Death Valley: The Ultimate Packing List

Death Valley Packing List

Last Updated on: 26th November 2023, 12:19 am

Death Valley National Park is one of America’s largest parks and also one of its most diverse. Infamous for its extreme summer temperatures, the park can also get surprisingly cold in the mountains – especially during winter. Coming adequately prepared is essential to both your enjoyment and your survival, and this Death Valley packing list is here to help.

The following list is divided into three main sections: General Items, Camping Gear and Hiking Gear. While many of the links below are Amazon affiliate links, online shopping is indeed often the best option when it comes to preparing for outdoor trips.

When gear shopping in physical stores in the US, you often just have a few choices: Walmart, which has an extensive selection but often of poor quality, or REI, which is of higher quality but outrageously overpriced for what you get. Online shopping, therefore, is often a comfortable middle ground.

By clicking on the links below, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. But regardless of where you shop, this Death Valley packing list is intended to make sure you have a smooth, enjoyable and safe trip to this incredible park.

General Items

Moon Death Valley Packing List
Moon Death Valley National Park | Death Valley Packing List

Death Valley Guidebooks

Though there are several different Death Valley guidebooks out there, most of them seem to have a specific focus, such as hiking or off-road driving. 

But if you’re looking for a well-rounded paperback guide that covers all the ways you can experience the park, be sure to grab Moon Death Valley National Park: Hiking, Scenic Drives, Desert Springs & Hidden Oases, which I’ve used to help plan for multiple trips.

While I have yet to see it for myself, the book The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park seems like another great option. Both books are available in paperback and Kindle formats.


When exploring a park as massive as Death Valley that also lacks cellphone reception, having a physical map can be very helpful. This foldable map by National Geographic is one of the most detailed maps of the park out there.

Also be sure to get the free app on your phone. It works offline, but don’t forget to download the map for California in advance.

Water Bottle

No Death Valley packing list would be complete without emphasizing the need for a good water bottle. But choosing the right one can be tricky, as you’ll want a size that’s compatible with your bag or day pack.

I’ve been using this 28 oz Contigo water bottle for the last few years and highly recommend it. But for hikes, I also supplement it with a hydration pack (more below) and sometimes additional smaller bottles.

Enough Food & Water for Emergencies

While you shouldn’t be afraid to visit the more remote sections of Death Valley, it’s important to educate yourself on the risks and take proper precautions. 

What happens if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere? Especially when it’s scorching hot out and there are no amenities nearby?

Even if you’re visiting the park for a day or two, prepare for the worst by stocking your trunk with plenty of water and snacks. As grim as it sounds, it really could be a matter of life or death. If you get stranded, it might be quite some time before anyone happens to find you.

Electrolyte Powder

Speaking of potential emergencies, I always come prepared with electrolyte powder when visiting the desert. I don’t normally use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case I need it.

Liquid IV is one of the most popular brands these days. It can be ordered online but is also commonly available at stores.


Sunscreen is another no-brainer when it comes to a Death Valley packing list, so be sure not to forget yours.

Lip Balm

Considering how dry it gets in the desert, you’ll want to have some lip balm on you when exploring Death Valley. And you can’t go wrong with Burt’s Bees.

First-Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to have a First-Aid Kit handy when exploring a remote National Park. This first-aid kit has everything you need for minor cuts, scrapes and more.

Satellite Phone

As mentioned, most of Death Valley lacks any cellphone reception, with the exception of some parts of Furnace Creek. 

If you plan on visiting remote sections of Death Valley such as Racetrack Playa, consider buying a satellite phone. It will allow you to stay in touch with your loved ones in case you get stuck somewhere.

Furnace Creek Death Valley Packing List
A view of the Furnace Creek Campground | Death Valley Packing List

Camping Gear


As the saying goes, ‘Cheapskates pay twice,’ and this was indeed the case for me with the tent I bought for my recent road trip. I made the mistake of getting a cheap Ozark tent from Walmart, only intending to use it several times. 

But the poles snapped on the very first night I used it due to strong wind! Unfortunately, many Walmarts near National Parks don’t accept returns.

When it comes to tents, Coleman is a trusted brand, and this model comes in various sizes depending on how many people you intend to fit inside.

Warm Clothing

While many people wouldn’t think to bring warm clothing to Death Valley, which is often regarded as the hottest place on earth, it can indeed get cold during winter nights.

And even if you’re traveling in summer, it does get cold at the higher elevation campsites like the Mahogany Campground.

As such, be sure to come prepared with a few extra layers. While I have yet to visit the park in winter, some people even recommend bringing gloves.

Sleeping Bag

If you’re visiting Death Valley in winter, consider a cold-weather sleeping bag like this one by Coleman. This compact sleeping bag, meanwhile, is suited for a wide variety of weather conditions.

Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad is essential for a comfortable camping experience. But they can often be quite expensive, not to mention cumbersome. If you’re not someone who camps all the time, consider getting a cheap one so that you won’t feel guilty about throwing it away after your trip.

Out of all the products that have nearly five stars on Amazon, this is the cheapest foam pad, while this is the cheapest inflatable pad.


A headlamp is vital if you’re camping, and also if you plan on spending any amount of time in the park after dark. While not the cheapest option out there, I’ve been using a Black Diamond headlamp for the last couple of years, and it still works great.


Even with a great headlamp or flashlight, relying on it for everything can be a pain. Lanterns are great to have in your tent and also at your picnic table. This set is very affordable and has great reviews.

Portable Stove

Even if you just want to make coffee, it’s great to have a portable stove with you while camping. I’m a big fan of this stove by Coleman, which works with butane gas canisters.

Unfortunately, however, I had the hardest time finding the proper canisters for these. After buying the stove, I went to a Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, but NONE of them carried the right canisters. Upon the recommendation of a sales staff, I went to a smoke shop and sure enough, they had them!

Throughout my hunt, I noticed that propane canisters seem to be a lot easier to find. Interestingly, this stove looks very similar but it takes both butane and propane canisters.

Camp Cooking Essentials

If you’re going to cook, you’re obviously going to need a pan, pot, utensils and plates. Unless you’re camping all the time, I wouldn’t worry about going all out with cookware specifically designed for camping. 

This cookware set comes with a pot, pan, cups and some plates for a very decent price. But you should also be fine with cheap Walmart stuff which is unlikely to break.


Even if you’re only visiting Death Valley for a day, a cooler would come in handy for obvious reasons. And if you’ll be camping, it’s an absolute must.

What size cooler you buy, of course, is going to depend on how many people there are in your party and how long you’ll be staying. But for many, this 50-quart wheeled cooler by Coleman seems like a great choice.

Foldable Chairs

When it comes to foldable chairs for camping, you can’t go wrong with these chairs by Coleman. But this is another area where you might be better off with cheap Walmart chairs. They were going for as low as $8 the last time I was there!

Power Bank

If you’ll be camping at Death Valley, you won’t have an opportunity to charge your phone. And considering how vital phones are for navigation, you definitely won’t want your phone to run out of juice.

This is one of the most affordable power banks out there and it goes for a very reasonable price.

Hiking Telescope Peak Death Valley Packing List
Hiking Telescope Peak | Death Valley Packing List

Hiking Gear

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are a must if you’ll be doing any longer hikes in Death Valley. I can’t claim to be an expert on hiking boots, but I did recently have to throw out my old North Face shoes.

While they were very comfortable in the beginning, they degraded tremendously over just several years. Somehow, the shape of the shoes seemed to have warped over time, and they started to give me bad blisters.

I’ve since replaced them with lightweight hiking boots by La Sportiva. While it’s still too early to tell how well they hold up long-term, I can confirm that they are quite comfortable so far.

Wool Socks

Hiking boots don’t go well with regular socks. And if you’re new to hiking, you’ll have to invest in some high-quality wool socks.

Annoyingly, however, wool socks can be shockingly expensive at stores like REI. Fortunately, there are much better deals online, and this is one of the best values I was able to find.

While slightly more expensive, these socks have an ‘Anti-Hole Guarantee.’

Trekking Poles

For many of the shorter or lower-elevation hikes in Death Valley, you won’t need any trekking poles. But if you’re planning on doing a more strenuous hike like Telescope Peak, you’ll definitely want to bring some.

If you don’t already have them, a pair of high-end trekking poles can be expensive. But in many cases, you’ll be fine with something more budget-friendly.

These poles by Trekology are highly rated and seem to often go on sale.

Hiking Pants

If you’re just hiking at the lower elevations, you should be fine in regular shorts. But if you’re doing a higher-elevation hike, you’ll definitely want hiking pants.

These are some of the top-selling pants for men, while these are popular pants for women.

Hydration Pack

If you’re doing any hiking in Death Valley, it would be wise to bring a hydration pack. Not only does it help you carry more water, but you can conveniently drink it through the tube as you hike.

With that said, you should also bring additional bottles of water with you as well.

This pack by Vibrelli is one of the top-rated packs online for an affordable price.

Alltrails or onX Backcountry Subscription

As mentioned above, is a free app that works offline. But if you’ll be doing a lot of hiking in Death Valley and in other nearby parks, you’ll thank yourself for buying a subscription to either AllTrails or onX Backcountry.

Both apps cost around $30 per year, and paying for a subscription allows you to access specific trail maps offline. Needless to say, this is vital in areas that lack reception.

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