Nothing is worse than going to an amazing destination like Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest only to realize you didn’t pack the right clothes to wear. A good packing list can make the difference between a great vacation and life raining on your parade, but no worries. I’ve put together just what you need.
What is the Great Bear Rainforest?
The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest temperate rainforest in North America, spanning the northwest coast of British Columbia from Knight Inlet to the Alaskan Panhandle, and an hour’s flight northwest from Vancouver.
A vast region the size of Ireland, the Great Bear Rainforest is home to extraordinary biodiversity and stunning landscapes. A backdrop so beautiful it’s hard to imagine it’s not a Hollywood creation.
Such incredible scenery can be enjoyed on a multi-day small-boat cruise or staying at a lodge deep in the heart of the region. Either choice promises an extraordinary holiday.
Let’s just say there is a good reason they call this region a rainforest. The moist air from the ocean colliding with the mountains results in significant rainfall up to 13 feet a year. Summer days between June through August are cooler, averaging 54 degrees, while winters are slightly warmer at an average of 30 degrees.
Packing List: What Clothes to Wear in the Rainforest
Soft-sided luggage like a duffle (ok if it has wheels) is your best bet especially if you need to fly into your destination within the rainforest on a bush plane. The soft sides make it easier to squeeze bags into the small luggage compartments. Options include a waterproof version without wheels I love. A duffle that’s water-resistant with wheels, and one that is water-resistant without wheels.
If you’re tight on space, consider investing in a few compression bags to give you a little more room.
What to Pack for Outdoors
There’s a saying, there is “no bad weather, just bad gear.” In the Great Bear Rainforest it’s a good notion to take to heart since weather is so volatile.
Pack layers. On a sunny summer day, you may want a t-shirt, but when clouds appear, the temperature drops.
Merino wool is the best investment. It’s warm but not too heavy and anti-microbial, which means they stay fresher longer between washings.
I wear Woolx tops and bottoms. The lightweight version is a little flimsy and see-through, but I like the mid and heavyweight items a lot.
Include long sleeves and short sleeves with quick-dry fabric.
Sweater or fleece.
Be sure to pack a couple of fleeces and/or a warm sweater to wear over your layers.
Lightweight puffy coat
For extra chilly moments, a packable puffy coat is immensely useful as another layer of warmth, especially when it rains.
On cooler days, jeans are fine if you have rain pants you can wear over your denim, but not good if they get wet.
Shorts or lightweight hiking pants are good on warm days.
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Waterproof Shell or raincoat to wear over your layers. Rain pants, hat (one with a wider brim is a good idea. Don’t rely on the hood of your coat), and waterproof gloves will come in handy if you’re on the water or out hiking when the skies open.
Warm Headband or Cap
I brought a wool headband and a warm cap I was able to fit under my hat.
Comfortable Shoes / Hiking Boots
Comfortable, warm, waterproof shoes and/or boots will come in handy. (Tip: Check with the lodge, outfitter, or tour guide you’ve booked, they may supply waterproof boots to muck around in.)
Warm wool socks that dry quickly.
Check where you are staying. Hot tubs and saunas are common in these parts.
Even with the clouds, the sun’s rays can do a number on you. Be environmentally conscious and use sunscreen that’s environmentally safe.
Polarized lenses are the best because they remove glare, which you’ll appreciate, especially when you are on the water.
Waterproof Daypack For Excursions
If you plan to kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, you’ll want a good pair of water shoes.
If you plan on fly fishing you may want your own waders
Comfy hanging out clothes
For those times you’re inside. Cozy sitting in front of the fireplace kind of clothes. Stay casual. The Great Bear Rainforest isn’t the place for fancy duds. Wrap yourself in flannel, soft cotton, and cuddly cashmere.
Eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner
Facewash and moisturizer
Prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications in case you have a headache, get sick, have a bout of diarrhea––like a Boy Scout, be prepared.
Glasses and extra contact lenses
Nail file / nail clipper
A good book/ Kindle / music
Gadgets You may Want to Pack
You’ll likely need a daypack for any excursions. One that can stand up to rain is even better.
Accommodations usually have a few binoculars on hand, but if you want to guarantee you’ll have one when you want it, bring it.
If you’re a photography enthusiast and want to capture close-up portraits of wildlife, you’re going to need a long lens—400 mm minimum. I used a Canon 5D Mark iV, the 100-400mm lens, and the 1.4 extender to capture my images. I used a 24-70mm lens to create environmental portraits and landscape photos.
If you have a point and shoot (ie.. the lens is not interchangeable) pay attention to the length of the “optical” zoom, not the “digital” zoom. If you enable the digital zoom, the quality drops significantly.
A Go-Pro is great to have along for videos (obviously, smartphones can work well too. It depends on the quality you want and whether you have an interest in grabbing underwater footage too).
Great Go-Pro Accessories for capturing your adventure
Reusable Water bottle (check your accommodation, they often give guests reusable water bottles.
Capture those details you want to remember but likely to forget once you’re home.
Small dry bags you can use for personal items when you’re on the water. If your backpack is waterproof (see below), that’s even better.
For When You’re Relaxing
If you’re somewhere that doesn’t have multiple outlets this baby is just what you need. It’s a must-have for all my trips.
Don’t forget an outlet adapter for the USB.
Nothing like immersing yourself in a good book and glass of wine.
Depending on your accommodations, if you enjoy sharing music with those around you, this travel speaker is first rate.
Don’t forget to have plenty of cash with you for tips. While not compulsory, tipping at least the guide is considered good form. 10% per person of a cruise or accommodation’s cost is the norm.