Essential supplies for high-desert hiking: End of summer edition.

By Robert Salas

There’s nothing quite like a New Mexico summer is there? The skies shine blue on a clear day, illuminate red-orange at sunset and sometimes, wreak powerful thunderstorms. But aside from the relatively high-temperatures during mid-day, summertime weather in New Mexico is prime for hiking.

We are at the tail-end of summer and packing for a day hike can be a hit or miss situation. Although New Mexico weather is beautiful this time of year, one never knows if an unpredictable downpour awaits beyond the horizon. And so, it is good practice to cover your bases when adventuring out into the wilds of New Mexico.

The Essentials

You can fit everything into one backpack for your day hike experience.

A note for the more experienced hiker: Packing the basic supplies may seem like common knowledge but remember that for newbies, it may not be as obvious. Education within the hiking community is everyone’s duty. Having basic survival skills and knowledge can come in real handy. Plus its always good to review the basics.


Backpack: A good sturdy, weatherproof, mid-sized backpack will allow you to play a little rough on the trails. If you want to be “boujee,” then you can get a backpack with a camel back compartment. They’re a bit costly but very practical. I use a Burton snowboarding backpack with an insulated snack compartment.

H2O: Yes, you guessed it, water is an absolute essential when hiking in New Mexico. Depending on the trail, the desert heat can be unbearable and the arid climate invites dehydration. For a moderate to difficult day hike, two to four liters will suffice. Consistency is key when staying hydrated. Drink slowly over longer periods of time.

Snacks: A well-rounded snack regimen is vital for those extra long day hikes. The body needs fast burning energy to stay prime during a trek. This can be carbs or fats (cater to your own diets of course). Foods like fruits, nuts and granola bars are a safe bet. The body also needs protein to support lean muscle. Some good go to’s are jerky and protein shakes.

Hoodie or raincoat: Packing an extra layer of clothing can be life saving. A thick hoodie or a raincoat will help keep you dry and warm during those end of summer rainstorms. Taking the extra step: pack an extra pair of socks just in case you walk through a stream or stomp through some puddles.

Fire: Yes, it’s great to have the knowledge to start a fire from scratch but, we live in the 21st Century. Work smarter, not harder. Pack a lighter, matches or a flint.

Pocket knife and rope: A good, sharp pocket knife comes in handy in many situations. Having the ability to cut something quick makes surviving that much easier. I use a standard american-steel Buck. Rope is a versatile tool. It is used to tether, tie, climb, bind and you can even fish with it.

Map: Cell phone service is spotty and so you cant always rely on google maps or All Trails. It is good practice to carry a hard copy of a trail map in your pack, especially for those woody Jemez hikes.

Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunblock and a hat help prevent sunburn.

And so, this concludes the essential supplies for a safe and fun day hike in New Mexico during the late summer season.

Here are a few beautiful day trails in New Mexico:

Easy- Tunnel Canyon Trail (Tijeras)

Moderate – Rio En Medio (Santa Fe)

Difficult – Lake Katherine (Santa Fe)




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