Is this heaven?

Robber's Roost, Henry Mountains, Utah

Marshall in the Robber’s Roost country and the Henry Mountains of Utah.

Close, but Moab can be hell, too, especially in the spring. That’s because you can wake up to frost on your tent and wear a puffy to breakfast.  But, before you know it, the sun is beating down and you are slogging along with a pack full of down and fleece under the midday sun.  Then a bitter wind out of the north as the sun gets lower will have you desperately trying put all those layers back on and then fumbling to put gloves on your numb fingers.


And that’s just a typical spring day in Moab WITHOUT a storm.  As you’re working an approach to Jah Man or Castleton the wind could kick up, bringing with it not just 50 mph gusts, but a healthy dose of sleet or rain. And if you’re not prepared, it’s gonna hurt.

A lot.

If you’re out on the river, nestled into a nice camping spot, or hiking on one of the many picturesque routes around Moab, you can get caught in a speedy-fast springtime change. The sun ducks behind the clouds, the wind starts gusting, and what was once a nice warm day suddenly seems very much like winter’s last grasp.

And don’t be fooled by cloudy skies. It’s still easy to get burned like Uncle Frank’s hot dogs at the annual family cookout. Sunscreen is essential regardless of what it looks like up above or …  where you happen to be. Make sure it’s at least 45 SPF and waterproof. Better yet, cover your skin and your head for the best possible protection.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that temperature extremes can also go the other way. You can start out with a very cold morning that requires your heaviest puffy jacket, simply to see it warm up – or get downright hot enough – that all you need is a very lightweight long-sleeve shirt. And in true Moab fashion, a mid-afternoon rainstorm will then have you reaching for your rain gear.


For this reason, we think a small daypack won’t cut it … you’ve simply got to be prepared with all the gear you need for every type of weather extreme Mother Nature can throw your way. This means cool or cold mornings, hot afternoons with full sun, pop-up rain- and snowstorms, and cold evenings.


Luck Favors the Well Prepared

If you’re going to be outdoors in springtime Moab, take a look at our top 10 gear recommendation so you can deal with changing weather conditions:

Nicole stems over an frigid pool in Ding Canyon, San Rafael Swell

Nicole stems over an frigid pool in Ding Canyon with a full backpack.

  1. Base layer – a synthetic blend that wicks moisture is key. You’re going to get warm and that means sweat. Once you’re too wet, it’s hard to get warm again when it turns cold.
  2. Insulating layer – something light, easy to pack/carry that will help insulate and keep body warmth in.
  3. Rain gear – go for something that is waterproof but breathable. Again, you want vapor from your body to evaporate as quickly as possible. Make sure this layer fits over everything else you have on but is easy to pack away when not in use.
  4. Wide-brim hat – protect your head and face from the sun, which can come on strong in the spring and cause severe sunburn. This will also help keep you warmer when it gets colder and protect you from rainfall.
  5. Long sleeves – this can be your base layer but we wanted to emphasize the long part of long sleeves. They’ll help with warmth but also will protect you from getting burned. And contrary to popular belief, you’ll actually be cooler in the hot sun when your skin is covered.
  6. Sunscreen – apply a water resistant 45 SPF (at least) regularly to any exposed areas.  Don’t Forget lip balm too!
  7. A “right-size” pack – A small day pack probably won’t cut it in springtime if you’re going to be out all day and have everything you need. Go a little bigger so you have room to carry everything you’ll want out there to deal with wide temperature swings and abrupt weather changes, including high heat or rain, sleet and snow.  We like to recommend at least 30 Liters of volume to accommodate all of the layers.
  8. Waterproof, breathable shoes – your feet are amazing regulators of temperature. Keeping them warm and dry will go a long way in ensuring your comfort and sanity. And just as a reminder, if you’re hiking/walking, make sure your toes don’t slide into the tips of your shoes. This will become incredibly uncomfortable if you’re going downhill for any length of time and find your toes wedged tightly into the tip of your boots or shoes.
  9. Just in Case Gear – First aid kit, fire, knife, shelter, repair supplies.  Just in case
  10. Plenty of water – always, even if it’s cold and wet outside you still need to stay hydrated. And if it turns hot in the spring, which it can, you’ll be at more risk of getting dehydrated.

Okay, so that’s a lot of gear and things to remember, right?  Sure enough, but it’s better to be prepared with everything you need and not have to use it over the alternative. Calling in search and rescue, going for an unexpected helicopter ride, or visiting the hospital are far costlier … and a lot less fun.

If you want to discuss gear – whether you need to buy any or not – we’re here for you. We’ll also be happy to talk to you about different areas of Moab and what weather conditions you might face while you’re out.


Stop on by … we’re glad to help you prepare for a good, safe time out there this spring.

crossing the dirty devil river. backpacking in the spring

Nicole, Koda, & Josie are crossing the Dirty Devil River with a full pack