My Main Gear Picks for Starting the PCT
Now for the all popular gear post. Below, I’ve outlined some of the main pieces of gear I will be starting with for my Pacific Crest Trail thru hike (the full list can be found here). I meticulously researched and tested this gear to help ease my fears about my upcoming journey while also allowing myself to get more excited for it. I scoured the internet and related backpacking books to try and ensure I was choosing the best gear for me. I also learned from that process that some of the things I think I’ll need will likely change once I am actually on trail. With that, I believe I have made some good decisions on the big items, and hope that my gear list could even help someone that might be in the process of choosing gear for their own hike. Without further ado, here is what I have chosen:
The Big 3 (or 4)
Tent: Gossamer Gear The Two
Sleeping Bag (Quilt): Katabatic Flex 15
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X-Lite
Two of these choices came easily to me and the other two took some trial and error. My tent and quilt were two choices I definitely got right the first time. I love how spacious The Two is and how easy it is to set up. Added bonus: it is a trekking pole tent, which means that my trekking poles will double as the support frame for my tent. This saves me space, weight, and I’m able to make my gear multifunctional. I’ve used this tent on a number of shakedown hikes and it has always done me well.
My Flex 15 quilt was also love at first sleep. I unintentionally got to put this quilt to the test on a camping trip my friends and I had planned in Waco, Texas. When we planned the trip, it was supposed to be in the low 30s – high 20s at night. However, when we got there, it was the beginning of the 2021 Freeze in Texas and it got down to the teens (and possibly lower) that night. This quilt kept me warm the whole time though, and that experience really upped my confidence in it for the PCT.
Unlike my first two choices, my pack and my sleeping pad took some trial and error. For my pack, I wanted to find something that balanced weight and versatility. When I started backpacking I had a more traditional (and heavier) Deuter pack. Then, as I started entering the lighter world of backpacking, to ease up the amount of weight I was carrying, I switched to a Gossamer Gear G4-20. This pack was great and super comfortable for the shorter 3 – 5 day trips I was doing. However, I was worried that as a somewhat novice backpacker, it might be too small for me in the Sierra with extra clothes, gear, and food. For that reason, I finally landed on the LiteAF Curve X40L Full Suspension pack. This pack has been super comfortable every time I have gotten to use it thus far and I still can’t get over how beautiful it is! Getting to design your own pack colors is a really fun option with this company!
Finally, for my sleeping pad. Initially, I tried to save money and worry by using a puncture-proof closed-cell foam sleeping pad, but I just could not get comfortable sleeping on it. I toss and turn a lot at night as well as sleep on my side. For me, I would wake up on this pad every couple of hours with shoulder and/or hip pain from the lack of support I was getting from it. Fortunately, I managed to snag one of the NeoAir X-Lite pads at REI on sale (that helped make the purchase hurt a little less). This pad feels like I’m sleeping on an actual bed most nights and I have been able to sleep great ever since switching.
Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2
Pot: Toaks Titanium 750mL
Water Filter: Sawyer Squeeze
Water Storage: CNOC Vecto 3L and Smartwater Bottles
These are pretty mainstream choices that I and numerous other people have used successfully and love. I am slightly worried that my 750mL pot will be too small for the copious amounts of mac-n-cheese I will be craving/consuming, but we will just have to wait and see.
Also, thank you to all of the people who have written about or made videos on how to gravity filter water with CNOC Vecto bag(s) and a Sawyer Squeeze! This has changed my life and saved me from using a few choice curse words at times! I highly recommend looking into this technique!
Phone: iPhone 13 Pro Max
Battery Pack: Anker PowerCore 10000 PD
Headphones: Tozo 6 Wireless Earbuds
Headlamp: Black Diamond Spot 350
GPS Location Device: Garmin inReach Mini
I had the hardest time deciphering between the different Anker battery packs (Was this just me?). This might have been the most difficult piece of gear for me to buy. I like to think that I’m fairly tech-savvy, but trying to understand the difference between power inputs and outputs, wattage, USB-C to micro-USB, and the charging capacities felt like trying to learn a different language. And, while at a glance, it seems like there are only a few options to choose from, each battery bank had a seemingly endless amount of options for that particular amperage. Over the course of trying to choose a battery pack, I went back and forth on a number of different options before finally purchasing one that I thought was right only to realize it took 10.5 hours to charge (ain’t nobody got time for that)! I returned that one (thank you Amazon return policy) and finally found the quick charging (4-4.5 hours) Anker PowerCore PD (Power Delivery) version which, lowkey, made me feel like I finally mastered the battery pack purchase (I’m sweating just remembering that whole situation).
I will also be carrying an inReach Mini with me that my mom got me for Christmas, mostly to give her peace of mind, but I am also happy to have it along just in case (thanks mom!). As far as the rest of the things on this list, I have the phone for my directions, photos, blogging, etc.; I decided to go with wireless headphones so that I don’t have to worry about getting tangled in my headphone cord; and the headlamp is an old one that I have that still works really well and will hopefully make it the whole trek.
Sun Umbrella: Gossamer Gear Lightrek Hiking Umbrella
I went back and forth on using a sun umbrella and finally decided to embrace my inner Mary Poppins and hike with one. This decision became much easier after realizing how often I end up hiding in the shade when it’s hot outside or I feel like I’ve gotten too much sun. From seeing what other people say about using it too, it seems like it will be well worth the very slight (6.6 oz.) extra weight.
For the sake of not droning on and on, I will stop here. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the gear I am bringing along, such as trekking poles, shoes, clothes, etc., you can find it here. I am interested to see how much of my gear will stick and how much will be ditched or switched throughout this journey. If you would like to talk with me about any of this in more detail feel free to reach out.
Lesson I’ve learned while prepping for the hike:
It’s hard to write a comprehensive post about the gear I’m bringing without it turning into a term paper…
Weird food craving I got:
Copious amounts of mac-n-cheese.
* Disclaimer: The prices of my gear, located under the gear list tab on my bio, are listed reflecting the current prices of all items I am taking. However, because I have been preparing for this hike for quite some time, I was able to get many of the items on sale or they were given to me as birthday/Christmas presents.
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