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Perfect Packing List For Camping In The National Parks On A Road Trip

There are affiliate links in here.  I did receive the Darn Tough Socks and LuminAID to try out and like always, all opinions are my own.

This isn’t going to be the ultimate packing list with literally everything you should bring on a national park road trip where you’ll be doing a lot of camping.  It’s geared more towards the gear (hah) that you’ll want to have with you.  I will include some clothing, but I’m leaving the basics (shirts, pants, shorts, underwear) up to you.  Some things are included in this because they’re awesome and perfect for this and you might not already know about them and I just love them so much (shampoo bar!) I want to share them with you.

A few things I’ll be assuming in this packing list:

  • You are going in the summer
  • You will be in the US
  • You have a car, either your own or you are renting one
  • You will be going to restaurants for most meals, not cooking at your campsite
  • You will be doing basic camping, not overnight backpacking trails



Patagonia Re-Tool Sweatshirt – I cannot get over how much I love these.  I went from 0-4 in like, a month.  They are warm, cute, soft, and perfect for cool evenings around a campfire.

Hiking shoes – I prefer Chacos, (I apologize for how gross mine are in the picture, I just wear them everyday) which are good for day hikes and around camp.  If you need more ankle support, hiking boots might be a better option.

Yoga pants/leggings – These are for in the evening when it gets cooler, or sweatpants.  Some kind of warm(ish) pants.  Yes, even for the desert.  It can get cool at night.

Hiking socks – Think Darn Tough.  They have tons of different super comfy styles and lengths (knee high or ankle) for all kinds of outdoor activities.  Plus, they actually kept my feet warm, which I was impressed by.

Rain jacket – Just in case.


Hiking Gear

Hiking daypack – I LOVE the REI Ruckpack 18 (I have the green color) because it’s super light and the perfect size for hiking.  I can have an extra jacket in it, plus snacks, a hat, and sometimes my camera, but I usually have that out.

HydroFlask – I have the 40-ounce water bottle and I go pretty much everywhere with it.  They have tons of sizes and style to choose from.  They are pricey, but keep beverages ice cold for hours, even in a hot car, with the ice still in it!

Trail snacks – I can’t be the only one who gets hungry while I’m hiking, right?

Light jacket – Just in case it gets a little chilly on a trail or if it’s shady.  A rain jacket might work.

Hiking pole – This is optional.  If you have bad knees or will be on rocky or steep trails, it might be good to have just in case.  The only time I wish I had one sometimes was in the Narrows in Zion.  I still saw people with them fall over though, so proceed with caution.

Personal Locator Beacon – This could be great to have for any hiker, but if you plan on doing a lot of hiking alone in less populated areas, a PLB would be a great addition to your hiking daypack.  If you were to get hurt, this can help save your life.

Headlamp – This is great for reading in the car at night, or just in general in the dark, as well as getting around a campsite and to bathrooms in the dark.


Camping Gear

Tent – Obviously if you plan on camping in (or around) the parks, you need a tent.  If you’re a casual camper, just a basic tent is sufficient.

Sleeping bag – Gotta sleep in something.  If you don’t have a sleeping bag and don’t want to buy one, a bunch of blankets works well enough, but it’s a huge pain if you’re switching sties a lot.

Pillows – I think you get this.

Sleeping pad/air mattress – This is optional, but if you’re camping for two weeks, this will definitely help.  This sleeping pad is super comfy!

Blanket – This is more for in the car in case you want to sleep on long drives.  But it can be an extra layer if you get cold at night.

Camp chairs – These are great for just hanging around the campsite or fire in your spare time.

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash


Shampoo bar – I love the Lush ones.  If they still have Jumping Juniper, I like that.  Honey I washed my hair is my other favorite, just make sure you let it dry before putting it back in the tin.

Sunscreen – Because sunburn is literally the worst.

Bug spray – Because mosquito bites are literally the second worst.

Lotion – Because lotion is always good.



LuminAID – You can either get just a lantern or a lantern/USB charger.  I received the charger version, which is great because then you don’t need to carry a portable charger.  This thing is seriously cool.  It’s super bright and you don’t need another cord to charge it (but that is possible) since it’s solar powered!  You can change the brightness, too.  Just strap it onto your backpack while you’re hiking to charge it up!  It’s perfect for just hanging around the campsite, in your tent, or walking in the dark.  They are inflatable, so you just blow it up and the only thing I don’t like is that the little air valve sticks out, so it doesn’t sit flat on a table.  Other than that, I love it and am always looking for an excuse to use it.  Plus, it was on Shark Tank!  LuminAID is having a Memorial Day sale from May 18-28! 

Kindle – Why?  Because you might want to read in the car.  Or in your tent at night.

Portable charger – If you decide not to get a LuminAID (which you totally should, they’re awesome!) then a portable charger is pretty much a must to keep your phone charged at night or on long hikes.

Car charger – Just a simple phone charger to use in the car while you’re on the road.

Camera – Well, yeah.  If you want a beginner DSLR, I love my Canon Rebel.  If you’re looking to upgrade something you already have for your big trip, I would go with the Fuji X-T2.  If none of that sounds good, a GoPro might be better.  It’s smaller, lighter, and can do video and pictures.


Other stuff

Paper maps – Just in case you don’t have service or your GPS doesn’t work, it’s always good to have paper maps.

AAA – This is another optional thing.  It’s roadside assistance in case you break down, which can be helpful.  It starts at $57 per year and you can get free maps at an office if you’re a member.

Guidebook – If you plan on going to a lot of national parks, the National Geographic Guide to the National Parks is a must-have.  I still check mine even if I’ve been to a park eight times.

America The Beautiful Pass – This is the national park pass.  It’s $80 and can be bought at national park entrances.  If you’re going to more than three parks, it will be totally worth it and it’s good for a year at all national park sites!  I always get one.

Well, now that you know what to bring, get planning!  Find out some of my favorite hikes and national parks here.  If you have any questions or want more recommendations, feel free to reach out!


What are your camping/hiking/road trip must-haves?  Do you use any of these things?  Is there anything you think I should add?


18 thoughts on “Perfect Packing List For Camping In The National Parks On A Road Trip

  1. Great list! I always seem to forget my kindle and remember in the evening! Will have to use this list before my next trip 🙂

  2. When I finally visit the States, I want to go on a road trip and camp to visit national parks! So this list is just perfect! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Your photos are epic! They make me want to go back on my promise to scale back on the camping this year. I haven’t ever gotten a personal locator though… that might be a good investment. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thank you! I’m sure there’s no such thing as camping too much haha. I haven’t gotten the locator yet, but it’s on my list, especially for my boyfriend since he hikes alone without service a lot!

    1. Thank you! That’s exciting you at least got to see a few. Even living here there are so many more I need to see!

  4. Great comprehensive list. I hope to get back to the US someday as there are some amazing parks to explore! Have fun on your adventures 🙂

  5. Great tips! I’ve had one of those Patagonia fleeces on my wishlist forever and I think it’s going to be a fall gift to myself this year.

    1. Thank you! I love them so much! And you can also find them on Poshmark for pretty cheap sometimes. I’ve gotten a few for like $35 on there!

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