What Should I Pack for the South West Coast Path?
As far as British weather goes, the South West of England is one of the more meteorologically stable regions. While there is likely to be some rain while you are there, there is a better chance than most of getting some sunshine too, so packing for the South West Coast Path is reasonably straight forward.
The good thing about walking with Macs Adventure is that you only have to carry a daypack, not the full rucksack, as your luggage will be transferred every day. Still, the things you pack in your daypack and put on your body every day deserve much thought.
You'll need two bags; a small day-pack rucksack for the essentials you want to take on the trail, and an overnight bag.
Your day pack is the bag you carry with you on your walk containing food, water, spare clothes, cameras etc. It can be anything from 15 - 40 liters capacity (around 30l is ideal for the South West Coast Path). It should be a rucksack with a waistband to help distribute the weight and support your posture and waistband if you can get one with a chest strap even better. A really helpful extra is a built-in rain cover, although you can buy a waterproof liner bag to fit any rucksack too.
Your overnight bag should be a maximum of 20kg (for our baggage operators). Rucksacks are often more manageable for the baggage team to handle, although you can take any kind of bag for this. Bear in mind you won't have access to this during the day.
Good walking boots are an absolute must. Don't try to walk the South West Coast Path in anything other than hiking boots or shoes (there are some excellent specialist walking shoes on the market, but if you have to choose, go for boots for ankle support and extra waterproof-ness in the inevitable muddy patches!). If you are buying new boots, head to an excellent outdoor retailer who will give you advice, and make sure you gradually wear them in before starting the trail.
Side note: Socks!
There is no point spending money on boots and then not using the right socks. Wearing one pair of good quality walking socks is ideal, and take a minimum of two pairs on your trip and preferably three (you can hand-wash at your accommodations). Bridgedale is a brand we love, and opting for a merino wool sock is a great way to keep the feet warm, dry, and able to breathe. We also have some tips for avoiding blisters on the blog
- Good walking boots/shoes (worn in)
- 3 x Pairs of good quality walking socks
- 3 x Base layer tops - ideally thermal, and Merino Wool is once again excellent.
- 1 or 2 x Mid-layer tops (e.g., fleece)
- 2 x Trousers (or 1 x trousers 1 x shorts, but ideally zip-off trouser/shorts for the best of all worlds)
- Hat for warmth or shade
- Waterproof and breathable jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- 1 x extra warm layer. A natural or synthetic down vest or mid-layer is a great extra - easy to pack away, light to carry during the day, and perfect for keeping the chill at bay when you stop to rest or in the evening.
- Casual clothes & footwear for evenings. Remember you won't need much as you'll only be wearing it for a short time, perhaps for dinner. A couple of outfits and a comfortable lighter pair of shoes to give your feet a rest from the walking boots should suffice.
- Nightwear and underwear (a set of tights or "long johns" can be useful for under the trousers on colder days)
- Day rucksack + waterproof cover or liner bag
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses & sun cream
- Toiletries (don’t forget your toothbrush!)
- Small first aid kit
- Prescribed medication
- Blister Plasters
- Insect repellent (read more about avoiding midges)
- Antiseptic gel or wipes
- A little washing detergent for handwashing clothes
- Electrical socket adapter (non-UK walkers)
- Phone and charger
- Camera and charger
- Map and compass (maps provided by Macs Adventure)
- Book to read or Kindle,
- Notebook and pen
- Energy snacks
- Walking poles
- Extra rechargeable battery pack for your phone
- Neckwear/headscarf, for example, a “Buff.”
- Thermal or fleecy cold-weather trousers or tights
Macs Adventure will provide you with maps and guidebooks, which you should carry with you on the walk, and although the South West Coast Path is very well waymarked and a clear path, a compass is a handy extra to help navigate "just in case" or if the cloud closes in. Always carry a well-charged mobile phone on which you can use the fantastic Macs App. You can use this in airplane mode, so you don't use any data and use less battery and all of the South West Coast Path routes are loaded, so if you are feeling lost, just put your hand in your pocket and pull out your phone to reassure you. Or, just look at the sea. If it is on your right, things are going ok :)
Each section of the South West Coast Path has something different to offer and whichever you do and however long you choose to spend walking, you will have an amazing adventure. If you are interested in walking with the support of baggage transfers and comfortable overnight lodgings, take a look at our South West Coast Path itineraries or contact one of our Destination & Adventure specialists.
Happy packing, and have a safe and fun adventure!