What to Bring
It is our policy to make things as easy for you as possible. Therefore we provide almost everything you will need for our tours except for the clothes on your back. We would like you to be able to come on our trips even if you have no camping gear with you.
If you are reasonably or moderately experienced then bring what you would usually bring and deem to be sensible. If you are less experienced then we have made a packing list for you. If you need clarification of anything please do not hesitate to contact us and ask. We are very happy to help and give advice.
We will provide for you:
High quality lightweight tents
Lightweight sleeping mats
Sleeping bags (if needed)
Plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils
Stoves, pots and pans
Hiking poles (one per person but ask if you would like a set)
You should bring:
Backpack (55-75 litres depending on size of hiker)
Waterproof pack cover of correct size
‘Wicking’ base layer top
‘Wicking’ base layer leggings
Underpants (if not wearing base layer leggings)
Thermal mid-layer top
Thermal mid-layer leggings or pants
Waterproof breathable pants/trousers
Spare set of base layers in waterproof dry bag
Sun hat (broad brimmed)
Hat/beanie/toque for warmth
Gaiters (only for coastal hiking)
Trekking sandals or Crocs or something to cross streams with and wear around camp
Sun screen (at least SPF 20)
Nalgene water bottles (2 x 1 litre) or a 2 litre 'bladder' hydration system (such as Camelback)
Personal hygiene kit (toothbrush, paste, etc.)
Personal medication kit (not first aid kit, we bring that)
Information on Equipment and Clothing
If anything should remain unclear after reading this section about your equipment and clothing needs please contact us for further help and clarification.
If you do not already own hiking boots visit your local outdoor store to buy them. Do not get them from a store that does not have the knowledge to fit them correctly. We strongly recommend above the ankle boots for any of our multi-day backpacks. Please note though that trail conditions are often muddy, slippery and uneven on the west coast. Boardwalks such as those on the West Coast Trail or other coastal hikes can also be treacherous. If you have weak or susceptible ankles better support may be necessary. You must ensure your boots are well worn in BEFORE you embark on any of our trips.
If you are buying a pack for backpacking you should ensure that it is a good fit. You local outdoor shop should be able to guide you through the process. Nonetheless there are some good resources online that will give you an understanding of what you should be looking for before you go into buy one. Here you will find a good basic overview of how to fit a backpack and here is an interesting video on the same subject by Wayne Gregory of Gregory Packs.
What size pack should you buy? REI produces a very good guide to sizing packs depending on their use. We are firm believers that smaller and lighter is better. We don't recommend using larger size packs because the tendency is to fill them. For us you should be able to get your pack size down to about 55-65 litres for a woman and 60-75 litres for a man for any of our trips. Any more than this and you are probably bringing too much stuff with you. Please also be aware that you will be required to carry a share of communal gear (food, cooking equipment, tents and so on) so your pack should have some spare space available (10-20 litres).
For sleeping bags we recommend synthetic fills purely because of our location on the 'Wet Coast'. When down gets wet it is next to useless as an insulating material whereas a good synthetic fill will retain much of its insulation properties. Should the worst happen you will be far more comfortable spending the night in a synthetic fill bag than a down one. Unfortunately you have to pay a penalty in weight and size with synthetic bags but we believe this is worth it. If you have a down bag please don't worry or go out and buy a new synthetic one. We are only making a recommendation on something you will be asked about when going in to an outdoor shop to buy one. Down bags will pack smaller and will weigh less for the same level of warmth as a comparable synthetic bag and we don't intend on letting your gear get wet.
How warm should your bag be? We would recommend about 0 degrees celsius (32 fahrenheit) for coastal areas and -5 degrees celsius (23 fahrenheit) for mountain hiking. Obviously you should not be expecting temperatures as cold as this during the months that we operate but temperature ratings for bags are most often determined under ideal conditions in a laboratory and will often disappoint in the real world. Some manufacturers including the North Face will give three different ratings for their bags such as comfort, limit and extreme with the idea being that the comfort rating is how low in temperature an 'average' person can comfortably sleep while the extreme rating is the temperature at which the bag might keep someone alive (though it certainly wouldn't be a enjoyable experience).
If you know you are a cold or very cold sleeper then you might want to consider going down another 5 degrees so aim for a -5 degrees celsius bag for the coast and a -10 to -12 for the mountains. Of course the warmer the bag the heavier and larger it will generally be.
Please note that we will provide sleeping bags should you not already have one and not wish to purchase one.
'Wicking' Base Layers
'Wicking' materials transport moisture (sweat) away from the body quicker, dry faster and allow your waterproof/breathable outer layer to function way better than non-wicking fabrics such as cotton. REI has again produced a good guide on the various types of base layers but the most important thing is to ensure that you have some.and that you absolutely don't rely on cotton which can be downright dangerous should conditions turn against you.
Making a waterproof jacket is relatively easy. Coat nylon with PU, tape the seams, put stormflaps over any zips and your jacket will be waterproof. Alternatively you could make your jacket out of plastic, tape the seams so that water doesn't get through the stitching, add the stormflaps, and, again, you have a waterproof jacket. Both of these examples however will be very sweaty. The tricky part is making waterproof jackets that also 'breathe' i.e. allow sweat to pass through the jacket so that you don't get wet from the inside out as well as or instead of from the outside in.
Gore-Tex was the material that first allowed us do this and for many people a waterproof breathable jacket is a 'Gore-Tex jacket'. These days Gore-Tex is only one of many ways of making materials breathable as well as waterproof and the choice can be confusing. Once again REI provides a very good guide to the choices on offer and will help you through that minefield. For us, the key point is that your jackets is breathable in some form or another, whether it is Gore-Tex, eVent, Hy-Vent or one of the many other waterproof/breathable materials or coatings is less important than the fact that it does have some breathability.
Nootka Island Trail - A moderate to strenuous level tour that includes hiking on a large variety of surfaces. Be prepared for soft sand, energy sapping 'pea-gravel', slippery boulders, muddy trails, rooty sections with trees that will have to be clambered over or under and some use of ropes to pull yourself up onto headlands. Although the maximum distance covered on this hike is only about 10-12km per day and it is only 35km in total it should not be underestimated. It is technical rather than long.
West Coast Trail - At 78km in length this is our longest coastal hike. It is world famous for its beauty but also for its difficulty, the ladder sections are particularly infamous but there is also a lot of mud and some difficult boulder sections and surge channels. For some people the worst aspect are the ladders (think ten or twelve consecutive, wooden, slippery, poorly maintained 30 foot ladders). We believe the North Coast Trail is a bit tougher but if you catch bad weather on the WCT it can definitely be a long, slow slog. To be fully prepared for this trip you must be capable of hiking 12-15kms per day with a full pack and have a good attitude.
South Chilcotin Traverse - Due to our partnership with Tyax Wilderness Lodge and Tyax adventures we have a special treat for you on this trip. All but the last two days will be hiked carrying only daypacks and using Tyax's remote wilderness camps. This also helps logistically since there is less to set up and tear down each day thus making for an easier and more pleasurable backpacking experience with more relaxation time. For the final two days full packs will need to be carried and the final day distance is the longest of any of our tours (25km). However, it is gently downhill the whole way. Overall the hiking is easier in terms of carrying but it still has some long distances and good elevation gains.