PCT Kit: What’s in My Pack
The countdown is on, and for me, that means that I’ve been spending these last few days obsessing over my gear. Packing and unpacking my kit while endlessly debating which pieces of my gear will best serve me and what is truly worth its own weight. I’d like to say that this represents my final pack, but that would likely be a lie. Still, it’s close enough. (Quick disclaimer for ~legal reasons~, as an Outdoor Industry Professional I have access to various pro-deals, and almost every piece of gear on this list I received for free or at discounted prices.)
Apologies in advance if this post doesn’t exactly speak to you, I am fully self-aware that I am a gear junkie and that most people simply do not care about this stuff as much as I do. Consider yourself warned. All the weights I list are my own measurements in the configuration that I am bringing the gear, and many cases do not match the claimed weight (lies) of the manufacturers.
My Big Three
For most hikers, your heaviest three pieces of gear are your pack, tent, and sleeping bag/sleep system. I’ll be carrying a Custom Circuit by ULA with added Y-strap top closure, an UltraStretch backing, and Stick Stashers by Spud’s Adventure Gear for a total weight of 2 lbs 5 oz. For my home away from home I’ve landed on the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo 2p (1 lb 12.8 oz) and will be using a piece of Tyvek as my ground sheet (4 oz). My sleep system will be my Western Mountaineering Highlite 35-degree bag (1 lb 0.1 oz) on a Term-a-Rest Neoair Xlite NXT (12oz). To give me a little added warmth, and to protect the down filling of my sleeping bag I am also bringing a Sea to Summit Reactor Liner weighing 9 oz. Rounding off my sleep system is my Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow (2.3 oz).
Clothing and Worn Weight
While hiking I plan to wear an Outdoor Research Echo sun hoodie, Chubbies lined shorts, Darn Tough midweight socks, Hoka Speedgoat 5 trail runners, sunglasses, and my disgusting sweat-stained trucker hat from the AT. I have not weighed any of these as I am a firm believer that worn weight simply does not count.
As for what’s in my pack I like to keep it pretty simple. I’ll be sleeping in my Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight base layers both top (8.1 oz) and bottoms (5.6 oz). My mid-layer weighs in at exactly a pound and is a homemade Polartec given to me as a gift by my good friend Splash. My insulating layer is my beloved Montbell Exlight Down Anorak (7.6 oz) which I plan to pair with my Montbell Versalite (6.8 oz) as a water/wind shell. It is likely I will also decide to bring my Outdoor Research Helium Rain pants (6.4 oz) and my Montbell Tachyon (2.7 oz), but the jury is still out. I only like to carry one extra pair of socks (2.8 oz).
Some people will tell you that you’re not a real thru-hiker until you’ve shit your pants. These people are disgusting, and not to be trusted. I confidently do not carry extra underwear.
Food, Water, First Aid
The heaviest thing I carry is my bear can. I know that it’s only required for a few sections of the trail, but it is something I take with me everywhere I go. It’s what’s best for the bears and the direction outdoor recreation is headed. I recently decided to splurge and get myself a new Wild Ideas Bearikade (2lbs 3 oz) and absolutely love it. The only other food-related item I take is my long-handled titanium spoon (o.5 oz).
For water storage, I plan to bring two 1L Smartwater bottles (1.4 oz each), a 700ml Smartwater bottle (1.3oz), and a 2L CNOC VectorX bag (3.2oz) I am hoping 4.7 liters is enough for the longer water carries in the desert, but I will, of course, have the option to add more if needed. My filter of choice is the Platypus Quickdraw (2.1 oz).
My hygiene/first aid kit is rather minimalist but sufficient in my mind. It consists of a toothbrush, one dose of painkiller, one dose of allergy meds, a small packet of quick clot, and super glue for a total weight of 1.5 oz. I’ll also take my Deuce of Spades Trowel (0.6oz) and my Garmin InReach Mini 2 (3.5 oz) for emergencies.
Rounding out my kit I have a Nitecore UL25 headlamp (1.6oz), a Nitecore Carbo 20,000 mAh battery bank (10.5 oz), and 3.3 oz of assorted chargers. I have also decided to carry a Gossamer Gear sun umbrella in the desert weighing 6.4 oz.
As I said before in my previous post this year is a historic snow year, and I am guaranteed to need special safety and traction gear. I will have it all on standby ready to be sent to me on the trail, but I will wait until conditions are more clear before deciding what I will have sent where.
- Corsa Camp Ice Axe 70cm (8.7 oz)
- YakTrax Diamond Spikes (10.6 oz)
- Outdoor Research Crocodile Expedition Gaiters (10.2 oz)
If needed I can also send myself warmer sleeping bags (either my Western Mountaineering Alpinelight 20 deg or my Western Mountaineering Lynx GoreWindstopper -10 deg) but I am hoping these (along with my snowshoes) will be unnecessary. Still, it is good to have options.
Every day at my job I tell hikers that the most important piece of gear you take with you is a good attitude and a willingness to take things as they come. No gear will climb the mountains for you. Only you can do that, and while good gear makes things easier it does not make it easy. A thru-hike is an intentional challenge. Hiking is an uncomfortable sport. If it were easy it would not be fun.
If you have any questions about the choices I’ve made please reach out to me. Talking gear is one of my favorite things to do (and is also my job). I love hearing people’s thoughts on what they would or wouldn’t take and would happily go into much more detail on my choices than I have here.
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