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What to Wear When Hiking in Ireland

Posted on Dec 28, 2015 by Patricia Doe

The key when planning what to wear when hiking in Ireland is to plan for a little bit of everything. 

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.

To experience the best of the Emerald Isle, see our active adventure here.

  1. Good Boots

    what to wear when hikingThese are an absolute must when hiking Ireland! Your hill-walking 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!

    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. To avoid blisters, be sure to wear  top quality hiking socks and break your boots in at home before embarking on your walking holiday.

  2. Layers

    The most important thing is to bring a selection of quick-drying upper-body layers of various weights to allow you to adapt to various the conditions. Irish weather can be changeable, with the Atlantic Ocean and our prevailing south-westerly winds bringing new weather fronts across the country regularly. 

    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 – and a sun-hat or baseball cap to keep off the sun. Avoid cotton (especially denim) trousers – choose lightweight, quick-drying trousers instead.

    More About Hiking in Ireland

  3. Water-proofs

    what to wear when hikingWater-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 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. 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 over-trousers with side zips that allow you to get them on and off over boots are a great option. 

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  4. Water

    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 holiday. 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.

  5. Day-Pack

what to wear when hiking

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.

Where to Buy

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.

Feeling inspired to go for a good Irish hike? Read Places in Ireland: Top 5 Long Walks for some great longer hikes to do. Want to browse our hiking trips?  See our great selection of hiking trips here or check below for a list of our upcoming departure dates:

About the author

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Patricia Doe

A Sligo native, Patricia spent several years in the upscale hospitality industry and knows everything there is to know about luxury accommodations in Ireland! A keen cyclist and runner, Patricia has travelled the world - including a honeymoon road trip through Middle America! Patrica is Wilderness Ireland's General Manager, having joined the team in 2015.

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