Updated on December 28, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
Hiking through these trails requires skill, especially in your packing. We want you to enjoy every single moment on your West coast trail adventure. With our experiences in mind, we put together this expert packing list so that you bring along everything you need. Additionally you will find helpful sections on what to wear on the West Coast Trail , what NOT to bring and answers to FAQs.
What to Pack for the West Coast Trail – 17 Essentials
When exploring the wonders of the West Coast trail, you need to keep all your items together. This daypack is equipped with enough space to fit all your essentials. It stays in place with a simple chest strap. It is also waterproof, a super important factor as you will confront pretty wet conditions on the trail. With this daypack’s lightweight body, you will avoid any unnecessary backaches on your trekking adventure too.
This reusable water bottle is complete with a carbon filter to keep you hydrated and healthy. There are tons of water sources along the West Coast Trail. You can take advantage of many streams and creeks. No need to carry heavy water bottles that create excess waste. This bottle also has a reliable carbon filter so that you avoid any potential waterborne illness.
You will need staple clothing items for your trekking journey. A pair of quick-dry hiking pants are an everyday necessity. They protect your legs in all sorts of terrains. And, they are built with UV protection so that you avoid any sneaky sunburns. The best part is that these pants are lightweight and convertible. You can adapt to the day’s weather and conditions, by wearing them as either shorts or pants.
A good night’s rest is everything. When it comes to an overnight outdoor adventure, camping is necessary. A tent is an essential component to bring along. This weatherproof tent will ensure you protection when you sleep. You never know when there will be a random late-night downpour or intense winds coming from the coast. These things should not keep you from sleeping and preparing yourself for your next adventure.
There will be plenty of memories to capture along the West Coast Trail. You need a compact camera that can be comfortably carried along the way. With a reliable waterproof camera, you can snap high-quality photos without lugging along heavy lenses and other camera equipment. You can even take videos too no matter the weather conditions.
Sometimes the rain can get intense along the trail. A travel umbrella is a great tool to pack for extra protection. It withstands crazy rain and even winds. The greatest part about a travel umbrella is its size and weight. It can really fit anywhere! Slipping this travel umbrella around your wrist is comfortable, especially for days when rain seems inevitable.
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The West Coast Trail can present some hazardous conditions. It is important to always have first aid support with you just in case of minor injuries. Most times, you will be pretty distanced from any professional medical support. Having the basic first aid necessities protects you from any potential infection or discomfort. This permits you to keep happily exploring.
While there is a ton of water along the West Coast trail, you will most likely not find a traditional restroom. Hand sanitizer spray makes cleaning up easy. Whether before eating or after using the bathroom, a small bottle of hand sanitizer amply cleanses your hands. Its small size makes it an easy addition to your hiking pants’ pocket. That way, you do not need to search for it in your daypack.
When going on a true trekking adventure, trekking poles are fundamental to bring. The West Coast trail is more intensive than your typical hiking trail – there will be tons of intense terrains and weather conditions along the way. You need to maintain your stability always. Trekking poles support you through it all by grasping onto the ground for you. Plus, they are adjustable and super lightweight, keeping you moving smoothly and comfortably.
10. Travel Towel
Whether you are swimming or sweating, a travel towel is perpetually useful. It has multiple uses, which all fit your West Coast Trail adventure. Your trekking will build up a sweat and a soft travel towel will help cool you down. There are also some beautiful beaches to explore. A quick-drying travel towel lets you keep dry off without inconveniencing you with the heavyweight of your average beach towel.
With a lack of medical access along the trail, you need every asset for your health. Activated charcoal is a natural medicine to prevent and protect your stomach from any potential ailments. It detoxes your body after any unforeseen poisonings. This relieves you from really uncomfortable symptoms, like bloating or nausea.
12. Protein Bars
Energy is key when traveling. On the West Coast trail, there of course will not be eateries and grocery stores around the corner. Packing dense and nutritious protein bars will ensure you will maintain your energy levels all day long. They are easily portable and can fit in your pocket or daypack. The best part about protein bars is that they are handheld so that you can eat them along the way.
When out in nature, there will be bugs! It is always better to be safe than sorry. This bug spray is crafted to keep you and the environment safe. It protects you for hours so that you can keep exploring. You will not need to worry about any itchiness or discomfort. This spray also comes in two sizes, so that you can always have back up.
14. Smart Watch
Holding or searching for your phone can be a real nuisance. A smartwatch is an awesome accessory that connects right to your phone. This watch is durable and waterproof, supporting you through any kind of weather. It also is equipped with a health tracker, giving you real-time info on your activity. This lets you track all the details of your adventure.
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15. Portable Charger
Out on the trail, there will not be any outlets to charge your electronics. To maintain your phone and camera’s battery life, a lightweight portable charger is an absolute necessity. It fits seamlessly in your daypack. It also will make sure you do not miss a single photo or video opportunity. All you need to do is make sure you bring along the right power cords.
You will need to rely on natural light for the most of your trail. A flashlight is a little tool to better navigate at night time. It helps with everything, from exploring in the dense morning fog to setting up camp. With its small size, this flashlight is a no brainer addition to your daypack or attachment to your hiking pants. And, it has a rechargeable battery in case you forget to bring regular batteries along.
Wherever you go, travel insurance is your best friend. You never know when something can happen. Especially on the West Coast Trail, you are at a higher risk of injury. The trail is difficult and sometimes dangerous. This insurance can loosen the weight of potential medical expenses, no matter the case before they happen.
Other West Coast Trail packing list items not to forget
Eco-friendly SPF 50 sunscreen
Convertible Hiking Pants
Athletic bathing suit
Waterproof rain jacket
Touch screen sensitive gloves
Sporty baseball cap
Extra phone charger
Extra SD Cards
Waterproof electronics case
What to Wear on the West Coast Trail
For both men and women, a pair of lightweight and quick-drying hiking pants are a necessity. This will keep everyone comfortable on their long trekking adventure. Matched with a durable pair of hiking shoes, you will set yourself up comfortably for your trekking adventure.
Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Women should dress according to two factors: weather and terrain. For the most part, you will confront wet conditions on the trail. The truth is, you will be re-wearing a lot of your clothes. Pick clothes that are easy to put on and will adjust to weather variations.
No matter the day, you should have on your hiking pants. If they are convertible, even better. Everything you pair with these pants should be lightweight and moisture-resistant. A bright zip-up fleece is especially great because it keeps you noticeable in the fog or at night. If expecting a more casual and warm day, perhaps by the beach, then a cuter hiking outfit is not out of the question. Your waterproof socks and travel towel will be your best accessories. Also, you should always pack a brush and extra hair ties if you have long hair. This will keep your hair contained and maintained on your adventure.
Below is a sample men’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Men should keep their outfits practical and simple. They can be adjusted per the weather and conditions. As long as you wear convertible and quick-dry hiking pants, you will be safe and ready to explore.
For days of intense hiking, you should wear quick-dry t-shirts and a lightweight rain jacket. Do not forget solid hiking boots with great traction. These paired with warm waterproof socks will ensure your feet stay happy. This entire outfit will support movement and keep you dry all day long. If the day is less intensive and maybe you set up camp on the beach, you can switch your boots for supportive water shoes. If you want to put your feet in the sand, you can even wear athletic shorts and maybe even go for a relaxing beach walk. Don’t forget your smartwatch to track the time and your distance.
LATE SPRING – May to June
The season for the West Coast Trail starts right at the brink of summer, in May. While the temperatures are warming up, this is the coolest and rainiest period of the trail’s season. The damp conditions can make these temperatures feel a bit colder. That’s why layers are key. Wearing a warm fleece and quick-drying t-shirt under a durable rain jacket will be your best bet. If you are feeling extra chilly, a pair of thermal pants under your hiking pants can give extra warmth, especially at night. Always pack a pair of touch screen sensitive gloves and waterproof socks to keep extra warm. The average temperature is around 51 degrees Fahrenheit, with an average temperature range from 44 to 57 degrees.
SUMMER – June to September
These months will bring the warmest temperatures along the trail. June is still a little cool and wet. July and August will be the warmest and driest. This is when you have the most flexibility in your outfit choices. Convertible hiking pants are key for total leg protection. Whether it’s the strong sun or from a random rain shower, these pants will keep you comfortable. Also, lightweight UV protected t-shirts are awesome. For days on the beach, you can even wear athletic shorts with stylish hiking sneakers and sporty sunglasses. Don’t forget your travel towel in case you decide you’d like to feel the water. Temperatures average around 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can see days as warm as 65 degrees and as cool as 50.
EARLY FALL – September
The latter part of the West Coast Trail season is where the rain starts to kick back up again. You should definitely wear your quick-dry hiking pants and a rain shell. Underneath, you should keep it light with activewear t-shirts and moisture-wicking underwear. With these layers, you will stay dry during random downpours, while also being able to enjoy the warm sun. A sturdy pair of hiking sneakers with waterproof socks will keep your feet happy and dry. Luckily, temperatures do not change much from summer – you will experience temperatures from 48 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trekking: The majority of your West Coast trail adventure will be spent trekking. You can not forget your trekking poles to maintain stability on the strangest of terrains. Your quick-dry convertible hiking pants will be your best friend. These adapt to all weather conditions. To keep you cool and dry, a lightweight rain jacket and waterproof socks are a must.
Rock climbing: Sometimes, there will be opportunities to climb along the trail. You need to keep your body protected with the right outfit. First, hiking shoes with proper grip will prevent any slips. Combined with hiking pants and long sleeve activewear shirts, you can stay light and protected. A pair of sunglasses will be useful on sunnier days so that you can stay attentive without being blinded by the sun.
Beach Walks: There are some truly scenic beaches along the trail. You can even camp on them! For sunny days, athletic shorts and t-shirts are great options for a walk on the beach. With your waterproof hiking sneakers, you can stroll and take in the beautiful sites. It is best to bring along your rain jacket as you never know when it might rain.
Swimming: Swimming is definitely possible on the West Coast Trail. Although not often, you may be presented with sunny days and gorgeous waters to swim in. A sporty swimsuit or board shorts are suitable and fit perfectly in your dry bag. It will be chilly, therefore it is great to bring along your travel towel to dry off. You can also easily carry your towel and a packable rain shell in your dry bag as well.
What NOT to Bring to the West Coast Trail
2) DON’T PACK Expensive jewelry
3) DON’T TAKE Nice leather shoes
5) DON’T PACK Bulky sweaters
6) DON’T TAKE Jeans
Regarding accessories, you should not wear any expensive and/or heavy jewelry. There is always that chance you could lose something along the way. You would not want to delay your day’s plans searching for valuables. Also, leather or suede shoes are a no-go. These are not weatherproof and will be ruined by the rain and terrain along the trail. Open-toed shoes should not be worn either except when spending time at the beach.
FAQs about West Coast Trail travel
1. Where exactly is the West Coast Trail?
The West Coast Trail is in the middle of the Pacific Rim National Park. This park is located on the Western Coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
2. When should you visit the West Coast Trail?
The trail is only open from May 1st to September 30th. It is best to go in the warmer months of July and August, where you will experience higher temperatures and less rainfall.
3. How do you get to the West Coast Trail?
Getting to the trail is best by car. First, you need to take a BC car ferry to Vancouver Island from the mainland. From any port, you can reach any of the trailheads. You can also begin your West Coast Trail adventure without a car. From the Victoria and Nanaimo ports, there are shuttle buses that bring you to and from the trailheads. These buses do come at a cost and must be booked in advance.
4. What does it cost to hike the West Coast Trail?
The price of the West Coast Trail ranges depending on a few factors. Every visitor must pay for a trail pass and ferry tickets. An overnight trail pass usually costs $127.50 (USD). Combined with the ferry costs and reservation fees, your initial costs will total around $184 (USD) per person. Ferry costs do vary by the size of your vehicle. Keep in mind that if you are traveling without a car, you do need to pay for your shuttle. The shuttles cost an average of $100 (USD) round trip. This makes the trail $284 (USD) total, without considering your other expenses (such as flights and accommodations.)
5. How long is the West Coast Trail?
The trail itself is 75 kilometers or 46.6 miles.
6. How many days will I spend on the trail?
The West Coast Trail takes anywhere from 5 to 7 days to hike. It is up to you how long you would like to stay and how you chose to complete the trail.
7. Is there accommodation on the West Coast Trail?
There are cabins to rent and lodges with rooms if you want a traditional enclosed accommodation. But, for the full experience, it is standard to camp along the trail. There are tons of places to set up camp, even on the coast. You do not need a permit to camp. All you need is your overnight trail pass.
8. What safety precautions should you take while on the trail?
The West Coast Trail can be dangerous especially when there is heavy rainfall. The primary concern is staying vigilant of slippery surfaces. You need to make sure that you wear footwear that supports you as you explore, along with sturdy trekking poles for balance. You should also not trek when it is dark outside. It is also important to stay hydrated and fed. Being on foot all day, you will need your energy to stay attentive and to keep moving. Also, remember water is powerful and can easily destroy your campsite. Always be aware of high tides or any rises in water levels, especially when setting up camp.