Okanagan Summer Packing List Essentials

Native American statue in Osoyoos

The Okanagan Valley is without doubt one of the most sought after summer vacation spots in all of Canada. It’s easy to see why – layers of mountains stretching south into a desert landscape, plentiful small-scale wineries and orchards, sandy beaches extending into clear blue lakes, and a friendly rural vibe.

With temperatures often topping 35 C in the midst of summer (typically July and August), it’s important to be adequately prepared for the heat, among other things, to ensure your Okanagan trip is enjoyable and unforgettable. Here is a summer packing list of essential items to help you do just that.


Sunscreen

With a hot and dry summer climate you’re bound to soak up some sun in the Okanagan and leave with a nice tan. Just remember to protect yourself from the intense rays with sunscreen and reapply after swimming or sweating.

 

Mosquito Repellent

While they aren’t out much during the day, by dusk these pesky little insects are working overtime (and 2017 is predicted to be an especially nasty year). If it’s cooled off enough after sunset, pull on a long sleeve cotton shirt and some lightweight pants. But chances are, it’ll still be hot well into the night so prepare yourself by bringing along a bottle of mosquito repellent.

While there are traditional brands like OFF!, other products like this Mosquito Repellent Lotion and this Mosquito Repellent Blend of Essential Oils are 100% natural and Deet-free options.

However, if mosquitoes love you as much as they love me, don’t forget to pack some After Bite to ease the itchiness of new bites.

Picnic baskets

Picnic basket

A few years ago, there was hardly anyone at the Penticton Farmer’s Market that went shopping with a picnic basket. Now, if you drop by this popular Saturday morning event, you’ll find that toting around your garden fresh veggies and sun-ripened berries in a nice wicker basket is all the rage.

Sure, you don’t need to give in to the hype, but a sturdy picnic basket also happens to be perfect for dining al fresco at one of the many beaches in the Okanagan Valley with your friends or significant other.

 

Refillable water bottle

Since Okanagan water is drinkable straight from the tap, it’s not only economically smarter to reuse a refillable water bottle, but also far better on the environment. If your heart is set on being a traveler with a low environmental impact, a refillable bottle is a must.

Steer clear of plastic bottles as they usually smell kind of strange after a few months, possibly leak chemicals when they get old, and generally don’t last as long as glass or metal.

If you’re planning on doing some camping during your stay in the Okanagan (there are so many good sites), it’s also never a bad idea to pack a SteriPen to sanitize any water from questionable sources.

 

Cooler

It doesn’t really matter what you get up to in the Okanagan in the summer, whether it’s spending time at the beach, wine touring, hiking, or biking, bringing along a cooler packed with cold drinks and lunch is an essential item for an Okanagan vacation. Don’t forget to stock your cooler with ice packs to keep everything cool and fresh.

Reading a book at the beach

Reading Material

There are some great reads out there by local authors that will help you plan your trip and remind you of the beauty of the Okanagan long after you’ve returned home. Here are some great choices:

Roadside Nature Tours through the Okanagan: A Guide to British Columbia's Wine Country by Richards Cannings – You’ll find plenty of books covering wineries and vineyards, but Richard Cannings guide covers the natural wonders of the region.

Fodor's Vancouver & Victoria: with Whistler, Vancouver Island & the Okanagan Valley – Traveling through the Okanagan on your way to the west coast? There isn’t really a sole Okanagan guide book, but you’ll find it covered along with other beautiful regions in most British Columbia guide books.

Popular Day Hikes 3: Northern Okanagan: Vernon - Shuswap – Lumby by Gerry Shae – I think it’s fair to say that the northern Okanagan is less discovered than the rest of the area. This book covers the popular hikes near Vernon and the surrounding towns, but if you spend any number of days exploring you’re bound to land on a few lesser known trails.

Winetripping: Your Guide to the Best Wineries of British Columbia - Okanagan & Similkameen by Rachel von Sturmer – Winos, take notice. This guide is everything you need to plan your next wine tour throughout the Okanagan.

Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking by Rod Butters – This coffee table cookbook just might be one of the best souvenirs you can bring back for someone special in your life who loves food or simply for yourself to enjoy!

 

Clothing

Packing for summer in the Okanagan is honestly a breeze. You can generally expect hot temperatures, ie. shorts and a t-shirt or a light dress will do just fine, for the majority of the summer months. That being said, if you can spare the space, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring a light long sleeve shirt and pair of pants for any cooler and/or mosquito filled evenings.

I would also highly recommend you bring along a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a light rain jacket/windbreaker if you plan on trekking any of the local trails.

Hiking in the Okanagan

Camera

Most compact cameras or DSLRs will do perfectly well (a list of all my camera gear here), but if you plan to spend a lot of time on the water boating or paddle boarding or swimming, you might want to consider a waterproof option like the Olympus TG-4 (I took this camera snorkeling in Honduras and loved using it - see some of the photos here).  For any adrenaline junkies out there wanting to record themselves mountain biking or kite surfing, a GoPro is the clear choice.

Keep in mind, the sun does a great job of draining your batteries faster than usual, especially if you leave your equipment in a car for a while. Don’t forget to pack a fully charged spare battery for all-day adventures!


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To ensure your trip to the Okanagan is enjoyable and unforgettable, here is a summer packing list of essential items to help you enjoy the region.