106 days
2652 miles
25 miles per day
July 4, 2018, 1:46 p.m.

Gear

Part of the fun of planning for this trip was picking out some new gear. Most of my backpacking equipment was 10+ years old, and there’s been some massive improvements in outdoor gear since then. I spent the last couple of years slowly upgrading bit by bit, cutting my pack weight in half in the process. My selection, and the organization of the list below, has been strongly influenced by Andrew Skurka, particularly his Backpacking Gear List Template + 3-season Checklist. I’ve made some minor tweaks to better suit the way I hike, but if you’re looking to learn more about gear Skurka’s a far better resource than I am.

As I’m writing this (July 4, 2018), this represents what I plan to start with. I’ll make some changes as I go – ditching warm clothes as the temperatures warm up in Oregon and Northern CA, picking up a bear can in the Sierra, etc. I’ll try to update this post with the major changes section-by-section.

Contents:

Summary

Clothing + Items Worn

Total: 39.8 oz | $737

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Hiking shirt Uniqlo airism polo 5.9 $20 Very breathable, looks good, and cheap. Already a small hole in the shoulder where the backpack strap rubs, likely won’t last. taking anyway
Pants or shorts Vuori running shorts 7.1 $60 I’m not a huge fan of the short-shorts trend, I like something a bit longer. Also these have pockets for days, it’s great.
Underwear A ExOfficio Give+Go 9” 2.9 $15 I spent an unreasonable amount of time auditioning underwear that I think won’t bother me for a long hike. I didn’t love anything, but these are the lest-bad.
Headwear Trucker hat + buff 3.8 - Free race swag
Sun gloves OR Sun Sleeves 1.6 $22 Likely don’t actually need until OR/CA, but they’re so light and provide just a bit of warmth, so I’m bringing them anyway
Sunglasses Goodr BFGs 0.9 $45 Very impressed with these: really comfy, work great, and priced low enough that when I inevitably lose them I won’t be too pissed.
Watch Garmin 935 1.9 $500 I’m not sure if I’ll track with GPS or not. But also doubles as a backup navigation device, and the ABC features are nice.
Rx glasses or contacts Prescription glasses 0.6 $45 Reading and journaling is just unpleasant without them. Getting old sucks.
Trekking Poles CMT 15.1 $30 Sold at Costco, and as good as any $100+ poles I’ve tried.

Footwear

Total: 29.2 oz | $221

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Shoes Salomon Sense Pro Max 24.4 $180 A bit concerned about stiffness and tightness in the toebox, but I’ve not found anything I like better.
Gaiters OR Sparkplug 1.0 $21 Very loose around the ankles. Might try darting them before I leave.
Hiking socks A Fitsok ankle socks 1.4 $2 $2 with orders from Runningwarehouse, and somehow my favorite socks
Hiking socks B Fitsok ankle socks 1.4 $2 I’ll probably stop carrying these once it’s dry enough that i don’t need backup socks.
Sleeping socks Farm to Feet wool ankle socks 1.0 $16 Don’t love hiking in them, but they’re hella comfy to just wear around.

Clothing: Element Protection

Total: 24.7 oz | $195

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Shell top OR Helium II 6.5 $100 Not a great rain shell, TBQH, but sufficient for the PCT.
Mid-layer top Melanzana micro grid hoody 10.8 $65 I picked this up in Leadville something like ten years ago. It’s been funny to see it suddenly become super-popular among hikers. But it’s understandable: I freaking love this thing.
Trekking pants or thermals Terramar tights 5.6 $10 I’ll probably ditch them by Oregon, and not need them again until the Sierra.
Liner gloves Manzella fleece gloves 1.8 $20 I’ll also send these ahead to the Sierra at some point.

Clothing: Stop and Sleep

Total: 17.8 oz | $260

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Insulated jacket Ghost Whisperer 8.6 $145 I don’t love it (the fit is weird and the fabric is clammy), but it’s fine. I’d probably get a Montbell next time.
Sleeping top Montane lightweight fleece 6.6 $100 Doubles as a base layer if it’s super-cold.
Sleeping bottoms Patagonia boxers 2.6 $15 Can also sleep in tights in if they’re dry.

Packing

Total: 39.6 oz | $379

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Pack Superior Wilderness Designs Custom 40L 30.5 $300 I fucking love this thing. SWD will do pretty much any custom work you like, so you basically get a custom pack. I didn’t go too wild, but the few options I did get are just perfect. It’s comfy as heck, and the work is just impeccable. I can’t say enough good things about SWD.
Waterproofing Trash compactor bag w/thermarest inflator valve thing 2.8 $17 Not sure I need the valve thing with the small pad.
Food storage: future 12x20 opsak 1.5 $7 Mostly to try to keep rodents away.
Food protection Zpacks bear bag kit 3.4 $35
Stuff sacks HMG cuban bag: shelter stuff; MLD silnylon: kitchen 1.0 $15
Eyewear case Crystal Light container 0.4 $5

Shelter

Total: 24.6 oz | $750

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Rainfly or tarp HMG 8x10 flat tarp 9.4 $500 Flat tarps aren’t for everyone – they can be a pain to pitch compared to a tent or even a shaped tarp. I’ve been using them for years, though, and I really like the versatility and airflow. It’s also pretty ideal for the mostly-dry conditions I expect on the PCT. I’ll probably rarely pitch it, and mostly cowboy camp.
Nest, bivy, or hammock Sea-to-summit bug net + MLD superlight bivy 9.9 $225 Don’t think I need both, but can’t decide which. One of these will go home once I make up my mind.
Ground cloth or footprint Space blanket 1.9 - Free from a marathon - I think SF? Doubles as a bit of extra warmth in an emergency.
Stakes 2x groundhog, 4x mini groundhog, 4x TI hooks 3.5 $25 Feels like a lot of stakes, but I need them for different configurations of tarp/bivy/bug net.

Sleep

Total: 32.9 oz | $441

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Bag or quilt Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 23.1 $260 EE’s temperature ratings are optimistic: even with all my clothes this is only warm enough down to about 30. If the Sierra turns out to be cold later this year I may need to swap this out for something else.
Pad Thermarest Xlite short 7.1 $150 I’m a side-sleeper, so the short works for me. I wish it was like a couple of inches wider, though. I keep thinking about upgrading, but this pad hasn’t pissed me off yet, so I’ll stick with it ‘til it does.
Pillow Cocoon hyperlight 2.7 $31 Gotta have a pillow.

Kitchen

Total: 18.7 oz | $114

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Stove Soto Amicus 2.7 $40 This thing is great.
Cookpot Toaks Ti 750ml 3.5 $35 Too small to eat out of, so I’m bag eating. Upside: no dishes. Downside: eating out of a bag.
Hot drink container GSI mug 3.8 $10 A luxury, but worth it. I like to start my day by drinking a cup of coffee while I walk the first mile or so, so a real insulated watertight mug is worth the extra weight.
Coffee Finum brew basket 0.9 $13 Real coffee is worth the weight
Fuel container 100g canister 7.0 $5
Utensil Gossamer Gear bamboo spoon 0.5 $10 So much better than a metal spoon
Ignition Mini bic 0.4 $1 Stove also has piezo, so the bic is a backup

Hydration

Total: 5.3 oz | $51

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Bottle(s): primary 1L Smartwater 1.4 $1
Bottle(s): storage 2L Hydrapak 2.3 $19 I’ll probably pick up a couple more of these once the longer dry stretches start in S. Oregon.
Treatment: primary Katahdyn BeFree 1.6 $30 I’m not sure I like this. The flow already slowing substantially after maybe 10 nights of use (and some runs). Might end up buying a Sawer Squeeze instead at some point.
Treatment: secondary Aquamira tabs (in FAK) - $1

Tools, Emergency, Utility

Total: 17.7 oz | $302

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Compass Emergency compass (also mirror, whistle) 1.2 $5 I hope to never need these.
Maps Reformatted Halfmile maps 1.5 $75 I highly doubt I’ll use these: I expect the trail to be well-marked, and the Guthook/Halfmile apps are just so much more convienient. But it felt irresponsible to travel without paper maps, so I printed some as a backup.
Light UltraTac K18 + 2 AA (1 in light, 1 spare) 1.4 $18 If I do a bunch of hiking
Knife Benchmade 1.9 $100 I never really use this except for cutting cheese, but I don’t really want to buy another knife.
First Aid Kit See First Aid sheet 2.2 -
Foot care kit See Foot Care sheet 1.1 -
Repair Kit See Repair Kit sheet 0.2 -
Sat comm SPOT 4.2 $100
Firestarter Mini bic (in cookpot) - -
Power Anker Fusion, iphone cable, Garmin cable $40
Insect repellent Picardin (in 1 oz hotel lotion bottle) 1.8 $5
Headnet S2S headnet 0.8 $12
Sit pad Gossamer Gear 1/8” thinlite 3.0 $18 Very light, and comfy enough to sit on or even for a short nap. Doubles as extra insulation / protection for the air pad. Love this thing.

Personal Items

Total: 12.1 oz | $632

Item Selection Weight Cost Comments
Dental Travel toothbrush 0.5 $2
Toilet paper TP for my bunghole 0.5 -
Bathroom assistance Deuce of spades 0.4 $20
Hand sanitizer 2 oz hand sanitizer 2.1 $5
Skin care Trail Toes, Gold Bond, Chapstik 2.2 $5
Phone iPhone SE 5.4 $600 I though about travelling without electronics. But I want to take pictures, and my phone is the best and lightest campera I own. And I want to journal. And apps like Guthook/Halfmile are just so incredibly good for navigation/information.
Wallet w/ID, cash, CC Wallet 1.0 -

  1. 3 days of food and 1L of water, an average carry. 

  2. This is a somewhat deceptive number. It includes the cost of some items, like my phone, that aren’t hike-specific. While it may overstate the costs of a hike like this, it’s not all that wrong. I think it’s important to be honest about the costs. Going ultralight is a privilege - check out the cost of that tarp! Being hiker trash can be cheap, but often isn’t.