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Zion Recommended Gear

Couple hiking in the river

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 exactly what you need.

To hike at Zion National Park, you will need

Narrows Specific

  • Waterproof bag
  • Trekking poles or walking stick
  • Canyoneering boots
  • Neoprene socks

Angels Landing Specific

  • Gloves if you have sensitive hands

Really Nice to Have

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.

What to pack for your National Parks road trip [Arches, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon]

Water Bottle

Kleen Kantene

The Kleen Kantene sold by Amazon, is my #1 choice for a regular, multi-purpose water bottle. Matt bought this more than 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!

Yeti

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 for the past 2 years. It still looks beautiful and I’ve noticed a few of my co-workers using the same cup. The only drawback 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.

Camelbak

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 used 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.

Confused about How to Ride the Zion Shuttles?
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Guide includes the Springville Shuttle, Zion Canyon Shuttle, What to Do at Each Stop, Handy Tips + Maps

Running Belt

This is an inexpensive and very handy way to protect your phone while hiking and sightseeing. 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 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.

Value

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.

Comfort

Every brand has its 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 a lot 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 to wear athletic shorts and a T-shirt. No brand recommendations.

Mosquito Repellent

Don’t go on a trip without this. Great moments can be ruined by biting, swarming bugs! I once did a backcountry 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 ~$10 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.

Hat

If you are hiking from May to October, you’ll definitely 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 portion 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.

Chapstick

Zion is one hot, dry place.  Even if you are used to living in these conditions, you’ll be glad you packed some chapstick along.  

Sunscreen

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 lightweight 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.

Canyoneering Boots

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 myself.  You need to protect your toes, soles of your feet, and ankles.

Instead of buying these, just rent themZion 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 $32 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 want 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

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 waterproof 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.

What we learned hiking the Narrows: Tips for First-Timers
Watch our experience hiking The Narrows

Angel’s Landing Specific Gear

Climbing Gloves

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.

How to hike Angels Landing [Lottery, Hike Overview, Tips]
Watch our video about hiking Angels Landing

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, it’s only ~$5-$6 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.

Lotion

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

Baby Carrier

If you have a newborn to a four-year-old, you need this! I owned a couple of cheap 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 me 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.

  • It carries 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 straps.
  • Machine washable
  • Can carry 7-45 lbs. Newborn to 4 years old.
  • No metal frames- easy to fit in a travel bag
  • Sunshade
  • Great for hiking or home use

Even though all the trails in the main canyon of Zion are paved, I wouldn’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 talked me through how to attach it. This is a buy you won’t regret.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

Zion is crowded!

Need a game plan to avoid the crowds? Check out our itinerary

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times.

But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over 3-hours of stories about the park!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
ZION

ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our  Zion Homepage

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Zion has to offer including Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Kolob Canyons

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn where to stay or camp when visiting Zion and explore some amazing cities nearby including St. George, Kanab, and Cedar City

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation and how to use the shuttle system as well as if you can drive in Zion, which entrance to use, and how to avoid crowds

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist

LEGAL INFORMATION

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