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Packing Tips

Below are some packing tips I was given by my coach and other swimmers. I thought swim brief would be enough. Wrong!


Pack your bag early and refine it as you pick up more ideas. Review the camp's clothing and equipment list, like swimwear, rainwear, casual clothing, shoes, and such. It is usually quite a lot of kit you'll need. Most of it gets soaking wet again and again. Bring enough clothes for several wet activities every day.


You'll need a robust and roomy bag for all your kit. NATO deployment bags are fairly tough and have shoulder straps that can be hidden away. Available in good army surplus stores or online.

Plastic bags that hold laundry or wet items will come in very handy, as well as zip-locks to keep small items together. Prepare a bathroom kit with toiletries and shower shoes.

Pack enough sun care protection like hat, sunglasses, sun block, lip balm with SPF, as well as insect repellent. Unlike sun lotion, clothing doesn't wash off when you go swimming.

Your clothes will get wet

Many adventure centres offer several wet events every day where you'll get soaking wet while fully clothed. That's the main attraction.

Bring enough clothes, as putting on cold and wet kit can be brutal. Start each event in dry clothes.

Don't buy everything new. Comfortable clothing and shoes are more important than having everything new for camp. Some items return damaged, or not at all. Look through your closet to see what you already have. Then decide what you want to buy.

Wear it at home

Ease into the camp spirit by wearing camp clothes until it is time to pack. Before you pack anything, wear all these clothes in a pool, or your bath and shower at home. Make sure all clothes fit well, and feel good in the water and soft on your skin when wet. Nothing is more annoying at camp like clothes that are itchy and scratchy, chafe, or fit badly during wet and wild adventures.

Sample Pack List

Listed below are clothes and other bits you may want to take to a watersports or outdoor centre. Be ready for the many different activities on offer. All of this will get wet at some stage, so choose quick drying kit where possible. Take several of each item, especially socks and shirts.


Bring a fair amount of swimwear as base layer for all activities, including the early morning swim sessions. These clothes can double up as sleepwear, so you're ready for a quick morning swim in the pool.

  • Full body swimsuits
  • Swim shirts with long sleeves
  • Swimming tights
  • Running tights (tracksters)
  • T-shirts in different sizes for layering
  • Matching shorts

Adventure Clothes

For all outdoor adventures you'll wear robust clothes on top of your base layer. The middle layer that keeps you warm and the outer layer that protects from the wind and weather. These clothes are also used for survival swim training in the pool and should therefore be easy to keep clean. Good fit is essential.

Base Layer

  • Swimwear as listed above
  • Tight fitting thermal clothes

Middle Layer

  • Tracksuits, must be unlined
  • Fleece pullovers and hoodies

Outer Layer

  • Anoraks and cagoules (short zip or no zip)
  • Army ponchos or hiking ponchos
  • Rain pants
  • Sandals and robust shoes, plenty of socks

Pool Parties

After a long day many adventure centres offer pool parties to relax. These are not planned swimming events, but social gatherings where it won't take long until everyone ends up in the pool. Always dress well for pool parties so you look good and keep warm.

  • Colourful T-shirts
  • Hoodies and sweatshirts
  • Jeans and cargo pants
  • Jogging suit
  • Onesie
  • Pyjamas for the inevitable pyjama pool party

These clothes are also good for dry activities, or just relaxing by the pool or in the pool. The key here is that they are comfy, both wet and dry, on land, on poolside, or in the water. You'll wear them between events, so they should be soft and cosy, and work well as a warm up.

Prepare to get pushed into the pool or invited for a spontaneous swim on the beach. You won't have time to change into swimwear but will go into the water just in the clothes you wear. This is what pool parties and other poolside gatherings are all about: suspense and surprise.

Jogging suits are made for this. The hoodie should be longer than normal so you can snuggle up in them to keep warm. Wear it with baggy jogging pants that allow for freedom of movement when you get thrown into the water.

Other Kit

This is just a short list to begin with.
  • Waterproof camera with several spare batteries
  • Snorkel kit with fins/flippers
  • Waterproof bags for clothing
  • Toothpaste and brush
  • Hair brush
  • Skin care
  • Shampoo

You will feel empowered when your bag is packed up. Remember to take a photo of you sitting on your luggage. It marks the beginning of the camp season for you.