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Checklist: The Gear you Need for Summer Hiking in Banff and Lake Louise

Published Date
Jun 25, 2024|
Themes
Active Travel
People hike through Sunshine Meadows with wildflowers in the foreground and mountains in the background near Banff National Park.

You’ve booked your trip to Banff and Lake Louise, and now it’s time to pack. Except, you can’t find the right season’s clothing for your trip, your home terrain is totally different, and you know you can’t fly with bear spray.

Or, you’re the type who forgets their socks and underwear, so you’re bound to forget important hiking gear.

Fear not! You can save your shopping for your arrival. Our shops have local experts who live and breathe hiking our mountains and can help you find everything you need for a successful hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies.

This is everything you need to hike in Banff in the summer.

Trail Prep

Before you get dressed and fill your pack, have a look at these resources to narrow down your equipment needs.

  • Pick your trail
    • You’ll want to choose something that meets your group's ability, so check Parks Canada’s trail ratings.
  • Check the weather
    • See what’s in the forecast for the day and then plan for seasonal variations. Our mountaintops can get snow in any month of the year.
  • Buy your Park Pass
    • You can buy your pass at the gate, at the visitor centres in Banff and Lake Louise, or ahead of time online (you will need to print it and display it on your dash).
  • Share your itinerary
    • The Parks Canada trail descriptions include approximate hiking time, which does not include the time you take to enjoy the views. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back—and then check in with them when you return.
A couple hikes at Lake Agnes in Banff National Park.A couple hikes at Lake Agnes in Banff National Park.A couple hikes at Lake Agnes in Banff National Park.

Your Hiking Gear Checklist

Clothing

Dressing in the mountains requires a little forethought. Our clothing stores have plenty of layering options so you can stay warm while soaking in the views at the peak of your hike and cool down while celebrating your feat at après.

For clothing, check out: Helly Hansen, Lolë, Lululemon, SkiBig3 Adventure Hub, Patagonia, and Smartwool.

  • Jacket
    • It may be +25°C in town (77°F), but the wind at higher altitudes can be cool, so make sure you have a reliable wind-breaking layer.
    • An ultra-lightweight (puffy) jacket can keep you warm if you come across snow.
  • Layers
    • Try to avoid sweating so it doesn’t cool you down by removing layers as you warm up and adding them as you cool down.
    • Merino wool is a go-to base layer because of its sweat-wicking properties.
  • Hat
    • A wide-brimmed hat or ballcap will guard you from the sun, but for wind protection, add a Buff to wear as a neck warmer or headband at the mountaintop.

Hiking Equipment

Our outfitters are uniquely qualified to help you find the right gear because they’re out exploring the mountains themselves.

For equipment and clothing, drop by: Atmosphere, Chateau Mountain Sports, Fjällraven, Monod Sports, Patagonia, Snowtips-Bactrax, The North Face, Ultimate Sports, and Wilson Mountain Sports.

  • Hiking Boots
    • Sneakers and flip-flops are not appropriate for anywhere but town. Some trails have scree (small rocks) that is bound to wind up between your toes, but all require a good solid sole to support your ankles.
    • Traction is also essential, especially since the weather can change quickly and you might run into slippery terrain.
  • Hiking Poles
    • They might seem unnecessary, but they offer you an extra point of contact with the ground, which can be helpful on steep sections of the trail. You can also practice your Nordic Pole Walking for a full-body workout.
  • Backpack
    • A school-style backpack is likely to be enough for a small day outing as long as it can carry all of your food, water, and layers.
    • If you’re going longer lengths or are carrying goods for more people in your group, opt for a proper-fitting hiking backpack. Our outfitters can help you select a pack that’s appropriate for your height, waist, and activity.

Food

The best part of hiking is the reward of a well-packed lunch at your viewpoint. No matter how long the hike you choose, you should always have a snack on hand.

Pick up a delicious pre, during or post snack or coffee at one of Banff's unique cafes and coffee shops such as Happy Camper Cafe, Banff National Perk, Evelyn's Coffee Bar, or Uprising Bake Shop + Espresso Bar.

If you're looking for something more substantial, a pre-made picnic from STOCK Food and Drink, Laggan's Mountain Bakery and Deli, Trailhead Café, or Wild Flour.

  • Water
    • The reusable water bottle you brought on the plane can do double duty if you have a short hike planned. If you plan to spend a few hours outside, a hydration bladder may be beneficial.
    • Water sources along your hike may be unreliable, and it should always be filtered or purified before you drink. If you’re planning a multi-day hike, you can find filters, drops, or tablets at the shops in town.
  • Snacks
    • Snacks are critical to a great day on the trail. Bring something that is energy-dense (like a protein bar) and something that will help you rehydrate (like electrolyte gummies). This is especially important in the hot summer months.
    • Food packaging might be the biggest culprit for litter. To ensure you leave no trace, bring reusable containers and pack out anything you take in.
  • Meals
    • If you’re doing a multi-day hike, our outfitters sell freeze-dried meals, stoves, and gas canisters. Just remember not to fly with your gas canisters.
  • Re-sealable Bag
    • If you're out on the trail with snacks or food, there's a decent chance you'll have some litter. We encourage all hikers to bring a sealable bag, such as a ziplock, to collect any litter during the hike. By following Leave No Trace principles and packing out all waste, we can maintain the pristine condition of our trails, and there's no risk of anything spilling into your backpack. Win-win!

A bear spray canister hangs from a person's backpack while hiking in Larch Valley in Banff National Park.A bear spray canister hangs from a person's backpack while hiking in Larch Valley in Banff National Park.A bear spray canister hangs from a person's backpack while hiking in Larch Valley in Banff National Park.

Safety Equipment

The Canadian Rockies are a wild place. There are a lot of variables at play, like poor cell phone reception, changing weather, possible injuries, and your ability to stay on the trail. While most hikes are well-marked, being prepared for any scenario can make or break your experience, especially because help isn’t immediately available.

Your preparedness supplies can be bought at most of our sporting goods stores listed under Hiking Equipment.

You can buy bear spray in Banff at the Banff Visitor’s Centre from Parks Canada, Atmosphere, Ultimate Sports, and Monod Sports. You can also rent Bear Spray in Banff or Lake Louise from Bear Street Outfitters, Snowtips-Bactrax or Wilson Mountain Sports.

  • Bear Spray
    • Similar to gas canisters, you can’t fly with bear spray, either.
    • Ensure that it’s clipped to the front of your backpack at all times with the safety latch on.
    • Some hikers use bear bells for peace of mind, although there’s debate as to how well they work. If you choose to use them, carry bear spray as well.
  • Bug Spray
    • Bugs aren’t the biggest issue in Banff and Lake Louise, but ticks have been spotted. To deter bugs, choose a spray or cream with DEET.
    • Wearing a light-coloured long-sleeved shirt and pants tucked into your socks can reduce the need for bug spray and help you spot and remove ticks if necessary.
  • Map and Compass
    • Cell phone reception isn’t reliable, so download the map, buy a paper map, or print one.
    • Your phone battery will die faster if it is constantly searching for a signal while using your compass, so bring a stand-alone compass or turn your phone to airplane mode.
  • Sunscreen
    • Reap all the benefits of the outdoors with a layer of sunscreen on, so you can enjoy every day of your visit instead of nursing a burn from inside your hotel room.

Now that you’re properly outfitted, enjoy your hike and don’t forget to tag #MyBanff to share your adventures with us.

Summer Hiking Gear Checklist

Clothing

  • Jacket
  • Wicking Layers
  • Hat
  • Wicking Socks
  • Hiking Boots

Hiking Gear

  • Hiking Poles
  • Backpack
  • Bear Spray
  • Map & Compass

Essentials

  • Water
  • Snacks/Meals
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Re-sealable Bag

Plan Your Trip to Banff and Lake Louise

Start planning your dream trip to Banff and Lake Louise today with our easy to use Trip Builder. Curate you perfect trip from start to finish with accommodation, dining, activities, sightseeing adventures and more!

Whitney Paget

Whitney Paget

Whitney enjoys all things outdoors. Whether she’s camping, hiking, or kayaking, she always has her camera at hand ready to capture life in the Canadian Rockies.