Cape Wrath Trail backpacking kit list

I thought I’d share my kit list that I took for the Cape Wrath trail earlier this year, and also some notes on what items of gear worked and what didn’t.

The walk took 15 days.  My pack came to 28lbs when fully packed and would vary depending on how much food we had eaten.  I found this comfortable and manageable for a heavy pack.  My pack itself is great.  I used to have a lightweight one by Golite that I took on a coast-to-coast backpack across Scotland a couple of years ago, but the trade-off between lightweight vs comfort did not suit me – I was in a lot of pain and ended up with bad weals on my hips and shoulders where it dug in.  The Osprey one is a little heavier because of more padding but so much more comfortable and I really don’t notice any difference in weight.

The silk sleeping bag liner is great too.  I used to get quite cold in just the sleeping bag but this has made a big difference.

I also love my Patagonia base layer.  This is super light, made from a mix of merino and polyester.  It wicks, doesn’t smell after continued use, is warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot (although I also wore a merino t shirt on top most days – I get cold easily and we didn’t get the warmest weather on the trip).

The Hi-tec Zuuk trainers were brilliant for river crossings, lighter than my crocs and not as bulky, and also acceptable to wear down the pub (unlike crocs 😉 )

The many pairs of gloves explanation – I have Raynaud’s syndrome which means my hands get cold and blue from a lack of circulation, and I need to have a layer system of gloves because there really is no one pair that helps stop an attack.  I have found though that the Pearl Izumi claw mitts are brilliant.  I bought them initially for cycling in cold weather and found my hands never got cold with them on, so they have now found their way into my walking kit.  They have just enough dexterity for me to be able to function zips and clasps etc due to the ‘claw’ design.  Since then I bought a cheap pair of thick fleece wrist warmers in one of those Himalayan clothing sales that pop up in village halls now and again.  These have been a bit of a revelation in keeping my circulation going and I now find I often don’t need gloves.

For food we had bought a new Jetboil and committed to only eating dehydrated food that required only boiling water.  This worked fine because we ate our tea in pubs or hotels where we could, to give us a break from the dehydrated stuff.  It meant water boiled in 2 minutes and we didn’t have to take extra pans or cooking gear.

Most of the gear I took was tried and tested beforehand and I knew worked great for me so there was very little that didn’t, but I’ve never been happy with my Asolo boots.  I stupidly got carried away reading the brilliant reviews and ordered a pair over the web.  I’ve had them for 3 years, and still got blisters and hot spots after continued use years later.  They also started leaking after a year.  They were quite grippy and good on rock but pretty useless in bog and muck, which makes up the bulk of Cape Wrath routes ground.  Maybe they just weren’t right for my feet.  I’ve since bought a pair of Meindl Burmas which have been absolutely brilliant and comfortable from the start – but this time I had a foot fitting at an outdoor shop and tried on lots and lots of different pairs before I bought them.  It has shown me the value of going to a shop and getting this done because all feet are different and what works for someone else doesn’t necessarily work for me.

I recommend boots on the Cape Wrath Trail, despite recent views otherwise.  It is rough and generally pathless ground whatever route you take – where there is a path it is often the boggiest ground you will ever encounter.  Trail shoes would be no fun, especially in the conditions we had; trenchfoot less so, plus I like the ankle support of boots on rough ground.

Also my Rab base layer was OK but a bit whiffy after more than one day and not as cool on hot days.

We ate Mountain Trails dehydrated meals.  These we found generally much nicer than Mountain House, plus made by a UK family company who are also mountaineers. ( )

I did not take any item of gear I did not use, save for the midgie net – but that would have been a necessity if there had been midgies, and it is tiny and weighs nothing.

Pack & Sleeping

Osprey Ariel 55 rucksack

Rucksack cover

Thermarest mat

Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 Sleeping bag

Silk sleeping bag liner

Rucksack liner dry-bag

Osprey rucksack clip-on pouch

Food & Water

Water bottle

Small hip flask (filled with whisky)


2 x pairs Smartwool hiking socks

Asolo Atlantis GTX boots

Underwear (2 x pants, 2 x bras)

Base layers:

– Patagonia long-sleeved base layer

– Rab base layer

– Smartwool merino vest

– 2 x Icebreaker merino t-shirts (I always wore one over a Patagonia long-sleeved one, I’m a cold fish, hence 4 x baselayers)


– Haglofs Lizard Q softshell top

– Mountain Equipment windproof top


– Mountain Equipment walking trousers

– Mammut walking trousers

Sleeping – I sleep cold so….:

(oh the glamour…)

– 1 x pair cashmere socks (sleeping)

– Merino leggings

– Merino long sleeved top

– 1 x merino beanie

For the cold:

– Woolly/fleecy hat

– Buff

– 2 x silk liner gloves

– 3 x regular Black Diamond gloves

– Pearl Izumi ‘lobster claw’ mitts

For camp/bothy:

– Mountain Hardwear down jacket

– Hi-tec Zuuk lightweight trainers (also good for river crossings)


Quick dry micro towel

All purpose shower gel

Toothbrush & mini paste

Tiny brush

Sun cream/midge spray (combined)

Face wipes

Tiny tube of moisturiser

Wash bag

SPF lipbalm


Tiny mirror


Midge net

Ear plugs

Book (purposely chosen for weight)

Waterproof wallet

Phone + charger

Dry bags


Head torch & spare batteries

Pen & waterproof notepad

Itinery (maps, plans, etc)

Blister plasters

Tape for chafing


Berghaus GTX trousers

Goretex shell over-mitts

Mountain Equipment Lhotse GTX jacket

Mountain Equipment GTX gaitors

Lowe Alpine waterproof hat (I bought this during the trip, otherwise would have left my woolly hat behind)


Jetboil Sol titanium stove

2 x 230g gas for Jetboil

Food pouch cosy

Mountain Trails x 3 dehydrated food day packs ( ) (we took 3 days’ worth at a time and sent parcels at various stops to pick up along the way).  Day packs included 1 x breakfast, 1 x dinner & 1 x pudding)

Teabags, instant coffee sachets (the kind with with sugar and dehydrated milk)


A bunch of Clif bars

Packet of oatcakes & tube of Primula cheese

Occasional apple, bag of sweets, bar of chocolate etc

We shared the weight so Ally also took:

Golite Eden 2 tent

2 Alpkit titanium mugs





2L water bladder

11 thoughts on “Cape Wrath Trail backpacking kit list

  1. Great idea for a post 🙂

    I too have Raynauds and struggle with gloves – I’ve found thinsulate work best for me as, even if they get wet, they still seem to keep me warm. My ideal would be those thick, ‘proper-wool’ Dachstein Mitts – once borrowed a pair and they were superb wet or dry!

    I went up Kili and Mt Kenya with a guy who had one of the ‘Golite’ Rucsacs and I thought it was brilliant but we didn’t have to carry much on the hill so I’m sure he didn’t have the problems you had with carrying a lot more weight in yours. They’re obviously not suitable for heavy loads then. I have a Lowe Alpine pack now for bothying and carry about the same weight you’re carrying there (I feel the cold too – we call it ‘nesh’ around here 😉 ) – I hated my previous pack as it gave me shoulder ache but I find the Lowe Alpine very comfy. Don’t know which model it is as it’s buried under a load of other walking gear right now…

    Being vegetarian, I’m under a lot of restrictions with my kit and don’t have a lot of choice – that’s especially true for boots. I also won’t use down or silk either so things like sleeping bag choices are limited too. I have a fleece sleeping bag liner which I like but it might be more bulky than your silk one – it probably doesn’t weigh more though. I’m a really bad packer and need to cut down on bulk as much as weight…


    • Hi Carol,
      I’ve got a pair of Dachstein mitts too, I bought them last winter but not had a chance to properly test them. I’m backpacking this weekend and there’s snow forecast though so will let you know how I get on!
      I’m guessing if you’re vegan then yes, that would restrict a lot of products. I was vegetarian for years until recently (but not full vegan). Now eat meat only very occasionally and am strict about where it has come from. Can’t say I’ve missed it that much to be honest. Think the whole flavour thing is overrated!
      I’ve a Lowe Alpine smaller pack and love it too. I bought it because it had zips instead of fiddly clips which is better for my cold hands. It’s a great pack!


      • I only ate meat/fish when I had to, i.e. when I was living at home – as soon as I left home, I went veggie. I’m not vegan as such but am very fussy about the source of products and whether there was any cruelty involved. I never missed meat when I gave up either.

        Will be interested to see how the Dachstein mitts go – I’m fairly determined to get a pair. Where did you get them from and what sort of price range were they (I’m guessing expensive!)?


  2. Reblogged this on heavywhalley and commented:
    Really good article thanks ,


  3. Thanks for sharing your gear review.

    What time of year did you do the CWT?



    • Hi Ben, sorry for my late reply. I did this in mid-May. No midgies and statistically the best month for weather in Scotland. I’m doing it again this year end of April /beginning of May.


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