Weather in Colorado varies significantly, depending on both season and time of day. Your Colorado packing list should include plenty of layers, as well as gear for planned activities. It’s a lot of things to remember, but I’m here to help!
I’m a Denver local that’s explored much of the Centennial State and have seen too many tourists come unprepared. With this Colorado packing checklist, hopefully, you’ll avoid unwanted expenses and travel more safely and easily.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
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Colorado Packing Checklist
Filtration Water Bottle
You may wonder why a filtration water bottle is listed first on a packing list for Colorado. Isn’t the local tap water safe enough? While generally safe, Grayl’s easy-to-use bottle will filter any trace amounts of heavy metals and chemicals.
But what makes this water bottle especially cool is that it can filter sediment. If you’re planning on going for a hike in Colorado, this bottle allows you to take a drink from any alpine lake or mountain stream. Plus, staying hydrated is the #1 thing you can do to avoid sickness at a higher altitude!
Proudly manufactured in southwest Colorado, Osprey packs are a personal favorite. Their Porter 46 model is especially perfect for travel as it meets carry-on size restrictions. As soon as you land at DIA, you can bypass baggage claim and get to explore all the things to do in Denver and beyond!
In addition, this backpack features lockable zippers, keeping your valuables safe. The adjustable straps ensure comfort, and reinforced cord loops allow you to attach an Osprey daypack. You can also read our full Osprey Porter 46 backpack review!
Made in Colorado with recycled materials, the pack is also compatible with the Osprey Porter 46 model. You can connect the two by their attachment points, then tighten the adjustable straps for security and comfort.
When visiting Colorado, any local will tell you to pack multiple layers. Regardless of the season you visit Colorado, you’ll want a light jacket, long hiking pants, t-shirts, and more on your packing list. How will you possibly fit so much into a carry-on backpack? With Osprey’s super-practical packing cubes, of course!
These lightweight pouches will make you a packing pro. With three sizes available, you can compartmentalize all your needs. Plus, the handy straps on top of each cube make pulling these out of your backpack incredibly easy.
Planning to visit Colorado hot springs or take part in activities like rafting or paddleboarding? Or maybe you’re arranging ski trips to iconic mountain towns like Steamboat Springs and Winter Park! After enjoying the après ski scene, this fast-drying, microfiber towel will be perfect for the hot tub.
Made by Rainleaf, these soft, super-absorbent towels are both functional and fashionable. Choose from a selection of ten vibrant colors, and utilize the included carry bag for organized packing.
Colorado summers can be quite warm, with temperatures peaking above 90°F along the Front Range. So, especially if traveling from June through August, add a cooling towel to your packing list for Colorado.
These innovative, breathable towels stay cold for hours at a time. Simply soak the cloth in water, wring out, and wear in a variety of styles. Use it as a neck wrap, headband, or to cover your shoulders. The lightweight fabric is even UPF 35, helping to protect you from the sun’s rays.
At a higher elevation, the sun’s rays are even more permeating. While you may tan faster than other places, the risk of burns and skin damage are present, too. During all seasons, sunscreen is a must-wear in Colorado!
The Travel Lemming team loves this moisturizing, SPF 50 sunscreen from SunBum. It’s lightweight with a pleasant scent, as well as vegan and eco-friendly.
Sunscreen Lip Balm
When you pack for Colorado, not only is sunscreen essential but SPF lip balm, too. Protect your lips from the sun’s rays, as well as our state’s dry, desert-like climate. This variety pack from SunBum is made with hydrating, natural ingredients like aloe and vitamin E.
First Aid Kit
When you take a trip to Colorado, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit. This mini model may not have all the tools as other kits. But it offers all your essentials, plus a few extras that are perfect for Colorado excursions.
Of course, antiseptic wipes and various bandages are included. But I especially love that this kit comes with moleskin for blister treatment. A space blanket is included too, which can be used as an emergency shelter.
👉 Pro Tip: When exploring the backcountry, always be sure to pack the essentials for hiking!
A pocket knife comes in handy for a variety of reasons, and this Leatherman multitool is sure to do the trick and more. Even if your next trip has nothing to do with exploring the mountains, you’re sure to find benefit in packing this item.
Need to fix a zipper on your rain jacket or tighten a screw on your camera? Simply want to enjoy a Colorado craft beer? Durable and compact, it converts into fourteen different tools. This includes pliers, screwdrivers, and a bottle opener.
The downside of this item is that you’d have to check your bag at the airport. But if you’d rather stick to a carry-on, this TSA-compliant multitool is a great alternative.
If your outing extends past dark, accidentally or intentionally, you’ll be thankful that a headlamp made it on your Colorado packing list. This lightweight, long-lasting model from Petzl is a personal favorite. Remember to pack extra AAA batteries, too!
Solar Power Bank
Because Colorado averages 300 days of sun per year, this solar-charged power bank is a no-brainer. Add it to your Colorado packing list so that wherever you go, your phone battery never runs low.
In fact, this model can charge up to four devices simultaneously! Cable-free charging is another major feature. You can power this bank with a USB-C charger, or rely on eco-friendly solar power.
👉 Pro Tip: When on a Colorado road trip, I like to leave mine on the car dashboard. I’ve also attached a ring to the bank’s eyelet. This allows me to affix the device on the outside of my hiking backpack. Do the same and you’ll have power for days, even in the backcountry!
There are so many fun things to do in Colorado. But even when on a trip, most people appreciate time away from busy settings and loud distractions.
A single charge allows you to enjoy 6 hours of audio. Plus, the compact charging case allows for 12 additional hours of usage. Sound quality, Bluetooth connectivity, and a reliable microphone are other notable perks.
Planning a big outdoor adventure in the Rocky Mountains? Capture the experience with a GoPro Hero 8. It’s their most popular waterproof model, having an impact-resistant lens and touch screen. You can live stream, as well as shoot stabilized time-lapse videos.
Planning to ski, climb, kayak, or go horseback riding? Affix the device to your helmet with this protective housing accessory! Or for epic hiking footage, pack this camera mount that folds into an arm or tripod.
- Simple & flexible
- Balances price & quality
- Upfront transparency about covid (no insurer covers all covid risks, but at least they explain it!)
- Not available to seniors 70+ in USA (or 65+ in other countries)
No matter your country of residence, it’s smart to purchase travel insurance for your vacation to Colorado. Many overlook this important tip, but given the global health crisis, it’s especially worth considering.
World Nomads makes insurance simple with clear policies and comprehensive packages. Coverage includes medical expenses, emergency evacuation, stolen property, and unexpected travel cancellations.
Other Colorado Essentials to Pack
- TSA-approved toiletries kit
- Travel-size hand sanitizer
- Battery-powered electric toothbrush
- Sleep mask
- Face sunscreen
- Travel-size insect repellent
- Single-dose OTC medications
- Prescription medications
- Vaccination paperwork
- Passport, driver’s license, and/or valid ID
- Proof of vehicle insurance if renting a car
- Cell phone and charger
- Laptop and charger
Clothing to Pack for Colorado in Summer
When it comes to clothing, much of your Colorado packing list will be dictated by the time of year in which you’re visiting. Weather varies widely each season, but also throughout the day.
If you visit Denver in the spring or summer, it’s not uncommon to wear a fleece jacket in the morning, and then by noon, feel comfortable in a tank top. The key to packing for Colorado summers, and all seasons for that matter, is to bring lots of layers!
So what clothes should you wear in Colorado? Here’s a quick summer packing list:
- 2-3 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of convertible hiking pants
- 4-6 t-shirts
- 1 dress shirt
- 1 pair of dress pants
- 1-2 sundresses
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 fleece jacket
- 1 ball cap or wide-brim hiking hat
- 1-2 swimsuits
- 1 beach cover-up
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of dress shoes
- 1 pair of sturdy shoes or hiking boots
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5-6 pairs of socks varying in thickness
For the most part, that packing list covers the clothing essentials for a summer Colorado trip. Here are a few of our top-rated picks, selected for their superior quality and functionality.
Breathable and effective, the Columbia Watertight II is a best-selling rain jacket for men. The brand creates similar styles for women, too, such as the popular Arcadia II. These types of jackets are ideal for spring weather in Colorado, namely in May when afternoon showers are most common.
Having adjustable drawstring hems and snug-fit hoods, these jackets are also ideal for wind protection. If you’re planning to visit Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, you’ll be thankful to have included this item on your Colorado packing list!
Whether you visit Denver, head north to Steamboat Springs, or west to Grand Junction, daily temperatures fluctuate. Cold mornings and evenings are common with 30-degree lows, even in the middle of summer. This is especially true in the Colorado mountains.
A fleece jacket should be included on your Colorado packing list for spring and summer. Carhartt makes warm, well-stitched options for both women and men. Choose from both zip-up and pullover styles in a variety of patterns and colors.
Convertible Hiking Pants
When you visit Colorado in the summer, you need to pack a variety of clothes. Outdoor activities like hiking demand even more clothing, with such a range in weather each day. To minimize your packing needs, here’s a pro tip: convertible hiking pants.
I wear these Columbia pants on all my hiking adventures. They’re perfect for a summer Colorado trip, converting into shorts when you get too hot mid-day. Both their women’s and men’s styles are made with water-resistant, UPF 50 fabric, keeping you both protected and comfortable.
When it comes to shoes, if you want to be prepared for all Colorado terrain, your best bet is with a pair of hiking boots. From personal experience, I believe that Merrell is one of the best manufacturers. Their Moab II model is their most popular hiking boot, available in both men’s and women’s sizes.
The shoes’ rubber soles and additional ankle support are ideal for rocky hiking trails. Plus, the mesh fabric portions are breathable, making them comfortable even in warm summer temperatures.
Clothing to Pack for Colorado in Winter
When it comes to clothes, cold winter weather demands a different Colorado packing list. Snow should be expected in most places when the winter season is in full swing! But even if taking a trip to Colorado in the fall, plan to wear warm clothes and shoes.
Follow this guide so you know what to wear in Colorado for winter sports like skiing, as well as other winter activities.
- 3-4 pairs of long pants or jeans
- 1-2 t-shirts
- 2-3 long-sleeved shirts
- 3-4 sweaters, sweatshirts, or cardigans
- 1 dress shirt
- 1 pair of dress pants
- 1 dress
- 1 winter coat
- 1 fleece or puffer jacket
- 1 pair of snow pants
- 1 pair of goggles
- 1 beanie or trapper hat
- 1 scarf or neck warmer
- 1-2 swimsuits
- 1 bathrobe
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of dress shoes
- 1 pair of hiking boots or snow boots
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5-6 pairs of socks varying in thickness
Just like in the summer, fall and winter weather in Colorado can fluctuate as much as 30°F in a single day. This applies to Denver, as well as Colorado mountain towns like Leadville, Frisco, Steamboat Springs, and Grand Junction.
Prepare for cold air and deep snow with warm clothes that allow for layering. Your trip activities, too, will influence your packing needs. Here are a few specific items to consider bringing with you to Colorado.
Whether you’re planning for fall or winter activities, this triclimate jacket has you covered. The North Face has created a women’s version, too, perfect for the wide range of weather you’ll experience in Colorado.
The three-in-one system allows for customized warmth. Wear both the inner puffer jacket and shell for ski outings, hiking, and other outings involving snow. The inner jacket alone is great on cold, dry days, while the shell alone is ideal for warm winter days.
Aside from having incredible versatility, this is an ideal ski jacket. Made with hand pockets, a helmet-compatible hood, powder skirt, and water-resistant fabric, it’s designed to keep cold air and snow out.
If you’re traveling to Colorado for a winter ski trip, goggles are a must. I love the stylish Squad model from Smith, offering a comfortable, unisex fit and crystal-clear vision. These ski goggles never fog and keep your eyes protected from the bright sun reflecting off the snow.
Check out their other great options that accommodate various budgets and preferences.
Of all the clothes you’ll wear on a Colorado winter trip, you’ll be most thankful that you packed this neck warmer by Burton. Truly, it’s the best winter accessory I’ve ever purchased! The brand creates a men’s version, too.
If you plan to ski, I recommend buying the style that’s large enough to fit over your helmet. But even if skiing’s not your thing, it’s perfect for hiking or simply staying warm in Denver winter weather.
Surprised to see a bathrobe on a list of winter clothes to pack for Colorado? Trust us, when you arrive at one of the state’s hot spring resorts, you’ll be happy you brought one. Especially in winter, jumping from one pool to the next gets chilly!
Even if hot springs aren’t on your agenda, a robe will come in handy for hot tub lounging après ski or at your Denver hotel. Stay comfortable with this luxurious style from Ugg, also available in men’s sizes.
Colorado Packing Tips
Dress in Layers
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting in the summer or winter, wearing layers is key in Colorado! Expect chilly mornings and evenings, with daily temperatures ranging up to 30°F.
Consider Your Activities
Your itinerary will influence your Colorado packing list. If you’re planning a summer backpacking trip, a filtration water bottle and shoes with traction are essentials. While a winter ski trip will require gear like goggles, a neck warmer, and snow pants.
You might be able to get away with wearing a pair of jeans two or three times before washing. But that’s not the case with t-shirts and other clothing, especially in the warm summer months.
If you’re visiting Colorado for more than a week, consider keeping your pack light by doing laundry. Visit a local laundromat or choose lodging that offers this amenity.
Colorado is an ideal state for outdoor adventure, but proper education and preparation are essential. Before you explore the Colorado backcountry, be sure to read the weather and trip reports. Pack a first aid kit, multitool, and all ten essentials, plus any other safety gear specific to your trip.
For more tips, check out Laura’s list of things to know before visiting Colorado.
FAQs About Packing for Colorado
What do people wear in Colorado in the summer?
In the summer, people in Colorado wear layers, along with comfortable shoes and sandals. In Denver and along the Front Range, shorts and tees are worn in the afternoons. In the cooler mornings and evenings, as well as in the mountains, light jackets and full-length pants are common.
What should I pack for Colorado in winter?
When packing for winter in Colorado, you should include plenty of warm layers and a winter jacket, as well as insulated shoes or boots. If you plan to ski, gear like goggles and snow pants should be packed, too.
Is Denver a casual city?
Denver is a causal city overall. “Mountain-chic” is trendy in Denver and mountain towns, even within the workplace. Button-up flannels, sherpa jackets, denim, and leather shoes will make you blend in with the locals!
That’s it for our Colorado packing list! Whether you’re exploring Denver or the Rocky Mountains, these essentials are sure to help keep you safe and comfortable.
Before heading to Colorado by plane or car, check out our free, comprehensive guides on things to do and where to stay:
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