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The snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lakes of Glacier National Park make it a beautiful place to visit, but what do you need to pack? Let TFG help you figure it out!
Glacier National Park Packing List
Written By: Laura Pulling
Table Of Contents
Sitting at the border of the US and Canada, in Montana, Glacier National Park boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the States. The beautiful vistas encompass the highs of mountains and the lows of the glaciers and the sparkling turquoise lakes caused from the melted ice over the years.
Glacier National Park has a colder climate than the rest of the national parks across the US, plus a range of altitudes, which makes planning your packing list extra important. (Think layers!)
During the summer months is the best time to visit Glacier National Park, as this is when most facilities are open and roads on higher elevations are less likely to be blocked with snowfall.
Although visible all year round, spring time has extra long, and darker nights to witness the magical aurora borealis lights.
So are you not quite ready for a trip? TFG is here to help you with all the things to pack for Glacier National Park!
What to Wear in Glacier National Park
Home to miles of trails, with so much nature to see, you want to be comfortable enough to trek for hours. So having suitable sturdy hiking shoes is vital when planning a trip to Glacier National Park.
In the summer, a pair of hiking shoes will work well for shorter hikes. If you’re planning on traveling during any other season (there’s snow most of the year!), we suggest investing in a pair of hiking boots, like these Salomon Quest Boots.
There are a ton of trails, so you’re going to be walking a lot, especially to get up to the mountains for the best views.
When choosing the best boots, look for ones that are waterproof—for all of that snow—and have a sturdy sole and quality tread. Check that they are supportive of your ankle, and can withstand the types of activities you’ll be doing.
Check out more hiking shoe and boot options!
When hiking, even if you plan on a shorter ramble, at Glacier National Park, the tracks and terrain make having hiking poles useful. Find some that are sturdy enough for your style of walk, and you’ll find it much easier on your legs afterwards!
Looking for more hiking poles? Find out the best in this list here!
prAna Halle Roll-Up Water-Repellent Pant | Sizes 0-18
Long bottoms or even specific hiking pants are your best option for a day of hiking in a Glacier National Park. Even in the summer, warm days can be in the high 80°Fs, but can rapidly drop down to 40°F by evening. Long pants will not only keep you warm, but will also save your calves and ankles from prickly branches that protrude from the trail. Choose pants that are moisture wicking and quick drying, in case you get caught in a downpour.
These prAna Halle Pants have great pocket space and material that doesn’t snag easily and isn’t stiff. They have articulated knees, which makes hiking, climbing, and bending a breeze. You can also roll up the legs when the temperature goes up.
Eddie Bauer Long-Sleeve T-Shirt | Sizes XS-3X Available
Layers are great, and t-shirts are the most versatile of tops in all weather situations. For a long hike, get one with moisture-wicking properties, to keep sweat at bay.
If you feel the cold, or are hiking up a shadier trail, a long sleeved tee, like this Eddie Bauer one which could be beneficial as it keeps you from feeling the chill, plus adds a layer of protection.
Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket | Sizes XS-XXL and 1X-3X
Layers are a must for this park – no matter the season as the temperature can change throughout the day by a few degrees. Packing a fleece jacket as an additional layer, can keep you from feeling cold and ruining a great day by not having the clothing for it.
Fleece is a great travel fabric as it is easy to roll up and stuff inside your backpack without worrying about it getting creased (you could even pop it in a packing cube).
Check out some fleece travel jackets here!
Your outfit needs to be able to cope with the different changing weather. Think layers, layers layers! If you get warm, you can simply shrug a layer off, but there’s nothing worse than being too cold.
Wear or pack some merino wool undergarments, as they are thin, but cozy. These Minus33 under layers are top rated as the warmest around! They have sweat-wicking properties to help to keep you dry, no matter how tough the hike gets. Check out more base layer options that’ll keep you warm on the trails!
North Face Resolve 2 Jacket | Sizes XS-XXL and 1X-2X
If you’re traversing around Swiftcurrent Lake, or trekking up the 4300-foot hike of Mount Brown Lookout you are exposed to different elements. A warm but lightweight rain jacket is essential for your trip. Rain showers occur, no matter what the season is, so you’ll want a jacket that keeps you dry.
Choose a jacket that is warm, waterproof, and windproof. Preferably, one with a hood will have you covered (literally) no matter what the weather!
This North Face Jacket is waterproof and seam-sealed for optimal protection. It’s super functional while remaining lightweight and breathable.
Find more ideas for the best packable rain jacket for travel!
You can have the best hiking boots in the world, but you also need the right type of socks to go with them. Your normal cotton socks on an eight-hour hike, are practically screaming for you to have blisters! Try wool socks, they keep your feet super dry and prevent any rubbing from your shoes after a long day on the Apikuni Falls trail. We even recommend taking a spare pair in your backpack, for those “just in case” situations. (wrap them in a packing cube to keep them totally dry).
Glacier also has a ton of amazing and exhilarating water sports on offer too, for these you’re going to want to pack a swimsuit, or even a warmer wetsuit too.
Things to Bring to Glacier National Park
Depending on the length of your stay, you’ll either need a backpack or a day pack. If you’re backpacking Glacier National Park you’ll need a bigger bag to ensure all of your equipment can fit in easily and it is comfortable enough to wear until you make it to your campsite (especially if you have to walk for some of the way).
The most important features are it needs to be water (and snow!) resistant and fit properly to your frame. This Osprey backpack is a great option for hikers, as it has a ventilated mesh back panel with an ultra-comfortable waffle foam harness. The hip belt provides superb fit, and its anti-gravity system will help relieve pressure and stave off any unwanted pain when carrying it for a long time!
To be a pro packer, you can also use Compass Rose packing cubes to help you pack your backpack for your trip. They’re great for keeping your different layers in, and the numbered and color-coded pouches will keep you extra organized.
If you are planning a day trip around Glacier to see the vast array of wildlife, or just for a hike to Morning Eagle Falls, you can fit essentials in a day pack. Choose one that is lightweight and for ultimate comfort, look for a pack that has padded mesh back support and a waist strap. The Osprey Packs Talon 22 allows you to wander around the trails with enough room to pack hydration and layers!
Take a look at more top recommended ultralight backpacks!
You lose most of your body heat through your head, so a cozy hat is needed on your hike to keep in that essential warmth. Choose a hat that is made of a soft fleece or wool, and remember to cover your ears for an extra warm feeling.
If you don’t fancy a full hat look, these Muryabao Knitted Headbands can keep you warm and allow you to rock a cute ponytail too!
A water bottle is as essential as it gets. You need to stay hydrated on the trail, and being prepared is a necessity.
A vacuum-style bottle, like this one from Klean Kanteen can keep your water icy cold for hours into your hike. Or you might prefer a squishy bottle that can be squeezed to fit your pack and take up almost no space once you are finished with it. Some bottles even have a hook to allow you to clip them to your backpack for easy access.
Check out the top rated water bottles that TFG readers love!
Bear Proof Accessories
There are black bears and grizzly bears living in Glacier National Park, and the rangers advise that you stay out of their way. Bear spray is available in camping shops close to the parks (you can’t fly with it), but also consider smell-proof bags, or a hanging tree pack, for your outdoor picnics.
Also, be aware of mountain lions and wolves around Glacier, the best advice is never to hike alone and be aware of all precautions from the rangers.
Additional Gear Checklist for Glacier National Park
- Bug Spray
- Hiking poles
- Empty bag for trash
- First aid kit
- Map and compass
- Female urination device and toilet paper (put these in a plastic bag to take back with you – leave no trace)
- Extra layer of clothing (in case you get cold)
What are your tips on packing for Glacier National Park? Share your packing list below!
For more National Park packing tips, please read:
- What to Pack for Yellowstone National Park: Clothes, Shoes, and Gear
- What to Pack for Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- What to Pack for Joshua Tree National Park: Clothing, Essentials, and Gear
- Packing for Canadian National Parks in Summer: What You Need to Know
For more camping and hiking tips, please read:
- What to Bring on a Camping Trip
- What to Wear When Visiting Utah National Park: Springs
- What to Wear in California: National Parks
- How to Pack for a USA Road Trip
Suggested travel resources:
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