It is so easy to overpack for a camping trip to Death Valley. Because of that, I wanted to make a guide telling you what you need and what you don’t need in the middle of the desert.
Hi, my name is Niki and I am an over-packer. Up until recently, I would always pack way too much and everything I didn’t need. Last time I went camping was in Death Valley and I took three bags that I checked, and they weren’t small bags either. Oops.
In reality, I didn’t need half of what I brought. I learned that a good rule of thumb when packing for a camping trip is the less is more theory.
What to Pack
Tent + Sleeping Bag
Scorpions and other scary wildlife live in the national park. You need to be able to zip yourself in at night. One girl I was on the trip with let her feet hang out overnight and woke up to a small scorpion crushed under her sleeping bag. It gets cold in the desert at night and the little bugger was probably looking for a warm spot to crash.
It does get cold in the desert at night, so make sure your sleeping bag has enough filler to keep you warm at night. If you don’t own a sleeping bag and are going to buy one, make sure you get one with a compression sack to save space while packing.
Regardless the time of the year you visit Death Valley, it will be hot. You will go through a lot more water than you would think. Plus you will not only have to be drinking the water, you’ll be cooking with it too. I recommend bringing one gallon per person per day.
You can also bring one gallon to start you off with. The visitors center and some campsites will have drinkable water.
This was the first trip I had a water bladder and it was amazing how easy and convenient it was to sip water throughout the day without having to stop and pull out a water bottle. I still brought a liter water bottle with me every day and I was usually filling my bladder back up towards the end of the day.
Cooking Supplies + Food
For cooking supplies, you can choose to go all out and bring a fancy camping stove. Or you can make a cute lightweight totally efficient pop-can stove. It really does work. It took a little longer to cook than I would have liked, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Also don’t forget to bring a pot, cup, and silverware for all your goodies.
You don’t have to buy the expensive, freeze-dried, fancy camping/survival food to go camping either. Stop by the grocery store before leaving town and pick up a pack of Knorr Rice Sides. Easy meal. For some protein buy a dozen eggs. You can also pick up pasta, a Campbell’s Skillet Sauce and meat to go with whichever sauce you chose. Your opportunities are endless. Cans of soup are my personal favorite.
The soap will be to clean up your dishes after eating. And if you are fortunate and find a place to shower, you’ll want soap.
Change of Clothes
With the heat, you will sweat. And you will stink. Bring extra clothes. And save a set of clean ones aside for the plane ride home. Please spare everyone your nasty stink.
You can also use your clothes in a pile as a pillow.
Hiking boots are a must! They will keep your ankles supported and I think they just make it easier to navigate rough, rocky terrain.
What Not to Pack
A waste of space when you can pile your clothes into a pillow-like shape.
Lots of Clothes
I would recommend one shirt for every two days you are there. You can use your own discretion for bottoms. But please do bring a change of underwear for every day you are there. That is just nasty otherwise.
And like I wrote above, bring a clean change of clothes for the plane ride home. Your fellow passengers will thank you.
I wanted a comfortable place to sit. In hindsight, it was a poor choice and waste of space since the campground had picnic tables for us to hang out at.