Year after year of backpacking to Havasupai and having been there at least once during every month of the year, there are a few tried and true pieces of gear that are essential for your Havasupai trip. So aside from the typical items you need for any backpacking excursion – see our Havasupai backpacking checklist, there are 6 items that you will want on any Havasupai trip, regardless of the time of year. You may have your own 6 items, but these are our faves!
1. Pack Towel – You are hiking to one of the most famous swimming holes in the US, so there is a great chance you will get wet – even if not from swimming – you need to get into the water to explore. Pack towels are lightweight, quick drying, anti-microbial, absorbent and pack small. Aside from depending on the sun to dry you off, if there is no sun, you will want something to dry off with. You are hiking in the desert, but it does get cold. We like PackTowel because they are soft and they come in fashionable colors to match up with any hiking ensemble.
2. "Rat Sack" – The squirrels and other critters are relentless! They will eat through your gear to get at anything scented – food, trash, lip balm and even wet wipes. We use the OutSak by Simple Outdoor Solutions out of Flagstaff, AZ. This wire mesh bag will keep the four-legged critters out of your food and trash (even some of the less intelligent 2-legged creatures are no match for these bags). There are plastic buckets available to use at the campground, but they are not animal proof and there is no guarantee that on a busy weekend there will be any available. So protect your yum!
3. Day Pack – Once at the campground, whether you are there for an overnight (which is way too short), or 4 days, you will want to explore. You will not want to carry your 35+ liter multi-day backpack to Beaver Falls so make sure you have something small to carry all the things you need for a hike that can be anywhere from 2 to 16 miles. If you are not sure what you need for a day hike, be sure to check out our article, 9 Essentials for Desert Hiking. And while it feels like you are hiking in a tropical paradise, don't be fooled, you are hiking in the desert. A couple day packs we like are the Osprey Stuff Pack or the Osprey DayLite. Both are lightweight and pack easily into your pack. Or, you can always go with a pack with a detachable day pack like the Osprey Aether AG or Ariel AG.
4. Water Shoes – Unless you are backpacking 10 miles one way to get to some of the best swimming holes in the US just to NOT get in the water, you will need water shoes. The type will depend upon how much hiking in the water you plan to do. If you anticipate staying around Havasu Falls to swim and selfie, you can get away with something simple like a sandal. We like Xero Shoes Z-Trail. If you plan to make the 16 mile round trip trek to the confluence of the Colorado River, you will want something sturdier like the Salomon Techamphibian 3.
5. Water Filter – You likely are aware that there is a natural spring at the campground that does not require filtration. However, the Havasupai Tribe recommends you filter any water. Plus, there is only one spring at the mile long campground that you will be sharing with 350 people. The lines can get long so why not just get water from the creek at anytime? Plus, if you are hiking during the summer months, being able to filter drinking water at 6 miles into your hike could be a life saver. The filter we like for this hike is the Katadyn BeFree. Super easy to use and filters 2 liters per minute.
6. Hammock – While I am not personally a hammock sleeper – just not my thing – Havasupai is a great place for taking a snooze in a hammock. With Cottonwood and Sycamore trees lining the banks of Havasu Creek at the campground, there are ample places to string up a hammock. However, if the campground is full (and it usually is filled with 350 people per night, finding a spot to hang a hammock and not having your ass hanging over the heads of other campers could be a challenge. Plus, if you are camping during the hot summer months, hammocks don’t allow for a lot of air flow, so it could be a warm sleep. But, if “hammocking” is your thing (we just made that up), then get the Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock. It is worth the effort and if you arrive and there are no good places to hang your hammock, it only weighs about a pound so you won't even notice it in your pack.
So that’s all I have in me for today - especially since this is version 2 of this article after losing the first draft. Make sure you check out our other articles on our blog, pretty pictures on Instagram, videos on YouTube, join a conversation on Twitter or just find everything on Facebook. Pick your route I guess you can say!?