My 2018 PCT Gear!

I shall become a hermit crab for six months. I will carry my home on my back and endlessly scuttle northward stopping only to eat, sleep, and explore. Hermit crabs explore, right…? I digress…

So what will be in my little hermit shell? Let’s unpack!

Big Three

Let’s start with the Big Three: the tent, the backpack, and the sleep system. They are so-called because they are the most important items a hiker will carry, and they make up the bulk of one’s pack weight. My Big Three includes:

Backpack:

Osprey Exos 58  I chose this pack because Osprey was a brand that I knew and trusted, and was cheaper than other ultralight packs (although it does weigh more than more expensive UL packs). Now, the real reason? POCKETS. Pockets are great, and this thing is chock FULL of ’em. They give everything a place to belong. It keeps everything more organized, easily accessible, and neat; which is something I have a great trouble with. I am a neat freak locked in a slob’s mind, so anything that makes it easier to stay organizes is amazing.

Tent:

This little tent (emphasis on little) is a dynamo. Just enough space for one person and light enough a kitten could carry it! Bonus, it’s tiny enough that you get cabin fever fast, so it forces you to get out and hike!

Sleeping bag:

This bag is amazing. It’s warm enough that even the frozen icicle that is me can sleep warm at night! Seriously, one of the things I’m worried about most is that I won’t have my husband sleeping next to me so that I can stick my absurdly cold feet against his legs to get any sort of warm. Good thing I won’t have to with this bag! Who needs husbands to keep warm now?

Sleeping bag liner:

I plan on carrying this bag through the Sierras and in Washington to keep the previously mentioned icicle that is me from becoming a veritable snow-person. Whenever I have slept in my sleeping bag with this liner as well, I have managed to wake up melting to my icy core.

Sleeping Pad:

Aaah, the seemingly ubiquitous Therm-A-Rest. I find it nearly impossible to get comfy on my insanely comfortable bed on a nightly basis, so the fact that I can find a way to sleep on this pad is a miracle. I always manage to wake up a foot from the top with my feet hanging off, though..

Pillow:

Okay so I really wanted to be that person who could use their clothing sack with a Buff over it for a pillow buuuuut… It just wasn’t cutting it for me. I broke and bought this and managed to get a great night’s sleep with it.

Food Gear

Stove:

What can one say? It’s a classic, and it’s great.

Pot:

It can fit an 8oz can of fuel perfectly with just enough room left over for my cup, lighter, and pack towel! Talk about a space saver.

Cup:

Sea to Summit X Cup

One of my few luxury items, because I’m one of those people who likes to drink their tea/hot cocoa while they eat their meal.

Food Bag:

20L seems like overkill but as I see it, better to have more room for food than not enough. Hiker hunger is real and I need all the room for fruit snacks…

Spoon:

For all those spoonin’ needs.
Mini Bic
It’s a Bic… but mini!
For washing-up after all those delicious homemade meals!

Water Stuff!

Filter:

Went for the regular Sawyer over the Mini because of the higher flow rate.

Main Reservoir:

I love the quick release on this. It’s great to not have to screw off a lid and worry about getting water everywhere. This one is wider with a baffle in the middle so it lays flatter in your pack.

Backup water reservoirs:

They’re so light, you might as well carry two. It’s worth being able to carry more in the desert just in case. I will probably also carry a SmartWater bottle with the sport top to backflush my Sawyer.

Clothes

Shirt:

I LOVE this shirt! Warm when it needs to be and cool when it’s hot out! The venting in the pits and back are wonderful as well. I am a woman but found the men’s sizes fit me better (they usually do) because I have giant shoulders for my small build.

Pants:

These pants are great! I couldn’t find a size that fit me absolutely perfectly, but they work very well! I love the convertible pants and they have loads of pockets (which as previously stated are the best)!

Shoes:

These shoes fit me very well, I actually like the insoles that come with them better than Superfeet Green (crazy high arches over here). They have a great tread and a generous pull loop on the back to help frozen fingers get them on. The only thing I’m not totally in love with is the mesh tops on the toes when it’s cold. The wind likes to get RIGHT in there. I’m sure it’ll be nice in the desert though!

Thermal Baselayers:

Minus33 Ossipee and Franconia, also Patagonia Lightweight Capilene Top and Bottom
So I’m not totally sold on which I will be taking. I probably would have frozen in Virginia without my Minus33 baselayers, but I know that the temperature on the PCT probably will never get THAT cold. I may switch in between the two, the Capilenes in the desert and Oregon, and the Minus33s in the Sierras and Washington. As previously stated, I AM AN ICICLE.

Puffy Jacket:

At 900 fill power this thing packs a PUNCH for how light it is! I chose it over the 1000fp jacket that MontBell offers because I personally love the hoodie style jacket. This is a half-zip jacket with a kangaroo pocket in front and a hood. I love having the big front pocket for storing my phone or water filter where it’s warm so they don’t freeze!

Rain Gear:

So I splurged for these. At the second most expensive gear item I bought the Vertice rain gear was… totally worth it. Zpacks is a phenomenal company and they put their heart and soul into their gear. Every detail of the jacket and the pants is well thought out and functional. The only thing I wish is that the hood would be a little deeper. I have a pretty big head plus a head full of dreads so it’s a little hard to fit all my hair under the hood and still have my face protected from the rain. Fantastic rain gear otherwise!

Socks:

Tried and true, and if you wear them out Darn Tough will send you a new pair! I plan on also trying some Injinji socks too, as I hear they help with the blisters.

Gaiters:

You can’t be a hippie and not get the gaiters entitled “Stoned”.

Gloves:

Super warm and soft, not to mention they help eliminate a New Zeland invasive species! Win-win to me!

Hat:

Fleecy on the inside to keep my ears warm! I have 00 sized gauges and my ears get colder faster with centimeter-sized chunks of rock in there.

Buff:

Electronics

Phone:

iPhone 5s
I may get the 6s to take better video. It depends on when I pay off the phone I have now. Also bringing a cheap waterproof case.

Battery Backup:

10,000 mAh is enough to charge my iPhone 5s from dead to 100% 7 times. I wanted a week’s worth of charges since the Sierras offer longer stretches between towns and I don’t want to be without a phone when I really need one.

Headphones:

Cheap and in-ear style.

Headlamp:

This thing has SO MANY FEATURES! For real, find a time where you can actually sit down and learn all the functions this thing has. My favorite settings are the red light, the dimmer switch, and the wide light.

Toiletries

Poop shovel:

ULTRA light and capable of digging a 6 inch hole in a heartbeat for those emergency pit stops!

Lady Needs:

I love this thing and I can’t imagine hiking without it. If you plan on using one be sure you get used to it before you’re out in the middle of nowhere without any backups as they can be tricky to get a hang of at first. Always remember to bury your, ah, cup contents, too!

Toothbrush:

Bamboo toothbrush cut in half.
Weighs a lot less than a plastic one!

Travel size toothpaste, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, chapstick, floss, and lotion

First aid kit:

Band-Aids, single-use antibacterial cream, duct tape, needle, and ibuprofen.

Odds ‘N’ Ends

Trekking Poles:

I like these quick folding poles. They come in set sizes so you can’t fiddle around with the height, but that is just fine with me. A little bulkier than telescoping poles, but they are a lot lighter than most!

Pack Cover:

Osprey Medium Pack Cover
I will also be carrying a trash compactor bag in my pack for double the rain protection!

Sit Pad:

So many functions (pot holder, wind screen, ass pad, knee separator, pretend accordion, etc.), so little weight!

Moral Support:

Sunny, my stuffed animal
So I know it may seem a little silly to bring a stuffed animal, but this guy is my OG, had-since-birth stuffed animal and probably my best friend. He’s quick, witty, sarcastic, and totally willing to hike the 2650 miles with me! He also functions as a very fashionable hat.

Sierra/Sun/Snow Gear

Bear Vault:

This thing is a TANK. Forget about bears trying to get into it, it took me long enough to get it open the first time, too…

Microspikes:

I haven’t actually gotten these yet, but I plan on using these in the snowy areas!

Ice Axe:

I also haven’t actually gotten my axe yet either, but I plan on using this in the Sierras as well.

Sun Umbrella:

I plan on using a sun umbrella, but I haven’t gotten it yet! Haven’t decided on the full size umbrella or the travel one yet.
*None of the images contained in this post besides Sunny are my own work, all are derived from REI.com or from the brand’s respective website.*
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Comments 14

  • Yermo Adam : Nov 25th

    Thanks for all the good info. Very interesting AND well put together. Looking forward to any more postings you might, PLEASE, make. 🙂

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 26th

      Thank you! I have several more blog posts bouncing around my head already!

      Reply
  • Joseph : Nov 25th

    I am with your strategy / warm and dry.

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 26th

      Yes, as warm and dry as possible! I’m hoping as I get more active I can quit being such an icicle and ditch some of the items to keep me warm, haha!

      Reply
  • Heather Giambalvo : Nov 26th

    Great advice! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 26th

      Thank you! I can’t wait to have more adventures!

      Reply
  • Lee : Nov 26th

    Good looking gear selections, we have very similar styles! We will be starting ahead of you on March 22nd; happy trails!

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 26th

      Thanks! Hopefully it will be a somewhat normal snow year!

      Reply
  • Ralph McGreevy : Nov 26th

    Well planned list. Hope it goes well. Was struck by your opening “I shall become a hermit crab for six months. I will carry my home on my back and endlessly scuttle northward stopping only to eat, sleep, and explore.” and its similarity to poem/ballad “And The Rain My Drink”, which was the inspiration for the title of the novel of the same name by Han Suyin.

    I will go to the forest for justice,
    For justice and righteousness,
    And become a green-clad man.
    The rulers pursue me with soldiers,
    With riders, chariots and spears.

    I will go to the forest for justice,
    The people will flock to me.
    I right their wrongs from the green shades,
    And kill the rulers with arrows.
    The horsemen stumble with fear.

    I will go to the forest for justice.
    The wind for my garment I wear.
    Together with my many companions,
    The wind for my garment and the rain my drink,
    we build a new heaven and earth.

    Of course, you will not be making a life or death commitment like this, although your resolution will be similar. Have a good trip.

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 30th

      I see the similarities! I hope my motivation will be as iron-clad! Thank you for the poem!

      Reply
  • Swathhiker : Nov 26th

    Good luck with your hike. I’m planning to do the AT in 2018 but may wind up on the PCT. Never know. I just wanted to suggest the iPhone 6se or just SE as it is 5.4 ounces or something very light and has the good camera in it even though small. It uses the same StickPic that Goss Gear sells. And for spikes you might want to look at the Snowline Chainsen Trail model which are only 8 ounces, much lighter than the Microspikes but just as good. I just got some on Massdrop recently. They have a few models but the Trail model goes over trail runners. I got size large and I’m finding it a bit difficult to wrestle them over my size 10 women’s trail runners. Here’s a link in case they start another drop for these, but you can get them at a retail outlet probably: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/snowline-chainsen?utm_source=linkshare&referer=F5XZCZ . – Thanks for sharing your gear list and good luck.

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 30th

      Oh thank you for the tips! I’ll definitely have to look at those Snowlines.

      Reply
  • mckillio : Nov 30th

    Looking good but I would recommend a few things, especially if you haven’t already purchased everything. Osprey is coming out with a new Exxos early next year and it’s now gender specific and lighter, it’s now the Eja for women. https://www.snewsnet.com/press-release/ospreys-introduces-all-new-womens-specific-eja-and-updated-exos-for-spring-2018

    I’d also check out Zpacks for your bags, they’re super light and strong and one of them doubles as a pillow, it has fleece on it. So you can have a lighter bag and get rid of your actual pillow (I have the same one and am switching to this).

    I’d also check out Snowpeak for their stove, pot, cup/mug and spork. I’m going to try and go stoveless this year which will also let me ditch my pot.

    The battery seems like overkill. Have ou looked into the weight difference for a battery half or less the size and a solar panel? There’s a specific PCT panel but it’s a bit outdated now, I’ve gone with the Nomad 7 Plus and a Aukey 5,000mah battery.

    Reply
    • Robin Sorenson : Nov 30th

      thank you, I will DEFINITELY look into the new Exos! I had a Snowpeak 700mL pot but it couldn’t nest my fuel canister inside so I switched to the Toaks. The Toaks is also lighter by a fair amount, if I remember. Good on you for trying stoveless! I could never do it!

      Reply

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