January 20, 2018

Montana Ranch Vacation Packing Made Easy

Riding horses in Montana. Photo Credit: Bar W Ranch

Planning a ranch vacation in the state of Montana?  Packing for a completely new type of vacation can be anything from ‘a challenge’ to disastrous, depending on where you are going and what you’re doing for the duration of your stay.  Despite what people say, it can make or break your travel experience. So here at Top50 Ranches, we’ve put together some top tips for packing for a ranch vacation. With a few tweaks to your packing list, you’ll be able to make the most of your ranch holiday experience.




The bulk of your bag for any trip is likely to be filled with clothes, but for a ranch holiday make sure you pack comfortable riding items over tourist garb if you are planning to spend time in the saddle. Jeans are ranch uniform, but source specific riding jeans without an inside leg seam to look the part while finding long hours in the saddle a lot less chafing. If you’re buying new jeans for the trip, wash them a few times before you go – it will soften them.

If heading to a ranch with changeable weather, pack lots of layers. If it might be wet, pack some waterproof clothing. If it’s going to be hot, choose strap tops and light, long-sleeved technical layers or shirts to protect your skin from the sun. Unless your hands are already used to hours holding reins, wear leather or leather-reinforced gloves. Choose boots with a low heel or, to really feel the part, cowboy boots.


If you’re not used to time in the saddle, you’ll probably appreciate some padded underwear (they sell these for horse riding and cycling) and, ladies, a sports bra is essential for any riding faster than a walk (you can thank us later). As a general rule, wear big ‘Bridget Jones’ pants and save the thong for the evening – it’s never comfortable to ride in a G-string.


2. Riding Hat


Deserving of a category all to itself is the riding hat.  Many ranches recommend that you wear safety-tested headwear when in the saddle and some even provide these for you – check with your individual ranch to find out more.  If you do have your own riding hat, take it with you because it will be a better fit.


If you are more of a cowboy hat type, ensure that yours fits well at all speeds – there’s nothing worse than a hat flying off mid lope that you then have to hold the whole group up to retrieve. Baseball caps, like cowboy hats, offer some protection from the sun, so if you’re not wearing a riding hat, wear one or the other.


3. Consult the Activity List


What are you planning on doing during your stay? Most ranches offer more activities than just riding, such as water sports, hiking or a visit to the local rodeo. While cowboy boots might be just fine for a trip to the local saloon, you’ll need real walking boots if you are planning taking on the local scenery on two legs. For time out of the saddle, pack some comfortable, general activity footwear, such as trainers and flip flops. If your ranch has a pool or jacuzzi then don’t forget your swimming kit or you’ll miss out, and pack a couple of evening outfits and a pair of smarter shoes for formal dining in some of the fancier ranch restaurants.

Skijoring at the Triple Creek Ranch.  Photo Credit: Triple Creek

Skijoring at the Triple Creek Ranch. Photo Credit: Triple Creek Ranch

4. Lotion and Essentials


As well as your essentials, pack sunscreen for hot days and fly repellent, especially if you are heading for a lakeside location. To save yourself some packing, consider buying toiletries when you reach your destination. Some ranches offer complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc., so you might be able to pack lighter than expected – check with your ranch for more details.     

Speaking of personal grooming, check if hairdryers and similar items are provided for your stay by your ranch, and leave these items at home if possible. There is no point wasting time in your room on your hair when you could be spending the time loping on trails, where it’s just going to get naturally ruffled anyway.

5.  Keen Photographer?


You might bring all of your equipment with you on holiday to capture every minute of your ranch stay, but make sure you don’t forget the compact camera, too. The SLR might be the professional’s choice, but it’s not practical on horseback. Instead, bring along a good camera case and neck/wrist strap with your compact camera to make sure you don’t lose it mid ride. And pack lots of memory cards, there will always be “just one more shot” you want to capture.


If you are taking a camera or any other electrical device, don’t forget any chargers or necessary adapters.


6.  Drinks


On a ranch holiday, it’s particularly important to stay hydrated so slip a round, flat-sided canteen into your bag for water out on rides. For the evening, some ranches have a ‘Bring your own’ policy for alcohol, so if you enjoy a glass of wine or sip of beer with your sunset check with your ranch in advance. Then, if necessary, you can stock up on the way in.


7.  Leave Room in Your Suitcase


Top50 Ranches advises you leave at least a quarter of your suitcase empty. Why? Because you’re going to want to shop! You’ll need room for gifts, authentic cowboy boots and bargain jeans – trust us.


8.  You!


You are the most important element on a ranch holiday – take your senses on an exciting, new adventure! If you have chosen a holiday with a lot of riding, build up your fitness beforehand, but most of all prepare for one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a ranch regular and one of the family, like so many guests before you.


Now that you know what to pack, all you need is the right ranch for you.  Visit www.Top50Ranches.com to find your ideal ranch holiday. Choose from nine marvelous Montana ranches (http://www.top50ranches.com/Ranches.aspx?cat=0&l=Montana) or another of the world-wide ranches to suit you.


**This is a guest blog written by Top50Ranches.**


Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana, Sleigh Ride

Photo Credit: Lone Mountain Ranch


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