What Should I Bring on a Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour?

You’ve bought your Grand Canyon heli and you’re excited as heck to get up in the air. Before you buckle up, Make sure you first create a list of things to bring. Here’s what I recommend you take to make your flight picture-perfect:

All Climates And Seasons

Extra batteries. It’s a picture-taking gold mine up there. Load up on batteries. Digital cameras and camcorders burn through them. Make sure your thumb drive is empty or has lots of room left, and bring a spare.

Extra Film. Depending when you go, you’ll be dealing with various lighting conditions, take film with different ISO speeds. Be ready to shoot at least a roll before and after the flight. Allocate no less than three rolls for aerial shots.

Hat & Sunglasses. The Arizona sun is bright and strong. Pack strong UV sunglasses, preferably ones that wrap across the contour of your face. Include a brimmed hat to safeguard against sunburn – many of today’s helis use 180-degree windshields.

Sun block and Chap Stick. Bring SPF 50 sunscreen, even on over cast days. Use a lot of it. Weather conditions can be dry and windy – a perfect blend for chapped lips.

Summer

Comfortable walking shoes. You may be able to get by with flip flops on air-only flights. I’d play it safe and put on a good pair of walking shoes or cross-trainers, specifically if you take a trip that includes, for instance, the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a rafting trip, or a flight to the bottom.

Light, loose clothing. The canyon is hot, especially in July. I would recommend wearing a shirt made of wicking material. Stay away from tank tops. Pants will also protect you from sun and wind. Windbreakers are always a good option.

Drinking water. I can’t over-emphasize bringing water. Temps are regularly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a quart or more. Not staying hydrated can lead to lethargy and quite possibly heat stroke.

Winter

Gloves and Scarf. The canyon can get cold. You want to keep as much of your own body heat as possible.

Hat. Your head is responsible for probably the most heat loss. Cover it. I suggest carrying a “beanie” that you can roll over your the ears. Try and get one manufactured from wool or fleece.

Coat. I’ve seen people turn up in t-shirts. Not really a good idea. The Grand Canyon’s average altitude is 5,000 feet. Snow is normal. Bring at least a medium-weight coat.

Layers. A good example of this is putting on a t-shirt, shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket. If for example the weather warms, you take off a layer. It’s a very efficient means of staying comfortable during cold conditions.

Last Words About Weather

Helicopters used for canyon trips feature climate-controlled cabins. These A/C units are amazing against heat and cold. Regardless, you must still come prepared because:

1. You’ll be outdoors making the switch to the aircraft

2. If your trip features a ground segment, you’ll be subjected to either heat or cold.

Summing Up

Flying in a Grand Canyon heli above the West Rim or South Rim is the trip of a lifetime – if you are prepared. Triple check your camera equipment and make certain you’ve extra batteries, film, and memory sticks. Throughout the summer, it’s all about shielding yourself from the sun and staying hydrated. During winter, dress in layers to stay warm. Set aside time to make a checklist of things to bring. Doing this nearly guarantees you will be comfortable before, during, and after your flight.

Mr. Kravitz is a travel journalist who writes about Grand Canyon tours. Go here for his list of the Top 3 Grand Canyon Helicopter tour operators. Ratings are based on quality, safety and price. His reviews have saved a lot of people a lot of money. Time for you to benefit from them, too.