U.S. national parks offer epic experiences for adventurers of any skill level—and, for each one of these activities, you’ll need a different set of gear.
This season, with the help of professional athletes, National Geographic Explorers, and adventurer photographers, we're showcasing items to help you tackle four of these awesome adventures: hiking around Arches’ rock formations, skiing Glacier’s snow-covered peaks, paddling Grand Teton’s glistening rivers, and camping under Acadia’s colorful canopies—plus a gift guide for the gear that was just too great to exclude.
Explore our must-get gear for 2017’s winter season.
Hiking in Arches National Park
The best way to see Utah's Arches National Park is by trail, lacing up your hiking boots to go beyond the paved roads and into the wilderness of the park’s towering arches. Whether you’re planning a weeklong trip or a day hike, pack these gear essentials to traverse the slick rock terrain with ease.
Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket
Offered in both men’s and women’s sizing, the Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket was made for minimalist hikers. When the temperatures drop unexpectedly or a thunderstorm rolls in while you’re on the trail, this durable, lightweight, three-layer shell jacket is the perfect outer layer to keep you dry and warm. A zippered ventilation system offers breathability, while a draw-cord adjustment at the bottom hem and two large chest pockets make this jacket stylish, functional, and technical. On especially windy days, the fixed, three-way adjustable hood proves beneficial, and it can even fit over a helmet.
Skiing in Glacier National Park
As one of the most remote backcountry skiing destinations in Montana, Glacier National Park is a vast wilderness of extreme terrain—blissfully free of ski lifts and crowds. During the winter, it’s imperative to pack the right kit for this off-the-grid adventure. Whether you’re looking for the perfect winter tent or new a pair of skis, here are your touring essentials.
K2 Luv Boat 105
Engineered with a core developed specifically for women, the K2 LUV Boat 105 Skis are the best hard-charging women’s skis on the market. Ideal for powder or icy-hard pack days, these skis will sail in almost any condition. “This is the ski of all women skis,” says professional big mountain free-skier Lexi duPont. “They’re super lightweight for those long ski touring days, yet wide enough and stiff enough to charge the entire way back down. Although they have a square tail, there is enough tail rocker to slash any powder turn, stomp every pillow, and carve that fresh early morning corduroy.”
Recommended by Lexi duPont, big mountain free-skier
Paddling in Grand Teton National Park
Paddlers of all skill levels will find plenty of adventure and crowd-free views in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Whether you plan to boat for the day or embark on a multiday navigation of Jackson Lake, packing the right gear will ensure you have a safe and memorable time on the water.
Jackson Kayak Traverse
Built to withstand whitewater kayaking but replete with a longer waterline and retractable skeg perfect for miles of flatwater, the Jackson Kayak Traverse is one of the most versatile kayaks on the market. The boat has a stable, predictable hull that creates both initial and whitewater stability. Complete with a reliable hatch, pre-installed GoPro mount, and YakAttack rails to attach your gear, this is the only kayak you’ll need. “For comfort, ease of use, and maneuverability in the swift rivers of the Grand Teton National Park, I prefer the Traverse as my go-to kayak,” says adventure kayaker Ben Stookesberry.
Recommended by Ben Stookesberry, adventure kayaker
Camping in Acadia National Park
With a verdant shoreline and plenty of mountains and islands to explore, there’s a reason Acadia National Park is one of Maine’s most popular attractions. Whether you plan to summit Cadillac Mountain or hike another of the park’s many trails, be sure to book your campground in advance—and pack the warm, dependable gear on this list.
Big Agnes Copper Hotel HV UL2
This Big Agnes tent stands above the rest thanks to its extended, pole-supported vestibule with an oversized door for easy entry. Uncommon to most ultralight tents on the market, the Big Agnes Copper Hotel HV UL2 makes for such easy living in the backcountry, you may decide to camp a few nights longer. The tent has internal dry storage to pouch smelly camp clothes and an especially high-volume pole architecture, which gives you more room in the tent without the extra weight in your pack. Plus, the two-tone mesh combines privacy with transparency—you can even view the night stars from your fully-zipped tent.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Adventure Gift Guide
Some gear proves useful no matter the endeavor, which makes those items excellent gifts. A camping enthusiast might need a set of cards to play during starry nights, and a backcountry hiker may enjoy drinking espresso-style coffee in the woods. Regardless their preferred activities, the adventurers on your list will be happy to get this gear guaranteed to improve their outdoor experiences.
LEICA Q Silver
The LEICA Q camera is a great addition to an adventure photographer’s equipment cache, with a fixed 28mm lens, full-frame sensor, and integrated high-resolution electronic viewfinder to capture street photography in dodgy lighting conditions. Previously only available in black and titanium grey, the newly released LEICA Q Silver comes with a sleek top plate and baseplate made of anodized silver. “The LEICA Q is small, durable, and has some of the best optics for the price,” says director and cinematographer Jeff Johnson. “Best of all, it’s easy to use. It’s simply the best everyday travel camera.”
Recommended by Jeff Johnson, director and cinematographer
Michaela Trimble is a writer and photographer based in Florida. Follow her on Instagram @michaelatrimble.