Costa Rica packing list

Time is flying by at light speed and the departure date for Costa Rica is fast approaching (November 28). This means it is time to start firming up a reasonable packing list. Normally I am quite spontaneous, but for a trip like this I prefer to be organized down to the smallest detail rather than winging it the night before. Perhaps a bit overkill, but it helps me sleep better at night so it is worth it. Besides, it really sucks to forget stuff!

The challenge with this trip is that it is sort of three different trips in one. For the most part we are going to be doing day hikes from a base camp needing only a smaller day pack for the essentials. But for one (or perhaps two) of the longer hikes we will be camping out in the jungle for a few nights, at altitude where it can be quite cold, needless to say requiring a larger pack with more extensive gear. Finally, the last few days will be spent relaxing on a wonderful beach down in Dominical. Civilization!! One might not want to stomp around in muddy hiking boots down there… just saying… As you see, rather different sets of requirements.

So the trick now is to plan for all that while still packing light. I want to be smart about this and not carry a bunch of excess weight, but I also want to be comfortable and have fun. A happy balance somewhere in between ultra light and monster heavy. I have tried to really do some soul searching as to what I really want and need to bring. For one, I have decided to leave the huge DSLR camera at home. Instead I am bringing a quite capable compact. Will I miss some of the features of the Nikon? Perhaps. But for 99 % of what I want the little Sony will be more than adequate, while at the same time being much more flexible and easy to use and keep dry. I am also still debating over how many to take of each (such as socks and t-shirts) but I am getting there.

This is what I have on the list so far, you will notice I am a big fan of merino wool… I definitely welcome input!

Costa Rica 2015 – packing list:

65L travel backpack/ overnight hikes (Osprey Aura AG)
35L carry on luggage/ daypack (Osprey Aura)
flight bag for the large pack (Osprey Airporter)
rain covers and waterproof liners for both packs
ultralight stuff pack (Osprey, 90g)
misc pack bags (waterproof and mesh) to organize stuff

hammock (Warbonnet Blackbird XLC)
tarp (Warbonnet Superfly)
underquilt (DIY, synthetic)
sleeping bag (1-season, synthetic)
sleeping bag liner in merino wool
travel pillow
camping stove (Primus ETA Express)
utensils: titanium spork, folding cup
waterfilter (Sawyer Mini)
dirty water sack (Evernew 2L)
hydration bladder 3L (Camelbak)
water bottle 0,5L (Nalgene)

trekking poles
multi tool (Leatherman Juice CS4)
repair kit
laundry detergent (wool)
duct tape
small seating pad

camera (Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R00 III)
memory cards and extra batteries
small backup harddrive
mini-tripod (Gorillapod mini)
iPhone 6 (with waterproof case)
gps app for iPhone
usb power with travel adapter
portable battery (12000 mAh)
head lamp

passport/tickets/travel papers
small handbag/travel neck pouch
travel towels
first aid kit
travel pharmacy
ear plugs
sun screen
mosquito repellant
energy (organic powerbars, dextrosol/glucose)

hiking boots (Crispi Summit GTX)
sandals (Teva Tirra)

Base layer (in merino wool)
– briefs/boxers
– sports bra
– socks
– tank top
– t-shirts
– long sleeve hoodie
– long underwear pants
Mid layer
– merino wool jacket (535g)
– microfleece jacket (155g)
– long sleeve button down shirt
Outer layer
– hiking pants (zip-off)
– wind jacket
– puffer jacket
– rain gear
Beach/ base camp
– sarong
– swimsuit
– sundress
– skirt
– bandana
– sun visor
– rain hat
– sunglasses
– head band
– beanie (merino wool)
– gloves (merino pool)
– buff (merino wool)

By |2017-11-30T15:44:06+00:00October 20th, 2015|Costa Rica, Trail life|15 Comments

About the Author:

Karma is a digital nomad graphic artist and writer, explorer, orchid nerd, vanlifer and long-distance hiker from Gothenburg, Sweden. Thru-hikes: Kungsleden 2016, Te Araroa 2016-17, Skye Trail 2017, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 2018.


  1. André 22 October, 2015 at 09:00 - Reply

    Well, that is an impressive list. I don’t think you have forgotten anything, seeing this list. But…. I am nit an expert. Far from that. The last time I did a hike more than a day was when a served her Majesty the Queen in the seventies. And befor that several hikes in the Austrian Alps.
    I can say something about photography though.
    I think you do wise for not bringing the Nikon. I think you have a D7000. Am I right?
    Apart from the weight there is also the doubt how it will act in that very wet, tropical climate. The sealing is good, but not excelent. Than changing lenses….. mmmm. Unless it’s the goal of the trip to make a winning foto for a contest 🙂
    And you are not going on a birding trip. So leave

  2. André 22 October, 2015 at 09:22 - Reply

    …. the heavy gear at home. (accidentally pushed the wrong button, wasn’t finished yet.)
    Nowedays the point and shoot cameras are technically as good as a dslr. If you are shooting in RAW, take a lot of memory cards with you. Not just a few with 128 GB, but more with less GB. So the risk of a corrupting card is minimized. Spreading the risk.
    I think you are very well prepared for this, so enjoy. Don’t bother to much anymore. It can spoile the fun and anticipation on this wunderfull trip.

    Something quite different then:
    In search of orchid knowledge several months ago I joined an orchidforum. Yesterday I posted there an article about my growing space (inspired by your cool vivarium build). In mentioning your name over this, a member responded. He said this:

    ” KellyW: Karma used to visit this Forum and I miss her. Please let her know we are a friendlier Forum than it was in times past.”
    I promised to deliver the message as I just did.
    Wish you all the best and happy travelling. I am looking forward to see and read about your Costa Rician travel.

    • Karma 22 October, 2015 at 10:47 - Reply

      Thanks a lot André! 🙂 Yes, I do feel prepared… and you are right, I should just relax now and enjoy! I hope I can blog live, but if not I will do a thorough writeup – or at least complement with more photos/video – after my return.

      Yes, my DSLR is a Nikon D7000. And yes, the humidity and wet was the main concern behind the decicion to not bring it for this trip. Weight was another. Phew, that is not a light weight piece of kit! I reasoned just as you did, I am not going for an award winning photo, I just want to document my trip in the best way possible… and it order to do that I need a camera that is easily accessible and that I won’t be debating weather it is too risky to use it or not. The compact is really amazingly capable (I am very impressed so far) and waaaaay easier to pop in and out of the pocket to use while still keeping it as dry as possible. As for storage, I have a really cool 2TB harddrive that takes SD memory cards and is USB powered, so no computer necessary. I can run it off the GP powerbank backup battery out in the field using the iPhone as a screen. I only have two 128GB memory cards and I was thinking it would be handy primarily for high def filming. But perhaps I should supplement with a few smaller ones, spreading the risk as you say. Thanks! 🙂

      How nice to be missed! 🙂 I remember KellyW, please tell her hi and thank you! I have not been very active online the past few years due to personal reasons, but I appreciate the invite to come back. Perhaps soon.

  3. André 23 October, 2015 at 19:57 - Reply

    A (probably) last comment from me on this subject.
    I would suggest to leave your blog a blog. It’s THE trip of your life.
    Several years ago I made trip to Australia. And I promised folks at home to write on a travel blog. I did as well as I could. But….. I didn’t like the pressure I felt. I had to write another article and then another and…. with pictures of course. But After all it was my trip. And I wasn’t obligated to share it at that moment. Just the thought that I had to blog something led me off to enjoy the whole experience. So….. just a few musings….. for what’s worth it.

    • Karma 23 October, 2015 at 21:07 - Reply

      Thanks, I know what you mean, and I have been thinking about that too. This is why I have not quite decided how I want to do this yet. I would like to do something live, but not sure what/to what extent yet. In either case I will be supplementing with a lot more details and photos/video after I get home. I obviously don’t want to spend hours infront of a screen while on my trip. I think I will just wait and see how I feel when I get there. 🙂

  4. André 24 October, 2015 at 18:31 - Reply
  5. Josefin 25 October, 2015 at 09:30 - Reply

    Vilken bra packlista! Får du plats med allt detta i din 65L Osprey?

    • Karma 25 October, 2015 at 09:36 - Reply

      Tack Josefin! Nej, allt får inte plats i 65L… campingutrustningen är ju ganska skrymmande, speciellt underquilt + sovsäck. Men allt får plats i båda ryggorna, så jag packar ett ombyte kläder och lite det som är kritiskt att ha med i 35L ifall den incheckade väskan blir sen eller så. Så 35L tar jag som hanbaggage på planet.

  6. Chris 26 October, 2015 at 20:42 - Reply

    How about taking a little tripod Karma? GorillaPods are handy and lightweight, can be used to stabilise the camera while shooting hand held video as well as for stills. I think you can get walking poles which double as monopods too.

    Love the blog btw, I’m slowly cobbling a grow space together along the lines of your vivarium build. Have a fabulous trip 🙂

    • Karma 26 October, 2015 at 21:02 - Reply

      Thanks Chris! Nice to hear you found some inspiration on my blog! 🙂 Oh, I see I missed putting the tripod on the list. I have a teeny tiny Gorillapod mini magnetic that I am bringing. I have looked at those neat trekking pole adapters too, they seem cool! Maybe sometime in the future. Thanks! 🙂

  7. André 20 November, 2015 at 16:12 - Reply

    Befor I forget…. I wish you a very beautiful, relaxing, but not lazy, holiday. I know you will. Take in your mind as much impressions of wat you, see, near, smelt and taste with you. Together with you pictures it will last of ever.
    After all that….. Safe homecoming

    • Karma 20 November, 2015 at 16:45 - Reply

      Thanks a million André!!

  8. Diane 23 November, 2015 at 12:28 - Reply

    You have a very busy week ahead, might not have the time to take any messages, but anyway I wish you a wonderful trip! Come back with a headful of great memories and lots and lots of photos ! Have fun !!!

    • Karma 23 November, 2015 at 21:22 - Reply

      Oh you are not kidding… busy busy week!! Thanks Diane!! 🙂

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