What Should You Pack For Your Havasupai Trip?

Updated: Feb 4


A First Timer’s Guide to Havasupai: Part 5



Raise your hand if you suffer from Packing Induced Anxiety Disorder like I do. Okay, I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but it should be. I don’t quite know what it is about packing for trips… I hate it. I once was so worked up in a tizzy over packing for a trip to NYC that I didn’t even start packing until 20 minutes before we were due to leave for the airport, and I still had to drive over to the shuttle. Even just writing about it; I’ve put this post off far longer than planned, and I swear the stress from thinking about it has given me an ulcer. What if I forget something? What if I ruin your trip because of that thing you didn’t take that I forgot? Uggghhh, packing is the worst!


So what do you pack for a place like Havasupai? As little as possible, tbh. The number one mistake Havasupai first timer makes is over packing. Less is definitely more, you don’t want to carry one ounce extra with you. Essentials only!


My Havasupai Packing List




Camping Gear

  • Backpack- I would go to a local sporting goods store to be fitted, if possible. They all fit a little different, find on that fits your body and will work with your needs

  • Hydration Pack- This is a must, it's perfect for day hikes. I wear mine constantly when I am down there

  • Fanny Pack- I never hike without one. Need your phone? Right there. Granola bar? Ditto. It’s like my own little kangaroo pouch. And so stylish

  • Tent- The lighter the better

  • Sleeping Bag- Last year I took a 50 degree sleeping bag for May and was perfectly comfortable. Make sure the bag you take is suited for the weather you will encounter

  • Sleeping Pad- If you want to sleep well while camping, this is probably your most essential piece of equipment. It is for me, anyway. Choose wisely. Splurge on an insulated one, especially if you will be going during colder months

  • Inflatable pillow- I LOVE my pillow. Like, more than my actual pillow

  • 2 Carbiners- Or more. I just hang them on the side of my pack, you never know when they will come in handy. I use these on the hike in to attach my 5 gallon bucket

  • A Pocketknife-This too is an item that could come in handy

  • Rope/Twine- I should have made a list of things that could come in handy. Cut back on weight by only taking the amount you'll need. You’ll want to use this to make a clothes line, btw

  • Camp Stove and Gas- I'm team Jetboil, you can't beat how fast it heats up

  • A Lighter- It will depend on your camp stove if you need one



Hammocks are a popular choice over tents down in Havasupai. Use whichever speaks to you; I personally prefer to sleep in a tent. You’ll want to use gear that is specific to backpacking, as it will be lighter than your average equipment. If this is your first major backpacking trip, it could be a good idea to give all of your new equipment a trial run so that you will be more comfortable with it. Remember, you don’t need every gadget in the world, just the basics. Expensive doesn't always mean better, either.


Don't want to buy equipment? Consider renting! Many universities offer equipment rentals and they can be less expensive than the big name stores. REI's and other outfitter stores should all offer rental equipment. Shop around and see who has the best deal!


Clothes

  • Hiking Shoes/Boots- Hands down your most important piece of equipment, in my opinion. Happy feet=Happy camper. Everyone wants to know what shoe is best for this hike, but here is the thing: everyone is different. You gotta wear the shoe is best for YOU! Go to an Outfitter and test out a few options. Also, make sure they FIT. Any footwear employee will tell you, we far too often cram our poor feeties in shoes that are too small. You need room to wiggle those toes! When I was in my 20's my old running shoes worked just fine. For some reason now that I am in my 30's my feet all of a sudden aren't down with that. What do I wear? This past year I tried out Altra Lone Peak Hiking boots. OMG, hands down these boots. First of all, they cute. More importantly they are very light weight while still offering support, and the tightly woven material keeps sand out- especially when they are worn with gaiters. Don't let the extra wide toe box freak you out- odds are high your feet will swell, but that won't be a problem in these babies, you've got the room! I didn't have a single issue with my feet last year thanks to them

  • Water Shoes- Again, not all feet are created equal. Chacos are a popular choice, but unless they are well broken in and you are used to them they will murder your feet. Some people have found success with cheap sneakers off of Amazon. I personally love my Teva Hurricane Drift. They are light weight, comfortable, and they even float!

  • Flip Flops- For around camp, I forgot mine a couple of trips ago, and it was bad news bears. Remember how I said my feet became pickier in my 30's? They decided they didn't like Chacos anymore either. My feet were tore up from the floor up. I started walking everywhere barefoot by the second night. One morning I walked up to Havasu falls, which was all fine and dandy, except for when it was time to walk back to camp the sun was out in full force. Literally had to run from one sliver of shade to the next and rest a beat before darting out again like a crazy person on hot coals. I got a lot of stares

  • 2 Pairs of Good Socks- One for the hike in, one for the hike out. Keep that second pair clean until you leave. If you put on your hiking boots again during your stay, just re wear the first pair, after they have been rinsed off and hung to dry, of course

  • Gaiters- I mentioned these a second ago when I was talking about hiking boots. For this hike, I feel like they are essential. They look funny and you'll feel kinda dorky wearing them, but we'll see who's laughing at camp when everyone else is bandaging up their sores and blisters and your feet are fresh as daises. Since I hike in Altra shoes, which are designed with gaiter traps, I wear Altra gaiters

  • 2 Tank Tops- Or whatever tops you like to wear

  • 1 Comfy Long Sleeved Shirt- For around camp and sleeping. My Spartan volunteer shirt was perfect for this. Now if you go in the dead of summer, you probably won't need this. But if you get cold easy, throw it in

  • 2 Pairs of Running Shorts- The kind with the undies built in, so you don’t have to bring any. *Unagi*

  • 2 Sports Bras- One for action and a comfier one for around camp and sleeping

  • 1 Swimsuit

  • 1 Hat- Unless you are trying to get some insta swoon worthy pictures and want options.... to which I am guilty as charged

  • 1 Sarong- This is like, my numero uno clothing recommendation. It’s a dress! a skirt! a towel! a sunshade! Feeling hot? Dip it in water and cover your head with it! It’s like the Swiss army knife of clothes. It dries fast, and always looks fantastic in pictures

You do not need a new outfit for each day, keep it simple. Whatever I hiked in I wore for the rest of the day. At night, I rinsed everything off in the creek and hung it to dry, put on outfit #2 for the night. In the morning, yesterday’s clothes were dry and I washed the other set. You see the pattern.


This list will vary based on the time of year you go and your wants and needs. If you’re going when it will be rainy and humid you can’t rely on clothes drying as fast and you’ll want rain gear. If it’s cold, you’ll need layers. Men, I’m assuming you know you don’t need to pack a bra, but the sarong could come in handy, so don’t count it out.



Food and Utensils

  • Dehydrated Fruit- I don’t know what it is about being down there, but man, you crave fruit

  • Dehydrated Mountain House Meals- 1 for each breakfast and 1 for each dinner. Most of them have a serving size of 2, so my friend and I shared them. Costco always has a great deal on these. There are plenty of other brands of dehydrated meals out there if you don't like Mountain House

  • Summer sausage and sharp cheddar cheese sandwiches- one for each day. I assembled them at home, and wrap them in plastic wrap with mustard and mayo packets. I loved having a hearty lunch ready to go, since I was always off exploring somewhere during the day. These were a little heavier but worth it to me, and before you gag from the health code violation, shelf stable sausages and hard cheeses don't actually need to be refrigerated

  • Granola Bars- 2 for each day

  • Beef Jerky- 1 snack size bag per day

  • Trail Mix- 1 snack sized bag per day. I’ll be honest, I did it for the m&m’s. I can’t go that long without chocolate. Did you know that you get a quick burst of energy from the dried fruit or granola (*cough, and m&m’s, *cough) and sustained energy from the nuts? This makes trail mix an ideal hiking snack, and the most appropriately named food ever

  • Electrolytes- With all the hiking you will be doing, you will need to replace electrolytes; especially during the hot summer months. Put some in the bladder of your hydration pack before heading out on adventures. Nuun tablets are my personal favorite

  • 1 Nalgene Bottle- Walmart off brand works just great

  • 1 Camp Bowl

  • 1 Camp Spoon

That is it. Even then, I had a few leftovers. You would think that you’d be hungry non-stop with how much energy you expend, but really you’re so distracted by all the beauty and having fun that you just don’t think to eat. Now if only that could be the case while I’m at work. My snack drawer beckons me.


If you don’t want to live off of dehydrated meals, there are plenty of other food options. Instant oatmeal, ready make pastas, packets of tuna, pop tarts, nut butter packets, instant mashed potatoes, instant soups, Ramen, Easy Mac, the list goes on and on. You can even be hardcore and make some of your own instant meals, if you're ambitious like that. If it kills you to drink straight water, you can make coffee, tea, use those water flavoring packet thingys. I don’t know what they are called, I just like water. Make a protein shake, why not? Go wild! I’m just lazy, I like to keep it simple when I camp.


Do. not. forget. to. store. food. in. a rat sack. or bucket. Or bear canister. Also keep your trash in there, as well as anything with an odor (like deodorant, gum, etc.). The squirrels can smell any and all weaknesses, protect your goods. This applies to the falls as well, not just at the campsite. A many a hydration pack has met an untimely death by being cast aside and left unattended while it's owner ran off to gallivant in the blue water. I take a small Tupperware container to put my snackies in on my day hikes. Don't forget to leave your hydration pack unzipped so they don't chew through it.


If you spend the night at the trail head, make sure you pack a quick and easy breakfast to eat before your hike. I had a breakfast sandwich because I’m extra like that, but something along the lines of an apple and a high calorie granola bar would suffice too. But it won’t taste as good as that breakfast sandwich I picked up at the 24 hour Mickey D’s in Kingman on the way in, just sayin’.



Electronics

  • Portable Power Bank

  • Phone, plus charger

  • Moment Lenses, lens cleaner

  • A Tripod

  • ND2-400 Filter- Yeah, you can get one for your cell phone!

  • A Gimbal- I take mine so I can make good quality videos. Unless you aspire to start a YouTube channel, you def don't need this

  • Knock off GoPro, plus charger

  • Selfie Stick- Don’t judge.

  • LED Headlamp- For the hike in and out. Guys, this is the BEST head lamp you can get, I love it. It’s perfect for running and hiking and I love that there is no bulky lamp bouncing around. If you will be hiking in or out while it is dark, you want this bad boy. Careful if you use it around camp though, sucker is brighter than the light on the Luxor

  • Less powerful headlamp for around camp



Personal Care

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush

  • Baking Soda- Toothpaste is bad for the environment, brush with baking soda instead! You can also use it as a dry shampoo, as a deodorant, to clean your dishes, and much, much more. Put some in a small container to cut back on the weight of bringing an entire box

  • Hair Ties

  • Sunscreen

  • Body Glide- No one likes chaffing

  • Allergy Pills- Even if you don't have allergies, I would bring some

  • Ibuprofen

  • Chapstick

  • Wet Wipes- Soaps and body washes are not allowed in Havasupai, cowboy bath it up! But if I'm being really honest, I always bring wet wipes, but then I never use them. I just embrace all those natural smelly smells that happen

  • Hand Sanitizer- If you are super concerned about being sanitized and all that. Like the wet wipes, I pretty much never use the sanitizer I bring. Man, I'm gross. No wonder I'm still single

Remember to always practice Leave No Trace while camping. The Tribe has asked that no soap or shampoos be used in the creek, not even biodegradable. Respect these wishes, we are very lucky that they allow us on their land! If this is your first real camping experience, I know the thought of not using shampoo and soap to get clean is probably striking a little bit of fear into your heart. It's gross, right? Not being clean for 4 days. We're all going to be dirty, we're all going to be gross, just embrace the experience and get your 60's hippy love child on. You'll be amazed how quickly you stop caring about proper hygiene when you're frolicking through waterfalls all day.



Extras

  • Your PERMIT- Do. Not. For. Get. It. and ID. Keep this in an easy access outside pocket of your pack. They will also ask for your licence plate number when you check in, so take a picture of it before you head out

  • First Aid Kit- Moleskin is a MUST. The good kind, the solid sheet. Not that crappy pre-cut stuff that falls off after 2 seconds. Gauze, antibacterial gel, band-aids, ibuprofen, and medical tape

  • A Hammock- this was an unnecessary splurge, but it was nice to lounge in around the campsite

  • Garden Gloves- For the climb down Mooney. Those ladders and chains can be slick! Can you get down there without them? Sure. But I don’t regret taking them for a second

  • Ziploc Bags- 1 large one for trash around the campsite, and 1 sandwich sized one for my hydration pack for day hikes. Make sure you keep these in your rat sack or bucket when not in use

  • 1 Tupperware Container- To protect the food in your hydration pack from the squirrels. Sandwich sized worked for me

  • Collapsible Water Jug- It’s not a necessity, but it is kinda genius. Depending on where your campsite is located, it can be a bit of a walk to the spring. It is so nice to have it at your campsite for cooking, filling up water bottles, etc. However, you can live without it

  • Toilet Paper- The bathrooms were plenty stocked while I was there in 2018, but in 2019 TP was being traded like cigarettes in WWI. As Uncle Scar would say, Be Prepared

  • 5 Gallon Bucket- A good rat or bear canister can be pricey, buckets are cheap. We didn't want to risk one not being available, so we took our own. Don't forget the lid

  • Cold Hard Cash- The fry bread huts and stores in the village cost an average of $10 per food item, drinks are $5. The helicopter is $85 one way. Think of how often you'll use these luxuries, and plan accordingly. Do not count on being able to use a card, and there is no ATM here



Something I've not taken before, but want to next time: a water filtration system. I ran out of water coming back from the Confluence, and I’d rather not have that happen again. If you are not planning on hiking to the Confluence, I wouldn't worry about taking one.


Be smart when packing, many of the things I have listed can be shared with your whole group. Figure out who is bringing what. You can share the first aid kit, camp stove, water jug, knife, etc. Many of these items may seem small and inconsequential to the overall weight of your pack, but it adds up faster than you realize.


Your backpack is the key to your happiness. Make sure to have it fitted to you, this is important for your comfort. You’ll be hurting enough after the hike in, you don’t want an ill-fitting pack to add to it. How you pack your pack is equally important, there is a method to the madness of getting everything in there.


A lot of people like to take down a deck of cards or other games to play at night. I like to sleep, but I can see where that would appeal to some. This is a good time to remind you that pool floaties have been banned, so don’t bring one. I don’t know how people blew those things up without passing out, it had to take forever, I could never have the patience.


This is my personal packing list, you’ll need to tweak it to your specific wants and needs. This is what worked for me, I used everything I took and wanted for nothing. Overall, I think it will work for you too. Just remember less is more and always think light!


What to Pack When It's Cold

I've never been when the temperature drops. Overall, I think this packing list still stands, save the clothing situation. Always check and see what the weather is expected to be in Supai before packing and plan accordingly. Be sure to throw in a beanie and gloves for sleeping. Make sure your sleeping pad is insulated, and that your sleeping bag is designed to withstand the expected temperatures. I recently heard what I thought was the most GENIUS piece of advice for those camping in the cold: take a hot water bottle and put it in your sleeping bag at night. Mic drop, right? If you don't want to lug one down, you can use your nalgene bottle-cover it with a sock to protect your skin, make sure it is tightly screwed shut, and throw it in! However, I think a real water bottle will probably hold the heat longer and may be worth the hassle if those temps are really dropping while you are there.




Learn everything you need to know about the waterfalls in this amazing place in my next post A First Timer's Guide to Havasupai Part 6: The Waterfalls of Havasupai



All Other Posts in the Series Can be Found Here:

What Is Havasupai?

How Do You Get Permits to Havasupai?

What If You Didn't Get a Permit to Havasupai?

How Do You Get to Havasupai?

What to Expect in Havasupai



{as always: practice LEAVE NO TRACE. stay hydrated. tell someone where you are going. wear appropriate clothing. be mindful of the weather. be nice to fellow hikers. have fun, make good choices, & hike smart}

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