Changing my big four for the PCT 2019

Last year I hiked the PCT NOBO and I thought I had my gear dialed in.  After 2,652 miles I realized that some of my gear needed updating.  Gear choice is so personal, between financial constraints and personal comfort levels, there is no magic formula that works for everyone.  Sometimes I wish I would have just bought the expensive gear to begin with, it would have saved me money in the long run, but I just wasn’t comfortable making the financial investment at the time.

This year I have completely changed out my big four.


Last year I started with a Big Agnes Flycreek 2, I was excited about it because it was a double walled tent and it set up easily with tent poles that clicked together.  The downside of the BA tent was that it was heavier than other tents on the trail and it had a front entrance.  I ended up trading out the BA tent for a Six Moons Designs Lunar Solo half way through the trail.  The Lunar Solo was lighter and set up easily with my trekking pole.  I was excited to have the Lunar Solo for the second half of the trail and to have less weight to carry.  This year I am going to start the trail with a Zpacks SolPlex which is lighter again and still sets up easily with a pair of trekking poles.  I am excited to cut more weight on my pack and to try something new.  The trekking pole tents used to seem so intimidating but after 1,300 miles with one I feel confident in my ability to set one up anyplace I need to on the trail.  I am hoping the SolPlex with last me the full SOBO hike this year.


Last year I started the trail with a ULA Cataylst and quickly realized it was too much pack and got a Circuit which I used for 2,300 miles the rest of the trail.  This year I am getting a new customized CDT pack from ULA which will be half the weight and I can customize the colors to be purple and pink!  I am excited to go lighter and I am hoping I can make the smaller pack work and carry less gear overall this summer.  I might go back to the Circuit for the Sierras when I need the bear canister but I haven’t decided yet.  The CDT is half the weight of the Circuit and has a smaller capacity so I won’t be able to overfill it with luxurious extras on the trail.  I am hoping the CDT is going to keep me with a lower weight overall.

Sleeping Pad

I had the Thermarest Neo Air last summer and it worked great, but then Thermarest came out with the Uberlight.  The Uberlight saves four whole ounces and it packs up to be smaller than a 12oz soda can.  The weight and space savings is exciting to me and I can’t wait to try it out on trail this year.  I also have heard that it is quieter than the Neo Air so it will be interesting to test this out too.

Sleeping Bag

My Zpacks 20 degree bag is already super light, but I was freezing in the Sierras and in Washington last summer.  I ended up getting a Enlightened Equipment -10 degree bag for the cold spots like the Sierra and the Desert in the fall.  The weight penalty is huge but at least I won’t be freezing.  If I had it to do again I think I would go with zero degree instead of -10 but I am not going to spend another chunk of change on a third bag.  I think I panicked when I was so cold and went way to warm.

Overall my big four weigh in just over four pounds, and with my kitchen, clothes and electronics and ditty bag added in I am hoping for a super ultralight baseweight.  I leave for the trail in about a month, I am hoping to get the rest of my gear dialed in solid over the next week and will update my gear list again soon.  What gear changes have you made on your hikes?  Let me know in the comments below.


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Comments 5

  • mike : Jun 12th

    Makes sense you are making the changes. Leaving for the CT July 14th with my wofe and most everything is up for grabs except the Big Agnes two person. I need a solo tent though.How was the Lunar Solo with rain and weather? I am seriously considering for the AT when I do that solo next year – the first quarter.

    Why are you hiking back to back? Because you can.

    • Rocketman : Jun 13th

      Keep an eye on the CT snowpack with a 14 July start date. Water won’t be a problem at all this year, but you might have some route-finding and safety issues on the South end depending on how quickly you intend to get there.

      I did the CT in 2017. There were a fair number of places above treeline (and below) where setting up a trekking pole tent would be challenging due to the surface conditions. Probably okay if you bring extra cord for tying to rocks instead of relying on stakes.

      Happy trails!

  • Matt Rind : Jun 12th

    Interesting post. Nothing like Trail testing your gear to get the right mix.
    Nobo, Sobo, Yoyo. Most folks don’t know these acronyms. Using plain English might be better for clarity.

  • Stoveless : Jun 13th

    Sarah good luck to you I am impressed with your plan send me your schedule and maybe Terri and I can trail angel you in WA

  • Elaine : Jun 13th

    I’m thinking of hiking PCT in sections age 62. I’m hoping to gain knowledge to through hike whole PCT age 67 when retired from work. How old is too old? Female.
    I use a personal trainer Lisa weekly. Hike when I can. Just did Point Reyes National park CA with my son and wife both doctors.
    Next REI September Mount Eddy and PCT section 3 days.


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