What’s in My Pack?: The Sleep System Edition

The PCT has been keeping me up at night for months now. First it was worrying about how I’m going to make it happen financially, then it was stressing over my start date and permits, and now my brain is agonizing over every last detail. I feel like I won’t get a good night’s rest until everything is set and I’m sleeping on trail.

Cue Obligatory Gear Posts

I’ll be doing a series of gear posts in the weeks leading up to my departure. This first one is on my sleep system. Sleeping on trail was difficult for me at first but once I got used to it, it was better than sleeping on my Casper at home. The combination of physical exhaustion and having no worries about tomorrow except how many miles you’re gonna do is a good recipe for sleeping like the dead.

Sleeping Bag: Zpacks 20 (slim and short)

18.5* oz

I lovingly refer to this sleeping bag as my fluffy trash bag. It’s so lofty and warm but the fabric isn’t much different from a trash bag. It’s one of the pieces of gear that I splurged on for weight savings. It compresses down to about a 3L volume in the stuff sack that it comes with. If I had to purchase this again, I’d buy a 10 degree. On nights that it gets down into the 30s I have to sleep with all my clothes on. I don’t do well in the cold and I’d gladly pay a bit more and carry a couple more ounces for more warmth.

Silk Liner

4.4 oz

This liner serves several purposes. First, it adds a bit of extra warmth. Second, it protects the down in my bag from the dirt and oils on my skin. On warmer nights I sleep in the liner with my bag draped over me like a blanket. Lastly, it works as a pillowcase or sheet at gross hostels and hotels.

Pillow: Sea to Summit Aeros Premium

2.3 oz

This pillow only takes two or three breaths to inflate and has a large valve for quick deflation in the morning. It has a soft outer shell and is probably impossible to get a leak. No complaints.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Short

11 oz

I have the short version of this pad and it works for me because I’m shorter and sleep in the fetal position. I prefer a foam pad over an inflatable one because it doubles as a sit pad for breaks. People who sleep on inflatable pads sometimes ask me how I even sleep on such a thin pad but when you’re tired enough you can sleep on anything. This pad will also double as my pack frame, which I will get into more when I talk about my sweet new SWD pack.

Stuff Sacks: Zpacks 5L waterproof and stuff sack included with sleeping bag.

1 oz each 

The stuff sack that came with my sleeping bag didn’t keep it dry when I got drenched. I still store it in its original stuff sack to save volume in my pack but I put that in this 5L sack as an added layer of protection. I also store my silk liner and pillow in here and there’s still room to keep my puffy dry when it might rain. Stuff sacks make stylish purses for town.


I’ve never before used earplugs to sleep but I think they’ll be useful at packed campsites, hostels, and hotels.

Peep my LighterPack here and keep an eye out for the rest of my gear posts.

*All weight has been rounded to the nearest tenth of an ounce.

Prep Update


I have less than a month till I take a one-way flight to San Diego and start the PCT. Almost everything I’ve been doing since the start of 2018 has been in service of the trail. Mostly, that means putting money in the bank. I have two jobs, one of which I really enjoy. It’s on my career path, I have a cool boss and coworkers with no silly drama, the work doesn’t feel like I’m selling my soul to Satan (my job is basically to give people free books), low stress, it pays decent, and there are dozens of awesome restaurants and cute coffee shops within walking distance. I won’t miss it or wish I was back at work when I get on the trail but I will miss it if I end up with a sucky job post-trail. I’m on track for meeting my savings goal.


When I’m not working I squeeze in as much exercise as I can and go on training hikes in the Texas Hill Country with my dogter (who won’t be joining me) on the weekends.


I’ve been going to the chiropractor and doing exercises to fix my uneven legs that, for me, was caused by pelvic imbalance. It’s improved dramatically after three visits and doing the doctor-recommended exercises. I was reluctant to spend money on the chiropractor but I reasoned that I’ve already dropped so much on gear that it would be silly not to invest some money into my body. Here’s hoping it prevents injuries.


As mentioned in my first post, I’m doing minimal resupply prep. Halfway Anywhere does a yearly survey where, among other things, hikers give their opinions as to where they would’ve preferred resupply boxes over what was offered in town and I’m pretty much just gonna work off that. The majority of towns with sparse grocery options are much later in the trail so I’m not even gonna worry about it until I need to. There’s a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope for $6.70 (as opposed to $13 or $18) that I’ll use to have smaller supplies and gear shipped to me from home as needed but I don’t have any set plans where this will be.

Boring Stuff

Instead of canceling my car insurance completely, I’m going to switch to liability only, which is a reasonable $30 a month. That way, my mom can use my car when she has to do things for me, and my car won’t sit idle for five months. A couple other things I did to make things easier for my mom: I organized and clearly labeled all my gear and supplies that I may need shipped to me, then I got a bunch of Priority Mail boxes and envelopes from USPS and bought a big roll of packing tape. Last year, before I left on my epic road trip and Colorado Trail adventures, I put my mom on my checking account with her own debit card so she could buy things for me, go to the bank if there were any issues, or take my cats to the vet for emergencies.

My prep strategy is pretty low key. I have no spreadsheets, I have no boxes, and I have no dates that I need to stick to besides my start date and my goal end date, but the trail is still occupying all my thoughts. I want to just be hiking already, but since I can’t, my brain will continue to run in circles.

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Comments 3

  • Robert Pyatt : Apr 2nd

    So you left out the tarp in your system! or I missed it ,what is it ?

    • Sarah Camacho : Apr 2nd

      I’m going to be doing a separate post on my shelter stuff. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • DD : Apr 2nd



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