I’m not an ultralight hiker. For one, I can’t afford the super lightweight minimalist stuff. For two, I value comforts (like chocolate and clean underwear) too much – they make the experience a lot more fun for me. But I’m also aware that the more you pack, the heavier your backpack, and the more difficult and unpleasant it will be to hike.
Herein lies the challenge: more chocolate = more pleasant. But too much chocolate = too heavy pack = less pleasant. I feel like I could draw a really good chart about this.
But I digress. Here’s a list of most of the stuff we brought (I might be forgetting a few things), with some notes about what was worth it and what wasn’t.
High quality, low quantity. This was my attitude towards clothes. I wore the exact same thing every day. Things got dirty, smelly, and damp, and it wasn’t always pleasant to pull on that grungy white shirt every morning, but I got over it quickly.
My pants for this trip were awesome. I wore the Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants, which dried quickly, had zippable pockets, and didn’t lose their shape or become loose after being worn for seven consecutive days. I was lucky to score these for 50% off at an end of summer sale at Valhalla Pure in Squamish. I love them.
I wanted a lightweight, technical t-shirt that would dry quickly, so I headed to the Whistler Blackcomb Clearance Centre in Squamish to see what they had. I found a Columbia t-shirt on sale for $20 or so, and it seemed to do the job. I’m pretty sure it was this one (Women’s Titan Ice). White would definitely not have been my first choice for colour, but it was all that they had. This shirt sort of always felt damp in the mornings, but it always seemed to dry out quickly when I put it on. I liked it, and I’ve been using it a lot for running, too.
Believe it or not, I didn’t mean to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for this hike – it just kind of happened. One thing that I’ve been putting off buying for AGES is a good, truly waterproof outer shell. I’ve lived on the West Coast for 12 years and have somehow avoided buying one of these until now.
After much research, I settled on the Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell. I got a deal on this through Cedric’s hook ups, but it’s on sale now for $150 USD which doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable. I really liked this jacket – it was 100% waterproof but squished down quite small and was nice and light. This is one of those investment pieces I hope to have forever.
I’m allergic to sunscreen, so instead I wear this super stylish Tilley Hat. Your dad might have the same one. I call it my adventure hat, and I embrace how geeky I look wearing it.
I sweat a LOT. So I knew that I wanted to have something dry and clean(ish) to change into once we got into camp. I brought a set of camp clothes for this specific purpose, but I also strategically chose pieces that I could wear hiking if I needed to. For example, if it was freezing cold, I could hike in a long sleeve shirt. Or if my pants burned in a fire, I could hike in my leggings.
I brought a pair of Oakley leggings (these are one of my favourite leggings out there, up there with Lululemon Wunder Unders) and an old Helly Hansen base layer top that I use for skiing. At the last minute, I threw in an Eddie Bauer fleece – I wasn’t going to pack this, but I tend to get really cold, so I thought it would be wise to bring it. I used it in the evenings and as a pillow.
Dry, warm pajamas are essential to my happiness. I kept a lightweight base layer top and bottom, along with some thick socks, a Buff, and a toque in a large Ziploc bag. These items were worn only immediately before I got into the sleeping bag and were removed as soon as I got up in the morning. They kept me bone dry and warm in those late September evenings.
I packed three pairs of socks, plus the pair I wore on the first day, which means I wore each pair two days. This meant I spent a bit of time each night drying the socks out in front of the campfire. I brought two sports bras, both merino wool ones by Icebreaker which I swear by for hiking (most technical fabrics just hold onto my sweat and then make me feel cold). I took a pair of underwear for every day because girl underwear are small and easy to pack, and wearing the same underwear two days in a row is just not for me. I also brought one bathing suit and a lightweight towel.
One thing that I brought but didn’t use once was a pair of gloves.
Hiking and Feet Related Things
I wore these Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 boots, and to be honest, they were not suitably waterproof for this trail. To be fair, my pair have seen a lot of wear and tear, and a small rip at a seam grew into a significant hole by the end of the trip. Suffice to say, I’m in the market for new hiking boots.
I didn’t hike in Crocs, but I did bring them along for river crossings and hanging out around camp. Believe me, I never thought I’d own a pair of Crocs. (Technically I still don’t; I purchased a pair of knock offs on sale at Wal Mart because I couldn’t find a pair of the name brand ones anywhere!) But last summer, I wore a pair of Keen sandals on our camping trips, and I was always envious of Cedric’s Crocs which were light, comfier, and dried exponentially faster. So I’m a Croc convertee.
I had to buy gaiters for this trip. Cedric and I got matching Black Diamond Cirque gaiters (see above re: the deal he gets). They looked a little flimsy at first and the strap, which is a heavyweight shoe lace, came untied more than I would have liked, but they performed better than I anticipated. I was worried because they were shorter than most gaiters I’d seen, but they ended up doing the job just fine.
Hiking poles were a major must have for the West Coast Trail. They weren’t fun on ladders, but they were key for scouting buried stepping stones in mud pits and for maneuvering around muddy sections.
My sleeping bag was an ancient Mountain Hardware one that I bought eons ago (like, 15+ years ago). It still works, so that says something about Mountain Hardware sleeping bags.
One day I’ll write some blog posts about our experience as Woods Canada’s Great Explorers, but in short, we had a lot of time to test out Woods gear last summer. We really loved the Woods Expedition Cascade 2 Person Tent – so much so that we drove all the way to Burnaby to buy one for this trip. It’s $200, pretty light, super easy to set up, waterproof, and you simply can’t beat the value.
We used the Woods Windcatcher Double Airbed, which we had from last summer. We would have preferred two single Windcatcher mats (it’s easier to inflate two singles than one double, and it’s actually lighter for two singles than one double), but we weren’t able to get our hands on those in time for the trip. Although the double Windcatcher is kind of a pain to inflate, I will say that it is super cozy and a nice set up for couple.
Cook Stove and Fuel
I adore the MSR Pocket Rocket. It is super tiny and lightweight. We brought two with us to cook meals for four, which was nice as it allowed us to boil two pots of water at a time. As for fuel, I had a real tough time figuring out how much we should bring. I decided on three large fuel canisters, but it seemed that everywhere was sold out of large ones. We brought six small ones instead, which was probably overkill, but we never worried about fuel and were able to split it up between four packs.
Pot Set and Dishes
Phil brought along a great pot set that packed together super efficiently. I can’t remember what brand or model it was, unfortunately, but the two larger pots were key for getting lots of water boiled quickly. For dishes, Cedric and I each brought a mug, a knife/fork/spoon (not a spork), and this collapsible silicone bowl, which was so easy to pack compared to the bulky metal dishes we used to use. We brought some biodegradable camp soap with us, but I think we only used it once – the rest of the time, we just scrubbed with sand.
A First Aid Kit
We brought a good first aid kit with us, checking it before we left to make sure we had the right stuff inside and that nothing was expired. More importantly, I took that Wilderness First Aid course before we left so I’d know how to use it. Luckily, we didn’t need to use it at all.
Cedric has converted me to hydration bladders, and I will never take a water bottle with me on a trip again! I love bladders because they’re easy to sip as you hike – no need to stop, take the bottle out of your pack, unscrew it, etc. I use the MSR 2L bladder.
To purify water, we keep it easy with water purification tabs. Some people don’t like the taste, but we shake up our bladders super well and I never notice a taste.
Other Miscellaneous Stuff, Including What We Didn’t Use
We brought headlamps with extra batteries and a couple of tiny camp lanterns that we probably could have left behind (Cedric likes to have them for taking photos). We also took toilet paper (and had to buy one more roll at Monique’s – she sells some camp stuff in addition to tasty burgers), bear spray, cash, and toothpaste/toothbrushes/floss (which we always kept locked in the bear bin). A watch is a must for following tides, and we brought several lighters and waterproof matches.
Things we brought but didn’t use: a deck of cards, a tarp, rope (but this is still good to have in case you camp somewhere without a bear bin), and duct tape (but I always bring it anyway). I almost brought bug spray with me, but I left that behind and I’m glad I did. I also brought sunglasses but I’m not sure if I actually ever wore them.
I think that’s just about everything I took on the trail. I might be forgetting a few things that the boys took along, but I think I covered the basics here.