10 Essentials: What to Pack for Your Colorado Camping Adventure

With your kitted out rig from Overland Discovery that includes all the basic equipment you need for your overland adventure, you won’t have to think too hard about what to pack. From layered clothing (key in this region!) to footwear to food to fuel you throughout your trip, here’s a list of our Top 10 Overlanding Essentials.

1. LAYERS

Yesterday it was 80 degrees and today the snow is blowing parallel to the beautiful green grass! Although the weather isn’t always this extreme, it is best to plan for temperature changes, especially when you take into account the elevation and topography of beautiful Colorado and the surrounding states. Appropriate clothing that you can layer is essential. A base layer t-shirt made of Merino wool is a great place to start. This quick-drying antimicrobial material is a traveler’s best friend. From there, prepare for cooler temps by incorporating a light fleece and a wind resistant shell or rain jacket. No matter the weather, you can’t go wrong with a pair of outdoor approved hiking pants.

Pro Tip: A beanie would not be out of place even for summer nights if you are adventuring in the mountains.

2. APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR

Comfortable footwear and wool socks are the essential ingredients for a perfectly executed overlanding recipe. While footwear choices will vary depending on what activities you are planning, start by packing a pair of hiking boots and comfortable shoes/sandals. Although a bit heavier, hiking boots provide the necessary ankle support for the rocky, rough terrain encountered on the best trails out this way. Don’t plan on trekking off the beaten path much? No problem! Opt for a comfortable pair of shoes with a grippy sole. When you’re ready to kick back and relax around camp, slip on a pair of Chacos or a simple pair of sandals to air out your dogs. These can perform double duty as a great campground shower shoe. Grab your footwear and lace up because the mountains are calling!

Tidbit: Wool socks regulate the temperature of the foot keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

3. SWIM SUIT

No matter what the season, you’ll want to pack a swimsuit for your overland adventure. Between the many trailside mountain rivers, the pristine alpine lakes found at the end of your hikes, and the rumble of waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides, you’ll find yourself being called to the refreshing water for a quick dip. Don’t forget about the myriad of hot spring destinations throughout the region that will satisfy your desire for a hot soak and relaxation. Colorado and the surrounding states are also known for white-water rafting, kayaking adventures, and stand-up paddleboarding under bluebird skies - so come prepared for water!

4. SUN PROTECTION

Eat your heart out Florida! With over 300 days of sun, Colorado beats out even the warmest parts of North America throughout every season with the number of sun-shining days. No matter what time of year you are visiting, be sure to pack plenty of sun protection, including sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, polarized sunglasses, and a billed or brimmed hat. Believe it or not, some of the most severe sunburns occur in the winter when the sun’s rays become amplified by reflecting off of the white snow and back onto you.

Fun Fact: Sunscreen has been voted the most stylish accessory for outdoor adventurists like you!

5. PACK TOWEL, WASHCLOTH

Whether you are planning to overnight in campgrounds or take advantage of dispersed camping in the wild, be sure to bring along a lightweight pack or travel towel and/or a washcloth for campground showers, birdbaths, swimming excursions, or spontaneous dips in nearby hot springs along your travels.

Pro Tip: Pick a lightweight towel that will take up minimal space and is made of quick-drying material.

6. TOILETRIES & MEDICATIONS

Sometimes nature calls when you’re… in nature.. No problem. You’ve got this. Not all campsites (specifically dispersed camping locations) have toilets. For this reason, we recommend packing your essential toiletries that may include... toilet paper. Other essential toiletries while overlanding may include eco-friendly soap, deodorant, wet-wipes you can pack out, toothpaste and brush, dry shampoo, and other necessities. Be sure to pack all medications you will need for your trip as well. Always remember, what you forget can easily be purchased here.

7. ADVENTURE GEAR

You are on and overland expedition and in search of adventure! Most adventures require some type of gear. It doesn’t matter if you are just finding your adventure legs and have no gear, or are a seasoned veteran of the outdoors with a basement that looks like the shopping aisles of REI… all the gear you need is here. There are plenty of gear outfitters in Denver and beyond, ready to find, fit, and rent you the gear you need to float a river, catch a rainbow trout, bomb down a mountain bike trail or soar above the mountains. Let’s not kid ourselves though, we all have that one piece of gear we can’t live without. Be sure to pack that gear before leaving home!

Pro Tip: Frisbees are lightweight, take up minimal space, and are a great way to meet any camping neighbors.

8. MAPS & APPS

There’s something romantic about an authentic paper map and even though they have been more or less replaced with phone apps, these tools, whichever you prefer, are crucial for your overlanding adventures. Following the trail of wanderlust, you will find yourself without cell phone service. For this reason, we at Overland Discovery recommend downloading certain maps offline to allow for access to directions, anywhere and any time. For the true navigator (or when you run out of battery on your cellular device), a paper map and compass can prove indispensable in regions where you may want more topographical detail for hiking, dispersed camping, and jeep tracks.

Tidbit: Here are some of our favorite phone apps to get you started and provide extra inspiration in planning your adventure: AllTrails for hiking; MTB Project for mountain biking; Weather Underground and Outbound Collective for adventure inspiration; Google Maps and Maps.me for offline directions; and freecampsites.net fo find campsites. Coming soon: more of our favorite resource, website, and app recommendations!

9. FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!

Once you’ve arrived in Denver, you’ll want to stop by a grocery store to pick up your overlanding provisions on your way out of town. Denver and Boulder have plenty of options to fit every grocery need, including King Soopers, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers and many others. Make a plan for how many meals you’ll make on the go before you resupply. Most importantly, bring your favorite snacks to enjoy along the way and out on your active adventures. Don’t forget the s’mores stuff for evening campfires!

Coming Soon: Keep an eye out for our blogs on simple overlanding meals and grocery list suggestions.


10. CAMERA

Or… err… your smartphone. One of the best things about an adventure and discovering new corners of the country is sharing it with others. Not only do you get to relive the most memorable moments of your trip but you can inspire others to follow their dreams and get out of their comfort zones on an adventure of their own. Whether you’re bringing professional level photography equipment or just using your smartphone, be sure to capture all your travels off the beaten path! We’d love to see some of your photos!

Extra points: Give us a shout out by tagging @overland.discovery on social media!

Get packed and let’s go! Contact us at Overland Discovery to plan your expedition! Happy Adventuring… and don’t forget to Pack Light!