Updated with reviews in blue.
My very honest gear list for my 2014 Northbound Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. Everything was weighed by myself with my little kitchen scale.
15.7lbs base weight. (2.27lbs luxury items in red)
Outside of dropping my luxury items and maybe even my stove, which would put me at ~13lbs, the only way I can really get this base weight lower without safety concerns is with a lighter pack and tent (zpacks makes a 16.7oz tent and various 16oz-28oz custom packs), then with a couple swaps (lighter shell, no tights) I could go to 10lbs. But for now I like my setup and I am comfortable with it, I would want to extensively test any lighter setup to make 100% sure it is doable for me.
Primary gear/ Big 3+ (6.18lbs)
- Pack (39oz) : ULA Circuit with hydration sleeve and mesh inner pocket removed.
The ULA was probably my favorite piece of gear, this pack was perfect, comfortable, and took a serious beating. It got a couple small holes in the top that I fixed with with duct tape but otherwise it handled everything the trail had to offer. I later had a few problems with fit because of extreme weight loss but tightening straps fixed the issue. I saw people with other packs have all kinds of issues that I did not see with the ULA ones.
- Tent in bag with stakes and polycro groundsheet (31.7oz) – Henry Shires Tarptent Notch
I loved this tent in theory but hated it in practice, I can never recommend a tarp tent to anyone after my experiences with this tent. Though note that I am not a ‘tarp’ person and don’t feel comfortable with just a tarp setup. I swapped to the Big Agness Fly Creek U2 and could not have been happier. The UL2 is a 2-person tent that is about as light as the ‘ultralight’ tent I originally started with. In the UL2 you can get in and spin around, dump your stuff everywhere and spread out and sleep easily without worrying about the tent collapsing on your face and you don’t feel claustrophobic in it. It also has a little gear pocket in the top I found out I could put my phone in and with my headphones I could download (in town) television shows and lay down and watch them in my tent at night. Basically, the UL2 and the UL1 are some of the most used tents on the trail for a reason.
Polycro ground sheets are total BS, they trap moisture and so are always wet/gross and they get static bad so they just turn brown and weird. Mine ripped and was filled with holes quickly and I replaced it with Tyvek after maybe a week, Tyvek is simple and light weight and for mine I put grommets in it so that I could string it up as makeshift shelter/shade (which I used in a number of places) and Tyvek has the good characteristic that it allows water vapor (moisture) through but is waterproof for liquid water. The weight savings for Polycro absolutely does not outweigh the benefits of Tyvek.
- Sleeping system (22.3oz) : Z-Packs 20 degree in eVent compression dry-sack
This was amazing, it worked great and kept me warm, I loved it and am keeping it.
- z lite sol (14oz) pad (swapping to Gossamer Thinlight Insulation Pad 3/8″ cut to 6oz)
I should not have attempted to do the lighter insulation pad. The SOL pads are basic gear that most PCT hikers carry. In the desert they are a quick sling-out sitting pad to lay down on (you have NO idea how important that is until you are out there, it is imperative you can do this). I bought another SOL pad and used it for the rest of the hike. For sleeping I also picked up 2/3rds nemo-air inflatable which was nice.
Clothes in cuben fiber sack (56.5oz – 3.53lbs)
- Rain/wind shell: Marmot Aegis Jacket (~14oz)
Ditched this, and went with a Monte Bell lighter jacket which I was very happy with.
- Jacket: Mountain hardware ghost whisperer (8.1oz)
The ‘puffy’ jacket is required for a PCT hike, you need one, I wore this a lot at higher elevations and was very happy with it. Throw a rain jacket over it and you will be super warm.
- Running shorts (7oz)
Literally almost all I wore, comfortable and no chafe. They need to be ‘RUNNING’ shorts, the ones with liners caused some people chafe but others were okay, I didn’t use ones with liners so I don’t know.
- Shirt (5.7oz)
- Gloves: Hyper-light all weather gloves (1.5oz)
Only wore them a few times, I am not sure about them and think I might look into others if I were to redo the PCT.
- Hat/head: buff (1.2oz many uses)
Used a lot, these are great.
- MH beanie (2.7oz)
Tossed this in a hiker box and got a warmer one, this thing was useless for keeping your head warm.
- 2x darn tough socks+liners in sock bag (7.9oz)
Everyone on the trail wears Darn Toughs for a reason, if you wear other socks then you will quickly find out the reason. These have a lifetime warranty and mine were great through the entire trail. I wore them with liner socks for the first sixty days or so as well.
- Underwear: 1x Ex-Officio boxer (3.6oz ea)
Mailed these home, all underwear give you chafe. I just wore running shorts and would only change them once in a while. Underwear you need to change and wash all the time or you get chafe, I had chafe from these.
- smartwool long johns bottom (7.4oz) (maybe a luxury item to some, not to me)
Oh I loved these things, so so so important, I was so happy to have these you have no idea.
Electronics in pack (34.1oz – 2.13lbs)
- Suntactics solar charger (8.3oz)
This thing worked great, no problems. You will need to drill holes in the side (I did this with my knife) to help attach it to your pack.
- bluetooth keyboard for my phone (5.2oz)
Sent this home, my phone is big enough I could type my journal on it. Also I didn’t want ‘more’ things to have to charge.
- USB battery charger for AA and AAA (1.5oz)
Worked good, though I ended up just getting regular batteries as having to charge more things besides a phone is a pain on the trail
- USB wall charger (0.9oz)
I had to get a splitter thing, what you really want/need is a *small and light* wall charger that has at least two USB plugs and these are surprisingly hard to find.
- USB cables (1.7)
I ended up having to get replacements in Lone Pine.
GoPro Hero camera with skeleton case and cables with EyeFi card(removed)
- 4,000mAh battery (5.5oz)
This thing broke and I ended up getting two 5600mAh USB batteries at a staples which worked out great. You need these USB batteries, especially with a solar charger as phones need to be turned off as the solar charger will be charging and then not charging all the time so the USB batteries can handle that much more efficiently.
- Fast find Ranger PLB (5.7oz)
Paperwork / notes (8.4oz total)
- Aloksak bags (~4oz)
No problems with these, my toiletries were in one and it was pretty beat up by the end but still worked fine.
- Sharpie double-ended pen (0.7oz)
You WANT to have one of these, seriously, I used it all the time for leaving notes and warnings about water etc.
- Regular pen (0.4oz)
- Small sketchbook (3.4)
For tearing out pages and leaving notes.
- Permits, wallet and Yogi’s pink town-cards etc
Utility and electronics in side pockets ()
- Trowel (4oz)
used this almost every day.
- Music: Sandisk Sansa + earbuds (1.2oz )
Get one of these, just do it. I had about 1,000 songs on there and then a bunch of full albums and still am not sure I heard everything. I would clip it to my hat and run my earphones through it. The battery life is incredible on this as well, hike a full day and a half before needing to recharge it.
- lighter (0.8oz)
This is required PCT gear, always have one, if anything just to light your stove because the click-starters fail a lot.
- whistle (0.5oz)
What PCT’ers call a ‘bear rape’ whistle … Mostly used to get peoples attention from a distance.
- Headlamp (3.1oz)
Worked perfect, I loved it, get the kind that can blink and also has the red-light option. It saves your night vision and also makes people not hate you when you get up to go the bathroom at night. These are also useful for letting friends know where you are when you are going through crazy ridge walks at night in the desert.
- Bandanna (1.4oz)
This is how you wash in the desert, you probably need/want one
- Glif + sticpic (1.7oz)
I was pretty happy with the glif + sticpic combo.
Toiletries / first aid (4oz)
- Mostly foot care, duct tape and some bandages hacked together from scavenging a larger first aid kit designed for three people.
I added some foot powder to this but otherwise I was super happy with what I brought.
Stove and utensils ()
- Jetboil SOL ti (11oz)
I used this every single day, my click-starter never failed which most seemed to, though I noticed mine would not work if I stored it wet. So I plan to keep this thing, I loved it on the trail
- Empty clean small peanut butter plastic jar for mixing meals (1.2oz)
Tossed this, mine shrank with hot liquid and I didn’t like the bulk. I bought stuff I could pour hot water into or used my jetboil otherwise.
- Titanium spoon (1oz)
So many uses, extra tent stake, backscratching, doorstop, food etc.. These are great. I put a little d-ring clippy on it so as not to lose it.
Water filtration and containers (9oz = items below in bag / ~2.9oz after desert)
Steripen freedom (2.9oz)(moved to after desert)
These are great, for airplane travel to India or Mexico, these are NOT great for backpacking when power can be an issue. Mine stopped charging and I had to drink directly from streams for a while or ask other people to use their filtration. I was mad I left my sawyer in my bounce bucket. Luckily someone gave me a sawyer mini I used for a while until I got my squeeze back.
- Sawyer squeeze (~3oz single) + dirty water bag (1oz)
At one point in the desert my entire hiking group was using my squeeze, steripens run out of battery or break, these things don’t. I swear by this thing. I saw people with the sawyer mini filters who had them clog, the full squeeze is, in my opinion, the best filter for use on the PCT. I would use this for the whole trail if I ever do the PCT again.
- Platypus bags 1×2 liter, 1×1 liter
These all broke eventually. The sawyer bags last about two weeks on the trail and the platypus bags last about 2.5 months.
- 2x 1 liter gatorade bottles (??oz)
In the desert these were awesome, I later swapped to a Nalgene bottle for having a wide mouth so I could clean it, also I was having some issues finding the type of gatorade bottles I liked (not the G2 ones), though gatorade bottles you can just replace as long as you can find the older style ones..
Worn / carried ()
- Black Diamond trekking poles with cork handles
Used all day every day, had to replace the tips a couple times which was a pain as these have to be hammered off, but once I figured that out it was no problem. I also fell on these several times and bent them and was able to bend them back (one I bent back using a vice at hiker town).
- Brooks Cascadia 8 (11.9oz)
These are the most popular shoe on the trail for a reason, I never once had a blister and the only other people I knew who made it that far on the trail without blisters also wore these (with liners at the start). My recommendation is DO NOT CONSIDER ANYTHING ELSE, and never swap shoe types on trail, if something is working for your feet you cannot even consider anything else.
- UL gaiters (Dirtygirl)
So, it turns out that I don’t kick rocks into my shoes and I am lazy and kept forgetting to put these on, so I sent these home.
- Goofy sunhat (2.5oz mesh to breathe)
I wore this until Kennedy Meadows and then just wore baseball hats. However, in the Sierra elevation my ears burned and peeled (it was not fun) so if I had to do it over again I would have kept this until Tuolumne meadows I think.
- 1x Under Armour HeatGear (3oz, anti-chafe)
Anti-chafe, NO these thing gave me my worst chafe, I sent these home at Agua Dulce.
- zipoff pants (wheeee!)
Only wore these as pants a few times, otherwise I wore them as shorts when my running shorts were wet from washing.
- tshirt + long sleeve shirt
no cotton, and you need a long sleeve in the desert, I bought an Icebreakers shirt with the thumb hole thing pretty quick and wore that.
- darnough socks + liners
- Samsung note 3 with case (7.2oz)
This is my primary phone, I love it.
- Samsung gear watch (2.6oz and charger in bag will be 0.6oz)
Another thing to charge, ugh.. Tossed into my bounce bucket.
Carried ONLY in bear areas / with ice or in Bounce bucket ()
- Bear vault 500 (51.2oz/3.2lbs – ugh but carry much less water here)
After sending this home I missed it. We sort of got used to having a chair and/or a table around and after it was gone I had to completely figure out how to pack up my pack again. The weight savings were nice after it was gone though.
- Hillsound trail crampons (16oz/1lb)
Didn’t need this year, ended up not carrying.
- bugsuit for the sierra
I wore this a few times but ended up just getting DEET sportsman stick stuff and was happy with that.
- FrogTogs rain wear
- Smartwool top (12oz)
- Fishing pole + lures from my dad (??oz)
I caught a bunch of fish and had fun with it, but would not bring it again because honestly I didn’t have the time.
- Small leatherman knife with pliers for fishing (5oz)
Ended up loving this and used it a lot.
- Golite Chrome dome sun umbrella, also useful for rain. (8oz)
Carried the whole way, I used it in almost every section of the trail.
In my bounce bucket will be:
- a paper journal with pages I can take out.
- My steripen for after the desert when I can ditch 8oz of filtration and bottles.
- Silk sleeping bag liner for colder climes, adds an extra layer for only 3.9oz
Became a permanent part of my pack, I used this in the Sierra and it kept me very warm. It adds an additional ten degrees or so to your sleep system. Worth the weight.
I used guthook, I never once looked at a paper map, I used them for starting fires sometimes but still was glad I had them.
- extra underwear
- extra socks
- extra shirt
- town clothes (for doing laundry)
- rain clothes (frogtogs) for Oregon and Washington
Carried after Tahoe but not used.
- smartwool top for sierra and north
- bug suit for sierra
- Stuff I decide I don’t need in my pack.