MY COMPLETE HAVASU FALLS PACKING LIST (2020)
Havasu Falls in Havasupai, Arizona is one of my favorite backpacking destinations. I hope you landed on this Havasu Falls packing list because you’re planning your backpacking trip there and are ready to get your gear dialed! With the waterfalls, swimming holes, and weather being warm for a good chunk of the year, a trip here feels like a magical vacation, except it takes a 10-mile hike and a coveted Havasu Falls permit to get there (see how to get one here).
If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s helping people feel prepared (and stoked) to head out on the trail. Down below in this Havasu Falls packing list, I share all of the necessary backpacking gear you should take to have a relaxing and comfortable trip to Havasupai. I also include specific recommendations for each item in case you need something new.
One caveat: With this Havasu Falls packing checklist, I’m assuming that you are carrying all of your own gear. When you get down to the Havasu Falls campground, you’ll see elaborate basecamps with full-blown kitchens and a lot of extras that most certainly require a pack animal to carry in. There have been many reports of abuse to the pack animals at Havasu Falls, and while I didn’t see any signs of abuse myself, it’s something to be aware of if you want to bring more than the necessities.
Here’s my complete Havasu Falls packing list to help you prepare for a camping trip of a lifetime!
*Updated in 2020 with current gear recommendations*
Havasu Falls Backpacking Essentials
For most people, a 45-60 liter pack should be more than adequate for a 2-5 day trip. If you don’t have your own backpack yet, I suggest going to REI and trying on some fully loaded packs to find one that is comfortable for your size and body type. What works for me might not necessarily work for you and vice versa, so it’s smart to get properly fitted.
If you’ve never been backpacking, check out this blog post with tips for how to pack a backpacking pack.
- Popular Women’s Backpacks: Osprey Ariel AG, Deuter ACT Lite & Gregory Deva
- Popular Men’s Backpacks: Osprey Aether AG, REI Traverse 70, & Gregory Baltoro
Your sleeping pad provides cushion and insulation while you’re sleeping. I’ve tried nearly a dozen different sleeping pads, and I’m back to the Thermarest ProLite. It’s not the lightest or most compact, but I like that it consists of one flat solid piece. It’s also self-inflating which means you don’t get out of breath trying to blow it up. Check out all the best sleeping pads in this post.
- My favorite: Thermarest ProLite
The time of year you’ll be visiting Havasu Falls will determine the sleeping bag you’ll need. In Spring and Fall, a 20 degree 3-season bag should do the trick. In summer, nights can be very warm, so you can get away with something lighter and cooler.
- Inexpensive Option: If you are looking for an affordable 3-season bag, the REI Co-op Trailbreak 20 sleeping bag (men’s/women’s) is a moderately light bag rated to 20 degrees and costs around $100.
- Diverse Option: This REI bag (men’s/women’s) is the one I took on the John Muir Trail. It has an excellent warmth to weight ratio and packs smaller than the bag above. This bag will be overkill during summer, but if you are only going to invest in one bag for all your backpacking trips, this is an excellent option.
Choose a lightweight backpacking tent that will accommodate you and whoever you’ll be sleeping with. I like tents with two doors and vestibules, like the MSR Hubba Hubba, which make it easier to get in and out of and to store your gear while you are sleeping. Alternatively, if you want to sleep in a hammock, you can save weight and skip the tent, but make sure you bring a lightweight waterproof tarp to protect you in the case of rain. I was glad I had one when it rained while I was there.
The Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp has multiple settings, including ultra-bright and red night vision, which comes in handy when you want to have a conversation without blinding your friends. It also has a locking mechanism to prevent it from accidentally turning on in your bag. You can also charge this headlamp on solar if you are using Black Diamond’s rechargeable batteries.
Havasu Falls Camp Kitchen Packing List
There is one spring at camp that provides safe drinking water. The Havasupai tribe tests the water regularly, so generally you don’t need to worry about filtering. However, this one spring may end up being quite far from your individual campsite. So, I’d recommend bringing your hydration bladder or water bottle to fill up for drinking. Another option to consider is a high capacity collapsible water jug or bag that you can bring back to camp so you aren’t walking back and forth every time you need to fill up. To err on the safe side, bring a small filter or pack some purification tablets in your emergency kit, just in case.
You’ll want a lightweight backpacking stove. If you are sticking to dehydrated backpacking food that only needs boiling water, I recommend the Jetboil. For a 3 night/4 day trip, we didn’t even burn through one small fuel canister for 3 people, and the Jetboil is one of the fastest stoves for boiling water. If you pour the hot water directly into the dehydrated food bag, then clean-up is really simple and you can use that bag to pack out your micro trash.
A spork is always handy on backpacking trips and serves as an all-in-one eating utensil. Snowpeak makes a lightweight titanium spork that will last you forever. If you are traveling with a large group they even come in fun colors so you can keep your gear separate.
If you want coffee in the morning or a warm drink at night, you’ll need something to drink out of. Your Nalgene works too, but this mug will keep your coffee hot for a long time. I love the GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug. It’s lightweight and holds 17 ounces of liquid.
Food Bag and Paracord
Anytime you are sleeping or away from your campsite, you’ll want to hang your food so those pesky squirrels can’t get it. Bring some paracord and a bag that you can use to tie your food to a branch. The further from the main tree trunk the better and make sure it’s far enough off of the ground. If you have a bear canister or a Ursack, that’s an even better option.
What Clothes to Pack for Havasu Falls
Check the weather before you go to make sure you have the right clothing. These are the clothes I packed on my 3 night/4 day Havasu Falls trip in May where we experienced everything from hot sun to windy rain and cool nights. If you are going in the heat of summer when days are blistering and nights are warm, you won’t need as many warm layers and you can adjust this Havasu Falls packing list as needed.
HOT WEATHER CLOTHING
Pack two short-sleeve shirts. You can wear one during the day when you are hiking and then have one “clean” shirt for the night when you are hanging around camp. Avoid cotton and instead, choose quick-dry, wicking fabrics. These Patagonia Capilene quick-dry shirts are my favorite, and they don’t stink even after several days of wear.
Any pair of exercise shorts will do. If you have a comfy pair of board shorts that you can hike in, like these Prana Silvana shorts, it’s a great option since you’ll be swimming a lot at Havasu Falls.
Bring one long-sleeve shirt that you can throw on as an extra layer while hiking or for mild evenings. One of my go-to layers is the Patagonia Capilene crew shirt.
I always hike in leggings. These Patagonia tights are very comfortable; they breathe well and aren’t too tight in the waistband. Keep in mind – depending on the time of year you might be more comfortable hiking in shorts or cropped leggings, but you still want might long pants for the evening.
I’ve tried nearly all of the different “outdoor” underwear out there, and this pair of ExOfficio Modern Travel Hipster Briefs are my favorite (they might feel a little small at first, but they stretch over time). They clean easily, don’t retain smells, wick moisture and have no panty lines. I’d recommend bringing at least two pairs of quick-dry underwear. You can alternate days and rinse them (without soap) in the river when they need a refresh. Please remember to abide by the Leave No Trace principles and refrain from using soap (even biodegradable soap) in or near natural water sources.
If you want to protect your skin from the sun or want to cover up in general while you are swimming, this Carve Designs rash guard is very flattering, dries quick, and keeps you cool when it’s damp. If you’re between sizes suggest sizing up.
You’ll want something to dry off with or lay on when you’re exploring the waterfalls. This REI towel is lightweight, big, and will dry very quickly hanging up at camp.
Depending on the season and forecast, you might want to bring a rain jacket, just in case. This Outdoor Research jacket is very lightweight, breathable, and will keep you dry in case of a storm (Note: rain is common July – September).
COLD WEATHER CLOTHING ADDITIONS FOR EARLY SPRING AND LATE FALL
Whether or not you need a warm jacket like this will depend on the time of year you visit. If you’re visiting in late July, chances are the nights are going to be very warm and you won’t need one. In the spring and fall, I’d suggest bringing an insulated layer for evenings. This Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody is lightweight, warm, and windproof.
These Smartwool Merino fleece-lined leggings are perfect for cool nights. Again you won’t need these in the summer, in which case your one pair of hiking pants should suffice.
Wearing a warm layer on your head is super important. Much of our body heat escapes through our head, so a warm beanie will make a big difference in your overall comfort level when the temps drop. A lightweight yet warm beanie, like this one, is a smart idea to keep in your pack just in case.
Ever since backpacking the John Muir Trail, I’ve been hooked on the Darn Tough CoolMax Micro Crew socks. I’ve never gotten a blister, my feet never feel sweaty, and they provide just the right amount of cushion.
From the trailhead to the campground, you’ll mostly be hiking in a sandy wash. I’ve been using the Oboz Bridger BDry boots for a while and they quickly became my go-to. For Havasu Falls, it was nice to have a high ankle for the additional ankle support and to prevent sand and rocks from getting into my boots. But, if you’re more comfortable with trail runners then you can definitely get away with those too.
Water Shoes / Sandals
Shoes you can wear in the water are an absolute must. If you plan on hiking down to Beaver Falls where there are several river crossings, these Astral water shoes are an amazing choice. They’re lightweight so you won’t notice them in your pack when hiking down to the campground. Built like a tennis shoe, they provide a little more support than a sandal and they help keep rocks out, unlike a water sandal. And if you really wanted to shave some weight from your pack, you could probably do the entire hike down to Havasu Falls in these shoes too (but for long distances over sand, I recommend some sort of sock to prevent rubbing). Alternatively, if you prefer a camp sandal that you can explore with, I recommend a pair of Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 Sandals.
Other Necessary Backpacking Gear
You should always have a first aid kit when you’re hiking. This ultralight, waterproof medical kit comes with the minimum supplies that you would need to address minor wounds, as well as travel sizes of some handy medications. Don’t forget to add personal medication and additional blister bandaids. You’ll be hiking in sand and water, both of which are tough on the feet.
When it’s hot out at Havasu Falls, the sun can be very intense. Pack waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF so you don’t end up with a sunburn. This Thinksport Sunscreen comes in a small tube, is water-resistant, and provides SPF50.
Small, Packable Daypack
You’ll want a small packable daypack for exploring the various falls – one that you can throw your suit, sunscreen, camera, and towel in. The Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia is an awesome day pack for side adventures. It’s super sturdy yet packable, and it’s made with 100% repurposed fabrics.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you really can’t take a bad picture at Havasu Falls. It’s so beautiful you really can’t go wrong. And, it’s a good place to practice your photography skills too.
A hammock is a must for Havasu Falls – whether you want to sleep in it or just relax around camp, you won’t regret bringing one. This ENO Sub6 Hammock only weighs 5.8 oz. For easy hanging, bring the ENO Helios Hammock Suspension System.
With all that hammock lounging you’ll be doing, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on the reading you never get to do at home. But, beware – you might be so relaxed you’ll just fall asleep to the sound of water flowing.
99% of the campsites have picnic tables, so you don’t need to worry about bringing down a camp chair. If you do want to bring a chair, this Helinox Chair Zero weighs exactly one pound and packs down to the size of two water bottles.
I hope this Havasu Falls packing list helps you get organized with the right gear for your Havasupai backpacking trip! Have you already been to Havasu Falls? Leave your tips and questions in the comments below.
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