What to Pack for Hiking in the Canadian Rockies

packing for hiking in the Canadian Rockies, hiking essentials

Hiking in the great outdoors is an incredible experience and the Canadian Rockies boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. 

If you are wondering what to pack for such an epic hiking destination, I have compiled a list of essential items to take based on my own travels here. Before visiting Canada, I had not been on many hiking trips so it was very much trial and error! 


Hiking shoes


When thinking of hiking footwear, bulky boots usually come to mind. I cannot stand those heavy designs and was instead seeking lightweight hiking shoes that were transferable from the mountains to the street.

I ended up opting for a pair of North Face trekking shoes, similar to the ones below. Besides being comfortable, supportive and waterproof, the shape was more stylish and streamlined than the more traditional boots.

These trekking trainers also had a sturdy sole with strong tread for good grip. Even crossing a stream, where these shoes were half submerged, no water got in. The fact that they are so light is a plus for packing as well. 


Insect repellent with 30% DEET


One thing that is certain about hiking in the Canadian Rockies during the summer months is that you will be bitten by mosquitoes. I tried a number of ‘gentle’ insect repellents, but the only ones that were in any way effective in preventing mozzie bites were those containing 30% or more DEET.

This is quite toxic stuff and I hated having to spray a load of it on all of the time, but it was either this or be covered in bulging red hives. 


Bug jacket 


Sometimes, instead of regularly dousing myself with insect repellent, I would just put on a bug jacket. I got given this during the Big Five Safari in Manitoba and continued to wear it in the Rockies. 

It is really light and can be worn over a vest top or T-shirt. I have got it on in this picture taken during a hike in Summer Meadows, Banff National Park…

hiking in the canadian rockies, summer meadows

Not the most stylish item of clothing, but it did the job. For those times where you’re being swarmed, the hooded section, which covers the face, was invaluable. There is a bit of space so it’s not as claustrophobic as you might think.



Weatherproof jacket


While the weather in the mountains will be warm and sunny during the summer, it can be quite changeable and, especially as autumn approaches, it gets very chilly. Suffice to say, it is well worth having a weatherproof jacket with you on longer hikes.

A specially designed outdoors coat, like the Jack Wolfskin one below, will keep you warm and dry, yet is breathable at the same time. 



Sun hat with a rim


When you are exposed to the elements for hours at a time and there are not always places to seek shade, no amount of sun block is going to be enough. Having a hat or cap to keep the midday sun off your head and face is an absolute must.

On the subject of avoiding insect bites again, if you spray insect repellent on the outside rim of your hat, this helps keep the mozzies off your face. 


Day pack


For hiking, your backpack must be extra comfortable, lightweight and have different compartments to carry all of your essentials. Mesh pockets on the outside are perfect for holding your drink within easy reach.

You will most likely have a few extra bottles of water, trust me you want to carry as much liquid as possible, a packed lunch, sugary treats to keep energy levels up, sun screen, insect repellent, deodorant etc. 


Water bottle 


Pick a top-quality water bottle that’s BPA free and leak-proof. This can be used throughout your travels and will save you a load of money – even when you are traipsing around cities.

On popular hiking routes like Sulphur Mountain and Lake Louise, there are going to be cafes and shops to fill up your bottles within close reach so your water bottle will be enough to keep you going. For day hikes, I prefer taking at least four individual 500ml bottles just to be safe.



Zip-up fleece 


Never underestimate the sheer comfort a snug fleece can provide when the wind picks up and goosebumps begin to appear. This soothing cover-up can even be folded and used as a pillow if you fancy a nap before following the trail back. 


Hiking trousers 


I learnt the hard way that leggings are unsuitable for hiking trips. Mosquitoes can bite right through them; in fact wearing black leggings seemed to attract them!

Investing in proper trousers that are designed to be worn in the great outdoors is definitely worth it. They are usually water resistant as well and are generally very comfortable. 



Bear bell


There was one particular hike I went on during bear season where it was against the law to be in parties of less than 4, due to the increased risk of running into grizzlies.

In reality, the risk is extremely minimal, as they generally avoid humans like the plague, but just to make sure they know of your presence and head the other way, attaching a bear bell to your bag provides added peace of mind. Or, there is always singing at the top of your lungs (this might not be a popular option with your hiking buddies though!). 

I hope you found this list useful. If you’re looking for tips on places to visit, have a read of my post about road trips in the Canadian Rockies. Do you have any essential items to add to this list?


Please note: The products in this post are affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase. I don’t earn much money from this blog, yet put my heart and soul into sharing my travels, so every little helps.



Great Budget Eats In Vancouver

Vancouver Chinatown foodThe fresh Pacific salmon, amazing sushi, abundance of fresh produce and array of international cuisine make Vancouver a fantastic destination for foodies. As a backpacker on a tight budget, I was always on the look out for cheap places to eat. I spent around a third of my five-month Canada trip in this city (two separate stays) and found quite a few budget restaurants and cafes to satisfy the palate without breaking the bank. Continue reading

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden In Vancouver

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden In Vancouver

A tranquil spot to visit in Vancouver is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Modelled on the traditional design of a scholar’s garden from 15th Century China, during the Ming Dynasty, this stunning space features different elements that create a peaceful, harmonized environment. Everything from the jade green water and mystical plants to the weathered rocks and beautiful architecture comes together to promote the perfect balance of yin and yang.  Continue reading

Am I Too Old To Go Travelling?

Before deciding to go travelling in Canada, I was riddled with insecurities about being too old for backpacking. What is the best age to go travelling? Is 28 a good age to go backpacking? Am I too old for long-term travel? These were the kind of questions I would find myself typing into Google, before scouring through various forums on the subject. The general opinion seemed to be that you are never too old to travel and that travel can actually be more enjoyable in your later 20s than when you are straight out of college or university.

However, I was still worried that the majority of backpackers would be gap year students and free-as-a-bird under 25s looking to get wasted every night. Me? I was nearly 28 with a full-time job and long-term boyfriend. It was not a simple book and go situation. I was scared that I should be focusing on my career and settling down as oppose to leaving everything behind for several months. I did not have to look further than my Facebook feed to see that many of the people I went to school with were having kids and getting married. Shouldn’t I be doing this too? 

Despite these concerns I took the trip and, more than a year on, could not be more relieved about making the decision to travel in Canada for five amazing months. As it turned out, my fears about being too old were completely ridiculous.

Jericho sunset Vancouver

Yes, there were plenty of gap years students. But there were also much older people as well and many around the same age as me. The hostels I stayed in were filled with people from all walks of life. Career breakers, retired people taking that trip they had always dreamed of, those who had a work visa and were looking for a job, 18/19 year-olds taking a summer break before started uni. Having such as varied pattern of people makes travel more interesting. 

I quickly realised that you are never too old to travel so long as you have conviction behind why you are making a trip. Even if you just simply want to get away for a bit. This qualifies as a valid enough reason. Nobody ever regrets travel. It opens doors and enriches you, no matter what your age. Travel made 2012 the best year of my life. So get out there and make that trip you have always dreamed of. Do not look for validation from others, just go for it! Everything works out in the end. 


Have you ever worried about being too old before taking the plunge into long-term travel?