Table of Contents

26 Top Banff Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Banff Canada panorama
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Anyone who loves the outdoors knows the John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” There’s almost no place on earth where this sentiment is stronger than the Canadian Rockies. No matter if you’re more a skier than a hiker, or vice versa, there is year-round beauty, fresh air, and adventure to be found in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

We’ve put together a Banff packing list along with a section on what to wear in Banff. You’ll also find information on what NOT to bring and FAQs.

26 Top Banff Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for Banff – 26 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    No one enjoys having to paw through their suitcase trying to find that lost pair of socks. These packing cubes help you keep all the things organized on your trip to Banff so you can spend less time with your nose in your luggage and more time in the beautiful outdoors. This set comes in a variety of sizes, including a couple of laundry bags, and even has index cards for you to write down the contents so you can keep everything straight!

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Emergency Paracord Bracelet

    There is a lot of wild country around Banff! If an accident occurs or if you completely lose your bearings, this little gem is like having a Boy Scout tucked inside your backpack. It comes with a fire starter, compass, loud emergency whistle, knife, and 12 feet of military-grade paracord.

    Emergency Paracord Bracelet

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    If you plan on connecting to public wifi in hotels, airports, restaurants, or cafes, then I can’t recommend a VPN enough. These public networks are usually not secure, and hackers can easily steal private information like passwords, bank and credit card numbers, and even your identity whenever you’re connected to the internet. With NordVPN, your digital information is protected from e-thieves at the click of a button.


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  • 4. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Rain is a common occurrence in Banff – that’s one of the things that makes it so beautiful! So having a reliable, windproof umbrella is important. It collapses down small for traveling but can provide protection for two people when open.


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  • 5. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

    It’s a good idea to bring along a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated on your adventures through Banff’s wilderness. You’ll be doing your wallet and the planet a huge favor by ditching single-use plastic bottles. We like this Brita bottle in particular because the built-in filter really improves the taste of tap water by filtering out the taste of chlorine and other chemicals.

    Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for Banff

    Travel insurance, much like CPR training, is one of those valuable things to have that you hope you never need to use. But when it is needed, travel insurance can be a lifesaver – literally. On our last trip to Canada we witnessed someone having to get med-evacuated by helicopter after falling and seriously injuring themselves on a popular hike. Without travel insurance, just the cost of airlift starts at $10,000, but it’s likely much more than that. Add the hospital bills on top of that, and most people would be in deep trouble.

    That’s why we play it safe and get a comprehensive insurance plan ahead of time through Faye. They take the hassle out of travel insurance by streamlining the whole process. From finding the right plan to making claims, it can all be done on their app from your phone – no more aggravating paperwork or hoops to jump through. I’ve never used anything like it!

    Faye Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    From paddleboarding on glacial lakes to rafting down river rapids, you’ll likely be experiencing Banff’s abundance of water first-hand. Be sure to bring along a travel towel to dry off after your adventures on the water. They dry 10x faster than cotton, are odor-resistant, and super compact – lugging around a bulky, smelly bath towel is a thing of the past. These towels also make impromptu picnic blankets and great sweat rags for hikes!

    Quick-Dry Travel Towel

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  • 8. Bug Repellent Bracelets

    The struggle is real when it comes to mosquitoes in Canada. Sometimes you could swear you’re being dive-bombed by a bird they’re so large. These natural, deet-free bracelets will help keep the little blood suckers at bay. Note: Even with these, you’ll probably want to also use bug spray as extra insurance against the wee beasties. The more defenses against these ferocious pests, the better!

    Bug Repellent Bracelets

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  • 9. Neck Wallet

    Keep your valuables safe while you travel around Banff. With its RFID lining, this neck wallet is perfect for cash, credit cards, passports, hotel, and car keys, even your phone! It’s made from sturdy ripstop fabric and is easy to tuck inside your shirt to keep it close. And with its lifetime guarantee, if you ever have trouble with it, you can have it replaced.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 10. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Small, portable chargers are invaluable on a trip where you’ll be spending time away from civilization. Chargers like this one are easy to recharge overnight and will prevent you from the unpleasant surprise of having your phone die. This is especially important if you’re using the phone either for directions or as your main camera. It uses a standard USB cable to attach to your device and holds at least one, sometimes a couple of charges before needing to be recharged itself.

    Lipstick-Sized Charger

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  • 11. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Whether it’s coming from the sky, a lake, or in frozen form on the slopes, water is abundant in Banff. You won’t regret having a waterproof case to protect your phone, especially since this one allows you to go up to 75ft deep and continue to use your phone for photos or video. It also comes with a convenient neck lanyard, so you don’t have to worry about dropping it in the lake.

    If you want to be extra protective of your phone, I recommend attaching the waterproof phone case to a floating wrist strap. In case you accidentally drop your phone, these wrist straps will keep your phone from sinking to the bottom of Banff’s many beautiful lakes and rivers.

    waterproof phone pouch

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  • 12. Hiking Shoes

    Chances are high you’ll be hiking while you’re in Banff, so you definitely want sturdy, reliable shoes. Hiking shoes are a worthwhile investment, as they’ll last you for a number of years and will save major wear and tear on your feet and body as you scramble over rocks and up mountains. The pair linked here are great for summer and fall. I’ve had mine for 5 years and they’re still going strong.

    Hiking Shoes

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  • 13. Water-Resistant Shoe Bag

    Think of all the hiking, biking, kayaking, or rafting you’ll be doing in Banff, and then think about the state your shoes will be in afterward. Most likely a muddy mess! A shoe bag is one genius item you normally don’t think about bringing along until it’s too late. It keeps your clean clothes safe from your dirty sneakers and is super easy to shake out and wash after you’re done using it.

    Water-Resistant Shoe Bag

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  • 14. Luggage Locks

    Your luggage passes through a lot of hands when you travel and some of those hands might just have sticky fingers. Luggage locks are an easy solution to keep your belongings safe whenever your bags are out of sight. These are TSA-approved so you won’t have to worry about any hang-ups or delays when going through security.

    luggage locks

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  • 15. Discounted Tickets on Banff Attractions

    If you plan on doing any kind of tours or excursions while in Banff, you’ll want to book them ahead of time to make sure there is availability. We use Get Your Guide to secure our spots on the best, locally run tours at unbeatable prices.

    Ride a gondola to the top of the Rockies for a panoramic view, go whitewater rafting down the Kananaskis River, or horseback ride through the most scenic parts of Banff National Park. Of course, no trip to Banff is complete without a visit to the iconic Moraine Lake.

    Discounted Tickets on Banff Attractions

    See all Banff attractions at ➜

  • 16. Collapsible Hiking Poles

    Hiking poles are an easy item to forget. But at altitudes ranging from 4500 to over 10000ft in the Banff area, they are a useful assist on hikes, especially if you live closer to sea level. This set is strong but lightweight aluminum that will easily fit into your daypack without adding much bulk.

    Hiking Poles

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  • 17. Wool Socks

    The last thing you want when you’re channeling your inner von Trapp is perpetually cold feet. These wool short hiking socks will cushion your feet as well as keep them both warm and cool. These are perfect for summer or fall hiking when you have low-cut shoes.

    Wool Socks

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  • 18. Daypack

    A daypack is another outdoor essential. This one will hold most all of the items listed above while not being super heavy on its own, so it doesn’t give you the feeling of being on a multi-day backpacking trip. It also comes with plenty of compartments, making it easier to find items.

    Backpack grey

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  • 19. Quick-Dry Travel Pants

    Quick-dry fabric is an essential part of your outdoor wardrobe. These lightweight pants are much more comfortable on the trail than jeans, especially if it rains or you need to splash through a stream. Plus, these are UPF 50, so even though they’re light, they’ll still protect your legs against the harsher sun at altitude.

    Quick-Dry Travel Pants

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  • 20. Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    Banff National Park is crawling with an array of wildlife. You don’t want to miss a chance to observe animals like bears, wolves, cougars, moose, and elk! Consider bringing a modern pair of binoculars that not only will let you get a closer look at wild animals but it also comes with an adapter so you can get close-up pictures with your phone too!

    Binoculars with Phone Adapter

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  • 21. Fleece Zip-Up Vest

    Visiting Banff at any point in the year, you’ll want to dress in layers. This full-zip fleece vest is perfect for summer and late spring/early fall trips. Since fleece is water resistant, it’ll also help keep you dry even if it’s your outer layer.

    Fleece Zip-Up Vest

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  • 22. Beanie Hat

    Beanies, or ‘toque’ as they’re known in Canada, are perfect year-round in Banff. If the wind kicks up when you’re hiking, even on a sunny day, your ears can start to feel like icicles. You’ll want a warm, comfortable hat to throw on, and the bonus is that this women’s hat is cute!

    Beanie Hat

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  • 23. Motion Sickness Patches

    To help combat the windy mountain roads of the Canadian Rockies, bring along these natural motion sickness patches. My wife is very prone to motion sickness, so she’s tried every remedy in the book, and these patches are by far her favorite. They work wonders at preventing nausea without the drowsy side effects of drugs like Dramamine.

    Motion Sickness Patches

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  • 24. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    I keep this hanging toiletry bag stocked with my favorite self-care products so that when it’s time to take a trip, all I have to do is throw this bag in my luggage and forget the rest! I like to pair it with leak-proof travel bottles so I don’t have to worry about TSA size limits or accidental spills. I love how spacious this bag is and the fact you can hang it just about anywhere for easy access.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 25. Wool Gaiter

    For places like Banff, where you’ll be active in nature, a wool gaiter is the way to go. They’re much more practical than a scarf – once you put it on, you won’t have to constantly be adjusting. It wears snuggly around your neck and face, keeping you warm from even the fiercest windchill. And because it’s made of merino wool, it’s great at wicking away moisture to ensure you stay as warm and dry as possible.

    These also smush into the smallest corner of a backpack, so you’ll never need to be without it whether you’re hiking, canoeing, skiing, or just taking in the view.

    Wool Gaiter

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  • 26. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    In the likely chance you want to bring a few souvenirs back with you, a “just in case” bag will ensure that you have room for everything on the way home. It’s the perfect solution because when not in use, the bag folds down to the size of a wallet, then when it’s time to stuff it with goodies from Banff, it expands to the size of a personal item bag to take with you on the plane.

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

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What to Wear in Banff

As you might expect for a wild, outdoorsy region, Banff is relaxed and casual in style. Unless your goal is to remain at one of the high-end resorts without venturing beyond its gates, you’ll find little need for anything dressy, let alone formal. Even though Banff is fairly southern as Canada goes, the altitude is high so regardless of what time of year you visit, you’ll want layers. Summer days are pleasantly warm, never really hot, while winter can be quite cold. At any point of the year, whether you’re hiking, skiing or just sightseeing, as you alternately get sweaty and cool-off, you’ll want the option to add and remove layers.
What Women Should Wear in Banff? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

These clothes are the essentials that you should have any time of year that you travel. Of course, during colder times of the year, you’ll need to bring additional warmer clothes along with a really warm jacket.

What Men Should Wear in Banff? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

These are the base essentials you will want to bring with you. If you will be traveling during the colder times of the year, you will need to bring additional warmer clothes and a more heavy-duty jacket.

Packing for the Seasons in Banff

SPRING – April, May, early-June:

Ski season around Banff lasts into May, so expect a range of temperatures. It’s not uncommon to have wild weather fluctuations in the spring and fall, sometimes within the same day, so planning can be tricky, but base it according to your intended activities (skiing, exploring, hiking, etc). Layers are an absolute must to avoid needing to pack an abundance of clothing. Temperatures during the day average in the mid-40s to mid-50s and dip down toward freezing at night.

SUMMER – mid-June, July, August

Summer is an outdoor playground in Banff. You’ll still want layers, as temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit from day to day, and depending on your elevation, but lightweight layers and even shorts will work great. You might be comfortable into the evening wearing sandals to dinner, but overnight temps in summer still dip into the 40s, so you may want to stick with some fun sneakers, even if you opt for a slightly more dressed up restaurant. Daytime temperatures are likely to be in the 60s-70s, dropping into the 40s at night.

FALL – September, October:

Much like in the spring, fall temps in Banff bounce around and you’ll be glad you have layers on hand. Occasionally snows come as early as mid-late October, but generally, you can expect chilly, often cloudy days. Some good clothing options include: hat, jacket and vest, boots or hiking shoes, pants with base layer, long-sleeve shirt with base layer. Expect temperatures in the low 50s to low 60s during the day and flirting with freezing at night.
Outfit choices for fall, see spring list for both women and men.

WINTER – November, December, January, February, March

Winter is cold and beautiful in Banff. Due to its location at the Continental Divide, it gets lots of snow. Don’t skip the sunscreen or sunglasses just because it’s winter though .. UV is strong at this altitude and the sun bouncing off snow can still burn. Anticipate daytime temperatures with highs in the 20s or 30s with overnight drops to single digits.

What NOT to take to Banff

  • 1.Don’t TAKE lots of clothes

    Do your best to choose items that mix and match well together. Rather than having an option for everything, bring fewer multipurpose items.

  • 2.Don’t BRING scented lotions, etc

    You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors and will need either bug repellent or sunscreen and sometimes both, all the time. Don’t make your body care products compete with health products. Also, you don’t want to attract unwanted animal visitors by having strongly-scented lotions, etc.

  • 3.Don’t PACK valuables besides the basics

    As casual as everything is in Banff, keep it simple. If it isn’t crucial to your trip, leave it at home. If you’re into photographs, your camera may well be the most expensive item you bring with you.

  • 4.Don’t BRING formal wear

    hands-down you won’t need it. Even at most resorts, it’s common to find both men and women wearing jeans and shorts, sneakers, or sandals. See the suggestions under summer outfit choices for some slightly more dressed up options. Men, if you normally travel with a sports jacket, feel free to include one, but you definitely won’t need to go beyond this.

  • 5.Don’t TAKE easily rentable gear

    Most everyone in Banff is into outdoor activities. Don’t bother with trying to pack heavy, bulky items that you can rent once you’re there. That said, make sure you leave room in the budget for those ski or kayak rentals.

FAQs about trips to Banff

  • 1. What kind of wildlife am I likely to see?

    Banff has a wide variety of wildlife ranging in size from the small rabbit-like creatures called pika to the largest of grizzlies. The most common animals people run across are hoary marmots (mid-sized rodents vaguely resembling beavers), pika, ground squirrels, and beavers. But at all times when venturing out of Banff Town, you should carry bear spray with you on the off-chance you run across one of those (it’s most likely to see bears in spring once they’ve come out of hibernation). There are also many wolves, coyotes, deer and elk, Canada lynx, bighorn sheep, caribou, bison, and moose.

  • 2. How best to get there?

    Assuming you’re coming from outside of Canada, the best option is probably flying into Calgary, Alberta, roughly 1 ½ hours away. From there you can rent a car (recommended). Some shuttles run between the two as well, each company all with their own schedules. However, for the money, renting is a better option as it then gives you the freedom to get around how and where you choose, not based on the time table set by a tour company. One caveat to this is how comfortable you are with winter driving. Many roads remain open during winter and they are generally well-maintained, but snow and ice on roadways are common, so if you are inexperienced or uncomfortable with this, you may be wise to use alternative methods.

  • 3. What timezone is Banff?

    Banff is in the Mountain Time Zone, the same as US cities, Boise, ID, Missoula, MT, Phoenix, AZ, or Denver, CO.

  • 4. Can I see the northern lights?

    At the right time of year, yes! The best chance to see this incredible phenomenon is from November to March. You can visit, which is overseen by the University of Alberta and gives the likelihood of seeing the aurora borealis on a day to day basis.

  • 5. Is Canada expensive?

    That depends on your perspective. Compared to the US dollar, the Canadian dollar vacillates between slightly higher and slightly lower in value. Some sites estimate approximately $100/day/person for a trip to the Banff region.

  • 6. Is the water safe to drink?

    The tap water in Banff comes from deep underground wells, not from the natural springs in the area. Some people complain of a taste in the water, but it is considered to be a matter of preference only and not one of safety, and Banff is generally known to have good quality water. There are several water filling stations around Banff Town, so it is definitely an option to skip the expense and hassle of bottled water while you’re there.

  • 7. Do I need my passport?

    Short answer: yes. If you are traveling from the US, you technically do not need a passport to get INTO Canada, but you will need one in order to reenter the US if you are traveling by air. Therefore, Canadian authorities will not allow entry for Americans who do not have the proper documentation to return. I haven’t driven across the border recently, but I have heard friends say that passports are often asked for there as well. If you have anything other than a US passport, you may also need a visa, so check with your country’s agreements specific to Canada.

  • 8. What are the ‘must-see’ places/activities?

    Banff truly is an outdoor lover’s wonderland. It sometimes feels like there’s an even more gorgeous view around every bend than at the previous one. The massive Canadian Rockies are an undeniable presence everywhere in the region. Depending on whether you’d rather swish through the powder or canoe on the pristine turquoise glacial lakes, your interests will instruct your decision on the time of year to visit.

    If you make your journey in winter, there are some ski resorts within a few hours of Banff, several of which are world-renowned for their runs. The three within Banff National Park are Norquay (the closest to Banff Town), Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise. All of these are legendary for their slopes, with Lake Louise having the longest season, due to its being the furthest north of these. These are also incredible to visit during summer .. Lake Louise and nearby Moraine Lake are two of the most stunning glacial lakes I’ve ever seen!

    The Banff Gondola provides breathtaking views at the top and is well worth the $60+ to ride.

    Just about any location can be a stellar hike, but some favorites are Sunshine Meadows, the Parker Ridge Trail, Johnston Canyon, or the Athabasca Glacier.

    The previously mentioned Moraine Lake is an awe-inspiring location to watch the sunrise and as one of the most photographed locations in Canada, make sure you have your camera!

    As an après-ski or hike reward, soak your tired body in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

    Drive the extraordinary Icefields Parkway, a 250ish mile epic road trip from Lake Louise to Jasper and back.