PCT Gear List – The Cascades

By Washington state, I was pretty much down everything I needed and nothing I didn’t.  Water purification still wasn’t quite right, and the weather was getting wetter, so it was time to tent up, and go back to Aqua Mira.  At first I wasn’t quite sure I had made the right decision ditching the bivy – it had faired well in the few storms along the trail, and was very comfortable for the 200 or grams it weighed, however I also know from experience that it is not good for prolonged storms as it simply doesn’t breath well enough and I end up a little sticky by the third night.  Washington rained, it rained a lot, and during an 8 hour thunder storm which comprised part of 8 days of very wet weather, i was very glad for the space and water tight tent.

Backpack

Osprey Aether 65
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest NeoAir Lite
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Marmot EOS 1p
Stove
JetBoil Sol with larger pot
Cookware
Titanium Utensil, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
AquaMira and Steripen Freedom
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
iPhone
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, Sherpa Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Hat
Footwear
Asics GT-2000
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; Sunblock;

The steripen broke, the water sensor started malfunctioning and I couldn’t depend on it.  After crater lake I found I wasn’t carrying water, but would drink about 1-2 liters at a time every few miles, so i went back to just Aqua-Mira which works really well in that situation.

The weather in Washington is notoriously wet, so I decided a full tent would be better, the Bivi proved itself in short storms that lasted one or two days.  After 3 days of using a bivi things start to get damp through perspiration.  In severe storms tents have enough room to cook and sit up.  This proved to be a great move in the end as the last two weeks were seriously stormy compared to the rest of the trip.

PCT Gear List – The Sierras

By mile 702, I’d managed to whittle my pack down a little. My philosophy was to remove anything I hadn’t used within the last week. There were some exceptions to this, mainly first aid kit items. The sierra also required some additional gear, some for the conditions, and others to meet the legal requirements.  I also changed up my cooking and water purification system to better suit what I was doing.

Backpack
Osprey Aether 65
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Thermarest NeoAir Lite
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Stove
MSR XGK-II, 1Litre Fuel Bottle
JetBoil Sol with larger pot
Cookware
GSI cookpan, Titanium Utensils, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
Katadyn Water bottle Filter
AquaMira and Steripen Freedom
Hydration
3L Camelbak Bladder, additional collapsible bladders in desert areas
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
IPad Mini with Kindle App
iPhone
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, North Face Hiking Pants/Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Waterproof over-trousers, Hat
Footwear
Merrel MOABs
Asics GT-2000
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Biodegradable, non-perfumed detergent; Microfibre Cloth; Scissors; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; 2nd Skin; Moleskin; Sunblock;

The therm-a-rest had to be replaced a few hundred miles into the desert as it didn’t react too well to cactus thorns, after patching it about 10 times, I thought it was sorted out, but the pockets started to fail internally which caused it to bulge, so I replaced it.  Otherwise it was a great pad.

I replaced the stove mainly because after seeing the convenience of the jet-boil i figured i would cook more, and as it was obvious I could use the jet boil on the rest of the trip (through latin america and beyond) it was a perfect upgrade.  Overall its a bit lighter, but the main advantage is being able to start cooking in about 10 seconds rather than having to set it up and prime the stove etc.  It’s also much less bulky which was nice.

I ditched the filter for Aqua-Mira in Idlewild, this was purely due to the amount of effort required to purify 4 liters of water.  It’s great when you are sipping constantly, but for me I really wanted to chug, and Aqua-Mira enables me to purify 4 liters of water and get hiking again in a few seconds.

In the sierra my water needs changed again, rather than purifying lots of water to last most of the day, I was purifying half a liter of water every few minutes so i switched to a Steripen which is perfect for this as i can just reach down grab a cupful, and 48 seconds later i’m able to drink which meant i never really carried any water.  This meant I could also ditch the bladders and additional bottles.

Before the trip I put a crack in the iPad, and by the time I got to the sierras the digitizer was malfunctioning so I swapped it out for the iPhone, the latter wasn’t quite as good for reading, but otherwise worked perfectly and would have been a better choice overall.

The moabs where comfortable but my feet grew and i found the Asics to be just a bit wider and softer on my feet.  I lost my overtrousers and didn’t replace them, and I found tape worked better than second skin and other blister treatments.

 

PCT Gear List

Gear is an important choice for the Pacific Crest Trail, and one that has been discussed to death by many. My preference is towards the ultralight philosophy, I have a fairly high tolerance for discomfort, and the simplicity of carrying just enough and no more appeals to me. This of course brings other advantages, the reduced weight to carry means I can go farther in one day, which means I need to carry less food between resupplies.

Backpack
Osprey Aether 70
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Stove
MSR XGK-II, 1Litre Fuel Bottle
Cookware
GSI cookpan, Titanium Utensils, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
Katadyn Water bottle Filter
Hydration
3L Camelbak Bladder, additional collapsible bladders in desert areas
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
IPad Mini with Kindle App
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, North Face Hiking Pants/Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Waterproof over-trousers, Hat
Footwear
Merrel MOABs
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Biodegradable, non-perfumed detergent; Microfibre Cloth; Scissors; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; 2nd Skin; Moleskin; Sunblock;

Much of the gear I already had which dictated many of the choices, I’ve had my backpack since 2005, and whilst its larger than I require, it more than meets the needs for the PCT, ideally a smaller, lighter pack could be used. The same goes for the sleeping bag, the sawtooth has been a great bag, and whilst its on the heavy side, I’ll stick with it. I’ve had it for 4 years, and I suspect this will be the last big trip for it.

I’ve been using the Bivi as an emergency shelter for a couple of years, and it’s proved to add a good few degrees to the bag and keep out the elements. The rain poncho will be used both during the day in wet weather where it will keep me and my pack dry, and at night where combined with my hiking poles it will function as a tarp tent.

The XGK is a great stove for mountaineering, but perhaps not a great choice for backpacking, with the larger fuel bottle it can simmer fairly well, however it is heavy compared to a canister or alcohol stove. I decided to bring this mainly because it is indestructible, and its very easy to see exactly how much fuel is left. As it can burn just about anything, this should enable me to reduce the amount of fuel I need to carry once I get a feel for how much I need. I’ll be starting out with about half a liter in the bottle.

Overall my base weight comes to 14lbs – about 6.5kg which feels pretty good on my back. This does not include water, food, or fuel for the stove however, which will not be insignificant.