The Must-Pack List: Colorado in Summer

The Must-Pack List: Colorado in Summer

Summer in Colorado is nothing short of spectacular. Whether your visiting to explore the history of it’s mining towns, enjoy a family festival at a ski resort or planning for hiking  excursions to take in the breathtaking views of the Rockies, you may find that packing for all you want to do – and making sure you bring the right essentials – can feel a little daunting.  Here’s my quick must-pack list for a summer break in the mountains:

1. Lightweight day pack

There’s no doubt, you’re going to want something light and comfortable to carry essentials like sunscreen, a water bottle, layered clothing and snacks for daytime activities.  There are plenty of options for small, packable backpacks, from nylon ones that can be balled up as small as your fist, or more traditional day packs that you can also use as your in-flight carry-on bag.

2. Hydration pack / water bottles

If you have outdoor activities like hiking or mountain biking on your itinerary, you’ll need to plan for plenty of hydration, especially in the mountains at higher elevations. Hydration packs are great options as they can often hold more liquid and also double as a day pack, but they can run you $50 – $100+. If you plan to use it in the future, it’s a worthy purchase, but if not, simply opt for bringing reusable water bottles.

3. Sunscreen

If you forget to pack sunscreen, make this one of your first purchases when you arrive at your destination. Higher elevation = you’re closer to the sun and you’ll burn very quickly if you’re not prepared.

4. Outdoor sandals

While tennis shoes or hiking boots will do just fine, I’m a big fan of a good pair of outdoor sandals that can take you from strolling the sidewalk shops to putting in some mileage atop the mountain.  Chacos and Teva offer great options, but my personal favorite is the Bedrock Cairn sandal that has great adjustable features, ensuring no rubbing and a perfect fit.

5. Rain jacket

Afternoon showers are commonplace in the summer for mountain destinations, so pack a lightweight, breathable rain jacket and bring along for any outdoor outings. It can also serve as a great layer for cooler mornings and evenings. Tip: Layers are the key to comfort, even in the summer, so bring options from tank tops to long sleeve moisture wicking tees.

5. Hat

Back to the part about being closer to the sun: you will want to shade yourself from the harmful rays that you’re much more susceptible to at higher elevations.  Ballcaps work just fine, but if you’re looking for a little more protection, I like options similar to this vented explorer hat from REI for more coverage.

6. Fleece jacket

While daytime temps can reach the low 80s in the mountains, mornings and evenings can be cool, if not downright chilly.  Chances are, you’ll use a fleece or sweatshirt at least once a day, so be sure to add it to your packing list!