Everything You Need to Pack for a Hike in Ireland
Over nine million tourists visit Ireland every year. What's not to love about its lush natural beauty and its fruitful relationship with literature? Not to mention its music history and how tasty Guinness is.
If you're jet setting to the Emerald Isle soon, you need to pack appropriately.
Ireland is unlike any other nation in the world, so a poorly packed bag can make or break your trip. This is especially true if you plan on going on a long hike in Ireland. The island has a cool and damp climate that can make spending time outdoors unbearable if you're not prepared.
With so many scenic hikes at your disposal, you'd be amiss not to add hiking to your bucket list.
Keep reading to find how to pack to make the most of your Ireland hikes.
Water is an essential item you'll absolutely need to pack. When you are exercising, you lose water through both your breath and your sweat.
Your body needs water to help it move and exercise efficiently. Think of water as the lubricant your body needs to operate at its fullest potential.
When you're hydrated, your heart won't need to work as hard to pump blood. Your oxygen and body nutrients will be able to move to where they're required to get you through your hike.
It's imperative to make sure you're drinking enough before, during, and even after your hike.
Drink at least 440 to 590 ml in the two hours leading up to your trek.
Aim to bring at least 500 ml of water for every hour of your hike. You may drink more or less than that, depending on your hydration habits. If you are taking on challenging terrain or a lot of uphills, bring extra water.
Consider bringing powdered beverage mixes for extra electrolytes and energy. Protein powder is great for multi-day hikes as it provides an easy way to consume extra protein.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the body doesn't have the right balance of water and electrolytes to carry out its normal functions. If you're losing more fluids than you're taking in, you can get dehydrated.
Untreated dehydration can lead to complications like heat injury or hypovolemic shock.
It's essential to know the symptoms so you can treat it right away. Here are some of the main signs of dehydration to look for:
- Less frequent urination despite an increase in fluids
- Insatiable thirst
- Sweating less than usual
Knowing these signs will help prevent dehydration.
Food is a hiker's best friend. You're going to need the energy to complete your trek. What better way to get said energy than through a good nosh session?
Your hiking energy levels will be determined by what you're eating before you head to the trails. Be sure to start your day with a healthy and satiating meal. Fuel up with a breakfast of carbohydrates and protein to help you tackle what the day will bring.
Oatmeal is a high fibre breakfast chock full of healthy carbs. This makes it the perfect choice for fueling up before the big day ahead of you. Mix in protein powder or have a side of eggs for a dose of protein.
Snacking During Hikes
If you have a long day of hiking ahead of you, bring snacks you can eat on the go. This will help you limit the number of breaks you'll need so you can finish your hike faster.
Snacks with complex carbohydrates that are high in protein are your best bet. Some great options for on-the-going eating include:
- Energy or protein bars
- Beef jerky
- Trail mix
- Fruit (dried or fresh)
- Nut butter sandwiches
- Energy chews or gels
These foods all provide a combination of the macronutrients you'll need for energy.
If you're embarking on a multi-day hike, bring foods that are easy to prepare. One-pot meals like pasta, oatmeal, rice, or instant noodles will be satiating and easy to clean. Plus, all these foods are high in carbs to help provide energy.
Look for packets of chicken, tuna, or Spam. These are lightweight snack and meal options chock full of protein without the bulk of canned meat.
Speaking of cans, resist the urge to bring canned goods. Though they are convenient, they will weigh you down. Plus, they create bulky trash that you'll have to carry with you for your entire hike.
You can also bring freeze-dried or dehydrated meals. Though they're expensive, they provide unparalleled convenience for backpackers.
While snacks and water are essential, if you're not dressed right for your hike, you'll struggle.
It rains a lot on the island, especially along the west coast where it rains between 1000 and 1250 mm a year. Some mountainous regions report rainfalls over 3000 mm.
The eastern half of Ireland experiences a "rainshadow effect." The mountains surrounding the eastern region protect it from getting as much precipitation as the west. They report around 750 and 1000 mm per year.
Regardless of which part of Ireland you're visiting, waterproof gear is a must. Let's take a closer look at what waterproof clothes for hiking you'll need.
A waterproof jacket will keep the rain off of you and keep your under layers dry. The right coat will also protect you from any harsh winds you may encounter.
Your jacket should be breathable to prevent you from sweating too much.
Gore-Tex is a fantastic waterproof fabric for jackets. It's a breathable membrane that can repel liquid water while still allowing vapours to pass through. This means you'll stay dry from the rain and your own sweat, too.
The North Face, Marmot, REI Co-Op, and Arc'Teryx manufacture great waterproof jackets.
The last thing you want to do is go for a hike while you're sloshing around in wet pants. Rain pants or over-trousers with side zippers are a great choice. The side zippers make them easier to pull on and off your boots.
Look for options that are lightweight and breathable with venting options. You might want pockets for storage, too.
We all know how uncomfortable it is to walk around in wet socks all day. Even in the summer months, the ground can become damp and boggy under your feet. That's why you need to invest in a high-quality pair of waterproof hiking boots.
Look for options with a sturdy sole and strong ankle support. You'll want a pair that provides enough traction so you can keep your footing on unstable terrain. Merrell, Mammut, Danner, and Timberland are all great brands to seek out.
Avoid cotton at all costs when it comes time to choose your socks for hiking. Cotton is excellent in many situations, but its moisture-absorbing features make it less than ideal for trekking.
Waterproof socks are the best option for long hikes. They feature three layers to help keep water while remaining breathable. This allows your feet to still sweat without getting soggy or blistered.
A waterproof bag or rucksack is an indispensable companion when packing for hikes. What good is packing for your hike if all your equipment gets soaked after the first drizzle?
Our 45 L backpack provides plenty of space for all your hiking needs. It's made with strong and durable fabric and features a waterproof lining so your equipment stays dry. There are plenty of pockets and compartments for storing your small items, too.
If you don't fancy backpacks much, maybe our crossbody rucksack will be more your style. It's smaller than the 45 L option, making it an excellent pick for shorter hikes. It still provides several pockets for storage and even an external USB port.
If you're hiking during the dry months of the year, a water-repellent pack will work. Our expandable rucksack can hold up to 39 L without feeling too bulky on your back. It has a built-in USB port and padded straps to keep you comfortable during your hike.
Stay Away From Cotton
Cotton is a great fabric that serves many purposes in the fashion world. It is, however, not the best choice for hikers.
Its moisture-absorbing features and heavyweight make it less than ideal. Not to mention, it makes regulating your temperature very difficult and takes a long time to dry. This is not a good mix for hiking in Ireland's already cool and damp climate.
You may not need to bring an umbrella while hiking in a forested area, but it's not a bad idea to have one. You will find yourself using it as you explore cities and small villages, anyway. The wind is frequent and intense in Ireland, but especially in late autumn and early spring.
First Aid Kit
Anything can happen when you're out in nature, so you will need a first aid kit in your rucksack. Blisters, sprains, cuts, and sunburn are all common hiking injuries you should be ready to treat.
Your kit will need several essentials to ensure you're ready in case of an emergency. These essentials are:
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibacterial ointments
- Plastic bandages in assorted sizes
- Elastic bandages
- Insect sting treatment
- Hand sanitizer
- Rehydration salts
Be sure to keep these on hand and in your pack before leaving for your trip.
Even though we've told you how rainy and chilly Ireland is, you still need to bring sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the region.
Look for a sunscreen that says 'broad spectrum' on the label. This ensures that it will protect from both UVA and UVB rays.
Don't forget to reapply every few hours if you're hiking in the sunshine.
Hiking is a strenuous workout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a 154-pound person burns a whopping 370 calories per hour hiking. That means a six-hour hike could lead to a burn of over 2200 calories.
This kind of effort is bound to lead to you working up a good sweat. If you don't want to use your jacket to wipe your brow, you'll need a towel.
A microfiber towel is an excellent investment for those days when it's not pouring rain. Wear it around your neck to let it do its job of clearing up your dripping sweat. Our towel is also quick-drying, so even if it does rain, it'll dry fast.
The views in Ireland are unlike anywhere else in the world. You would be amiss to begin your trek without a pair of compact binoculars in your rucksack. With this handy tool at your disposal, you can spot exotic flora and fauna of the island.
See if you can find any of Ireland's 450 species of birds. Maybe you'll even be able to spot the rare Irish hare or pine marten with your binoculars.
It's not difficult to get lost in the mountains or bog wilderness in Ireland. If the weather turns south unexpectedly, you'll need a compass to help you find your way. You might want to consider bringing along a map to help guide you home.
You can also bring a GPS or satellite communicator if you're wary about your navigational skills. Be sure to bring enough batteries to juice up your electronics if you need to use them.
Enjoy Your Hike in Ireland
The Emerald Isle is a beautiful country with a breathtaking landscape that shouldn't be missed. Don't let a little bad weather hold you back from taking a hike in Ireland. With our helpful tips, you'll be set for whatever weather comes your way.
Don't forget to commemorate your trip when you return. We recommend our high-quality Scratch Off Map Set to keep track of where you've been on your travels. Not only are the maps a beautiful accent for your home, but a motivation for future travel, too.