While Irish people lament the lack of a ‘proper summer,’ this means perfect conditions for hikers and walkers! Average temperatures range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 18 °C (64.5 °F) from May to September. We didn’t get our reputation as the ‘Emerald Isle’ for nothing – all that lovely green grass comes from steep annual rainfall.
The good news is this doesn’t fall in one day, or even one season! The rain is usually light (think mist and drizzle) and doesn’t last long with the sun breaking through before too long – cue amazing rainbows and fantastic light. In general you can expect a bit of everything weather wise – sunshine, rain, warm and cool when hiking in Ireland. So it’s best to prepare for all eventualities when thinking about what to wear when hiking here.
Hiking boots: These are an absolute must when hiking Ireland! Your hiking boots must have a sturdy sole and good ankle support – and be sure they are waterproof; even in mid-summer, the ground can be wet and boggy underfoot. Even on our easiest trips you will find that the off-the-beaten-track places you’ll visit will require a solid pair of boots!
Leg gaiters: Terrain is uneven in places and the routes are rarely paved. When hiking in Ireland, leg gaiters are a great addition to protect your lower legs in wet grass, especially on dry days when you won’t want to wear waterproof over-trousers.
Socks: To avoid blisters, be sure to wear top quality hiking socks and break your boots in at home before embarking on your hiking vacation. Avoid cotton socks!
Want more information? We also recommend that you read our companion article: What to Wear – Hiking Footwear: Boot vs. Shoe
The most important thing is to bring a selection of quick-drying upper-body layers of various weights to allow you to adapt quickly to the various conditions. Irish weather can be changeable, with the Atlantic Ocean and our prevailing south-westerly winds bringing new weather fronts across the country regularly. Even in June, July and August, you’ll need to have warm, long-sleeved clothing. This means you may have to put on or take off a layer several times during each day’s hike. Ireland can be warm one moment, and cold or rainy the next.
When hiking in Ireland, it’s important to avoid cotton, which is both slow-drying and gets heavy when wet. Bring a heavy-weight fleece jacket for when the weather gets chilly – boat journeys and mountain tops for example. Avoid cotton (especially denim) trousers – choose lightweight, quick-drying trousers instead.
Ireland may not be very hot, but sunburns are a real thing here. You may want to bring a sun-hat or baseball cap to keep off the sun (and sunscreen too of course). We also recommend keeping a warm hat as well in your day bag, particularly for mountaintops where it can be cold and windy.
Need more information about Irish weather? Check out All You Need to Know: Irish Weather
Upper body: Water-proofs are a key feature of any Irish outdoor wardrobe. You’ll find most Irish people have their waterproofs in their pack even on the clearest of sunny days ‘just in case.’ Fully waterproof, breathable jacket and over-trousers/rain pants are a must when hiking in Ireland. Breathability is important – if your waterproofs are not breathable, you’ll get wet from the inside out instead of vice versa which defeats the purpose of a water-proof.
Lower body: Avoiding getting wet is paramount to enjoying your trip to the fullest! Chances are even if the day starts with a drizzle, the waterproofs will be in our bags before long, so rain pants/over-trousers with side zips that allow you to get them on and off over boots are a great option. The pants with side zips usually start at a higher price point, but with the unpredictable and quickly-changing weather as well as the wet, boggy ground, being able to pull on your rain pants without removing boots etc. is a big plus.
It’s always important to stay hydrated when hiking in Ireland, and because it isn’t usually hot, this is sometimes hard to remember. With that in mind, it’s essential to bring a good quality, light and reusable water bottle (or a hydration pack) on your Ireland vacation.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the negative effects of single-use plastics – it is for this reason that we do not supply water bottles on our trips, and recommend that you do not purchase single-use bottles while on your trip in Ireland. Instead, we recommend that you bring a reusable bottle or two of your choice.
We keep large water containers in our van to allow you to refill your bottle, and we encourage our clients not to buy disposable water bottles to avoid adding unnecessary plastic to our landfills.
Choosing your hiking wardrobe by looking out the window in the morning doesn’t necessarily work in Ireland. Irish weather can change quickly so it’s advisable to bring a day-pack with waterproofs, some extra layers and water. This will also come in handy for carrying your delicious packed-lunch – which are a regular feature of our trips – your camera, snacks, sunscreen (in Ireland, the UV index can be high even when it doesn’t seem sunny, which often catches people unawares even on cooler days), etc. A 25-35 litres pack is perfect, ideally with both waist and shoulder straps. Dry-bags or a waterproof cover to keep your belongings dry in the rain are a great idea too.
We work in partnership with internationally-renowned organisation Haglöfs whose outdoor clothing has kept us warm and dry in all types of conditions. Haglöfs‘ industry-leading commitment to sustainability and the environment fits perfectly with our own ethos and their products come with a high level of functionality, good design and value for money to people who invest in an active outdoor lifestyle, and if you need any new gear for your trip, we highly recommend you check out Haglöfs‘ collection.
However, it’s always a good idea to head to your local outdoor retailer to get fitted for all of your gear as having gear that keeps you warm and dry is important – but so it having gear that is the comfortable and the right fit for you!