PCT Gear List: Enjoying the Classics
I hesitate to make this list as the kit I have assembled is arguably one of the most basic and flavorless out there. I would honestly be surprised if there are more than 1-2 pieces of gear that aren’t perennial staples found in most folks’ packs. Without further ado, I give you the Sweatsuit 2022 PCT Gear List. The full list and links can be found under my author page
Backpack: ULA Circuit – 2lb 7oz, REI Trail 2 Fanny Pack – 4.3oz
Tent: Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo – 1lb 10oz
Sleep System: Cedar Ridge Outdoors Le Conte Top Quilt 10 Degree – 1lb 10.4oz, Therm-A-Rest Neo Air Xlite – 14oz, Therm-A-Rest Air Head Lite – 2.1oz, Sea to Summit 13L Ultra-Sil Dry Bag 1.4oz
Like I said this is not going to be an exotic list. I picked up my ULA pack a few years ago and I love how robust it is, probably why it is the most popular pack on the PCT. If I could go back in time I would have probably gone with the smaller Ohm 2.0 but the extra capacity means extra town food after a resupply. I am a supporter of buying your pack last so you know how much capacity you really need. I like having a fanny pack for the essentials like phone, permit, and money. Much easier to carry a fanny pack into a grocery store than worry where my wallet is in my pack. Bonus: you can keep your water filter and battery from freezing at night.
As for a tent, the SMD Lunar Solo is light, affordable, simple, and packable. Not much else to say about my tent. Keeping on trend with common gear I use MSR Groundhog stakes. I use 4 mini and 4 regular, putting the longer stakes on the upwind side as needed.
The only thing that is remotely interesting is my sleep system. I use the standard issue Therm-a-rest Neoair Xlite and the Air Head pillow does the job as well. The only curveball is the fact that my UL top quilt isn’t made in Minnesota. Although very similar in design I think that CRO quality is top notch and they run about the same price as the Enlightened Equipment offerings. If you’re in the market for a quilt check them out, the lead time is worth it plus their customer service is legendary. Small side note, if you’re ordering a custom quilt just pay the extra $10 for the 1oz overstuff. It will not add any warmth but prevents the down from migrating and creating cold spots, a problem that my REI Magma Trail Quilt has.
Top: Columbia Silver Ridge Hybrid Lite
Shorts: Smartwool 150 Merino Lined Shorts
Socks Darn Tough Midweight Micro Crew
Shoes: Altra Lone Peak Low 6
Gaiters: Altra Trail Gaiters
Sun Protection: InsectShield Buff, Buff Headband, Columbia Booney Hat, Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Gloves
Again, nothing special here. I like the hybrid sun shirt better than the traditional shirts because it is a little less boxy and has thumb loops. I really love the Smartwool shorts and those are underrated in my opinion. Whoever thought of 150 merino for the liner I would love to buy a beer. I opt for a booney hat over the traditional snapback but I might swap that out after the desert section. The shoes and socks are pretty much standard issue for thru-hikers. I use two buffs and my trail name is Sweatsuit so that pretty much explains itself.
Puffy: Outdoor Research Helium Down Jacket – 12.6oz
Shell: Outdoor Research Helium – 6.4oz
Base layers: Smartwool 150 Tights – 6oz, Smartwool 250 Hoodie – 11.2oz
Sleep Clothes: Smartwool 150 T-shirt – 6oz, Outdoor Research Echo Brief – 1.9oz
Can someone say brand loyalty? I didn’t even realize that everything I had was either Outdoor Research or Smartwool until I started making this list. While the OR Helium is a popular rain jacket I think the Helium Down, while heavy, is an underrated piece. The shell on the jacket is much more rugged than most on the market. Most puffy jackets feel like they are made of tissue paper and would fall apart with decent use, not the OR. It uses a 15D and 30D DiamondFuse weave with a 20D liner which gives you a jacket you can actually use without fear of destroying it. Smartwool is a necessity for me because I am the epitome of a sweaty hiker. Merino is wicking and antimicrobial as well as decently lightweight, even if it was heavier I would still use it. I’ll start with just the tights, sending myself my 250 top in Kennedy Meadows. I prefer sleep clothes vs a bag liner to keep my quilt somewhat clean but that’s personal preference.
Stove: Snow Peak Gigapower Auto – 3.2oz
Pot: Toaks 750mL – 3.6oz, Toaks Long Handle Spoon, 0.7oz
Food Bag: Hilltops Packs Large with Flat Bottom – 4oz
Filter: Sawyer Squeeze – 3oz, CNOC Vecto 2L – 2.6
Storage: Platy Bag 2L – 1oz, 2x Smartwater Bottles
Pretty much the run-of-the-mill setup. The Gigapower works and has a built in Piezo lighter which is nice. I like the Sawyer Squeeze for its versatility, it can screw on the Smartwater Bottles if I am refilling up frequently or I can use the Vecto and Platy for a total of 6L capacity. Can add or drop a Smartwater bottle as needed. I don’t have a ton to say about my cook set up, I find if you have a titanium pot and a stove that is under 5oz and doesn’t explode you’re good to go.
Traction: Khathoola EXOspikes – 8oz
Ice Axe: Petzl Glacier – 10.8oz
Bear Can: BV500 – 41oz
Booties: Outdoor Research Tundra Socks – 5.5oz
Base layer: Smartwool 250 Hoodie
I am sure I will get some flak for using EXOspikes not the MICROspikes but honestly, I can’t really see a difference in performance. The studs grab ice and snowpack pretty well. If things are really bad I am going to pick up hiking crampons like the K10’s anyway. Otherwise, my gear for the Sierra is pretty standard. I don’t think there is much of a difference between ice axes as long as they are the proper size they should work. Bear Cans suck but rules and rules so not much you can do to get around this one. I am going to throw in an extra layer for warmth at night, again whoever at Smartwool designed base layers with a hood, beers are on one me if we ever meet.
Other Odds and Ends:
Adventure Medical Kits .3 – 2.6oz,
If you’re unsure what you need for a medical kit just buy the .3 and call it a day. Comes with a good variety of stuff in a decent sealed bag, throw in some medications and you’re good to go.
Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp – 4oz, Anker 10,000 mAh Bank – 7.5oz, Anker dual-slot charger – 2.5oz, Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch, Apple corded headphones.
The Cosmo is a solid headlamp, if you prefer one with external batteries this seems to be the ticket. In the cold of Wisconsin I have found that internal battery headlamps don’t hold up as well. Bonus of having one less thing sucking juice off my battery bank. I don’t carry a camera and only have to keep my phone and watch charged with my Anker bank. I love the Garmin series of watches and the 735XT is great for longevity on trail. With the settings turned down and GPS off I can get 8-11 days of battery and it hardly takes any juice to recharge. I prefer corded headphones, one less thing to charge and I can turn off my Bluetooth to save power on my phone.
Oakley TwoFace Polarized – 2.2oz, Chums Lens Leash – 0.2oz, Chums Shade Shell – 1.8oz.
I spent more time deliberating which sunglasses case I would use than maybe anything else. I am farsighted which is fine because I don’t need glasses to see however, I do develop migraines without proper sunglasses. A lot of folks use cheap gas station sunglasses but this is not an option for me. The case and leash ensure the expensive sunglasses stay secured to my face and in one piece.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork – 17oz.
I think carbon trekking poles are awesome, the downside is if you break one they have a tendency to explode. It is a good thing my tent only needs 1 pole to set up in case I break one. I have had this set for years and they were well used when I got them, if they last the whole trail I would be surprised. I have set aside $200 for replacements.
Okay here comes the real question: how superior of a hiker am I based on the weight I tote around. My base weight comes in around 12.5 lbs once you add in ticky-tacky things like sunscreen. Yes I know sunscreen and hand sanitizer count as consumable but let’s be honest when are we actually not carrying some amount of each. I am pretty happy with 12 lbs at this time. I would classify my base weight as “safe.” I have enough gear to be warm and dry, but not carrying so much excess weight I increase my chance of injury or accident. There are plenty of options that could shave off a few ounces but most of them are a few hundred bucks for a few ounces. I think I have hit the point of diminishing returns so I am going to hang out where I am now before slugging down the rest of the Ultralight Kool-Aid.
Well, what good did sharing my boring list of gear do? I think it reinforces that popular gear is popular for a reason. A lot of people like to reinvent the wheel by trying unconventional gear, which is fine but the boring stuff is proven and gets the job done. Gear is a very individual choice and there is nothing wrong with having “boring” gear so longs as it works for you.
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I like your thinking, and I like your list. I can tell I’m going to enjoy following your posts this season. Good luck!
Do you use a headlamp? If so, what kind?