20 Essential Things To Pack When Visiting National Parks

There are so many things to explore within the United States. National Parks boast beautiful scenery, wildlife, and many different activities to do. 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 20 essential things to pack when visiting National Parks.

What to Pack When Going to a National Park

Packing Essentials Visiting National Parks

Whether you’re heading out alone or with a group, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared with the necessities that you need as you travel. National Parks are a fantastic option for all types of vacations, but you never want to be without the items we listed here.

With safety and comfort in mind, you should be able to enjoy your trip, worry-free. Traveling to our great National Parks are worth the breathtaking views and escape that nature will bring you.

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. Keep your days out on the mountains worry-free, knowing that your next step will be stable, secure and that your feet will be protected.

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 carry a good sunscreen with you at all times. 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!

3: Map & GPS

Map & GPS

Most of us travel with our phones and so you’ll likely have yours with you 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, which can make 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.

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.

5: Rain Jacket

Rain Jacket

You never can completely tell what the weather is going to do while you’re 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 you can't go without. Choosing a jacket that is water and rainproof, but that isn't bulky, will set you up for any type of weather that heads your way.

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

 See the Marmot Mens Rain Jacket here.

 See the Marmot Womens Rain Jacket here.

6: Portable Power Bank

Portable Power Bank

Safety is paramount as you travel, and making sure you have the ability to charge up your electronics is essential. If you're going to be camping or anywhere without access to electricity, it's important to make sure that 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 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 three USB ports allowing you to charge three devices at the same time for efficiency. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this is the way to go as you explore any National Park!

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 very small spaces meaning you won't be without a towel but still will have space for all of your other necessities!

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 to always be prepared. Having a first aid kit on hand that fits snugly inside your backpack is key to having a safe time on vacation. 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 cleaned up and safe, this first aid kit is a must have.

9: Hydration Backpack

Hydration Backpack

Talk about a great two-in-one option! Staying hydrated while you explore and National Park is vitally important. Carrying a clunky water bottle isn’t always practical and can take up a lot of space. The solution to this is to purchase a backpack that already has a hydration option inside it. This TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack comes included 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 that you can drink from at any time without slowing down. The last thing you should have to worry about is running out of the water while you're enjoying the great outdoors!

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, making sure to carry 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.

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. 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 off hunger.

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 if you find yourself exploring caves! This Foxdott HeadLamp is the way to go! It sits flat on your head, which means 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.

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 so you can continue the fun of the day!

14: Digital Sports Altimeter Watch

Digital Sports Altimeter Watch

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.

15: Emergency Shelter

Emergency Shelter

Depending on how long and how 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!

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 want to 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!

17: Hiking Kit for Foot Sores

Hiking Kit for Foot Sores

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 want to 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!

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 that 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.

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 ways with your group or have to in an emergency, this is a great way to continue to stay in contact no matter what.

20: Hiking Whistle

Hiking Whistle

While no one expects there to be 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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