So, you’ve secured your camping permit for Havasu Falls, hooray! But you’re probably thinking “now what?” It’s time to start thinking about what to pack for your upcoming camping adventure in one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the United States!
Your adventure will begin with a 10-mile trek through the canyon to reach the Havasu Falls campground. And once you get there your campsite will have a picnic table but nothing else. So you’ll need to pack in everything you’ll need for sleeping, eating, and hiking.
We’ve put together a packing list of everything that went into our backpacks from our trip to Havasu Falls in 2017 to help you prepare for your trip!
Camping at Havasu Falls
The Hike to Havasu Falls
From the Havasupai parking area, it is approximately 8 miles to the Supai village and then an additional 2 miles to Havasu Falls and to the start of the campground.
There are several options for getting there; you can hike-in with all of your gear, you can hike-in and hire a mule to carry your gear for you, or you can take a helicopter ride.
If you hire a mule to carry your gear, you must make the reservation at least one week prior to your arrival. They can carry a maximum of 4 bags and/or 130 lbs. Check the Havasupai page for reservation details.
Helicopter rides are offered regularly depending on weather conditions. The flight takes about 10 minutes and transports visitors between the Hualapai Hilltop and Supai Village. They are offered on a first come, first served basis so arrive early to avoid waiting in line. Contact Airwest Helicopters for more information.
The Havasu campsites are also offered on a first come, first served basis. When we visited in March of 2017 we arrived to the campsite around 3:00pm and there were plenty of private campsites right on the river available for the taking. We’ve heard that in peak season the campsite can be so full that people pitch tents in the middle of the trail so plan on arriving early to secure a spot.
If you want to visit the falls but aren’t interested in camping, there is a lodge in the Supai village that is available for booking. Check the Havasupai page for reservation details and keep in mind that you will be 2 miles away from Havasu Falls so be prepared to walk a lot.
When you arrive to the trailhead you will find a few overflowing port-o-potties and several nicer compost toilets. There are no toilets along the trail to camp so plan accordingly.
There are many clean compost toilets conveniently located throughout the Havasu campground. They are well stocked with toilet paper so no need to bring your own.
One natural spring provides water for the entire camp. It is always flowing and is very conveniently located. Pretty much every campsite is less than a 15 minute walk from it. If you would like to reduce the number of trips to and from the spring, purchase a collapsible water cube for cooking and washing dishes.
You’ll spend your days at Havasu Falls out exploring and will leave most of your belongings back at camp. We kept all of our valuables in our tent, hung our food and trash from a tree, and never worried about anything happening to any of it (other than the squirrels that prowl every campsite). Remember that every other camper has to pack everything out as well so they’re probably not looking to add weight by taking anything from you. If you’re really worried, buy a small combination lock and lock your tent zippers together.
What to Pack for Havasu Falls
The backpack that you choose for your Havasu Falls adventure will either make your 10-mile hike in and out vaguely tolerable or totally horrifying. So choose wisely.
A few things to consider when picking a pack:
- Is the harness adjustable? If you’re really tall or really short this will make a big difference in comfort.
- How wide and padded are the straps? You don’t want the straps digging into your shoulders.
- Does it have a hipbelt and is it adjustable? Your hips should bear the brunt of your pack weight so the hip straps should be comfortable and adjustable.
- Does it come with a rain cover? Fingers crossed you don’t need it but, just in case.
- Does the backpanel have mesh to create a breathable barrier? Because you’ll be sweating, a lot.
- Are there lots of outside pockets? We find that we end up stuffing last minute things into our bag and it’s better to have exterior pockets than to have to rearrange.
We prefer Osprey brand packs because they are a great quality and won’t break the bank. The Aura 50 is made specifically for women and the Atmos 50 for men. The “50” refers to the capacity of the backpack, 50 liters, which should be enough for a 2-3 day trip to Havasu Falls. If you can’t fit everything in there you may want to consider bringing less stuff rather than buying a bigger backpack.
Lightweight, Compact 2-Person Tent
Your tent is going to be the only thing keeping you warm and dry at night AND it will be the heaviest thing in your pack. So don’t scrimp on this purchase. And don’t even think about bringing your car camping tent, it will be heavy and bulky and you’ll regret it.
This Marmot 2-person tent is only 5 lbs. 5 oz., has a rainfly, is super compact, and is a piece of cake to set-up! You may want to invest in the footprint as well – it’s an extra layer of protection for the bottom of your tent to keep sticks and sharp rocks from poking through. And don’t forget stakes to keep your tent from blowing away!
Your sleeping bag is another big item that has the potential to add bulk to your pack unless you get one that is specifically for trekking. You’ll want to get a bag that is rated to 30°F or colder depending on your sleeping preference. If you’re like me and you get unbearably cold at night, opt for a 20°F bag instead. But keep in mind that as you go down in temperature rating and pack weight, the price starts to increase significantly.
This Marmot sleeping bag is a good choice because it is rated to 30°F which should be plenty warm for Havasu Falls. It weighs only 3 lbs., 1 oz. and has a pack volume of 10.5 liters.
If you have ever been camping, you probably know that a sleeping pad makes a huge difference in your quality of sleep. Not only does it add some padding to the ground, but it also shields you from the cold ground which will keep you significantly warmer.
This one by Klymit is super lightweight, luxuriously comfortable (or at least as comfortable as you can get backpacking), easy to inflate, and packs down so small that there’s no reason not to bring it with you!
This is more of a “nice to have” item than a necessity. You can stuff your sleeping bag sack with clothes for the same effect.
This one by Sea to Summit is super tiny and fairly inexpensive and will help you to have a better nights sleep in the great outdoors.
If you want to pack super light you can ditch the tent and sleep in a hammock instead. There are plenty of trees in most campsites for stringing up a hammock.
However, if you’ve never slept in a hammock, keep in mind that most people don’t find it to be particularly comfortable. You’re forced to sleep on your back and both your feet and your head will be elevated. We liked having one at Havasu but we used it for lounging while enjoying views of the river and sipping coffee, not for sleeping.
There are no lights around camp at night so unless you want to go to sleep as soon as the sun goes down, you’ll need some light. A headlamp will help you find the bathrooms at night (we like Petzel headlamps).
Luci lights are awesome lightweight inflatable lanterns to add to your packing list. Hang a couple around your camp to provide light while you’re cooking and eating. Then move them into your tent if you want to read a bit before going to sleep. Plus they are solar powered so you can just set them outside to recharge the next day. But don’t forget spare batteries for your headlamp, just in case.
Lightweight, Compact Stove
Since you’ll only be camping for a few nights, you can cook your entire meal in one pot. No need to haul a large camp stove in your pack. This backpacking stove is high quality, compact, lightweight, and incredibly simple to use. It runs on propane/isobutane fuel canisters that you can find at all outdoor stores and many grocery stores.
If you’re more concerned about price and less about quality, this version from Etekcity is cheaper and just as compact.
A camping stove is pretty much worthless without fuel and a lighter so don’t forget both! One full 8 oz. propane/isobutane canister should be enough if you are a group of 2 people and are camping for 3 nights or less. If you have more people in your group or if you are staying for more than 3 nights, consider bringing another, just in case.
We recommend also picking up a stand to attach to the bottom of your propane canister for additional stability while cooking.
Less is more when planning your meals for Havasu. Think fast, easy meals that only take one pot to prepare. This is also where you can cut weight if you get creative. Cups for coffee can double as bowls for pasta as long as you don’t need both at the same time.
This cook set is ideal for two; it includes a pot, a frypan, a nylon strainer lid, 2 insulated mugs, 2 sip through lids, 2 nesting bowls, a folding pot handle, and stuff/sink sack.
*If you are only camping for 1 night, cut weight by ditching the cookware and packing sandwiches instead.
If you view the sole purpose of coffee to be a caffeine boost, then throw a few instant coffee packets into your backpack. Just add boiling water and voila! If you shudder at the thought of instant coffee, this travel pour-over coffee dripper may be more your style.
Don’t Forget These Other Cooking Essentials!
- A knife with a sheath – for cutting veggies (or anything else!)
- A spoon and/or fork – we just brought regular old spoons from home but this is a super fancy all-in-one option!
- Cooking oil – you’ll definitely need it if you choose to cook vegetables and you may need it for some packaged foods. This has the potential to go horribly wrong if you store it in the wrong container and you spill oil all over your pack. Pro Tip: The only spill-free container we have EVER found for cooking oil is a travel-size mouthwash bottle. Just buy a tiny bottle of mouthwash at your local drugstore, dump out the mouthwash, and refill with oil.
- Salt, pepper, and other seasoning – we’re pepper junkies so we carry a backpacking size pepper grinder.
- Biodegradable soap – doing dishes at the end of your meal is probably the worst part of camping but has to be done. We opt for Dr. Bronner’s because you can use it for washing your dishes and/or your body.
- Ratsack & rope/twine – the squirrels are vicious and will try everything to get into your food and garbage. Keep all of your food in a bag (your best bet is a mesh stainless-steel Ratsack) and hang it from a branch far away from the trunk of the tree. And be careful about keeping food in your backpack or tent, they’ve been known to chew through to get their little paws on a treat.
- Bag for trash – you’ll need to pack out all of your garbage so bring a bag and tie it to your backpack when you leave.
There are a few restaurants and a small market in the Supai village so if you forget something or don’t pack enough food, don’t fret. The biggest issue with relying on this option is that the village is about 2 miles from the campsite. So if you need to grab something or visit the restaurant you’ll have a 4-mile round-trip trek ahead of you.
We brought snack food to munch on throughout the day and cooked a big meal at night. We started each day early and chose to have a quick cup of coffee and a granola bar rather than cooking a big breakfast. If you’d prefer a big breakfast, you can get several good packaged options. Our grub of choice included:
- Packaged food in a pouch – Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry are two brands offering good options that are easy to make and light to pack. You’ll just need to add boiling water.
- Vegetables – we find pre-packaged food to be really boring to eat. If they do contain veggies they are freeze-dried. We generally bring a few onions, bell peppers, and carrots and fry them up before cooking the packaged meal and then throw them in at the end. Avoid vegetables that bruise easily or that may make a mess in your pack on the hike in.
- Snacks – trail mix, dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate are easy to pack and will help to keep your energy up while hiking all day. Salami is another good option because you don’t need to keep it refrigerated. And a block of cheddar cheese will hold up surprisingly well for the first 24-48 hours. We also like to bring crackers, Luna Bars, and a few apples for snacking.
What you pack will depend on the weather at the time of year that you visit. We went in mid-March of 2017 and found the weather to be quite pleasant in the sun and a bit chilly in the shade.
The pools at the top of Little Navajo Falls and the area below Beaver Falls got full sunshine and were both ideal for swimming. We got a few hours of sunshine for swimming at Havasu Falls but no sun at all at Mooney Falls. The water was far too cold to swim if we weren’t in direct sun.
Bring a lightweight puffy jacket if you visit in the spring or fall as the temperature drops a bit after the sun goes down. These were our other essentials:
- Lightweight towel
- 2 pairs of comfortable pants or shorts depending on the weather
- 2 t-shirts
- Sweatshirt or lightweight puffy coat (or both, weather depending)
- Lightweight Rain Jacket (Marmot & Patagonia make great options)
- Thermal underwear (weather depending)
- Comfortable shoes for walking. For some that means trekking boots, we opt for comfortable tennis shoes.
- Flip flops or water shoes*
- Sports bra
- One pair of underwear for each day
- One pair of socks for each day
- Hat and sunglasses for sun protection
*There are no stream crossings to get to the campground or to Mooney Falls. If you choose to hike to Beaver Falls, you’ll need to do several river crossings. We did them barefoot but if walking through mystery muck isn’t appealing to you, you may want to bring water shoes. If you purchase a quality brand like KEEN, you could use them both for hiking and water crossings rather than bringing 2 pairs of shoes.
- Biodegradable baby wipes (there are no proper showers at camp so use these to freshen up)
- Toothbrush and travel size toothpaste
- Biodegradable soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
- Travel sized deodorant
- Any medications you’ll need
Camera Gear and Electronics
The photo-taking opportunities are endless at Havasu Falls! You’ll be disappointed if you choose to leave your camera gear at home. It will be heavy to pack in but worth it, we promise. Check out our Travel Photography Packing List for a list of our recommended lightweight, compact photography gear.
Don’t forget – there are no drones allowed at Havasu Falls!
If you choose to hike to Beaver Falls (which you absolutely should!) you’ll need to do several water crossings. Keep all of your photography gear safe by keeping it in a dry bag.
You’ll be enjoying the great outdoors during your stay at Havasu Falls so don’t expect to find any outlets anywhere. Bring a fully charged power bank to keep your phone and camera batteries charged all day, every day. We like the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger even though it’s on the heavier side because it has multiple USB outports and can charge most phones up to 7 times.
If you’ve got sunny skies in the forecast during your trip to Havasu, consider investing in a solar charger. Hook this one to your backpack while hiking so it can catch rays all day and then charge your gear all night.
A Few Fun Non-Essentials
After all the planning and preparing you’ve done to get ready for your trip to Havasu Falls, it’s time to relax and enjoy your spectacular surroundings! Bring a fun pool floatie for lounging under the waterfalls while soaking up some rays. Add in a hilarious swimsuit and you’ve got the makings for a perfect day and a fun photo shoot!
Want to know more about our trip to Havasu Falls? Read all about it here! We hope you have the TIME OF YOUR LIFE!
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