Cultivating My Hiker Trash Aesthetic: A Partial PCT 2023 Gear List
With less than a month out from the BIG first day on trail, I thought I would share with y’all my favorite pieces of gear I am taking on this journey. This is NOT a comprehensive gear list (which will probably be uploaded later) but rather the gear that makes me entirely me. This might be an unconventional perspective on gear, but sometimes, well at least to me, these items can be chosen solely because it makes you happy, or if it gives you that extra comfort, or because it is stylish and you just want to feel cute. With so many brands and companies to choose from, I felt really inspired to choose gear that not only was practical, functional, and or lightweight, but was also extremely expressive of my personality and things I love.
Now with that said, here’s a Spongebob reference with a slight twist, “Ravioli Ravioli, Give the people my (Gear)ioli”.
Pieces of Me
On trail, I will be bringing my LiteAF 40L framed pack. I have had this pack for about 1.5 years, and I have taken it on every backpacking trip with no issues. I heard about this brand on the Hiking Thru podcast, and instantly fell in love with the customizability the brand offered. I took a risk buying a pack I couldn’t even try on but it’s honestly my favorite gear purchase and I am never going back. Since you can customize so much of the pack including the design, I went with a 2-patterned pack with the base being hike-a-delic and the side pockets being shrooms and it just makes me happy inside to have such a fun and unique pack choice. My husband has the same pack but with the patterns being opposite on his pack and side pockets. This decision came as we both picked our favorite design and decided we just had to be that couple on trail that matched and to be super cutesy of course!
This pack has it all, and it was important for me to be able to have the option of adding additional features to the pack such as the ice axe loop and bottom mesh pocket which is perfect for hiding my trash. There is so much space since the outside mesh adds around 15-20L and the hip belt is excellent because it has four points to adjust.
- Massage Ball: Rawlogy Mini Cork Massage Ball
This is a game changer. Seriously I recommend this tiny ball of cork to anyone and everyone. I got this item for Christmas to help an autoimmune condition that causes generalized neuropathy that affects my right hand and wrist. I use this ball to relieve nerve tension and it is an extremely useful tool for massaging out sore muscles, which I am sure to experience daily on trail. I plan on using it extensively once I make it into camp and I plan on using it every morning before my stretch routine. I have seen such an improvement in my quality of life since using it and I realized I just could not hike the PCT without it.
– sorry no pic for this item 🙁
- Medical Supplies Case: Semikk Insulated Travel Case for Medications and Supplies
This is an oddly specific piece of gear, but it is one I cannot leave behind. I have two autoimmune diseases, Pernicious Anemia and Grave’s disease, where I am required to take daily and weekly medications. This insulated case allows me to hike with my medications without them being damaged by the varying temperature conditions out on trail, since it is properly insulated. I took out the ice packs and extra storage material to save weight but depending on your prescriptions this may vary from person to person. The case contains enough space for both of my medications and the appropriate medical supplies such as band-aids, alcohol prep pads, and needles. This container will also store our first aid kit supplies so it’s multi-purposeful.
- Wedding Band: Groove Life Aurora Thin Ring
Okay, so I do not know if this is considered gear, but it is something I am wearing and it is something I am taking on trail, therefore, it must be gear. My husband and I got matching wedding bands so we could still honor our love without worrying about losing our real pieces of jewelry. I love this band because of its silicone based material, it is lightweight, and it is also the perfect pattern of mountains in the night-sky which is on point for this hike. It feels like nothing on my finger and it is also super easy to clean which is an added bonus.
All the Comfort, All the Weight
I value sleep so incredibly much and this pillow is absolute perfection. I have replaced my actual pillow with this pillow because that is the power this pillow holds. I spent an extraordinary amount of time and money on finding a pillow that was going to get me through this hike without being cranky everyday and after what felt like all hope was lost, I stumbled upon this gem. It is made of upcycled foam material so it conforms around your head and the outer material is surprisingly soft. As the title of this section suggests, its one downside for most thru hikers is the weight. I got the large because I wanted to splurge in a life of luxury since again sleep means everything to me, but the cost is the weight at a whopping 15 oz. For me I do not mind the weight penalty but there are two other sizes that may work for others while meeting the comfort standard.
- Sleeping Pad: Exped Ultra 3R Duo
For all those couples out there, this has completely changed how well we sleep at night together while hiking and backpacking. Before this pad, I was sleeping on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite and my husband was sleeping on the Nemo Switchback. It was difficult for us to get a good night’s rest, because my pad was inches off the ground and his was directly on the ground so that height difference made it hard to snuggle each other. My pad was also not ideal since I am a constant mover and side sleeper, so I knew I wanted to change it up. One day we were jokingly discussing if there was a pad that was lightweight enough for us to take that could fit us both on it. With a quick google search, this pad was the first one to pop up and we quickly bought it to test try it out. We have been sleeping on it every night for practice and I actually sleep on it better than our real bed. I was pleasantly surprised, and it works out perfectly because I have enough space to sleep on my side, but it is also comfortable enough for my husband who mostly sleeps on his back. It also fits great in our tent with enough room for other gear storage and it even got the second highest gear approval rating from both our families so that’s exciting.
Because of its weight (40.7 oz.) my husband has taken one for the team and decided he would bear the weight of the pad so I wouldn’t have to, so HUGE shoutout to my husband!
NOTE: We got the large wide version of the pad just for the extra space and to not be miserable for the next 6 months on trail.
For Those Who Struggle with the Sun
- Hiking Pants: Baleaf Quick Dry and UPF50+ Hiking Pants
I initially wasn’t planning on bringing a sun pant for the desert section because I, like many others, was hoping I would be able to get a sick tan from all the sun exposure, but in reality know my fate would be an incredibly painful sunburn that makes me look like a tomato. So I listened to my husband, and bought these pants. I remember Lava Girl had a pant (no surprise it was this brand) that she wore for the majority of her PCT thru-hike and I decided solely based on that I would give the same pant a shot. I really appreciate the breathability and space this pant provides while hiking cause the worst thing is feeling the sweat trapped between your body and clothing. This item also provides great protection from the sun and wind, while also being water resistant.
I am really stoked to take this goofy lil piece of gear with me on trail. I guess some in the community consider this a luxury item and in a way it is, but it is also extremely versatile and if it reduces my chances of getting skin cancer then I am all in. I had read several reviews and went with a tried-and-true favorite with the Six Moon Designs Umbrella. This umbrella is incredibly small, fits in my pack well when not in use and I bought the hands free kit to tether it to my pack so I could continue to use my trekking poles without having to also hold an umbrella. I am super excited to use this while taking siestas in the desert to have some respite from the UV exposure, and to not have to worry about sharing a few branches with 30 other hikers. I haven’t tested the umbrella in wind or rain conditions but from watching other thru hikers who took this umbrella I know it has its limitations in windy weather, so I probably won’t use it on those sections of trail to avoid it breaking.
- Sunglasses: Goodr Glacier Polarized Sunglasses
This one is for you mom ?
A few weeks ago, my mom and I were discussing gear items and she mentioned sunglasses. I practically told her I was too good for sunglasses and wouldn’t need them.
My reasonings were:
- I have perfect vision so when wearing safety glasses such as for work, I feel slightly dizzy most likely due to the lack of experience with glasses on my face.
- I was probably going to look down at the ground most of the time to watch where I was stepping and to magically avoid the sun.
After our conversation, I remembered this core memory of my mom and I driving in my hometown one day and I literally burst into tears for no other reason than it being a sunny day outside and I could barely see because the sun was that powerful. After reliving that trauma, I caved and bought these sunglasses. They are magical. I have been wearing them as much as possible and have noticed such a difference when I wear them vs. not, which is completely understandable. I bought these because they were cute, they matched my eye color and because they were polarized.
I Love a Good Color/Design Palette
Since California wanted to have the highest snowpack year practically on record, I upgraded from my Patagonia Nano Jacket to a down jacket. Cotopaxi pulls out all the stops when it comes to fashion and I was obsessed with this color palette. I personally love how comfortable the jacket is even with other layers underneath it. I was hesitant at first to get a down jacket due to the problems that occur while its wet but I outweighed that probability with how cute, comfortable, and warm I was while wearing the jacket.
Jolly Gear is another brand that I fell in love with after watching so many people on YouTube support and wear their clothing. I was so ecstatic when they came out with new colors and designs for their sun hoodies this year and couldn’t take my eyes off the trail magic design. I got this as a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle and it’s become an instant staple in my closet. It caught my attention since it looked like a sunrise or sunset and because it is so unique. I just feel so vibrant, fun, and free while wearing it and can’t wait to rock it on trail! The material is so soft on my skin, I love that it has thumb holes which help to act as gloves for my hands, and it is super cool that it’s a button down, so you have the option of complete coverage or a little more freedom on days where the sun exposure is not as high.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PIECE OF GEAR.
If anyone knows me, it’s that I can’t live without this bucket hat. Bucket hats have become super popular recently and I couldn’t resist the trend. I bought this hat last year and wear it everywhere but while at work. I lost it one day after soccer practice and my husband gifted me a brand new one for Christmas so I could be oh so stylish on trail. This hat represents me: I’m a red-haired blue-eyed woman who goes wild for flowers and this hat is THAT. I feel so pretty in this floral designed hat and I will be adding a clip-on sinch to the hat so it doesn’t get blown away in the desert wind.
- Gaiters: UltraGam Super Dogs Gaiters
Lastly, I always knew I wanted gaiters to keep out any unwanted rocks, dirt, etc., but I wanted them to be fun and fresh and something I hadn’t seen before. So that’s how I landed on these super dogs patterned gaiters. I mean it’s dogs in space so how could I not. These work perfectly with my Altra Lone Peak shoes, and they match my fashion vibe while also being practicable.
As of now, I have all my gear dialed in and I hope to share that with everyone before we head out on trail. Here’s to counting down the days and I can’t wait to post more updates and information for y’all to enjoy!
Comment below : What’s y’alls favorite gear item?
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.