What to Pack for Your Big Bend Adventure

A jacket, camera, compass, backpack, and other objects laying atop a map

Packing: some love it, some hate it. It’s one of the most important parts of planning a trip, but it also puts people under a lot of pressure. What if you leave something behind? How many pairs of shoes should you bring? Is it really worth bringing that formal jacket along just in case you head to a nice restaurant? (Probably not.)

Although you probably won’t be stuck choosing ties when you pack for your adventure to Big Bend National Park, it still involves a fair amount of planning. Not to worry—we’ll help you get started so that you can spend more time daydreaming about your Texan adventure and less time staring into an empty suitcase.

Step 1: Check out the weather for the time of the year you’ll be visiting.

You might be thinking, “Of course I’d look at the weather before I leave! Who packs without doing that?” Right, but keep in mind that you have more than just the temperature to think about. If you’re visiting from April to September, you’ll need a few large water bottles or a Camelback to help you get through the day. Dehydration isn’t a laughing matter here in Big Bend, and the last thing you want to do is ruin your vacation with a trip to the hospital. Camelback offers a great calculator for figuring out how much water you should be drinking based on your activity. Our professional recommendation? Bring more than you think you’ll need. It never hurts to be prepared!

If you’re coming to Big Bend National Park in the spring, make sure you have a sturdy raincoat and other protective gear with you! The weather tends to be mild around this time of the year, making it ideal for anyone wanting to hike without being drenched in sweat. At the same time, if you’re looking to rough it with a little camping, the threat of rain may make it challenging. Make sure you bring a waterproof tent along with you, as well as a rain cover if you can swing it. And a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots with solid traction are a must-have—if you want to keep from slipping on the trails, that is.

If you’re worried about not having anything to do in a particular season, you don’t have a thing to worry about—we’ve got you covered. No matter what time of the year you come to visit Big Bend National Park, there’s always something to keep you entertained. Make sure you’re prepared for the weather so that you can fully enjoy it!

Step 2: Look at where you’ll be staying and see what amenities they offer.

There’s no point bringing an extra set of blankets if you’re staying in a hotel that’s got plenty. And why waste that valuable suitcase real estate on toiletries you don’t need? Those planning to camp in Big Bend will probably need a lot more gear than someone who’s staying in a fully equipped cabin. Even if you’re roughing it, you don’t want to be miserable!

If you’re tent camping, there’s a good chance you know the drill. You’ll need to pack some delicious campfire food as well as something to cook it with, not to mention sleeping bags, flashlights, and a card game or two to keep you and your family entertained. If you’re flying in from another part of the country, baggage limits may cramp your style when it comes to bringing along your precious gear. That’s why we also offer equipment rentals for things like tents, water containers, and propane stoves. Just because you’re coming by plane doesn’t mean you need to give up your dream of sleeping under the stars!

Step 3: Make a list of the activities you want to do, and check them one by one for their requirements.

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: don’t let fashion get in the way of the adventure of a lifetime! Maybe you saw the Rio Grande and have been dreaming of taking an overnight float trip ever since. Perhaps you want to put your phone away for a while and go hiking on one of the park’s hundreds of trails. You might even just want a few days to yourself to do like Thoreau and write the next great American novel. Whatever it is you end up doing, you’ll want your packing list to give you a helping hand. No sense getting to your riverside cabin only to realize you left your pen and paper on the kitchen counter!

We’ve created packing lists for our own activities, for everything from ATV tours to gourmet river floats. Feel free to check those out if you need some inspiration!

I’m also happy to chat with you and give you my own suggestions if you’d like. Just shoot me a line at greg@bigbendfarflung.com.

— Greg