Click to learn more about our video: Hiking the Grand Canyon:  The Corridor TrailsThe Desert Dressed Hiker

Use clothing to protect your body from the dry atmosphere, harsh sunlight, and high temperatures in the summer. In the cool months, clothing provides protection from the sun and from the cool temperatures. Proper attire can make a big difference in your comfort when hiking the Grand Canyon. Consider these recommendations as you prepare for your trip.


A broad brimmed hat should top your head. This is absolutely essential - it will keep the sunlight off your head and neck. Avoid baseball hats because they don't protect your ears or neck. Make sure the hat has a chin strap and use it - strong winds can snatch your hat and carry it out of reach in an instant.

During the cool months, also pack a knit hat to provide welcome warmth in the cool evenings and mornings or near the rims.

Sunglasses provide eyes welcome protection from the sun year round.

Do you wear contact lenses? Put vanity aside and wear your regular glasses when hiking in the Grand Canyon. The canyon is a very dusty place. The dust will quickly get under your lenses and irritate your eyes. It is always a good idea to leave an extra pair of glasses in your car. Accidents happen. While climbing out the Red Canyon trail, I set my glasses down during a rest break. Forgetting where I'd set my glasses, I decided to retie my boot. Yep, you guessed it. I put my boot on top of the glasses. The boot won. Fortunately I had a spare pair of glasses in the car.

Upper Torso

A light colored long sleeved shirt will reflect the hot sunlight and significantly reduce the amount of heat your body has to deal with. Less heat, less cooling, less water lost. We've had good success with shirts made of Supplex. Yes, a long sleeved shirt is often cooler than a short sleeve shirt.

In cooler months, augment the shirt with a synthetic wicking under layer. I prefer a long-sleeved top with a zipper neck. The neck zipper makes it more useful across a broader range of temperatures. Simply zip or unzip the neck to accommodate changing temperature levels.

A 200 weight full-zip fleece sweater provides welcome warmth in the cooler months. Fleece is relatively light and dries fast. A fleece sweater also makes a great pillow.

Add a waterproof windproof breathable shell when hiking the Canyon in the fall through early spring. The shell will provide relief from the wind and protection from the occasional rain or snow shower. It is unlikely you will need a shell in the summer though you may appreciate one when near the rim. The shell should be light in weight and large enough to go over all your layers. Layered over your fleece sweater, you'll have about all the insulation needed to keep you warm below the rim during the cool months.

Consider packing a lightweight down vest for additional warmth during the winter months if you will be camping near the rim.


Lightweight leather gloves provide welcome hand protection if your itinerary includes sections on which you will need to hand-line your pack. In cooler months, a pair of light weight polypro or Thermax gloves provide welcome warmth to fingers.


Shorts and sunscreen for your legs are often fine if your are traveling the Corridor Trails during the warm months.

If your hike will carry you beyond the corridor, you will appreciate the protection long pants provide from thorny plants. Pants made of Supplex or Cordura are light, low bulk, dry fast, durable, and surprisingly comfortable in high temperatures. Supplex or Cordura "convertible" pants, with zip-off legs, are especially handy when hiking the Grand Canyon. Size your pants a little large to allow extra ventilation.

During the cooler months, add lightweight thermal bottoms made of synthetic fabric to your kit. You'll appreciate the added warmth in the morning and when hiking near the rims.


Properly fitted, well broken-in hiking boots with ankle support and a steel shank. I'm partial to traditional heavy leather backpacking boots. They provide feet lots of protection from jagged rocks and spiny plants. The thick soles found on heavy hiking boots also provide your feet considerable insulation from the hot ground.

Make sure your boots lock your heel in place and have plenty of toe room. Grand Canyon hiking involves lots of extended downhill hiking. If your boots are too short, downhill hiking will jam your toes against the toe box causing blisters or painful toe nail blisters.

Experienced hikers everywhere understand the need for proper foot care. Blisters in the Canyon can ruin your hike. Follow these simple precautions to lesson the likelihood of blister problems:

  • Wear a thin, synthetic inner sock to wick moisture away from your feet.
  • Wear a thick outer sock made of wool.
  • Make sure sock seams are flat, so they don't abrade your feet.
  • Take at least one extra set of socks.
  • Pack mole skin to treat blisters.
  • Make sure your feet are fully accustomed to your boots prior to your Grand Canyon trip.

If you've conditioned yourself for the Canyon, your boots will be broken in, your feet will be tough which will lessen the likelihood you'll experience blister problems.

A pair of camp shoes provide welcome relief to feet in camp at the end of the day. Sport sandals, like Tevas, are an excellent lightweight choice.

Gaiters prevent sand and small rocks from getting into your boots. I've had great success with the Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters. These 6" high gaiters, are just tall enough to do their job well.

Instep crampons are often necessary to safely negotiate ice on the upper parts of the trails anytime between October and the middle of May. These compact metal devices strap to your boots. They have 4 to 6 spikes that provide comforting traction on slippery canyon terrain.

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