Let’s Mini-Explode My PCT Backpack

My pack is weighing in at 12.5 pounds right now. I’m not sure whether this is the final edit. I still have 27 days to worry and fret over a few ounces here and there. Most of this stuff I used extensively last year and found to be reliable gear. Some items are new. Here is an informal gear list just for the heck of it.

The Biggies:

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack. There is a ZPacks shoulder pouch attached to the shoulder strap to carry my phone. I also stored a Sawyer Mini in there last year, but this year I’m just going to keep it on a water bottle. Pockets contain bug spray, sunscreen, tweezers, nail clipper, mini iPod. I usually have a current water report and a few pages of maps, too.

ZPacks Solplex Tent. I think this tent is great. I did not like it when I tried it out at home. I was used to more spacious freestanding tents, and this new-fangled thing felt awkward to set up, no matter how much I watched the video on how to do it. At 16oz, I was determined to make it work for me. On the trail, I grew to appreciate this tent. It’s much hardier than it looks. It survived less than optimal tent sites, desert wind and sand, a crazy electrical storm, and most importantly, a clumsy lady who moves around a lot. I put everything in there, including my pack. It never felt too claustrophobic, and I am larger than the average hiker. I ended up liking that it’s not freestanding- I could even adjust the height of the trekking poles to either have the bathtub pulled up high for inclement weather or low so I could lay there and look outside. Pitching is not an issue after several uses, and getting the tent perfectly taut was enjoyable, in an OCD kind of way.



Therma-A-Rest NeoAir XLite. Loud but warm and comfortable at 12oz.

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt. This quilt is so light in the hand; it’s easy to doubt its capabilities. But it’s warm, soft and comfy. Mine has a foot long zipper and drawstring at the bottom if I want to encase my feet. Otherwise, it’s a straight up quilt. Like the ZPacks stuff, this quilt is pricey, but the quality is worth it. So far I have not regretted paying up for these items.

Hey, what’s in that clothes sack?


  • Patagonia Nano Puff Hooded
  • 2 pair extra socks (part of my blister system)
  • Warm Smartwool socks for sleep
  • NEW: PossomDown Gloves. They are SO soft.
  • NEW: GooseFeet Gear Down Socks (booties) and Waterproof Over-booties. Even though my quilt is great, my feet get cold easily. These should do the trick, and I won’t have to keep the bottom of the quilt enclosed anymore. Also, I’m thinking with the over booties that they could multi-function as a camp shoe. Heck, I could just slip on the over booties for camp shoes if I wanted too. We’ll see how they work out!

Some may have noticed that jammies are missing. Right now my wool base layers are on my “not bringing list”. See below for more discussion.

Hey, what’s in that blue thing?


That blue thing is my awesome ZPacks Multi-Pack that can be a satchel, a chest pack, and belt pack. It might be a luxury item, but I used the heck out of this thing. I even carried it around with me waaaay after I was off the trail. I only use it in Satchel mode, but it could be used as a fanny pack for a side trip. Right now, the things I have in it are:

  • Pouch with permit, cards, stamps, I.D., etc.
  • Extra phone battery
  • NEW: Huge Anker external battery charger. This thing weighs like 11 oz. I need more power than last year because I have writing responsibilities I’m going to have to fulfill on the trail. Last year I had two mini Anker chargers that did not meet my expectations, especially since I had an In Reach with me.
  • NEW: Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard. Again, I have lots of writing to do on the trail, so I thought having an actual keyboard would help. Initial tests are dubious. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a time or typo difference between the keyboard and using my phone screen. I’m not sure this will make the final edit.
  • Paper journal with a pen

I also store here my phone charger and topo maps, chapstick, and any other odds and ends that find themselves floating around my pack.

Hey, what’s that other stuff?


  • Bag o’ Band-Aids (I have blister issues, so this is a must have. There are bandages, scissors, Leukotape, a safety pin, a tick remover and alcohol wipes. I also keep medication, Aleve, Magnesium and Vitamin D in here.
  • Aqua Mira
  • Pstyle
  • Personal Hygiene (toothpaste, tampons, cortisol, stuff like that)
  • T.P. Sack (Trowel, cut up paper towels, sanitizer, wipes and a bag for used paper towels)
  • NEW: Petzl e-lite. This is so light and small; I couldn’t resist. But it may not be strong enough for night hiking. I have no idea if I will be doing any night hiking. I might switch back to my regular sized Petzl headlamp.
  • NEW: ZPacks Wind Jacket. So great. Initial tests have been positive.


  • NEW: Zpacks Ground-sheet Poncho. I have not been satisfied with past rain gear choices. I hope this Poncho will end the search. I can use it to sit on during breaks, too, and it can also be used as a groundsheet if I ever decide to cowgirl camp.
  • NEW: ZPacks Rain Gaiters
  • NEW: ZPacks Rain Mittens.

I’m excited to try these new things out!

I also have a food bag with a spoon shown above. I’m not bringing a stove. I will have a bandana and trekking poles. I have an ugly floppy hat that I was glad to have in the desert. I have some sunglasses that will probably break right away. I hike in a skirt, tank top, ExOfficio Lumen Hoody (Sun protection), running capris, Dirty Girl Gaiters, two pairs of wool socks, and Hoka shoes. I will have three Smart Water bottles and one 24oz Gatorade bottle to drink from.



  • Steel bar for odor
  • Umbrella
  • Needles and velcro for gaiters
  • Lighter, duct tape, extra tent cord, etc.
  • Wool tank top and bottoms. I think I have lots of options to keep warm and do not need these. I often end up stripping off clothes anyway. I think I would rather bring a town skirt and shirt.
  • InReach. I might not have a choice in this- husband wants me to carry it.
  • Mosquito head net

The Sierra?

This is the extra gear I will be sending to myself for the Sierra. I probably will not be bringing some of it, but I want options.

For Sure:

  • Microspikes
  • Whippet
  • Bear Cannister
  • Jetboil and fuel


  • Neoprene socks
  • Extra wool socks
  • Wool baselayer bottom
  • Wool long sleeved over-shirt
  • Sleeping bag liner

I think that’s all. But it’s probably not the end! Twenty-seven more days to second guess myself!

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Comments 12

  • Don Milligan : Feb 23rd

    Really liking your gear list Amy, I either use 95% of almost identical items or could see using them on my short hikes. Great choices.

    • Amy Bee : Feb 28th

      Whoa! That’s cool that we are on the same gear wavelength! 🙂

  • TBR : Feb 23rd

    Steel bar for odor —how does that work?

    • Amy Bee : Feb 28th

      Chefs use steel bars to remove the garlic smell from their hands. I have some backpacking friends that use it on the trail and swear by it. You just wet it down and rub it where you please.

  • Kira Thornley : Feb 26th

    My friend who hiked the PCT last year said his umbrella was his favorite piece of gear, and he didn’t get it until Washington. I imagine it would be great to have in the desert!

    • Amy Bee : Feb 28th

      I know! Everyone loves their umbrella and never regret bringing it. But it’s so unwieldy sticking out of my pack. I tested it out here in Sacramento, and it blew over pretty easily in the wind. I might try it out for the first 100 miles and make a decision then.

  • Russ : Feb 26th

    Couldn’t manage umbrella on the at.

    • Amy Bee : Feb 28th

      Yeah? Was it it brushing up against everything?

  • Randy T : Feb 26th

    We have a lot of the same gear! I love my zPacks poncho, one of my favorite pieces of gear. It always goes with me. However, I have had some abrasion issues with it in groundsheet mode.

    Speaking as an Oregonian, I have to confess that I always bring a headnet in the Cascades in summer. Mosquitos are an issue fron Sky Lakes area north into the Sisters, and in southern Washington as well. We’ve had a very wet winter this year, too.

    I’m doing a PCT SOBO from Cascade Locks though Oregon into NoCal this summer. I plan is to add my umbrella when I start to get out of the Cascades on the way towards Ashland, for the sun.

    Have a great hike!

    • Amy Bee : Feb 28th

      It’s true. Most of my PCT experiences are in Oregon, and I have been eaten up every time, no matter what. I should throw my headnet into a resupply box near the Oregon border. Have a great time out there on your section hike!

  • Noelle : Feb 29th

    Great list, thanks! 🙂

  • Arafa : Jun 6th

    Hi Amy,
    Looks cool. And awesome list of gadgets.


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