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What to wear in Death Valley (Packing List + Outfits)

What to wear in Death Valley (Packing List + Outfits)

Want to know what to wear in Death Valley National Park? This Death Valley packing list tells you EXACTLY what to pack Death Valley National Park no matter whether you are traveling in Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall.

Death Valley National Park is on the border of California and Nevada and is a relatively difficult park to pack for as it has quite extreme seasons.

Most visitors to Death Valley will try and avoid the Summer season due to the extreme hit where temperatures can easily be over 100F. However Winter is also known for being cold. But don’t worry in this guide, we will tell you what to wear and what to pack for the weather during the peak and off peak season including:

  • What the weather is like in Death Valley month by month
  • What to wear in Death Valley for hiking, water activities and more and
  • other travel essentials to pack for Death Valley National Park.

Weather in Death Valley National Park by Season

Death Valley Sign
Death Valley Packing List

But before we get into what to wear and travel essentials for Death Valley National Park it is important to know what the weather is going to be like.

Summer in Death Valley is hot, hot hot! Summer is classified as June, July and August with July and August being the hottest months and temperatures will often exceed 100F however it can feel even hotter when you are struggling to find shade.

For this reason in summer it is important to have light layers made of natural fabrics which are breathable in the heat and a plentiful supply of water!

It is also worth pointing out from Mid-June through to September is monsoon season in Arizona. Therefore during this period, it is important to have some waterproof wear with you and it is important to be aware of flooding and any advisories.

The shoulder seasons of Fall and Spring are classified as September, October and November, and March, April and May respectively are some of the best months to travel to Death Valley as it has the omst pleasant temperatures (but do check weather advisorys for flash flooding etc).

Death Valley in Winter on the otherhand (considered as December, January and February) usually sees average temperatures between high 30s and mid 50s meaning layers are going to be your best friend.

What to wear in Death Valley National Park (year-round)

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Couple with camera in death valley national park
what to wear in death valley national park

So now you know about the weather, we will tell you what to wear in Death Valley no matter the time of year you are travel before we look at Winter specifically.

It is also worth noting that while we traditionally create packing lists separated out by gender to allow for dress codes and fashion, however practicality is key to any Death Valley packing list so this list is universal.

But for Death Valley we recommend packing:

Layers

Layers are your best friend in Death Valley. As although the temperatures get very high in the afternoon, if can feel very chilly when you are out early in the morning. For this reason we recommend always having an outfit for Death Valley that contains lots of light layers.

I always travel to all National parks with a fleece as a top layer. These pack away into day packs easily but also are quick drying should you get wet while out on a hike.

T Shirts

T shirts are my favorite base layer for Death Valley no matter what time of year you are visiting. However for summer be sure that they are made of natural fabric to help reduce sweating.

Personally I try to avoid tank tops in Death Valley as it is really easy to burn especially in the Summer. For this reason I tend to back t shirts with a cap sleeve at least.

Shorts/ Pants

For all national parks I recommend wearing convertible walking trousers. These can be worn as full length trousers during early mornings. However by the time the sun comes up you will want to have shorts.

Packable Jacket

Although it is hot in summer it is still worth having a pack away jacket with you. As you won’t need this all the time in Death Valley be sure to pick a jacket that can be packed away really easily.

Hat

The sun can be strong in Death Valley so we recommend having a hat with a wide brim or a baseball cap to protect your eyes.

Hiking Socks

Even though the temperatures are high, we prefer hiking boots over sandals in Death Valley especially if you plan to do longer hikes the park. And if you are wearing hiking boots you will also want good quality hiking socks with you which can help prevent blisters.

However if you just plan on wearking sneakers then sneaker socks may be more appropriate.

Best Shoes to wear in Death Valley National Park

So now you know what to wear, we turn our attention to footwear.

Hiking Shoes

Now not every national park visit will need hiking boots, however Death Valley is definitely a park I recommend packing hiking boots for. However just be sure to pack a lightweight pair that is breathable and good for hot weather.

Hiking Sandals

I personally like boots over sandals as they offer more protection for your feet. However if you aren’t concerned for this and want to keep your feet cool then walking sandals are a great pick. My favorite brand of walking sandals are Teva.

What to wear in Death Valley National Park in Winter

My what to wear in Death Valley National Park in Winter actually has a lot of overlaps with the items we put on our packing list for any other time of year.

The main difference is in the thickness and amount of items. For instance, I still recommend bringing a jacket, however as the temperatures peak in the 50s F you will want a thicker and warmer jacket with you than just a pack away one.

I also recommend buying fleece lined pants instead of convertible walking trousers for extra protection against the cold. And if you don’t have these or don’t want to buy new ones, I recommend wearing leggings under your walking trousers.

On top of these layers we also recommend having a hat, scarf and gloves with you for cold days in the park.

What to pack for Death Valley National Park packing list

Day pack

Any day we spend in a national park we take and pack a day pack. My favorite backpack brand is Columbia but this is a purely personal choice.

Power Bank

Days are long in the Death Valley and cell phone reception is sporadic at best. This combined with using your phone for photos, maps and searching for signal mean your battery will drain quickly. For this reason we recommend having a fully charged power bank with you to recharge your phone during the day.

Sun protection

The sun is VERY strong in Death Valley. For this reason we recommend packing a good quality sun screen with you even if you are hiking in Winter.

Sunglasses

It is important to protect your eyes from the Sun even in Winter, so no matter when you are visiting Death Valley be sure to add sunglasses to your packing list.

Reusable Water Bottle and Extra Water

We recommend always having a reusable water bottle for national parks however this is especially important if you are visiting Death Valley in Summer.

Coffee Thermos and Mug

Your days start early in Death Valley on National Park to beat the crowds and the heat. To make the early start easier we recommend packing a coffee thermos and mug so you can get your caffeine hit in the park.

Snacks

Refreshment stops are limited in Death Valley so we recommend taking plenty of snacks into the park with you and potentially a packed lunch also.

First Aid Kit

Although no one wants to use a first aid kit on vacation, it is a good idea to pack a first aid kit with you on any national park vacation just in case especially if you plan on going on more remote hikes..

Map

Death Valley National Park Map (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map, 221)
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • National Geographic Maps
  • National Geographic Maps (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Whether this is a downloaded map on your phone or a physical one it is worth having a map with you that shows the trailheads you plan on taking.

Camera

Death Valley is absolutely breathtaking, in fact I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the US, so trust me when I say that you will want a camera with you.

Toilet Paper, Hand Sanitizer and a She wee

The toilets in any national park outside of the main visitor center tend to be pretty primitive. For this reason we recommend packing toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a she wee with you.

What not to pack for Death Valley National Park

woman with camera in death valley national park
what to wear in death valley national park

So now you know what to pack for Death Valley, we will turn our attention to what not to pack.

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are not your friend in Death Valley National Park, especially if you are visiting in summer or the shoulder seasons. Synthetic fabrics make you sweat more and this is something you definitely do not want in summer.

Drones

Drones are classified as unmanned aircrafts and are as such prohibited from being flown in the park boundaries.

Complete Death Valley Packing Checklist

  • Layers
  • T Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking Boots
  • Shoes – either sneakers or hiking sandals
  • Backpack
  • camera
  • binoculars
  • map
  • sun protection
  • coffee thermos and mug
  • resuable water bottle
  • food
  • first aid kit

FAQs about what to pack for Death Valley National Park

So now you have your general Death Valley National Park we will answer your frequently asked questions:

What are the best colors to wear in Death Valley?

We recommend not wearing white in Death Valley because of the dust and sand this can become discolored very quickly.

What to wear for hiking in Death Valley National Park?

If you plan on hiking in Grand Canyon National Park we recommend packing and wearing:

  • Closed Toe Shoes such as hiking boots – much of the hikes in the park have uneven terrain and I find closed toe hiking boots are the best shoes for the trailheads here.
  • Quick Dry Clothes – For monsoon season.
  • Hat and sunglasses – it is important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun no matter what time of year you visit the park.

On top of these you may want to also pack

  • Walking Sticks
  • Backpack with Waterproof Bag
  • Plenty of Sun Protection
  • Plenty of Water and Snacks

Further National Park Reading

And if you plan on visiting other national parks be sure to check out our other national park guides:

What else would you add to this list? And if you have any questions leave them in the comments below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.