How to Pack Ultralight for the West Coast Trail in under 10lbs

On our recent WCT trip, Theresa and I had base pack weights of 9.10 lbs and 9.96 lbs respectively. Fully loaded with 6 days of food and water, we came to a max-weight of 17.5lb and 22.2 lbs respectively.

Our ultralight gear list changes from time-time and we try and keep it mostly up-to-date, so here for prosperity is a record of the exact gear we took on the WCT.

This was the first 6+ day trip I have done Ultralight and it involved a bunch of gear tweaks and adjustments to hit our target weight.

Read our full trip report here.

Item oz Pack
Clothes
Watch 2.0 w
Sunglasses 0.8 w
Fleece Hat 0.8 b
Wide Brimmed Hat 2.8 w
Bandana 0.9 w
Green Patigonia Thermal Top 8.0 b
Patagonia Wool2 Thermal 6.1 b
Cocoon Vest 5.1 b
Midweight Thermal Pants 5.1 b
Mont Bell Wind Pants 2.4 b
GoLite Helios Jacket 3.5 b
Nike Running T-Shirt 3.6 b
Patagonia Nine Shorts 6.0 w
1 Hankie 0.5 w
Smart Wool Socks 1.1 b
Smart Wool Socks 1.1 b
Smart Wool Socks 1.1 w
Golite Sundragon Shoes 25.0 w
Nylon Mesh Shoes 2.1 b
Gaiters 1.6 b
Gloves 1.2 b
Trekking Poles 15.5 w
lbs 2.61 packed: brettm
3.41 worn
Sleep/Carry Gear
Golite Jam Pack 22 t
Golite Jam Pack 19 b
WM Versalite 3 Season Bag 31.5 t
3/4 Length Thermorest 13 t
Gossamer Gear Pad 3.5 b
Gossamer Thin Pad 1.2 b
Dry Bag for Bag (8l) (T) 2.3 t
Dry Bags for Bag (4l) (B) 0.9 b
Dry Bag for Clothes (4l) (B) 0.9 b
Dry Bag for Clothes (4l) (T) 0.9 t
WM Hilite Summer Bag 15 b
Cloudburst Shelter 38 b
lbs 4.91 packed: brettm
4.36 packed: theresa
9.27 total
Cooking Gear
Salt & Pepper 0.8 t
Soap 1.3 t
Long Ti Spoon 0.3 t
Lexan Spoon 0.3 t
Small Fuel Canister 7.0 b
Large Fuel Canister 14.0 b
Ti Pan & Lid 2.5 b
Glad Tupperware Bowl 0.6 t
2 litre Platypus water
carrier
1.3 t
2 litre Platypus water
carrier
1.3 t
Snowpeak Stove 4.0 b
Mini Lighter 0.7 t
Stove Shield 2.0 t
lbs 0.84 packed: brettm
0.54 packed: theresa
1.38 total
Misc Gear
Theresa Towel 0.7 t
Brett Towel 0.7 b
Tent Condensation Rag 0.2 b
Ultralight Umbrella 5.6 b
Ultralight Umbrella 5.6 t
Bear Bagging Kit 1.3 b
Extra Spectra 0.3 b
Knife 0.6 b
Camera 4.2 t
Whistle 0.1 b
Photon LED (Theresa) 0.2 t
Photon LED (Brett) 0.2 t
Purification Tablets 1.4 b
Map 2.2 b
Duct Tape 1.0 w
Garbage Bags 1.0 b
First Aid Kit 5.0 b
Insect Repellant 1.4 b
Suntan Lotion 1.4 b
2 sawn-off toothbrushes 0.4 b
Wet Ones 1.0 t
Toilet Paper 1.0 t
Spare Headlight Battery 0.1 t
Toothpaste 0.7 t
Chapstick 0.5 b
Pen & Paper 1.0 t
UL Deck of Playing Cards 0.4 t
Contact Lenses – 2 Pr 0.3 b
Passports 1.6 b
Keys, Credit Cards & Cash 1.7 b
lbs 1.61 packed: brettm
0.94 packed: theresa
0.06 worn
2.55 total
Theresa Clothes
Sunglasses 1.2 w
Salamon Shoes 26.0 w
Mesh Stream Shoes 1.5 t
Headband 0.5 t
1 Hankys 0.5 t
1 Hankys 0.5 w
Gloves 1.2 t
Cool Mesh Socks 1.3 t
Cool Mesh Socks 1.6 t
Cool Mesh Socks 1.6 w
Sports Bra (2 pr) 2.0 t
Fleece Top 8.7 t
Sun Hat 3.1 t
Fleece Hat 0.8 t
Midweight Thermal Pants 5.0 t
Panties (2 pr) 2.1 t
Pant Legs 3.8 t
Blue Exo Shorts 6.2 w
Black NB Shorts 3.0 t
Golite Ether 3.5 t
Western Mountaineering Flash
Vest
3.5 t
Thermal Top 5.0 t
Blue Roadrunner T-Shirt 3.7 t
UnderArmor T-Shirt 3.3 w
Gaiters 1.4 t
Knee straps 2.0 w
Trekking Poles 15.5 w
lbs 3.26 t-packed
3.52 worn
6.78 total
Base-Pack Weight
Bretts Pack 9.96 pounds
Theresas Pack 9.10
Water
Full 60oz Platypus 63 t
Full 60oz Platypus 63 b
Food
Budget 82 t
Budget 123 b
Loaded Pack Weight Full
Bretts Pack 21.6
Theresas Pack 18.2

6 thoughts on “How to Pack Ultralight for the West Coast Trail in under 10lbs

  1. Graham K

    I am inspired to try some ultralight camping by your stories and gear reviews. It is hard to tell when some stories are glorified, but I genuinely trust what is being said in this blog. I have been a lightweight camper/hiker/canoeist but have never been into the ultralight because of my skepticism.

    The only problems that I will have to overcome is shedding the waterproof layers for an umbrella. Other than that I use an EMO hammock system for sleeping. As someone who has hiked both the West Coast Trail and the Jaun De Fuca Trail I did find it challenging but not overly. Man people who go and do these trails are not even weekend warriors thus; they do not invest as much time/money/thought in proper gear, they are not in as good of shape, they have not heard of the ultralight concepts. These persons large packs are usually the result of this or the fact that they are backpacking around Canada for months from other countries. I met a German couple who were carrying everything for a year long trip with them on the WCT, real troopers.

    I have troubles shying away from my super waterproof tent that can survive torrential downpours, and my GoreTex that does not get soaked. Most of the gear that I have is suited for 4-season camping at any time which makes ultralight sometimes an impossible option especially in the winter.

    Anyways I have been inspired by you to weigh my gear, I can already atest that my pack is too heavy, but is extremely comfortable. I am going to say ahead of time that my pack is going to come in around 30-35lbs…maybe

    P.S. I notice you do not carry much emergency gear such as a rope, a knife (that is not 0.6 oz), an axe, a flint or waterproof matches.

  2. brett Post author

    Hi Graham,

    My advice is definitely to go at it slowly. I fully understand the skepticism of using an umbrella, and to be honest – I was taking somewhat of a gamble experimenting with it on the WCT (and also convincing two newcomers to try it) I haven’t relied on one exclusively for such a long trip before. It worked out great – but I suspect in high-winds it would have been a disaster. It towards the extreme end of the ultralight spectrum and there are many options for great light waterproofs. If you want to experiment – you can always take both on a trip.

    Almost all of my backpacking these days is summer/fall, (Winter = Snowboarding) so I’m sure my gear list is very inappropriate for snow camping. However, I’ve seen many folks doing ultralight in the snow. The forums on Backpackinglight.com are an awesome resource to get started.

    On the other points – I do carry waterproof matches in my first aid kit also my spectra-cord is quite strong and could compensate for a rope in some situations.

    Thx for the feedback and have fun lightening up!
    -Brett

  3. G.R.

    Hi Brett,

    Thanks for the great site! Did you take rope for the WCT? The guidebooks suggest 30 meters, though it’s a little unclear what type. I’ll be carrying rope to hang food, and wondered what you’d used, if you had used any. Do you carry 30m of spectra-cord? Climbing rope would be heavy, but 7 strand parachute cord may be too small of a diameter for utility.

    Thanks!!

  4. brettm

    GR,

    Yeah – I carry spectra cord for hanging food. Check out http://gossamergear.com/ezc-2-line.html. Although on the WCT most established camps had bear-boxes. We only hung one night when we wilderness camped. I have no idea what you’d use rope for on the WCT? Tying up a bear if you catch one maybe?

    Enjoy your trip!
    -B

  5. Dan

    What size GoLite Jam did you use? 50l? 70L?
    I plan for the WCT and want to try ultra light backpacking. Is there anything on your list from your trip that you would not bring next time? anything you wish you had included?
    Thanks

  6. brettm

    Hey Dan,

    Back then it was a Jam v1, which I think was a 50l pack. I’m still using a ULA Conduit these days I bought 3-4 years ago – love it. The modern version is the CDT: http://www.ula-equipment.com/product_p/cdt.htm. There are tons of other great ultralight packs on the market now – I’d shop around. But a word of caution – don’t make the WCT your *first* ultralight trip. Make sure you practice a bunch with your gear the first time.

    Gear-wise, the setup in that list was about perfect. I didn’t wish for anything else. A free standing tent for beach-camping would have been nice – but we improvised. The Umbrella was a godsend, would never think of the WCT without it 🙂

    Have fun! Send me you trip-report if you do it.
    -B

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