Packing list for the Island Walk
You have to be very conscious of the items you’re bringing when packing for a long-distance walk. Space is always limited, and everything you bring must serve a purpose, as there is no room for ‘extras’ in your backpack.
In terms of the Island Walk, the packing list shouldn’t be too complicated as our climate is moderate, the terrain is easy, and all of the accommodations will have plenty of room for your things!
Here are a few recommended items to think about when packing for the Island Walk trail:
- Backpack that’s large enough to hold everything
- Quick-drying clothes (underwear, sports bra, long underwear, t-shirt and long-sleeve shirt, pants, shorts, Fleece jacket or vest, or insulated jacket or vest)
- Waterproof/breathable rain jacket suitable for the conditions (i.e. rain ponchos)
- Waterproof/breathable rain pants suitable for the conditions
- Bandana or Buff
- Sun-shielding hat or ball cap
- Winter hat (May and October)
- Water-proof gloves or mittens (May and October)
- Trail runners, hiking boots or hiking shoes (personal preference)
- Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
- Trekking poles (optional)
- Water bottles or hydration reservoirs (3 litres total capacity)
- Lip balm
- Toilet paper (for emergencies – There will be washrooms along the way)
- Hand sanitizer
- Women’s hygiene items
- Personal wipes
- Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Plastic zip-top bags
- Insect repellent
- First-aid kit
- Camera or video cam and extra memory cards (optional)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Satellite communicator / personal locator beacon (optional)
- Journal, pen and e-reader or reading material (optional)
- Credit card; small amount of cash
- Trip itinerary left with friend
- Knife or multi-tool
- GPS (optional)
- Map(s) and guidebook(s) or route description
Bryson Guptil, Ambassador of the Island Walk
Bryson shares what he brought with him when he completed the Island Walk in October 2019. *This is an excerpt from Bryson’s book, the Island Walk.
Everyone who packs for a long-distance walk has a different opinion about what they should take on their journey. This is the third long distance walk Sue and I have done. Her list would be a little different than mine, but these are the things I believe are essential. I always go with the smallest pack – my favorite is a 25-liter backpack from Mountain Equipment Coop. It’s basic and very light – you can’t overpack because there isn’t enough room. My full pack weighed 7 lbs (before adding a water bottle and lunch). I wore trail runners instead of hiking boots. I get blisters in hiking boots and seem to mostly avoid them with trail runners. I wore Solomon trail runners (non-waterproof). Given the wet weather we encountered, I would recommend waterproof trail runners – a size bigger than your normal shoe size. Here’s what else I took in my backpack:
- Four pairs of socks, including two pairs of “WrightSocks” from the Running Room, a pair of superlight triathlon socks, and a heavier pair of Darn Tough socks for wearing in the evening.
- A long-sleeved poly undershirt (for cool and wet days) and two poly tee shirts.
- Underwear (2 pairs) and one pair of light hiking pants, with zip-off legs.
- A warm sweater (I used a thermal underwear top) and long underwear bottoms for the coldest days and evenings. I also slept in my long johns.
- A ball cap with a brim, and a skull cap for the coolest mornings.
- A light, waterproof jacket and pants. Mine leaked when it rained hard – a cheap, plastic poncho is a good backup. I wore my light Gore-Tex jacket on all but the hottest days – the pants only when it was raining or very windy.
- Toiletries (just enough soap and toothpaste to last the journey).
- Blister cushions for the bottoms of your feet. A safety pin to break blisters if they develop, and antiseptic ointment.
- A cell phone (my map was on my phone) and a phone charger.
- I didn’t need insect repellent in October, but it’s a good precautionary measure if you’re bothered by mosquitos.
Nora Wotton, Ambassador of the Island Walk
Nora shares what she brought with her when she completed the entire Island Walk trail in October 2019:
I walked The Island Walk in October, which meant I needed to bring clothes for a wide range of weather conditions – from 20°C and sunny to 10°C and rainy. Luckily, when we had rain, it was usually warm, so I was rarely uncomfortable. I carried everything in my pack most days, but I’ll also give you the list of things I carried on the days I was able to send a good portion of my gear ahead in a car or leave it at the BnB where I would stay a second night. I used packing cubes to organize my pack which made it really easy to find everything in my expandable 33-40 litre backpack.
Basically, every day I wore the same light hiking pants, a hiking shirt (sunscreen built-in), smart wool socks, hiking boots, and a Tilley hat. For colder and wetter weather, I packed a merino wool long sleeve base layer, merino long underwear, a Gore-Tex raincoat, a light puffy jacket, rain pants, a Buff-type neck warmer, ear bags (like a headband without the band), and a pair of light runners’ mittens (I later got a pair of neoprene gloves which kept me warm on the day it was cold and rainy). I brought two extra pairs of socks, three extra pairs of underwear, and a spare pair of pants, a somewhat nice T-shirt, and a lightweight sweater. I wore the same hiking clothes every day, and the same spare clothes every night. I brought a pair of Crocs for evening wear when I walked the Camino in Spain, but for the Island Walk, I ignored the extra weight and brought my Birkenstocks – I was glad I did since putting them on after a long day in hiking boots was like giving my feet a hug. In general, I did some hand washing every evening.
I had a small first aid kit (primarily with foot care items), a small toiletry kit with my toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer with sunscreen, and a microfibre face cloth that I used to wash my face, soap, and shampoo (I cut a shampoo bar in half so it would be lighter and ended up using it to wash my laundry on occasion). I also had a small bag with the cords and ear buds for my cell phone. I loaded library books on my phone, and packed super-light reading glasses in with my sunglasses tucked into an outside pocket on my pack. My pack ended up weighing about 8 kg including some food (emergency granola bars, a sandwich and fruit for lunch) and a full water bottle.
On the days that I didn’t need to carry my extra clothes etc, I just had my lunch, water, a spare pair of socks, any extra clothing I thought I might need depending on the weather, and my first aid kit. At first the pack seemed pretty heavy, especially as the day wore on, but by the end of the Walk, it felt really comfortable as I put it on each day. I carried hiking poles, but the Walk is quite flat and even, so they really weren’t necessary.