21 Essential Things To Pack When Visiting National Parks

Last Updated on January 21, 2024 by Nikki Jain

There are many National Parks in the United States boasting beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife, and many different activities.

If you're planning a trip to any of our great National Parks soon, you might be wondering what are some right essentials that you'll need to consider bringing as you embark on your adventure. When you are prepared, you can enjoy all of the things you have planned with ease, comfort, and excitement. To help you as you pack for your vacation, we want to share our 21 essential things to pack when visiting National Parks.

National Parks Essential Packing List

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1: Hiking Shoes

Hiking Shoes

Whether you’re an avid hiker or just love exploring the trails, a good pair of hiking shoes is worth investing in. Unknown terrain and weather can make for exciting but unpredictable trails, so having a solid pair of shoes is a must-have for a National Park trip.

Keep your days out on the mountains worry-free, knowing that your next step will be stable and secure. A great brand we would like to suggest for men and women alike is Merrell. A trusted brand, these hiking shoes will get you ready for the outdoors and keep your feet protected, stabilized, and secure as you seek experiences of a lifetime!

Check the Women’s Shoe here.

Check the Men’s Shoe here.

2: Sunscreen


There are several ways to protect and care for your skin while you’re out enjoying nature. The easiest way would be to always carry good sunscreen with you. Coola Organic Sunscreen and Body Spray are one of the best for outdoor activities. It sprays on with ease, is weightless, and helps to protect the environment. It's water and sweat-resistant, which means you will be worry-free when it comes to protecting your largest organ- your skin!

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3: Map & GPS

Map & GPS

Most of us travel with our phones, so you’ll likely have yours as you begin your travels into any National Park. It’s important so you can take those epic photos! However, many National Parks are known to have sparse internet connections, making utilizing the map and GPS features a little trickier. We would suggest carrying the Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator.

This handheld navigator is battery-operated with up to 20 hours of continuous use. It stores and displays key information that will be valuable to you as you explore and has a fast and reliable signal. It will never hurt to have a tool like this in case you find yourself deep in the park with a lost signal.

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4: Bug & Mosquito Spray

Bug & Mosquito Spray

The last thing you want or need to be bothered by while trying to sightsee in a National Park is the bugs. Inevitably, you will encounter pesky little critters as you explore their world; however, there is no need to be bitten by them.

Carrying bug and mosquito spray is a must-have as you pack your backpack and should be applied liberally and often. We recommend this Deep Woods spray by OFF! It will give you long-lasting protection and will allow for easy application whenever you should need it.

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5: Rain Jacket

Rain Jacket

You can never completely predict the weather while traveling, especially if you’re in a mountainous area; the weather could change at a moment's notice. Carrying a lightweight waterproof jacket that can also keep you warm is one of the National Park essentials. Choosing a water and rainproof jacket that isn't bulky will prepare you for any weather heading your way.

Our #1 recommendation is a jacket from MARMOT. They are lightweight, hooded, and ready for any outdoor activities you are anxious to embark upon. With many different styles for men and women, we know you’ll find the perfect one! We are currently loving this Camel Men’s Lightweight Rain Jacket that is hooded as well.

 See the Marmot Men's Rain Jacket here.

 See the Marmot Women's Rain Jacket here.

6: Solar Power Bank

Solar Power Bank

Safety is paramount as you travel, and making sure you have the ability to charge up your electronics is one of the essentials for any National Park trip. If you're going to be camping without access to electricity, it's important to make sure you can charge your devices as needed. In case you need the GPS on your phone or need to call for help, having the ability to charge up at all times can really come in handy.

We recommend this Amazon Best Seller Wireless Solar Charger to help give you peace of mind as you explore. This portable power bank charges itself via the sun, which means that you will never be without the ability to charge your devices. It has four USB outputs allowing you to charge four devices simultaneously for efficiency. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this is the way to go as you explore any National Park!

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7: Quick Dry Towel

Quick Dry Towel

Carrying a towel in your backpack can be bulky and take up a lot of space. As you hike and explore, you want to make sure to have room for other necessities to help your travels be more enjoyable. However, traveling without a towel can prove to be a nightmare in situations where you could truly benefit from having one.

This Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is fast drying, comfortable, and very convenient to use. It folds up and fits into tiny spaces meaning you won't be without a towel but still will have space for all of your other National Park necessities.

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8: First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

You never know what might come your way as you're out there exploring Mother Nature, and it's best always to be prepared. Having a first aid kit on hand that fits snugly inside your backpack is key to having a safe time on a National Park excursion.

We found this 299 piece All Purpose First Aid Kit that will equip you with everything you need to adventure outdoors with confidence. If accidents occur and you need solutions to keep you and your family clean up and safe, this first aid kit is sure to help you respond quickly.

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9: Hydration Backpack

Hydration Backpack

A Hydration Backpack is another essential for the National Park packing list. Staying hydrated while you explore a National Park is very important. Carrying a clunky water bottle isn’t always practical and can take up a lot of space.

The solution is to purchase a backpack that already has a hydration option inside it. This TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack comes equipped with a 2-Liter Hydration Bladder so you can save on space and stay fully hydrated all at the same time.

It's equipped with a sip tube you can drink from anywhere without slowing down. The last thing you should have to worry about is running out of water while you're enjoying the great outdoors.

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10: Bear Spray

Bear Spray

Many of our great National Parks are up North and in the mountains. You can never be too certain about the different types of wildlife you could endure. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is exhilarating and breathtaking.

While it won’t usually be dangerous, carrying some bear spray on hand could prove better safe than sorry. The SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray can provide maximum strength and range in case you come across any bears during your time in the great outdoors.

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11: Clif Bars

Clif Bars

Packing sustenance is always recommended when you are going to be out and exerting energy. Whether you plan to be out in nature for a long or just a short time, being prepared with packaged snacks is essential for a National Park trip. Clif Bars are a great way to keep you going! No matter what flavor you love, it will pack you full of energy and curb hunger.

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12: Headlamp


Even if you aren’t planning to be out past dark, it’s better to be safe than sorry! A headlamp will help light the way if the sun goes down sooner than expected or you find yourself exploring caves. This GearLight LED Headlamp is the way to go! It sits flat on your head, so it won't bounce or flip. Equipped with a rechargeable battery, this headlamp will give you 40 hours of use before you need to charge it again.

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13: Drip Drop Electrolyte Powder

Drip Drop Electrolyte Powder

Beat dehydration before it starts! This fast-acting powder is a medically recognized way to avoid dehydration that can occur from outdoor activities over time. Make sure to take preventative action to avoid becoming dehydrated by bringing along Drip Drop Electrolyte Powder. It can help ensure that you stay well hydrated and continue the day's fun.

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14: Digital Sports Altimeter Watch

Digital Sports Altimeter Watch

Another gear to include in your National Park packing list. Made to withstand severe conditions, an Altimeter Watch has multiple functions. It is equipped with a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, clock, EL backlight, and world time. Built for any situation you might stumble upon, this Lad Weather Watch is exactly what you need.

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15: BaerSkin Hoodie 3.0

 BaerSkin Hoodie 3.0

The latest version of the BaerSkin Hoodie, Hoodie 3.0, is a game changer in the world of performance wear. Designed using materials that are not only different but also have uniqueness, this hoodie provides unmatched comfort and style for those who love the outdoors. The feature that makes it different is the way it is made with insulation, which allows for breathing; hence, it can be used in any weather condition.

Regardless of whether you go hiking or just run some errands in the city, this versatile hoodie will enable you to maintain your good appearance and high spirits all day long, thanks to its outstanding performance in different activities. Besides having a simple appearance, it also has compartments where individuals can keep their things safe, as well as seams that cannot be easily torn. Some of the features that sets it apart from other hoodies are Rubber Adjustable Cuffs, 12 Secure Pockets, and Windsulation Design.

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16: Outdoor Socks

Outdoor Socks

A good pair of socks could be the difference between a smooth time on the trails or sore and achy feet. And since we don't have time for sore and achy feet, we recommend that you gear up with a great pair of our door socks! These Merino Wool Hiking Socks are high quality, soft, comfortable, and control moisture no matter what the weather may be. Make sure to pack an extra pair just in case you need it!

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17: Hiking Kit for Foot Sores

Hiking Kit for Foot Sores

There is no bigger nuisance than being out in the wilderness, enjoying your day when an uninvited foot blister pesters you. Whether you have new shoes or haven’t hiked in a while, a foot sore shouldn’t put a damper on your whole day. Snag this Hiking Kit For Foot Sores by Trek Kit and be prepared to stop the pain the minute to feel it immersing.

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18: Binoculars


Give yourself the gift of clear eyesight while you adventure! There is so much to see; why not see it even more up close and personal? Having a small pair of compact binoculars on hand is vital. The Aurosports 10x25 Folding High Powered Compact Binoculars is a great choice!

It’s small and lightweight, so it won't bog you down. It will give you great magnification and wonderfully clear vision. Whether you're looking at birds or hoping to find larger wildlife, a good pair of binoculars keeps you at a safe distance but still right in the action.

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19: Two Way Radios

Two Way Radios

Having a way to communicate is always a bright idea. Two-way radios can give you that gift, as well as a few other features that will help you feel confident and safe as you explore any National Park. This Midland Two Way Radio comes in a set of three and will provide up to a 28-mile range for communicating. If you somehow lose way with your group or have to in an emergency, this is a great way to stay in touch no matter what.

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20: Hiking Whistle

Hiking Whistle

The Hiking Whistle is last on our packing list for the National Park Trip. While no one expects an emergency, while you're out in the wilderness, it's better to have peace of mind. Having a survival whistle in your bag to call upon in case you need it is a good idea. The Michael Josh 2PCS Outdoor Survival Whistle can provide up to 150 decibels and can be heard for a very far distance. This set includes two whistles and consists of two clips so the whistle can be securely fastened to a backpack.

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21: Emergency Shelter

Emergency Shelter

Depending on how long and deep of an exploration you're going on, it might be a good idea to carry an emergency shelter should such a need arise. This Emergency Tent Shelter is a great way to be prepared for the unexpected. It can be stored anywhere, even in small spaces, so it's a good idea to have this on hand just in case!

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Final Thoughts

Whether you’re heading out alone or with a group, preparing for the necessities you need as you travel is never a bad idea. National Parks are a fantastic option for all types of vacations, but you never want to be without the items we listed above. This list of national park essentials will make your next outdoor trip hassle-free and more enjoyable.

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