Waterproof everything! You might think end of August-beginning of September is still summer but in Ireland, that’s not really the case. By this time, the weather in general is already cold and windy so you’ll need to dress appropriately, especially for outdoors activities like a hike.
Here is what I recommend:
Items you can’t skip out on
Waterproof hiking shoes. No need for heavy boots to support your ankle because the trails in Ireland are well maintained. Opt for shoes if you want a bit more mobility and feel lighter on your feet. But since the landscape in Ireland is often rainy and wet, and most are bog trails, you’ll have high chances of stepping in mud and puddles. Whatever you choose, choose something waterproof!
Protect yourself from rain AND wind! I chose a waterproof windbreaker that doubled as my rain jacket. Of course, find one with a hood so that you can protect your head from both wind and rain. I don’t know about you but I hate getting my hair wet and exposing it to a cold wind.
Layer up! Wear a light but warm layer underneath your waterproof layer. Something that you can take off easily. A down vest is helpful. Once you’ve started a bit on the hike, you might get hot and need to take this layer off and put it in your backpack. Something lightweight would make it much easier to carry.
Water bottle. Of course, we filled up our water bottle before heading out but we still ran out of water mid-way through the hike. I actually filled up this bottle with water from a stream on the way. Since it includes a filter, it’s perfectly safe to drink from it.
Waterproof backpack. My backpack was sadly not waterproof so it could still get wet if the rain was heavy. It lasted me fine during light and dusty rain but as soon as the rain becomes a bit more consistent, items in my bag will start feeling a bit damp because it’s not waterproof.
Add-ons that can be helpful
Extra measures to keep your feet dry. If you think your shoes aren’t good quality waterproof or if you want to be extra safe, make sure to wear some Goretex socks to keep your feet dry. I would still recommend having waterproof shoes because if you opt for regular shoes and Goretex socks, sure, your feet are protected but you will have to wait in-between hikes for your shoes to dry. And in the damp climate of Ireland, that would take longer than you think!
Waterproof hiking pants. The reason why I say this is optional is because my legs were perfectly fine with just a regular workout leggings. But if you want to make sure to keep your legs warm and dry, investing in some waterproof pants can be helpful. If not, just make sure you have warm layers but no need for something waterproof.
Warm gloves. I didn’t feel the need to have gloves on during all of my hikes but I did have a tough time keeping my fingers from freezing during the climb up Skellig Michael. I had bought some sheep skin gloves at a local store but because they got wet, the cold soaked through. So if you know your hands are sensitive to the cold, I highly recommend having some water-resistant gloves handy.
Regular sneakers or running shoes. I did an extensive search and read other people’s blogs on their hiking experience in Ireland. Most recommended not wearing regular running shoes and after doing many hikes myself in Ireland, I would say the same.
This is not because running shoes don’t provide you enough ankle support for the hikes but because of the wet and muddy bog terrains in Ireland. Even if you want to wear sneakers or running shoes to make it light on your feet, invest in ones that are waterproof and would keep your feet dry.
Running shorts. I would say we are pretty lucky in Canada, with the beginning of September still feeling like summer. But that isn’t the case in Ireland. Temperatures are higher than at home, around 10-16C, but because of the rain and the wind, especially on the West coast of the country, it will feel much colder. Don’t be brave, stay warm and dry!