When I was getting ready to go to Havasupai for the first time I really didn’t know exactly what to pack. I had camping gear but nothing really for backpacking. I had to search the internet to find out what other people brought on their trip. I did a ton of research and read a lot of reviews before settling on the things I bought. Hopefully this list below will help others out there so they don’t have to scour 10 different websites and read dozens of reviews to figure out what to pack. All of the items below are things that I personally have. Some are things that I didn’t take on my first trip but have since purchased and taken on my second trip.
It’s tough to get everything right the first time around. I learned a few things the first time and even the second time I wen’t so hopefully you can use what I learned and pack right for your first trip.
I’ve linked every product to Amazon so you can read reviews and get more info on each item.
You’re going to need a backpack. There are a ton of different options to go with but it’s best to pick a good all around backpack that you can use for other trips as well. I went with the Gregory Baltoro 75 because it has some great reviews and it seemed to fit what I was looking for in a backpack. As the name might suggest, it’s 75 liters. It’s a bit on the heavier side (by a couple pounds) but it’s comfort and build quality make up for that extra weight. It’s been an awesome backpack! I’d recommend at least a 60 liter backpack. If you are splitting up your items between a few people then you can go less but I wanted a backpack that I could carry everything in on other trips as well. On my last trip to Havasupai my pack weighed about 43 pounds with everything including my water.
Daypack + Bladder
You’ll definitely want to bring another backpack (day pack) for the smaller hikes to the waterfalls. Camelbacks are good because you can store food and other items as well as all your water for the hike in the built in bladder. I brought this one on every hike we went on. I was able to cram this (empty but with the bladder filled) in the pocket for the bladder in my main pack (Gregory Boltoro 75). The bladder pocket area is pretty big so it worked out good. When we got to the campsite I just took it out and started using it on hikes after that.
There are certainly a number of different tents you could go with. I purchased the Kelty TN 2 because I wanted something that broke down small but also something that I could use when camping and backpacking with my fiancee. This one works out great because the rods break down much smaller than normal tents. If it’s just you using the tent you could go with something much smaller. You may want something very small just to keep your gear in and then just sleep in a hammock every night. That’s not a bad idea at all.
A hammock is a must at Havasupai! It’s nice to just relax after a day of hiking to the waterfalls. You can even sleep in it at night. Id highly recommend getting a hammock net along with your hammock or just buy a hammock that has a net attached. I’m just not a big fan of bugs flying in my mouth at night. I bought this Grand Trunk hammock on amazon because it was really cheap and had a lot of good reviews. It turned out to be a great buy. On my second trip to Havasupai, I slept in my hammock every night.
Hammock Bug Net
If you’re like me and you don’t want any bugs getting inside your hammock with you then a hammock net like this Eno Guardian is a great choice. I didn’t have this on my first trip to Havasupai but I was wishing that I did while I was there. I brought it on my second trip and slept in my hammock every night.
If you’re planning on sleeping in a tent then you’ll want a decent lightweight sleeping bag. I chose to go with this Kelty Cosmic Down 40 Degree F sleeping bag. Even if you plan to sleep in your hammock every night you may still want a sleeping bag to sleep in. I definitely needed this on my last trip (September 2015) because it got a bit chilly at night. The important thing is to get a lightweight sleeping bag that rolls up really small. The down fill is super comfortable as well!
If you’re going to be sleeping in a hammock, you won’t need a pillow but if you’re going to be in a tent then a good backpacking pillow is a must. This Nemo Fillo pillow worked out perfect. It’s inflatable so it rolls up really small until you are ready to use it. It’s pretty comfortable too.
A good thick sleeping pad can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep. This is only needed if you are sleeping in a tent so once again, if you’re sleeping in a hammock you can save yourself some money by crossing this off the list. This Nemo Cosmo Air 25L was comfortable and packs up pretty small. It’s inflatable to 4″ thick. That’s plenty of cushion for a nice sleep!
Eating and Drinking Gear
For boiling water it doesn’t get any better than a JetBoil. I used this all throughout the day every day to make meals. I heated up water to make tea, oatmeal, hot cocoa, and dehydrated meals (MRE’s). I don’t know what I’d do without it. I think it’s just one of those things every backpacker has. Make sure you get fuel. You’ll only need one small fuel can (7.4 oz. gross weight) which fits nicely inside the JetBoil so it doesn’t take up any more room. If a few people are sharing your JetBoil then you should probably bring an extra fuel can.
I got mixed responses from a bunch of different people about bringing a water filter. I decided to go ahead and bring it and use it anyway. There is a natural spring there where you can fill up your water containers and many people say it’s safe to drink (which I believe) but I still drank through my Sawyer Mini water filter anyway. On my second trip I just drank the water straight from the spring without filtering it. This is great if you have to drink from any other source of water that you don’t know is safe though. It’s nice and small and doesn’t take up hardly any room.
This Toaks titanium cup is awesome. I used it for practically everything when it came to meals or drinks. It’s so light and strong that I expect it will last forever. I used it for all my drinks, oatmeal, cereal–you name it.
This is another item that was really useful. It works out great because it’s really the only utensil you’d need. I’d definitely recommend getting the long Toaks titanium spoon because its good for eating dehydrated meals (MRE’s) right out of the bag. Also, definitely go with the polished bowl on the spoon. The rest of the spoon is smooth but almost rough at the same time and I can’t imagine eating with that finish. I read a lot of reviews on this spoon before purchasing it on Amazon.
Empty Water Jug
This is something I didn’t even think to bring on my first trip but realized (after seeing someone else with one) that it would be a really good idea. Bring one of these one gallon water jugs. Make sure it’s empty though because you’re going to have to hike with it. Just strap it to your backpack–it won’t add any weight. By having one of these, you won’t have to go to the spring to fill up as often. You can fill up and have water for quite awhile. It seemed like I was always going to get more water from the spring. If you’re camping far from the spring, this will save you a bunch of trips. If you want something even larger that can hold more water, there are even collapsable water jugs made for camping like this one. On my second trip this turned out to be a great idea! Tell everyone in your group to bring one for themselves.
Other Misc Gear
I love this knife! It came in handy so many times as you might expect while camping and backpacking. I don’t have any complaints with this SOG Seal Pup at all. It’s very well built, used it so many times, and it looks great!
First Aid Kit
Of course you never really want to have to use a first aid kit but it’s a must. I only used a few of the pain relievers and maybe a bandaid or two in my first aid kit (Medical Kit 7). I would highly recommend bringing some extra pain relievers and/or muscle relaxers. My friend brought some muscle relaxers and I was using them every day. I’ve always considered myself in pretty good shape but my muscles were sore every day–mostly my legs. I have a feeling it was because I hiked the whole way in Merrell Trail Glove barefoot running shoes though.
A good quality pair of hiking shoes are definitely required. I made a mistake my first time and wore only my Merrell Trail Glove shoes for the main hike and I was regretting it. Those are great for water and day hikes but horrible if you have 40-50 lbs on your back. You really need a good hiking shoe that will provide comfort and stability for your feet. I’d recommend something like these Merrell Chameleon hiking shoes. You can tell I like Merrell shoes when it comes to outdoor activities.
You’ll want to find some good water shoes. There are lots of different types of shoes that can work for this though. I used Merrell Trail Glove’s for the entire trip. That’s the only type of shoe I brought. They worked out great once we got to the campsite and went on the day hikes to the waterfalls but I definitely wouldn’t recommend using something like this for the main hike in or out. My legs were very sore. On my second trip, I brough these along for the day hikes and wore regular hiking shoes for the main hike in and out. Once you set up camp and hike around to the waterfalls, you’ll be in and out of water crossing the creek often. Instead of bringing 2 different pairs of shoes on day hikes, just wear something like these. They work great and you can just leave them on while you’re in the water.
Flashlight / Headlamp
A headlamp is perfect for navigating the campsite in the dark whether it’s to find the bathroom or make dinner. Some people even head out on the main hike early in the morning while it’s still dark so you’d need a headlamp for that as well. I found this one on Amazon and it worked out perfectly. I’ll be bringing this again every time. I also brought a flashlight as well but mostly used the headlamp. Make sure you’ve got brand new batteries in it before you leave.
There’s no need to pack a large bath towel. It will take up way to much room. I bought this Sea To Summit DryLite Micro Towel from Amazon and it worked out great. I just got the small size. You’ll find that you really don’t need a big towel for anything.
Food - What To Eat
The first time I went to Havasupai I brought mostly dehydrated meals (MRE’s) from Mountainhouse and Backpackers Pantry. I have to be honest though, I got pretty tired of them. I wish I would have brought more of a variety of food and snacks.
Here’s what I brought on my second trip:
I brought one MRE for each dinner and brought a lot more snacks like beef jerky, dried fruit, flat pouches of tuna (not the can), packs of instant mashed potatoes (just addd water), a couple granola bars (I get sick of these too if I eat too many), almonds, oatmeal, and fruit roll up type snacks. You’ll burn a lot of calories so don’t worry about bringing foods with a lot of calories. You’ll need all the calories you can get. I definitely lost a few pounds there. If you’re on a diet right now, don’t even worry about sticking to it for your trip. Also, if you forget to pack something, you can buy more food at the market there in the village. The prices are higher but it’s nice to get some extras that you didn’t think about before.
Clothing - What To Wear
For a lot of the time you’ll be wearing your bathing suit and a tank top or light shirt. Girls will want some light weight shorts to hike to the falls in as well. Don’t overdo it with clothes. You really only need one pair of shorts and a couple shirts and a couple pairs of underwear. You can wash anything that you aren’t wearing in the creek and wear it the next day. There’s really no reason to add more weight and take up more space in your pack. I wore the same shorts every day and brought one quick dry t-shirt and one tank top.
For nighttime, bring a light weight nylon jacket. These are great because they are so thin and lightweight that they can roll or fold up really small.
For the main hike, I’d recommend some good hiking shoes. For the hikes to the falls, I wore my Merrell Trail Glove shoes. They’ve got lots of mesh so water flows out easily. You’ll be crossing the creek a few times so you don’t want to have to change shoes just to do that. It’s really convenient to wear shoes that you can hike around in and go in the water without ever taking them off.
Don’t forget to also bring sunglasses and a hat.
How much can you expect to spend on all this gear?
Really, you can find backpacking gear in every price range. I wen’t a little higher end on my stuff because I wanted gear that would last a very long time. For example, my backpack alone is a $300+ backpack. You certainly don’t need to spend that much to get the job done though. For all the gear I have listed above, I spent somewhere around $1k. Don’t let that discourage you though because you really can do it for much less.