What to Pack for Backpacking in Canyonlands National Park
Utah’s iconic desert landscape calls backpackers from all over the world. Here’s the gear you need.
Curated by Jonathon Reed
I’m from the green forests of central Canada, so my first time backpacking in the arid wilderness of Utah was an unfamiliar experience. I didn’t know what to expect for hiking through eroded arches or sleeping in sandstone canyons, I just knew I wanted to get out there. After hundreds of kilometres in the backcountry, this is the gear I recommend for your adventure in the desert.
The Aether AG 70 is an ideal backpack for an extended expedition in the backcountry. Its top-lid converts to a daypack, which is perfect for side trips like Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park or Half Dome if you head farther west.Get it Now
I’ve used this sleeping bag with no shelter under the desert stars and inside a tent in a snowy winter forest and it’s always kept me warm and comfortable. I look forward to climbing into it at the end of the day, and that’s what you want in a sleeping bag.Get it Now
I prefer to use liquid fuel stoves because fuel bottles are reusable and therefore have a smaller environmental impact than canisters. The Whisperlite is an industry standard. The sound of the gas burning is the sound of dinner on its way.Get it Now
Managing water intake is obviously a key component to backpacking in the desert, so when water sources are limited I prefer to be able to fill up eight or ten litres of water at a time. That makes chlorine-based purification a lot more feasible than filtration.Get it Now
Although I tend to think of the desert as a dry environment, I’ve weathered a few storms in Utah and they certainly don’t hold back. The Realm is waterproof and breathable enough for distance hiking in wet weather. Always hope you don’t have to use it.Get it Now
I’ve used the Uberlayer on the edge of Island of the Sky in Canyonlands National Park and at the summit of Angels Landing in Zion National Park and it’s held up as a great piece of activewear, keeping me warm without overheating while on the move.Get it Now
I have a pair of solid leather boots that I use for more rugged backpacking, but for Utah’s hot and dry terrain I’ve found a solid pair of hiking shoes to be good enough. Ventilation is nice and lighter footwear certainly makes a difference.Get it Now
I highly recommend investing in a couple good pairs of socks. I tried Darn Tough based on the advice of a retailer and I haven’t looked back. Comfortable, every time.Get it Now
I’ve used a neck gaiter both to stay warm while thigh-deep in the frigid Virgin River and to cool down in the blistering sun of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Plus sun protection, and that almost-sandstorm in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Worth getting one.Get it Now
Sunglasses are a given in Utah. I recommend polarized lenses with UV protection.Get it Now
Reading out loud while road tripping is another tradition from my childhood, and if you’re going to read anything in Utah it should be this classic from the wild man Edward Abbey, based in Moab and the surrounding desert. Odds are you can find it in a national park gift shop.Get it Now