So you booked tickets to Seattle and now it’s time to figure out what to pack for Seattle.
As an area local, I’ll say your top concerns are probably how to stay dry in Rain City, what to bring for hiking, what to wear in Seattle, and ways to make traveling through the city as easy as possible. Luckily, I’ve got the ultimate Seattle packing list for your Pacific Northwest adventure!
We’ll go over what essentials and clothing to pack for Seattle and cover a few bonus packing and travel tips to ensure you don’t forget anything on your visit to explore all the fun stuff to do in Seattle.
Table of Contents
- Seattle Packing Checklist
- Clothing to Pack for Seattle in the Summer
- Clothing to Pack for Seattle in the Winter, Spring, and Fall
- Seattle Packing Tips
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Seattle Packing Checklist
This is one way to stay dry in the city. In my list of Seattle travel tips, I mentioned that most locals don’t use umbrellas, but a travel umbrella is a cost-effective option if you’re trying to do Seattle on a budget and can’t (or don’t want to) invest in a high-quality rain jacket. This travel umbrella is compact and easy to stow away, and it can hold up to the wind that comes with a torrential downpour.
One of the best things to do in Seattle is check out the city parks, gardens, and other green spaces. To make your excursions a real treat, I recommend bringing an outdoor blanket with you. This one is great because of its waterproof bottom layer and the soft top layer which means you can enjoy it, even on wet surfaces, while you people watch, read or take a nap. Whether you want to relax by the Space Needle or picnic on a mountain, this will serve you well.
Reusable Shopping Bags
Because Seattle grocery stores and retail shops charge for bags, it’s useful (and more environmentally friendly) to pack a couple of reusable bags with you on your trip. Not only will you save a few cents, these space-saving bags fold down to pocket-size, but are sturdy and roomy enough to fit produce and flowers from Pike Place Market or knick-knacks from shops in Fremont.
You’ll probably be doing a lot of walking on your Seattle trip, and may even plan to explore the many hiking trails near Seattle. All that walking could set you up for some nasty blisters. If you’re prone to blisters or want to be extra cautious, I recommend grabbing a set of these blister patches which are comfortable, waterproof, and help heal blisters or protect problem areas.
We’ve been longtime fans of the Osprey Daylite pack for multiple reasons. It’s comfortable, functional, and can fit whatever you need on a day out exploring, plus anything you pick up from a shop. Take it with you through downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, or up to the mountains. This durable bag is a great investment that will hold up for years.
Anker portable chargers are some of the best on the market. Besides coming in handy while you’re out exploring, taking photos, looking up directions, or calling a rideshare, they’re great to have when you visit a coffee shop. With this, you won’t have to wrestle for a spot near an outlet. The Anker PowerCore holds multiple charges so you’ll never have to worry about running out of battery at an inconvenient time.
Many hikes near Seattle happen to be up mountains, which means there are a lot of steep climbs. Hiking poles are great to have if you plan on doing some trekking on your trip. These poles are adjustable, have a wrist strap, and a cork handle that’s perfect for moisture-wicking. They also come at a very reasonable price for their quality.
If you’re looking for a hyper-organized travel backpack to use instead of a traditional rolling suitcase, the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack is it. This pack has been tried and tested by the Travel Lemming team and we love that it blends a suitcase and hiking backpack into a practical and carry-on friendly bag to take on your travels. The backpack is roomy and comfortable and, while a little pricey, is a worthy investment for serious travelers bouncing from city to city.
If you’re heading to a national park on your visit or hitting up the hiking trails, your Seattle packing list should include bug spray. Ranger Ready is our top pick because it’s a non-toxic formula that uses Picardin instead of DEET, and won’t make you feel greasy or sticky even with a liberal application. If you’re prone to bug bites, this is just what you need in your pack.
Upgrade your packing game by investing in some Gonex packing cubes. These are made of strong, rip-stop material, compress to squeeze extra air out, and the set even comes with a laundry bag. They’ll come in handy if you’re packing for multiple occasions, like a night out at the opera and a nearby day trip to a national park or small town. Because these solve a common travel frustration (figuring out how to get everything in a tiny bag) they’re high on our list of what to pack for Seattle.
Quick Dry Towel
A fast-drying towel is a handy tool for your trip. Forgot your umbrella or raincoat and got caught in an unexpected downpour? Swam in an alpine lake or ducked into the Puget Sound? Dry off with this. This quick dry towel will serve you well no matter the occasion, and its super soft material means it won’t irritate your skin.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is one essential that you’ll never regret bringing with you. Especially make sure to bring one while hiking, camping, or backpacking at one of the national parks. You’ll be prepared for the worse, and may even be able to avoid a costly trip to a doctor. This highly rate first aid kit comes with multiple sizes of bandages, ointments, creams, aspirin tablets, and more to ensure you’re able to treat yourself if needed.
If you start a hike in the afternoon and find it growing darker sooner than you thought it would, you’ll want a headlamp with you. This waterproof headlamp with six brightness settings is my personal favorite to use while camping. It can get darker than you think in the wild, so one of these is essential if you want to avoid a nasty fall.
No one likes the airport scramble of checking your pockets to figure out where you put your ID, cash, or boarding pass. That’s why this travel wallet is a must. It has room for multiple passports, boarding passes, credit cards, a pen, vaccination information, and any other important documents you need to travel with. This is our top choice for anyone traveling with kids or searching for a way to make travel a little more organized.
Water Bottle Filter
Seattle’s tap water is safe to drink, but if you find yourself out hiking or backpacking, you’ll need to filter water before you drink it. The Lifestraw water bottle and filter is an easy solution to make sure you don’t consume contaminated water on the trails.
Simply fill the bottle and sip the water through the straw, which does all the filtering. Even if you’re not off in the wild, if you have any reservations about drinking tap water, this is a great purchase to make.
- Simple & flexible
- Balances price & quality
- Upfront transparency about covid (no insurer covers all covid risks, but at least they explain it!)
- Not available to seniors 70+ in USA (or 65+ in other countries)
With so much uncertainty in the world (especially over the past two years), it’s wise to purchase travel insurance before you come to Seattle. This will save you the hassle of last-minute scrambling should you lose your possessions, experience flight mishaps, end up in a natural disaster, or need emergency medical attention. You don’t want to take chances when it comes to your health and safety, which is why World Nomads, which covers all of the above, is Travel Lemming’s top choice when it comes to travel insurance.
Other Seattle Essentials to Pack
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Face wash and moisturizer
- Glasses or contacts
- Contact solution
- Prescription meds
- Over the counter meds
- Hand sanitizer
- Additional toiletries (razors, makeup, etc)
- Books or e-reader
- Chargers (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
- Passport or ID
- Vaccination information
- Neck pillow
- Face masks
- Eye mask
Clothing to Pack for Seattle in the Summer
Seattle is a pretty casual city so you don’t need to overthink your wardrobe, but you should still carefully consider your clothing options for your Seattle packing list. This way, you won’t forget something you need and end up having to skip an activity, or spend money on an item you already have but left at home.
The seasons will determine what you bring, so we’ll start with what you should pack for Seattle in the summertime.
Here is a quick clothing checklist for what to wear in Seattle during warmer months:
- 2-3 shorts
- 4-6 t-shirts
- 2-3 sundresses
- 1-2 dressier shirts
- 1 pair of long pants or jeans
- 1 light jacket
- 1-2 swimsuits
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5-6 pairs of socks
- 1 set of pajamas
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 sun hat or baseball cap
- 1 pair of water shoes
- 1-2 set(s) of clothes to hike in
- 1 fleece jacket
- 1 pair of hiking boots
That sums up the clothing you’ll need for a summertime visit to Seattle. Here are some specific items you’ll want to consider:
Summer is about the only time you won’t need to bring a rain jacket to Seattle. Despite the nice weather, in the summer you might be faced with some cooler evenings. This Levi’s jacket for women (and Levi’s military jacket for men) is light enough to include with the rest of your summer gear, and it has a hood to keep you dry should you get caught in unseasonable weather.
Fleeces are a staple in Seattle wardrobes, perfect for layering and hiking in every season, and Columbia’s are some of the softest, most affordable, and well-designed.
If you’re hiking in the late summer, expect it to get cold at the top of the mountain or beneath the tree canopies. Taking a day trip to the Washington coast will also prove chilly, even in the middle of summer. This Columbia fleece in both the men’s and women’s versions is a PNW staple that’s lightweight enough to carry in your bag, and warm enough to keep you comfortable when you need it.
Lightweight, breathable, and easy to move in are qualities that make these great hiking pants.
These joggers are a comfortable and affordable choice to enjoy the great outdoors. They’re easy to move in and quick drying so even if you’re hiking on a hot day you won’t have to worry about overheating or getting too sweaty. As a bonus, the longer length gives you extra protection from bugs. This similar pair for men has many of the same features as our pick for women.
Washington beaches are beautiful, but a lot of them are quite rocky with a fair amount of driftwood to navigate. If you want to go exploring on one of Seattle’s rocky beaches, a nice pair of water shoes will come in handy. We love these in both the men’s and women’s styles because they have a sturdy sole and mesh exterior so they’ll dry quickly and can be worn both on the beach or during your city exploration.
If you’re going to one or even all three national parks in Washington on your visit to Seattle, you’ll want a good pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes. Your choice of footwear will come largely down to personal preference, but these Salomon hiking boots are great for those who like boots with good ankle support (also available in men’s version). They’re lightweight, waterproof, and will give you the grip you need while going uphill, downhill, over rocks, and more.
Clothing to Pack for Seattle in the Winter, Spring, and Fall
If you’re visiting in the spring, fall, or winter, you’re likely to encounter Seattle’s rainy weather. This means you’ll need to come prepared with slightly different clothing than you would for a visit in the summer months.
So what should you wear in Seattle outside of summer? You’ll want to be prepared for unpredictable weather and bring things to keep you warm and dry, but that you can easily remove if it starts to get uncomfortably warm.
Know that there may be some summer packing list crossover if you visit in the shoulder seasons like May or September, but for the most part a visit outside of summer will warrant the following:
- 2-3 pairs of long pants
- 4-5 long-sleeved shirts
- 1-2 warm sweaters
- 2 pairs of warm wool socks
- 4 pairs of regular socks
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 1 pair of waterproof boots, waterproof shoes, or rain boots
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 1-2 sets of warm pajamas
- 1 dressy shirt
- 1 water-resistant/proof rain jacket
- 1 down jacket
- 1 down vest
- 1 beanie
- 1-2 scarves
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 set of clothes to hike in
- 1 pair of hiking boots
- 1 set microspikes
Want a little more direction on what to bring? Here are some more specific suggestions to help you narrow down your options:
Rain jackets are a Seattle staple and the number one way to stay dry here. They should be at the top of your Seattle packing list. There are a few qualities that make a great rain jacket. You want something waterproof, easy to layer with, and packable.
That’s why Patagonia Torrentshell Jackets are great. These are classified as “rain shells,” so you’ll need to make sure you layer under them to keep warm, but they’ll keep you dry, and you can roll them up into themselves so that when the rain stops you can stow them in your bag and go. Both the women’s and men’s versions come in multiple colors so you can rock something fun while you stay dry.
👉 Pro Tip: While the Patagonia Torrentshell is a high-quality choice, you can get a decent rain jacket for half the price. I recommend grabbing a Columbia Rain Jacket if you want to be protected from the rain, but don’t want to make quite the investment just yet!
Footwear is another important thing to consider when visiting during the rainy season. Hunter rain boots are the most popular choice. They come in men’s and women’s sizes, and different lengths, from ankle to knee, making them a good pick if you want to be protected from puddles that splash onto your calves.
My other rain shoe recommendations include LL Bean Duck Boots (my personal favorite) because they look great and can easily double as winter boots if you’re here when it snows. For people who want something a bit more fashionable, I suggest going with Chelsea Boots.
Darn Tough socks are a great option for making sure your feet stay nice and cozy and dry fast if they do happen to get wet.
Having a nice pair of wool socks when visiting Seattle will ensure that your feet stay warm and that if they do get wet, the moisture will wick away quickly. One great thing about Darn Tough socks is that they have a lifetime guarantee, so there’s no reason to worry about them getting holes or breaking down (if they do, just send them in for a new pair for free!). These socks should be at the top of your list of clothing to pack for Seattle.
If you’re going to the mountains in the colder months, you’re much more likely to encounter snow on the trails. Have a pair of microspikes handy so you can avoid any nasty slips as you’re going up and then back down the trails. I like these because they’re lightweight, easy to fit over your shoes, and will give you just the right amount of traction on a path.
This North Face jacket helps keep you warm without the risk of overheating.
In the height of winter, a “puffer” jacket is great to have on hand. These will keep you warm through any amount of biting chill in the winter months. The North Face is a popular and trusted brand here and they make a range of jackets that work well in the Seattle weather. We like this jacket (which also comes in a women’s version) because of its packability and reliable warmth without the bulk.
You’ll see a lot of locals in vests and sweaters come fall and it’s because it’s one of the best pieces to layer with when the days and weather are still pretty unpredictable. Bring a vest to keep your arms unencumbered but your body warm. You’ll be comfortable if the temperature heats up in the afternoon and plummets again by the evening. This basic and useful vest comes in a women’s version as well.
Seattle Packing Tips
Don’t Neglect Sun Protection
Although clouds and rain are Seattle’s most common weather companions, don’t think you shouldn’t pack your sunscreen and sunglasses. UV rays can pierce through clouds even on rainy days! If you’re planning on being outside a lot, be sure to apply sun protection so you don’t return from your Seattle trip with a totally avoidable sunburn.
Pack Smart for Hikes
If you have some hikes listed on your itinerary, make sure you pack smart for them. Research trail conditions on Washington Trails Association ahead of time and bring the 10 essentials in addition to your other gear. Getting out on a hike is definitely worth doing for visitors of all experience levels, but you never want to wind up in a situation you’re unprepared for.
Do Laundry to Resist Over-Packing for Seattle
Chronic overpacker? Plan on doing laundry halfway through your trip to reduce the number of clothes you need to pack. Even if there’s no washer/dryer where you’re staying, there are tons of easily accessible laundromats around town you can use.
Prepare to Wear Layers
Anyone asking what to wear in Seattle will be advised to dress in layers. This is sound advice, especially if you visit Seattle outside of summer when the weather can be wild and random (think sunshine, hail, windstorms, and rain all in one day). Pack layers like fleeces and vests to ensure you’re prepared to go with the flow of Seattle’s strange weather.
Dress Comfortably and Casually
Seattle is a casual city, and most people dress for practicality and function. Seattle style tends to be darker colors and more athletic wear. Dress up if you want, but know that it’s also okay to bring your comfortable digs on a trip here. You’ll fit in with a long-sleeve, plaid shirt, a good rain jacket, and anything from North Face or REI. Just make sure you also bring a good pair of comfortable walking shoes (Seattle’s hills can be brutal!), and you’ll be all set.
Now you know exactly what you should pack on your trip to Emerald City. By using this list, you’ll be readily prepared to travel in the Pacific Northwest at any time. Happy exploring!
Want to expand your travels beyond Seattle? Be sure to check out my other PNW and Washington state guides to discover some other cool spots to visit (this packing list is perfect for those places too!):
- 19 Best Things to Do in Bellevue
- 23 Best Things to Do in Tacoma
- 27 Best Places to Visit in Washington State
- 33 Best Things to Do in Washington State
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