What to Bring to the Mountains

It’s always wise to be prepared, which is why I’ve written down the mental checklist I go through before hiking in the mountains. Use this list for day hikes to must-see sights like Red Rocks or Garden of the Gods, and feel free to pack whatever else you’d like to carry.  

Here’s the must-have items I always take with me.

  1. Backpack - I like to have my hands free while traipsing the trails, so it’s a good idea to bring a backpack to hold things like phones, keys, and...

  2. Water Bottle(s) - I bring one, if not two, because you’re going to get dehydrated, and you don’t want to be that person who passes out at the park. 

  3. Sunscreen - Higher elevations mean you’re closer to the sun, and it’s easy to get sunburned fast. Always apply sunscreen prior to heading out (it’s a good habit to pick up, anyway.) 

  4. Hat - See above.

  5. Chapstick - Because no one likes chapped lips.

  6. Bug Spray - I thought there were no mosquitos in Colorado until I did a hike in San Isabel National Forest. There were tons of lakes by the trail so I was swarmed by bugs. Thankfully, I had put bug spray on every inch of my body (because they can bite through your clothes, too) and left with not too many bites. 

  7. Rain Jacket - For the times it randomly rains in the afternoons. 

  8. Flashlight - Now for this one, you’re probably like “but my phone has a flashlight!” Your phone is probably dead from taking pictures all day by the time sunset comes around. This will help you stay on the trail. 

  9. Neck Gaiter - Hopefully we won't need this much longer, but I’d bring a neck gaiter or a bandana as a face mask as there are times when you’re going to have to be in close proximity with others on the trail.

  10. Snacks - Because for me, it’s always snack time. 

Helpful Tips

  • The earlier, the better - Try to visit in the morning hours when it’s not as hot outside. That way you’ll have time to explore and see your surroundings without having to worry about heading back in the dark. 

  • Wear layers and comfortable shoes - The weather can switch up at any time so it's better to be comfortable than uncomfortable. I recommend moisture-wicking clothing as it dries quickly and doesn't take up a lot of room in your backpack or luggage.

  • Know your surroundings - Bring/download/take a picture of a map. Sure, there are signs and people who can help you along the way, but it’s best to know where you’re going (and how you’re going to get back.)

  • Take it easy - There are going to be times the people you’re with will go at a different pace. Know your limits, check in with yourself often, and most importantly, have fun!

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