What to Pack for Seattle: A Complete Seattle Packing List from a Seattleite

Wondering what to wear in Seattle? You’re in the right place – I grew up in Seattle, and people in California still comment on how my wardrobe is very Seattle. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, if we’re being honest. You’ll notice an odd combination of styles when you’re walking around Seattle. Some people are dressed like they’re ready to escape the city and go for a 12 mile hike at any moment (that’s usually me), while others are dressed in a sometimes odd combination of pieces from their favorite local boutique. But there are a few universal truths about Seattle that are going to affect what you need to pack for Seattle. We’ll get to those, and the list of exactly what to pack for Seattle, in a second. 

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What you need to pack for Seattle largely depends on what time of year you’re visiting. First, let’s talk about weather in Seattle. 

In the summer, it’s going to be warm and mostly dry, which means a relatively simple packing list of shorts and t-shirts. This isn’t complicated, or much different from visiting other places. 

The rest of the year, from fall to late spring, the weather can be unpredictable, and you’ll need to be ready for multiple seasons in one day (but mostly grey and drizzly). Layers are going to be your best friend. This is the part that gets a little more complicated, because you’ll want to be as waterproof as possible. The rain jacket and the waterproof shoes are the most important part of any Seattle packing list for October to May. More on that below. 

Don’t let the rain stop you from visiting the Pacific Northwest. If you know what to pack for Seattle to combat the rain, you’ll be able to stay perfectly dry, warm, and cozy, and do all the exploring you came to Seattle to do. Plus, it’ll be cheaper. 

what to pack for seattle from fall to spring
This clear sunny day was in February

What to Pack for Seattle: 4 Essentials for Every Seattle Packing List

When you arrive in Seattle and spend a bit of time exploring, there are a couple of things you’ll probably notice right off the bat. 

First, Seattle is a casual city. With the exception of Downtown Seattle, the heart of the business and financial sectors in Seattle, you’ll rarely see people walking around in a suit and tie. Dress accordingly – jeans are perfectly acceptable for nearly every occasion. 

Second, for the most part, Seattleites don’t use umbrellas. If you see an umbrella, it’s either a recent transplant, or a tourist. Alysha makes fun of me for refusing to use one to this day, but why would I use an umbrella? It’s not even raining that hard! Side note – Alysha grew up in California, so anything other than 70’s and sunny falls well below her standards for “good weather.” 

Ready to get into what to pack for Seattle? Let’s talk about the four essential pieces that need to be in everyone’s bag if they’re visiting Seattle, especially if you’re visiting outside of July and August. 

Seattle Essential #1: A Solid Rain Jacket

The truth is, despite the hype, it typically doesn’t rain that hard in Seattle. It’s usually more like a mist rather than a torrential downpour, which means a rain jacket is more than enough to keep you dry. 

Everyone has a good rain jacket, and they carry it with them constantly. You should make sure you have one too. Make sure it is truly waterproof – some claim to be “weather resistant” or “water resistant” which is fine, but that means if you do find yourself in a torrential downpour, you’ll end up wet. 

That happened to me. I thought my jacket was waterproof, but it definitely wasn’t, and I ended up wondering why they don’t tell you that in big letters on the package. Kind of like Ross and the condoms, for all my Friends fans out there. 

Recommended Rain Jackets: 

Seattle Essential #2: Layers

In the fall, winter, and early spring, layers are the key to happiness in Seattle. Here are a couple of good layering pieces that I always pack for a trip to Seattle outside of summer. 

The packable down jacket: I have a Patagonia Down Sweater (women’s version here), and it is THE BEST. You’ll find me wearing it all around the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, Vancouver Island, Mount Hood – it’s a staple in my travel bag. It’s lightweight and incredibly warm, and it packs down into a ball that I can stuff in my daypack or duffel.

Here’s another good option from North Face (men’s / women’s) and a budget-friendly option from REI (men’s / women’s).

The puffy vest: A really good layering piece that can add a little bit of warmth to any outfit. Look for either a lightweight version (men’s / women’s), or a puffy down vest (men’s / women’s), which will keep you super duper warm. 

The half-zip fleece: A nice warm quarter zip fleece is one of the staples of my wardrobe, in the Pacific Northwest or not. There are plenty of options out there – I can personally recommend the North Face TKA Glacier Pullover (men’s / women’s) and the Patagonia Better Sweater (men’s / women’s), which are what Alysha and I usually are wearing, but any warm fleece quarter zip will do the trick. 

Seattle Essential #3: Waterproof Rain Boots

Have you ever stepped out of your house on a rainy morning and immediately had your feet get soaked? It’s not a good feeling, and it will ruin your day in Seattle really quick. Avoid that by packing waterproof boots, which every Seattleite owns and loves. 

They should be something that you can wear around town to bars and restaurants, which probably means you don’t want to be wearing your hiking boots. 

Best Fashion-forward Rain Boots: Hunter Rain Boots (Men’s / Women’s). Everyone in Seattle has a pair of Hunters. These packable rain boots might be just what you’re looking for. For a more stylish option, look at the Hunter Refined Chelsea Boots

Best Outdoorsy Rain Boots: Blundstone 550 – Alysha’s new favorite shoe, they’re basically waterproof Chelsea boots with a grippy sole, which is perfect for the Pacific Northwest. A great alternative is Danner, which is a boot company out of Portland who makes great outdoorsy boots. 

Affordable Options: For women, look at Chooka, Kamik, and Joules Rain Boots, which are a bit more affordable. Men, take a look at Kamik and Rockport. XtraTuf Deck Boots are a good affordable option too – they’re originally designed for wearing sailing, but are completely waterproof and come in under $100. 

5 Rain Boot Options for Men: 

5 Rain Boot Options for Women: 

Seattle Essential #4: Hiking Gear

The Pacific Northwest is an amazing place to get out into nature. And you’re probably going to want to get out and do some good old fashioned exploring. Whether you’re doing a road trip around the Pacific Northwest, or a day trip from Seattle, here’s what to pack for a Seattle trip. 

Planning on doing a day hike while you’re in Seattle? You’ll want to read my guide to what to pack for a day hike.

The Day Pack

You’ll need a good, comfortable daypack to carry provisions, like food and water, and layers, like your rain jacket. For shorter hikes, aim for around 20L. If it’s a longer hike (over ~6-7 miles), I’d shoot for closer to 30L. Make sure it has padded waist straps, which will take the load off your shoulders and make for a more comfortable carry. 

Best Overall Men’s 20L: Osprey Stratos 24. Click to check price on Amazon / Click to check price at REI

Best Overall Women’s 20L: Osprey Tempest 20. Click to check price on Amazon / Click to check price at REI

Best Overall Men’s 30L: Osprey Talon 33. Click to check price on Amazon / Click to check price at REI. 

Best Overall Women’s ~30L: Deuter Trail 28 SL. Click to check price on Amazon / Click to check price at REI. 

Budget Option: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack. No padded waist strap, but for the price, it has everything you’ll need in a lightweight day pack. Click to check price at REI.

The Footwear

If you’re just doing a short day hike, then you can probably get away with wearing your normal tennis shoes, though they might get wet and muddy. For a longer hike, or if you’re planning a road trip that might involve multiple hikes, consider upgrading to a hiking boot or shoe. Boots are great for longer hikes with more elevation gain, shoes are more lightweight, but lack the same ankle support. It comes down to personal preference, really. 

Read More: What to Pack for a Day Hike

Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Seattle

Those are my packing tips for Seattle – the four things you have to make sure you have to make the most of any trip to Seattle, but especially from fall to spring.

Next, Read more Seattle Travel Guides from a Local Seattleite 

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