Hiking in Utah encompasses a huge variety of terrain and climates. To the south we have desert landscapes while in northern Utah, the Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges offer high-altitude, alpine environments. Packing for each ecosystem presents different challenges – desert temps can reach extreme highs, while afternoon thunderstorms in the Wasatch can bring freezing, wet conditions and even hail. We’ll start off with a hiking gear list of essential items for any day hike and then take into consideration the specific climate that you’ll be heading into.
Your hiking backpack
When you’re picking your hiking backpack pack, take into consideration how long your hike is going to take – a full day or just a casual two hour jaunt. At jans.com and White Pine Touring on Bonanza Drive, we carry a variety of day packs and hydration packs. For full day expeditions, the Osprey Kode 30 provides ample storage for food, water, clothing and other essentials. For shorter hikes, consider the Osprey Viper 13 or the Osprey Verve 13 – these hydrations packs include a three liter bladder, as well as numerous external pockets for easy access.
Let’s start with the basics. Be sure to bring a trail map of the area and a compass in case you wander off the trail. Trail maps of the immediate Park City area are available on the Mountain Trails website, or come into White Pine Touring and peruse our collection of maps and guide books for hiking in Utah. Stash these items in easily accessible outer pockets so you don’t have to dig through your pack at every intersection. Bring 2-3 liters of water, as well as a water purification system or tablets. Even for short hikes, a water purification system is a good idea in case your hike ends up with a few unplanned detours. Bring more food than you plan on eating – a couple extra energy bars won’t weigh down your pack too much but will come in handy in an emergency. Trail mix, PB&J’s, and energy bars are all good sources of high-density fuel, exactly what you need on the trail. Some of my favorites include Honeystinger Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Protein Bars and ProBar Meal Peanut Butter – these are tasty, filling and conveniently available at White Pine Touring.
A headlamp, matches or lighter, first aid kit, knife and whistle should all be packed as part of your emergency kit. You can survive a unplanned night in the wilderness with these essential items, as well as help rescuers find you in the worst case scenarios.
Hiking clothing tends to be more terrain and climate specific. Summer hikes in southern Utah usually mean sun and lots of it. Start early to avoid the extreme heat or make sure to find some shade for an afternoon break. Be sure to wear UPF clothing to block hours of intense rays. Sunglasses and a brimmed hat are also desert hiking essentials.
For hikes in the Wasatch or Uinta mountains, early mornings can mean chilly temps. Start with a lightweight, breathable baselayer which can easily be stashed in your pack. A bestseller at our shops is the Icebreaker Oasis Long-Sleeve ½ Zip Top, a lightweight merino wool baselayer which wicks, breathes and feels cozy. Be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms with a rain jacket – thunderheads can build up fast in the mountains and unleash rainstorms which, while usually brief, can leave you cold, wet and shivering if unprepared. A favorite among Jans and White Pine Touring staff is the women’s Marmot Crystalline Jacket or the men’s Marmot Mica Jacket – these featherweight shells are highly breathable as well as waterproof. An added bonus for hikers is that both Marmot jackets compress easily to stuff into their their own pocket.
Pack it up!
To make packing for day hikes easy, here’s a quick recap of our hiking gear list:
Water filter or water-purification tablets
Headlamp or Flashlight
Matches or lighter
Hiking specific clothing
Now that you’re prepared, come into White Pine Touring on Bonanza Drive to pick out a hike from one of our many guide books, or ask our experts for their favorite picks. When you want to explore a new area, be sure to sign up for a guided hike featured on jans.com.