Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff and Jasper National Parks boast some of the most spectacular natural areas in North America. These parks offer breathtaking mountain landscapes, glass-like lakes, and abundant wildlife.
Putting their unwavering beauty aside, Banff and Jasper are home to some of the most rugged and remote wilderness areas in the world. Therefore, packing appropriately will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors. In this blog, we discuss 11 things that should be on your packing list for Banff and Jasper National Parks – whether summer or winter! Let’s get into it.
1. Hiking Boots or Shoes
The terrain in the Canadian Rockies can get tough! Whether you plan to tackle the mass of hiking trails or take a leisurely walk to the iconic sightseeing spots, comfortable and durable hiking boots are advised. Save your feet from the pain and invest in a good pair of walking boots that are waterproof and ideally have good ankle support for that rocky terrain!
Tip: If you’re new to hiking boots, ensure you take some time to break them before your trip!
2. Hiking Backpack
Ideal for carrying your gear, food, water, and extra clothing – a quality hiking backpack is essential for your adventures around the Canadian Rockies. Unlike a regular backpack, a hiking backpack comes with a hip belt, sternum strap, hydration reservoir sleeve & all the pockets you dream of – all for top-notch comfort all day long.
3. Hiking Poles
Are hiking poles needed for Banff and Jasper? Well, they’re certainly not mandatory but they are heavily advised! Great for longer hikes, poles take the stress off your legs, feet, back & joints by allowing your arms to bear more of the weight. You’ll thank us later, especially when it comes to those hilly terrains of the Canadian Rockies!
4. Weather-Appropriate Clothing
The weather in Banff and Jasper National Parks can be unpredictable, even during the summer months! Therefore, packing clothing layers including breathable T-shirts (polyester or nylon), warm jumpers or fleeces, waterproof trousers, and a good quality waterproof jacket, are essential. In mountains areas, there are two things to remember – the weather can make very sudden, extreme changes, and usually, there’s nowhere to shelter from it. So, weather-ready clothing is essential!
We might be stating the obvious here but, falling short of snacks on a hike isn’t ideal – especially if the ‘hanger’ kicks in! Bananas, nuts, chocolate (or protein) bars all make for an energising snack on your adventure. And when the bigger meals are required? Fear not! Banff and Jasper National Parks offer a wide range of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops for visitors to feast on local dishes.
You never know what wildlife will present itself during a Canadian Rockies adventure. Keeping a pair of binoculars handy during hikes ensures that you don’t miss anything! If you’re new to the whole binocular thing, get a basic pair with a wide field of view that works well in low-light conditions.
Tip: The Bow Valley Parkway and Icefields Parks are two of the best places to view wildlife in the Canadian Rockies.
7. Bear Spray
Do you need bear spray in Banff and Jasper? The short answer… yes!
The Canadian Rockies are home to grizzly and black bears. While encounters are rare, the Canadian Government advises visitors add bear spray to their packing list for Banff and Jasper. Bear spray should always be used as a last resort and visitors should do all they can to avoid encounters with these majestic creatures in the first place.
Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for bear poop and paw prints – it might be an indication that they are close by.
8. Sun Protection
In Banff & Jasper, the sun’s strength is intensified due to the Parks’ high altitude and the snow’s ability to reflect UV rays. So, come summer or winter – protect yourself from sunburn by adding sunglasses, sun cream (ideally factor 50+), and a cap! Don’t be one of those who learn the hard way!
9. Lip Balm
Sounds random, right? But through much of the year, Canadian mountain parks have very low humidity – making the atmosphere extremely dry. If you’re travelling from a country that has a warmer climate, lip balm (and even moisturiser) might just be your saving grace!
10. First Aid Kit
Accidents can happen, even in the most beautiful places. A basic first aid kit that includes items like plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications is essential for your packing list! It’s better to have it and not need it, than the other way around!
11. Maps and Navigation Tools
While Banff and Jasper National Parks are well-marked, having a map, compass, and/or GPS device is important for staying on the right path. Phone signal is never something to rely on in these parks, so being self-reliant is essential in the instance that you get lost. But hopefully, you don’t…
And there you have it!
11 essentials to add to your packing list for Banff and Jasper National Parks. It’s important to note that packing requirements will differ between winter and summer months, but these 11 essentials are a great starting point for any season in the Canadian Rockies.