Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

I've taken two incredible trips on the California coast North of San Francisco and I'm looking forward to more. Here are some of the things I was happy to have with me:

* 1 or 2 sets of hiking clothes (depending on the length of the trip)
* A set or 2 of clothes for going out at night
* Rain jacket
* Light layer
* Camera
* A pocket knife
* Hard candy or special snack of choice
* A deck of cards (if you're hiking with a friend)
* A small journal
* A paperback book
* A sarong for coast walks good for beach lounging and toweling off
* Bathing suit

What do you recommend for a multi-day hike from inn to inn?

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I like to hike light. I take one pair of zip off pants. I'd rather wash underwear and socks in the sink every other day than carry extras. I take one over shirt that is warm and nice enough for dinner in a restaurant. I also carry a compass, maps, and a small first aid kit. Don't forget lunch.

Tom Courtney
We would like to walk super light. Does it make sense to ship changes of clothes, and fancy night wear, ahead of time to each inn, and then leave them with the inn the next morning, to be picked up on the drive back home? Has anyone tried this? What has been the response by inn-keepers?

Below is what I am planning to carry for a 3-4 day trip. It looks like it will be about 15 pounds in the pack. Is that what others generally end up with? Is there anything you would suggest I leave out? Weights for individual items are in ounces --- totals include pounds. 


Worn/Carried on Person

Sun Hat --- 4

Merino Hiking Shirt, Short Sleeve --- 5

Convertible Hiking Pants --- 12.1

Merino Underwear --- 2

Merino Hiking Socks --- 3

Hiking Shoes --- 30

Shades --- 2

Watch --- 2

Trekking Pole --- 10

Total Worn/Carried --- 70.1 oz / 4.4 lbs


Packed, Base Weight

Daypack --- 19.3

Mesh Clothes Bag --- 1

Quick-Dry Travel Shirt, Long Sleeve --- 9.8

Quick-Dry Travel Pants --- 12.1

Merino Underwear --- 2

Merino Hiking Socks --- 3

Bathing Suit --- 3.7

Merino Fleece Sweater --- 20.8

Rain shell --- 16

Rain pants --- 9

Food Bag --- 1.1

Platypus, 2-liter --- 4

Toiletry Kit, sunscreen, etc. --- 11.4

First Aid Kit --- 5

Trowel --- 2

TP --- 3

Keys --- 1

Wallet --- 3.7

Phone --- 5

Glasses & Case --- 2

Knife --- 3

Mini Bic lighter --- 0.4

Pen/Pencil --- 0.3

Emergency Blanket --- 1.7

Headlamp --- 2

Monocular --- 2

Magnifying glass --- 1

Compass --- 2

Camera --- 9

Book --- 9

Total Base Weight --- 165.3 oz / 10.3 lbs



Lunch --- 16

Water, 2L --- 68

Total Consumables --- 84 oz / 5.25 lbs


Total Packed --- 249.3 oz / 15.6 lbs


Total Skin-Out --- 319.4 oz / 20.0 lbs


I'm also interested in this question brought up by Doug H. (a year and a half ago!).


Does anyone know about how to arrange for bag forwarding on a DIY inn-to-inn trip? Do taxi services do this kind of thing? Mostly I think I will just carry everything, but I wold love to be able to send my extra clothes, toiletry kit, change of shoes, book, etc. forward to the next inn, especially if there are any nice restaurants that might expect a nicer dress code than my usual travel clothes. 


Has anyone ever used bag forwarding?



Thanks for sharing your travel list! I appreciate your attention to detail. I carry just about everything listed, with few additional items. I've never sent anything ahead, as suggested by Doug, but I think it sounds totally feasible. My experience on Walkabouts is that inn keepers and community members are generally delighted by the idea of traveling without a car, and eager to provide support. Several times when I've asked an innkeeper about catching a taxi or bus and they've offered to give us a ride.


When hiking, I wear my hiking clothes and carry one set of clean clothes for going out after a day on the trail. If going out in the same clothes for several nights or hiking everyday in the same clothes doesn't meet your hopes for fun, sight and scent, I suggest exploring options for sending clothes ahead with your inn keepers.


If you give it a try, let us know how this plan works out.





Emily, thanks for the reply. (I was beginning to wonder if this site was ever visited by anyone!)


The reason for all the detail is that I keep a spreadsheet of items and weights for planning wilderness backpacking trips, where weight is a major concern. So most of the items I am planing to take on the inn-to-inn trip were already weighed and entered in the backpacking spreadsheet, and it was an easy matter to export the list for this trip.


Weighing things to this level of detail is probably not necessary for an inn-to-inn hike. But if anyone is finding their pack to be a bit too heavy, then it can be useful to get out the kitchen scale and weigh everything. A lot of times you'll find that one garment or other item may weigh a few ounces more than an alternative, which doesn't seem like a lot, but it really adds up. Trim 4 ounces off 4 different items, and you've saved a pound --- carefully consider each of the 20 or 30 items in your pack, and you can shave of pounds. I shaved more than 15 pounds off of my typical wilderness backpacking load just by paying attention to small details and swapping out heavier items for lighter ones, a few ounces at a time. 


About the bag forwarding, I'm probably not going to try to do that for this trip. I think my wife and I will try to do the first two stops on the Marin Headlands walkabout, because those are relatively short walks of 6-7 miles a day. That should give us a good idea if the load is manageable carrying everything, or if we would prefer to find a way to forward certain heavier items. Originally I had planned to do the Marin Headlands walkabout in late April or early May, but because of other vacation plans, my wife and I will be postponing it to late May or June. After we do it, I'll post some info about it. 


Thanks agan for replying.



I wonder if it will be another year and a half before anyone gets back to this thread...

My wife and I just got backpacks that will be great for walkabouts. They are REI Lookout 40 daypacks. The "40" stands for 40 liters, so these are large 40-liter daypacks that are large enough to be considered "day plus" packs and can even be used for light overnight backpacking trips. In fact, I used it for a backpacking overnighter last weekend, and even though it was tight, the pack was able to accommodate about 25 pounds of backpacking gear very comfortably. With about half that much for an inn-to-inn hike, it will be great. 


And even though the pack is large for a typical daypack it also has compression straps that can cinch it down into a much smaller pack for smaller loads. You can tighten it up nice and trim if you don't need all that space, so you don't feel like you have a larger pack than you need. You can also keep everything from just settling to the bottom of the compartment, so the pack rides better on your back and doesn't just hang.


One of the things I really like about this pack is that it has an internal framesheet and aluminum stays, so it has a bit of structure and transfers weight off your shoulders and onto your hips pretty well. Most daypacks do not have that. 


The pack has a sleeve for a hydration bladder (like a Playtpus or Camelbak) and a port to put the drinking tube over your shoulder. I've gotten very used to using a hydration system on wilderness backpacking trips, and it really helps you to drink enough water when you can sip it from a valve that's right in front of you rather than have to dig around for a water bottle every time you want a drink. But if you prefer bottles, the pack has two side mesh pockets that can easily hold bottles. 


The pack has one large main compartment with a very large zipper opening, so it's really easy to get stuff in and out --- it's a zip-open panel, not a top loader. It also has a good sized front pocket with some organizers inside. It has two long side zipper pockets, in addition to the two side mesh pockets. It has one smaller zipper pocket on the very top of the bag. And it has one zippered mesh pocket on the hip belt for super easy access without taking off the pack. The other side of the hip belt has attachment points for attaching another pocket or maybe a camera pouch. 


My wife got the women's version in green. I got the men's large version in blue. It's worth trying them on because I would have expected the men's medium to work for me, but the large actually fits better. 


Like I mentioned, I've used mine on one overnighter backpacking trip, and it worked well. In preparation for the inn-to-inn hike, my wife is "in training," so we've loaded up the packs a few times with water, food and enough clothes to bring the load up to around 10 pounds, and then we've done some longer day hikes to get used to the load. So far the packs are working out great --- much better than your average day pack. We are going on a 2-week vacation in a couple of weeks and we are planning to carry everything for the entire trip in our Lookout packs. 



This is great info! I'm looking for a new walkabout pack. I've been making do with a pack that's less than ideal. I'm particularly excited about the size, extended zipper (rather than top loading) and hydration features. How do think the weight of this pack compares to those of similar quality?





The Lookout pack weighs 3 pounds, 3 ounces. So it is about the same weight as comparable packs --- all are about 3+ pounds.


I looked at several other comparable packs, and the one that came closest to this Lookout pack was a Kelty Redwing pack. It has a similar size (little bit bigger than the Lookout) and similar features --- panel loading, large main compartment with several smaller outer pockets, hydration compatibility, an internal aluminum stay, good suspension straps and belts. It comes in multiple sizes and fits for people of different sizes. It seems durable. I've owned a larger Kelty wilderness backpacking pack for a few years and am happy with it. But this Kelty Redwing pack seemed almost too big for inn-to-inn hiking, and it didn't seem like the compression straps worked as well as the Lookout pack's to cinch the pack into a smaller size. Also, when I tilted my head way back, like looking up at the sky, I could feel the aluminum stay poking me in the back of my head, which I did not like --- that might not happen to everyone. The Redwing was a bit more expensive than the Lookout, and I think it weighed just a little bit more too.


Other packs we looked at were either designed primarily for wilderness backpacking with features like beefier frames, which we didn't need, and they had high prices. Or they were "technical day packs," which all tended to be top loaders. So this "day plus" category of larger day packs seemed to be the best category, and the Redwing and Lookout were my favorites. 


Regarding weight, it's good to aim for a light pack, but not at the sacrifice of decent suspension, which makes even a heavier pack more comfortable to carry. Earlier on my gear list I listed a pack that was about 19 ounces, but that is a smaller daypack with few features --- it doesn't hold as much, has no hydration compatibility, no hip belt, no frame sheet or other structure, no padding on the back panel, and has thinly padded straps. So even though the new pack weighs more, it is much more comfortable to carry.


One tip when shopping for a pack: Pack up all of the stuff you will actually carry on your trip and bring it to the store when you try on your pack, preferably including a hydration bladder with water in it. That way you can load your real gear into the pack and see how it feels. If you don't have your actual gear, the store will probably have weighted bags and pillows to stuff inside the pack, but my experience is that the pack feels different with real stuff in it. You also have the opportunity to think through where you will carry everything --- what goes in what compartment. And you can see how easy or difficult it will be to load and unload the pack --- trying it in the store is what convinced my wife she wanted a panel loader, not a top loader. 


Good luck searching for your next pack!




P.S. A few other features included with the Lookout that may or may not be important to you: It includes a rain cover that stows away in a zipper pocket at the bottom of the pack, so if it starts to rain you can just quickly and easily pull it out and cover the pack. And the sternum strap buckle has a built-in emergency whistle, so if you stumble and hurt yourself, you'll have a whistle right there, even if you can't take off your pack.


Thanks for all the great information about packs and what to take on an inn-to-inn hike.  Sharing your light weight backpacking experience is really a great gift to the Walkabout Community.  I am planning to hike El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the fall, a 500 mile pilgrimage through northern Spain, the Way of St. James.  I want to go a light weight as possible, and I will check out the REI Lookout 40 pack.


We plan to include a link to this discussion on one of the next Walkabout California newsletters, so more inn-to-inn hikers can join the discussion.


Good luck on your Marin Coast walkabout.  It is a beautiful hike along some of the most breathtaking coastline in the world with great inns and gourmet dining.






After you check out the Lookout 40, let me now what you think. I recently used it for 2 weeks of travel, and it worked great.  The trip was not a walkabout or a hike, but there was still plenty of walking involved, as well as navigating airports, trains, buses, subways, and cars. It was great not having to drag a rolling luggage piece through all the obstacles, and I really appreciated being more maneuverable and nimble with my pack on my back. 


One thing that I have decided I do not like about this particular pack is the fact that the side zippers on the side pockets seem to face toward the wrong side of the pack. The zippers are on the side that is considered the "back" of the pack --- the side that faces your own back, with the shoulder straps and hip belt. I'd prefer they be on the "front" --- the side with the zippered compartments and other pockets. If you lay the pack on its back when you are packing it, with the panel-loading main compartment facing upward, the side zippers face downward toward the floor, instead of facing upward. You really can't have the side zippers open and the main compartment open at the same time, or one of the openings will be facing down, and something is sure to fall out.  You have to flip the pack over to access the side pockets. This is sort of a peeve, not a serious complaint, but I can't figure out why they did it that way. Maybe they thought you would be able access the side zippers while wearing the pack, without taking the pack off, but you really can't contort yourself enough to do that.


Another mild peeve is that the pack does not like to sit up on its own when you take it off. The bottom is rounded, so it wants to lay down flat, or lean against something. I think the idea is to get a good load distribution, and not have everything sag into the bottom of the pack --- it transfers weight above the waist to your hips, instead of having it hang on you awkwardly. But sometimes it is annoying that the pack won't stand up on its own.


Overall, I still really like this pack. So does my wife. Check it out if you get a chance, and let me know what you think. 




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