Pre-PCT Gear List

Posted on Categories Pacific Crest Trail

As day zero comes closer and closer, I have finally put together my complete gear list. The first 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail offers a desert climate interspersed with 10,000 foot tall, snow covered peaks. The combination of unrelenting sun and long waterless stretches mixed with the occasional high altitude trekking through snow offers an interesting set of gear selection challenges.

All of the gear below is subject to change as the hike goes on and the climates change. I will be posting updates to my gear list as I enter each new section of the trail (desert, Sierra Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, Washington). If you want to follow along with my trip, please subscribe for email updates!

Shelter and Sleep System

For my tent I am going with a more traditional double walled tent. The PCT is a very dry trail and I want to have the option of setting up my tent without the rain fly so I can fall asleep under the stars but still be protected from the bugs.

Nemo Hornet 2P
The Nemo Hornet 2P tent.

Instead of bringing a traditional sleeping bag, I am trying out a sleeping quilt for the first time. It reduces the weight significantly by removing things such as the zipper and hood, and most of my time camping I have used my sleeping bag like a quilt anyway – I always found enclosing myself with a zipper to be constricting.

My sleeping pad was a quick decision, the Thermarest Neo Air XLite is one of the most popular pads for thru hikers due to it’s amazing weight to comfort ratio. One complaint I have is that my shoulders/arms do not fit on the pad, so I may wind up wishing I had purchased the wide version.

Sleeping and shelter system, PCT
Pictured is my tent, my sleeping quilt, and my sleeping pad.

Trail Gear

When it came to backpacks, I didn’t look much further than the Osprey Exos 58. It’s one of the lightest packs available from more mainstream gear makers. I could have gone lighter with a cottage industry pack, but I like the reliability and warranty provided by a big name company.

Osprey Exos 58 on a scale
I was somehow able to magically balance my empty Osprey Exos on my tiny food scale.

To begin the hike I will be starting off with my Salomon Speedcross 4. I have enjoyed these shoes for a season and now and I hope they do me well on the PCT! I expect to get around 500 miles in these shoes before I need to start looking for a new pair.

I have had the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles for several years now, and they show no sign of wearing out. As such they were an easy pick to take on the trail with me.

Clothes

I will have one main set of “hiking clothes” for the duration of the hike. On top of that I will have several other layers that can be added and combined for everything from snow to sun protection. For sleeping I will have a separate outfit that is to be kept dry at all times and only used for sleeping.

Ibex W2 Hoodie
Ibex W2 Hoodie.

Main Outfit –

Layers –

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket

Sleep/Camp Clothes

Kitchen & Food Storage

Everything I cook will be made using one pot and eaten straight out of that same pot. I’ll be bringing a spork to give me a little bit of extra utility when I can’t scoop up my last few ramen noodles.

Cooking set PCT
My entire kitchen for the next 6 months.

Water Storage & Filtering

Being the desert, water is going to be a big concern. There will be sections where I may need to go 20 or more miles before I get more water, and because of that I need to be able to carry up to 8 liters at a time. Enter the water bags – lightweight plastic ‘bottles’ that can be folded up and stored when I don’t need them, and can hold large amounts of water for when I do. I will likely send the water bags home after the desert.

Sawyer Squeeze and additional water capacity
The Sawyer Squeeze with the different water bags that I will be bringing.

Sun Protection

Another problem in the desert is the constant sun exposure. In addition to the standard hat and sunglasses, I will also be hiking with an umbrella to provide mobile shade. When I finish the desert I will send home the umbrella, but I may consider having it sent back to me once I get up to the rainy sections of Oregon and Washington.

Liteflex Trekking Umbrella
The Liteflex Trekking Umbrella.

Electronics

Since my phone takes really good pictures already, I opted to purchase a couple of high end lenses for it instead of bringing a separate camera. Moment makes fantastic lenses that screw right onto a special case that you can put on your phone. I highly recommend them if you’re looking to take your phone picture game to the next level.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo shot using Moment’s 60ml telephoto lense.

You’ll notice that I am bringing both a locator beacon and a satellite messenger, which some people may say is redundant. However the beacon is what I have for actual emergencies and the messenger is to communicate with my girlfriend and my family when I am out of cell service range and to use as a backup GPS to my phone. I wrote more about the difference between a locator beacon and a satellite messenger here. I consider the messenger more of a luxury item and would never go on something like the PCT without an emergency beacon.

Electronics for the PCT
Assorted electronics for the trail.

Hygiene

If you’ve never used Dr. Bronner’s magic soap before, I would highly recommend it. It is the main soap that I use in my everyday life and can be used for your body, as toothpaste, and for cleaning dishes. It’s also biodegradable, so you can feel better about the waste you’re leaving behind.

Dr Bronner's Travel Size
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap! Use it for literally everything.

First Aid & Repair Kit

In my first aid kit I have a variety of bandages and medicine, as well as a first-aid “cheat sheet” card that I received after becoming certified in Wilderness First-Aid. I will also be bringing a handful of repair supplies, such as duct tape, a mini sewing kit, and sleeping pad/tent repair tape.

Additional Items

Lastly I have a handful of other items that don’t really fall into any other category. These include items for journaling and non digital forms of navigation should I have any technology failures. One of the coolest extra items is my pack liner. It is a 40 gallon waterproof bag that can also be used to inflate my sleeping pad.

Thermarest neo air pump sack
Using the Thermarest Neoair Pump Sack to inflate my sleeping pad will help keep mold from growing inside of the pad and make it a faster process when I am tired after a day of hiking.

So that is what I will be brining for the start of my trip. My base weight comes out to about 17.5 pounds. If you’re interested in the weights of all the items, you can see them on lighterpacks. If you want follow me along my trip, please subscribe at the bottom of your window. And I am still raising money for Hike For Mental Health and am looking for donations to reach the ultimate goal of $1 per mile for a total of $2660!

4 thoughts on “Pre-PCT Gear List”

  1. Kyle…it sounds like you have it well thought out…we could all learn a thing or two when packing for trips :). Found the Dr. Bronner’s soap most interesting…lol. Safe travels!

  2. You definitely spent a lot of time planning this trip and choosing the right supplies. Wondering why ear plugs?

  3. Kyle, I have a past client and friend who saw my Facebook post when you left. She and her husband live in Castaic which I guess is right near the trail. She said they have routinely helped PCT hikers with replenishments etc and gave me her number to give to you and Dennis. I dont want to publically publish her number here, but how can I get you and Dennis her number. Do you or Dennis receive texts? Let me know. My number is 619-977-8419. Since my number is everywhere I dont care who knows it lol. Maybe send me a text and I’ll respond back with their info. They said they would really like to give you guys an extra contact to have. Cheers Ken

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