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Packing for Big Bend | Checklist

What to pack for your trip to Big Bend National Park?

In addition to your basics - clothing, toiletries, pajamas & whatnot, we have a few things specific to this region we believe you'll be happy you packed.

First & foremost, we have to address the sun. The UV rays here are FIERCE.

You absolutely need to protect yourself from the sun here. Bring a sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses & chapstick with SPF protection.

One of the great draws to this region is the many amazing hiking opportunities! Far West Texas is home to Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park & the Fort Davis Mountains!

To set yourself up for success, you'll need to have comfortable hiking shoes. Some of the hikes at Big Bend National Park, like the Santa Elena Canyon, are best with water shoes - since when water levels are high you need to wade through water for a portion of the hike.

Additionally, a hiking backpack to carry the essentials, namely WATER, is a good thing to have. Every hiker should have adequate amounts of water. One gallon per person per day is recommended, or at least 2 liters per person for a half-day. We love using a water bladder, because it doesn't weigh much & it's not bulky in the backpack. Still, any water bottle will do.

Other items to include in your pack are your phone &/or camera, sun protection, snacks (think granola bars, jerky, trail mix, sandwiches) & potentially bear spray, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, insect repellant, & an extra layer (especially if hiking in the later afternoon/evening). Remember to pack out what you pack in. So if you picnic at the summit of The Lost Mine trail (which we highly recommend), make sure to pack your trash & carry it out with you. Also noteworthy, be sure to bring or wear your swimsuit if you plan to visit the Hot Springs in BBNP (you should totally go for a dip!).

Another unique aspect of this region is that it's within a protected dark sky reserve. This means the nights get extremely dark. We love that about this area - the stargazing is world-class (more on that here). It's a good idea to bring headlamps &/or flashlights to use at night.

Map of Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve
Credit: McDonald Observatory

One thing to note about this area... everything is a little bit more expensive. From gasoline to groceries - there's a premium on everything. That's the cost for being the end of the supply chain & incredibly remote. To save money, it's a great idea to purchase your groceries locally & pack food with you, if possible.

Don't forget your essentials like toiletries, phone chargers, clothing for hiking, going out, sleeping, & more!


In Summary, Big Bend is a unique place. The following items are going to be lifesavers out here:


  • Sunhat

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Chapstick with SPF


  • 1 Gallon of Water per person per day (minimum)

  • Water Bottles &/or Water Bladders


  • Comfy Hiking Shoes

  • Water Shoes

  • Hiking Back Pack

  • Snacks (granola bars, sandwiches, trail mix, jerky)

  • Swimsuit

  • Bear Spray (not essential, but nice to have in the backcountry)

  • First Aid Kit

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Sun protection

  • Insect Repellant

  • Extra Layer (especially if hiking in the late afternoon/evening)


  • Headlamp

  • Flashlight

  • Layers to keep warm (it is typically hot in the day & cold at night)

TOILETRIES (take what applies, & forget the rest)

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Floss

  • Deodorant

  • Hairbrush/Comb

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Body wash/Soap

  • Razor

  • Facewash

  • Lotion

  • Q-tips

  • Makeup

  • Feminine Hygiene Products

  • Skin care (face wash, moisturizer, etc)

  • Hair tools


  • Pajamas

  • Hiking Clothes

  • Going Out clothes

  • Loungewear

  • Socks

  • Undies

  • Coat/Jacket


  • Chargers

  • Camera gear

  • Phone

  • Laptop

  • Medications/Vitamins

  • First Aid Kit

Finally, don't forget to bring your spirit of exploration! There's so much to see out here in the majestic West Texas desert.



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