So, you’ve decided to plan a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Lucky you!
First off, we want to say, welcome, and you’re in good hands! Berty and I definitely know a thing or two about putting together a PNW packing list. This is because 1.) we live here, and 2.) we’ve experienced during all seasons, all types of weather, and in all sorts of activities.
Since we get lots of emails from people planning trips out here, we were inspired to create a packing list for the Pacific Northwest for aspiring visitors like you.
Keep scrolling for our all-seasons list, and scroll down even further for our seasonal additions for more weather-specific gear.
Need some places to check out in the Pacific Northwest? Check out these posts below!
- An Amazing Trip Down The Pacific Coast Highway
- Amazing Adventures To Take In The Pacific Northwest
- Take A Road Trip Around The Olympic Peninsula
- Beautiful Olympic Peninsula Locations
- Best Photography Locations In The Washington State
The Complete Pacific Northwest Packing List
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are completely our own!
Let’s start with an all-season packing list for the Pacific Northwest. We’ll dive into specifics for each season below, but this first section is dedicated to things you’ll need any time of year.
Bags To Bring To The Pacific Northwest
There are a few kinds of bags you should be bringing to the Pacific Northwest.
If you planning on packing in a carry-on only to travel to the Pacific Northwest, note that most airlines will take up to a 45L bag. Consider those requirements when deciding to fly!
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite travel backpacks in this post, and the best ones also include being waterproof!
1. A Rugged, Waterproof Duffel
When choosing a bag for your Pacific Northwest adventure, consider one with lots of compartments, a little rugged, and a lot waterproof. We’ve rounded up our favorite weekender bags and duffels here!
2. A Day Backpack
Hiking in the Pacific Northwest is easily one of the best things to do in the region. Prepare by bringing a day backpack to hold all your hiking essentials like water, extra layers, and snacks.
We like to choose one with comfortable shoulder straps and made of a water-resistant material.
Bonus points of you can find one you like that packs really small, like these REI flash packs!
Accessories To Bring To The Pacific Northwest
3. A Hat
Okayyyyy a hat in the Pacific Northwest – are you crazy?
The reality is, you can actually get sun burned even through the perpetual cloud cover, and sun protection is super important!
4. Packing Cubes
If you like to stay organized on trips, we highly recommend using packing cubes!
With packing cubes, you can sort out your clothes via 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!
5. Small Wallet / Waist Pack
Depending on where you go in the Pacific Northwest, trailheads and parking lots can be easy targets for stealing valuables. 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. This one isn’t really necessary (the PNW is pretty safe) but it’s an option if you really want it.
Tech For Your PNW Trip
Cash and Card
Nearly everywhere in the Pacific Northwest take credit cards. However, in very small towns (like on an Eastern Oregon road trip), you may encounter cash-only transactions.
Pack both cash and cards in your wallet to prepare for any situation. ATMs are common in bigger towns like Bend, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, but don’t rely on them in smaller towns.
9. Travel Insurance (Optional)
As stated above, the Pacific Northwest is generally a safe place to travel. However, in today’s world, things 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.
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. (Here are our smartphone photography tips here!)
Bird watching? Whale watching? Bear sightings? If scoping out wildlife is your jam, consider bringing a pair of travel binoculars.
You can easily hang them around your neck on the trail to be ready for a surprising sighting!
22. 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.
21. Waterproof Phone Case
If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time near 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, in a puddle, or a near tide pool. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
23. 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!
What To Wear In The Pacific Northwest
Curious about what to add to your PNW packing list? Living here, we’ve got the complete list to help you blend in like a local!
16. Rain Jacket
No matter what time of year you visit, 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. We really love this one by Outdoor Research!
10. Lots of Layers
The PNW can be calm and sunny one moment, and the next will bring high winds and rain! It’s essential to be prepared for any type of weather when planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Here are the layers you should be packing:
- Base Layer: Merino wool 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 wind breaker. Depending on the weather, the outer layer should keep you away from the
For casual evenings around the bonfire, a casual hoodie will do just fine! It’s important to have plenty of layers, even in the summertime in the Pacific Northwest.
17. Windbreaker Jacket
If you plan to be hanging out on the beach, you need to add a windbreaker to your Pacific Northwest packing list. Windbreakers will keep you warm even when the wind is whipping, which is quite often on the beach!
You can double up on a windbreaker/rain jacket combo too, so you don’t have to pack two separate coats.
15. Fleece Jacket
A fleece jacket is an excellent layer to add to your PNW packing list.
Fleece is lightweight and paired with other layers, it keeps you warm. Plus, they come in tons of different colors and patterns, so you can look awesome in your rented cabin in the PNW!
14. 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 shores, streams, and Oregon coast tide pools with a little more protection.
13. Waterproof Shoes / Boots
To protect your feet on rainy hiking trails, consider bringing a pair of waterproof boots or sturdy shoes on your PNW packing list.
During your trip, you may find yourself crossing streams, squelching through mud, or getting in the way of a sneaker wave. (Like at Cape Perpetua)
11. Long Pants
No matter what time of year you visit, long pants are always a good addition to your PNW packing list.
Long hiking pants protect your legs from ticks and other bugs. They can also prevent you from getting scratched by underbrush and keep mud off your body!
12. Wool Socks
Why wool socks specifically? Generally, wool will still keep you warm even if the material gets wet. (Which is very likely to happen in the Pacific Northwest!)
This is especially important to consider when planning for a trip to the PNW. Rainy trails, beachside curiosities, and walking along the shoreline brings a high chance of getting wet!
Outdoor Gear To Pack For A Pacific Northwest Trip
If you’re packing for a Pacific Northwest trip, chances are, it’s probably going to involve some kind of outdoor adventure.
If your trip is of that nature, here are some outdoor gear considerations to add to your PNW packing list!
If you are planning any kind of early or late adventure, it’s important to add a headlamp to your Pacific Northwest packing list. Our favorite brands are Petzl and Black Diamond, for reliable and long-lasting batteries.
24. Tide Schedule
The tides determine which areas of the beach are accessible. 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.
25. Pacific Northwest Plant Book
Are you a plant lover like us? The Pacific Northwest is packed full of unique flora and fauna just waiting to be identified! From mushrooms, moss, evergreens, and more, there’s something to discover around every bend of the trail!
This is our favorite Pacific Northwest plant ID book. We like to take this on our hikes to ID plants on the go!
26. Doggy Bags
If you are traveling with your pet, make sure to bring extra doggy bags! It’s important that you pick up after your pooch on the trail, but even more ESSENTIAL on Oregon coast beaches or Washington beaches.
The waves and water combined with poop can be a huge hazard to others on the beach. Keep an eye out for your dog!
27. Retractable Hiking Poles
28. Paracord Bracelet
For peak preparedness, double up on emergency gear that’s also a fashion statement!
A Para cord bracelet that doubles as an emergency rope is great to have on slightly more challenging hiking trails. We never recommend getting too close to the edge of any ledge or ridge, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had some rope!
32. 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.
Snacking is such a customizable thing – you can get as fancy or as cheap as you want!
Personally, we like to visit a grocery store and pick up a bottle or local Oregon wine for a coastal picnic. Other times, we bring our own coffee and make Aeropress brew mid-hike. The choice is yours!
Read More: 15 Easy Hiking Snacks To Bring On The Trail
PNW Packing List (By The Seasons)
Each season in the Pacific Northwest brings unique considerations and essential gear.
In addition to the above listed items, here’s what to add to your PNW packing list depending on the season you visit!
Packing list for the Pacific Northwest in the Winter (Jan, Feb, March)
Rain. You can always rely on it during winter in the Pacific Northwest! Temperatures average between the 30s- low 50s in most areas, which means bundling up is essential. Up in the mountains, you can even experience lower temps in the deep of winter.
You’ll want to pack plenty of extra layers during this season and add these extras to your PNW packing list:
- Waterproof Coat / Parka
- Rain pants
- Long Underwear
- Extra Trash Bags
Get more specific: 40 Winter Essentials For Every Winter Travel Packing List
Packing list for the Pacific Northwest in the Spring (April, May, June)
Spring in the Pacific Northwest is a transitional time.
You’ll find that there will become sunny days sprinkled in with the occasional rainy day, and no matter how many times yo check the forecast, the weather is unpredictable.
Expect your Pacific Northwest vacation to consist of a mix of indoor AND outdoor days.
Here’s what we suggest adding to your PNW packing list for spring:
- Games: Easy travel games include Bananagrams, UNO, and the classic deck of cards.
- Camp blanket
- Adventure books
Packing list for the Pacific Northwest in the Summer
You might be wondering, “how do people dress for the Pacific Northwest in June?”
Well, it’s pretty common to see the same clothing items worn year-round in the PNW, but summer brings out a few more short sleeve shirts and shorts!
Here’s what to add to your PNW packing list for the summer:
- Flip flops or sandals
- Swimsuit / Wetsuit
- Beach Games / Volleyball
- Beach Blanket
- Camping Chairs
- Bonfire Supplies: Firestarter, paper, matches, wood
- Bug Spray
Packing list for the Pacific Northwest in the Fall
Some of our favorite times in the Pacific Northwest are in the fall season!
It’s also the season of transitional weather, which means the skies are clearer for more vivid sunsets. Expect to pack a few extra layers for some late evenings out. Think warm and cozy – this is the perfect time to bundle up in cabins to rent in the PNW.
Add these to your PNW packing list in the fall:
- Travel Mug
- Extra Socks
- Jean Jacket / Light Jackets
- Twinkle lights
Did we miss anything? What would you list on your PNW packing list? Comment below!
Want to see more packing list ideas? Check out our Packing List Pinterest board for more resources!