How to Pack for Hiking

There are endless miles of hiking trails in Durango! With a huge variety of difficulties and lengths, everyone can find a trail that is suitable for them. 

To make the most out of your hike, be sure to pack everything necessary to deal with weather, injuries, and setbacks so you can truly enjoy the views! 

What to Pack for Hiking

Being prepared for a hike can make the difference between a fun, memorable adventure and a miserable time. A backpack-sized 15-35 liters should be enough room for a day hike.

Be sure to pack all these items on your next hike in Durango!


Don’t rely on your phone or electronics! Yes, bring the GPS and your phone, but make sure you have a map and compass and know how to use them. It is easier than it seems to lose the trail or get turned around while hiking around Durango. Make your map waterproof by storing it in a one-gallon zip-lock bag and folding it so that the area you are hiking in is on top.


A headlamp may seem like overkill for a day trip, but unexpected difficult terrain, injuries, and more can turn a day hike into an evening hike. Make sure to always bring a headlamp and fresh batteries. The flashlight on your phone won’t be bright enough for finding the trail when it is truly dark and will drain your battery quickly. Headlamps last a lot longer. Headlamps are small, lightweight, and easy to keep in your pack.

Sun Protection

Durango and the surrounding mountain are high in elevation, making the sun exposure more intense than at sea level. Apply sunscreen every few hours to avoid getting burnt, or wear sun-protective clothing. Many outdoor-focused gear shops in Durango carry sun protective clothing like lightweight, breathable long sleeve hoodies, shirts, pants, big hats, and sunglasses. Don’t forget to pick up some chapstick with SPF in it too.

First Aid Kit

Accidents happen. Many pre-assembled first aid kits are available, lightweight, and come in waterproof bags. If you prefer to make your own, be sure to stock gloves, alcohol wipes, bandages of various sizes, some moleskin for blisters, tape, gauze roll, ace bandages, ibuprofen, and Benadryl.


A few items for repairs and basic fire-making supplies can go a long way in unexpected circumstances. Sometimes clothing tears, shoelaces, or backpacks break.

A small amount of duct tape wrapped around a pen or water bottle can be used to hold just about anything together. A small multi-tool with a knife or scissors and 8 or 10 feet of paracord provides the tools for most field repairs.

Add a lighter or two, a few matches, and some firestarter stored in a ziplock bag in case you need a heat source in an emergency. Store these items in your first aid kit to help keep your pack organized!

Water and Food

Always bring extra snacks and PLENTY of water. When hiking in Durango, it is important to drink water on a regular basis to stay hydrated. For longer hiking trips you may want to bring a water filter or purification tablets to restock as you pass streams and lakes. Staying hydrated and having snacks is the key to keeping your energy up. If you are hiking with kids, bring more snacks than you think you will need. 

Clothing for All Occasions

Weather can change quickly in Durango! Make sure you are prepared for a variety of temperatures. Keeping a few different layers on hand allows you to add or take off layers as you start to sweat or get cold. Remember that synthetics and wool clothing dries faster and regulates temperature better than cotton. Consider wearing or carrying these layers.

  • Synthetic shirt and shorts or pants

  • Sun protective shirt

  • Insulating base layer shirt

  • Insulating base layer pants

  • Fleece or puffy jacket

  • Warm vest

  • Rain Jacket or windproof shell

  • Rain Pants or windproof shell pants

  • Fleece or wool hat

  • Fleece or synthetic gloves

  • Buff or neck gaiter 


Hiking is a great way to make memories with family and friends, get a healthy dose of sunshine, and get lots of exercise. The beautiful Animas Valley and the San Juan Mountains have endless trails waiting to be explored. 

Packing the items from this list, like a map, plenty of food and water, and proper clothing layers will keep you prepared for anything that happens on the trail.