What Camping Gear to Pack for a First Time Trip to Utah

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If you’re visiting Utah for the first time to see its natural beauty, the best way to experience the state in any season is with great camping gear.  In this article, we’re going to outline some of the most essential camping gear to pack when planning your perfect trip to Utah to enjoy any or all of its five National Parks.  

Zion National Park, Utah United States

Zion National Park, Utah United States Photo by Nick Dunlap

What Camping Gear to Pack for a First Time Trip to Utah

Get your checklist ready, because we are going to discuss 

  • Sun Protection Gear 
  • Water Bottles and Storage
  • Tents 
  • Sleeping Gear
  • Cookware and Cooking Supplies

Sun Protection Gear 

The first thing to know about visiting Utah in the spring, summer or fall is that there are a lot of sunny, hot days.  If you want to enjoy yourself camping, protection from the sun is essential. Here are a few suggestions on what to bring to help protect yourself in the Utah desert.  

A Great Hat for Camping and Hiking:  The Sun Cube Boonie Hat

To keep your head cool while you are out hiking or back at camp, we suggest you pick up a nice, wide brimmed hat like this Bonnie Hat from Sun Cube.  Not only will this hat shade your face and neck, but it is also very lightweight and comes with an adjustable chin strap to keep your hat from falling off in tricky situations. 

A Large Amount of Sunscreen:  Banana Boat Ultra Sport TwinPack

If you’re camping in Utah, you’ll be spending most of the day in the sun.  Even in the early morning and late evening hours, the powerful sun can be dangerous to your skin.  For this reason, having a large amount of strong sunscreen that is at least 50 SPF is strongly advised when trying to determine what camping gear to pack for a first time trip to Utah. 

A Shade Tent:  Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy

Having some sort of shade will make camping in Utah a much more enjoyable experience.  The main purpose of your shade tent is going to be blocking out the sun, but it will also help keep things dry if you experience some weather.  Although Utah summers are typically quite dry, Utah’s National Parks often receive rain in the late summer and early fall months. Higher elevations also receive snow in the Winter.  This Quick Shade Expedition Instant Canopy is great because you can easily and quickly create coverage wherever it is needed.  Other canopies are available that are designed to be secured to your car or a set of trees. 

Water Bottles and Water Storage

No matter how protected you are from the sun, you will still need to be able to carry and store a lot of water to fully enjoy your first camping trip to Utah.  Here are a few devices that are handy for staying hydrated.

Portable Water Storage:  The Coleman 5 Gallon Water Jug

Most of the campgrounds in Utah have some sort of water source where you can refill containers full of water.  This 5 Gallon Water Jug is a standard size and weight from a well known outdoor brand.  If you are planning to do some primitive camping out on BLM or National Forest land, having one or even two of these backups is essential for storing water to drink, cook, and clean with.  If you are backpacking and want something large that can be carried long distances, you may want to consider a collapsible water container.  

A Hydration Backpack:  Water Buffalo Hydration Pack

In addition to any water bottles that you have lying around your house, a first time trip to Utah may be the moment in which you will want to purchase a backpack with a water bladder.  This Water Buffalo Hydration Pack is perfect for a camping trip in Utah, as it can store two liters of water comfortably on your back while you are out exploring for the day.  The pack also includes a few pockets where you can store your devices while hiking or at camp.

Tents 

The type of tent you will want to bring on a camping trip to Utah will largely depend on the number of people in your group and the type of camping you will be doing.  We will suggest a few tents that are perfect for enjoying the great outdoors in Utah.

Best Tent for Car Camping in Utah:  The Coleman 4 Person Instant Setup Cabin Tent

One of the greatest parts about visiting Utah is the ability to take a road trip through several different wilderness areas.  In National Parks and surrounding towns, there are many camping sites that offer plenty of space, clean bathrooms, and drinking water for paying campers.  This Cabin Tent from Coleman is perfect for many camping road trips in Utah.  Not only does this tent fit four people, but it also has plenty of windows to stay cool and a nice low layer of protection against possible evening winds full of dust and debris.  Plus, this tent sets up in less than a minute! The less time you spend setting up and taking down your tent, the more time you can enjoy the outdoors.

Backpacking Tent for a Camping in Utah: The MSR Hubba Hubba

If you are headed out to Utah in order to do some overnight camping deep within one of the great National parks, then you will need a backpacking tent that is lightweight, breathable, and can offer protection from dust and debris.  The MSR Hubba Hubba is the perfect shelter for deep wilderness trips in Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and more. This awesome tent weighs less than four pounds, has plenty of ventilation, and also has a protective layer at the bottom of the exterior.  Experienced backpackers and first timers alike can agree that the MSR Hubba Hubba is one of the best pieces of camping gear you can pack for a backcountry trip in Utah.

Big Group Tent for Utah Camping:  The Core Equipment 12 Person Tent

If the whole family is coming along for the fun, you’ll want to have a large tent that can offer both fresh air and privacy. This enormous tentcan hold up to 12 adults comfortably, so there is plenty of space for everybody.  Inside, the tent has large windows and room dividers to maximize the comfort of your sleep.  The front room is also able to convert to a nice shaded, sitting room.

Sleeping Gear 

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to fully enjoying your time in Utah.  If you are looking for what camping gear to pack for your trip, comfortable sleeping arrangements should be a high priority.

A Comfortable, Convenient Sleeping Pad:  The Exped Megamat 10

Although the rocks may be nice to look at, the hard terrain in some of Utah’s best campgrounds can be unforgiving and difficult to sleep on.  For the best overall experience, we suggest taking a look at the Exped Megamat 10.  The Megamat is much larger and more comfortable than most sleeping pads and even self inflates in about 10 minutes.  If you’re not camping alone, this model comes in both single and double bed models. The product is sized to fit within most tents on the market. 

The Exped Megamat 10

The Exped Megamat 10 Image credit:https://www.reddit.com/user/PorkLesnar/

A Warm Weather Sleeping Bag:  Oaskys 3 Season Sleeping Bag

Parts of Utah such as Zion National Park can be scorching hot, even in the middle of the night.  Other areas near Salt Lake City and Bryce Canyon can actually become quite cool even after a long, hot sunny day.  Because of the variation in climate, a warm weather sleeping bag that is rated for 3 season use, such as this bag from Oaskys is perfect for a first time camping trip to Utah.  This bag is light enough to prevent you from excessive sweating, while also being able to keep you warm during cool nights during the shoulder seasons. 

A Hammock:  Honest Outfitters Double Camping Hammock

For some people, sleeping in a hammock is a fun and comfortable, lightweight way to spend a night sleeping in the great outdoors.  If you are camping in the heat of a Utah summer, sleeping in a hammock such as this one from Honest Outfitters is a great way to enjoy the open air while cutting down on space in your car or backpack.  If you plan to do some hammock camping, then it is a very good idea to conduct some research about the area where you will be staying.  Camping hammocks require that they are tied up to two objects, such as trees, in order to be functional. Some of Utah’s more barren desert land may not offer anything to support a hammock.  

A Camping Pillow: RedCamp Outdoor Camping Pillow

Don’t forget the pillow!  One of the most common packing mistakes when preparing for a camping trip is to overlook the thought of bringing along a nice pillow.  There are many popular inflatable camp pillows available, but many people prefer smaller, portable pillows such as this one from RedCamp.  This pillow is small and portable enough to be great for camping, while the soft flannel padding will feel familiar enough to provide for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Cookware and Cooking Supplies

There is nothing quite like a well cooked meal while you are outside camping.  On your first trip to Utah, packing high quality cookware and cooking supplies will complete your full set of camping gear and keep you from going hungry.  

A Propane Camping Stove:  Coleman Gas Camping Stove

Although there are often fire pits within Utah’s campgrounds, the area is often subject to fire bans that eliminate the possibility of cooking on an open flame.  For the most dependable cooking station, we strongly suggest packing a propane camping stove such as this 2 burner from Coleman.  This product is very portable, but also powerful and large enough to cook most meals.  The stove is refilled with propane, which is sold separately. Having a few of these extra propane canisters lying around is always a good idea in keeping a well stocked supply of cooking necessities. 

An Outdoor Cooking Kit:  Overmont Camping Cookware Set.

Once you’ve got your heat source sorted, you will need a set of high quality cookware pots and pans to prepare your meals.  If this is your first trip out to Utah, we suggest buying a complete set of cookware such as this kit from Overmont Camping. This mess kit includes everything you will need to prepare and serve most types of camp dinner as well as your morning coffee.  All of the parts fit together nicely in the largest pot, and the package even includes a handy carrying case. Although you may want to bring along some additional, specialized cookware such as a wok or a cast iron pan, this kit will give your camping kitchen a great start. 

Overmont 1.95 Liter (Pot+ Kettle) Camping Cookware Set Campfire Kettle Outdoor Cooking Mess Kit Pots Pan for Backpacking Hiking Picnic Fishing Free Folding Spork Knife Spoon

Some Dehydrated Meals:  Mountain House 3 Pack

When getting your camping gear together, it is a good time to think about what you are going to eat on your trip.  After a long day in the Utah sun, you may not have the energy or desire to cook a long complicated meal. For this reason, we suggest picking up a few dehydrated camping meals.  These tasty pre-packaged foods from Mountain House are perfect for eating well without having to make much of an effort.  To prepare your meal, simply boil some water and pour it into the pouch. Let it sit for a while, and wallah, your dinner is served. 

Conclusion

The idea of packing everything you need for a long camping trip in Utah can be a bit overwhelming, so we hope that this list helped you narrow down some of the essentials that you will need to bring in order to best enjoy your time.  The high quality camping gear suggested in this article is just a small fraction of some of the great outdoor gear available for you to enjoy. Whenever you are ready to pack up the car and go out to explore, we hope that you have a happy and safe first time camping trip to Utah.