How to Pack for the Grand Canyon

Packing for a Grand Canyon rafting trip can seem overwhelming, but with a bit of planning and adhering to our suggestions, advice, and knowledge gained from over 50 years of surviving and thriving in the Grand Canyon environment you too will be adequately prepared for your adventure!

What we provide

Outdoors Unlimited provides the below list of items, leaving you responsible for simply your clothing, footwear, and toiletries.

Sleep Gear

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag Liner

Vinyl Covered Foam Pad

Waterproof Ground Cover

Two-person tent

Waterproof Bags

Personal Gear: for clothing and toiletries

Sleep Kit: prepacked with sleeping gear

Day Bag: for small items needed during the day such as medications, camera, or contacts


Raft & Camp Gear


Hiking Poles

Camp Chair


Meals and Snacks

Tents, let’s talk about them.

Two person tents are available on our trips for inclement weather; however, tent use is generally not recommended and here’s why…

It’s hot!
With night temperatures regularly in the 70’s during peak summer, even with the door opening unzipped, your tent will be HOT, making for uncomfortable sleeping.

The wind!
No matter how much your personal gear weighs, it will be no match for an errant gust of wind. Setting a tent up AND properly staking it down is time consuming, fiddly, and a two-person job. Save the hassle.

Those stars!
The opportunity to sleep under the stars and view the unbeatable Milky Way is a chance not to be missed.

Spring and Fall Trips

Spring and fall trips present a unique challenge as the weather can often be more unpredictable than peak summer months thus requiring more clothing options to ensure a comfortable trip. Some essentials not to be missed include…

  • Quick drying, Polypropelene, sun coverage. These long sleeve shirts will provide sun protection during the day but dry quickly to keep you warm.
  • Fleece. A fleece layer is a camp staple for both the chilly mornings and late evenings.
  • Rain gear. A rain jacket and pants are necessary for cloud covered days when the air temperature is not warm enough to overcome the cold water temperatures.

Remember, your clothing will be heavier and a bit bulkier for trips during this time frame. As such, if you are hiking into or out of the canyon you may need to reduce the suggested quantities and aim for the suggested weight limit for your pack instead.

Summer Trips

Peak summer trips usually mean one thing, it’s hot! While this brings its own set of challenges, such as hydration and skin protection, it also means that your packing is pretty straight forward.

  • Cotton sun coverage. Unlike polypropelene listed in the spring and fall trips, long sleeve cotton shirts will stay wet longer to help keep you cool.
  • Raincoat. Because you just never know when the monsoons may start!
  • Sarong. Pulling double duty, a sarong can be dipped into the river to help cool you down as well as draped over your legs or shoulders to offer protection from the sun.

Remember, layers are your friend. They offer you that little bit of extra warmth in the mornings, that all important sun protection throughout the day, and when the sun goes down can easily be removed to enjoy the warm summer air.

High 82°High 92°High 101°High 106°High 103°High 97°
Low 56°Low 63°Low 72°Low 78°Low 75°Low 69°
Average temperatures in the inner canyon


Sun Protection

The Grand Canyon sun is intense. While sunscreen is, of course, an absolute must for skin protection, the best protection is covering up! A light weight button down shirt with long sleeves, or a sun-hoodie, are great options as they can easily be removed but offer great coverage for arms and neck. Thighs can also be particularly vulnerable to the sun as you’ll be in a seated position in the rafts. Light weight cotton pants, a sarong or scarf, or simply longer board shorts all offer great protection. Hats, sunglasses, and paddling gloves round out full coverage.

Read more:
When is the best time to go…

Foot Protection

Taking care of your feet on a Grand Canyon rafting trip is of utmost importance. Blisters, sunburns, stubbed toes, and splinters can all affect your enjoyment and ability to participate fully on your trip. Make sure that your chosen footwear are broken in. Pack a camp shoe to give your feet a break from your water shoes. To the extent possible keep your feet dry. At the first sign of issue or injury tell your guides.  Remember that your surroundings are all new and unfamiliar, watch your step and always wear shoes.  Sandy beaches often hide sticks and thorns.

Read more
Foot Wear and Foot Care >

Quick Answers

Do I need new clothes each day? No! You are camping. You will be a little dirty (or a lot), that’s part of the adventure. It is nice to have camp clothes for the evening so that your skin avoids the same rub points; but those too will be worn more than once.

Is my bag too heavy? For those guests hiking either in or out of the canyon, the weight of your pack is paramount to the success and enjoyment of your hike. Less is more! We suggest no more than 20 pounds. Your back will thank us!

Do you have a pack list? Yes! About 4 months prior to your trip launch you will be emailed your Trip Packet. This packet will include individualized information for your trip; including a pack list that can be printed and used as a checklist.

Still have questions?

Contact Us