Essential Gear to Pack for Acadia National Park

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Don’t visit Acadia without these essential items!

Acadia National Park is the most beautiful destination in Maine. But this rugged landscape can be challenging — and sometimes dangerous.

Each year, dozens of people require medical attention because they underestimate this rugged, coastal park. From sheer cliffs to powerful waves, there’s no shortage of natural hazards.

Pack the right gear, however, and you’ll dramatically improve both the safety and enjoyment of your trip.

Even if you’re just driving along Park Loop Road, there are some important things to know — and some important items to bring. Follow this checklist, and you’ll be ready to visit Acadia National Park.

Rain Jacket

Maine summers are famously divine. But coastal Maine weather is extremely unpredictable. One minute, it’s sunny. The next, it’s foggy. Then it’s windy. Then it’s pouring rain. Then it’s sunny again.

No matter when you visit, pack a rain jacket. It keeps you dry in rain or fog. And it helps keeps you warm on cool and windy days.

Rain jackets follow a simple rule: you get what you pay for. A cheap plastic rain jacket won’t last long. A good Gore-Tex rain jacket can last years. Stuff it in your day pack and bring it everywhere you go.


The Gulf of Maine is filled with amazing sights (whales, sea birds, sailboats, distant lighthouses), so a good pair of binoculars will really add to your enjoyment of Acadia.

Thanks to recent advances in optical technology, good binoculars are more affordable than ever. Both the Nikon Prostaff 3S 8×42 and Bushnell 8×42 are terrific options.

Tick Remover

Most people never encounter ticks in Acadia. I’ve hiked the park for years in shorts and t-shirts without suffering a bite. But ticks are definitely out there.

If a tick bites you, it’s important to remove it properly — which is harder than it sounds. It’s easy to rip the body off while leaving the mouth-parts attached, which can still transmit tick-borne illnesses.

This is where a good tick remover comes in handy. They’re cheap and easy. Just tuck one into your day pack and you’re ready to hit the trail.


One of the best things about Acadia is getting out on the water. Whether you’re sailing, kayaking, SUP-ing, or eating fresh lobster on a lobster boat, a good pair of sunglasses is key. They protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, which are more intense on the water. Polarizing sunglasses also cut through haze, offering clear views across the Gulf of Maine.

Polarizing sunglasses are also essential on whale-watching cruises. They filter out the harsh glare on the surface of the water, offering clear views of whales swimming below.


Good sunscreen protects your skin from damaging UV rays. In Acadia, you’ll want SPF 50 or above. I prefer sunscreen lotions to sprays, which generally cost twice as much.

A great alternative to sunscreen is UV-blocking clothing. These lightweight shirts are easier — and less messy — than sunscreen.


Whether you’re waking up early to watch sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, or hiking longer than you expect when the sun goes down, a good headlamp is invaluable.

Warm Jacket

When visiting Maine, you never know when a cold spell might descend from the north. And even on hot days in August, temperatures can get chilly on the water. No matter when you visit, pack a warm jacket.

I personally like puffy jackets that you can compress with a stuff sack, then store at the bottom of your day pack.

And speaking of day packs…

Day Packs

You’ll need someplace to store all this essential gear. Invest in a good daypack, fill it with everything you need, and you’ll be ready to explore Acadia!