Vacations rock but, packing is a battle. I literally would love to empty my closet and take it all with me rather than sort, prepare and pack. Now, that would require a U-Haul I am sure. On a more serious note, as a novice dude-ranch goer, I totally was in over my head trying to pack.
When you are heading to Colorado Dude Ranches, a few rules will hold true: the weather will change and you need to change your clothes with it. Fear not I have a complete Dude Ranch Packing list for you and some tips from my recent travels.
Get ready, to get your Western Gal on and help your family dress too. After all, in every family, there’s one fashionista and the rest are the dependants! Love this! My list will work for most dude ranch trips but do make sure to ask the ranch about amenities and weather too.
Lavishly live travel out loud and use my packing list for dude ranch vacations and fashion tips to pack up and get your Western On!
Packing List For Dude Ranch Vacations And Fashion Tips
Today I am going to supply you with a FREE Printable Dude Ranch Packing list, along with tips for packing and of course a few images of what I wore. Now, just because I wore it does not make it right, it’s just samples of what I felt worked.
Remember, plan ahead of getting to the ranch, so you can just enjoy the vacation and do print my printable list to help you pack!
Things TO Consider
Remember, no matter where you go for a Dude Ranch vacation, the weather can change on a dime! We would experience brilliant sunny mornings and walk up cardiac steps and it would just start pouring rain.
Night time is different on a ranch (at least in Colorado). Here we would be in jeans in the early morning, and then jump into shorts in the afternoon or swimsuits and then back into jeans and a sweater at night.
Weather and temperatures are all over the place. While that does not seem like a big deal, unless you haul your whole closet with you, packing can quickly be like quicksand and suck you in way too much.
First of all, you have to know what activities are happening on the Dude Ranch you are visiting. Then you figure out what activities you definitely want to take part in. From there, it’s all about the clothes. On my most recent trip, I learned a good pair of jeans is a precious piece of clothing to pack.
I won’t lie, I had a bag that weighed 50 pounds, but I will help you pack better than I did because it is possible, I am just over-the-top ridiculous, but I like my fashion and my shoes.
Speaking of shoes, let me share a few tips on what shoes to pack and why.
SHOES, Boots and DUDE RANCHES
We learned that we would be whitewater rafting, riding horses, having a nice meal, doing athletic things like hiking and shooting trap, so one pair of shoes was not going to work for me or my son.
With those activities, we knew that we would need: athletic shoes, water shoes, and western boots at the very least. I, however, knew that we might need a few other shoes, or I knew I would. For me, it was also about fashion.
I packed booties for dinner, so I could wear jeans other than bootcut. These are my Twisted X Booties and let me tell you, they got a ton of compliment. Personally, I chose these because of the color and unique styling, like slouchiness.
Further, my Western Boot was chosen because it was neutral in color and matched with every jean and flannel I wore. (oh yea, you will want to sport a flannel or two!) I had the pull on and off tabs on my boots, so I could pull them on easily and as you saw, the pull of was perfection with the contraption for taking boots off on our front porch!
Where Niko Travels started out as the anti-christ of boots, jeans, and hats and now he is converted and a disciple! HA. Give your kids one week and they will love it too. We got Niko Twisted X Boots to wear riding.
When he was not riding and we were around the ranch he simply wore his athletic shoes. Actually, even at a few dinners, he wore his athletic shoes. He also packed his shoebies for the pool and water shoes for whitewater rafting.
We found Where Niko Travels a great western hat at Target and we also found some online at Kohl’s. However, you can buy them on the ranches you visit too. A side note on hats: make sure they are crushproof before you slam them in your luggage.
As for jean for teens, got to Walmart online or Target, you will love the selection and the pricing. I loved that they shipped the jeans right to the house! Woot, winning! For long-sleeve shirts, we love American Eagle and that was super easy.
For riding, you will need a hat and the hat will have to have a stampede string on it. If you don’t have one on your hat, and if it falls off, you can startle the horse behind you and start a frenzy down the line. So, make sure your hat has a stampede string on it, Colorado Trails Dude Ranch attaches them for a nominal fee if you do not have one.
It’s Me – Be You
I’ll be honest too, I had no idea if I was dressing right or dressing wrong, but I dressed and went with it. Other people had zipped jackets, it is all about what you are comfortable in. For me, it was about my shirts! Simple, and easy!
If you wear a hat, you may also want sunglasses that is all preference. personally, I did not have them on, but many did.
Further, I suggest a long-sleeve shirt, whether it is flannel or a light hoodie because morning rides are cooler. However, that said, another reason to wear a long sleeve are the bushes you will rub against as you ride. My horse, Rocket, liked to be in control and would ride me along the bushes.
Now a tenured rider might know to move the reigns in a direction to move the horse, but I was a newbie and bushes against skin are not a happy mix, just saying! My experience is now your betterment!
Layers are a good thing if you wear a shirt, so wear a tee underneath. If you get warm, your shirt could get shoved in the saddle bag maybe. Boots must be worn, and I shared my boots with you above. Boots are sturdy in the stirrups and good for your legs when you get rubbed into bushes etc.
Our ranch provided water bottles, but to be honest, after the first day I did not take my bottle with me anymore. There were saddle bags on the horses and I put my phone in there, and while there was no service, when we stopped I was able to take photos, not during the ride. (stampede string is the part in pink in image above attached to my hat!)
Swimming & Whitewater Rafting
You are almost at the printable list, keep on going. First, you want to kind of a get a feel for what to pack by reading, then download this at the end of this post. It’s Free!
If you are going swimming this might be kind of obvious but you will need a swimsuit. Heading out to whitewater rafting was a different kind of dressing. Some people wore long sleeve swim gear, others wore yoga pants, and our guide had jeans on.
It is pretty much anything goes. We did not need towels those were provided, which left us more space in our luggage. Always find this out ahead of packing them.
They do advise to not wear cotton as it gets really heavy when wet. I had a swimsuit/tank top combination and a pair of jean shorts. On top of this, they put a life vest so be prepared to feel totally uncomfortable. Additionally, this is the day you will need your water shoes. Trust me, when you get into the water that is all muddy you don’t want your tennis shoes getting messed up.
We let these air dry afterward, so make sure to have suits and swim shoes! You can bring your phone too, but just know the phone might get wet and you may never have a chance to use it. Our ride was calmer because the water level was so far depreciated due to drought.
Don’t forget a ballcap and sunglasses, as well as sunscreen.
I guess I am a bit of a fashion diva because most were just in jeans and tees, there was no dress code, except on the adult dinner night, it would be advisable to dress up a bit. After all, it is a candlelight dinner. Your choice.
One night, I wore this longer jacket with a tee shirt underneath, boots and jeans. We were headed to our first-night outdoor dining experience. I am glad I did because it was not too warm out. The humidity is not there, so cool air sets in fast.
Another night, I got ready for line dancing and wore my favorite slouch boots, and my top to match.
On the Candlelight dinner evening, I chose to get a little more dressed, with jeans and this jacket, as well as a tee underneath and boots.
Tip For Shirts For Horseback Riding
Head to Walmart, yes, Walmart and you will love the selection and the shirts. I picked out a few colors I loved and they matched with everything. The shirts wash and wear great and they are very western. !
I am totally a boot snob, and I went for the best of boots. From basic colors to functional is what I sought and found. Twisted X has some of the best boots that mix function with fashion. Take a look.
I highly suggest taking a look at Twisted X and see where they sell their boots. They have so many great pairs, it is hard to decide. For me, the square toe was better, and if you have not tried them on before I think square is the safest bet. The pointed toes on boots fit differently.
Activities On The Ranch
If you are planning on doing archery or breaking trap, tennis shoes and shorts work just fine. No worries. Also ballcaps, and sunglasses especially if you are going shooting. The sun will be on you.
Now, that brings up yet another item you might forget, and for us, at the Colorado Trails Ranch it would not have mattered but it is not like this at every ranch: Sunscreen. Our ranch had a supply of sunscreen everywhere, at the barn, at the pool, in the office, so we could have skipped bringing ours. But, if you don’t know, bring some, or you will get burned.
Lip balm is another biggie, as elevation is different and your skin just dries out. Also, don’t forget the simple toiletries like Tylenol and ibuprofen.
Best Tip For Packing Boots
I highly suggest packing your boots, and shoes all in your carryon as well as your hat. If you have these items with you, even if they lose everything else, you can still ride. Also, these are the heaviest pieces to tote and it keeps your luggage weight down.
Of course, you could always pack a carryon that locks and hope that they ask you for your bag at the gate at no charge (that happens a lot when they run out of overhead storage!)
The Laundry Thing
Bless this dude ranch we were at, they had washers and dryers and there was no charge to use them and our rooms had laundry baskets. Woot! Now, knowing this, meant we could pack less and wash at night. You will have free time.
Do you feel like tossing a load in? Probably, because everyone on our trip did a load one night or another. It truly is a great perk. Ask your ranch if they have laundry facilities for use.
Print Me – Dude Ranch Packing List
Now, the list you see can be printed, just touch the image and it will go to print mode. Enjoy this!