gear · PCT

Marie’s PCT Gear List (Pre-Hike)

featured_gear

Base Weight

Base weight is the weight of your pack before adding consumables (e.g. food, water). According to Halfway Anywhere’s PCT Class of 2016 Gear Survey, the average starting base weight for people who finished the entire trail was 18.20 lbs.

Personal Gear (Not including Sierra and worn gear): 11.41 lbs.
Shared Gear that I am Carrying: 5.04 lbs.
TOTAL Base Weight: 16.45 lbs. (AWESOME!!!)

Gear Breakdown

This breakdown lists all the gear I will be carrying in addition to all the gear Colin and I will be sharing on the PCT. The gear that Colin will be carrying for himself is not included here. To distinguish between shared and personal gear, the following system is used:

No asterisk: Marie’s personal gear
One asterisk*: Shared gear, Marie carries
Two asterisks**:  Shared gear, Colin carries

Disclaimer: I am not currently endorsed by or affiliated with any of the companies whose gear I am using.

The “Big Three” (9.07 lbs.)

big three
“The Big Three”: Backpack, Sleep System, and Shelter.
Shelter (3.60 lbs.)
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

For my shelter system I chose the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. With the footprint and stakes, the total weight is 57.61 oz. (3.6 lbs.). Under normal circumstances, this system would be pretty heavy for a thru-hike, but since Colin and I are sharing the tent, the weight is reasonable.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Tent* Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 16.33 1.02
Rainfly* Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 17.5 1.09
Footprint* Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Footprint 6.74 0.42
Dry Sack* Sea to Summit Ultra Sil 13L 1.34 0.08
Pole Bag** Came with Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 0.32 0.02
Tent Poles** Came with Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 11.92 0.75
Stake Bag** Came with Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 0.28 0.02
Small Stakes (4)** Came with Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 1.52 0.10
Big Stakes (4)** ZPacks 6.5 inch Titanium V Stakes 1.66 0.10
TOTAL 57.61 3.60
Backpack (3.03 lbs.)
backpack
ULA Catalyst (75L Capacity)

I am using the ULA Catalyst, which has a capacity of 75 L and weighs 45.5 oz. (2.84 lbs.). One of my favorite things about this pack is that it can fit a BV500 bear canister sideways or standing up. It can also fit two 1-liter Smartwater bottles in each side pocket.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Backpack ULA Catalyst (75 L) 45.5 2.84
Pack Cover ULA Pack Cover (Medium) 3.03 0.19
TOTAL 48.53 3.03
Sleep System (2.44 lbs.)
sleep system
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt with silk liner inside. The sleeping pad is a Thermarest Z-Lite Sol and the compression sack is a Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack.

I chose the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20F Quilt and Thermarest Z-Lite Sol for my sleep system. I also added a silk liner to help keep my quilt cleaner. When this is all stored in a compression dry sack, it weighs in at 39.07 oz. (2.44 lbs.).

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Sleeping Bag Enlightened Equipment Revelation (20F, downtek 900-fill, short 5’6″, regular width, outer 20D, inner 10D) 19.99 1.25
Sleeping Bag Liner Sea to Summit 100% Silk Hooded Mummy 4.27 0.27
Sleeping Pad Thermarest Z-Lite Sol (Short) 10.12 0.63
Compression Sack Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack (Medium) 4.69 0.29
TOTAL 39.07 2.44

Clothing (6.55 lbs.)

Worn (4.15 lbs.)

worn_clothes

This section is for items that I will most likely be wearing during the day (i.e. they won’t be contributing towards my pack weight).

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Trekking Poles Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles 17.18 1.07
Pants Prana Monarch Convertible Pant (4 Regular) 12.49 0.78
Shirt Patagonia Women’s Long-Sleeved Sol Patrol (Small) 6.00 0.38
Gaiters Dirty Girl Gaiters (Small) 1.02 0.06
Shoes Brooks Adrenaline ASR 13 Trail Running Shoes (Size 7.5, insoles removed) 17.74 1.11
Insoles Superfeet Blue (Size C) 2.5 0.16
Socks Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 Sock Cushion (Medium) 2.01 0.13
Underwear Ex Officio Give-N-Go Full Cut Brief (Medium) 1.27 0.08
Bra Brooks Women’s Hot Shot Sports Bra (Large) 3.56 0.22
Hat Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat (Small) 2.57 0.16
TOTAL  66.34  4.15
Carried (2.40 lbs.)

clothes

These are my cold-weather, rain, and sleeping clothes. Since these will be in my pack most of the time, I had to be very careful to pick lightweight gear and not over-pack.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Rain Jacket Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II (Medium) 5.75 0.36
Rain Kilt ULA Rain Kilt (Medium) 2.50 0.16
Down Jacket Montbell Superior Down Parka Women’s (Medium) 7.80 0.49
Beanie Columbia Thermarator Hat (Women’s S/M) 1.73 0.11
Gloves North Face ETIP Glove (Unisex Small) 1.52 0.10
Sleep Socks Darn Tough Vermont Women’s Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks (Medium) 2.79 0.17
Extra Underwear Ex Officio Give-N-Go Bikini Brief (Medium) 1.02 0.06
Thermal Bottom Smartwool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Crew (Small) 6.46 0.40
Thermal Top Smartwool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Bottom (Small) 6.7 0.42
Dry Sack (Clothes) Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack 8L 2.12 0.13
TOTAL 38.39 2.40

Water Filtration (0.85 lbs.)

water_filter
Sawyer Squeeze with Smartwater Squirt Cap and Aquamira.

I decided to go with the Sawyer Squeeze for water filtration, which seems to be the popular option. To be more efficient with weight, I am using the hack featured in this video, which allows you to replace the syringe and white snap cap with a Smartwater squirt cap. For more questionable water sources, Colin and I will be sharing a supply of Aquamira. For really shallow water sources, my idea is to bring a Zipblock bag that I can use to collect water and pour into a dirty water bottle.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Filter Sawyer Squeeze 2.29 0.14
750 mL SmartWater Squirt Cap Sawyer Squeeze Smartwater Hack 0.18 0.01
Backup Water Treatment** Aquamira 1oz 3.07 0.19
Dirty Bag 2 Sandwich ZipBlocks 0.18 0.01
Water Bottles (6, empty) Smart Water 1L (13.3 lbs of water weight) 7.8 0.49
TOTAL 13.52 0.85

Food Storage & Cooking (2.38 lbs.)

food

For the non-Sierra parts of the trek, I will be carrying an Ursack Minor lined with an OPSak scent-proof bag. Colin and I are firmly in favor of cooked meals, so we are sharing a cook set. The plan is to only cook at the end of the day using the freezer bag method.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Food Bag Ursack Minor 5.04 0.32
Scent-Proof Bag OPSak 1.55 0.10
Pot** Evernew Ti Ultralight Pot 1300ml 4.83 0.30
Fuel (4oz)** MSR ISOPRO All-Season 4oz 7.55 0.47
Fuel (8oz)** MSR ISOPRO All-Season 8oz 13.23 0.83
Pot Cozy** Home-made 1.59 0.10
Lighter** Bic Classic Lighter 0.78 0.05
Stove** MSR Pocket Rocket 3.03 0.19
Eating Utensil Sea to Summit Titanium Long-handled Spoon 0.53 0.03
TOTAL 38.13 2.38

Personal Hygiene (0.94 lbs.)

personal_hygiene

Feminine Care (0.34 lbs.)

I went through several iterations of planning these items before I decided on a system that would work for me. For a thru-hike, it’s pretty hard to pass up the weight and waste savings that a period cup offers. So, even though I hate dealing with them in the real world, I’ve decided that I will use one for the 5 times I have my period on-trail. I have also decided to try a reusable cloth pad as a backup and for light flow days. Finally, I am bringing a few wet wipes for cleaning up down there at the end of each day. This system seems so much better than dealing with storing and replacing a mountain of pads each month or taking pills that mess with my hormones.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Diva Cup Diva Cup (Size 1) 0.67 0.04
Hand Sanitizer Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer (2 oz.) 2.29 0.14
Wet Wipes Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes (4 wipes, cut in half) 1.16 0.07
Reusable Pad GladRags Day Pad 2.00 0.08
TOTAL 6.12 0.38
General Care (0.60 lbs.)

My heaviest item in this category is sunscreen. I’ve read many blogs by thru-hikers saying that they stop applying sunscreen after a month, but I am skeptical. So for now, I am keeping the sunscreen.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Sunscreen Coppertone Oil Free Faces SPF 50 (3 fl. oz.) 3.99 0.25
Toothbrush CVS All-Pro Toothbrush (cut in half) 1.23 0.08
Toothpaste Colgate Cavity Potection Toothpaste (1 oz.) 0.35 0.02
Floss* 0.14 0.03
Chapstick ChapStick Moisturizer (Original) 0.32 0.02
Toilet Paper* Half a roll, cardboard tube removed 1.62 0.10
Trash Receptacle* 2 Gallon ZipBlocks 0.74 0.05
Comb* ACE Pocket Comb 0.28 0.02
Towel Z-Packs Lightload Towel 0.6 0.04
TOTAL 9.27 0.58

Technology (2.36 lbs.)

technology

The hardest thing to choose in this category was what to use for charging electronic devices. An external battery sounded more reliable than a solar charger, but the idea of babysitting it by an outlet in town while it charged for hours was not appealing to me. Then it occurred to me: why not both? Since Colin and I are already sharing gear, one of us can carry a solar charger and the other can carry and external battery. Now we can have the best of both worlds!

It was also difficult to choose between a SPOT or Delorme InReach for emergency communication. The SPOT was way cheaper, but in the end we went with the Delorme InReach because it seemed more reliable and had better features, including 2-way text messaging.

We purchased a media player to share so that we wouldn’t drain our phone batteries by listening to audiobooks and music. I also decided to use a Black Diamond Revolt headlamp for myself because it is rechargeable.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Headlamp Black Diamond Revolt 3.49 0.22
Phone Samsung Galaxy S7 5.33 0.33
Phone Case OtterBox Symmetry Series Case for Samsung Galaxy S7 1.55 0.10
Audio Device** SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 Player (8GB) 0.95 0.06
Headphones Came with SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 Player (8GB) 0.39 0.02
External Battery* Anker PowerCore+ 10050mAh Portable Charger 8.4 0.53
Battery Case* Came with Anker PowerCore+ 10050mAh Portable Charger 0.25 0.02
USB Cable #1* Came with Anker PowerCore+ 10050mAh Portable Charger 0.49 0.03
USB Wall Adapter* Came with Anker PowerCore+ 10050mAh Portable Charger 1.66 0.10
Solar Charger** Suntactics sCharger-5 Portable Solar Charger 7.2 0.45
Solar Charger Case** Came with Suntactics sCharger-5 Portable Solar Charger 0.39 0.02
USB Cable #2** Came with Black Diamond Revolt 0.67 0.04
Emergency Device* Delorme InReach SE 7.05 0.44
TOTAL 37.82 2.36

First Aid (0.80 lbs.)

first_aid

We probably over-packed the most for the first aid kit. However, our current base weight is low enough that we can afford the extra ounces in exchange for some peace of mind. A few months ago, we took a NOLS Wilderness First Aid course, and a lot of the items we chose were recommended during the course (not the specific brands, but the types of items).

My favorite item in our kit is this pair of scissors, which has a lifetime warranty and only weighs 0.67 oz.! I also found some high quality tweezers. In addition, I am excited to try KT Tape which I have heard not only helps with arch support but can also be used as blister protection.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Notes* NOLS Wilderness Medicine Pocket Guide 0.35 0.02
Hydrocortisone Cream* Medique Products 21173 Hydrocortisone Cream (two 0.9g packets) 0.07 0.00
Triple Antibiotic Ointment* Medique Products 22373 Triple Antibiotic Ointment (two 0.5g packets) 0.07 0.00
Alcohol Prep Pad* 2 Pads 0.04 0.00
Triangle Bandage* Ever Ready 40″x40″x56″ Non-Woven Cotton Skin Color Triangular Bandage 0.81 0.05
CPR Mask* Ambu Res-Cue Key CPR Mask (Removed from keychain pouch) 0.11 0.01
Latex Gloves* 0.35 0.02
Gauze Pad* 2″ Square Pads (2) 0.11 0.01
Bandage Roll* Rensow Sterile Krinkle Kerlix Type 4 1/2″ x 4 1/8 Yds, 6-Ply Bandage Roll 1.34 0.08
Burn Gel* Pac-Kit by First Aid Only 13-010 Burn Gel Packet (3.5g) 0.14 0.01
Band Aids* 2 Regular, 2 Large 0.18 0.01
Triple Layer Non-Stick Pads* 0.18 0.01
Wound Closure Strips* 1/8″ x 3″ Strips (5) 0.07 0.00
Benzoin Tincture* 0.02 fl. oz. 0.07 0.00
Sewing Kit* Needles and thread 0.04 0.00
Moleskin* Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus, cut into six 1.25″ Squares 0.25 0.02
Duct Tape* 0.74 0.05
Nail Clippers* 0.39 0.02
Lighter (Spare)* Bic Classic Lighter 0.78 0.05
Scissors* PhysiciansCare by First Aid Only 90294 Titanium Non-Stick First Aid Bandage Shear, 4″ Bent 0.67 0.04
Tweezers* Petunia Skincare Stainless Steel Eyebrow Tweezers 0.39 0.02
Syringe* Syringe 12mL Curved Tip 0.28 0.02
Chapstick (Spare)* ChapStick Moisturizer (Original) 0.32 0.02
Safety Pins* 2 Big, 4 Small 0.07 0.00
Self-Adherent Bandage* Ever Ready First Aid Self Adherent Cohesive Bandage 3″ x 5 yds Tan 0.92 0.06
Eye Drops* Visine Advanced Redness + Irritation Relief (8 mL bottle) 0.46 0.03
Permanent Marker* Sharpie Mini Permanent Marker 0.18 0.01
Athletic Tape* KT Tape Pro, 20 Strips (packaging and plastic tube removed) 3.46 0.22
Ibuprofen* 16 pills 0.25 0.02
Antihistamine* Medique Diphen (2 packets) 0.04 0.00
TOTAL 12.84 0.80

Sierra Gear (4.07 lbs.)

sierra

Since 2017 was a major snow year, I had to buy microspikes and an ice axe for the Sierra. By law I am also required to carry a bear canister for that section of the hike, so I will be using that instead of the Ursack Minor and OPSak.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Bear Cannister BearVault BV500 40.11 2.51
Ice Axe Petzl Glacier (60cm) 13.2 0.83
Microspikes Kahtoola MICROspikes (Small) 11.75 0.73
TOTAL 65.06 4.07

Miscellaneous (1.64 lbs.)

miscellaneous

Even though I don’t think I’ll need them, I got Halfmile’s PCT paper maps and a compass just to be safe. My compass has a mirror, so it can double as a way to see my reflection. I put my sunglasses in this category, although I think they would also fit in the “worn clothing” section. I was having a hard time finding a lightweight glasses case with a hard shell until I learned about the hack where you can use a Crystal Light powdered drink mix container. I also bought a set of four aLoksak bags to act as durable water protection for my electronics and important documents.

Item Description Weight (oz.) Weight (lbs.)
Sunbrella** Liteflex Hiking (Chrome) Umbrella 8.22 0.51
Paper Maps* Halfmile’s PCT Maps (Weight reflects Section A from Yogi’s Books Printing Service) 2.08 0.13
Bug Net Sea to Summit Head Net with Insect Shield 1.06 0.07
Compass* Suunto MC-2/360/D/CM/IN/NH Compass 2.57 0.16
Waterproof Bags Aloksak (Set of 4, various sizes) 2.15 0.13
Notepad 4.48 0.28
Writing Utensils 1 pen, 1 pencil 0.46 0.03
Sunglasses SunCloud Poptown (Brown Polarized Bicarbonate) 0.81 0.05
Glasses Cleaning Cloth 0.28 0.02
Glasses Case Crystal Light Powdered Drink Mix Container 1.02 0.06
Velcro Extra Velcro for Dirty Girl Gaiters 0.04 0.00
Wallet 3.00 0.19
TOTAL 26.17 1.64

Possible Changes

I am still considering a few small changes to my gear before I start my hike. For instance, I may opt to add a pair of sandals as camp shoes. I might also add a small self-defense item like a pocket knife or pepper spray. Finally, I am thinking about adding a bandana or Buff as a way to cover my head when I don’t want to wear a hat.

Room for Improvement

Returning to Halfway Anywhere’s PCT Class of 2016 Survey, the average base weight for hikers who finished the trail at the end of the hike was 15.53 lbs (14.65% lighter than the average starting weight!). I am confident that I will be getting rid of some gear along the trail as I learn what I really need. I imagine the first thing I will do is lose some items from my first aid kit, since even now it seems a little excessive. Another thing I hear a lot of people do is stop eating cooked meals so they can lose the weight of their stove, pot, and fuel. Colin and I really like cooked meals at the end of the day, so I am not sure if that will happen to us, but it would save about two pounds.

Tips for Buying Gear

It is incredible how much time and effort it takes to gather all the gear you need for your first thru-hike. Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Start accumulating gear as early as possible. This way you will have more time to test it and you can spread out your spending.
  • Test your gear! I was able to weed out a few poor gear choices by testing my gear on backpacking trips.
  • Make a spreadsheet to keep track of your projected gear weight and cost. I also found it helpful to include a link to the website with the lowest price I had seen for each item during my research.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are your friends. There are amazing deals that will save you tons of money.
  • Start researching gear prices before Black Friday. This way you will know how good of a deal you are actually getting when the big day comes. Also research all the sales so you know where the best deals will be for each item.
  • If an item doesn’t go on sale on Black Friday, hold off on buying it and put it on your Christmas list instead. A free gift is the ultimate discount! Just make sure you tell people exactly what you want to avoid receiving items that won’t work for a thru-hike.
  • If you haven’t done your research, don’t buy it. Gear can get really expensive really fast. Don’t waste your money on something that you aren’t confident will work. Think of the saying “Measure twice, cut once.”
  • Take advantage of Active Junky, which gives cash back for online purchases from outdoor gear retailers (FYI: If you use this link to join, I get some kind of benefit).
  • Make an effort to try on clothes in-store. If that’s not possible, find an online retailer with a flexible return policy that will allow you to order multiple sizes of an item and return the ones that don’t fit.

2 thoughts on “Marie’s PCT Gear List (Pre-Hike)

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