PCT 2023 Gear Review
Gear we loved and gear we hated
Like most thru-hikers, before we hit the trail we spent weeks (possibly months??) obsessing over our gear choices for the PCT. Unfortunately, we still didn’t get it all right! And for any aspiring thru-hikers in 2024, you probably won’t either! And that’s okay.
While we certainly made some changes, we did get some things right. We would love to share our experiences with the gear we used to help hikers make informed choices – what gear is tried and true, and what may not be worth the money (in our humble opinions).
You can also watch our full gear list review here: https://youtu.be/LdzZIPvWvsU?si=_Oi7aaxihoR-Xyww
Gear failures and replacements
Thru-hikes are long and treacherous. It is almost a given that something will break or simply not work out for you. But change can be a good thing!
Now we don’t mean to name and shame these items or brands by any means. Some of these products may be great, they just maybe aren’t the appropriate use for an entire thru-hike, or just didn’t thrive in our hands!
1) Paria Tri-fold Carbon Trekking Poles
These carbon poles are less than half the price compared to ‘big brands’. Unfortunately, it was only about 75 miles into our 2655 mile journey that one pole failed catastrophically. These poles just don’t seem to be up to the test of a thru-hike. But they might be great for using on occasional overnight trips.
2) Frogg Toggs Ultra-lite 2 Jacket
A hiker trash special – Frogg Toggs rain gear. At just a fraction of the price of expensive rain gear, Frogg Toggs can help you save a few bucks. But buyer beware, you do get what you pay for.
The material is very delicate and tears easily. QB’s jacket lasted quite a long time, a number of holes were patched, but eventually it couldn’t be saved, and she ended up picking up an Outdoor Research one for the last 800 miles, which was far superior (but far more expensive).
3) Blind Banana Bags Backpack (40L)
A cottage company from Denmark makes packs out of Ecopak (Ultra 400), some of the most durable fabric on the market. Unfortunately, Dumpster’s pack ended up failing pretty remarkably about 1500 miles in. Blind Banana customer service is fantastic though, and we don’t want to count them out entirely as it could be a one-off thing.
4) Kathmandu Comet Sleeping Bag (35F)
QB started the trail with this only because she already had it. Knowing that this sleeping bag may not cut it, but hoping that when paired with a liner (Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor) and a good mat, it would be warm enough… It wasn’t.
This was very evident on our ascent up San Jacinto where we experienced snow camping and full-on alpine conditions. Get a 20 degree bag or quilt. You’ll thank us later.
This is the gear that we absolutely loved, recommend highly, and wouldn’t change if we could go back in time.
1) Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket
These jackets are incredible. They are so warm, super lightweight and packable. We found the synthetic insulation to be amazing with the lack of baffles. They kept us toasty through the whole trail. They are a bit pricey, but definitely worth the money.
2) Durston X-Mid II Pro
Extremely lightweight trekking pole tent made of durable Dyneema fabric. There can be a learning curve to get the pitch just right, but when you get the hang of it, it is incredibly quick. This came in handy for us to avoid being devoured by mosquitoes in Oregon.
A couple of downsides: pitching in sand or on rock can be impossible, and it does have a pretty large footprint. Overall though, we loved it and it worked great for us.
3) Hammock Gear Economy Burrow Quilt (20F)
These quilts go hard. Dumpster started with one, and when QB had to replace her sleeping bag, she got one too. They are so much bang for your buck, super high quality and incredibly warm when paired with a good mat. Even on nights where it dipped well below freezing, we didn’t even notice because we were perfectly warm.
Hammock Gear customer service also deserves a mention – QB reached out to them while on trail about fast-tracking a quilt order and they were absolute legends, had it made and shipped the following day to our next town stop.
4) Atom Packs The Mo Custom (40L)
This pack rocks. It has all the features – load lifters, customizable colours, and a personal favourite of QB’s being the handy trash/miscellaneous bottom pocket. This backpack even fell out the back of a hitch on a major highway and only had one small abrasion and a 2cm tear in the side pocket.
Atom Packs are quality and they have amazing customer service.
5) Altra Lone Peaks + Injinji socks
We had been running in Altras for 2-3 years prior to the PCT, so it was an easy decision to go with the zero-drop. We find the Lone Peaks specifically a good middle ground in terms of balancing comfort, stack height and stability. Paired with the Injinji toe socks, it’s an unstoppable combination. The entire 2655 miles of the PCT, neither of us had a single blister.
However, we will say that you need time to adjust to a zero-drop shoe. So while we highly recommend them, definitely spend some time in them before the trail to avoid injury.
6) Flextail Tiny Pump 2X
A seemingly silly luxury item until you try it for yourself. After over 2 months of blowing up our sleeping pads exhausted at the end of the day, (tell me this is not the worst camp chore), we got the Flextail and never looked back. Weighing in at just 96 grams, especially because we share items such as the tent and kitchen, it was a no-brainer. It also doubles as a lantern. There is a new version which weighs even less if you’re interested!
7) Dirty Girl Gaiters
We started with plain black Altra gaiters which did the job fine. But where’s the fun in that? We picked up some fun Dirty Girl Gaiters in Wrightwood like true hiker trash. They lasted the whole trail and are still in great condition!
Prepare, but be flexible
Do as much preparation and research as you can to dial in your gear before trail. The best way to weed out items you don’t need or like is simply to spend time using them.
It is highly unlikely that you and your gear will come out scathe-free. Basically everyone will end up replacing, breaking, or ditching some of their gear along the way. An overarching principle of the PCT also applies to your gear – be flexible, be open to changes, and roll with the punches.
Watch our full gear video here: https://youtu.be/LdzZIPvWvsU?si=rBERgEzFSvaWOrfJ
Follow us on socials: https://instagram.com/dazed.adventure?utm_source=qr
Check out QB’s lighterpack here: https://lighterpack.com/r/fa7rns
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.