What to Pack for the Pacific Northwest

You are confirmed on your UnCruise for this fall, congratulations! Fall 2021 in the Pacific Northwest is going to be like no other. Washington and Oregon’s wild creatures and wild places have rested for a year during the pandemic’s travel pause. You are smart to be grabbing the opportunity now! You chose the perfect itinerary, boat, and cabin for you. You’re fully vaccinated, tested, and raring to go. Now, what’s on the packing list?




Let’s talk about Pacific Northwest weather. Western Washington is in a temperate rainforest. This means that no matter what time in the season you are traveling, it’s very likely that it will rain at least part of the time. That's how we get the moss-covered trees towering over ferns. Fear not, intrepid adventurer! Like true trail blazers, UnCruisers hike, skiff, and kayak in all weather that is safe.

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear.

Starting at your all-important feet, understand that this is not your typical hiking at a trail nearby. Your first and most important piece of gear is rubber boots that reach your upper calf. You may wear them daily. Every time you go ashore you will need to be prepared for a “wet landing”. You get on a rubber skiff and your guide will take your small group to shore. From there, each guest will swing their legs over the side of the skiff and step down into water. That’s right. Every time you go hiking, you may start by getting off into up to a foot of water!

Rubber boots are a must! The good news is that UnCruise carries a stock of rubber boots, and you can borrow a pair for free. Those boots are all medium width and range from a women’s size 5 to a men’s size 12. No need to buy a pair and take up that much weight and space in your luggage. Just pack a pair of insoles for arch support if you like, and definitely lots of socks! 

Next, raincoat AND PANTS. Those you do need to bring as there will not be any to borrow on board. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive, especially the pants, but you want gear that is waterPROOF, not water RESISTANT. Ideally, the jacket should have a hood. Hats are great (we recommend those too), but hoods keep that rain water from sliding down the back of your neck. And the pants are important for this type of trip. When hiking, you may very well want to rest sitting on a log or rock … which will be wet, even if it isn’t raining right now. 

Even sitting on a skiff for a photography / marine life viewing outing, you may get spray on your legs. When a whale or orca breaches nearby, you are definitely going to get splashed!


For your clothes, think layers. Prepare for adventure time with long and short sleeve options and a thin layer to go under your jeans – like leggings or long underwear. A heavy sweatshirt with a hood is a good idea. And did I mention the socks? The rubber boots will keep the ocean and the creek out of your shoes, but you will still sweat. Clean dry socks are such a pleasure – also lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to pack! Avoid cotton in general for an active vacation. Clothes made from wicking fabrics or wool do a better job at handling sweat, splash, and rain. 

There are no laundry services on board for the 7-night cruises, so you will wear the same clothes more than once. And THAT IS OKAY. Nobody is going to look at you funny. We have no dress code other than to dress for the conditions.

You have clothes covered. What else? You will find binoculars, walking sticks, and water bottles to borrow onboard, so no need to pack those. Bring your camera and all of the cards, charging wires, etc. that you need for it. The Pacific Northwest is stunning and you will take some of the best pictures of your life there. If you want to use a laptop computer to store and edit photos, by all means, but be aware that we are UNPLUGGED. Never fear, there are outlets in your cabin. But there is no Wifi and very seldom will you find cellular service. Part of the experience is to connect to the people you are traveling with and to nature. Connect back to the world at large when you get back to port. Instead, bring a good book or a movie to watch before turning in at night.

The most important things to pack take up no space in your suitcase. Bring an open mind and heart. Don’t forget your curiosity, willingness to try new things, and patience. Kindness and respect for the places that we go, the creatures that we see, and the people that we travel with are mandatory.