What to Pack for an Adventurous Hike Around Lake Tahoe

From the Rubicon Trail along the shores of Emerald Bay all the way up to the Skyline Trail at the top of the Gondola, there’s no denying Lake Tahoe has incredible hiking options! Not to mention, hiking is the perfect way to enjoy the fresh air and summertime while remaining safe and socially-distanced amid ongoing Coronavirus concerns. We’d love for you to join us here in Lake Tahoe for what’s sure to be some of the greatest hikes of your life. Having the right gear can make your time on the trails even better. We’ve previously shared some tips for planning the perfect hike in Lake Tahoe, but now we’re going to help you pack. Here’s our “must-have” packing list for hiking in Lake Tahoe.

Clothing & Shoes

  • Layers. We recommend layers all year round because temperatures fluctuate here in the mountains — especially if you’re getting an early start before sunrise or venturing out a little later in the evening when the sun goes down. Wearing breathable fabrics and having light layers makes it easy to stay comfortable in any weather.
  • Good hiking shoes or boots. Nothing takes the fun out of a Tahoe hike more than sore feet. Our three keywords when it comes to shoes are: supportive, breathable, and comfortable. The best type of hiking shoe or boot can depend on where you plan to hike in Tahoe and for how long you plan to be outdoors. Lower-cut boots or even trail-running shoes are good for day trips or shorter journeys and offer the flexibility and breathability you need. If you’re carrying a heavy load or planning for a more extended hike or backpacking trip, then you may want to opt for a boot that’s a little higher and stiffer to add extra support and help bear the additional weight from your backpack. We definitely recommend taking some time to break in your hiking shoes before your trip. For an accurate and comfortable fit, another great tip is to try them on toward the end of the day, since that’s when your feet will be the most swollen.
  • Extra socks. We recommend packing more socks than you think you’ll need. They’re easy to throw in a pack and if they get wet, get a hole in them, or one somehow gets misplaced, you’ll be covered.


  • Backpack or fanny pack. You’ll need something to carry all your gear in. An outdoor and water-resistant backpack is popular with the hikers that stay with us here at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. However, fanny packs are quickly coming back into style and are useful for carrying some of the smaller essentials.
  • Hat or visor. Hats and visors are a great way to shield your eyes from the bright, warm Tahoe sunshine during your hike.
  • Face mask. While you may not need it outdoors on your hike, it is a good idea to have a mask with you during this uncertain time — especially since, as of now, masks are mandated for many activities around California. If you have to make an unexpected stop or change plans, it’s an easy thing to throw in your pack so it’s ready to go if and when you need it.
  • Sunglasses. Sunglasses are another handy way to protect your eyes and make the walk a little more enjoyable when it’s sunny outside. Adding a strap is an easy way to keep them accessible during your hike.
  • Bandana or buff. Bandanas and buffs are an easy way to keep sweat off your forehead throughout the day. If you get them wet, they’re also an easy way to cool off if it’s warm outside. In a pinch, you could turn it into a makeshift mask as well.
  • Fitness watch/pedometer. Counting steps can be incredibly satisfying! Many fitness devices also keep track of calories burned, elevation, and other data throughout your walk, which adds a whole other level of accomplishment to your hike! Share your stats (and your snapshots) with your family and friends!
  • Headlamp. If you plan to be out early or late in the day, you’ll definitely want a headlamp. It allows you to see the trail and be seen by others using the trail without tying up your hands. Be sure you throw in some extra batteries for it as well.
  • Poncho. Just in case your weather app was wrong, we always recommend having a poncho in your bag. They’re small, portable, and something you’ll be so glad to have if it starts to rain. You can also use them to help block the sun or sit on them during a rest break.

Toiletry & First Aid Items

  • Sunscreen. Even when it’s cloudy outside, the sun’s UV rays can still cause harm, especially at higher altitudes. We’re big advocates of wearing sunscreen and reapplying it frequently throughout your hike. Keep your lips in mind too and opt for an SPF lip balm.
  • Bug repellant. Generally, the bugs aren’t too bad here in Tahoe, but it never hurts to have some in your pack just in case. You are outside, after all.
  • Hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is an easy way to clean your hands if you stop for a snack along the way and/or have contact with other hikers and there’s no water source nearby to wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.
  • Aloe. You may not need this while you’re on the hike, but it can be helpful afterward if you did end up getting a little burned from the sun.
  • First aid kid. Hopefully, you don’t need it, but having a few basic first aid supplies can be important out on the trails. Bandaids, antiseptic wipes, and antibacterial ointments come in handy in case there are any accidental cuts or scrapes along the way. Blister treatment, pain reliever, antihistamines, and insect sting treatments can also be helpful.

Other Necessities

  • Reusable water bottles. It’s important to drink water when you’re physically active, especially in areas with higher elevation like Lake Tahoe. We’re all about sustainability here at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, so we recommend reusable water bottles as a way to cut down on one-time-use plastic and waste. Watch for spots that you can refill them along the way or throw a couple of bottles in your backpack.
  • Cellphone. While we do recommend taking some time away from the screen to appreciate the views, your smartphone is great for photos, navigation, and any potential emergencies, so it’s important to have it along. We recommend a portable power bank to keep you charged and connected throughout the day too!
  • Navigational tools. A map, trail guide, compass, and other navigational tools are nice to have along just in case. You never know when your phone might die or lose signal. Plus, it’s kind of fun to use less technologically advanced navigation techniques and hone those skills.
  • Trail snacks. Chances are you’ll work up an appetite out on the trails, so snacks are important. Beef jerky, granola bars, dried fruit and nuts, and other healthy, non-perishable items are great options for hikers.
  • A multi-tool. These gadgets are small and easy to carry along. You never know when one might prove useful, so we always like throwing one in our pack.
  • Duct tape. Again, you never know when you might need this. Having a small amount of duct tape in your pack is helpful in a variety of situations — from a tear in your backpack to a worn out sole of your shoe.

Let’s hit the trails!

Now that you’re all packed, it’s time to hit the trails. We can’t wait for you to come and explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe once again! Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel serves as the perfect home base for hiking adventures in Lake Tahoe. When you’re not out hiking, you can relax in one of our spacious suites and enjoy our daily Happy Hour specials — you’ve earned it. Start planning your trip today!

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