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West Coast Trail Gear Questions
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Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 08:06:16 MDT Print View

I just signed up for the West Coast Trail with some friends. We are planning on spending 6-7 days on the trail. I have 10 weeks to train and buy all my gear. I am having trouble deciding between the regular backpacking and light weight and feel that I going to end up somewhere in-between due to cost and other factors. My budget is:
Pack - $100 to $150
Shoes/Boots - $100 to $150
Sleeping Bag - $100
Tent - $50
so I'm not going to be able to get the lightest stuff, so I figure my weight will be around 35-40 lbs. Can I wear trail runners with this pack weight?

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 08:53:27 MDT Print View

That trip can be very wet from what I hear so you'll want to invest in good rain gear if you don't already have it.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
trailrunners for the wct on 05/01/2009 09:53:55 MDT Print View

your right, i hear it can rain for days and the mud and terrain are crazy. i need to get my shoes/boots and pack immediately to start with the training and will get the other gear later. i've read several articles that say your feet WILL get wet, so buy the shoes that dry the quickest.....but with all the mud and ladders and tree roots, etc. i don't want to buy trail runners with my 35-40 lb. load and have problems.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 10:20:53 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/27/2015 15:51:53 MDT.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 10:34:31 MDT Print View

Rich, I would look at allocating you monies a little different then what you have. Here are my suggestions

Pack - $50 to $75 (save up to $100 from your list), buy used lightweight pack on the site or others.

Shoes/Boots - $50 (save up to $100 from your list), I picked up a good pair of trail runners, New Balance last year at sports authority. Look around, you don't need the most expensive pair (I also picked up a new pair of Inov8's for $50 also- you can find deal all the time). You don't need a waterproof boot/shoe, they will get wet and then not dry out. Buy a good mesh trail runner and with a good wool sock you will be just fine. If you lighten you load (and Budget has nothing to do with lighter weight) you will not need BOOTS! You will be far better off with a lighter pack weight and lighter foot wear.

Sleeping Bag - $250 to $300 (use the saved money from above), buys a good synthetic or down (my preference) you can find them newly used or new on this site. It's worth spending the money here, don't scrimp!

Tent - $50, there isn’t a tent on the market for $50 that is worth buying! But you can get a GoLite poncho Tarp for $50 and they only weigh 10oz. This will also work as your rain gear, saving you more money and weight!
Depending on the bugs you might need a bug bivy- like the A-16 bug Bivy, you can find them new/used for about $35 on the site(Use $35 of the saved money for a A-16 bug bivy if needed).

My list has the same total budget as yours but it puts the money to work in a more efficient manner

Go buy the book “Lighten Up” by Don Ladigin and illustrated by our own Mike Celland. It will show you how to make the transition to lightweight without spending the money you would on regular gear.
You will spend the same amount of money or more for heavy gear as light weight. Just be smart about what you buy and do your research!

Edited by bestbuilder on 05/01/2009 10:43:03 MDT.

Greg Hounsell
(mudman) - M

Locale: Western Canada
Re: West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 12:00:51 MDT Print View

Rich, I am all for going light on most trips but I think doing so on the West Coast Trail may leave you feeling rather miserable. Having completed the trip twice now, I would highly recommend a lighter weight hiking boot such as the Keen Targhee II, used a pair on my last trip and my feet were happy and dry the entire time. If I had opted for trail runners my feet would have been suffering! Also bring along a good pair of sandles for water crossings (cable cars are very time consuming and not necessary for all creeks), and in the event that you miscalculate the tides and are forced to wade. I would also recommend a good low gator such as the Integral Designs eVENT Shorie and a of course a light rain shell.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
backpack on 05/01/2009 12:03:31 MDT Print View

some newbie questions:

what would be your suggestions for a cheaper pack? i don't want a frameless type. my local florida outfitter has mainly osprey and gregory packs. the lightest pack they carry is the osprey exos 58 (2 lb 10 oz), but the cost is $170 and they have a 4 lb osprey Kestrel 48 for $140.

i am going with four other two people typically share a tent?

the outfitter recommended a Marmot Trestles 15 sleeping bag for $100 that weighs 3 lb 10oz. what does the advantages of a $200-$300 sleeping bag?

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
wct on 05/01/2009 12:18:57 MDT Print View


Are you talking about the mid Targhee II or the low cut? I looked at and they have both types. There were reviews that mentioned durability concerns and said they were not waterproof.

What type and how heavy was your pack for the WCT? How many days did you take to complete?

I've seen WCT blogs where people used heavy boots with 60 lb packs and other that use trailrunners with 25 lb packs. My concern with trailrunners are the mud, ladders, and my pack weight but there are articles say all shoes/boots will get wet so pick shoes that dry fast. i think peoples experiences are determined alot by the weather they encounter on the trail.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: backpack on 05/01/2009 12:45:11 MDT Print View

Rich, look around for a used light pack- most non-frameless lightweight packs weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs you can find a good one in that range for a good price. But before you purchase a pack get you gear together to see how much you have then look for a pack that will fit it all in, be aware that most people always have more gear then they need. There are many used packs available.

3 lb 10oz. for a sleeping bags is waaaay to heavy!!! For the most part the more you pay for the bag the better it is, the longer it will last and the lighter it is. Read the reviews on this site for more information.

Tent sharing- its up to you. Don't carry more then 2 lbs per person for shelter.

I would spend a lot of your free time reading up on what you need. There's tons of information on every question you have asked. It is very hard to get it off a single thread. Good luck, keep reading and asking. Don't buy until you have all the information you need.

BTW, most local outfitters are trying to sell you what they have and most will be happy to sell you gear that would put far to much weight on your back and feet.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: backpack on 05/01/2009 13:05:58 MDT Print View

The Exos would save you a pound and a half for $30. That's cheap weight loss!

An Equinox 8x10 sil tarp weighs 13 ounces and costs ~$84.

I'd second the recommendation to put money toward a sleeping bag. That's probably one of the best places to budget toward. You can save not only pounds of weight, but of overall volume--which will in turn help you reduce pack volume and actual pack weight.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 05/01/2009 13:10:41 MDT.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 14:19:47 MDT Print View

And... if your pack isn't waterproof might I suggest a dry bag (such as the ones from OR) for your clothing and sleeping bag.

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Re: West Coast Trail Gear Questions on 05/01/2009 17:25:28 MDT Print View

Rich, I am local to the WCT so can help you a fair bit.

The Exos will be great. I love mine, just be careful with the hip-belt buckle.

Pack weight is a function of your body weight and your age. In general, 10% is great, 20% is ok, 30% is bad.

Tarping is not a good idea since you will have too much difficulty setting up on the beach where stakes don't hold or are difficult to place. A freestanding tent is best.

A sleeping bag rated around 35-40F should be about right.

Don't worry about rain too much, the third week of July is the driest and sunniest week of the year...usually :)

For footwear I would use a lightweight waterproof boot with a shorty gaiter. I would also take a pair of microspikes for use while walking on the sandstone shelves. You could wear runners if you don't mind them filling with mud.

Check the tide tables for the week you will be going. If the tides are going to be low during the day then you can walk on the beach shelves a lot. This is much easier, faster, and more interesting than staying on the trail.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
wct on 05/01/2009 19:24:33 MDT Print View


Can you recommend any lightweight boots?

I've seen several WCT gear lists that recommend synthetic sleeping bags over down. Most other hikers recommend down. What is the reason for this....the rain?

What is the issue with the hip belt buckle on the exos?

Any other tidbits of WCT info would be greatly appreciated.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
wct on 05/01/2009 20:00:04 MDT Print View

btw...i am 175 lbs, so 20% would be 35 lbs and that is what i'm shooting for.

i looked up estimated tide tables and they are showing high tide starting at 4:08 PM on the day we start, July 11th, and 7:40 PM on the day we finish with the high tides going from 9.5 to 10.73.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
wct on 05/04/2009 09:29:14 MDT Print View

I went to a local outfitter and tried on the Vasque Breeze LT GTX. They feel like a trailrunner but are boot-height and waterproof. My only concerns are using these with a ~35 lb pack for six days with the conditions of the wct. these boots are new for '09 so there is not a lot of reviews by people on a week hike with moderate weight.

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Re: wct on 05/04/2009 12:56:39 MDT Print View

Hi Rich, those look pretty good...there is a review going on at The most important thing is fit. You cannot have any heel lift or you will get blisters. Make sure you do a fully loaded test hike to make sure that your foot system is good. You might also like some better insoles like SuperFeet.

You will also need some shorty gaiters, maybe like these ones.

Next time I go I will definitely take some microspikes for walking on the sandstone which can be extremely slippery with various types of algae.

Synthetic fill sleeping bags are better if they get wet, and are cheaper to purchase. But they are bulkier. For your trip and with an Exos 58 I don't think this is important. A nice one is the Velocity 35 (or 30) from EMS, but you really don't need to spend much to get a decent synthetic bag which is less than 2 lbs.

Edited by richard.s on 05/04/2009 13:13:05 MDT.

Rich Fredd
(rfredd) - F
wct on 05/07/2009 11:05:20 MDT Print View

I purchased the Osprey Exos 58 L, 2L Plataypus, & Big Agnes Air Core L today from using their 20% off code and spent $235.

I purchased the Vasque Breeze LT GTX and Smartwool Adrenaline LT Crew socks from with their 15% off code and spent $124.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Good thread on 05/10/2009 16:49:32 MDT Print View

Good wife and I are planning on doing the West coast trail this summer too. We're leaning towards a bit later in the season though....probably September. Is this a good time? We're thinking it would be less busy...hopefully not too rainy.

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Re: wct on 05/10/2009 19:11:51 MDT Print View

Sept is awesome for WCT and JDF. Shoot for the first week for WCT, but JDF would be good all month.

If you *really* don't want rain then 3rd week of July.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

What's JDF? on 05/10/2009 19:21:10 MDT Print View

What's the JDF? I'm new the West Coast....I just moved out here in the fall from Ontario.