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What to Take on this Amazing 75-km Hike

I just came back from one of the world's most famous backcountry hiking routes - the West Coast Trail! It's a 75 km long trail along the southwestern shoreline of Vancouver Island. You will carry our own pack for the whole hike, whether it's 4 or 7 days. In this article I'm sharing my all-essentials West Coast Trail packing list.

Everything about the hike is incredible. It's old forest with trees so tall you won't see any sunlight. It has rugged beaches, hazardous waters and wind swept rock formations. Countless canyons and creeks, even waterfalls flowing into the ocean! Wildlife you only wish to see from the distance - bears and cougars, but also sea lions, elk, deers, snakes and many more.

Along the "Graveyard of the Pacific"

The West Coast Trail was originally called the Dominion Life Saving Trail and was built to rescue survivors of over 480(!) ships that crashed on this coastline in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The stretch of ocean here is therefore also called The Graveyard of the Pacific....

So what should you take on the West Coast Trail?

Well, as you’ll be carrying everything on your back for the whole trip, it is very important to just take the essentials and food. For women, the backpack should not weigh more than 1/4 of the body weight, for men, it’s 1/3 of the body weight.

Here is my ultimate West Coast Trail packing list:


  • T-shirts (2-3) - dont take tank tops
  • long sleeve shirt (1)
  • shorts and long pants / tights (3)
  • fleeceWest Coast Trail
  • rain jacket
  • hiking socks (3-5)
  • hiking boots (waterproof, ankle high)
  • sandals / flipflops / runners
  • underwear, sports bra
  • swimsuit
  • sunglasses
  • hat
  • warm hat
  • bandana (has so many purposes!)
  • towel
  • gaiters (optional)
  • rain pants (optional)


  • backpack (55-65 L)
  • tent (lightweight)
  • sleeping bag (light, compact and for up to -10C)
  • sleeping pad / foamie
  • headlamp
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • camp stove and pot
  • cooking propane (medium size)
  • spork
  • bowl
  • mug
  • water bottle
  • water purification tablets
  • rope (for bear hangs and gear repair)
  • duct tape (for repairs)
  • lighter
  • bear spray
  • bear bell
  • compass


  • First Aid Kit
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • toilet paper
  • hand sanitizer
  • sanitary pads (can be burnt in camp fire)


  • Map with tide chart
  • Camera / phone
  • power bank
  • trail permit
  • paper and pen


It’s important to plan out your food supplies well, so you don’t end up taking too much or not enough. There are two restaurants along the trail now.

Chez Monique is a bar run by a French Canadian women at the 45 km mark, between Carmanah Lighthouse and Carmanah Creek Campsite. They serve delicious beef and salmon burgers for 20 CAD, breakfast, beer, pop, water, chocolate bars, apples and more.

At Nitnat Narrows, a Native Indian family serves fresh crab and salmon. I have not eaten here, but prices seem a bit high at 35 CAD.


  • oatmeal (1 cup per serving) with dried cranberries and brown rice
  • coffee


  • bagels (plain or with ham and cheese, high in calories)
  • protein bars
  • chocolate bars
  • dark chocolate
  • self-made power cookies


  • egg noodles with curry and tuna or salmon
  • instant noodles
  • pasta
  • Burger from Chez Monique


The West Coast of Vancouver Island sees rain for about 80% of the year and most hikers will be going through mud and rain. We were however very lucky this year, as it was sunny and warm. Make sure to check the weather beforehand and pack accordingly.

Hiking the West Coast Trail takes on average about 4-6 days, depending on your speed and time available. It is an amazing hike and I recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors.  

More information about the West Coast Trail can be found on the Parks Canada website at: www.pc.gc.can

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