Havasupai Packing List
The main backpack is the monster that you have to carry down to the campsite.
Depending on your size, what you want to take down, and party size, the pack can range from 50-liters all the way to 75-liters or more.
If you are new to backpack hiking, I HIGHLY recommend that you visit a place such as REI and be properly fitted for your new pack as nothing will make your trek miserable like a backpack that doesn’t fit properly.
Many people will try to convince you to buy their favorite brand. DON’T!!! This is a MAJOR expense and you need to buy what works for you and your body.
There are many brands out there that are “better” for body sizes and shapes you should test before taking your first trip. You can try most of the major brands at REI to see which feels the best for you once you are sized. My recommendation is to try each brand that is your size and they will weigh it down so you can walk around the store to get a feel of what 20 – 30 pounds will feel like with each pack.
Our preference is any pack made by Osprey as they fit us well, have lots of compartments, and the best thing about Osprey backpacks is that they offer a LIFETIME guarantee to repair or replace their packs.
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Your day pack is usually going to be a 10-liter pack or a backpack that’s about the size of your standard Jansport backpack.
If you are shopping for your larger pack, check to see if they have a model you like that has a removable “brain” as some turn into a day pack.
These days packs are perfect to toss a few liters of water and some snacks into and off for your waterfall adventure.
If your backpack doesn’t have a removable day pack, try to find something very lightweight and one that folds into itself.
Here is an example of a day pack that folds into itself on Amazon.
If you’re one of the ones using a mule to take your gear down, a duffle bag is recommended to prevent any damage that the canyon walls may cause on the way down. The last time we were there we saw both exposed backpacks and backpacks placed into containers on each side of the mule.
This duffle bag sold on Amazon is the perfect size to protect your backpack and add a few additional items if you have room. (Note, at the time of the publication of the article, the measurements were within the requirements.)
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Now is not the time to show off your brand new 8 person, multi-room tent. The tents you want to bring down are usually going to be a one or two-person backpacking tent that will weigh about a few pounds to 8 pounds max.
Lightweight backpacking tents are expensive and if you are not going to be doing a lot of backpacking, consider borrowing or renting one.
We like to wait until the REI garage sales roll around to see if we can find one at least half the price.
Check out the top brands for backpacking tents on the REI website and be sure to read the ease of setting up and the reviews.
Top brands for backing tents can also be found on Amazon if you want to compare prices.
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Hammocks are a great alternative to tents as they are lighter, easier to set up, and easier to take down.
A downside to hammocks is that they require trees to use but that isn’t really an issue for the Havasupai campground.
In my opinion, an expensive hammock is not needed if you choose to take on your adventure to lounge during the day or sleep in at night.
There are a lot of decently priced backpacking hammocks on Amazon that have over a thousand reviews that are rated well.
Hammock pads help give your hammock a little more structure so it doesn’t feel like you’re sleeping in a banana all the time.
What a hammock pad also does is it helps you stay warm by blocking the wind and keeping your body heat close to you.
Our regular hiking group is split on whether or not to use a hammock pad when backpacking. If you are not sure, set up your hammock and hammock pad to test before your trip so you are not packing in extra bulk and weight.
Sleeping pads are almost a must-have depending on if you’re ok with sleeping on the hard ground.
They’re not going to be like an air mattress that keeps you off the ground, but they do pair nicely with sleeping bags to give you a little bit of cushion.
Depending on the time of year you visit Havasupai may determine which sleeping bag you take with you.
Our first trip we took ultra-lightweight sleeping bags and it was too hot at night to use them and ended up sleeping on top of them.
Sleeping Bag Liner
If you are visiting later in the year and the nights are nippy, you may want to consider a sleeping bag liner to help keep you warm.
One backpacking trip to Coyote Gulch, I used my liner instead of my sleeping bag since it was hot at night.
Inflatable pillows are great if you don’t want to bunch up hiking clothes to rest your head on at night.
If you’re using a hammock, inflatable pillows become less of an issue but are still nice to have if you can fit it.
Tent Repair Kit
Small and easy to pack, tent repair kits should be packed anytime you plan on using a tent. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it especially with all of the critters that have been known to tear through tents to get food.
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FOOD AND WATER
For the hike in, it is recommended that you have 2 – 3 liters of water and/or electrolyte drink for the hike to the campground. The warmer the weather, the more you will need.
You will not have a chance to replenish until you reach the village to purchase from the store or until you arrive at the campground to refill at the natural spring.
RELATED ARTICLE >>> Havasupai Water
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For us, we only eat dehydrated meals at night for dinner and snack during the day.
Ideally, you want higher protein and higher carbs type snacks. Trail mixes are a great addition to your snack arsenal.
Rat Sack or Bear Canister
The campground is the home to the trifecta of vermin, which includes squirrels, ravens, and raccoons. All these animals are smart and know what goodies are inside backpacks.
There are 5-gallon buckets at the ranger station (normally) but don’t bank on it.
Bring a ratsack to hang from the tree lines to keep your food, snacks, and toiletries safe (yes, they eat toothpaste and sunscreen).
RELATED ARTICLE >>> Securing Food at Havasu Falls Campsite
Backpacking Camp Stove
Based on our group backpacking experience, you really only need about one stove per 5 or 6 people in your group unless you can’t wait to get your food going.
While all the rage is to take a Jet Boil, we take the small adapters that attach to the fuel canisters which is lighter and less room in your backpack.
Add a few baggies to your pack as you never know when they will come in handy. They made a great “dry bag” for your phone and personal items such as cash, credit card, and keys if you don’t own a dry bag.
We normally take one of the Stanley cups to boil water in and then depending on the group size sharing the resources, we will take an extra backpacking pot to heat water in to use to “cook” our dehydrated meals and hot water for you coffee drinkers
Before you stock up on fuel, check-in the various Facebook groups for Havasupai to see if there is fuel available at the ranger station. Historically, there is an abundance of fuel there as hikers will, unfortunately, dump theirs so they don’t have to carry them back home.
Fires are not allowed at the campground but a lighter is needed in case your camp stove won’t self light. It happens. And when it does a lighter is a lifesaver.
We took dehydrated meals for breakfast and dinner and skipped them for lunch as we were normally away from the campground.
While dehydrated brands such as Mountain House are popular, my friend takes various soups and places in freezer bags for dinner.
If you are on the trail and need a small snack but don’t want to stop to enjoy it, Gatorade Chews and Stinger Waffles are great to keep in your daypack. There are other items you can take such as energy bars, trail mixes, etc.
Whichever you prefer, make sure you pack enough for the days you are there hiking.
Water is wonderful but electrolytes are even better. Grab some single servings of electrolyte powder to keep in your daypack to keep you running and to help make your spring water or filtered water taste better.
My favorite electrolyte powder, Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier, comes in single servings at Costco and they can also be found online at Amazon.
Most of the dehydrated meals you will eat out of the bag but if you have the two serving packets, you may want to bring additional utensils and a plate or bowl so you can easily share the meal.
Leave the fine china at home and stock up on plastic sporks, plates, and bowls. With most of your meals coming from a bag, a fork, and a spoon, or just a spork, is really all you need to make it through the trip. If you can only fit a bowl or plate, I would take the bowl simply because it has more utility and it does what a plate does, just not as flatly.
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Container for Water for Day Hikes and Campground
There is a spring near the campground that you will be able to get water as needed.
Containers to carry the water back to the campground from the spring are water bladders, Gatorade bottles, and collapsible containers.
As stated before, there is a spring near the campground so filters aren’t 100% needed unless you need water out on the trails. If you do want to take a filter, the life straw style or even bag filters would be your best bet.
Cooler Full of Frozen Drinks
This is more for when your trip is done. The idea is to freeze Gatorades and waters and to leave them in a cooler, in your car, before you trek down to the campground.
It’s nice to come back after a long hike and have a nice COLD beverage waiting for you.
Whether or not you take a beanie will be dependant on the time of year you hike down with Fall, Winter, and early Spring being the obvious seasons for beanies.
Flip flops are a mostly need item rather than a must need item. While they aren’t crucial for you to have to make the trip down, you’ll more than likely want them to walk around in after a long day of hiking unless you like walking around barefooted.
There are a few items that are considered a must-have for this trip down and hiking boots are one of them.
You’ll want a boot with a thick sole, ankle support, and good grip if you’re planning on using them in the water.
Some may say that you can get away with not taking them down, but it’s not worth ruining the entire trip from a rolled ankle on the way down because you took athletic shoes.
Deciding on whether or not to take long pants comes down to a combination of personal preference as well as the time of year that you’re hiking down.
I personally hike in jeans or long pants unless it’s over 110 degrees outside because they act as an extra layer of defense from brush, rocks, and the sun.
Again, much like long pants, taking a long-sleeved shirt is going to come down to you. Long-sleeved shirts are great at blocking out the sun and protecting your arms from the brush and rocks you may encounter on the way down and at camp.
Short-sleeved shirts are a basic necessity in just about every scenario I can think of when hiking down to the Havasupai campground. It’s better to have layers available in case it becomes too hot than to be stuck with only long-sleeved shirts.
Queue up the broken record because I’m going to say it again; taking shorts is entirely up to you and your preferences. If it’s hot, take them with you. If it’s cold, consider leaving them at home or bringing a pair of pants to use just in case the weather becomes an issue.
This is one item that I recommend that you pack multiples of.
One year we took our hiking boots and water shoes but now leave our water shoes at home and get our boots wet. It takes a while for the socks to dry so take a few extra pairs if you don’t want to stick your feet into cold wet socks before you head out for your hike.
Unless you are one of those who prefer to hike “commando,” be sure to pack comfortable underwear that does ride or chaf.
Nothing is worse than picking out wedgies on the trail or having chaffed thighs.
And ladies, a sports bra or tank with a built-in bra is recommended vs a regular bra as it takes a while for them to fully dry.
BEATING THE HEAT
Cooling towels are a great way to supplement other heat prevention methods like hats and umbrellas. They work best when you place them around your neck or on top of your head under your hat.
Nothing fancy here, just a good old fashion hat. Baseball caps work best once you’re down at the campsite but sunhats work nicely for the hike down.
Most people think lip balm is just used to prevent chapped lips, but most lip balms have SPF in them so you don’t burn your lips. If your lip balms don’t have SPF in it, I would highly recommend getting some because burnt lips are no bueno.
Sunbrella aka Solar Umbrella
Sunbrella’s are good for those who aren’t power hikers and are going to be in the elements a little longer than others in your group.
If you are a power hiker and prefer to be a few degrees cooler, umbrellas do make a difference.
No exception, take it or else you run the risk of ruining your trip because of existing hurts after the first day in the sun.
Sunglasses are always needed anywhere you go hiking and where ever there’s the sun, so all the time.
Carabiners are needed to keep your gear off the ground so that you don’t trip over it while moving around during the day or even at night.
We use fishline to build a line between the trees and then clip our bags to the line. We use the fishing line because the squirrels have a hard time grabbing onto it.
Cards or Small Game
Time flies when you are hiking during the day but once the sun goes down and it’s dark outside boredom may set in fast.
Since we normally do backpacking trips in a group, we always take a small game that is easy to take and fun to play or a deck of playing cards.
There are picnic tables available throughout the campground but in the instance that you are not able to secure one for your area a backpacking chair is WONDERFUL to sit in at the end of the day with the back support.
Collapsible Solar Light
Not a necessity but a nicety, most collapsible solar lights are incredibly lightweight and put out a lot of light at the campground to help avoid the use of headlamps.
A few ounces of lights will add ambiance to your campground and help you find your way in the dark at night without blinding your friends and campground neighbors with headlamps.
Nope, we are not going fishing. Instead, use it to make a line between trees to hang your packs and food storage bags. This will help keep the squirrels and raccoons out of your stuff since they cannot grab ahold of fishline.
Knife or Multi-Tool
Multi-Tools are always great to have in your pack just because of the versatility they offer. Big knives down in the campground aren’t really needed because they can big clunky and heavy which is why we prefer to have a small multi-tool that does the same job in a smaller package.
We do NOT use paracord to hang our packs and food sacks from the trees but keep it on hand in case it’s needed to make a rain fly or other use as needed.
Silver Emergency Blankets
Lightweight and has multiple uses, emergency blankets are great to have on hand for a cold night or when there is a chance of rain to make a fly or to cover your gear.
Leave no trace – pack it in, pack it out. Terms you hear often when backpacking.
We take small bags to tie up the trash each day and then give each hiker a small bag to carry out when leaving the campground. Note – take extras as one year one of the bags broke on the trail from bouncing around from being clipped on the back of the pack.
You don’t need a lot but a small length of duct tape is always great to have on hand.
Tip: Take a strip and wrap it around your hiking pole or lighter.
GETTING WET AND KEEPING IT DRY
Some hikers take dry bags while others do not. If you do not want to carry the larger dry bags consider at least taking a waterproof case for your phone.
Gloves With Grip
Not a necessity but they do help when climbing up and down the slimy wet chains when visiting Mooney Falls.
A cheap garden glove works great!
This is not something we pack but we know many who do. If you are hiking in cooler months you may want to consider a pair to help keep your feet warm when hiking through the water.
Quick Dry Towel
A light-weight quick-dry towel is wonderful to have on hand to dry off if you decide to go for a swim or to lay on when visiting the various falls.
As a personal preference, we no longer take both hiking boots and water shoes but that is our personal preference.
If you are going to take water shoes, make sure they are a sturdy pair that you can use in water and on the trail with comfort.
My biggest mistake on my first trip to Havasupai was taking WAY TOO MUCH camera gear. Two bodies, lenses, batteries, chargers, and two GoPros… way too much weight and I didn’t use them like I thought I would.
I found myself taking more photos with my phone and the “hero shots” with my Canon 70D.
If you want to shop at the store, in the village, stop for fry bread ($5 – $15 each), grab a frozen Gatorade ($3-5 each), or pay for the helicopter ($85 each way)… you should bring cash.
If the internet is slow or down, you will not be able to charge.
One year we took a solar-powered charging bank and it worked well as we were located in an area that received sun during the day.
If you don’t want to use a solar-powered charging bank, make sure you have one that will recharge your phone for the time period you are there.
Even in airplane mode, you will drain your phone fast if you are using it to document your amazing waterfall trip. Don’t forget to pack your cords so you are able to capture all the moments that you want.
I like to take a few in baggies to clean up before “cooking” our meals and before eating.
First Aid Kit
A must on any hike. Top items are Ibuprofen, moleskin, band-aids, Benadryl, and antiseptic.
We include in our “big” first aid kit magnesium pills, Excedrin, nail clippers, and tweezers.
We normally take a larger kit to keep at the campground and make a smaller one to take with us for the day hikes.
RELATED ARTICLE >>> First Aid Kits
Not really needed but recommended, especially if you are doing Beaver Falls or the Confluence to help you find your way there and back.
Some people prefer not to carry in a toothbrush and toothpaste and use chewing gum instead.
If you don’t want to carry toothpaste and not into chewing gum, check out the tooth bites instead.
Good to have on hand if you don’t have wipes to clean your hands after visiting the bathrooms, etc.
Headlamp With Fresh Batteries
If you are hiking in early, headlamps are a must.
They are also good to use at night at the campground and to find your way to the bathrooms.
Note, people were breaking camp EARLY and their very strong lights were shining all over the area and woke most of our campground. Please keep this in mind when using yours at the campground.
Trail etiquette is to keep your music to yourself and if you are one who likes to rock out while hiking, keep it to yourself and bring your headphones.
Also good at night if you want to watch downloaded movies, etc.
Another personal preference, hiking poles are GREAT for the hike down to help with your pack load killing your back and knees.
Maps are really not needed unless you are wanting to hike to Beaver Falls or the Confluence. Marry them up with GPS coordinates and you should be good to go.
Add your first aid kit and personal medication to a waterproof bag. Realistically, they shouldn’t get wet but you never know when a cloud may appear with rain or accidentally dropping onto the wet ground.
Normally the bathrooms are fully stocked with bathroom tissue but if you go in the middle of the night you may find yourself looking at an empty holder.
They are also great to use on a trail. (Tip, take a baggie or small bag to put your used wipe in to pack out when you leave.)
I know some folks who use them for a “sponge bath” after a day of hiking.
Personal Hygiene and Toiletries
This very much varies from hiker to hiker. Some hikers will bring a full-on cosmetic bag with everything to others who only bring a travel-sized deodorant.
Whatever your preference, please keep in mind to keep items that leave behind chemicals on the ground and water at home.
Remember, no trace.
There is enough traffic on the trails that if there is an emergency someone will find you. The issue is if time is of the essence, the time for someone to hike to get help and the time for help to reach you could be crucial hours wasted.
We use the Garmin inReach SE + Satellite Communicator to take with us in case of medical emergencies.
WHAT NOT TO BRING TO HAVASUPAI
The items below are prohibited on the Supai Reservation:
Boats, Floats, Inner Tubes, Pool Toys, Kayaks, or Rafts