The following equipment is highly recommended when venturing out into Denali's backcountry:
- Sturdy hiking boots (waterproofed) and at least 2 pairs wool or synthetic socks. Nearly every backpacking trip involves crossing rivers or streams at some point.
- A backpack that can carry a tent, personal gear, and a Bear Resistant Food Container (BRFC). A rain-cover for your backpack is also recommended.
- Gaiters and trekking poles for river crossings, loose rock, snow patches, boggy areas, and brush
- Rain jacket and pants. Ponchos are not recommended—off-trail hiking usually involves walking through thick brush, which can snag and rip ponchos. It is also often windy here, making ponchos useless.
- Warm, quick-drying clothing. Polypropylene, nylon, fleece or wool clothing (avoid cotton). Quick-drying pants, long underwear, at least one long-sleeved shirt, a warm winter hat, waterproof gloves and a fleece jacket are also recommended. Be prepared for temperatures ranging from 30° to 80° F (-1° to 27° C) in the summer months
- Stove, fuel, cookware and water bottles
- Water filter (preferably equipped with a silt stopper device) or water purifying tablets. You'll fill water from clear creeks and ponds, which can carry giardia and other parasites or bacteria.
- Dense, high-calorie food that fits in the Bear Resistant Food Container and cooks quickly.
- Compass and map. While a GPS unit is useful, it should be used to supplement a topographic map, not in place of one. Because you won't know precisely where in the park you'll camp until you are here and acquire a permit, we recommend you wait to buy any USGS quadrant maps until you are here.
- Sanitary items, e.g., toilet paper, trowel, a bag for used toilet paper and other items. All of this must be stored in the BRFC and packed out, not buried or burned.
- Tent with rain fly and waterproof floor. Bivouacking or camping with only a tarp is not recommended.
- Sleeping bag and pad. For any overnight summer trip, protection to 20° F/-7° C is suggested. Visitors coming in other seasons should be prepared for very cold temperatures.
- Insect repellent and/or head net. Mosquitoes are usually bad from May to early August, although the biting insect season lasts another month in wetter parts of the park (e.g., around Wonder Lake).
- Emergency gear, such as first aid kit, knife and a signaling device such as a whistle or signal mirror
- Large plastic or waterproof bags to protect the gear inside your pack, particularly if your pack is not water-proof. Even if you have a rain cover for your pack, keeping your clothes and sleeping bag in plastic trash bags within your pack is a smart idea.
- A change of shoes for camp, to lower your impact on the vegetation and to change out of wet boots
- Waterproof case for your electronic device(s).
- Sun protection (e.g., sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat). Plan for sunny or rainy weather, even though rainy weather is more likely.
- Toiletries (e.g., toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, lip balm). Remember, though: all of your items with an odor must fit in your Bear Resistant Food Container
- Bear spray. Carrying bear spray is up to you—it is not required, though it is recommended. However, bear spray is no substitute for behaving correctly in bear country, so do not be complacent or over-confident around wildlife simply because you have bear spray. Conditions must be ideal for bear spray to be effective (e.g. wind direction, weather, distance from the animal) and it is far better to learn how to behave safely in bear country than anything else.
Where to Purchase Supplies
Within the park there is only one camping store, at the Riley Creek Mercantile (located in Riley Creek Campground). You should plan to bring the majority of your backpacking food and equipment with you.
Near the park, there is at least one outdoors store in "the Canyon," a business district 1 mile north of the park entrance. There is also a grocery store with outdoor gear in Healy, about 11 miles north of the park entrance. The local Chamber of Commerce lists area businesses.
Finally, you'll find several nationwide camping stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks. If buying items like bear spray or stove fuel in Anchorage or Fairbanks, make sure you can transport it to the park (e.g., on the train or via some kind of van or bus service).