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What to Pack for Rim to Rim - 1 Day Grand Canyon Hike

If hiking the Grand Canyon in Arizona from rim to rim is on your bucket list, you are in good company. Of the millions of visitors to the park only the most committed few will embark upon this journey into the canyon below. So, how can one properly pack for a successful journey? 

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

This packing list is a compilation of items that our party of four brought on our one day rim to rim journey. According to the National Park Services website it is NOT recommended to try hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim in one day. Ideally, those wanting to embark on the hike will camp in the base of the canyon at Bright Angel Campground, Cottonwood Campground, or stay at Phantom Ranch. Those staying overnight will need to acquire the necessary permit and of course lodging reservations well in advance. And, if you choose to camp you will of course need to add the necessary camping items to the list below.

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

If you prefer to watch a video showcasing these items click here.

I highly recommend purchasing the clothing and equipment you plan to wear for the hike early on in your training. Wear the clothing (socks, hats, shoes, shirt, etc) during your training along with your backpack, hiking poles, water bladder and try out various food items. Make necessary adjustments as you go so that your final setup is as fool proof as possible. You can view what we each did to train here.

One thing we discovered is that each individual needs to do what works for them.

One thing we discovered is that each individual needs to do what works for them. There isn’t one right backpack, clothing piece, food array, etc. So, take these suggestions as starting points, but ultimately you know your body best and what works for you. My sister bought a bunch of items that were recommended and ended up wearing the same shorts and tank top she typically worked out in. My other sister bought a bunch of the recommended health food items, but was envious of our less healthy snack items along the journey.

To view a video of our hike from rim to rim click here.

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Backpack

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what size/kind of backpack you will be taking. Three of the four of us took full size packs with padded straps and a waist clip so we could redistribute the weight. My sister Theresa, opted for a hydration pack. She has always been more minimalistic and the full size packs didn’t feel right on her practice hikes. 

My sister Theresa, opted for a hydration pack. She has always been more minimalistic and the full size packs didn’t feel right on her practice hikes.

The hydration pack meant that she wouldn’t be able to bring a puff coat or layers for the early morning low temperature start to our hike. It also meant she would be carrying her hiking poles for the duration of the hike (this varies by hydration pack). But, it saved her about 5 pounds of weight throughout the nearly 24 mile journey.

Backpack

Hydration Pack

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Clothing

When it comes to clothing you will again need to decide what works best for you. If you’ve chosen a hydration pack in lieu of a backpack you will forego the leggings and puff coat and instead choose long socks to somewhat warm your legs in the morning hours. You will also need to decide whether you prefer the sun protection of a long sleeve shirt or the coolness of a tank top. Here are some of the items we chose. 

Phantom Ranch - Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

When we began our hike at 4am in September, the vehicle said it was 28 degrees. Here are some of the items you may want to consider, however whatever you choose will need to be carried later in the day when temps can reach 130 degrees.

Starting Layers

Puff coat

Beanie with light

Gloves 

Hand warmers if not using a puff coat

Leggings

Knee length socks - if not layering with leggings

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Base Layers

Tank top or Long Sleeve Athletic Shirt

Sport bra for the ladies

Spandex shorts or loose fitting gym shorts

Ballcap, Sunhat, or Bandana

Sunglasses

Spare contacts and/or glasses (the last thing you want when hiking in the canyon is to have trouble with your contacts and poor sight for the journey)

Socks - I love the smartwool brand, but the rim to rim hike has sand in several locations and unfortunately I chose shorter socks that allowed grains of sand to enter. Tera chose mid calf height socks which worked great. She had no blisters after hiking 23.98 miles. Unfortunately, we have no idea what brand socks she had. Her husband bought them for her and they were hiking socks. Whatever you choose, I suggest walking through sand with them and testing the results.

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Equipment

Hiking Poles

Shoes - I like the Salomon trail runners. Tera wore her hiking shoes for the hike down and swapped out to her tennis shoes for the accent. She trained on pavement and wore these for most of her training so she didn’t want to be without them.

Water Bladder - Holds 2 litres of water 

Cooling towel - Becky enjoyed using this, I just took my long sleeve shirt off and wet it in the river. I wish I had wet it at the water stations throughout the hike. Highly recommend this. I wet my ball cap as well.

Food + Water

Main Sustenance

Turkey and cheese sandwich (we bought this at the grocery store the night before and stored it in a cooler overnight. We ate it at Phantom Ranch)

Bean and Cheese burrito (Becky brought a frozen bean and cheese burrito which she kept in the cooler overnight.) She ate it on our hike back out of the canyon. By this point it had warmed up and she really enjoyed it. She would bring this again.

Turkey or Pork Jerky - Teriyaki flavor from Costco - Tera and I loved this, Becky hated her beef jerky, but she had never tried jerky before.

Tuna & crackers

Bagel

Health Food Items

Clif snack size bars

Lara bars and Luna bars

Clif salt bloks - I loved the watermelon flavor

Trail mix

Nuts (honey roasted cashews, almonds)

We didn’t like sport beans - not good at all!

Applesauce packets

Energy gel packets

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Junk Food we Craved

Munchies

Gardetto's snack mix

Chips

Reese’s Puff cereal

Elf lemon cookie pack

Trolli sour gummy worms

Nutter Butter cookies

Water Tablets we Liked

I put the electrolyte tablets in my water bladder. Theresa and Becky put them in separate water bottles. Try various methods during your training. I enjoyed the grapefruit flavor and also purchased the Cola flavor because it included caffeine.

Electrolyte Fizz Tablets

Splurge on the lemonade at Phantom Ranch - $5 - they didn’t take cash during our visit, I’m not sure if that was due to Covid-19.

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon - Lemonade at Phantom Ranch

You can also send a postcard from Phantom Ranch to loved ones. It says "mailed by mule at the bottom of the grand canyon".


Sun Protection + First Aid

Sunscreen

Chapstick with spf

Toenail clippers (small)

Mole Tape

Glide stick

First Aid kit

Pain relievers (whatever your preference)

Bug spray (we didn’t need this in September)

Knife/Saw - optional

Flint + Steal + Fire starters - optional

Emergency blanket, hand warmers, toe warmers - optional

Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon

Extras

Music Player (I took the Mighty)

Camera - phone or gopro

If you’ve done the rim to rim hike and packed other items that you feel are a necessity leave a comment below. If you have additional questions during your preparations feel free to leave a comment below as well.

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