You’ve got your plans set and are excited to see some incredible scenery at Zion National Park. But what gear do you need to bring? You want to have the right stuff without overpacking. Read on and I’ll tell you exacty what you need.
To hike at Zion National Park, you will need
- Water bottle or container that holds 2-3 liters
- Camelbak or other backpack
- Running belt
- Moisture wicking socks
- Trail runners or cross trainers
- Exercise type clothes
- Mosquito Repellent or Insect Repellant Lotion
- Waterproof bag
- Trekking poles or walking stick
- Canyoneering boots
- Neoprene socks
Angels Landing Specific
- Gloves if you have sensitive hands
Really nice to have
- Mio Energy Water Enhancer
- Breath mints or gum
Here we go. I’m hoping you already own most of this stuff, but if you don’t click on the links below. I do receive a small commission at no expense to you, but these are my tried-and-true items I don’t go to Zion without.
- If you are coming to Zion or plan to in the future, let us help plan your trip. We offer travel guides to Zion as well as many other locations. You will get a step-by-step (yet flexible) itinerary as well as audio guide to help you plan and execute your trip.
The Kleen Kantene sold by Amazon, is my #1 choice for a regular, multi-purpose water bottle. Matt bought this for more 6 years ago. I could not believe that with just a couple of ice cubes, my water remained ice cold for the entire day, even if I was hiking out in the sun for hours. It was incredible. The same is true for hot liquids. It is so nice to go play in the snow and have a hot cup of cocoa ready to go in the car when you are done skiing or sledding.
The design of the lid is so comfortable for carrying around. You can hold it with one or two fingers and its rounded so it doesn’t hurt. This bottle NEVER leaks. I’ve never had a single problem with my Klean Kantene in the 6 years I’ve owned it but after reading through many reviews, I found this is a company that believes in their product and will replace it if it’s not living up to expectations, even 4 years later!
I received a Yeti Tumbler as a Christmas gift 3 years ago from my wonderful in-laws. To be honest I wasn’t too impressed until I used it. Just like the Klean Kantene, my water stays icy for hours. This cup has accompanied me to work every day the past 2 years. It still looks beautiful and I’ve noticed a few of my co-workers using the same cup. The only draw back to this cup is that you can’t take it hiking because of the type of lid it has. I just leave it in the cupholder in my car so I have a cool drink ready when I finish my hike.
Here is a larger sized Yeti with a good lid for hiking. I like that it is a chug style to help you get a good drink of water. One drawback is that it’s not intended for hot drinks and will leak a bit if you use it for that.
I bought my first Camelbak when I was 20 years old and took it on many adventures. I loved it but got rid of it when I became a young mother and traded it out for a baby carrier. Now that my baby is 8 years old, I’m hoping to get one for my next birthday or Christmas.
I want the Camelbak H.A.W.G., the exact same model I use to own. Here’s why. Camelbak has taken an already amazing backpack and made it better! The 3-liter bladder now sits at the bottom of the pack on your hips to help with your stability and comfort. There is also a magnetized clip to keep the waterspout in place. There are 17 pockets and tons of storage space. I like to pack light, but I love that this bag has the space for me to pack an extra pair of shoes (Zion Narrow’s anyone?) and a jacket on top of the usual things I take hiking.
This is a mountain biking backpack, but I can’t imagine one made for hiking would be any better. It has a padded back and straps and even a waterproof cover you can put on should it start to rain. You’ll love being able to get a drink without having to pull out a water bottle every time. The Camelbak Mule is another great option.
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This is an inexpensive and very handy way to protect your phone while hiking and sight-seeing. So often you are getting it out to take a picture and it’s either packed away in a backpack or purse, or in a pocket just waiting to fall out and get damaged. When your phone is in a running belt, it is easy to access but nice and safe as well. The one I use I got when I completed a half marathon in my swag bag but this running belt from Amazon looks like a good bet. Plus, it has a couple of extra pockets for keys, ChapStick, etc.
Moisture wicking socks
I own quite a few of pairs of these but made the mistake of taking some athletic socks that weren’t moisture wicking on my last trip. Although I escaped blister free, my feet were so hot and sweaty I regretted it all day. Not all socks are created equal. Here is a link to some socks made of bamboo I recommend but there are lots out there that will do the job. Just make sure they say “moisture wicking” I have to say I’ve never had a pair of socks last as long as ones made of bamboo, and they keep your feet nice and dry.
Trail Runners or Cross Trainers
Pay close attention to this……. you DON’T need hiking boots. A good pair of trail runners will keep your feet much more comfortable by offering flexibility, cushioning, and breathability. The traction on them will keep you from slipping. Plus, you’ll be able to wear them around for other things after your vacation.
I sold athletic shoes for a couple of years and learned that everyone has their own brand preference, but after being a runner for 22 years, Asics is my brand. Here’s why.
I’ve been to running specialty shops and paid upwards of $150 for a pair of running shoes that were supposed to be just right for my type of stride and running style. They have never been better than my Asics. I usually pick up a pair of Asics Ventures (on Amazon) that will last me for 6 months to a year of weekly running. When I retire them from running, I wear them hiking and gardening and they will last until my newer pair of running shoes wears out.
These shoes can typically be purchased for between $50-$80 dollars which is a great deal compared to similar quality running shoes of other brands.
Every brand has their patented cushioning system, but I find the foam system that Asics uses is superior. Nothing feels softer on my feet and is able to endure the constant impact I put my shoes through. I’ll be an Asics customer for life.
Exercise Type Clothes
You aren’t going to believe this, but if you are going somewhere like Zion or Bryce where you’ll be doing alot of hiking, this is what people wear. I couldn’t believe all the spandex and sports bras I saw on my last trip to Zion. At first I thought it was funny but now that is what I wear (except I wear a shirt too!) I can’t believe I’ve been wearing jeans or cargo shorts for years. Fitness clothing offers breathability and flexibility that my typical shorts could never provide. Plus they dry out quickly if you get wet and fold up small in your suitcase or backpack and aren’t prone to wrinkling.
The best place to buy fitness clothing is Fabletics. Created for women of all shapes and sizes, this is a high-quality product that will not disappoint. I’ve been a fitness instructor for 10 years and this is by far the best line of clothing I have purchased.
Guys, Matt says wear athletic shorts and a t-shirt. No brand recommendations.
Don’t go on a trip without this. Great moments can be ruined by biting, swarming bugs! I once did a back country trail in Zion where I hiked 15 miles round trip to a beautiful arch and left after 5 minutes because there were flies EVERYWHERE!
I’ve never purchased a can of mosquito spray that didn’t work, but here is a different option. Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion lasts for up to 12 hours and also protects against biting flies and deer flies. If you’ve ever been bitten by one of those, you’ll happily pay the $8 for this protection. A little bit of this lotion goes a long way. Plus, I’d rather carry around this small bottle than a big can of aerosol mosquito spray that needs to be reapplied every couple of hours.
If you are hiking May-October, you’ll definently want to pack one along. Most of the trails offer little shade. However, if you are hiking the Narrows, you will be in the shade a good protion of the time. I prefer not to wear hats so I leave mine behind for this one but I like to have a hat handy for any other hike in the park.
Zion is one hot, dry place. Even if you are use to living in these conditions, you’ll be glad you packed some chapstick along.
I love Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with SPF 50 and Vitamin E. I put it on my face every morning and never worry about the sun again. It is so light weight and I have NEVER had a face sunburn since I’ve been using this (everyone’s skin type is different, but I’m quite fair skinned). Plus, one bottle usually lasts me at least 6 months.
Bring a regular bottle of sunscreen for exposed skin, but use this on your face. You’ll love it.
Narrows Hike Specific Gear
If you are going to hike the Narrows, you’ll need a few more things. The Narrows is a hike that takes 4-10 hours (from the bottom up) where you are hiking the majority of the time in water that is at least ankle deep and this water is COLD most of the year. The ground is a bit slick because you are walking on rocks around the size of softballs which makes the ground very uneven. Here is what I recommend.
This is one of the few times I would say you actually need special boots- not just a good pair of trail runners. The traction, ankle support, and warmth these boots offer is pretty necessary. I see people hike in their Tivas, water socks, or old cross trainers, but I wouldn’t do it my self. You need to protect your toes, soles of your feet, and ankles.
Instead of buying these, just rent them. Zion Outfitter is literally a few steps away from the visitor center parking lot. You don’t need a reservation, although you can make one if you want, and they never run out of gear. It will cost you around $25 for neoprene socks, canyoneering boots, and a walking stick, but it’s absolutely worth it. This gear could get pretty pricey if you bought it and I can’t think of another time I would use it besides the Narrows.
Special Note: I only recommend wearing Canyoneering boots while doing the Narrows. They are fine for the 1 mile hike to get to the Narrows where you actually get in the water but if you are wanting to do any other hikes, these boots would be way too hot.
Neoprene socks/wool socks
As stated before, the water in the Narrows Canyon can be extremely cold. Neoprene/wool socks will help your feet stay warm and comfortable. Although your feet will still get wet, it won’t be cold. I also recommend just renting the socks with the boots.
Trekking poles are especially valuable when hiking on rocks, in water, or through the snow. Many people use them on paved or dirt trails as well, just because of the added stability they offer. I was very grateful to have a stick when hiking the Narrows. A pair of trekking poles would have been better because I could have folded them up and put them in my pack when I was done instead of carrying around a giant stick.
These TrailBuddy Trekking Poles found on Amazon are a great pick. I like them because of the cork handles that help your hands sweat less, and can adjust to fit almost anyone, 24.5-54 inches.
Water Proof Bag
If you are going to be hiking in water, a water proof bag is a must. When we hiked the Narrows last time, Matt had his phone in his pocket and it dropped into the river! Fortunately it survived but that could have been an expensive mistake.
Waterproof bags are sold at Zion Outfitter, a gear store where you can rent various equipment to hike the Narrows. They range in price from $9-$12. You can buy these lanyard type ones from Amazon that would work just fine for a lot less. If you really don’t want to buy something special for this, bring some high-quality Ziploc bags with you. They aren’t 100% waterproof but should offer some protection.
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Angel’s Landing Specific Gear
The last half mile of Angel’s landing, the Hog’s back, requires you to hold on to chains bolted into the rock. Intra-Fit Climbing gloves are a good value choice if you are concerned about losing your grip because of sweaty hands or just to offer some protection from blisters and calluses. I never use gloves but know some people prefer to.
Really Nice to Have
These items are not what I would call necessities, but I would call them ninja tips! These are items you wouldn’t think to pack along, but make the experience so much better.
Liquid Water Enhancer
This is the secret sauce right here. Pick up this MiO Energy Black Cherry Liquid Water Enhancer Drink Mix from Amazon or your local grocery store to throw in your pack. It’s yummy but what I love about it most are the B vitamins and the caffeine. It’s not so much that it makes you jittery but gives enough to give you that extra boost of energy to finish that long drive on your road trip or that last mile of your hike. Plus, its only $2-$3 dollars.
Breath mints or gum
Your mouth gets really dry when you are hiking in this hot, dry climate. You’ll be glad you packed some of these along to avoid cotton mouth.
Once again, hot dry climate. Just grab the mini size lotion they give you at hotels and you’ll be set. You won’t be taking up much room in your pack and your hands will thank you for it.
Bonus Item for Babies
If you have a new born to a four year old, you need this! I owned a couple of cheep baby carriers before I cracked and spent the money on my Ergo. I can not endorse this product enough. For some crazy reason, having 4 kids under the age of 7 never slowed Matt and I down from seeing the Rockies. We just packed those little ones along. We bought a second one with our second kid and the Ergo made hiking and sight-seeing doable.
Here are some of my favorite things about the Ergo.
- Carry’s in all positions: inward, front outward, side on hip, and back carry.
- Comfy weight distribution for baby. Their weight is on their little bottom, not their crotch.
- Comfy weight distribution for the adult. Baby’s weight is mostly on hips, with some on shoulders and chest strap.
- Machine washable
- Can carry 7-45 lbs. Newborn to 4 years old.
- No metal frames- easy to fit in a travel bag
- Great for hiking or home use
Even though all the trails in the main canyon of Zion are paved, I wouln’t recommend taking a stroller on them because they are narrow, cracked and damaged in places, and can have steep inclines/declines.
Our children all loved being in the Ergo. They often fell asleep and we loved not having to get them in and out of a stroller. Plus, taking your child in and out is a breeze.
Our 2 Ergos survived 4 children and my sister is now using them to pack around Europe with her children. Ergo’s customer support is excellent. When I needed a small replacement part, they sent it to me free of charge and walked me through h and they sent me a replacement part and talked me through how to attach it. This is a buy you won’t regret.
Is there anything else I should know?
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