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What To Wear When Hiking The Narrows


by Sara-Ann Torgerson



The Narrows hike in Zion National Park is a breathtaking and challenging adventure that takes hikers through a stunning narrow slot canyon carved by the Virgin River. This iconic hike offers a unique and immersive experience, where hikers are surrounded by towering canyon walls and wade through the cool waters of the river.


As with any outdoor activity, proper attire is crucial for a successful and enjoyable hike in The Narrows. The dynamic and unpredictable nature of the hike requires hikers to be prepared for various weather conditions, water levels, and terrain. Wearing the right clothing and gear will not only keep you comfortable and protected, but also enhance your overall experience.


In this article, we will guide you through the essential clothing and gear you need to tackle The Narrows hike. Whether you’re embarking on this adventure in warm or cold weather, we’ll provide you with valuable insights to ensure you’re dressed appropriately for the journey.


So, let’s dive in and discover what to wear when hiking The Narrows!


Essential Clothing and Gear

When preparing for a hike in The Narrows, there are a few key clothing and gear items that you should prioritize. These items will not only keep you safe and comfortable but will also enhance your overall hiking experience:

  • A sturdy backpack: Choose a backpack with a capacity large enough to carry all your essentials, including water, snacks, extra layers, and any other items you may need on the hike.
  • Quick-drying clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics that will keep you comfortable as you navigate through the water. Avoid cotton as it tends to absorb and retain water, leaving you feeling wet and uncomfortable.
  • Waterproof and breathable jacket: Bring a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable jacket to protect yourself from sudden rain showers or splashing water in The Narrows. Look for jackets with sealed seams for added water resistance.
  • Water shoes or hiking sandals: Choose footwear that is specifically designed for hiking in water. Look for shoes or sandals with good traction, drainage holes, and a secure fit to prevent slipping and blisters. Avoid open-toed footwear as it may expose your feet to potential injuries.
  • Trekking poles: Trekking poles can provide stability and support in the uneven terrain of The Narrows. They also help to reduce strain on your knees and improve balance while crossing the river.

These essential clothing and gear items will ensure that you are well-equipped to tackle The Narrows hike. Additionally, consider bringing along a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit for added protection and convenience. Now that you have your essentials sorted, let’s move on to discussing footwear options for The Narrows hike.


Footwear Options

Choosing the right footwear is crucial when hiking The Narrows. Since you’ll be wading through water for a significant portion of the hike, it’s important to wear shoes that provide good traction, drainage, and stability. Here are two popular footwear options for The Narrows:

  1. Water Shoes: Water shoes are specifically designed for activities like hiking in wet environments. They are lightweight, have excellent drainage, and provide a snug fit to prevent slipping. Look for water shoes with durable rubber soles and an enclosed design to protect your feet from rocks and debris. Many water shoes also have toe guards for added protection.
  2. Hiking Sandals with Toe Protection: Another popular option is hiking sandals that offer both breathability and toe protection. These sandals are designed with robust outsoles for traction and adjustable straps for a customized fit. Look for sandals with toe guards to shield your feet from potential hazards along the trail.

No matter which footwear option you choose, it’s essential to break them in before embarking on The Narrows hike. This ensures they fit comfortably and reduces the risk of blisters and discomfort during your adventure.


It’s also advisable to wear neoprene socks or moisture-wicking socks with your footwear to prevent rubbing and blisters. These types of socks provide additional insulation and comfort, even when wet.


Remember, The Narrows hike involves walking on uneven surfaces, slippery rocks, and potentially submerged obstacles. So, regardless of which footwear you choose, always exercise caution and take your time when navigating the trail.


Now that we’ve covered footwear options, let’s dive into the importance of layering and how to dress appropriately for different weather conditions in The Narrows.


Layering System

A well-planned layering system is crucial when hiking The Narrows, as the temperature and weather conditions can vary throughout the day. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing to maintain a comfortable body temperature as you hike and encounter different environments. Here’s a breakdown of the layers you should consider:

  1. Base Layer: The base layer is in direct contact with your skin and should be moisture-wicking to keep you dry and comfortable. Opt for synthetic or merino wool materials that wick sweat away from your body.
  2. Insulating Layer: The insulating layer provides warmth when temperatures drop. Fleece jackets or synthetic insulated jackets are ideal for this layer. Choose garments that are lightweight, breathable, and easy to pack.
  3. Outer Layer: The outer layer serves as a protective shell against wind, rain, and splashing water. A waterproof and breathable jacket with sealed seams is essential to keep you dry and shielded from the elements.

By layering your clothing, you can easily adjust your outfit based on the temperature and conditions you encounter along The Narrows hike. As you warm up from the physical exertion, you can remove layers to prevent overheating. Similarly, if the weather turns chilly, you can add layers to maintain warmth.


It’s also important to note that even in warm weather, the slot canyon walls can create cooler and shaded areas, which may feel significantly colder than the surrounding environment. Therefore, having multiple layers allows you to adapt to these temperature fluctuations.


Now that we’ve discussed the layering system, let’s explore clothing options specifically for warm weather hikes in The Narrows.


Clothing Options for Warm Weather

When hiking The Narrows in warm weather, it’s important to choose clothing that keeps you cool, protected from the sun, and dries quickly. Here are some clothing options to consider:

  • Lightweight and breathable shirt: Opt for a moisture-wicking and quick-drying shirt made of materials such as nylon or polyester. Long-sleeved shirts can provide added protection against the sun and prevent scratches from branches or rocks.
  • Hiking shorts or convertible pants: Choose lightweight and quick-drying shorts or convertible pants that allow for freedom of movement. Convertible pants are especially useful as they can be converted into shorts if the weather gets too hot.
  • Sun hat or cap: Protect your face and head from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or cap. This helps to prevent sunburn and keeps you cool.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare and potential debris by wearing sunglasses with good UV protection.
  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF before starting your hike. Reapply it regularly to ensure continuous protection.
  • Bandana or buff: These versatile accessories can be worn as a headband, neck gaiter, or to cover your face from dust or sun.

Even in warm weather, it’s important to be prepared for sudden changes in weather and water temperature. Pack the necessary layers and a waterproof jacket in case of rain or unexpected drops in temperature.


With these clothing options, you’ll be able to hike The Narrows comfortably and stay protected from the sun’s rays. Now let’s explore clothing options for the colder seasons when temperatures can drop significantly.


Clothing Options for Cold Weather

When hiking The Narrows in cold weather, it’s crucial to dress in layers to trap heat and stay warm. Here are some clothing options to consider for cold weather hikes:

  • Insulating base layer: Start with a thermal or merino wool base layer that provides insulation and effectively wicks moisture away from your body.
  • Mid-layer fleece or down jacket: Add a warm and insulating mid-layer such as a fleece jacket or a down jacket to provide additional warmth.
  • Insulated pants: Wear insulated pants or thermal leggings to keep your legs warm. Look for pants with ample waterproofing or water-resistance, as you’ll be wading through water.
  • Warm socks: Opt for thick, moisture-wicking, and preferably woolen socks to keep your feet warm and dry. Consider wearing two pairs of socks for added insulation and to prevent blisters.
  • Winter hat and gloves: Protect your extremities by wearing a warm beanie or hat and insulated gloves.
  • Neck gaiter or scarf: Wrap a neck gaiter or scarf around your neck and face for extra warmth and protection against wind and cold temperatures.
  • Waterproof and windproof outer layer: Wear a waterproof and windproof jacket and pants to shield yourself from rain, splashing water, and wind. Look for jackets with adjustable hoods and sealed seams for added protection.

Additionally, it’s essential to pack extra layers and warm clothing in your backpack, as temperatures can drop even further in shaded areas and later in the day. Ensure you have spare dry socks and an extra set of base layers in case you need to change into dry clothes.


Take breaks periodically to warm up if you start feeling too cold, and stay hydrated by drinking warm liquids. Always prioritize safety and be aware of the weather conditions before embarking on your adventure.


Now you’re equipped with the knowledge of what to wear when hiking The Narrows in cold weather. Let’s move on to discussing the best materials for clothing when hiking in The Narrows.


Best Materials for Hiking in The Narrows

Choosing the right materials for your clothing when hiking The Narrows is essential to ensure comfort, performance, and durability. Here are some of the best materials to consider:

  • Moisture-wicking fabrics: Look for clothing made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon that have moisture-wicking properties. These fabrics draw moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable as you navigate through the water.
  • Quick-drying materials: Opt for clothing that dries quickly when wet. Avoid cotton, as it tends to retain moisture and can leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable. Instead, choose synthetic materials or merino wool, which dry faster and still provide insulation even when wet.
  • Waterproof and breathable materials: Your outer layer should be made of waterproof and breathable materials to keep you dry from rain, splashing water, and contact with wet surfaces. Look for jackets and pants with sealed seams and breathable membranes to prevent water from entering while allowing sweat to escape.
  • Insulating materials: For colder weather, choose insulating materials like fleece or down. Fleece traps warmth while still being lightweight, while down provides excellent insulation without adding bulk. These materials will help keep you warm when temperatures drop in The Narrows.
  • Durable fabrics: The rugged environment of The Narrows requires clothing that can withstand abrasions from rocks and branches. Look for clothing made with durable materials that resist tearing and enhance longevity.

It’s important to note that regardless of the material, always test your clothing in different conditions and ensure they fit comfortably and allow for a range of motion. The right combination of materials will keep you dry, comfortable, and protected throughout your hike in The Narrows.


Now that we’ve discussed materials, let’s move on to accessories that can enhance your experience when hiking The Narrows.


Accessories for Hiking The Narrows

In addition to the essential clothing and gear, there are several accessories that can enhance your hiking experience in The Narrows. These accessories provide added comfort, convenience, and protection. Here are some accessories to consider:

  • Waterproof or dry bags: To protect your valuables and electronics, consider using waterproof or dry bags to keep them safe and dry during the hike. These bags are essential as there is a high chance of getting wet in The Narrows.
  • Trekking poles: Trekking poles can provide stability and balance, especially when walking on slippery rocks and uneven terrain. They help distribute weight and reduce strain on your legs, making your hike in The Narrows more comfortable and safer.
  • Waterproof phone case: Since there’s a possibility of your belongings getting wet, it’s a good idea to have a waterproof phone case to protect your phone from water damage. This allows you to capture stunning photos of the beautiful canyon without worry.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: If you plan on hiking The Narrows during low-light conditions or camping overnight, a headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating the dark canyon and finding your way.
  • Trekking socks: Invest in high-quality trekking socks that provide extra cushioning, moisture-wicking properties, and prevent blisters. Good socks can make a significant difference in keeping your feet comfortable throughout the hike.
  • Gaiters: Gaiters are protective covers that shield your lower legs and feet from debris and water. They are particularly helpful when hiking in wet and muddy conditions or when encountering overgrown vegetation.
  • Map or guidebook: While it’s important to stay on the designated paths in The Narrows, having a map or guidebook can assist you in navigating the hike and understanding the area’s points of interest.

These accessories can greatly enhance your comfort, safety, and overall experience when hiking The Narrows. Remember, it’s essential to choose accessories that suit your specific needs and the conditions you’ll be facing.


Now that we’ve covered the accessories, let’s move on to some helpful tips for dressing appropriately for The Narrows hike.


Tips for Dressing Appropriately

Properly dressing for The Narrows hike is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when selecting your hiking attire:

  1. Check the weather forecast: Before heading out, always check the weather forecast for Zion National Park and The Narrows area. This will help you plan and dress accordingly, whether it’s for warm or cold weather conditions.
  2. Layer your clothing: Regardless of the season, layering your clothing is key. It allows you to adjust your outfit based on changing temperatures and conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add insulating layers, and finish with a waterproof outer layer.
  3. Choose appropriate footwear: Select footwear that is designed for hiking in water and provides good traction and stability. Ensure your shoes or sandals fit well and are broken in to prevent discomfort and blisters.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun: Even on cloudy days, UV rays can still be damaging to your skin. Wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and regularly apply sunscreen with a high SPF.
  5. Keep spare clothes: Pack spare clothes in your backpack, especially socks and base layers, in case you need to change into dry clothing during the hike. This is particularly important for cold weather hikes to avoid hypothermia.
  6. Pack essential accessories: Bring necessary accessories such as a waterproof bag or dry bag for your belongings, trekking poles for stability, and a headlamp or flashlight for low-light conditions.
  7. Stay hydrated: Regardless of the season, it’s essential to stay hydrated during the hike. Carry an adequate amount of water and consider using a hydration pack or water bottle with a filtration system to refill along the way.
  8. Be mindful of the canyon’s conditions: The Narrows hike can be affected by factors like water level, rainfall, and weather changes. Be aware of any flash flood warnings or dangerous conditions, and plan your hike accordingly.
  9. Respect the environment: Finally, remember to respect the delicate ecosystem of The Narrows and leave no trace. Avoid trampling on vegetation and dispose of any waste properly to preserve the beauty of this natural wonder.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared and dressed appropriately for your hike in The Narrows. Remember to always prioritize safety, comfort, and respect for the environment.


Now, let’s wrap up our comprehensive guide to what to wear when hiking The Narrows!



Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park is an incredible adventure that offers unparalleled beauty and a unique experience. By dressing appropriately for this challenging hike, you can ensure your comfort, safety, and enjoyment throughout the journey.


Remember to prioritize proper attire and gear, including a sturdy backpack, moisture-wicking clothing, water shoes or hiking sandals, and a waterproof outer layer. Layering your clothing and selecting the right materials for warm or cold weather will help you adapt to changing conditions.


Accessories such as trekking poles, waterproof bags, and headlamps can enhance your experience and provide added convenience and protection during the hike. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and be mindful of the canyon’s conditions.


By following these guidelines and dressing appropriately, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the stunning beauty of The Narrows while staying safe and comfortable. Remember to respect and preserve the environment by leaving no trace of your visit.


So, gear up, choose your clothing wisely, pack your essentials, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime in The Narrows. Get ready to create unforgettable memories as you immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring wonders of this magnificent slot canyon!