Hiking, and biking, and camping, oh my! Endless adventures await at more than 50 U.S. National Parks—make sure you’re prepared.
Why You Should Visit a National Park
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While you may have taken a family vacation to the Grand Canyon when you were younger, there's so much more to explore when it comes to outdoorsy travel and adventure locations. With 58 national parks dotted across the U.S., there are likely several of the protected landscapes near you.
The beauty of America's national parks is their diversity, allowing for an endless supply of outdoor activities and adventures. Go hiking around the stunning red rock formations in Utah's Zion National Park. Camp in Alaska's vast Denali National Park and Preserve, surrounded by scenery you swear couldn't possibly be real. Practice your rock-climbing skills in the deserts of California's Joshua Tree. Or grab a kayak and head out on the waters in Maine’s Acadia. (And those are just a few of the national parks you need on your bucket list.)
With all that activity, you’re going to want to be prepared. No one wants to find themselves with soggy feet, chilly limbs, or a parched mouth in the wilderness. Check out our picks for the best clothes, gear, shoes, and accessories. (Then brush up on your survival skills before you hit the trails.)
Photo: Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images
Clothes: Anything from the Parks Project x Beyond Yoga Collab
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If not for the conservation efforts of programs like the Parks Project, an initiative that helps fund park programs through a curated collection of cool gear, experiencing these natural wonders might not even be possible.
Each product sold from the Parks Project goes directly toward funding for 30 different conservancies across the country. And while there are mainstay items like baseball tees and camping coffee mugs, a limited Beyond Yoga collection just makes the cause sweeter. High-waisted leggings with camping tent silhouettes on the back leg, a long-sleeve tee with mountain graphic, or a baseball hat and tank will all help you leave the park "better than you found it."
Photo: Parks Project x Beyond Yoga
Clothes: Eddie Bauer Ignitelite Hybrid Jacket
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You're going to need layers no matter which national park you plan to visit. Weather changes with altitude and landscape—this Eddie Bauer hybrid long-sleeve zip-up that's basically half puffy vest, half performance spandex jacket will keep you prepared for the varying temps.
Photo: Eddie Bauer
Clothes: Lululemon ‘On the Fly’ Pant
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With all the activity you'll have planned on an adventure vacation, you need your clothes to do double duty. With all that re-wearing, you need fabric and styles that can last through the entire trip. These Lululemon "On the Fly" pants just get you. With flight- and car-friendly fabric, these relaxed-fit pants have four-way stretch so they'll maintain their shape even after multiple wears.
Clothes: The North Face Campshire Pullover Hoodie
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It doesn't get any cozier than this incredibly soft (and just as warm) pullover. Whether you're truly camping, or just taking some time outside of your cabin to roast some s'mores, this is the jacket you're going to live in. Commonly used words to describe this The North Face fleece by reviewers: cozy, warm, soft, and comfortable—basically everything you'd expect in a hoodie.
Photo: The North Face
Clothes: Eddie Bauer Horizon Roll-Up Pants
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Varying temps thanks to elevation changes and tree canopies mean you'll want to adapt your clothing to accommodate. When the sun decides to come out, you can roll up the legs of these Eddie Bauer cargo pants, and with a button closure on the sides, you won't have to worry about them coming down and getting soaked when you're walking through a stream. (Thank goodness outdoor apparel companies are starting to make female-friendly hiking gear, right?!)
Photo: Eddie Bauer
Clothes: Marmot Eclipse Rain Jacket
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When you're visiting a national park, it's not a question of if it's going to rain, but when. Don't cancel your plans because you aren't prepared—just pack this Marmot jacket that will definitely keep you dry. It's surprisingly eco-friendly thanks to the fabric made from up-cycled yarns, so you can spend time in nature knowing you're taking care of it, too. (Stock up on this waterproof running gear if you plan to log some miles while you're traveling.)
Gear: Coast HX5R Rechargeable Pocket Flashlight
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If you plan on doing some backcountry camping or extended stays where you'll be without electricity (you're such a badass) you're going to need to pack some light. (In addition to all this other must-have camping gear.) The last thing you want is to realize you forgot to change the batteries on your old-school flashlight. Luckily, with this rechargeable, lightweight option from Coast (it’s only 3.4 ounces), all you need is a portable battery with a USB connector to give your high beam some juice.
Photo: Coast Portland
Gear: CamelBak Chase Bike Vest with Water Bladder
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You can't exactly stop mountain biking mid-trail to dig for your water, unscrew the cap, replace the bottle, and saddle back up—well, you could, but that's no fun. (That's just one of the mountain biking basics you need to know before you start pedaling.) Hydration will be at the ready with this CamelBak bike vest with built-in water line. The reservoir holds 1.5 liters of fluids, and it has lots of pockets in the front, so you can stow fuel, tools, and more. The vest was designed by a professional mountain biker, so you know it's designed to perform. Keep an eye out for the female-specific version of this style coming out in January, but you don't have to wait until then to book your next trip on two wheels.
Gear: The North Face Aleia 22 Daypack
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Backpacks are important no matter what national park you're going to and no matter what activity you're doing. However, the appropriate backpack isn't just important, it's essential. You need one that can both carry all your stuff—clearly, this story proves, you'll have A LOT of stuff to think about—but also not weigh you down or make you drown in back sweat. Enter: This slim but surprisingly roomy daypack from The North Face with all the clips, zippers, pouches, and pockets you could need.
Photo: The North Face
Gear: Stanley Adventure Base Camp Cook Set
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Who says you can't bring an entire kitchen-worth of cooking supplies with you while you camp? You don't have to sacrifice modern-day luxuries to save you from back-breaking gear. This convenient Stanley Adventure 19-piece set is perfect for multi-destination road trips because all the goodies (not just a pan and pot, but serving ware like plates, utensils, an even a trivet) fit into the largest pot. Bungee cord the whole thing together and it's basically a portable kitchen. (Related: Elevated Camping Food That's Way Better Than Canned Beans)
Gear: Kicker's Bullfrog BF100 Bluetooth Music System
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Sure, part of the reason you're heading to a national park is to be one with nature, and that includes its calming sounds. (Related: You Can Now Listen to the Sounds of U.S. National Parks Right from Home) But when the quiet becomes too quiet, you're going to want some tunes. This Kicker Bluetooth speaker is durable, waterproof, and even floatable, so you can take it kayaking, rafting, or hiking under waterfalls and know it can withstand Mother Nature.
Shoes: Merrell Women's MQM Flex GORE-TEX
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If you can only pack one pair of shoes for your trip, this hybrid option would be a smart choice. These Merrell shoes can take you from trail to trail whether you're hiking, running, or both. This shoe adapts to all your adventures. (These benefits of trail running will convince you to squeeze in some miles while you're out there.)
Shoes: Superfeet Lela Sneaker Boots
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There's only so much room in that suitcase, so versatile footwear can be a life (and space!) saver. These sneaker boots offer the best of both styles thanks to the waterproof leather upper and the flexible, slip-resistant sole. Plus, they'll be with you for the long haul thanks to the Superfeet insoles, which provide comfort and support.
Shoes: Altra Lone Peak 4
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The latest iteration of the brand's trail shoe has the same foot-shaped toe box you know and love from all Altra shoes, but with improvements like a breathable, durable upper, and multi-direction lugs (or teeth) on the bottom of the sole so you have better traction and flexibility while running, hiking, and trekking. Plus, the low profile makes these more sneaker than boot.
Shoes: Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots
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If you want a tried-and-true hiking boot that won't put your luggage over the weight limit, the Danner Mountain 600 is it. Classic style meets performance in these hiking boots that go the distance. The Megagrip rubber outsole means you'll have traction you can count on over wet and dry terrain, and the Danner Dry lining on the suede upper means no soggy feet, ever.
Bonus: An insulated version of the Mountain 600 drops this fall for a winter boot that's perfect for trips to the snow-capped peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park. (P.S. These aren't the only hiking boots cute enough to wear off the trails.)
Accessories: Chums Roll Top Pouch
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A cracked, waterlogged, or lost phone is everyone's worst nightmare—if you don't have a pic of you rock climbing, did you even do it? Keep your phone safe by sliding it into this Chums case with attachable lanyard. The touchscreen panel allows you to still use your phone while keeping it securely locked up in this water-resistant pouch.
Accessories: HydraPak Stow Collapsible Water Bottle
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Save precious cargo space in your luggage and backpack with this HydraPak collapsible water bottle. When empty, it can be neatly folded and stowed, but don't be fooled into thinking this travel-friendly vessel won't keep you hydrated. Clip the 500ml and 1L size options on your backpack or belt and you'll be good to go for wherever the mountain/river/trail takes you.
($17 for 1L; hydrapak.com)
Accessories: FITS Light Hiker Teton Socks
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You're going to need approximately 100 pairs of hiking socks no matter what park, what climate, or what activity you're planning for. (Especially if you're doing a winter hike.) Don't be the smelly feet girl. Be the girl who has the perfectly on-brand performance socks: FITS Light Hiker Crew Socks are the brand's most popular hiking sock thanks to the spot-on cushioning and moisture-managing fabric. We're not saying you have to wear the Teton mountain pattern in Grand Teton National Park, but it's highly recommended.
Accessories: Zeal Optics Crowley Sunglasses
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Sunglasses are a must—yes, even when it's cold or cloudy—to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UBA rays that can reach you whether you're exposed to the elements on an exposed trail or under a forest canopy. (BTW, you should also be applying sunscreen to your eyelids.) These stylish shades from Zeal Optics feature a plant-based frame, so you'll be reducing your environmental footprint while taking in the stunning views. (Related: The Best Running Sunglasses for Bright Summer Workouts)
Photo: Zeal Optics