What to wear for a dude ranch vacation

Ah, summer at the ranch. Horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, oh my! But how you pack may determine whether you’re prepared for all the kinds of fun stuff you can enjoy on the ranch. A little planning goes a long way.
Going to the mountains? Prepare for every kind of weather, from summer sun to sudden showers and mountain breezes. Out on the plains, its bright sun and hot weather most of the summer. And at a California coastal ranch, you’ll have to dress for the occasional fog bank that drifts in fro the ocean (yep, even in summer). So check with the ranch, and check the forecast before you go. But relax: ranch dressing always means comfy and casual.

The basics
Jeans: Well, duh. But here’s a tip from Gene Kilgore himself: before the trip, wash all the jeans with fabric softener so you can avoid saddle sores from the rubbing of that heavy, stiff denim inseam (ouch!). Most ranches have washing machine/dryers available but if you don’t want to spend vacation time doing laundry, bring extra jeans (at least 3 pairs)19590029, socks and tee-shirts for all.

Cowboy hat: You want to fit in, like the cute pair at left, don’t you? Splurge on a good triple X felt hat.

Boots: You gotta have riding boots for horseback riding. Ranchers advise against riding in sneakers or hiking boots—your foot could slip through the stirrup or get stuck in it. But if you don’t have any, check ahead: some ranches have spare pairs of kids and adults’ boots for you to borrow while at the ranch.

Riding helmets: It’s not the wild, wild, West anymore, and most ranches recommend wearing a helmet while riding, especially for kids. Most ranches have a supply of helmets available if you don’t own a riding helmet.

Everything else
Light waterproof jacket with hood
T-shirts and long sleeve shirts
Shorts and bathing suits
Hiking boots, sneakers
Socks (at least 3 pairs)
Fleece pullovers or sweaters
Tevas/water shoes/old shoes that can get wet
Sunglasses and a hat
Sunscreen and bug spray
Gloves for riding (for morning rides)
Backpack or fanny pack


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