Last summer, my teen daughter and I spent 10 days in the Canadian Rockies, from Kananaskis up Banff National Park then Lake Louise and finally finishing in Jasper. During our stay, the temperature ranged from the low 30s (Fahrenheit) at night to the 70s during the day. That creates some packing challenges! To help you plan a trip to Banff, I’ve put together this Banff packing list so you don’t forget anything!
If you are vacationing in the Canadian Rockies, you are going to spend a lot of time outside — so you need to be prepared. Even evenings out can be a casual affair, so I would pay more attention to what to wear in the Canadian Rockies during the day than worrying out dressing up at night.
Definitely check the weather before you go, but be prepared for anything and certainly for large temperature fluctuations. Also consider what activities you will be doing on the trip and make sure you are outfitted appropriately. For example, I saw someone trying to walk on the Athabasca Glacier in a skirt and heels — not a good choice!
Banff Packing List
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Clothing: What to Wear in the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking pants — my favorites are from North Face, Columbia, and Prana
- Fleeced lined leggings
- Flannel shirts
- Sweat-wicking t-shirts or long-sleeve thermals for base warm layers – merino wool makes a great layer
- Shorts / tank top — just in case it warms up a lot, you may want to throw one pair of shorts and a tank top to layer under something into your bag
- Hiking socks
- Comfortable underwear and sports bras
- Waterproof hiking boots — I like these from Merrell
- Sweatshirts — bring a couple in case they get dirty (or you get tired of seeing the same shirt in every photo)
- Waterproof, lined shell — I like this one from Patagonia or this one from L.L.Bean
- Lightweight puffer down jacket — for cold nights. I like these from Columbia because they are thin and packable
- Bathing suit — for soaking in the hot tub, swimming in a lake (if you dare), or visiting hot springs
- Slip on sneaker
- Flip flops or hiking sandals
- Rainpants — really wish I had worn mine when we went horseback riding and the rain started coming down! They were also needed on the Via Ferrata.
- Knit hat and baseball or hiking hat
- Thin gloves
- Cozy PJs (but not too warm in case the hotel is overheated)
Gear to Bring
- Camera with zoom and wide-angle lens (neutral density filter + tripod for waterfalls will also come in handy)
- Extra phone chargers (including a car charger) and camera batteries
- Day pack for hiking — large enough to hold 2 water bottles, phone, charger, bug spray, GPS and other necessities
- Hiking poles — I would never had made some of our hikes without these collapsible hiking poles
- Refillable water bottles — at least 1 per person depending on size. One with a filtration system like Lifestraw would be helpful. Hiking makes you thirsty!
- Headlamp with red light if you want to do night sky viewing
- Bear bell — sometimes you are too tired hiking to make a lot of noise
- Buy when you arrive: Bear spray!! You really don’t want to go anywhere in the Canadian Rockies without this.
- GPS or personal tracker — if you are hiking on your own or doing a lot of back country hiking. At a minimum, please let someone else know what trail you are doing and when you expect to finish and check in with them.
Don’t Forget Toiletries & Extras
- Bug spray
- Moisturizer (remember you are in the mountains)
- Lip balm (I’m a fan of Burt’s Bees)
- Deodorant (I like Native natural deodorant)
- Moleskin for blisters
- Download your playlists and entertainment before you go as cell coverage is spotty and WiFi signals tend to be weak
- A good guide book (we used Moon Travel Guides Canadian Rockies)
- Travel insurance — I am an Ambassador for Allianz Travel and I’ve used them for years!
Plan your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
If you are planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, you should also check out my articles on the following:
- Canadian Rockies 7 to 10 day itinerary
- Where to stop on the Icefields Parkway
- Where to eat in Jasper
- Things to do in Jasper
- Canmore vs. Banff
- Horseback riding in Banff
- Climbing the Via Ferrata in Banff
Download the Banff Packing List Printable
Ready to get packing? Download the Banff Packing List PDF and print it out when you are packing for your trip.