One of the most asked questions we get from travelers is what Costa Rica travel gear they should bring. Many travelers are concerned about type of clothing, shoes and things like that and I completely understand. As it is a tropical country with 26 micro-climates, you need to be dressed appropriately and come prepared for all of the elements!
We have a complete packing list for Costa Rica but I’m going to detail everything you will find in our personal backpacks. After living and traveling in Costa Rica for the past 8 years, we’ve gotten pretty good at finding out exactly which items we love and what we don’t.
So here it is, our favorite Costa Rica travel gear that always bring with us when we’re hiking in the jungle, wildlife watching or having a relaxing beach day.
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When it comes to backpacks, Yeison and I have a few for different occasions. I’m a little obsessed with backpacks so I have a collection.
High Sierra 65: This was Yeison’s backpacking backpack he used for nearly 5 years. We haven’t used it in awhile though because we don’t really backpack anymore but we love the brand High Sierra. We also have a carry on backpack and suitcase from them.
Deuter 45 +10: This is my backpack. It’s designed for women so it fits my back a lot better and you can adjust it every single way you can imagine. It is 45 L with an extra 10 in case which is super handy. It’s not as big as Yeison’s but my items are smaller and it makes me pack smarter and more efficient. Mine is dark red, which I love!
The PACK: This one item has changed the way we pack and has made our packing so much easier. It’s an organizer with 4 compartments that you can easily put in and pull out of your backpack or suitcase. Use the code TanFeet20 at checkout to get 20% off.
Osprey Day Lite: My go to day lite backpack. It’s super comfortable, water resistant and has an H2O pack. However, it is a bit small so it’s a little hard to get your things if you pack a lot of stuff. I can fit my rain jacket, Canon T5i plus my 250 mm lens, water bottle, rain cover, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, sarong and food but it is a bit tight. Ideal for short hikes, but not long ones when you need more items. If you don’t use a DSLR camera, then you will have much more space.
Aqua Quest Stylin: When it comes to 100% waterproof backpacks, this is our favorite for day trips involving water. It has the roll top so your items stay nice and dry, it’s comfortable to wear with the air mesh back panel and has reflectors which are incredibly useful here. It’s bigger than my Osprey so I use this one for longer hike, boating trips, snorkeling, beach days, etc.
I also have a North Face Overhaul 40 Travel Backpack when we travel internationally. It’s big enough to fit my 15 inch laptop and Canon 5d Mark III with a standard lens and 100-400 zoom lens. I can also put my 40 oz water bottle, small microfiber towels, change of clothing, food and swimsuit with no problem. You can expand it so really, if you wanted to, you could even use it as a carry on.
Camelbak Rain Cover: I never leave home without this cover during rainy season. You never know when it’ll start raining in Costa Rica and this cover has saved my backpack so many times, it is 100% waterproof. I love that it’s bright yellow so you can see it at night and is easily noticeable. Also handy to protect your belongings on boat rides.
Clothing and Shoes
The North Face Venture jacket: Best rain jacket for rainy season. I’ve worn it hiking, boating, horseback riding and other activities in the rain and it’s kept me perfectly dry. It’s light and breathable with zip pockets on the side. Yeison has the same one in blue for men.
Marmot visor: This one has SPF 50 built in and is super breathable, I wear it every time we go out (even walking on the beach) to protect my face. Yeison has an REI visor with SPF 50 and a Columbia hat. A hat is essential in Costa Rica, whether it’s a beach hat or Indiana Jones style.
KEEN sandals and shoes: I know we always talk about how much we love our KEEN sandals, but honestly they are the best thing for Costa Rica. Go from water to land without worrying about getting your socks/shoes wet and let your feet breathe. We both have a pair of KEEN Newport H2 sandals, I have a pair of KEEN Ambler mesh hiking shoes and Yeison has the KEEN Targhee Waterproof Hiking Boots. Teva also makes similar sandals but mostly open toed. We recommend closed toe for more protection.
You can read our post on the best shoes for Costa Rica and what we recommend.
Rash guard: I love this rash guard when I’m surfing, snorkeling and boating. It has UPF 50+ in it so it protects my skin from the board and the sun. Really handy when snorkeling to protect against the annoying jellyfish that sting you. Get the long sleeve one for more protection. So much better than lathering on sunscreen, especially if you don’t have reef safe sunscreen with you.
As for rest of the clothes, we don’t recommend to bring thick cotton clothing, jeans or high heels to Costa Rica. Jeans take forever to dry and are really uncomfortable in hot humid weather. But if you plan to stay in the cities in the Central Valley, jeans are fine. Road and sidewalk conditions are not very good in Costa Rica for high heels. The best types of clothing are ones that dry fast and wick away moisture.
Battery pack: I never leave the house without this thing. When fully charged, I can get 2X the charge to my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Yeison’s iPhone 7 Plus. It’s slim, charges fast and the pink is easy to spot so you won’t forget it.
Sony Action Cam or GoPro 8: We have both action cameras and though Sony Action Cam is great, the GoPro8 has roped us back into the GoPro family after 5 years of not using one. The 8 is awesome and we have the one with the screen on the back. The stabilization is excellent and they are the perfect cameras for outdooradventure. Make sure to bring the correct mounts if you plan to use a GoPro .
Canon 5d Mark III: For beautiful photos of the stunning Costa Rica landscapes and scenery, we always have our Canon 5D Mark III along with a wide angle lens. Pair that with the 100-400 mm zoom lens and 1.4 extender and you can get awesome wildlife photos.
Sony a6500: This mirrorless camera is amazing for videos and so much lighter than my Canon. But for nature and wildlife photos, we still stick to the Canon. But for videos and portraits, the Sony is incredible. We also bought the Sony A7rIII which is excellent BUT there is a problem with the microphone jack 🙁 It occurs in 1 of 4 cameras and we use the Sony for video so that’s a huge problem for us.
Phantom 4 Pro Drone: We use this drone for our media since the camera is amazing. But for travel, the Mavic is a lot more popular since it’s more compact but when it comes to control over exposure, stabilization and camera quality, the phantom 4 pro is way better. We’ve had this camera for around 3 years and it still flies like new.
Hydroflask water bottle: We love love this water bottle. We both got the 40 ounces (1.18 L) and it keeps our water nice and cold for 24 hours. It’s a bit big but so worth carrying for nice cold water out at the beach or in the humid jungle.
Microfiber towel: This towel is a great replacement for the huge cotton beach towels which are super bulky. Dries fast and the x-large is big enough to lie down on. They have different sizes so you can always get a small one which is great for wiping sweat off the face.
We hope this list of our favorite Costa Rica travel gear will help you decide what to bring for your own trip!