst conditions. As a backup, a classic BIC lighter is a great idea. Bring a couple just in case (they cost about $2).
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is not something you’ll want to use on your trip to the Grand Canyon, but it’s essential for hiking anywhere – especially here. Steep, rocky paths are treacherous, and wildlife can be unpredictable. No matter how adept you are on the trail, you never know what might happen along the way.
As mentioned before, you want to bring the most lightweight option of each essential on your trip to the Grand Canyon. The Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .5 Medical Kit is a fantastic set of basic medical equipment in a compact, lightweight package. You’ll barely notice it’s in your pack, but you’ll be extremely grateful if you find yourself in need of its contents.
You don’t need anything fancy here, just something loud. If you get separated from your group, a whistle could be a life-changing addition to your Grand Canyon packing list.
In my opinion, a whistle is a whistle. That’s why I recommend the Shoreline Marine Safety Whistle. It has the most basic design, and it’s dirt cheap. But when it comes to getting lost or stuck somewhere in the canyon, this ultra-loud whistle will reach the ears of anyone nearby.
There’s nothing worse than hearing the obnoxious drone of a buzzing insect in your ear during an hours-long hike. And in the summertime alongside the Colorado River, this is a nearly inevitable fate. However, bug spray can help immensely in keeping the bugs, especially pesky mosquitoes, from swarming you on your trip through the Grand Canyon.
My favorite brand of bug spray is OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent. Not only does it keep the bugs away, but it also doesn’t coat you in a sticky, oily residue for days on end. The smell is a bit overbearing, but it’s worth it to hike pest-free through the winding trails. It also protects against bug-carrying diseases.
Sunscreen is one of the most important items to bring on your trip to the Grand Canyon. Yet somehow, it’s easily forgotten. I’ve been guilty of showing up to the trail without sun protection a few too many times! Don’t risk damaging your skin – wear sunscreen like there’s no tomorrow.
Any sunscreen will do as long as you re-apply consistently. My favorite brand is Neutrogena Sunscreen Lotion because it stays on for hours, even when you sweat like crazy. It’s also dermatologist-recommended, which is a plus for those with sensitive skin like me. The higher the SPF the better!
Don’t be shy with the snacks on your Grand Canyon hike! You’ll want to take in extra calories since you’ll burn so many throughout the day. Anything with a high-calorie count will help power you through each mile.
Stock your pack with beef jerky, trail mix, energy bars, and peelable fruits (they last longer). Nature’s Garden Healthy Trail Mix Snack Packs are my go-to snacks because they’re nutritious, tasty, and perfectly portioned.
When you immerse yourself in the wilderness, especially in terrain as tricky as the Grand Canyon, you can’t rely on your cell phone every step of the way. In case your phone or GPS system fails, have a backup compass to point you north. In conjunction with a physical map, you’ll point yourself in the right direction if you lose your way.
The small TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass is super lightweight and reliably points north. It comes with a lanyard, so you’ll never lose it around your neck. Don’t show up to the trail without it – it could very well save your life!
If you camp in the Grand Canyon, you’ll want to bring a down sleeping bag. Any dedicated backpacker knows that down feathers make for the lightest, warmest, and most compressible sleeping equipment.
That’s what makes the OMVMO Duck/Goose Down Sleeping Bag my #1 choice in sleeping bags. Even on the cold canyon floor, you’ll be snug as a bug in this high-quality gear.
When you spend the night in the Grand Canyon, a lightweight tent is the way to go. You need ample protection in the simplest form.
The River Country Products Trekker Tent is my favorite backpacking tent because it’s lightweight (only 3 pounds), cheap (under $100), and super easy to set up. The less complicated the better, especially after a long day of hiking when you’re exhausted and ready for sleep.
Not everyone opts to hike with trekking poles, but I highly recommend them in the Grand Canyon. It goes without saying that a trip into the canyon is going to be steep and a bit unpredictable, both in and out.
These Covacure Trekking Poles are collapsible and super lightweight, so they’ll be easy to carry when you don’t need them. And they’ll certainly come in handy on the difficult sections of trail where you want a little extra support.
If you bring any form of technology on your trip to the Grand Canyon (let’s be real here), you need to bring a solar-powered portable charger. Even if you plan to go on a quick hike, you should always bring a portable charger just in case you end up stuck on the trail longer than your phone, flashlight, camera, etc. can last.
I use the Solar Power Bank Solar Charger, and it’s worked great for every hiking/camping trip I’ve taken over several years. This product is great because as long as you have sun, you have power. Just don’t forget your power cords to connect to it! It is a bit bulkier than I’d prefer, but it works well and comes in handy when you’re low on juice.
As it goes anywhere you hike or camp, what you pack in must be packed out. These LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bags are great for safely carrying food without worrying about attracting animals. And when you start collecting trash, these sturdy bags will keep you from stinking up your entire backpack with waste. They’re super handy and versatile, and you’ll be glad you brought them.
Other Grand Canyon Essentials to Pack
- Physical Map
- Toilet Paper
- Inflatable Pillow
Clothing to Pack for the Grand Canyon
For the sake of your comfort, the quality of the clothing you wear on your Grand Canyon trip matters.
Although you might be spending a bit of money on these items, it’s worth it to save yourself from skin irritation, blisters, and sore feet. Below I’ve laid out the must-have clothing for a seamless trek through the Grand Canyon.
So what clothing should you pack for the Grand Canyon? Here is a quick Grand Canyon clothing checklist:
- 1 Pair of Water Sandals
- 1 Pair of Hiking Boots
- 2-3 Pairs of Socks
- 1 Sun Hat
- 1 Bathing Suit
- 1 Lightweight Jacket
- 1 Pair of Hiking Gloves
- 3-4 Pairs of Underwear
- 2 Long-sleeve Shirts
- 1-2 Pairs of Hiking Pants
- 1-2 Pairs of Athletic Shorts
- 2 Sports Bras
- 1 Lightweight Rain Jacket (Weather Permitting)
Alright, that’s the basic list of Grand Canyon clothing essentials. But the specific quality will save you. If you’re not sure what brands to buy, I’ve got you covered. I’ll break down the most cost-effective brands that don’t skimp on quality.
You’ll be grateful for bringing your water shoes when the trail crosses through rivers.
Chaco’s are my favorite because they’re lightweight, easy to attach to the outside of your backpack, and don’t make your feet sore. Slip these on whenever you come across a stream to avoid the discomfort of soggy socks.
Desert air gets very cold at night, especially at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The last thing you want is to shiver the night away without any restful sleep.
A packable jacket like the Weatherproof Pillow Pack Jacket will work wonders. This down-alternative jacket (remember, down is the way to go for backpacking!) is ultra-lightweight, packs down to a tiny size, and will protect you from the cold desert climate.
Remember, sun protection is a top priority on your hike through the Grand Canyon. Protect your head, face, and neck with the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney.
I cannot emphasize this enough: pack moisture-wicking cotton socks! When you start to sweat on your hike through the Grand Canyon, these high-quality COOVAN socks will let your feet breathe and keep them from blistering.
These men’s and women’s tactical pants are water resistant, super lightweight, and have plenty of pockets for carrying smaller personal items like your phone and lip balm. Pack at least two pairs if you intend to embark on anything longer than a day hike.
The BALEAF men’s and women’s long-sleeved UPF 50+ SPF shirts are my favorite when I hit the trail. They’re super comfortable, lightweight, and airy, and they protect from sun exposure. Pack a few of these in your backpack.
If you intend to use trekking poles on your journey through the Grand Canyon, these FRDM Vigor Lightweight Liner Gloves will protect your hands from blisters and discomfort. They’re touchscreen-friendly, which makes them extra convenient when you snap photos along the way.
Grand Canyon Packing Tips
Whether you’re trekking from the south rim to the north rim, to Havasupai Falls (one of the best places to camp in Arizona), or anywhere else in the Grand Canyon, you want to pack light.
Bring the bare minimum so you have all the strength and energy possible to make the hike pleasant and manageable. Take the lightweight clothing and items recommended on this list for the best results.
Quality Over Quantity
Although you may spend a bit more on gear than on your typical backpacking trip, it’s worth it to bring quality items on your journey to the Grand Canyon. Invest in items that will last you a long time.
Bring Plenty of Water
Above all else, don’t skimp on the water! Bring at least 2 gallons per day. The Grayl GeoPress Water Bottle comes in handy if you ever run low on H2O, but you never want to get to a worrisome point. Stock up ahead of time so you’re set for the duration of your trip.
Visit the Grand Canyon During the Fall or Spring
The best time to visit the Grand Canyon is during the fall or spring, especially when you plan to hike and camp. That way you can avoid the uncomfortably warm weather of the summer months and the biting cold of the wintertime.
Don’t Forget Your Permit!
You must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center if you plan to camp anywhere outside of designated campsites at the Grand Canyon. Make sure to research exactly which permit you need depending on what area you visit, and have it on you at all times within the park.
🏕️ Read Next: Best Places to Visit in Arizona
Grand Canyon Packing FAQs
What should visitors pack for the Grand Canyon?
Visitors should pack proper hiking and camping gear, ample water, and navigation equipment for the Grand Canyon. These items will ensure a safe and comfortable visit to this natural wonder. Stop by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center for local advice, too.
What should I pack for the Grand Canyon in winter?
You should pack warm gear like water/wind-resistant clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a lightweight jacket for the Grand Canyon in winter. The park gets extremely cold during the winter, so you want to be prepared so your visit is enjoyable.
This guide should complete your Grand Canyon packing list. Since it’s a strenuous hike, you want to bring the most lightweight equipment possible. Less is more here, especially for the well-being of your back and legs. Your things must be compressible so you can fit everything you need in your pack.
If there’s anything else you recommend taking on your outdoor adventure to Grand Canyon National Park, feel free to let me know in the comments! I hope this Grand Canyon packing list helps out fellow explorers around the world!
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