1. Camelbak: This is my preferred day pack for any outdoor adventure. It is just the right size to hold the food and water that I need. It’s not too bulky or heavy. It has great little pockets all over to hold random necessities like Chapstick and sunscreen. You will not see me hiking around without one of these bad boys.
2. Camelbak Reservoir: Don’t even think about attempting a slot canyon without at least 100 ounces of water per person. I love having a Camelbak Reservoir instead of a bunch of water bottles. It makes it so much easier to drink while hiking. Tip: Blow the water in the hose back into the reservoir . This will prevent the water in your straw from being affected by the outdoor temperature. The water that stays in the hose will either get very warm or freeze. Yuck.
3. Dry sack: Whether you like it or not, you are going to be swimming through water. This water is most likely going to be merkey and gross. Needless to say, you are going to want to protect your food, camera, and toiletries from getting wet. A dry sack will be the answer to your prayers!
4. Water Filter: We always have at least one person carry a water filter just in case things don’t go as planned and we run out of water.
5. Harness: This is one of the most important things to have with you! Make sure you get one that fits you correctly and that all the straps are tightened to fit you. I love the singing rock harness.
6. Carabiner: This will be what connects your harness to your belay device. Make sure you get one that locks, not just the cheesy little ones for your keys. It needs to be heavy duty for rappelling and have a wide opening and a unit that will still function in sandy conditions.
7. Belay Device: There are all sorts of different belay devices.
A. Figure 8: I prefer this belay device because it is simple to use, but many people avoid them because they twist your rope.
B. The Petzl Pirana: This device is popular because you can detach from the rope without removing the device which means less chance of dropping it.
C. Super Belay Gadget II: This is my father’s go to device because it has multiple friction options for different sized people and ropes.
8. Gloves: The ropes get pretty hot while rappelling. You are going to want to have a good pair of gloves to protect your cute little fingers! I recommend full finger gloves.
9. Helmet: Another important safety item to wear. There are all sorts of hazards in slot canyons.
10 Rope: Make sure you know how much rope you are going to need. If you are only doing one 50 foot rappel during the entire day, you don’t want to be hauling around a 300 foot rope for no reason. You also don’t want to be caught unaware and have a 200 foot rappel with only a 50 foot rope. Make sure that your ropes are long enough! There are all sorts of different sizes and thicknesses of rope. We use canyon specific ropes that are usually around 9mm. These ropes are Static ropes which means they do not stretch much. The other nifty feature is that they do not absorb water so they are easier to carry. We like Imlay ropes.
11. Webbing: It is recommended that you carry at least 50 feet of webbing. It has many uses. If you are headed to a canyon that does not have fixed anchors you may need more.It can also be used for a makeshift harness, for rappelling, and for bouldering. We often use it to help each other over obstacles.
12. First Aid kit: Of course an injury is not something that you want to happen on your adventure, but as the boy scouts (and Mufasa) say: BE PREPARED! Bring one that is small and easy to carry in a pack. It’s always good to have extra Advil or Ibuprofen as well. I also carry a fire start kit which consists of a lighter and some TP. The TP has dual purpose.
13. Headlamp: Always carry a light just in case things go south and you are not out of the canyon by nightfall.
Food: I did not put any pictures up of food because everyone is so different when it comes to food. The most important thing is that it is high energy, light weight. At least some of it should be sealed in case you have a dry sack failure. I also carry a few GU type things in case someone bonks and needs a boost.
*This packing list assumes that the hike already has the hooks to set up your rappel. It does not include tools for creating a new rappel. It is also assumes that your hike will be done in one day. I have not included any overnight gear that might be needed.
We do most of our hikes during the summer. A winter hike outfit would look much different than this!
Shorts: I like hiking in shorts that dry quickly. This year I wore yoga pants and they were a great success. I was not too warm, I dried quickly, and I loved not having loose shorts getting caught in my harness! I would love to have a pair of these NorthFace shorts. They are adorable and would get the job done.
Shirt: I like wearing something that covers my shoulders to keep them from getting burned. It is important to wear a shirt that can dry fast to avoid chaffing. I am a sucker for Nike dri-fit.
Old shoes: I am going to preface this section with a disclaimer: I am a Chaco lover! I love hiking in them, eating in them, and even sleeping in them! However I do not recommend wearing them in a slot canyon. Clumsy is my middle name and I always stub my toes. That is why my shoe of choice is an old pair of running shoes, but again, this is totally a personal preference. Wear something that is durable and has some good grip to it.
Sunglasses: Whether or not I bring my sunglasses depends on the hike. Some slot canyons you rarely see the sun and you spend the whole time worrying that your sunglasses are going to break.
I hope this gives you an idea of what to bring on your first slot canyon trip. Make sure that you go with someone who has experience. This post does not give you the experience you need to navigate a slot canyon on your own. Happy Adventuring!