The leaves are beginning to fall and the salmon are in full force here in British Columbia, meaning autumn is upon us. A fall trip to BC offers an experience unlike any other season, with heightened grizzly bear sightings, ample bird-watching opportunities, and snow-peaked mountains framing almost every view. To get the most of your BC fall excursion, you need to be prepared for the weather. As soon as summer wraps up, the temperature begins to drop, and the winter rain threatens to begin at any time.
The key to packing for autumn in BC is thin warm layers and a waterproof shell. Sunny afternoons are still warm, but there’s a chill in the evenings. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend your trip in the beautiful BC wilderness — you just need to dress appropriately. Make sure to pack the following 10 travel essentials, and you’ll be ready for anything.
- Rain boots
Known as “gumboots” here on the West Coast, rain boots should be at the top of your packing list. Yes, they’re cumbersome to pack, but you’ll be glad you have them when trekking through water-logged fields. Leave them behind at your own risk.
A long-sleeved flannel shirt will get plenty of use in BC. Not only will you fit into the West Coast scene by wearing one, it also has a lot of practical uses too. Most flannel shirts will accommodate a thin layer underneath and a warm layer over top, making it an essential layering garment. Plus, plaid is great for camouflaging dirt, making it ideal for hiking and camping.
- Rain Jacket
When shopping for a rain jacket, opt for a rainproof one over a rain resistant one if possible because it rains a lot here. You can also spray a worn-out rain jacket that doesn’t repel water as well as it used to. Granger’s Performance Wash should do the trick.
BC is renowned for its wildlife, and that’s especially the case in autumn. Heading out at dawn and dusk give you the best chance of an unforgettable encounter. Be sure to pack a pair of binoculars that you can whip out at any time. You never know when you’ll see something extraordinary.
- Hiking boots
Fall is the ideal season for hiking, but keep in mind, snow may already be accumulating on peaks, which makes for unexpected hiking conditions. Regardless of whether you’re looking to hike a mountain or go on a trail, you’ll want to bring a pair of hiking boots. Boots with ankle support are good for carrying a big pack with you, whereas the sneaker-style hikers work just fine when toting a small day pack.
With the fire ban lifted in the province, fall is the perfect time to cozy up to an outdoor firepit. Donning a wool hat will give you the extra warmth needed to lounge under the stars all night.
- Puffy Vest
This incredibly versatile item easily layers over clothes as well as under a light rain jacket. It will provide the same warmth you’d get from a sweater, but can compress into a tiny bundle, making it great for packing.
- Camera with Quality Zoom
You never know what you might see when visiting BC in the fall. Last year, I was fortunate to stumble upon a black bear hunting salmon down in Stamp River, and I was glad to have my camera on me. A smartphone picture just wouldn’t have done it justice.
- Wool Under-Layers and Socks
I was a little skeptical about merino wool under-layers when I first moved here, as they’re very expensive and don’t look like they’d provide much warmth. But after purchasing one, I’m a total convert. These miracle layers have made my camping trips much more pleasurable since I no longer need to bulk up with heavy sweaters. Complete your under-layering with merino socks, and you’ll beat the chill.
The benefits of a scarf are endless. They keep you warm, provide you with something to sit on when the grass is dewy, and can even be used as a first aide tool. I never leave the house without one, especially when the weather cools down.
What are your top items for packing for a fall trip? Is there anything unexpected that you can’t leave home without? Leave them in the comments below.