Outdoor Gear to bring to Olympic National Park

46 Essential Olympic National Park Packing List Items

So, you’ve decided to plan a trip to Olympic National Park. Get ready for an epic adventure!

It’s one of our all-time favorite national parks, and we find ourselves making a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula multiple times a year.

Berty Mandagie at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

Berty and I have traveled to the Olympic National Park during all seasons, in all types of weather. We know exactly what to put on your Olympic National Park packing list, and we’re sharing all the juicy details with you here!

Keep scrolling for our all-season list, and scroll down even further for seasonal additions along the way.

Happy packing!

The Complete Olympic National Park Packing List For All Seasons

Let’s start with an all-season packing list for Olympic National Park.

We’ll dive into specifics for each of the seasons below, but this first section is dedicated to things you’ll need any time of year in Washington.

What To Wear in Olympic National Park

1. Rain Jacket

What To Wear In Olympic National Park - Rain Jacket

No matter what time of year you visit the Olympic National Park, you should be packing a rain jacket. It is the Pacific Northwest after all.

Choose one that is lightweight, and can be stuffed into a day pack or small backpack.

However, if you’re visiting in the winter or spring (the rainier months) consider a more heavy-duty rain jacket like these ones from San Poncho. They are a local PNW brand!

Read More: The 7 Best Rain Jackets For The Pacific Northwest

2. Waterproof Shoes / Boots

It’s essential to add a pair of waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to your Olympic National Park packing list.

During your trip, you may find yourself crossing streams, hopping tide pools, or walking through a muddy forest.

The landscape is so vastly different depending on what area you visit, but being wet will be a constant throughout!

Read More: The 12 Best Hiking Boots For The Pacific Northwest

3. Rubber Boots

Looking to get up close to the waves? Consider packing a pair of rubber rain boots too!

This will give you a little more freedom to wander the shores, streams, and Washington coast tide pools with a little more protection.

4. Lots of Layers

From mountains to oceans, lakes to rainforests, there is a huge diversity of landscapes on the Olympic Peninsula.

It’s essential to be prepared for any type of weather in Olympic National Park!

If you pack in layers, you can easily peel them off if you get too hot, or add them if you get too cold.

Here are the layers you should be packing:

  • Base Layer: Merino wool base layers or quick-dry synthetic fabric. NO cotton. (Cotton can hold on to water and make you feel colder.)
  • Fleece Jacket: This layer retains heat and keeps you warmer.
  • Rain shell or windbreaker. Depending on the weather, the outer layer should keep you away from the elements.

5. Quick-Dry Underwear

Did you know the Olympic Peninsula is one of the wettest places on earth?

Packing a few pairs of quick-dry bras and underwear will ensure you always have a dry set to wear every day.

6. Long Pants

No matter what time of year you visit, long pants are always a good addition to your Olympic National Park packing list.

Not only do they keep you warmer, but they can also protect you on hikes in the Olympic National Park.

We love these ones from REI because they are convertible from shorts to pants!

7. Wool Socks

Why wool socks specifically? Generally, wool will still keep you warm even if the material gets wet.

This is especially important to consider when planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Tide pools, sneaker waves, and other beachside activities have a high chance of you getting splashed!

8. Fleece Jacket

A fleece jacket is an excellent layer to add to your Olympic NP packing list.

Fleece is lightweight and paired with other layers, it keeps you warm.

Personally, we like full-zip ones from Patagonia for easy ventilation, but the quarter-zip kind comes in tons of fun patterns and colors.

9. Windbreaker Jacket

If you plan to be hanging out on the beach, you need to add a windbreaker to your Olympic National Park packing list.

Windbreakers will keep you warm even when the wind is whipping, which is quite often on the beach and up on Hurricane Ridge!

10. Gloves or Mittens

Essentials for the Olympic National Park - Gloves

During the winter in Olympic National Park, cold and wet is a common combination!

We find that gloves and mittens are essential, especially if you are planning a snowshoe trip to Hurricane Ridge or hiking Mount Storm King trail.

I’ve had these glove liners for years, and they are tech compatible too!

Accessories To Bring To The Washington Coast

11. Toiletries Bag

To keep your Olympic toiletry items organized, clean, and secure, keep them in a toiletry bag. There are so many cute ones to choose from nowadays!

If you are packing your items separately from other travel companions we like these shower rolls by REI.

If you are traveling with your family, consider choosing this one, which holds everybody’s items in one convenient hanging bag.

12. Sun Hat

While you may opt for a beanie in the rainier months, the short summer season brings enough sunshine to merit protection!

Protect your skin in style with a cute hat! Our favorites are from Gigi Pip. They have felt styles and straw styles (+ more!), and are perfect for any given season.

13. Sunglasses

Along with a hat, sunglasses will protect your eyes from any harsh rays.

The sunsets are on the horizon in the evenings, so on a clear day, you’ll get plenty of sunshine in the summer!

Choose these sunglasses from Goodr – they are built for active people, and will stay on your head, even when running!

14. Warm Hat

Coming to Olympic National Park in the late fall or winter? Chances are that the sun won’t be much of an issue, but the wind surely will!

We like to pack at least one or two beanies with us on our trips. They will keep you warm as you walk along the beach, or if you’re sitting outside around a bonfire.

15. Packing Cubes

If you like to stay organized on trips (like me!), we highly recommend using packing cubes!

Using them, you can sort out your clothes by type (shirts, pants, underwear, etc) or by outfit.

We also pack an empty packing cube on purpose, to use for dirty laundry. This way, they stay separate in your bag!

16. Hair Ties

Washington beaches can get windy, especially on hikes that have cliffside views of the coast!

Pack a few extra hair ties in your bag to tame those flyaways.

My favorites are these ones from Anthropologie. I’ve bought this set time and time again!

17. Small Wallet / Waist Pack

Generally speaking, the Olympic Peninsula is a pretty safe and laid-back place. However, we don’t recommend leaving valuables in your car anywhere you park.

For comfort, pack a small waist pack to keep cash, cards, and keys on hand.

If you don’t want your items visible, you can also opt to get a small neck wallet and tuck it away under your jacket or in your shirt.

18. Cash & Debit/Credit Card

Most places on the Olympic Peninsula take credit cards. However, in small towns, you may encounter cash-only transactions!

Pack both cash and cards in your wallet to prepare for any situation.

ATMs are common in bigger Olympic peninsula towns like Port Angeles, Sequim, Olympia, and Aberdeen.

19. Travel Insurance (Optional)

As stated above, the Olympic Peninsula is generally a safe place to travel. However, weather can still change so quickly!

If you are concerned about your trip being interrupted, it’s a safe bet to purchase travel insurance.

Travel insurance can cover things like a health emergency, travel changes, and even more specifics if you want. This one is up to you and your comfort level.

Travel Tech & Electronics

20. National Park Pass

To see most of the Olympic National Park, a pass is required!

Day passes per vehicle cost $30 (for 7 consecutive days) and are purchased at the gated entrances to the park.

If you plan to see more than 3 parks in the year, it’s actually more cost-effective to buy an American the Beautiful Pass.

It’s an annual national park pass, which gives free entry into all parks, national forest land, and more!

21. Park Maps

The Olympic National Park is huge, nearly 1 million acres!

Make sure to grab a free national park map at any of the Visitors Centers (Hurricane, Quinault, Hoh Rainforest, Kalaloch).

Camera gear for the Olympic National Park

22. Camera

Some of the best Washington photo spots are on the coast. Don’t forget to capture those moments and bring a camera!

It doesn’t have to be a fancy one either – smartphones now take just as high-quality images. We even made a guide on how to take epic smartphone landscape photos.

Want To See Our Setup? Read Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List

23. Binoculars

Bird watching? Whale watching? If scoping out wildlife is your jam, consider bringing a pair of travel binoculars.

This way, you can hang them around your neck on the trail and be ready for a surprising sighting!

Depending on the time of year you visit, you can spot sea lions, Orca whales, and more.

24. Waterproof Phone Case

If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time around the water, pack a waterproof phone case.

We can’t even count how many times our phone has dropped out of our pocket on the sand or a tide pool. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

25. Power Bank

Have you ever been stuck in an unfamiliar place with a dead phone? Trust us, it’s not fun!

Pack a pocket-sized power bank and an extra phone charging cable. This way, you have power on hand when you need it.

26. Extra Cords or Chargers

Because Berty and I travel a lot, we’ve learned that outlets in hotels or Airbnbs aren’t always in the most convenient places!

This is why we bought 6ft phone charging cords on Amazon. When the only outlet is clear across the room, it’s a lifesaver!

Outdoor Gear to bring to Olympic National Park

Outdoor Gear To Bring To Olympic National Park

27. Gaiters

If you are visiting in winter, early spring, or later fall, gaiters need to be on your Olympic National Park packing list.

Gaiters keep your socks dry and prevent mud and water from getting in from the top of your shoes. Grab these inexpensive ones by Outdoor Research.

28. Backpack Rain Cover

Chances are likely that you’ll encounter rain during your hike.

If you want to keep the elements off your bag, investing in a backpack raincover is affordable and makes a huge difference!

29. Water Bottle

Yes, it rains in the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean you should stop hydrating!

You can’t go wrong with a classic Nalgene water bottle. They are super versatile and inexpensive!

30. First-Aid Kit

First aid kits are one of those things you hope to never use, but are SO grateful to have in an emergency!

Make sure it covers the basics like the 10 hiking essentials, hand sanitizer, bandages, and ibuprofen.

If you know you’re going on a more strenuous adventure, it’s essential to pack a first-aid kit tailor-made for adventurers. This kit by Adventure Medical Kits is the perfect size for 2x day hikers!

31. Tide Schedule

What to bring to Olympic National Park in February - Tide charts

One of the most essential items for your Olympic National Park packing list is a tide chart!

The tides determine which areas of Washington beaches are accessible, especially when visiting Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach.

The tides also determine what activities are available, and what you can do or see.

Pick up a tide chart at the front desk of your hotel, or find your location and TidesChart.com.

32. Compact Towel

There are a million and one uses for a compact towel.

Drying your camera lens, toweling off after a long hike, laying it down to put your wet gear on, drying off after an ocean dip…you get the idea!

These Pack Towels are super soft and absorb 4 times its weight in water!

33. Retractable Hiking Poles

Hiking poles are a great idea for Washington hikes that require a little more elevation or distance.

Pack them on trails like insert hiking trails here

34. Paracord Bracelet

For peak preparedness, double up on emergency gear that’s also a fashion statement!

A Paracord bracelet that doubles as an emergency rope is great to have fore many reasons.

You can use it to set up an emergency shelter, tie things down from the wind, and more!

35. Day Pack

Pack up all your hiking gear and snacks in a daypack.

We like to choose one with comfortable shoulder straps and made of a water-resistant material.

36. Sunscreen

While you may know the Pacific Northwest as a rainy region, it’s still very possible to get burned by the sun!

Make sure to put some sunscreen on your Olympic National Park packing list, especially if you are visiting in the summer months.

37. Bug Repellent

Mosquitoes are a nuisance in the summertime!

This is especially true on nearby lakes, as still water is a breeding ground for these pesky insects.

Pack some bug spray for use in the mornings and evenings (which is peak time for mosquitos).

38. Water Bottle

You may be in the presence of water, but that doesn’t mean you can take a break from hydrating! Pack a wide-mouth bottle for easy cleaning and filling on the go.

39. Snacks

Snacks are such a customizable thing – you can get as fancy or as cheap as you want!

Read More: 15 Easy Hiking Snacks To Bring On The Trail

What to pack for the Olympic National Park - Headlamps

40. Headlamp

If you are planning any kind of early or late adventure, it’s important to add a headlamp to your Olympic National Park packing list.

Camping Gear

Going camping in the Olympic National Park? Here are some things to consider bringing on your next Washington adventure:

41. Tent

Berty and I like tents that are a good balance of roomy and lightweight.

We ultimately chose the REI Half Dome SL2+, which holds two people plus gear. It’s super roomy on the inside without being overly heavy.

It’s definitely our tent recommendation for the Olympics!

42. Tarp

Whether you suspend it over your tent or place it under, a tarp is almost always necessary when camping in the Olympics.

The ground seems to be perpetually wet, and a tarp helps keep a little bit of that water off your sleeping area.

43. Sleeping Bag

If you have hips like me, traditional mummy bags can feel like a straight jacket.

I finally caved and bought the Disco 30 from Nemo, and am kicking myself for waiting this long!

44. Sleeping Pad

Sleeping pads are an important part of keeping you warm at night!

Yes, they add extra cushion so you’re off the ground, but they also act as insulation to keep your body heat actually at your body.

I’ve had this Therm-a-rest sleeping pad for years, and still love it!

45. Bear Canister

When backpacking in the Olympics or camping on the beach in Washington, a bear canister is required.

The BearVault BV450 fits just enough food for a backpacking trip weekend for 2.

46. Tablecloth

Olympic National Park picnic tables are notorious for being water-logged and mossy. Invest in a forever camping tablecloth with this one from REI.

It wipes off super easy, packs away small, and has a side organizer so you can store napkins, utensils, and other camp kitchen essentials.

47. Extra Garbage Bags or Plastic Bags

After executing a fun Olympic National Park itinerary, you’ll likely be packing up your things wet, muddy, or just plain dirty!

Berty and I like to bring a few extra garbage bags, so we can tuck away any super-soiled gear before packing it back up in the car.


Olympic National Park Packing List (By The Seasons)

In addition to all of the above items, here’s what to specifically pack for the Olympic National Park based on the seasons.

What To Pack For Winter in Olympic National Park (Dec, Jan, Feb)

What To Pack For Olympic National Park in Winter

Rain. You can always rely on it during winter on the Olympic Peninsula!

Temperatures average between the high 10s and low 30s which means bundling up is essential.

You’ll want to pack plenty of extra layers during this season and add these extras to your Olympic NP packing list:

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Neck gaiter for warmth
  • Waterproof Coat / Parka
  • Rain pants
  • Long Underwear
  • Extra towels
  • Extra Trash Bags (to store wet boots and clothes)
  • Hair dryer (to speed up drying wet gear)

What To Pack For Spring in Olympic National Park (March, April May)

What To Pack For Olympic National Park in the Spring

Spring on the Olympic Peninsula is a transitional month. You’ll find that there will be sunny days sprinkled in with rainy days.

Expect your Washington coast vacation to consist of a mix of indoor AND outdoor days.

Here’s what we suggest adding to your Olympic National Park packing list for spring:

  • Rain cover for your backpack
  • Tarp and bungee cords
  • Games: Easy travel games include Bananagrams, UNO, and the classic deck of cards.
  • Camp blanket (with waterproof side)
  • Picnic Basket

What To Pack For Summer in Olympic National Park (June, July, August, September)

You might be wondering, “how do people dress for the Olympic National Park in June?”

Well, it’s pretty common to see the same clothing items worn year-round on the Washington coast but summer brings out a few more short sleeve shirts and shorts!

Here’s what to add to your Olympic National Park packing list for the summer:

  • Water sandals to wade in the ocean waves
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit / Wetsuit
  • Beach Games / Volleyball
  • Cooler
  • Beach Blanket
  • Camping Chairs
  • Bonfire Supplies: Firestarter, paper, matches, wood

What To Pack For Fall in Olympic National Park (October, November)

The Olympic National Park in the fall is our personal favorite time to visit! It’s the season when the snow has mostly melted on the mountains, which means high-elevation trails and backpacking spots are clear.

t’s also when the leaves change for the season, so your trips are extra colorful!

Expect to pack a few extra layers for some late evenings out. Think warm and cozy!

Add these to your Olympic National Park packing list in the fall:


Do NOT add these items to your Olympic National Park Packing List

So what should you NOT add to your Olympic Peninsula packing list? Here are some things we suggest leaving at home and why:

Pets

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in Olympic National Park. They do have some limited trails and areas available, but none of the major areas allow pets.

Fancy Clothes

The Olympic Peninsula is a generally laid-back, casual place. With notable exceptions for fancy dinner reservations, nice clothes are not necessary. In act, you’d probably stick out quite a bit!

Most people in Washington wear outdoor causal gear (think Patagonia fleece, Blundstones, and a Carhartt beanie)

Impractical or uncomfortable shoes

A lot of Olympic National Park activities require moving around quite a bit. If your shoes are uncomfortable, that’s going to affect nearly everything you do!

This isn’t the time to try out new shoes, so add a pair of tried and true kicks on your Olympic packing list.

Leather or suede (untreated)

Have a nice pair of shoes or a high-quality piece made of untreated suede or leather? Chances are, it’s going to come in contact with saltwater one way or another!

If you’d rather not have water stains on your nice items, we suggest leaving them at home.

An exception would be things like leather hiking shoes or boots like Blundstones. These are treated with a water-resistant coating and can handle some water!


Let’s Wrap Up Your Olympic National Park Packing List

We hope you enjoyed our take on what to pack for an Olympic National Park vacation.

The coast is a pretty casual and outdoorsy place. If you stick to the guidelines of low-key, active, and warm items, you’ll be just fine!

Did we miss anything on our Olympic National Park packing list? Have any additions to make? Leave them in the comments below!

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