Packing For Long Distance Walking

Walking the West Highland Way is not the time to break in new boots, make sure your boots are well broken in and comfortable in all conditions, hot and cold weather, wet and dry. The worst things when walking is sore feet, blisters and being wet.

You do not have to spend a lot of money on a rucksack, but again make sure it is comfortable. Your rucksack should sit on your hips with the shoulder straps being used for balance. Therefore make sure it is fully adjustable. Even though my rucksack is water proof I put a large plastic bag inside to provide an additional water resistant layer, and an out side waterproof cover, they are fairly cheap and well worth it. As you will gather I detest carrying any wet stuff. The weight makes life much more difficult and it is very uncomfortable not to have dry clothes for the end of each day.

I have walked several long distance routes and have gained the experience of packing very light. Remember your are on holiday, so all the gadgets that you are used to at home don’t have to go with you. If you are considering an item and it falls into “just in case” – leave it at home.

How much you carry depends on your accommodation.

tent – lightweight.
small stove and pot
sleeping mat

Bunkhouse or Hostels

sleeping bag
towel – quick drying

Bed & Breakfast, Hotels, etc.

socks, two pairs
light evening sandals (something to get out of your boots for a few hours)
synthetic base layer
shirt/ t-shirt for evening
mid layer – good woolen jumper or fleece
water proof jacket – breathable
windproof quick drying (or breathable waterproof) trousers
hat and gloves
toiletries (sunscreen for summer)
first aid kit – can be bought in most outdoor shops fully stocked
water bottle
Swiss army knife
Map and guide book

You will have to decide on what extras to take, but keep it as light as possible. Though during the early spring and late autumn it can get very cold with strong winds adding to the chill factor. Different guide books suggest different lists, however the most important is keeping dry, warm, safe and as light as possible.