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Before You Go: What to Pack to Hike the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls

June 25, 2014 at 6:04 PM | by | Comments (0)

Our crew crossing the Havasu River in the Grand Canyon

When you're out in the Arizona wilderness, the right gear can make all the difference. And it's not just about the heat. In an environment like the Grand Canyon, the mix of the elements is what threatens your comfort. Aside from the extremely obvious camping gear and necessities like a tent, sunscreen, water bladders, and a hat, there are other ways to equip yourself so your trip to Havasupai Falls actually feels like a vacation.

Here are a few suggestions based on the gear we used for our recent trip:

Zipperless Backpack

The large amounts of sand and loose dirt found in the Canyon and near Havasupai will get into just about everything. You have to accept it on some level, but if it gets into the zippers of your equipment, it can cause quite a problem. There’s not much to be done about your tent, but you can avoid the annoying issue of a broken zipper by carrying a backpack without one. We used Kelty's Trailogic PK 50, which uses snap-in clips and rolling techniques instead of zippers.

Quick-Dry, Non-Cotton Clothing

Regardless of whether you prefer to hike in long or short attire (I prefer long pants and long sleeves for protection against brush), you'll want something that dries out quickly. Last thing you want is to go for a swim in the river and then have your clothes be wet for the next two miles. Most outdoor synthetic gear dries within 10-15 minutes on a reasonably warm day, and in the Grand Canyon, five minutes of walking will leave you bone dry. It will also be handy when it comes to cleaning your clothes, giving you the freedom to wash them knowing they won't be wet all day.

Closed-Toe Water Shoes

Not only will water shoes be a life saver when it comes to river crossings during your hike, but they will also keep you safe when swimming in the watering holes. The travertine rock near Havasupai is very sharp, and swimming or walking in a river without proper footwear is a helicopter evac waiting to happen. There are lots of good brands to choose from, such as Teva, and the best way to decide is to head to your local outfitter and see how each fits your foot. You'll want something you can also walk long distances in, and anything less than a perfect fit is a recipe for disaster when it comes to water shoes and blisters.

Many Changes of Socks

When dirt and dust get into your shoes and socks, it starts to take a toll on your feet. Be sure to bring plenty of socks so that you can change them often and reduce the chance of blisters. You might also want to wear them with your water shoes to keep the river sand from grinding against your feet.

Salty Food or Salt Tablets

To help stay hydrated, you'll want to eat plenty of salt while you're in the Canyon. Salted nuts are probably your best bet, since they provide much more nutrition than, say, chips or pretzels. If you get dehydrated very easily, you might want to pop a sodium tablet once or twice a day to help your body retain water.

[Photos: Will McGough/Kelty/Teva]

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