We cannot say it enough, spending the month of June 2013 WWOOFing on Nalolicious Farm in Hawaii was one of the best experiences of our lives, hands down. We got to learn all about organic aquaponic farming, met a group of really amazing people, and explored the stunning island of Oahu for little more than the cost of airfare.
I feel like we came to the farm pretty well prepared considering it was our first time WWOOFing and we didn’t quite know what to expect. However, in hindsight, there are a few things we could have brought with us that would have made our experience a bit easier and perhaps more enjoyable.
We’ve been asked a number of times what gear is necessary to bring along with you. Unfortunately it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty what you’ll need since every farm provides different accommodations and the climate of the farms vary significantly. We can, however, provide a list of items we brought along with us, as well as some things we really wish we would have thought to bring. This list just might save you from spending a month sleeping on an inflatable pool raft. We’re not knocking it, since it was actually quite comfortable, but we would have definitely preferred a more durable sleeping mat.
So, without further adieu, here is our list of ten items we recommend you bring with you on your WWOOFing adventure. It is very specific to Hawaii’s climate and the farm we worked on, but you get the point.
1) Sleeping Bag:
If you are someone who tends to get hot at night, might consider the ALPS Mountaineering Summer Sleeping Bag. It’s super lightweight at only 2lbs 7oz and meant for temperatures of 55+. On Oahu the temperature usually dipped down to the low seventies at night, so it was still pretty warm in our tent. You may only want a light covering, so this is your best bet.
However, if you like a little more fluff to your sleeping bag, the Coleman Clear Lake Warm Weather Sleeping bag is a little bit heavier at 5.4 lbs, but is insulated better than the ALPS bag.
2) Sleeping Mat:
As far as sleeping mats go, a self-inflatable, lightweight mat would be the best choice. Look for a mat that is around 2 lbs or under and rolls up for easy packing. The Fox Outfitters Ultralight Self-Inflating Mattress would be an excellent choice.
A fan is not necessary. We got by fine without one. But there were a few hot nights spent lying on top of our sleeping bags wishing we would have thought to bring one. If you’re one of those people who needs to be cool as a cucumber while you sleep, we strongly recommend a clip-style fan like this one.
A flashlight will do in a pinch, but a headlamp will come in handy on early morning harvesting days and sunrise hikes. OR, if you’re crazy enough to climb the famous Haiku Stairs, or “Stairway to Heaven.”
5) Gardening gloves:
Organic farms obviously do not use any pesticides, so that means WEEDS! You’ll spend a lot of time weeding beds, so bring a pair of gloves that you don’t mind getting really really dirty.
Protecting yourself against mosquitoes, ticks, and other potentially disease-carrying insects is always a smart move. While working on an organic farm you may find that dousing yourself in DEET is quite frowned upon. It’s your own personal health and safety, so you do what you think is best, but just know that there are some environmentally friendly options out there. When we were visiting the North Shore our host made us a bug repellent of citronella and lemongrass essential oils and olive oil and it worked fantastically! Mountain Rose Herbs is a great source for essential oils, if you’re into mixing up a batch.
Again, it’s always a good idea to stay away from chemical-laden products, sunscreen included. This Badger SPF 30 ranks high on Good Guide (As you can probably tell, we trust them as a source for personal care products.) and is lightly scented with organic lavender oil.
This actually should be the number one item to bring. On the farm you go nowhere without your water bottle. It follows you to breakfast, stays with you throughout your farm chores, and sits by your side at the dinner table. We’re big fans of Kleen Kanteen. This 40-ounce bottle will certainly keep you well hydrated throughout the day.
We opted not to purchase any quick dry clothing, but you may want to if you mind the occasional soggy t-shirt. Our farm did have a washer and dryer, but hand washing and line drying was the preferred method. After a big wash day I often found myself grabbing some still damp clothing from the line. It wasn’t always the nicest feeling, so maybe a quick dry t-shirt or two would have been nice to have.
10) A few “non-farm” outfits to wear when you want a night on the town
After a week of wearing the same shorts and t-shirt every day, it felt nice to dress up a bit and hit the town. The majority of your time on the farm will be spent shoveling manure and digging in the dirt, so we’d suggest bringing only one or two nicer outfits.
Other items to note are a hat, beach towel (one that can double as bath towel) a day pack, flip flops (or slippers, as they’re called in Hawaii), and hiking shoes.
If you’d like to learn more about WWOOFing, there are some great books available out there. We recommend:
I hope this helps answer some of your questions about what to pack for your first WWOOFing adventure. If you’ve WWOOFed before, please weigh in below and help fill in anything we may have left out.