What You Need For The West Highland Way

Whether you are packing stove, tent and all into your West Highland Way trip or packing light and using a travel company, there are certain things that need to be included when packing for this long distance hike. When I was nearing the end of my hike along the West Highland Way I considered whether I could have packed less into my pack. I travelled with a 65 litre rucksack, which included a tent, stove and sleeping bag, along with food and clothes. 

In this blog post I will detail some things that need to be considered, before attempting the West Highland Way. 


There are baggage transfer companies that will transport your luggage to wherever you are staying for £7 per day (July 2018). This is a reasonable cost and means that only a small daysack should be enough to carry the essentials. The essentials being water, food for lunch and snacks, first aid kit, waterproof trousers and jacket, walking poles, hat, scarf and spare socks.

A larger rucksack can be used if the plan is to carry everything from start to finish. The good news is even if everything doesn't go to plan, you can pick up a baggage transfer at any main stop during the walk. If you have decided, like I did, to carry all my own gear then a 65 litre rucksack should be more than enough. Don't be tempted to go larger than this as you will just fill the bag with more clothes and food etc. Even saying this, I'd I was to walk the West Highland Way again tomorrow I would pack everything in a 45 to 50 litre rucksack. Before buying your rucksack check its weight. The one I had weighed 1.6 kg which I felt was on the heavy side. This didn't have a frame and it didn't have an area for  a water bladder. My bladder simply sat on top of my stuff. I also packed everything except the camping mat within the bag. I thought this would provide good balance on my back and protection of my gear from the rain, if the weather turned for the worse. Actually, if I had packed my tent and maybe sleeping bag outside of the rucksack I could have used a smaller and lighter bag. I could have wrapped my sleeping bag with a black bin bag to protect it from the rain. 


Packing a bottle of water whatever walk you are doing is always a good idea. It is up to you, how much you should carry. 1 litre of water equates to 1 kg of weight in your pack. At least this amount would be a good idea. There are small villages and towns that you can top up your water for free, some of these are listed below. You can easily rely on shop bought water. There are also places outside Drymen that have an honesty box where you can buy bottled water and other items. Personally I have used both a water bottle and water bladder, the latter had the tube and the water can be sucked from the nozzle at the end of it. The water bottle is a light plastic Nalgene bottle. This is useful as it has a scale on the outside of it for keeping track of fluid intake during the hike. when I walked the West Highland Way in July 2018 I carried both water bottle and bladder. This was useful during the first few days of the walk as the temperature was in the mid to late 20's (Celsius). On These days I was carrying 3kg of water. At the start of each day I would also drink at least 500ml of water before walking. Later on the days were a bit cooler and so I usually only carried 1kg worth of water and topped up at hotels and pubs. 

Places to top up water

Balmaha: Outside Oak Tree Pub
Rowardennan: Car Park Toilet
Inversnaid: Inversnaid Hotel
Beinglas Farm: At Toilet Block
Tyndrum: At Green Welly Shop
Bridge of Orchy: Hotel
Inveroran: Hotel
Glencoe: At The Ski Centre / Campsite
Kingshouse: At Pub or outside Bunkhouse
Kinlochleven: Blackwater Campsite


For the hiker that is using the baggage transfer system all that needs to be in the daysack is lunch and snacks. For the hiker who is carrying everything, I have linked my previous blog post on what I was planning on taking. 
Food on the West Highland Way


I tried to find a balance between making sure I had enough clothes to keep warm and not taking too much. This is easily done. The items I took were:
3 x T- shirts
2 x Underwear
2 x Shorts
1 x light fleece
1 x pajama trousers

This worked out well and there was opportunities to wash my clothes in a Loch, river or campsite. As I wore sandles on the WHW, I didn't pack any socks. 

I will use the next post to detail some accomodation options when walking the West Highland Way. I


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