If you’re planning to walk the entire 7-day Wicklow Way, or even the shortened version through the Wicklow Mountains, it can be difficult to know what to throw in the backpack – and what to leave at home.
If you’re carrying all your own gear, you’ll definitely want to go as light as possible. If on the other hand you’re having your luggage transferred, then you can pack the non-essentials there.
Ireland’s weather is famous for changing on a whim, so you’ll want to be prepared for everything. I walked the Wicklow Way at the end of April/beginning of May and experienced everything from gorgeous sunny days, to rain, to hail, and even snow for about 30 minutes! It can also get really windy in some places. Ensure you have rain and wind gear, even if it looks like a gorgeous day when you head out.
This packing list is everything you’ll need for your Wicklow Way Walk while on the trail!
Thermal shirt. I wore this on each of the 7 days that I walked the Wicklow Way and only washed it once. it sounds gross, but it really didn’t stink. Here’s a link to the Smartwool one that I wore (and loved) from Zalando. It quickly became my favourite item of clothing for walking. I now wear it all the time!
Quick-dry moisture-wicking shirt. This comes in numerous different styles, but I like the kind with roll-up sleeves. That way it’s easy to adjust according to the weather.
Lightweight fleece with hood. This is your mid-layer. I sometimes took this off and put if back on multiple times a day while walking the Wicklow Way. The new versions are light, hardly take up any room and are warm.
Thermal leggings. I didn’t wear mine at all while walking the Wicklow Way, but it would depend on the time of year. I would probably stick them in my backpack even in summer, since Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable.
Convertible hiking pants. They are full length pants that zip off at either just below the knee and/or also zip off above the knee, turning them into shorts, depending on the style. I wore them every single day of walking the Wicklow Way.
Waterproof pants. I only wore these twice while walking the Wicklow Way for a couple of hours. Each time I was grateful that I had them. They kept me dry and comfortable. Plus, they don’t take up much space.
Moisture wicking hiking socks. Socks are one item you don’t want to cheap out on. A good pair of socks will help prevent blisters by wicking the moisture away. Bring two pairs so that they have time to dry out in-between washings.
Neck warmer. As silly as it sounds, a neck warmer is in my backpack on every hike – even in summer. It can also be used against the wind. I didn’t use mine at all while walking the Wicklow Way, but almost brought it out on two occasions.
Warm hat. Or a toque, as us Canadians would call it. I have a lightweight one for summer, and a warmer one for winter. I wore this once for a couple of hours on one morning when it was a bit cool and windy.
Light gloves. Yes even in summer, since the weather can change quickly. I wore mine on two occasions and was glad I had them.
Anti-shock & retractable hiking poles. I didn’t bring my hiking poles, but there were a few spots in the Wickow Mountains where they would have been handy. It can be muddy and slippery in spots if it’s just rained, especially if you’re descending. I would say that these are optional for walking the Wicklow Way, but if you have any knee or hip issues, then definitely bring them.
Hiking boots. You’ll want to invest in a good pair of hiking boots. Your feet will thank you for it. I always buy a 1/2 to 1 size bigger, since your feet swell after a day of hiking. There’s nothing worse than ill fitting hiking boots. I really recommend trying them on near the end of a day, when youre feet are already swollen. I’m a big fan of La Sportiva and Salomon.
30L Backpack. This size will cover you if you’re having the rest of your luggage transferred for you. Otherwise, if you’re carrying all your own gear, you’ll want to go for a 35 – 45L backpack. Look for one that has a built-in rain cover. It will fit better than if you buy one separately. I’m a big fan of Deuter backpacks.
Gaiters. These are always in my backpack. They’re great in snow and mud for keeping your legs warm and dry. I wore mine on a couple of occasions when walking in the Wicklow Mountains and it was really muddy. They also add another layer, so can be used if you’re cold.
Emergency Thermal Blanket. This is tiny, hardly takes up any space, but may save your life if you get stranded on the mountain. I never hike without one.
Sports bra. Obviously this one is for women only. Ladies take care of your girls – enough said!
Baseball/sun cap. You definitely don’t want to get sunstroke while hiking so bring some kind of hat that will protect you from the sun.
Hydration/Food When Day Hiking
2 -3 litres of water Always bring more water than you think you’ll need. Yes it’s heavy, but it’s free. I found that 2 litres of water was more than enough for each day of the Wicklow Way, but the maximum temperature was 15 C, when I was hiking. If it was hotter, you may need more.
Electrolyte tablets. These stay in my First-Aid kit. If you feel light headed, dizzy, or have low blood pressure like I do, these can make you feel better in a flash. Fortunately, I didn’t need them on this trip.
Snacks. There are very few, if any places to buy food during the day on the Wicklow Way. Another alternative, is to arrange a packed lunch from your B&B in advance. I just went to grocery stores (not available every day) in the evening and stocked up on nuts, seeds, fruit and sandwich meat so that I always had enough.
Miscellaneous Hiking Gear
Mini first aid kit. I brought a mini first aid kit that had the basics. I developed blisters while walking the Wicklow Way and realized that mine didn’t include a needle for popping blisters, so consider adding that to your first Aid Kit. I would also recommend bringing salt, to soak your feet and to draw out any infection or liquid from your blisters. I found it helped a lot.
Compeed blister cushions. A few people recommended Compeed to me on Twitter and I think they’re the best blister treatment on the market! I always carry a few in my backpack. Bring more than you think you’ll need. I went through 9 cushions in 7 days, due to excruciating blisters!
Toilet paper. If you’ve ever been without toilet paper while hiking, you’ll understand why you should always bring a roll with you.
Plastic bags. Yes, you’ve got to carry that toilet paper out or bury it – in which case you’ll need a small shovel. And also do it away from the trail for everyone’s sake who comes after you.
Wicklow Way Map and Guide Book. Always bring a paper copy of a map and description of your hiking route. It’s fine to use hiking apps/electronic versions, but bring a paper one as a backup in case the electronic version fails. I found the map in this book to be helpful, but the guide book less so, since it described the route going from north to south, and I walked the Wicklow Way from Clonegal to Dublin (south to north).
Headlamp with extra batteries. I always carry a headlamp in my backpack. I didn’t use this, thankfully, but it’s always worth bringing.
Travel insurance. This is one item I hope you don’t end up using. But if you do require a a mountain rescue, in many countries you’ll have to pay thousands to get rescued. Don’t risk it, always have insurance that covers mountain/remote rescues. In most cases this is on top of your regular health insurance. Thankfully, I didn’t need it, but had insurance, just in case.
Optional Gear for the Wicklow Way Walk:
iPhone 6. This is for taking photos. I rarely hike with my DSLR because it’s so bulky and heavy. The new smart phones take really great photos. I also use the GPS function. You can also use it to download hiking apps.
Garmin. I don’t use our Garmin, but I know some people swear by it. Instead I used the free app, MapMyWalk. It was really useful in tracking my distance and route and in sections where I was uncertain of where to go, I would compare my route with the paper map, along with the route instructions provided by IrelandWays.
Foot roller massager. I had this in my luggage that was being transferred and it was the first thing I used after arriving in my B&B each night. It feels soooo good!
Now that you know what to pack, it’s time to get to the fun stuff – the actual walking!
If you have any questions about additional gear, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them. I’d also highly recommend booking with IrelandWays.com for an easy, and convenient way to walk the Wicklow Way. As a special gift to you, use the code: MONKEYS2016 at the time of checkout and you’ll receive €20 off your walk!
About the author: Laurel Robbins is an avid hiker, and founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She aims to inspire more people to get outdoors.
Note: The links above contain affiliate links, meaning if you purchase an item, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.