Packing List for Desert Camping & Desert Hiking

Camping in the desert? What to include in your desert packing list -recommended desert camping gear and equipment that you need to bring with you when you hit the dunes, in order to make the most out of your desert adventure.

Venturing into the unknown? Travelling in the desert is a challenging yet rewarding experience that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.

Whether you are going on a desert hike, setting up a camp under the stars or running a desert marathon, make sure to be prepared and have a look at the following check list of recommended desert camping gear and equipment that you need to bring with you when you hit the dunes, in order to make the most out of your desert adventure.

Desert Camping Essentials Checklist

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Desert camp
Camping in the Desert.

Camping Tent

The lack of shade and protection from heavy winds make camping in the desert somewhat challenging and a sturdy, high-quality tent with UV protection can make or break your sand dune adventure.

Our top pick for a quality desert tent is the Crua Duo 2 – it’s extremely lightweight but with a sturdy aluminium base that resists wind, and its reflective flysheet make it versatile so that you can stay chill during the day (by reflecting UV rays outside the tent) and warm at night (by turning the reflective side inwards).

It’s also an overall great tent against desert wind. If you are planning a long camping trip in extreme hot weather, it may be worth to invest in an evaporative air cooler to chill the air and add humidity around you.

Best Desert Camping Tents


Coleman WeatherMaster Tent with Screen Room

Free Space 4-Seasons Outdoor Camping Bell Tent


Snugpak Scorpion 2 Camping Tent

Sleeping Bag

The best sleeping bags for desert hiking are not too bulky while still offering protection from temperatures below 30F (-1°C). Night temperatures often fall from 100F (35°C) to 25F(-3°C) overnight, so it is recommended to get a warm enough sleeping bag, paired with some long-sleeve clothes you can sleep in.

If you are looking for a great desert camping sleeping bag that is versatile, lightweight and warm, the Western Mountaineering Megalite ticks all the boxes. Make sure to also grab a compactor bag to optimize your space.

Best Sleeping Bags for Desert Camping


Western Mountaineering Megalite

Nemo Disco 30

Hyke & Byke Eolus

Backpack

When hiking in the desert you will need to carry large amounts of water with you, so it’s important to bring a sturdy rucksack with you.

The best backpack for a desert trip is lightweight, capient, and ventilated so that it doesn’t absorb your sweat in the hot weather. You will also want at least a few side pockets where you can keep your water flask and sun protection cream.

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is an incredible backpack for desert as it keeps the weight off your back both reducing load and keeping sweat away. Cherry on top? You can get an internal sleeve hydration reservoir for carrying extra liquids.

Best Desert Hiking Backpacks


Osprey Atmos AG 65

CamelBak Sparta Hydration Pack

T3 Tactical Reload Hydration BPack

CamelBak Mule Hydration Pack

Jacket

If you think you can just walk around the desert wearing short sleeves, think again. Even on the hottest day, night temperatures in the desert fall sharply and very suddenly.

It’s best to always keep a light jacket or extra layer of clothing at hand and make sure you are not caught off guard when this happens. Always wear loose, long-sleeve shirts and trousers in the desert during the day and bring something heavier to put on at night.

You most likely won’t need a rain jacket in the desert, rain showers happen but they come and go very quickly. Wind storms and sand blowing everywhere are much more of a concern.

Best Clothes for Desert


SUNGAIT Polarized Sunglasses

Hammockable Handmade Wood Sunglasses

BNUS Sunglasses

ACBLUCE Kids Polarized Sunglasses

Closed-toe shoes

Walking barefoot on scorching hot sand is a recipe for third degree burn, so limit that to very specific locations and times of the day. You should always wear closed-toe shoes in the afternoon and in the summer when temperature is at its highest.

Desert hiking shoes and boots are best if you are planning to go hiking or trail running as you will need something that is both sturdy and breathable. If you are into that, barefoot shoes with a thick enough sole are also an option. In many deserts you are also likely to encounter nasty snakes or scorpions, so you may want to include an extra layer of protection by putting on a pair desert gaiters.

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Hanes Men’s Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt UPF 50+


HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 7



75% Merino wool socks


Scott Recoil Pro WFS Goggles

100% cotton shemagh

Sunscreen

It goes without saying that sun protection is extremely important in the desert, and a sun cream offering at the very least 50 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is recommended. The best sunscreen for desert hiking is 70 SPF or higher and sweat-proof, such as Sun Bum Original SPF 70.

Keep in mind that no matter what sun cream you choose, you will still need to reapply it every two hours or so (the stronger the sun, the more often you’ll need it), so make sure to stock up. An anti sweat cream will make it so that its effects will last a bit longer.

Sunglasses

Everyone knows the dangers of the sun for your skin, but a less known threat they pose is to your eyes as well. In fact, your eyes are 10 times more sensitive to harmful UV rays than your skin is. In the desert, the sunrays get reflected by the sand and the lack of shade makes the use of sunglasses especially important.

The best desert sunglasses have a UV400 rating, which means they block between 99% and 100% of all UV rays.

Water

The single most essential item you will need in the desert. If you are wondering how much water you should bring with you on a desert trip, the anwer is bring more than you need.

Ideally, aim for 2-6 quartz (around the same in liters) of water per day that you are going to spend hiking out in the sun, and one more gallon (4 liters) as backup in your vehicle.

Sources of electrolytes and fluid replacement drinks are also not a bad idea, to fight dehydration and replenish minerals you will lose when sweating. Coconut water is an especially good idea. You may also want to get yourself a nice soft cooler bag to keep your drinks fresh in the desert.

Snacks

While staying hydrated should be your priority in the desert, remember to also fuel your energy with proper meal choices.

The best foods for desert camping are either canned or dried, as they can be stored for days without the need for refrigeration. Make sure to include at least some dried fruits and sources of protein like meat jerky or canned beans.

First Aid Kit

A good desert hiking first aid kit can – literally – be a lifesaver when you have a medical emergency while stranded in the middle of nowhere. A generic outdoor sports first-aid kit will cover most minor injuries, with included trauma supplies and minor burns.

Keep in mind that you may need to stack on different kind of medicinals depending on which desert location you are going to, and a kit to treat snake bites may be a good idea in some cases.

Travel insurance covering desert activities

When first aid is not enough, you may need end up needing medical attention. Never underestimate the importance of adequate desert travel insurance – and always double check with your insurance provider that they are going to cover any kind of activity you are planning to conduct during your trip.

We recommend WorldNomads Insurance with their Explorer Plan which covers camping, hiking, dune riding, sandboarding and sledding, and pretty much any desert sport and activity you can think of.


SPF 70 Sunscreen


Travel First Aid Kit

Sandsports Insurance

Sandsports


Sandboarding
Sand Sledding
Volcano boarding

Sand Skiing
Sand Kiting

Desert Racing
Dune Bashing

Desert Travel
Desert Hiking
Desert Running
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