Think you’re ready to take on the rough terrain of Petra, the salty Dead Sea, arid Wadi Rum, and stylish Amman? Uncovering the hidden gems of the Middle East on a visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan requires all the right items. Figuring out what to pack for Jordan depends on your itinerary—which could be filled to the brim with eclectic activities, from canyon hiking to rooftop dining.
Here’s what to pack for Jordan, which I learned on my trek around the country with Intrepid Travel.
What to Pack for Jordan: The Suitcase
A durable yet lightweight bag with lots of space and hauling power is a must for Jordan if you’ll be heading anywhere outside the city—where it’s sandy and hot. The varied terrain means you might have to carry your bag to the hotel.
Osprey Packs’ Transporter 65 Expedition Duffel hits all the requirements: It packed down my hiking boots and packing cubes with straps so I could keep necessities accessible at the top, and still left space for gadgets and accessories in a zippered inner pocket. Detachable backpack straps allow it to morph between duffel and backpack in seconds, and the bag folds into a pouch for easy storage at home or in the hotel room when it’s not in use.
What to Pack for Jordan: The Purse and Day Pack
As in most cities in Europe and the Middle East, in Amman you’ll want to dress up a little bit for your average day out. At the same time, I needed a day pack for necessities on hikes and at sites like Petra. This meant carrying a secure yet stylish day-to-day purse, plus a day pack to roll up and keep in my main bag for the days I’d need to throw everything into a hiking pack.
Arden Cove’s Waterproof Anti-Theft Cross-Body is both sleek and utilitarian, with enough card slots and zippered pockets to secure all your valuables, plus your passport. The chain makes it dressy enough for nights out, but it also blends in enough to suit casual environments.
REI’s ultra-light Co-op Flash 18 Pack is stashed in my main suitcase on any active trip I take. Its internal sleeve and spacious main compartment can fit and organize necessities, including a big water bottle, extra layers, sunscreen, a hat, and sandals. An upper mesh pocket keeps small items like tickets, medication, a wallet, a phone, and first-aid help up top and easy to see.
What to Pack for Jordan: The Hiking Gear
Hiking boots: For steeper or longer hikes, a hiking boot with ankle support like KEEN’s Gypsum II Waterproof Hiking Boot (for both men and women) is a good idea.
Trekking socks: High socks with extra padding might be the most valuable thing you take on a hike.
Trekking poles: These are optional, but a good idea if you need extra support going downhill on rocky terrain—which you’ll find a lot of on the way down to the Dead Sea and Petra. Opt for foldable trekking poles that pack away easily.
Waist pack: Take the plunge and embrace the fanny pack. Kammok’s Pika Pack is better than a day pack for those hard hikes where you only need a water bottle and some sunscreen on hand. It can be fastened around your waist for hands-free trekking when you’re using poles on rocky terrain, or slung over your shoulder on less demanding hikes. It fit my large canteen, hat, scarf, and bottle of sunscreen, while the zippered front compartment held my phone and smaller items like lip balm, sunglasses, and cash.
Hiking pants: Protect your legs while staying cool and comfortable with hiking pants or leggings that still breathe, like Columbia’s Pull-On Cargo Pants for women or Silver Ridge Pant for men, which have pockets and a cozy stretch waistband instead of buttons.
Sun hat: A baseball cap will work, but a sweat-resistant sun hat is better.
Canteen: A lightweight water bottle that can hold at least a liter is ideal.
Modest shorts: You’ll want shorts for hot hikes outside the city, but women should again opt for something more modest or ones that will fit under pants since it’s uncommon for women here to show their legs. I love HEAD track shorts because they dry fast and are thin enough to wear under pants in case you’re not sure when you’ll need to cover up for a mosque or church visit.
Travel towel: For camping or a post-hike dip in the Dead Sea, a travel towel like Matador’s NanoDry Shower Towel is a must-have travel accessory that fits a super-thin, 47-by-24-inch towel into only five ounces of bag space.
Travel sleeping bag or liner: Camping in the desert means surprisingly cold temperatures at night. Prepare by bringing a travel sleeping bag, or a packable sleeping bag liner like Sea to Summit’s Thermolite Reactor Fleece Liner. I was glad I had it, even with the blankets and mattresses provided at our camp.
What to Pack for Jordan: Shoes
Soft sandals: Long travel days are not where you want to be breaking in a new pair of stylish sandals. Sanuk’s Yoga Dawn TX Sandals have a yoga-mat insole and soft faux-leather straps that cushion your feet. They’re the style you want without the blisters.
Sneakers: In addition to hiking boots, you might still want to bring some durable lightweight sneakers or slip-ons for easier walks, like traversing through Petra’s rocky Siq, where you won’t want clunky hiking boots on.
What to Pack for Jordan: Outerwear
Jacket: One warm-yet-thin jacket you can layer will be useful and stylish in both the desert and the city. Craghoppers’ Safari Jacket fits the bill and has plenty of pockets to boot.
What to Pack for Jordan: Clothing
A long skirt: Respect the local customs of the Middle East by dressing modestly. Travel-friendly options include Craghoppers’ Aurora Insect Shield Skirt, which repels bugs like the tiny mosquitoes you’ll encounter, and has lightweight moisture control fabric.
Modest dresses: If you pack a dress, go for something knee-length that also has adjustable sleeves to protect you from the sun. Craghoppers’ Insect Shield Daku Dress fits the bill and has added mosquito protection.
T-shirts: For long days of walking in the sun, exercise T-shirts that are made from quick-dry material and cover your shoulders are a must-have in Jordan.
Jeans: A pair of comfortable, dark-denim jeans are perfect for nights out in Jordan.
Fleece: Cool desert evenings call for a versatile fleece you can layer or wear on its own, like Craghoppers’ Insect Shield Asmina Jacket.
What to Pack for Jordan: Toiletries
Sunscreen: If you’re diving in the snorkel-worthy Red Sea, make sure you’re using biodegradable sunscreen that won’t harm the colorful coral reefs.
Micellar water or wipes: If you’re camping or hiking you won’t always have running water, so bring a travel-size bottle of micellar water or some wipes to cleanse dirt and oil from your face after a sweaty day.
What to Pack for Jordan: Gadgets
Portable charger: Camping in the desert calls for back-up chargers.
Plug converters: Jordan uses an array of travel outlets, but the U.K. and E.U. plugs on the average universal adapter seem to be the most common.
What to Pack for Jordan: Accessories
Sunglasses: Choose whichever pair of shades is most comfortable for you.
Scarves: A necessity for women as an option to cover up whenever appropriate, scarves come in handy as for sun protection for men, too.
More from SmarterTravel:
- What to Pack for Hiking: 38 Essentials
- In Hiking Jordan, a Window to a Peaceful Middle East
- Why Travelers Are Flocking to the Middle East in 2018
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