Going Out West? Need a Packing List?

Not long ago a friend asked me for help with her packing list for a trip out west to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.  “Sure”, I said.  “I’ve been there.” 

My first trip to Glacier was when I was 16.  Me, my mom and dad along with another couple and their 12 year old son piled into a blue station wagon with wood grain on the sides and headed out for two full weeks.  Can you even imagine?  No phones, no devices, just me and Jody sitting between our parents for 3000 miles.

I returned to Glacier just last year.  I’ve changed a lot in the last 40 years or so, Glacier, not so much.  It’s very beautiful there and should be on everyone’s list who enjoys the great outdoors.

My friend is going to be quite adventurous and has a big list of activities that includes horseback riding and even a hot air balloon ride.  I did that once.  I wasn’t going to.  My husband saw the ad when we were on a trip to North Carolina and on a whim said he wanted to go.  I declined at first but when I saw that balloon start to lift off the ground I quickly changed my mind and asked to get in the basket too.  Lesson here:  be spontaneous!!

When packing, some people plan outfits for each and every day they plan to be gone.  My mind doesn’t work like that.  Sure, I’ll try to pack for special activities like the horseback ride.  I mean, you wouldn’t want to do that wearing a skort, would you?  But I think it’s more realistic to pack basic, versatile pieces that can be switched around.  

For this clothing list, I chose a selection of “bottoms” that would be comfortable for the activities she knew she would be engaging in.  I’ve encouraged her to look for pants and shorts that are lightweight and breathable.  Then I selected “tops” in basic colors like black, white, beige, brown and gray.  The tops have different lengths, weights, and sleeves.  There are a couple of jackets on the list because it can be chilly in the evenings and mornings out there.

Often on a trip as long as hers (10 days), some pieces will have to be pressed into service more than once.  When I know an item won’t be able to be “recycled” after a certain day’s activity (like the horseback ride), I try to go ahead and wear it early on in the trip so that it won’t be needed after a day like that.

Shoes are always the toughest part of a packing list.  For this trip, I’m asking her to take a good pair of athletic type shoes, a pair of hiking boots and a pair of sandals or flip flops. She’ll also need a hat, pajamas, swimsuit and coverup, underwear and a cute wristlet from OUTsideIN!

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.  Look for things in your closet that can be versatile and then shop for things you need to fill in the gaps.  Avoid packing something that will only be worn for a few hours for some reason.  For instance, if a restaurant requires a jacket for men, we automatically know we won’t be dining there.  No one restaurant is worth that expense of space in our bags. And never, ever bring more than one roller bag per person.  Feel free to have a small carryon or backpack but please limit yourself to one suitcase.

When headed to this special part of our country, what you really want is to be able to enjoy all that beauty in comfort while looking like a smart and savvy traveler.  Hopefully, this list will help.


Packing list for Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks Tour - Late August 2021


Horseback and wagon rides


Float trips

Hot air balloon ride

Safari trip



¾ sleeve or long sleeve fishing shirt

Light weight sweat shirt

Long sleeve T-shirt (white or gray)

2 Tank Tops (white and black)

2 Hip length T-shirts (for wear with leggings)(black, brown, gray or white)

1 graphic T-shirt

1 athletic wear T-shirt (gray, white or black)

2 T-shirts (beige or white, and black and white stripe)



Black leggings (mid calf length)

Colored jeans

Blue Jeans

Trek type pants

Trek type zip-off pants

2 pair shorts (Trek type preferred but one could be blue jean)

Track suit



Denim ( medium shade of blue)

Athletic hoodie (close fitting, not baggy)



T-shirt Dress

Tank Dress (black)


Other: Shoes:

2 Pajamas



2 hiking socks

3 shortie socks

Swimsuit and Coverup

OUTsideIN Wristlet bag



Hiking Boots or shoes

Athletic/Walking shoes

Sandals or flip flops

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