My family - partner, soon to be 9 and 6 year old kids and me - will spend 7-8 weeks car camping in national and state parks across the country but focusing much of our time in Arizona, New Mexico and Southern Colorado. 

This will be our 4th big summer car camping and we are finding that we increase our efficiency, comfort, and enjoyment with each campsite. 

We have decent gear for camping and food prep but I am concerned about outfitting ourselves for the heat and sun in the southwest. I have been reading blogs and fully anticipate hiking in morning and evening but still, what are the best quality, most effective clothes, hats, shoes, swimming gear, etc. for all of us?

I wish we could go to an REI location and have an expert dress us properly...





@CoreyPickering thank you for reaching out!

It sounds like an amazing trip! Making specific recommendations on clothing/footwear can be a little bit tricky because fit matters so much and each brand will fit/feel slightly different. However, please consider the following:

When selecting clothing for warm temperatures, like Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado in the summer, take the following factors into consideration, fabrics, ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, and fit.  Most of our sun protective clothing we carry will be made from polyester/nylon fabrics to wick moisture and because they provide better sun protection than natural fibers.  We advise finding clothing that fits loosely to allow proper ventilation, but also because a garment that’s stretched can become significantly less effective at blocking UV light.

Here are a couple of options to get you started:




REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve Shirt - Women's

Mountain Hardwear Canyon Pro Shirt - Women's


ExOfficio BugsAway Vianna Pants

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants



REI Co-op Sahara Solid Long-Sleeve Shirt - Men's

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Long-Sleeve Shirt - Men's


REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants

Columbia Silver Ridge II Stretch Convertible Pants



REI Co-op Sahara Solid Long-Sleeve Shirt - Kids'


REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants

Columbia Silver Ridge Pull-On Pants

When choosing hats look for one with a broad brim to maximize sun protection. Also, make sure the materials are breathable and offer UPF protection. Here are a few recommendations:

KUHL Sun Dagger Hat

Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat

Outdoor Research Bugout Brim Hat

Footwear liked mentioned before can be difficult to make recommendations because there are so many factors to assess to ensure you get a good fit. Consider the following when selecting footwear:

  • Look for footwear that is not waterproof; you’ll want a shoe that is well ventilated and if it gets wet it will dry out quickly. 
  • Also, if you don’t plan to carry a heavy pack, a trail runner might be a good category to consider, as they will typically be lighter-weight than hiking shoes/boots and they usually have a light breathable mesh upper that will help ventilate to dry quicker. 

Here's an article to get you started on selecting hiking boots, but if you decide to go with trail runners, take a look at this article

I hope this helps and if you have any further questions please don't hesitate to reach out! 

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

@CoreyPickering in addition to @REI-FelipeG's advice, two additional suggestions:

  •  In the off-chance you are able to visit an REI store before your trip, consider setting up a Personal Outfitting appointment - this is a great way to prep for a new adventure with dedicated help from an employee
  • You might look over the gear lists that we provide for folks traveling with REI Adventures in the Southwest - you can find an example here

Hope you have a great trip!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

While the states you are planning to visit will be warm and toasty in many spots, you might be surprised t how cool many higher elevation locations will be downright cool, even in the summer.  And there are afternoon thunderstorms, which will wet and cool things quite quickly, even on very hot days.

There is a huge difference between Tucson/Phoenix  and Flagstaff.  In Flag the saying is "There is nothing between us and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence."  I believe Flag has recorded snow in every month of the year at one time or another..  it can turn cold quite readily at higher elevations.

You have great recommendations in the preceding post, but it is  good idea to include some items for cooler weather as well..



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