The Only Vancouver Island Packing List You Need

Vancouver Island, located in British Columbia, just across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver itself, is a dream destination for many in Canada and the nearby Pacific Northwest region of the U.S.A.
With an endless amount of outdoor activities to be enjoyed and plenty of in-town amenities like restaurants, bars, and cafes in Victoria, you won’t lack for things to keep you and your fellow travelers entertained.

While there’s a real variety in activities, just like much of North America, there’s also a big variety in weather based on the season you decide to visit. Lucky for you, and a surprise to many, the winters on Vancouver Island aren’t nearly as snowy and cold as they are on mainland B.C. You’ll still want to bring a warm coat and plenty of cozy clothes but it won’t be quite the tundra you might be expecting. On the same note, you can expect warm summer weather but given the sea breeze, the temperatures aren’t as balmy as they are inland.

With that in mind, we’ll break up our packing list into 4 separate seasonal lists and 1 checklist for things you’ll need year-round, regardless of the season.

Photo Credit Shyntartanya/

Year-Round Packing List for Vancouver Island

Whether you plan your trip to Vancouver Island in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, there are a few things you won’t want to come here without. In winter and spring when rainy days are more likely, you’ll want to pack extra comfy clothes for lounging around your vacation rental home. It’s also a good idea to pack some games and extra things to do for nights in.

Depending on how you’re arriving in town might affect how much or how little you plan to pack. If you’re flying onto Vancouver Island, I suggest going light and packing in a carry on. This will not only save you time at the airport but it also makes it easier to get from point A to point B. If you’re driving to town and will cross over via ferry, your only limitations to packing really depends on the size of your car.

Regardless, using packing cubes will not only save you space but it’ll also help keep your belongings organized once you arrive and begin to unpack.

Luckily, if you’re staying at one of our well-stocked vacation rental homes, you won’t need to worry about packing beach towels, kitchen supplies, or bonus day to day items. Instead, you’ll only need to pack the items you’ll personally use on your Canadian vacation.

These items you’ll want to pack anytime of the year include:

  • Hiking Boots
  • Comfortable pair of everyday shoes
  • Jeans
  • Sweatshirt
  • Athletic clothing
  • Loungewear
  • Pajamas
  • Toiletries
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Laptop (although we highly recommend you use this trip to unplug!)
  • Kindle or book
  • Chargers
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Daypack or tote bag

Winter Packing List for Vancouver Island

As said before, winter weather is a bit different than mainland Canada, so instead of piles and piles of snow, it’s our rainy season. While some of that will turn to snow, it doesn’t stick around for too long.

Given that it’s the rainy season, it’s also the low season. That means a more peaceful vacation, away from the crowds that storm the island in the summer. If you’re up for some wet weather, winter is a great time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and delights of Vancouver Island with hardly anyone else around.

While it’s not as cold as you might be expecting if you’re traveling to the island from mainland B.C., you’ll still want to wear ample layers. A water-resistant outer layer is definitely the most important as the rain can come and go quite unexpectedly but underneath that you’ll want some comfy layers.

To make your winter trip as comfortable as possible, here’s what you should pack:

  • A few extra pairs of pants
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof shoes or rain boots
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Hoodie
  • Leggings (or other athletic clothing for hikes)
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Wool socks

Spring Packing List for Vancouver Island

All of those rainy winter days really pay off in the spring when the island turns lush and green. Victoria is known as the “Garden City” and particularly in spring it’s easy to know why. Although you can still expect some rainy days in the spring, the weather starts to warm and the sun starts to last for longer periods of time during this season.

Because of this wide range of weather, you’ll want to come prepared for it all in spring. In general, if you’re visiting in March, expect more winter-like weather, whereas in May, you’ll enjoy weather more similar to summer. April is really a mixed bag where one day could be chilly and rainy and the other warm and sunny.

To fully take advantage of your spring trip to Vancouver Island, you should pack:

  • Extra pants
  • Dresses, skirts, and/or shorts (if visiting in late spring)
  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Rain jacket
  • Light Sweater
  • Scarf
  • Sunscreen

Summer Packing List for Vancouver Island

The summer season is by far the most popular time to visit Vancouver Island. It’s no surprise either, given the exceptional weather that the island enjoys during these months. These months are the sunniest that British Columbia sees all year round and given the nice sea breeze, the temperatures tend to stay lower than on the mainland.

This time of year is ideal for those looking to maximize their time outside. From a plethora of hiking trails and great beaches to patio dining and breweries with outdoor gardens, you’ll have no lack of ways to spend your time. Just know that plenty of others have the same idea as you to spend the long summer days on the island.

Your bag should be significantly lighter in the summer with this Vancouver Island packing list:

  • Shorts
  • Dresses and/or skirts
  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Short sleeve tops
  • Cardigan or light sweater
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip flops
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

Fall Packing List for Vancouver Island

Last but certainly not least, here are our packing tips for a fall trip to Vancouver Island. Just like the other seasons of the year, fall is notably less extreme than its mainland counterparts. While you’ll still be rewarded with cool days and fall colors, the weather isn’t usually noticeably cold until the end of the season.

During the fall months (September thru November), you can expect to be able to spend much of your time outside enjoying a hike, hanging out in Victoria, or witnessing the salmon run. There’s a small chance you’ll get your fair share of rain on your trip but these storms are less likely in the fall than they are in the winter and spring.

Get ready for a full fall adventure when you pack:

  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Dresses and/or skirts
  • Raincoat
  • Extra pair of jeans
  • Scarf and/or beanie

With these travel tips, you’ll be ready to enjoy your vacation to Vancouver Island no matter the season you choose to visit. Better yet, aim to spend a few days on the island in each season so then you can really see the magic of the island and everything it has to offer.