Hiking vacation checklist
After a hiking vacation when my wife and I forgot numerous supplies and equipment, we started a list and have kept refining it. Our list doesn’t include the obvious stuff, like socks, underwear, medication, backpack or styling brush (I like to stay well coiffed, please don’t judge me).
We’re sharing our list with you in case there’s one or two things you haven’t thought of for an upcoming trip. If you’ve added something important that you didn’t find on our list, please comment at the bottom and let us know. We’re always hoping to create the perfect list.
- Bug spray
We always carry it; biting insects can ruin an outdoor vacation or hike
- Car charger for smart phone
- Power bank battery charger for smart phone
- Saline nose drops
Arid destinations mess with my nostrils
- Zip lock bags
For trail mix or electronic car keys in case it rains. I also carry an ultra light dry sack for my camera equipment.
- First aid kit
- Moleskin and scissors
I love my feet so I protect them
We purchased very light waterproof jackets and pants because we’re stubborn and won’t let rain stop us from enjoying the sights
- Camera cables for laptop
I download my photos every night while on vacation so that they exist in two different locations, in case I lose my camera
- Two jackets
One light and one heavier, for destinations with varied daytime temps. We once experienced a 75 degree change from morning to evening.
With no storyline about vicious bear or squirrel attacks
- Deck of cards
We also have national park trivia cards we enjoy around a fireplace
- Trekking poles
Including attachable baskets for snow covered trails, which we’ve encountered in July and August
- Hiking gloves
Two different weights for cold mountain mornings and cool afternoons
We use SPF 50. I’ve had four skin cancers removed. Try the products with tan coloration added so you don’t resemble Casper.
- UPF clothing
My dermatologist highly recommends it.
- Wide brim hat
Baseball caps and visors don’t protect your ears and forehead from the sun’s harmful rays.
- UV sunglasses
Spend some money on a good pair.
- Beef jerky
Or some other snack indulgence that makes you smile while hiking; sometimes I substitute Chuckles.
- Lite rope
Only when hiking canyons we’re not familiar with; could have used it once to advance on a slick rock trail
- Compass in phone
Most have them; test yours sometime
Choose your brand for pain control and remember that a non-coated aspirin might improve your outcome during a heart event in the wild
- Head lamp
Didn’t own one until five years ago, now I feel half-naked without one during a trip
- Music and audiobooks on phone
Many parks are in remote areas with spotty radio, plus not all rental cars come with XM, so bring your own tunes for the drive
Don’t settle on seeing a bear from a distance. We own Nikon binoculars with “great glass,” which is binocular talk for great images
We got tired of sleepless nights on cheap hotel and lodge pillows, so we pack our own
- Ice scraper
Rental cars sometimes don’t have one and we’ve had to use library and credit cards to scrape off morning ice, even in summer months
- Lens cleaning kit
I clean our sunglasses and camera lenses every night
- Long johns and turtleneck
They’re light enough to pack and many mountainous parks and a few canyons, like Bryce, can throw frigid summer mornings at you
- Four-wheel drive rental
Why limit your opportunities in parks that feature great networks of dirt roads leading to secluded waterfalls, trails and scenic gems
- Two pairs of hiking shoes
In some parks we get wet feet crossing streams, and we’ve also had shoes go bad during a trip
- Cheap cloth wipes to clean off shoes and trekking poles
We don’t like packing dirty equipment into our luggage or ruining hotel or cabin towels, so we bring disposable towels
- Snakebite kit
Old listing, we have since discarded ours because most emergency medical professionals no longer recommend them