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Make sure to have your National Parks starter pack before you begin your outdoor adventure.

Third Eye Headlamps are a must for your National Parks starter pack.

I got you covered with my essential checklist to create your National Park starters pack.

I know National Parks on Instagram look like easy, breezy picturesque computer backgrounds, but there are some potential serious dangers to them. They’re not some man-made amusement – this is real sh*t and I don’t want you to get hurt or feel unprepared.

I’ve been to a bunch (and even got lost solo in one), and have become an unofficial boy scout with how prepared I’ve now become. No matter the terrain, this National Park starters pack list not only includes stuff you should have in your backpack, but also some tips to just make your whole experience that much better.

Water, water, water!

Not trying to be dramatic, but this is a matter of life and death! You need to be drinking plenty of water and don’t underestimate how hot and grueling hikes in the parks can get. Even if you’re somewhere cold, you still can get dehydrated. Most National Park maps now include how much water you should bring on certain trails.

Always keep a headlamp with you.

A headlamp is a top item for any National Parks starter pack.

It’s always good to keep a headlamp with you. If you’re on a hike early in the morning or after the sun goes down, exploring caves or canyons, you’ll definitely wish you had one to not only see but keep your hands free. Third Eye Headlamps is a small business that I’ve known since the pandemic. The TE14 lamp is made of recyclable, non-toxic plastic and comes with a lifetime warranty. Plus, the designs look really freaking fun.

I’m a happy camper with walking sticks.

You’ll be looking like a certified badass with these. It’s simple math – your two feet are two points of contact to the ground, and with the sticks, you double it to four points. Less pressure on your feet for long adventures and less of a chance of falling. But seriously, aside from water these were a lifesaver on our hikes no matter the distance.

Pack a lunch and keep it cool.

The name of the game with day-long adventures is keeping your body fueled. Even if you’re not a big breakfast person (like me), make sure you eat something in the morning and pack sandwiches and protein bars. Keep it cold in a small cooler – I love using a cooler backpack.

Keep those devices charged.

Don’t waste battery scrolling on Instagram when you’re in the middle of beautiful Mother Nature. Definitely bring along a few external chargers to keep your phone charged. Besides taking pictures, it’s important if you have any maps loaded or will possibly need to make a call for help.

The National Parks senior citizen discount is pretty clutch.

If you’re venturing with someone over 62 (I’ve been to a bunch of National Parks with my dad), they have a senior citizen pass that is good for all companions with the pass holder. It costs $20 a year, or $80 for a lifetime. Pretty cool because for context, a daily pass for just one day into Arches National Park is $30.

Buying the right type of pass is also key for any National Parks starter pack.

Wear your sunscreen!

Even if you’re trying to get after those tan lines, you need sunscreen! Trust me, peeling in the Summer is not a hot look. I am very obsessed with the entire vibe of Vacation sunscreen and actually enjoy putting it on.

Dress for comfort not looks.

Please don’t prioritize getting that perfect Instagram shot with an outfit that isn’t comfortable. That’s not the vibe anymore (never was). Also bring some layers because depending on the time of day, it will get cold when the sun goes down or before it comes up.

Know where you want to go before you’re there.

Having all day may seem like a long time, but it’s really not. Have a plan for what types of hikes you want to do or things to see beforehand. Also, make sure you’re timing your hikes with when the sun sets.

Check locations on Instagram to see what it’s actually like.

A Google search will often give you outdated photos of a destination. I always search National Parks and places on Instagram, so I can see recent, real-time photos of where I’m going. Also, sometimes I’ll discover cool spots in the parks from what others have posted.

Which National Park is your favorite?

Be good,


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