Good Gear, Great Trip: Packing for Yellowstone and the Tetons

Good Gear, Great Trip: Packing for Yellowstone and the Tetons

Do I really need to bring my rain jacket and wool hat even though it’s been 70 degrees and sunny all week? YES.

Packing for a trip in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks can be a daunting task. There are no weather guarantees in the Rocky Mountains and it’s just as likely to rain, hail or even snow as it is to be brilliantly sunny. The following key items protect you from just about every element the mountains dish out, with them you’ll enjoy your adventure no matter the conditions.

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Top and Bottom Rain Gear

Summer storms can come on hard and heavy when you least expect it. A rain jacket is all well and good until torrential rain is coming in sideways and inevitably all the water you’ve kept off your head and shoulders ends up in your shorts. Even without precipitation, rain gear is great for trapping heat during high winds or unexpected cold temps.

Wool Baselayers

Wool is durable and wool is warm. Case in point: Grandpa’s wool long johns from 1945 (that he probably still wears). Wool also keeps you warm even when wet, unlike cotton. Additionally, the animal fabric doesn’t hold your body odor like cotton or polypropylene, so you can wear the same shirt every day without offending anyone. Whether you borrow Grandpa’s ancient threads or opt for more techy varieties like Merino, wool will make life at elevation a whole lot warmer.

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Down Jacket

If you’re one of those people that refuses to wear a puffy jacket because it makes you look like the Michelin Man, you’re not alone, but you are missing out. Down jackets can make life in the mountains infinitely more comfortable as they trap your body heat better than any other material. Down is also lightweight and easy to compress so, “There’s no room in my bag!” is an unacceptable excuse. Just be sure to keep it dry!

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Hats!

Baseball caps, wool hats, broad-brimmed hats, quick-dry hats; all hats are encouraged in the Rocky Mountains. The sun is stronger at elevation so protecting your head and eyes from harsh rays is an important task. Pair a hat with polarized sunglasses and  you’ll be spotting eagles and moose without having to squint!

Most importantly, don’t forget a good attitude! Optimism is the best accessory and as we say in the North, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!”

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