8 PCT Thru-Hikers Share Their Top Advice

As it turns out, walking over 2,600 miles can give someone more than enough time to think about—well, a lot of things! Our PCT Class of 2022 Bloggers spent part of that time—when they weren’t dreaming about their next hot meal in town, that is—evaluating their gear and thinking about what advice they would pass along to future thru-hikers.

Let’s hear what some of them had to say.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Karlie “Whisper” Huff | @karlyhuff

Favorite Gear: Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L

MSRP: $285
Weight: 29.8 oz

I love that the removable back pad can double as a sit pad. I also appreciate the ability to swap the hip belt for a different size. The pockets on the outside allow for a lot of different configurations for storage.

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

Connect with your reason for being on trail and revisit it from time to time. It’s all good if it evolves, but remembering what was driving me helped when the miles felt hard.

Alyssa “Little Foot” Kroeker | @thebcbackpacker

Favorite Gear: Feathered Friends Petrel 10 UL Sleeping Bag

MSRP: $599
Weight: 1 lb 14.2 oz

It’s warm, packs down great, and the color is awesome.

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Take time to jump in those lakes! 🙂
  2. Frolic, take zeros, and enjoy the people.

Quinton “Sweatsuit” Peters | @quinton_peters

Favorite Gear: Smartwool Merino Base Layer Hoodie

MSRP: $155
Weight: 7.8 oz

It’s a great layer – I could hike in it to start off on some cold Sierra mornings without being too warm. I could also wear it at camp if it was too warm for my puffy. I used a quilt, so having a layer that insulated my neck was perfect.

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Everything is “sendable” – it’s not useful to think about how hard something’s going to be when your only other option is to go home.
  2. If something doesn’t have to be done today, then it’s tomorrow’s problem…which is best solved tomorrow.

Janine “Sofa Queen” Abdallah | @therealyogini

Favorite Gear: Tarptent Notch 1-person Tent

MSRP: $314
Weight: 28.4 oz

It has a double wall, with ample space inside the mesh and in each vestibule. The tent handles very well in the elements, too and offers superior breathability.

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. You can plan all you want – your gear, your boxes, your resupply stops – but if you don’t get your head right, it will all be moot.
  2. Be adaptable. Things (weather, shipping issues, your health, etc.) will NOT go as planned. The trail will assess your comfort zone and then likely sh*t all over it, so embrace it. Plus, it’ll make for one helluva story!

Melissa “Caps” Riordan | @snickerdoodle0085

Favorite Gear: Cotopaxi Bataan Fanny Pack

MSRP: $30
Weight: 4 oz

Trust me, get a fanny pack. It’s 100% worth it for the convenience of accessing snacks, and if you overstuff the hip belt pockets on your backpack, it’ll start to dig into your hip bones at some point. Fanny pack for the win!

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Listen to your body and rest when it is telling you to rest. It can be hard when you’re trying to make miles, but not every day needs to be about pushing big miles. Take a minute to slow down and take in the incredible landscape around you.
  2. Find your people – hiking and camping with the right people will make all the difference in your experience. It can also be good to hike alone for a little while, even if it’s just for a few days.

Juliette “Scorpion Queen” Kerven | @juliette.outdoors

Favorite Gear: Bandana

MSRP: $7.95
Weight: ~1.5 oz

Do not underestimate the humble bandana. It can be a bandage, handkerchief, towel, tablecloth, hair accessory, mask, or even a tool for pre-filtering water. I like the bandana so much that I use two now – one is exclusively my snot rag, and the other is a multi-purpose tool.

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Be prepared for fires – they are scary and very real. They will change what you expected your hike to be, so be flexible and be prepared to flip-flop. Thru-hiking is 10% hiking and 90% logistics.
  2. Hike on your own terms and appreciate everything you see. This may sound harsh, but the reality is that next year it could be a burn scar.

Maddy “Lightning Rod” Jaynes | @hike_more

Favorite Gear: Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet 48L

MSRP: $325
Weight: 17.5 oz

Solid frameless backpack and extremely durable – it even excelled with a bear can in the Sierra!

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Don’t set any expectations.
  2. Above all else, have an open mind and be willing to accept and embrace change.

Rachel “Dobby” Shoemaker | @rambling__rach

Favorite Gear: OR Solar Roller Sun Hat

MSRP: $18.98
Weight: 3.4 oz

I love this hat mainly for its sun protection purposes—the wide brim helped cover more skin, and the drawstring meant that I never lost it to an unexpected gust of wind. Also, fun fact: one time, I used it to scoop from a shallow water source!

Top Advice for Future Thru-Hikers:

  1. Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) – Remember that this is your hike! Do check-ins every so often and ask yourself questions like, “is this what I want? Am I getting everything I want out of this experience?”
  2. Save up and budget for more than you think you’ll need. There are always unexpected costs, and you may want to treat yourself to a nice meal or a room to yourself in town from time to time, especially when morale is low.

So there you have it, folks—some words of wisdom from eight of our bloggers from the PCT Class of 2022. Wondering what this year’s AT bloggers have to say? Be on the lookout next week for what advice they have to share!

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Featured image: Graphic design by  Chris Helm (@chris.helm).

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