May 27th, 2016

What to Pack When Heading to a National Park

What to Pack When Heading to a National Park

Summer is here and it’s time to get outside! This is the Centennial Year of America's National Park System and there is a lot going on in every park this year. So you'll want to make sure that you’re geared up properly. This packing guide will help you have the best time at whichever park(s) you choose to visit.



Even though it’s summer, a crazy storm could roll through and bring with it some frigid weather. Depending on the park of your choosing, nights could get pretty darn cold as well. So analyze park temperatures online a week ahead of time and bring clothes that are versatile to reduce your packing load. Pack some lightweight, long-sleeved shirts that are good both in warm and cold weather, and the same goes for pants. Ones with SPF protection are even better, since you'll be out in the sun all day.

A solid outer layer is a must, like a windbreaker with a hood. Not only will that fend off the cold wind, but it also doubles as a raincoat. Beneath that should be a great middle layer. You want something that’ll keep your core warm, but isn't so bulky that it won't fit underneath your outer layer!

Sturdy hiking shoes are always important. They give you ankle support when you’re out exploring, and they also protect your feet from things like rocks, plants, and even animals. And keep in mind that you need a great pair of sweat-wicking athletic socks to go along with your sturdy shoes as well.


Before you pack the fun stuff—I'll get to that in a minute!—you need to have something to put it in. Make sure you bring a backpack that you could use day or night. It needs to be big enough to fit your food, water, camera, light, and any extra clothing into.


Stay up after dark and you’ll see a whole new side to the park. In order to do that, you’re going to want to bring a headlamp or a flashlight. Choose one that contains a red light, which allows you to see what’s in front of you without messing up your own night vision. (The red light doesn't cause your pupils to shrink, but regular white light does.)


With all the amazing sights you’ll be seeing, you'll be dying to take pictures to share with friends and family when you get back. Browse the Internet and you’ll find thousands of options to go with, from an old-school Polaroid to a top-of-the-line DSLR or mirrorless camera that’ll set you back a couple thousand dollars.

There’s no need to run out and buy a new camera just for your trip (unless you really want to). Take what you have and pack it in a Pack-It Specter eCube or even bring your phone to snap some photos. And if you are interested in getting into photography, snapping pictures at a National Park is a great way to start. Since the parks have so many breathtaking landscapes, you'll have many wonderful photo opportunities.


To help yourself remember all of your amazing adventures, grab a small, light, notebook before you head out, toss it into a sling daypack, and keep running tabs of what you do each day. One day, when you're sitting around an open fire telling stories with your friends and family, it may come in handy.

For even more packing tips, check out this ultimate list.

Have you already been to a National Park this year? What would you add to this list?

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog)

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling With Pets

3 Educational Trips the Family Will Actually Enjoy

Top 5 National Park Landmark Sites You Don’t Want To Miss

by Justin Fricke

Justin traded in his cushy desk job for a life on the road. He's spending a full year living in a converted Sprinter Van with his brother while they climb, surf, and explore all 50 states in one year. Follow his blog, The Weekend Warrior, where he keeps tabs on their adventures. You can also find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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