Hiking in the Grand Canyon is as exciting as it is challenging. Packing the right items, just like choosing the right backpack can be the difference between an unforgettable experience or a dangerous and painful adventure you will remember for many years. Here's Sherpa Sam's backpacking list of things to pack along with a few insider's tips for an amazing time!
Preparation for a hike

Sherpa Sam says...

Most people like to use a tent because they are afraid of the critters. There are squirrels, mountain lions, big-horn sheep and elk but I haven’t seen them, they are probably in more remote areas. ‘I prefer to just put my tarp down, lay my sleeping bag on it and look straight up. Look straight up and you will see more stars than you can imagine!'


CLICK HERE to download our Grand Canyon Sherpa Packing Checklist for an unforgettable hike

in the Grand Canyon National Park.

For a day hike to Indian Garden, Sherpa Sam's must haves are: 

  • The holy trekkity: sunscreen/lip balm, a hat and water, plenty of water in a reusable water bottle - there will be free filling stations along the way

  • A fanny pack or a small day backpack

  • Hard candy/high calorie energy bars/salty snacks/beef jerky

  • Medication if necessary such as blister care, bandaid and small first aid kit

  • Although a regular pocket knife should be enough, what Sherpa Sam suggests is a Swiss army knife in case you have an unfortunate encounter with a cactus

  • An app such as NPS Grand Canyon and a backup map as there may not be any reception in the canyon

  • ​Whistle, a signal mirror, a cellphone and portable power bank - an extensive use of GPS can drain your battery

  • Scarf or multi-purpose neck warmer

  • Sunglasses

  • Broken-in hiking shoes with good, solid soles - don't hike the Grand Canyon in flip-flops!

  • Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries - even for a day hike, it might be dark earlier than you think!

  • If you need additional stability we recommend using hiking poles

  • Toilet roll or wet wipes and a plastic bag for personal waste - leave no trace and don't litter!

Camping in the Grand Canyon

Remember… whatever you take you have to haul back out of the canyon! 

"Share the load!" – there is no need for multiple stoves, tents, flashlights etc.

Sherpa Sam says...

For an overnight stay in the canyon, whether you want to camp at Indian Garden or at the Bright Angel Campground, we have put together a list of useful items we recommend adding to the 1-day packing list (see above).

If you leave at first light, and you carry on past Indian Gardens, you will always get to the river by sunset and you will need a backpack because you are going to stay the night. Just pack the essentials to ensure your backpack isn’t too heavy. From experience, Sherpa Sam always packs the following:


  • A well-padded, lightweight frame backpack with a ventilated back, a strong and comfortable hip belt (as your hips will be taking a lot of the weight) and plenty of options to adjust like a chest strap and side straps

  • A good sized canteen, some utensils, a knife in case you need to cut something, a mini stove and a metal cup to put on the stove

  • A water filter is recommended for longer hikes (to filter water from the river), for extended days at a time or if you're planning to go off piste. However if you're staying on high traffic trails there will be plenty of free filling stations in the canyon.

  • Food - don’t take cans, you will only have to carry them all out of the canyon

  • Dried meals such as instant oatmeal packets/hot chocolate/cup of soup/noodle - just add water. Do not bring canned goods and soda cans.

  • Tent or a lightweight tarp (tarpaulin) 6 x 10’ 

  • Personal toiletries and prescription medication
  • Sleeping bag

  • Matches or a lighter

  • Socks - 2 pairs on the hike and 2 pairs to come back up. A change of clothes for each day isn’t necessary. Pack one change if you like but it just adds weight. 

  • Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries

If you're planning on using the Phantom Ranch facilities for an overnight stay you don't need a mini stove. Phantom Ranch offers 2 types of accommodation: bunkhouses (5-bed dormitories) and cabins (based on double occupancy). The dormitories offer basic bunk beds, a shower and a shared bathroom while the cabins are a bit more equipped with liquid soap, hot water sinks and other toiletries. These 2 types of accommodation are heated in the winter and come with bedding and a towel, so you will not need a sleeping bag. 

Food is also available at the Phantom Ranch facilities and you will have the option to choose between breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Your backpack (duffel) can be transported to you by mule (in-bound) or from Phantom Ranch out of the canyon (out-bound).

For more information on dorm/cabin bookings, prices, meals, duffel procedures, recent updates and general inquiries, check out Grand Canyon Lodges. 

TIP: Even if you don't need a tent, a sleeping bag and other camping equipment, Sherpa Sam recommends bringing an emergency tarp in case you get caught in bad weather​.