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17 Top Montana Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for montana
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Known as the Treasure State, Montana has a lot to offer travelers, regardless of your interests. This western state has national parks and landscapes that will leave you breathless. There are also rodeos and cities like Billings and Helena. No matter what you plan to do when visiting Montana, rest assured you will have a great time.

Of course, packing for specific trips is different than others. Are you driving to Montana, or are you flying? How long are you staying? What types of activities do you plan to do while you’re there? These are questions you should be asking yourself when planning. Our list will help you decide and gives you plenty of options, no matter your travel method.

See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for Montana – 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    You cannot beat these packing cubes if you’re packing up the RV for a long road trip with the family. You can organize everything from dried goods, paper products, towels, or anything else you plan on bringing along. They’re sturdy, stackable, and come in a variety of colors and sizes. This set also comes with a couple bonus laundry bags.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Spending time in an RV, a hotel room, or anywhere can be tight. It’s a good idea to take along a hanging toiletry bag like this one. It’s a fantastic way to organize your belongings for the trip without worrying about losing anything. Plus, it eliminates clutter that gravitates in the bathroom.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Suppose you’re renting a little cabin in the wilderness or staying in an Airbnb while visiting family in Missoula. Having a VPN is a great way to ensure your technological safety. You’ll be able to surf the web without fear of being hacked, and your device will be protected from malware threats.


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  • 4. Neck Wallet

    Montana has a lot to do, like hiking, white water rafting, fishing, and hitting the local restaurants and bars. No matter what you’re doing, this neck wallet is an excellent asset on all of these outings. You’ll always have your valuables next to you. It’s waterproof and easy to conceal. The strap is securely stitched so it won’t break.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 5. Life Straw Water Bottle

    Being out in the wilderness requires a great deal of drinking water. This Life Straw water bottle filters toxins and chemicals from any water source and leaves you with clean and refreshing drinking water. Montana has a lot of lakes and rivers, like the Canyon Ferry and the Yellowstone. This bottle is a lifesaver.

    Lifestraw Water Bottle

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  • 6. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    If you plan on spending a lot of time out in the wilderness, bringing this windproof travel umbrella would be a good idea, especially if visiting in the spring. This umbrella is durable and won’t take up much room in your backpack.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 7. Travel Insurance

    It never hurts to insure your trip. From your airfare to your hotel, you can cover yourself in case your plans fall through. offers affordable rates at the click of a button. There’s nothing like the reassurance of knowing you can cancel your reservations without losing all of your deposits.

    Travel Insurance

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  • 8. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    If you’re an adventurer, white water rafting is one of the most fun activities to do when visiting Montana. This quick-dry towel is a must-have if you plan to be in the water. It dries fast, allowing you to use this one towel all day. It’s lightweight and easy to pack as well.

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  • 9. Cooling Towel

    Activities like hiking and fishing in the hot sun can cause you to overheat, especially if you’re in the sun for hours. This lightweight towel can help you cool off if you just dip it into some water and place it over your head. Montana is known for its heavy snowfalls, but in the summer, some parts reach the 90s.

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  • 10. Portable Charger

    There’s nothing worse than pulling out your smartphone only to see that battery is dead. And this always happens when you want to take a picture. This portable charger carries enough power to keep your phone going through an entire day, so you don’t miss grabbing a few snapshots of your trip.

    Portable Charger

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  • 11. Daypack

    A daypack will be your best friend if you plan on doing more outdoor activities in Montana. It’s waterproof, so you can use it while rafting or fishing, it’s durable, so you don’t have to worry about it snagging on a tree when you’re hiking, and it has lots of little pockets, so you can keep all your stuff organized.


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  • 12. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    If you plan on being wet a lot while visiting Montana this waterproof phone case is a must. Replacing a phone that got too wet is going to be a massive hassle for you and the rest of your party. Prevention is the key here. Protect your phone with a waterproof phone case, especially if you’re rafting or skiing.

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  • 13. Compass

    Plan ahead for those times when you can’t get any service. No cell service is possible for anyone at any time, which is why a compass like this is a great idea. If you lose your bearings and can’t pull up a map on your phone, the compass will help. Be sure to know what direction you’re headed and which direction will get you back to safety.


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  • 14. Hiking Poles

    Trekking poles are necessary, especially if you plan on doing some challenging hikes. They’ll serve as an extension to your arms so you can balance when wading through fast-moving water, feel for breaking ice patches, and tackle the rough terrain. These Trail Buddy poles are lightweight and adjustable.

    Hiking Poles

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  • 15. Binoculars

    Binoculars come in handy when walking around the national parks, hiking through the wilderness, or sitting on a ranch with cows, especially if you enjoy watching birds. Montana is home to so many unique birds. It’s fun to try and make a list of them all. Between geese, ducks, and hawks, it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise.


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  • 16. Rain Ponchos

    Rain ponchos aren’t a bad idea if you plan on riding some rapids or visiting in the spring. If it’s a hot summer day, you might not want one. But some of us enjoy rafting in spring when the temperatures require a little more clothing. The poncho is the way to go if you want to fish or raft and keep your clothes dry concurrently

    Rain Ponchos

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  • 17. All Purpose Gloves

    Some things you can do in Montana include hiking, fishing, boating, rafting, mountain climbing, horseback riding, and ranching. All of them are stressful on the hands, so everyone should have a pair of all-purpose work gloves. This one item, or pair, will do wonders for your hands, which can become calloused or blistered.

    All Purpose Gloves

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What to Wear in Montana

As you’ve read, Montana has many things to do, from outdoor adventures to weekends in the city. When a destination has that much to do, it’s challenging to decide what to bring and what items will only take up much-needed room in your suitcase.

Montana is rather casual, and everyone loves their boots and hats. But what you wear should also fill other needs than just “fitting in.” When visiting Montana, we highly suggest you consider comfort when choosing your clothing, and don’t forget to add a bit of your style. As you see, you can wear almost anything in Montana.

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

Plan on bringing a few pairs of jeans to Montana. This is the American west, where denim pants are as standard as the skin on a rancher’s body. Of course, if you’ll be there when the weather is hot, don’t forget a pair of shorts, especially if you’re hiking through the mountains. T-shirts are also a safe bet but don’t forget to bring your boots.

This is the land of cowboys, so boots are a must, but you’ll need good hiking shoes when walking through the woods. A sun protection shirt will come in handy if you plan on being in the sun for long periods, and you’ll need a warm, waterproof coat if you are there in the fall or winter.

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

The packing list for men isn’t much different than the women’s. Jeans are your go-to, so bring quite a few pairs. You also need to get those cowboy boots because when you’re in Montana, you’ll feel silly if you don’t. A sun hat is great if you plan on fishing or hiking.

Bring that winter coat if you’ll be there when it snows, and don’t forget the shorts if the weatherman predicts it’ll be in the 80s when you’re there. Be sure to pack plenty of socks, especially if you’re hiking and doing outdoor activities. A thermal fleece is excellent for those cool mornings.

Packing for the Season

Summer – June, July, August

This is the most popular season of the year to visit Montana, but also the most crowded. You could bring a bathing suit because the days can be hot. But the nights can get as low as 40˚F in July, which is their hottest month, so don’t forget the jeans, hoodie, socks, and sweaters. The sun is still intense there, so a sun protection shirt will come in handy too.

Fall – September, October, November

Montana is a fantastic place to experience gorgeous scenery during the fall months. When visiting there in these months, we suggest you wear layers. While some days can be 60˚F, it can drop drastically to as low as 35˚F. The best way to ensure you and your loved ones are always comfortable, bring jeans, t-shirts , hoodies, sweaters, and heavy coats.

Winter – December, January, February

Winter is considered the most challenging time to visit Montana, but there’s no one to stop you if you want to head that way. Except for the snow and ice. There’s plenty to do in Montana, like dog sledding and ice fishing. Just be sure to pack right. Snowshoes, snow pants, a snowsuit, and tons of accessories like hats, gloves, and facemasks are the way to go.

Spring – March, April, May

Montana is pretty wet in the springtime, meaning fewer tourists. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to add ponchos, rain gear, socks, and hats, should be added to your packing list. But don’t let all that deter you. You’ll have the run of popular spots without fear of running into crowds.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)

Whitewater Rafting: Riding a raft over rapids is one of the most amazing experiences ever. It will challenge your abilities to think on your feet; you’ll feel exhilarated. When packing, think about quick-drying clothing. You’ll want to wear a bathing suit or board shorts; sunscreen is a must. A helmet, sunglasses, water shoes, and a floating wrist strap are also necessary.

Hiking: I envy you if you’re headed to Montana to do some hiking. You’ll see landscapes that will take your breath away. When hiking through the terrain of places like Glacier National Park, you’ll want to have a good pair of hiking boots, pants, a t-shirt and more so you can wear layers.

Visiting Parks: Montana is home to fifty-five state parks and eight national parks with enough scenery to keep nature lovers busy for a lifetime. When you go to parks, we suggest you dress the same way you would if you were hiking. Jeans, t-shirts, flannels, and good hiking shoes are a must, even if you don’t plan on wandering off the beaten path.

Taking in the Culture: Wildlife and nature aren’t the only things you will find when visiting Montana. Cities like Helena and Boseman have restaurants and bars. You can go to the rodeo and visit historical landmarks. You can still wear jeans or a denim skirt for these types of outings. But this is the best time to wear those boots.

Skiing: When it comes to skiing, there are few places better for it than Big Sky Country. Montana has a lot of snow, which is fantastic when hitting the slopes. Don’t forget your ski boots, goggles, hat, snowsuit, and a great pair of gloves to keep yourself dry and warm.

What NOT to Bring to Montana

  • 1.Heavy Books

    If you must read while in Montana, we recommend picking up a Kindle or another tablet and downloading the app. If you’re an avid reader and plan on being in Montana for a while, you can keep an entire library in one place. Heavy books will take up too much room with all the other gear you need.

  • 2.High-Heeled/Uncomfortable Shoes

    While heels make our legs look fabulous, there’s no need for them in a place like Montana. If you’re headed there for a black-tie affair and need them okay, you’ll find that you’ll be wearing your hiking and country boots more often than not. A great pair of walking shoes would be better than high heels.

  • 3.Too Much Clothing

    If you’re traveling far to Montana, you want to pack lightly, which is difficult when you’re going during a cold weather season. There are always laundry options and places to purchase things you might need.

  • 4.Unnecessary Electronics

    All phones are equipped with so many apps you don’t need to bring things like video cameras or Polaroids. Also, you can do almost anything on a tablet today, so you don’t need a laptop. Traveling light is best, especially if you want to trek through the mountains. You can save the room in your daypack for the water bottle.

  • 5.Expensive Jewelry

    Owls and buffalo don’t care about your diamonds and pearls, so neither should you when you head to Montana. It’s always best to leave valuables like these at home or in a safe place. When you take them with you, the risk of losing them increases.

  • 6.Too Much Stuff

    Just like clothing, too much stuff will just weigh you down. What do we mean by stuff? That could be anything you don’t 100% need while in Montana. You need hiking boots, but do you think you’ll be wearing those flip-flops? Probably not, so leave them behind. If you don’t need it, don’t bring it.

What NOT to Wear in Montana – (Click to expand)

You can wear almost anything when traveling in Montana, but you can’t wear anything anytime. For example, you don’t want to bring ski boots in the spring, and you can leave the snowsuit home in the summer.

FAQs about Montana Travel

  • 1. How long has Montana been a state?

    Montana officially became a state in 1889, but humans have inhabited it for centuries. Native American tribes like the Cheyenne and the Blackfeet lived and hunted in this area. Then, in the early 1800s, the Lewis and Clark Expedition opened it up for us all.

  • 2. What's the capital of Montana?

    What's the capital of Montana

    Helena is the capital of Montana and has been since 1902. It has hot springs and a long history. While there, you need to check out the Gates of the Mountains, Wild International Sculpture Park, and the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. It’s one of the best places to live in Montana, which also makes it one of the best places to visit. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, parks and quaint cafes to explore.

  • 3. Are there bears in Montana?

    Yes. Montana is home to the second largest grizzly bear population in the United States. Alaska is the first. The people in Montana take grizzly management and conservation seriously, so follow all the rules when visiting.

  • 4. Can I interact with wildlife in Montana?

    Can I interact with wildlife in Montana

    We don’t recommend you ever interact with any wildlife anytime, anywhere. Animals that live in the wild might be cute, like your cat at home, but they’re not domesticated and could feel threatened. When animals feel they’re in danger, there’s no saying how they’ll react. Listen to the locals and leave the wildlife alone.

  • 5. Is Montana a safe place to vacation?

    For the most part, yes. But keeping yourself safe with a good neck wallet and a keen eye for your surroundings never hurts.

  • 6. Are there more cows in Montana than humans?

    Yes. Montana is one of the nine States in the US that have fewer people than cattle.

  • 7. Should I try fly fishing in Montana?

    Should I try fly fishing in Montana

    Yes! I’m all for trying new things and having unique experiences, as long as you feel safe doing so. Fly fishing takes you away from all the stress of daily life and helps you become one with the natural surroundings. Montana is an excellent place to try fly fishing. You’ll need to be prepared with the proper gear and plenty of patience, as fly-fishing can have a steep learning curve.