Chilkoot Trail Supplies -- Then and Now


Photos of a human chain of stampeders trudging up the Chilkoot Pass have come to symbolize the Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1897-'98, the North West Mounted Police set up a border crossing into Canada at the summit of the Chilkoot. They ordered every stampeder to carry a year's worth of supplies. After all, there was no turning back once they were into the Klondike, and commerce was limited, to say the least.

As a result, many stampeders struggling up the mountain rampart were bent double under the weight of their packs, which typically contained the following:

Chilkoot Trail 1898 Supplies:

McDougall and Secord Klondike Outfit List (clothing & food):
2 suits heavy knit underwear
6 pairs wool socks
1 pairs heavy moccasins
2 pairs german stockings
2 heavy flannel overshirts
1 heavy woollen sweater
1 pair overalls
2 pairs 12-lb. blankets
1 waterproof blanket
1 dozen bandana handkerchiefs
1 stiff brim cowboy hat
1 pair hip rubber boots
1 pair prospectors' high land boots
1 mackinaw, coat, pants, shirt
1 pair heavy buck mitts, lined
1 pair unlined leather gloves
1 duck coat, pants, vest
6 towels
1 pocket matchbox, buttons, needles and thread comb, mirror, toothbrush
etc. mosquito netting/1 dunnage bag
1 sleeping bag/medicine chest
pack saddles, complete horses
flat sleighs

100 lbs. navy beans
150 lbs. bacon
400 lbs. flour
40 lbs. rolled oats
20 lbs. corn meal
10 lbs. rice
25 lbs. sugar
10 lbs. tea
20 lbs. coffee
10 lbs. baking powder
20 lbs. salt
1 lb. pepper
2 lbs. baking soda
1/2 lb. mustard
1/4 lb. vinegar
2 doz. condensed milk
20 lbs. evaporated potatoes
5 lbs. evaporated onions
6 tins/4 oz. extract beef
75 lbs. evaporated fruits
4 pkgs. yeast cakes
20 lbs. candles
1 pkg. tin matches
6 cakes borax
6 lbs. laundry soap
1/2 lb. ground ginger
25 lbs. hard tack
1 lb. citric acid
2 bottles jamaica ginger

Today, many adventurous travellers re-trace the steps of the Klondike stampeders, but their burden of supplies has been significantly lightened:

Chilkoot Trail 1995 Supplies

To fit in one backpack:
sleeping bag
sleeping pad
warm layered clothing
broken-in hiking boots
rain/snow gear
quick-cooking nutritious food
energy bars/chocolate
coffee/tea & powdered milk
camp stove
pots & pans
camera & film
journal or novel
trail book
personal toiletries
first aid kit
bug repellent