So, you’ve decided to take a Vancouver Island road trip to Tofino. Lucky you!
It’s one of our all-time favorite destinations, and we constantly are trying to find ways to return over and over again. It’s just too beautiful to visit only once!
Berty and I have spent a lot of time doing the best things to do in Tofino. We also live year-round in the Pacific Northwest, so we know the weather very well. We know exactly what to put on your Tofino packing list, to keep you warm, dry, and having fun during your trip.
Keep scrolling for our all-season list, and scroll down even further for seasonal additions along the way.
The Complete Tofino Packing List For All Seasons
- The Complete Tofino Packing List For All Seasons
- What To Wear To Tofino
- Footwear To Pack For Tofino
- Accessories To Bring To Tofino
- Toiletries To Pack For A Tofino Trip
- Tech For Your Tofino Packing List
- Outdoor Gear To Bring To Tofino, BC
- Tofino Packing List (By The Seasons)
- What To Pack For Winter in Tofino (Dec, Jan, Feb)
- What To Pack For Spring in Tofino (March, April, and May)
- What To Pack For Summer in Tofino (June, July, August, September)
- What To Pack For Fall in Tofino (October, November)
- Do NOT add these items to your Tofino Packing List
- Let’s Wrap Up Your Tofino Packing List
- MORE VANCOUVER ISLAND ADVENTURES
Let’s start with an all-season packing list for Tofino.
We’ll dive into more specific items for each season below, but this first section is dedicated to things you’ll need any time of year.
What To Wear To Tofino
1. Lots of Layers
The ocean 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 In Tofino.
Here are the layers you should be packing:
- Base Layers: Merino wool or quick-dry synthetic fabric for tops. NO cotton. (Cotton can hold on to water and make you feel colder.)
- Fleece Jacket: This layer will retain heat and keeps you warmer.
- Rain shell or windbreaker. Depending on the weather, the outer layer should keep you away from the elements (which there are a lot of in Tofino!)
No matter what time of year you visit Tofino, you should be packing a rain jacket! It is the Pacific Northwest after all.
No matter the season, long pants are essential to add to your Tofino packing list.
Not only do they keep you warmer, but they can also protect you on hiking trails in Tofino. This way you don’t get scratched by underbrush and you keep mud off your legs!
We like to choose these hiking pants by Fjallraven. They are water-resistant, and have reinforced fabric for durability in the elements.
Leggings are a popular thing to wear in Tofino.
They can be worn by themselves, of layered with other pants if you need extra warmth from the cold.
We like these one from Vuori because everything from Vuori is soooo comfy!
5. Wool Socks
Why wool socks exactly? Wool tends to still keep you warm even if the material gets wet.
This is especially important to consider when planning for a trip to Tofino. Tide pools, kayaking, and other beachside activities have a high chance of you getting splashed!
We like Darn Tough socks because they are so durable!
6. Warm Beanie
Curious about what to wear in Tofino in November, December or really any colder months?
Chances are that the sun won’t be much of an issue, but the wind and cold 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.
7. Extra Swimsuits
If you’ll be venturing out in the ocean on a kayak or paddle board, it’s likely you’re going to get wet!
Things don’t dry quickly in Tofino, so you’ll want a rotation of 2 or 3 swimsuits so you always have a dry one to wear.
8. Fleece Jacket
A fleece jacket is an excellent layer to add to your Tofino packing list.
Fleece is lightweight and paired with other layers, it keeps you warm. They often come in really fun colors too, like my favorite yellow one from The North Face.
9. Windbreaker Jacket
If you plan to be hanging out on the beach, you need to add a windbreaker to your Tofino packing list. Windbreakers will keep you warm even when the wind is whipping, which is almost always happening on the beach!
You can double up on a windbreaker/rain jacket combo too, so you don’t have to pack two separate coats.
This one by Patagonia an investment piece, but it will be the last coat you ever buy.
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 Tofino.
11. Yoga Gear or Workout Clothes
There are so many opportunities to join a community workout or yoga class in Tofino.
It may seem weird to be working out while you’re on vacation, but you definitely won’t regret doing yoga on the beach or running through the rainforest in the morning here!
12. Pajamas or Loungewear
Nothing beats throwing on a warm pair of sweatpants and a cozy sweater after a long day in the elements.
Pack 1-2 pairs of super cozy sweatpants (Vuori is our favorite) and a matching cozy sweatshirt to relax in style.
Footwear To Pack For Tofino
13. Shoes To Wear In Town
You’ll want a comfortable pair to shoes to slip on when walking around downtown. Our immediately go-to pair is Blundstones.
They are comfortable, versatile in any weather, and definitely keep up with the Vancouver Island fashion!
They are initially quite an investment, but trust us, it will be a pair that will last you a decade (at least!)
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 the shores, streams, and tide pools with a little more protection.
15. Waterproof Shoes / Boots
To keep the waves at bay, consider bringing a pair of waterproof boots or sturdy shoes on your Tofino packing list.
During your trip, you may find yourself crossing streams, hopping tide pools, or accidentally getting in the way of a sneaker wave. You’ll want waterproof boots to keep your feet dry!
16. Water Sandals (Summer Only)
If you’re visiting Tofino in summer, there’s a high chance you’ll be spending most of your time on the beach.
We recommend the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 sandals, which are water-safe and super comfy. They feel good even after wearing them an entire day of walking, and they wash off really well.
Accessories To Bring To Tofino
17. Sun Hat
While you may opt for a beanie in the rainier months, Tofino actually has quite a bit of sunshine and daylight during the summer!
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. Here are some of our favorites:
Along with a hat, sunglasses will protect your eyes, especially when on the beach. Yes, the weather might be foggy, but it can still be quite bright outside.
The sunsets are on the horizon in the evenings, so on a clear day, you’ll get plenty of sunshine!
19. Reusable Water Bottle
While Tofino has an abundance of water surrounding it, it’s mostly salt water! Make sure to fill up a reusable bottle to bring on your day trips. Our favorite is this 32oz one, with the straw lid!
20. Beach Bag
You will inevitably be spending a lot of time on the beach, probably hours at a time!
Make sure to bring a sturdy beach bag like this one from REI, to hold all your items for the day.
21. Beach Towel
Whether you’ll be using your towel to dry of post-surf sesh, swimming, or simply sitting on the beach, you’ll need to bring a beach towel.
22. 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!
23. Small Wallet / Waist Pack
Generally speaking, Tofino is a pretty safe and laidback 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.
24. Cash & Debit/Credit Card
Most places in Tofino take credit cards. However, in small towns or mom and pop shops nearby, you may encounter cash-only transactions!
Pack both cash and cards in your wallet to prepare for any situation. ATMs are common in bigger Vancouver Island cities like Victoria, Nanaimo, Campbell River, and Port Alberni.
25. Travel Insurance
As stated above, Tofino 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.
26. Your Passport
If you are planning a trip to Tofino from abroad (like the USA), you MUST NOT forget to put your passport on your Tofino packing list!
Toiletries To Pack For A Tofino Trip
27. Toiletries Bag
To keep your Tofino 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 separate from other travel companions we like these shower rolls by REI.
If you are traveling with your family, consider choosing this one, that holds everybody’s items in one convenient hanging bag.
28. Contacts of Glasses
Don’t forget your glasses! I know I need mine when looking far away, which is essential on any Tofino wildlife watching tours.
If your a contact wearer, don’t forget your lens solution and carrying case.
If you’re like me and have very specific skincare items, you don’t often want to bring the entire bottle! I used these GoToob reusable bottles to fill up with exactly the amount I need before a trip.
Bonus, they are dishwasher safe, TSA-approved, and reusable for years and years!
30. Travel Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Don’t forget to pack these essential hygiene items! To save on space, we like to pack travel-sized items like this small travel toothbrush and toothpaste. Don’t forget dental floss too!
31. Face Wash + Skincare Essentials
I’m a huge skincare fan, so I’m constantly making room to pack things like my hyaluronic acid and retinol.
However, you can easily get away with a simple face wash at the end of the day. My favorite is from CeraVe.
You may think the humidity of Tofino would be good for your skin, but the saltwater contact isn’t!
Make sure to pack a lightweight moisturizer that fits your skin type.
33. Hair Ties
Tofino can get windy, especially on hikes that have cliffside views of the coast, like the Cox Bay Lookout.
Pack a few extra hair ties in your bag to tame those flyaways. My absolute favorite ones are these from Anthropologie (I have bought these multiple times)
34. Shampoo and Conditioners
You might be able to get away with the hotel shampoo and conditions, and that’s perfectly fine. (Less things to pack!)
However, if you’re picky like me about your hair products, it’s best to bring your own. Use refillable travel bottles that can hold a little more products.
Nobody likes a stinky travel companion. Use whatever you have on-hand. On vacation is not the time to try out new products.
If your deodorant is liquid-form, make sure it’s TSA-appropriate if you are flying to Tofino.
36. Feminine Hygiene Products
You can’t always plan your vacations around your period. If you expect to get yours during your Tofino vacation, makes sure to stock up on your favorite tampons or pads.
Alternatively, try out a menstrual cup! They are reusable and only need to be changed in the morning and the evening. Then, you can spend more time exploring!
Tech For Your Tofino Packing List
Some of the best Vancouver Island 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.
Here are some of our essential resources about travel photography:
- Our complete travel photography gear list
- 31 smartphone photography tips
- The 12 best 35mm color film
- 12 Film Cameras for beginners
38. Camera Rain Shell
You spend a lot on your camera gear – it’s important to protect it! The Peak Design Camera Shell wraps around your camera and keeps it semi-weather sealed.
Perfect for capturing storms and shooting in the rain!
Bird watching? Whale watching? If scoping out wildlife is your jam, consider bringing a pair of travel binoculars. It’s even more essential to bring if you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife viewing tour.
This way, you can hang them around your neck on the trail and be ready for a surprising sighting!
40. Waterproof Phone Case
If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time around the water, pack a waterproof phone case. Especially if you want to go kayaking, canoeing, boating, or SUPing.
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!
41. 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.
42. 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 Tofino, BC
43. The Tide Schedule
One of the most essential items for your Tofino packing list is a tide chart!
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. Like at Chesterman Beach, there is an island accessible only at low tide. You don’t want to get stuck out there!
Pick up a tide chart at the front desk of your hotel, or find your location here.
44. Our Vancouver Island Itinerary
Is your trip to Tofino part of a larger Vancouver Island road trip? Check out our free downloadable guide to plan stops at all the best places!
We’ve covered all the stops in this blog post here!
45. Dry Bags
Dry bags are so useful for keeping things safe from the water, which you with inevitably be near!
These ones from Sea To Summit come in several different sizes, to keep things like your phone, camera, and other electronics away from the water.
46. Doggy Bags
If you are traveling with your pet, make sure to bring extra doggy bags! It is ESSENTIAL that you pick up after your pooch on the beach.
The waves and water combined with poop can be a huge hazard to others on the beach. Keep an eye out for your dog!
47. Retractable Hiking Poles
Hiking poles are a great idea for Tofino hikes that require a little more elevation or distance.
48. Shovels and Sand Castle Equipment
One of the best things about a family vacation to Tofino is building sand creations!
It’s the perfect place for kids to play and dig in the sand, which is why you should bring along this sand castle building kit to let their imagination run wild.
49. Day Pack
Pack up all your hiking snacks and gear in a daypack. We like to choose one with comfortable shoulder straps and made of a water-resistant material.
These can hold all the 10 essentials for hiking, including water, extra layers, snacks, and a first-aid kit.
We suggest something that is between 18 and 24 liters, like these once from REI.
While you may know the Pacific Northwest as a rainy region, you can still get burned by the sun here!
Make sure to put some sunscreen on your Tofino packing list, especially if you are visiting in the summer months.
51. 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 evening during the summer season (which is peak time for mosquitos).
52. 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 the local grocery store and pick up whatever the locals are getting. 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
If you are planning any kind of early or late adventure, it’s important to add a headlamp to your Tofino packing list.
55. Surfing Gear
No matter what time you visit Tofino, if you are surfing it will be with a wetsuit. However, in the winter, you’ll probably be wanting to add a hood, gloves, and booties.
It’s almost guaranteed that your surfing rental will come with a wetsuit, but if you have particular things you want to wear and you’re an experienced surfer, it’s best to bring your own surfing gear in Tofiono.
Tofino Packing List (By The Seasons)
In addition to all of the above items, here’s what to specifically pack for Tofino based on the seasons.
What To Pack For Winter in Tofino (Dec, Jan, Feb)
Rain. You can always rely on it during winter in Tofino! Temperatures average between the 30s low 50s, which means bundling up is essential.
You’ll want to pack plenty of extra layers during this season and add these extras to your Tofino packing list:
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Extra socks
- Cozy slippers
- Waterproof Coat / Parka
- Rain pants
- Long Underwear
- Extra Trash Bags (to store wet clothes in transit)
- Laundry bag (to store wet or dirty clothes)
What To Pack For Spring in Tofino (March, April, and May)
Spring in Tofino is a transitional month. You’ll find that there will be some sunny days sprinkled in with the rainy days.
Expect your Tofino vacation to consist of a mix of indoor AND outdoor days.
Here’s what we suggest adding to your Tofino packing list for spring:
- Games: Easy travel games include Bananagrams, UNO, and the classic deck of cards to play inside on bad weather days.
- To-go mugs
- Camp blanket
- Picnic Basket
What To Pack For Summer in Tofino (June, July, August, September)
You might be wondering, “how do people dress for Tofino in June?”
Well, it’s pretty common to see the same clothing items worn year-round on Vancouver Island, but summer brings out a few more short sleeve shirts and shorts!
Here’s what to add to your Tofino packing list for the summer:
- Flip flops or sandals
- Swimsuit / Wetsuit
- Beach Games / Volleyball
- Beach Blanket
- Camping Chairs
- Bonfire Supplies: Firestarter, paper, matches, wood
What To Pack For Fall in Tofino (October, November)
Tofino in the fall is the storm-watching season! It’s also the season with less marine layer, 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!
Add these to your Tofino packing list in the fall:
- Travel Mug
- Wearable blanket
- Extra Socks
- Jean Jacket / Light Jackets
Do NOT add these items to your Tofino Packing List
So what should you NOT add to your Tofino packing list? Here are some things we suggest leaving at home and why:
Tofino 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 Tofino wear outdoor causal gear (think Patagonia fleece, Blundstones, and a Carhartt beanie)
Impractical or uncomfortable shoes
A lot of Tofino 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 Tofino 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 Tofino Packing List
We hope you enjoyed our take on what to pack for a Vancouver Island 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 Tofino packing list? Have any additions to make? Leave them in the comments below!