Outdoor Gear to Pack for Spring Adventures in Vancouver

A couple are walking in the forest in Stanley Park in Vancouver. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout

Spring is a gorgeous time to hit the trails in Vancouver, but the weather can change quickly, so you might be wondering what to bring. Our Vancouver spring packing list for outdoor adventures has tips on what to bring and how to prep for your hike.

 

Spring Weather in Vancouver

Vancouver’s mild climate means that spring has a mix of warm days and cool ones, but it’s never too chilly. In March, April, and May, temperatures are typically 4 to 17(40 to 63

Like most places, Vancouver experiences spring showers. On average it rains 17 days a month in March, 15 days in April and 10 days in May. It rarely rains all day – we often get periods of drizzle interspersed with overcast skies. And of course, Vancouver gets sunny spring days too.

It’s important to keep in mind that while it may be warm and sunny at sea level, the mountains can be quite different. If you are heading up to the peaks in spring, be prepared for cold, snow, ice, and slush.

 

Spring Hiking Tips

Keep the AdventureSmart 3 Ts in mind: Trip Planning, Training, and Taking the Essentials. Part of trip planning is researching trail conditions before you go. Snow lingers in the mountains, so unless you have experience hiking in snow, it might be best to stick to lower-elevation trails. You can check recent trail conditions using an app like All Trails or find updates on park websites.

It’s also important to leave a trip plan with a friend or family member. That way if you get lost or injured, Search and Rescue will know where to look.

If you don’t already have wilderness navigation or first aid training, you can take a course with Canada West Mountain School. They also offer guided hiking if you want a pro to show you around the trails.

Read our tips for safe spring hiking in Vancouver for more info.

 

What to Pack for Spring Outdoor Adventures

Looking over edge at Capilano Suspension Bridge. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Taking the essentials is the last “T” in the AdventureSmart 3 Ts. Vancouver’s weather can change quickly, especially in the mountains. Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes as the temperature changes or the rain stops and starts.

Pack wool or quick-drying synthetic clothing. Avoid cotton because it won’t keep you warm if it gets wet. If you’re shopping, hiking or outdoor-specific gear is ideal, but you can also use workout clothing in a pinch. You can find quality hiking gear at local outdoor shops in Vancouver including Mountain Equipment Company and Valhalla Pure Outfitters, both of which are BC-based.

Here’s a quick packing list for spring outdoor activities in Vancouver:

Waterproof Jacket: Look for ones rated waterproof, not water-resistant. If you plan to hike, choose ones with waterproof breathable technology. They let sweat escape without letting rain in. This is the outermost layer in your layering system.

Fleece or Puffy Jacket: This middle layer will add warmth in chilly temperatures. Make sure it fits under your rain jacket.

Quick-Dry T-Shirt: This layer goes next to your skin to wick sweat. If you get cold easily or plan to head up to the mountains where temperatures are cooler, consider a long-sleeved shirt or a thicker thermal shirt.

Quick-Dry Pants or Tights: In milder temperatures, you can wear these on their own, but if it gets cold or wet, you may want to wear hiking pants over long johns or under rain pants.

Waterproof Pants: Pack these if you are a rain-or-shine hiker and plan to head out no matter the weather. For the best performance, choose ones with waterproof breathable technology. Make sure they fit over your hiking pants or long johns.

Long Johns: It doesn’t get that cold in Vancouver in spring, but if you get cold easily or plan to go to the mountains, you might want the added warmth of long johns. Layer them under your hiking pants. Lightweight or midweight long johns are all you need – heavyweight ones will be too hot.

Waterproof Hiking Boots: In the summer, you can get away with hiking in Vancouver in running shoes. But in the spring, you need waterproof hiking boots. Our trails can be wet and muddy, even on sunny days.

Warm Hat: Canadians call it a toque and Americans call it a beanie. No matter what you call it, bring a warm hat to fend off chilly weather.

Gloves: It’s easy to get cold hands. Pack lightweight fleece or wool gloves.

Water Bottle: Even if you aren’t sweating too much, it’s easy to get dehydrated while hiking. Most hikers need about 0.5L of water per hour. While Vancouver’s mountain streams may look pristine, the water isn’t safe to drink without filtering or purifying. Pack lots of water.

Snacks: Pick up a sandwich or pastry at one of Vancouver’s great cafes, then enjoy it on the trails. Pack some granola bars, trail mix, or candy for extra energy.

The 10 Essentials: AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Read through the full list of equipment on their site for a great run-down on the things you need to bring to have a safe and fun hike.

Backpack: Bring a backpack to carry your extra layers, water, snacks, and safety gear. Look for one that has a capacity of 15-30 litres.

 

Where to Hike in Spring in Vancouver

Our list of Vancouver-area spring hikes has lots of ideas to get you started. All of the trails on that list avoid snow so they are good to go anytime in the spring. And if you packed your rain gear, you might as well use it! Check out our picks for the best rainy-day hikes in Vancouver.

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