Lost Coast Back Packing Trip Preparation

lost coast trail

lost coast trailA few months back an old buddy of mine from my high school hitch hiking days informed me he was visiting California and wanted to get together and do some camping. I sent him a few links about back packing the Lost Coast trail in Humboldt county and he zeroed in on it.

As we started planning gear and food, my wife informed me she was flying back to the Philippines to visit her parents on the same day that I was leaving for my back packing trip. All of a sudden I had to figure out what to do with my 2 boys. The easiest solution was to take them with! I contacted another friend with 2 similar age boys and invited him. We went from 2 back packers to 7.

All the men on this trip have the same first name-Mark. It’s going to be a good trip.

Another challenge besides camping with 4 teenage boys is the other 2 men have less experience back packing. Hence, I am writing this blog post as a primer for all of us.

Ultra Light Backpacking Trip Preparation

lightweightTshirtI plan on traveling light.  All your clothing can easily be washed and dried on the trail.  I have 1 or 2 pieces of each clothing item .  I wear every item of clothing for at least 2 days.  I layer clothing for warmth.  I never hike in socks as I save them for camp.  It feels good to don clean dry clothing at our campsite.

Let’s start from the top down.   REI and Amazon sell quick drying  T-shirts that are one third the weight of cotton and dry in a few minutes if worn immediately after washing.  I prefer REI brand lightweight T-shirts as they are as soft as cotton and smell good after washing.  It’s worth the extra money for a higher quality shirt.

rei camping pantsMy wife found all of  our family super light weight REI camping pants that convert into shorts at a local thrift store for $2.50 each.  Better than paying full price at REI.  We purchased most of camping clothing at thrift stores as we have several within a few miles of our home.


How To Reduce Backpacking Weight

luna trail running sandalsI started back packing in light weight Luna trail running sandals. These sandals navigate wet, rocky, and sandy terrain better than my running shoes.   Luna Sandal weigh less 10 ounces per pair.

I traveled in Merrell Trail Gloves  on my last trip and they proved to be amazing at handling the rough terrain. I am packing these as my secondary shoes. Both shoes weigh significantly less than traditional hiking boots.

trail running shoesWhat about ankle support and protecting your feet?  After 22 years of trail running on rough mountainous terrain, the only ankle twist that I have experienced was caused by over padded heavy weight shoes.  The center of gravity is key to keeping your foot firmly planted on the ground.  If I could back pack in my bare feet, I would!  Zero drop running sandals and shoes have a very low center of gravity and allow you to keep your feet stable.

Clunky hiking boots protect you from twisting your ankle-they also may cause you to twist your ankle because your feet are two inches off the ground.  Is a 4×4 truck more likely to roll than a sports car? Ditch the heavy boots and you will be lighter and more stable.

How To Keep Rocks and Sand out of Shoes and Boots

dirty girl gaitersThe Lost Coast Trail takes you down to the beach and through a lot of wet areas.  Since I am not hiking in heavy boots, I need gaiters to keep sand, rocks, pebbles, and other debris out of my shoes.  I searched online for several hours and most gaiters weighed as much as my shoes!  I found a lot of talk on forums about Dirty Girl Gaiters.  I ordered 3 pairs that weigh less than a handful of wadded up tissue.  The colors are outrageous!  Customer service is amazing.  I received several emails from the creator, Xy.  At about $20 a pair, you cannot go wrong.

Top 5 Back Packing Categories Check List


  • Luna sandals
  • Merrell trail running shoes.
  • REI camping pants.
  • 1 pair of socks.
  • Black Lycra beanie cap.
  • Nike running gloves.
  • Nike running tights.
  • 2 running shorts.
  • 2 running t-shirts.
  • 1 long sleeve running shirt.
  • Down Jacket.
  • Rain poncho.
  • Boonie cap.

Sleeping Gear

  • Sea To Summit TKII down sleeping bag.
  • REI lightweight 3 person tent.
  • Nemo Cosmo air mattress.
  • 1 person bivvy tent from GoFastandLight.com.
  • Lightweight Tyvek ground cloth.

Cooking gear

  • MSR International dual fuel stove.
  • MSR Haulite 1 person cook kit.
  • Stanley 24 Oz stainless pot with Reflectix sleeve.
  • Spoons and forks.
  • Finnum tea infuser.
  • Coffee grinder -gotta have it!
  • 24 ounce white gas fuel bottle.
  • MSR water filter.
  • 29 Oz Klean Kanteen wide mouth stainless steel water bottle.

Bear Canisters Required On The Lost Coast Trail

bearvaultRecently,  bear canisters are required in many federal back packing areas in California.   In 35 plus years of back packing and camping, I have never had an issue.  This is my first camping trip that I am carrying a bear canister.  It’s a welcome relief to finding the correct tree to hang my food.  We are good at hanging the food. Retrieving the food in the morning takes a lot of skill as we always hang it high!

However, bear canisters are heavy weighing over 2 pounds.  An alternative to the heavy plastic bear canisters like Bear Vault is the light weight 7.5 oz Ursack. It’s been successfully field tested in California.  I watched a video of a grizzly bear attempting to break open the Ursack.  Both the federal and California government are dragging their feet on approving this amazing bag.  I highly recommend using this bag in areas where bear canisters are not required as it eliminates counter balancing 2 bags.  Simply find a tree branch over 8 feet in the air and hang your bag.

ursack bear bag


For areas that require a hard walled bear canister, click here to buy the Bear Vault canister from REI.

  • Trekking poles.
  • Compass.
  • Pocket knifes.
  • Cell phone.
  • Water bladder.
  • Hand trowel.
  • Sun screen.
  • Vitamins.
  • Bug spray.
  • Maps.
  • First aid kit.
  • LED flashlight.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Lighter.

Gourmet Back Packing Food

Our Excalibur food dehydrator is providing us with a plethora of gourmet back packing meals.


back packing food


  • Chia seeds with dehydrated organic whole milk.
  • Dried mangos, papayas, apples, gojo berries, and cherries.
  • Beef Jerky.
  • Dehydrated Thai mango chicken.
  • Dehydrated chili beans with beef.
  • Fresh corn tortillas served with dehydrated chicken and beef.
  • Fresh roasted coffee.
  • 85% dark chocolate.



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