Figuring out what to carry with you along the West Highland Way is every walker’s dilemma. Carry too much, and you risk being uncomfortable and unable to enjoy your adventure to the max, but carry too little, and you may find yourself in a tricky situation. If you’re using a baggage transfer service to transport your belongings for you, then you have a little more freedom with your packing list. However, if you’re planning to carry everything in a backpack, then you need to consider your options wisely.
Our kit essentials guide will take a look at the things you need most, and a few bonus items that can help make your journey as comfortable as possible.
Map: Although the West Highland Way is well sign-posted, carrying a map is crucial for not only finding your bearings but for important local information also, as many maps will come affixed inside a quality guidebook.
Fluids: Keep your hydration levels topped up with fluids throughout your journey up the West Highland Way. You can choose to carry your liquids in bottles or in a hydration pack that’s incorporated into your backpack. It can be tricky to estimate how much water you’ll need for each leg of your adventure but bear in mind that the average human should drink approximately two-litres of water on any given day.
First Aid Kit: It’s something that you hope you’ll never need, but will be glad to have one if you do. You can either buy and pre-packed first aid kit, or make your own, but ensure all its contents are sealed within a waterproof casing or pouch. Here are a few first aid essential items to get you started: Asprin, Antihistamines, plasters, bandage, sterile dressings, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, tweezers and safety pins.
Spare Layers/Waterproofs: With Scotland being notorious for quick changes in the weather, it’s a good idea to carry an additional layer of clothing for warm, as well as a waterproof jacket and trousers. Many walkers prefer to take a spare pair of socks, or two, in case their feet get cold or wet. Waterproof socks are also available and highly recommended if you know the weather forecasts showers. Head over to our clothing guide for more information.
Food/Snacks: Walking all day will not only burn energy but give you quite the appetite, so it’s essential to carry some food and high-energy snacks to keep you well-fuelled along the way. Great snacks include dark chocolate, nuts, seeds and oats.
Whistle/Torch: If you need to attract attention at any time during your walk, whistles and torches certainly come in handy. They can be small and lightweight and easy to store in your bag. Don’t forget to pack additional batteries for your torch as well!
Gaffa tape/Glue: You never know when you’ll need to perform an emergency repair which is why having a small pot of glue or roll of tape can be a useful addition to your packing list.
Hiking Poles: The West Highland Way isn’t extremely technical to walk. However, hiking poles can be useful for keeping your balance and help alleviate the strain on your knees.
Extras: How long is a piece of string? There are many things you may wish to take with you for your walk along the West Highland Way, with additional items including hats, sunglasses, binoculars, sun cream and, of course, insect repellent!
With your packing list sorted, you need to consider a suitable backpack for carrying it all in. We recommend that whatever the bag you use, ensure it has a waterproof cover or liner to protect the contents, however, you can always make your own waterproof cover if your bag is not fitted with one.
As a guideline, backpacks for camping ought to be between 65 to 75 litres capacity as they need to be large enough to accommodate your tent, sleeping bag, clothing and food. If you’re staying in hostels along the way, then you may wish to carry your own sleeping bag and cooking utensils, for which a 40 to 60-litre backpack will be enough. And, if you’re spending your nights in hotels, B&Bs or lodges, you’ll only need to carry your essentials with you as you walk the West Highland Way, so a smaller bag of around 30 litres should suffice.