Backpacking in Grand Canyon – The Essential Items for Your Pack

Backpacking in Grand Canyon can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do in your life. Many of you have asked me over the years what you need to take with you on your trip. Of course it will depend on the season and on the actual hike you are doing. What I have attempted to do here is to outline the essential items you need to have with you, other than food, for a fairly basic trip.  Please use this as a guide only, as your requirements may be a little different.

By the way, your needs will change with the seasons. What you carry in the middle of the summer will be somewhat different than what you will need in the winter. My list assumes a typical spring or fall trip, which are the best seasons in my opinion.

  • A backpack which you have thoroughly tested. This means hiking for many miles with weight in it!
  • Backpacking tent.
  • A ground cover for your tent.
  • Sleeping bag – I prefer down filled.
  • Sleeping pad for underneath your sleeping bag. Do not cheap out on this!
  • Backpacking stove.
  • Fuel for the stove. Please remember that you cannot pack fuel on an airplane. Purchase at Grand Canyon.
  • Waterproof/windproof matches.
  • Duct tape.
  • Lightweight pot for heating water.
  • Water filter and/or iodine tablets.
  • Headlamp with batteries.
  • Extra batteries for headlamp.
  • Camelback hydration system or 4 one-liter Nalgene bottles. My rule of thumb is to have the capacity to carry at least 4 liters of water for a basic trip. This is the desert and don’t underestimate the dangers of dehydration.
  • Drinking cup.
  • 50 feet of nylon cord.
  • Map.
  • Quick drying hand towel.
  • Pencil/pad if you like to take notes or journal your trip.
  • Toiletries/first aid.
  • SportsSlick or some type of skin lubricant.
  • Sunblock.
  • Bug repellant – I have not had much trouble with bugs in Grand Canyon.
  • Knife, fork, spoon (all in one, found at camp stores).
  • Toilet paper.
  • Money, credit card, ID.
  • Swiss army knife.
  • Trekking poles – a MUST as far as I am concerned.
  • Digital camera, extra memory card and an extra battery.
  • Camp pillow – I love the inflatable one from REI.
  • Handy wipes.
  • Stuff sacks or large zip lock bags for clothing.
  • Backpack rain cover – you never know in Grand Canyon!
  • Zip lock bag to hold trash.
  • Large trash bag (to protect backpack at night from rain).
  • iPod and earbuds –I use these sometimes at night to help me fall asleep. Obviously they are optional.
  • Backcountry pass – MUST have this to backpack in Grand Canyon.

This is a very basic list and of course your needs will vary. Of course you will be carrying food and extra clothing, which I will touch on in another article. But for now, you should have enough info to get started on packing your bag!

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