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Havasupai Falls is made of Instagram and backpacking dreams, and visiting it is truly an amazing experience. To ensure you’re 100% prepped, make sure to read this guide to Havasupai Falls and then go down this Havasupai packing list.
As with any packing list, there are personal preferences and budget considerations to keep in mind. This list, based on our late-May trip, focuses on the most essential items and points out what’s optional versus what’s not.
Before I get to the items, a few suggestions for packing for Havasupai Falls:
- First, you’ll want to map out shared items such as tents and cooking gear. This helps you align on how much each person should expect to carry in shared equipment and provisions.
- Then help each person calculate how much personal stuff they can bring to ensure their packs are not going to be overweight or oversized. As a general rule, the total weight of what you carry shouldn’t be more than 20% of your body weight.
If you do the above, you’ll spend way less time shuffling things around different packs the night before you hit the trail. We didn’t do a great job of this and lost a lot of precious sleep time!
Table of Contents
Equipment for Havasupai Falls
1. Backpacking pack
A good backpacking pack is absolutely essential. Ideally, you should have something that is well-fitted for your body. I use a Kelty 46L that I got on sale for $90, but I’d also recommend one of the more popular Osprey packs if your budget allows.
Whatever you get, make sure it has padded and adjustable straps and hips cushions. It should also rest at the right position for your torso. One of our friends received some unfortunate (mis)guidance from a coworker and borrowed a pack that dug into her shoulders and made the weight feel much heavier.
2. Backpacking tent (or hammock or tarp)
Why not a regular tent, you ask? Well, when you have to carry everything yourself, you want the lightest and least bulky option possible. Backpacking tents are roughly half the weight of camping tents (for the same number of people), and I promise, two pounds can make quite the difference on the trail.
I’d suggest buying an easy-to-setup backpacking tent. And make sure to have a rain cover and a tent footprint. Both items will help keep the inside of your tent dry, especially in case of rain.
If you’re more minimalist, you can also bring a hammock or even a tarp tent (both with a rain fly for the unpredictable precipitation!). I’d leave the latter to more experienced backpackers who are less afraid of the cold (aka never gonna be me).
3. Sleeping bag and pad
As with the tent, you could bring a regular sleeping bag and sleeping pad with you. But backpacking versions of the two will save space and weight.
You’ll want to make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the appropriate weather. No good showing up in November with a 50-degree bag!
The sleeping pad is pretty important for both comfort and warmth, especially if you visit Havasupai Falls during the colder months.
4. Day pack
A smaller bag helps you bring water, food, and other essentials with you once you’re down in the canyon and are out exploring the waterfalls. I have this 20L Quechua day pack and absolutely love it.
It’s pure nature out in Havasu Canyon, so a source of light is absolutely critical after dark.
You can choose to bring a flashlight or lantern, but I find headlamps the most efficient source of lighting since they keep your hands free. (I’m a big fan of COAST headlamps.)
If you think you’ll want to play card games at night or just otherwise have more light, consider bringing a camping lantern in addition to your headlamps.
6. Bear can or rat sack
Believe me, it’s not pretty when the squirrels et al get into food sources.
7. Cooking gear
You’ll need some sort of cooking mechanism. Our group brought a PocketRocket and a pot. Because we also wanted faster access to hot water for things like our dehydrated meals, we also brought along a Jetboil.
The campground often has a wealth of partially-used propane tanks for things like Jetboils and PocketRockets. I’d suggest bringing at least one of your own though since there’s no guarantee the type of propane tank you need will be available.
8. Utensils and dishware
Everyone should have at least one mug or bowl to eat out of and at least one utensil. Sporks are great for this.
9. Biodegradable liquid soap
For washing your pots, pans, sporks, etc!
10. Trash bags
Pack your trash out!
I’d suggest bringing at least 2 big trash bags per person in case one gets holes in them.
11. Backup toilet paper
Generally, the bathrooms in Havasu are stocked, but it’s good to have some just in case.
If you need to go on the trail, make sure to pack out your TP, too!
12. Ziploc bags
For packing the aforementioned TP or anything else. Also good as an easy alternative to water protection for your phone.
13. First aid kit
Optional, but useful for your group to have at least one just in case.
14. Hiking sticks
These are technically optional, but I’d highly recommend them if you have any sort of hip or knee issues. They make the steep switchbacks much easier.
You don’t have to spend a lot on them either. I think mine was around $25 for the pair.
15. Sleeping bag liner
Also optional, but a good thing to have if you’re renting your sleeping bag or if you’re visiting during the winter months and need some extra warmth. I like my Cocoon.
Food and water
1. Water! And water bottles/hydration packs/etc.
You should carry at least 1 gallon of water per person at all times. The average Nalgene size is 32 ounces, so four of those. Camelbacks and other hydration packs are also great for this trip.
If you think you’ll want to camp farther away from the fresh spring, make sure to bring a collapsible water jug to cut down on the number of water trips you need to make.
2. Non-perishable food
You’ve got your tastes and dietary considerations as well as your preferences for easy versus complex camping meals. Either way, make sure to plan your meals around nutritious and high-energy foods that are non-perishable.
We wanted to maximize our time relaxing and exploring once we got to camp, so we focused on easy-to-prepare foods. That included a lot of dips and spreads as well as rehydrated meals.
Here was our shopping list (no quantities listed since that depends on how much you eat):
- Peanut butter
- Instant oatmeal
- Sliced bread
- Pita bread
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
- Energy bars
- Electrolyte powder
- Instant coffee
- Powdered soy milk
- Baby carrots
- Cocktail cucumbers
- Salami (the kind that doesn’t need to stored in the fridge until opened…and then it’s still okay to eat for a day or two after)
- Mountain House meals (we bought this entire bucket)
- Hot sauce 😉
3. Water purification tablets or sterilization systems
Most of the time, water from Fern Spring is 100% safe to drink. However, there are times when the tribe will issue a notice that you need to purify the spring water as well.
Whenever I’m out trekking, I like to bring Aquatabs with me. Just drop it into the water, let it sit for ~30 minutes, and you’re good to go. (This is for freshwater sources. I ended up doing this at Havasupai Falls anyhow because my otherwise strong stomach is sensitive to water.)
Clothes and personal items
1. Hiking shoes/boots
Whether you choose to wear hiking shoes or boots or just go with regular sneakers, you’ll need solid footwear for all your hiking.
My partner got me a pair of Merrell’s hiking boots for Christmas the other year, and they’re fantastic.
For the above.
I recently bought these Pendelton wool hiking socks and am absolutely in love with them. They’re so soft and silky. Great for daily wear as well!
3. Water shoes
You’re gonna need these! The path between Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls requires some creek crossings, which would be no fun in your hiking shoes.
I’d suggest getting something like these Tevas sandals that will make it easy to remove any creek rocks that get in. I had closed-toed water shoes that were good but required a lot of stops to remove rocks that got stuck.
Exactly what you bring will depend on the weather during your visit. Here’s a sampling of what I brought for our Havasupai Falls trip in late May, when the weather ranged from the high 30s to the low 80s.
- Longsleeve workout tops, tank tops, workout leggings, shorts, and sports bras (I buy most of my stuff from Fabletics)
- Windproof jacket (I brought a Patagonia one like this one)
- Rain jacket (I vouch for this Marmot one!)
- Another hoodie/pullover
- Thermal top and leggings for sleeping (these 32 Degrees Heat ones are lightweight)
- A hat to protect your face from the desert sun
One thing I didn’t bring that I should’ve brought was a beanie to keep my head warm at night and in the mornings. I was definitely jealous of friends who brought them!
For those waterfall days!
Desert. Sun. That’s all I’m going to say.
Pack travel-size versions of the necessities. Avoid frills. You’re backpacking, not going out for a night on the town.
Face wipes and wet wipes are especially great for this trip.
8. Water-resistant sunscreen and sunscreen lip balm
See #6 and add “waterfalls.”
Keep that baby soft skin baby soft and not lobster shell-y. Get some protection for your lips, too.
9. Hand sanitizer
Did I mention there’s no running water to wash in?
10. Quick-dry towel
You can bring a regular towel as well, but a quick-dry towel packs easily and makes it easy to dry off after frolicking in the river and waterfalls.
11. Flip flops or sandals
Optional, but good to have if you want another pair of shoes that’s easy to slip on around camp and unlikely to be soaking wet.
12. Power banks/portable chargers
If you put your phone on airplane mode, it should 100% be fine on battery life for a 4-day, 3-night trip. But if your phone is older or if you want to charge cameras and other electronics, it’s good to have something like this Anker power bank.
There’s no electricity at the campgrounds, so make sure you reserve enough phone juice to navigate you out of Havasu and to your next destination.
Beyond this list, it’s really a matter of personal preference and what’s important to you. Remember, you’ve got to carry it in and out, so if you don’t absolutely need it, leave it at home.
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