Jasper and Banff National Parks: Packing list

Banff and Jasper National Parks were so beautiful.  They were also a challenge to pack for.  When you’re hiking all day in different climates and going to a few nice restaurants, it makes your packing list grow longer and longer.  I definitely packed more than I needed, but here is what I spent the week actually wearing.

For a complete review of what we did in Canada, check out this complete travel guide I posted.

This packing list is for the summer months (June-August), since that’s when we visited.  If you go in the winter, I’m sure you’ll need base layers, larger coat, gloves, hat, etc.  If you’re going in the summer, you can expect some chilly mornings and evenings, but warm days for leggings (or jeans) and a tee.

What I wore the most was what you see above: leggings, a t-shirt, a button up and my hiking boots. In my bag I carried a scarf and a lightweight warm-weather jacket. I took those off when I got warm. I dressed in hiking layers and practically lived in that the whole time.

So aside from the obvious shirts and pants for hiking, I would highly recommend bringing these items that I found essential:

1. Hooded rain coat.  Even when it wasn’t raining, this came in handy as a wind breaker for some of those exposed mountain peaks.

2. Hiking boots.  The terrain here is muddy and rocky, so you want to make sure you have real hiking boots (not just hiking shoes) to protect your ankles and keep your feet dry.  I saw some people hiking in athletic shoes, which would be fine for some of the trails.  Most of the trails we were on, athletic shoes would just not cut it.

3.  Jeans.  I hiked in jeans at one point, but these are just great for everything.  Most of the restaurants are pretty casual, and you an wearing your hiking gear, but you certainly want a pair of jeans as another option. 

4. Bathing suit.  If you plan on going to the hot springs at all (which we did), you’ll need a suit.  You can also rent one there for pretty inexpensive if you don’t want to pack one.  Also, you could wear it if you’re doing any cliff diving.  (We ended up going in our underwear, but you know, to each his own!)

5.  Merino wool socks and moleskin padding.  I don’t care how hot it is, I always wear wool socks for hiking.  They really are the best for moisture-issues as well as all-day comfort.  Another thing you want to make sure you have is moleskin padding. We always bring this hiking because it can be cut to any size, and the second you feel a blister coming on, you simply stick this on the area.   It’s important to put it on before the blister has formed completely and as you feel it coming on.  You do need some scissors (or you can use a knife if you don’t have scissors). It has saved me from some nasty blisters and I can’t recommend it enough!  They also last for days even with showering, so you can just leave them on.  They eventually start to peel off, but they’re really thick and sticky (which is awesome).

6.  Sandals.  For the most part, I was in a hiking outfit with my hiking boots the entire time.  When my feet were done, I was ready to slip on a pair of sandals so I would get out of my constricting hiking boots.  I just kept them in my day bag for easy access.

7.  Nicer outfit for “fancy” dinner.  We went to a nice restaurant so I brought a dress and some earrings to wear out.  I just wore my nicer boots with the dress so I didn’t have to bring any other shoes.  I used my scarf as a cover so I didn’t need to pack any other sweaters or cardigans.  I’m all about those all-purpose items.  A scarf to keep my warm hiking a mountain by day, and my shawl at a restaurant at night!

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