I often get questions about hiking and camping backpacks and gear to bring on a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon crossing. This is especially important because you do not want to get caught unprepared with too few items. On the flip side, you don’t want to be weighted down with a heavy backpack and unnecessary stuff. This article will focus on backpacks and essential gear categories.
Before we get started, you should familiarize yourself with the recommended hiking backpacks below. We also have additional backpack recommendations from successful one day Rim to Rim Grand Canyon hikers, while camping backpacks are discussed at the end.
RECOMMENDED HIKING BACKPACKS
Osprey Men’s Talon 22L Day Hiking Backpack
Osprey Women’s Tempest 20L Day Hiking Backpack
Osprey Women’s Tempest 20L Day Hiking Backpack is the companion to the Osprey Men’s Talon 22L Day Hiking Backpack
Vest Recommendation for a Minimalist, One Day Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Crossing
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 5.0 Hydration Vest – Women’s
Get it from REI ($139.95)
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 Hydration Vest – Unisex
Get it from REI ($139.95)
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 Hydration Vest front look.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 Hydration Vest back view.
When do you Need a Hiking Backpack or Hydration Vest on a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Crossing?
You should be adequately served by a 20 to 30 liter hiking backpack on a single day Rim to Rim Grand Canyon hike or a two-day hike if you spend the night at Phantom Ranch.
Any guide on a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon trip, myself included, will carry some of your essentials needed for the hike. If you hike it on your own, you will need to take every item listed in the Day Hike Essentials Pack List: A Foolproof Guide. Always bring a basic first aid kit, clothing for the weather, snacks, and food, as well as a map, multi-tool, lighter, and a water filter since you can fill water from either Bright Angel Creek or Garden creek. If it is a single day effort, you will want water carrying capacity of around 3 liters. In addition, I always use hiking poles.
On North Rim at trailhead parking lot before crossing the Rim to Rim Grand Canyon.
On South Rim after successful crossing of Rim to Rim Grand Canyon.
If you are spending the night at Phantom Ranch, the only additional items you want are flip-flops and toiletries, as well as a change of socks and any clean clothes you want. Water carrying capacity remains the same for either a single day crossing or two-day adventure. You can fit all these items in the 22 and 20 liter hiking and camping backpacks suggested above. If you are less skilled at packing, you can opt for the slightly bigger 24 and 30 liter Osprey hiking backpacks recommended below.
Howie and the boys in “the box” just north of Phantom Ranch carrying their poles and hiking backpacks.
Howie has completed the Rim to Rim Grand Canyon crossing twice. I asked how he liked his Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Hiking Backpack, Howie said, “It was perfect!”
I would be remiss if I did not point out that water is one of the most critical elements for a successful and safe Rim to Rim Grand Canyon crossing. Depending on the time of year, you will want to check and see which water spots are on or off in the main corridor trails. Generally, water is on year-round at Indian Garden and Phantom Ranch, but you will want to confirm water availability the night before your trip, as sometimes the pipeline breaks and all the water is shut off. To get the most up to date information, call the Bright Angel transportation desk at 928-638-3283.
Friends and family at Supai Tunnel on North Kaibab trail carrying poles and hiking backpacks.
For the single or two-day effort, I recommend the Osprey Talon 22. This is a 22L daypack that features a hip belt with pockets for snacks and a mesh outer pocket for easy access to items. It also has two water bottle holders for those who prefer bottles as well as the ability to carry a 3-liter bladder. I will generally carry a combination of bottles and a bladder. I like to put a variety of electrolyte flavored drinks in bottles and use the bladder for water.
Sisters on South Rim after successful crossing of Rim to Rim Grand Canyon with poles and hiking backpacks.
Alexa successfully completed a one day Rim to Rim Grand Canyon tour with Will as her guide. When asked how she liked her Osprey Sirrus 24 Hiking Backpack, she said “I loved my day pack!!!!!” (Yes, 5 exclamation points!)
For those of you who are minimalists, you can get away with a small running style pack or waist belt to just carry snacks and use handheld water bottles. A good minimalist size that supports hiking as well as running is the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 Hydration Vest. It is a sleek vest that can carry all your essentials without excess weight; it’s fitted and snug so you can jog without your stuff bouncing around.
When do you Need a Camping Backpack on a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Trip?
A camping backpack will be necessary – 45 to 65 liters will suffice – should your adventure involve overnighting at Bright Angel campground.
If you have other campers on your trip, split some of the communal gear to save space and cut weight in your camping backpack. You can split up carrying cooking gear (if you want a warm meal) and parts of a two-person tent. You will definitely need a sleeping bag and sleeping mat and a single person tent if you choose.
The biggest issue I see most often is that hikers tend to bring too much stuff, especially if they have a bigger pack; they tend to completely stuff it. Fight this urge! When you are filling your camping backpack, ask yourself if the item will bring you more joy than the pain of carrying it 24-plus miles and nearly a vertical mile deep. If the joy factor wins out, then bring it. It can take several backpacking adventures for most people to know exactly what they should stuff in their camping backpack.
For shorter 1–3-day camping trips, I have two camping backpacks that I like to use. The smaller one is the Arcteryx Bora AR 50-liter pack. It is an extremely comfortable pack with a unique frame that provides excellent lower back support. If I need a bit larger pack, I prefer the Osprey Atmos 65 AG.
Camping backpacks are a tricky piece of gear to recommend as there are so many out there. For that reason, you can refer to this article about selecting your very first camping backpack.
Regardless of your style, these tips will hopefully give you a solid place to start as you consider which hiking and camping backpacks – and associated gear – you should consider for a Rim to rim Grand Canyon crossing.
And don’t forget how crucial it is to be in the best shape possible for your next Rim to Rim Grand Canyon adventure. Contact us today for a free fitness consultation to make sure you’re prepared to go Rim to Rim with no problems!