What Gear to Take for Hiking The Narrows

The Narrows is an amazing hike, but it’s important to know what gear to take for hiking The Narrows before you begin. Having the right gear for hiking The Narrows will make a HUGE difference in your overall experience.

We’ve done a lot of hikes as a family, and we’re here to tell you why the Narrows is the best family hike at Zion National Park. We completed this hike as part of our amazing 9-Day, 5-Park National Park Road Trip and it was the highlight of our trip.

The Narrows is one of our favorites hikes of all time. It boasts amazing scenery, ginormous canyon walls, and the thrill of getting to hike though a river. It is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, with walls reaching 1,000 feet or more above the river.

Best zion family hike narrows 06Best zion family hike narrows 06

That said, hiking The Narrows takes more preparation and specialized gear than your typical day hike. Because you will be hiking through a river for most of the hike, you should be prepared with the basic essential gear for hiking The Narrows.

Narrows best family hike 5Narrows best family hike 5

Essential Gear for Hiking the Narrows

Here are some other essential items that you should take to have the best experience possible in hiking The Narrows:

  • Shoes: A good set of shoes specific for hiking through water is a must. This item is probably the most important item on your list to consider, and choosing the right pair of shoes will be the deciding factor between a great day hike or a miserable affair. You can read our list of specific recommendations for the best shoes for hiking The Narrows here. Or, if you’re pressed for time, just order a pair of Merrell Tetrex Rapid Crest Water Shoes (these are discontinued and may be hard to find) and know you’re getting our top pick. A great alternative is the All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe by Merrell.
  • Socks: The right socks are almost as important as shoes. While some prefer to not wear socks with their water shoes, we found that a good pair of wool socks helps prevent blisters and keeps your feet warm. Be sure to NOT take cotton socks, as they are not a good choice when your feet will be wet. Wool socks keep your feet warm when dry and when wet. We really like these wool socks for mid-calf and these for an ankle fit.
  • Trekking poles: Trekking poles, or collapsible hiking poles, are a must for ANYONE on the river. They will help you maintain balance on the slippery rocks. They’re also helpful for the kids. This set has proved to be a good budget model for us. We would recommend one set per person, or at least one pole per person. There are often wooden hiking sticks left by others at the start of the trail, but trust us and come prepared with your own trekking poles. You’ll thank me!
  • Day packs/hydration packs: we snagged a couple of these packs and they worked great. Bring enough water for 1 – 2L per person or more, depending on how far you’ll be going. We used about 1L per person in our 6-mile round trip hike.
  • Food and Snacks: We also packed a variety of snacks, and were glad we did – hiking in the water makes you hungry! We’re a big fan of protein bars like Quest, as well as good old-fashioned trail mix. Remember to pack out all trash, including things like orange and banana peels. Leave no trace!
  • Sun protection: Bring sunscreen and a hat. We didn’t need it for the first part of the hike as we were in the shade in the morning hours, but as the day progressed we were glad we had them.
  • Jacket or hoodie: It will be cool in the morning and you’ll be walking through cold water. The kids especially were cold starting out, but soon warmed up and shed their jackets. Keep in mind you’ll be in the water, so synthetic fibers (not cotton!) will dry faster and be lighter.
  • Dry Bag : You’ll be walking in water, and there’s a good chance you’ll fall in. We had more than one in our group take a tumble. Pack anything you want to keep dry in a waterproof bag (we used big zip-locks and were fine).
  • Camera: The canyon is amazing, and you’ll want your pictures to be amazing too. We took our Canon 6D; even though it was heavy and there was a risk of getting it wet, it was worth it to get great pictures. If you’re just looking to capture a few snapshots of your trek, your phone camera will do fine (just don’t expect to have clear signal).
  • Custom shirts (optional): we knew we had to be wearing something special for this hike, so we designed some fun tees to celebrate the trek. You can check out our designs here.
The narrows zion family hike 12The narrows zion family hike 12
The narrows zion family hike 13The narrows zion family hike 13

More Family Adventure Ideas at Zion and the Surrounding Area

We think The Narrows is the best family hike at Zion, but that doesn’t mean it’s Zion’s only amazing hike. We love hiking and have tackled some of the best family hikes in the country. Here’s a few more hikes we highly recommend:


Are you visiting Zion National Park and looking for a logo? We have created our National Park logos for you to make custom family road trip T-shirts, hoodies and more. You can download our National Park Logos here.