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PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated
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Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 01/18/2011 19:23:44 MST Print View

This list is geared towards the PCT thru-hike that I have planned (currently slated for Summer 2012) with my girlfriend, but I would also like to use this for summer, or even 3-season, backpacking in places like the Sierras, the Wind Rivers, and so on (mountain conditions).

A few considerations:

1. The weights on this list aren't exact, and may be a little bit conservative (i.e. heavier) than I actually expect them to be. I haven't actually packaged up all of the little items, the weights I listed are based off of other peoples' lists or estimates. I also don't own most of this gear yet, since most of what I have is not light enough for my purposes anymore.

2. I'm 6' 165lbs (will drop rapidly while hiking) with goofy proportions. Narrow body, but with a long torso (almost 22") and long arms. Most brands make clothing items that are way too short in the arms/torso or are too baggy, especially for things like a rain jacket or down jacket. Any recommendations on brands for people like me would be helpful.

3. I have no problem staying warm outdoors while hiking, usually I'm fine down to 50-55F or so in shorts and a tshirt. However, I'm a huge pansy when it comes to sitting around or sleeping, hence the warm layers on this list.

4. I am strongly considering going southbound on the PCT for a number of reasons (works better for my schedule, more solitude, like snow a lot more than blazing hot deserts and snakes). I'm not sure what modifications are needed to the gear list relative to the "average" PCT list, so any help on that topic is appreciated.


1. Pack -- I would like a comfortable pack with full suspension, hence the Osprey Exos. Is the Exos 58 large enough for all of this gear plus the maximum amount of food/water carried (unsure of exactly how many liters/days of food this would be)? Would it carry these heavier loads better than the Exos 46 (assuming it's even large enough)? Is there a more comfortable option? I previously owned a Gregory Z55 and it felt like a medieval torture device, digging into my lower back. I also tend to get a pretty sharp pain in my lower neck when I'm hiking, which is probably a function of my old higher weights but also an uncomfortable pack.

2. Tent -- Are there any better options that aren't outrageously expensive or Spartan? I'm looking for something that's fully bugproof. Would rain be an extra issue assuming we do in fact go southbound (Washington in June)?

As a side note, if anyone has some of this gear for sale that is new / like new, I may be interested in it, so send me a PM.

Thank you for your help!

(edited for brevity)

Edited by mechB on 01/26/2011 19:19:26 MST.

Karl Myers
(kmyers1234) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Exos on 01/18/2011 19:54:03 MST Print View

here is a thread you might want to check out although this is from a few years ago it should help some:

it goes in depth about the osprey exos pack.. I haven't used it myself but it seems like it would work just fine for your gear. My only concern would be fitting the bear canister inside of a full pack with the curved frame on the back. Again this is coming from me simply looking at it at my local REI.

Happy Trails

Edited by kmyers1234 on 01/18/2011 19:55:06 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
gear list on 01/18/2011 19:54:50 MST Print View

I think your list looks pretty solid :)

the Exos 58 would be a good choice for a thru hike, especially w/ the canister- I had a 46 and it was a very comfortable pack for up to about a week, I think it would be dicey on a thru hike w/ a canister volume wise

another one to look at is the ULA Circuit- full suspension, similar volume to the 56- lots of them on the PCT

the Alpine Light Parka is a nice jacket- I use mine primarily for shoulder/winter seasons, if you run on the cool side this might be the ticket- I use a ExLight for "summer" and find it plenty for me (I run on the warm side though)- the torso length appears to have been lengthened slightly w/ the new model- I wouldn't call it overly long though, more like medium

another parka to look at is the WM Flash- lighter, not quite as warm (but close), but most likely warm enough for the PCT

can't comment on that shelter, not personally familiar w/ it

there are options that appear to be more spartan, but w/ the addition of an inner "tent" really not that spartan- pyramids from MLD, Oware, Golite, others- even w/ the inner tent still pretty light

as far as your pot question, if your doing boil in bag cooking than your pot should be more than sufficient in size- if your cooking in it I'll defer to someone else to answer

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Southbound thoughts on 01/18/2011 20:45:19 MST Print View

Sounds like fun. Being low on funds though will make it difficult. To hike the entire PCT, the old saw was budget a $1 a mile, although now, I'd say it is closer to $1.50 a mile, depending on equipment. You will likely want to sleep in a motel every once in a while, eat out at a restaurant, buy a refreshing beverage. Oh, you can do it for cheap; but logistics are then a bit more of a worry.

The Rainbow is a solid choice of a tent for two people, can't really go wrong with that.

I will let others comment on gear for lanky thin guys.

On southbound travels, there are two issues with leaving in June. One will be snow. I know this doesn't faze you, but it can be pretty snowy at higher elevations in early to mid June. Some years, the melt out happens later, some earlier.

The other issue is blowdown along the trail. If winter storms are rough, trail maintenance will not have yet occurred. Excessive blowdown or erosion may be encountered.

Here is a good summary of the issue:

Have fun

ryan Ashby
(steveclimber) - F

Locale: So Cal
exos on 01/18/2011 23:22:07 MST Print View

your list looks good.your gear will all work fine. the Exos 58 will be MORE then enough room for everything you have. I did the seirras to canada with a Talon 44( adjustable torso height dude!), which even took the large bear canister. I generic list is good and I think you are nearly there for that, definitely UL (nice work). As far as your PCT questions:
Pack-in my opinion you don't need more then 50 liters to have a good time, look at the Atmos 50 and the talon, but, yes many many people carried the exos last year. TRY ONE ON would be the most important, however to your comment on the Z55, I had a friend who hiked the AT and hiked the PCT with me that had (and did the AT with a Z55) the same issues. weird. he got a talon 44 and liked it.

PUffy- most anything will work, just needs to fit and be compressible.

tent- your good to go. don't think about it. nice choice.

I had a XL golite Puffy that would work nice for a long frame. not used more then dayscheap, let me know.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Nice on 01/19/2011 02:50:02 MST Print View

I'm no expert, and can only really comment on what I've tried, but I like the Patagonia Houdini for a wind/rain shirt. Runs longer than almost all I checked out, I'm longer in the legs than torso but have ape arms, so it fits beautifully. 3.7 oz. Really light.

My puffy is a Patagonia Nano Puff. If you get the XL or even XXL, you'd be good. Really light. 9oz I think.

Toby Maxwell
(eeooo4) - F

Locale: California, Central Valley
tall people things on 01/19/2011 06:59:43 MST Print View

Hows it going! im currently in the process of planning for a 2011 thru hike and have run into similar issues with tall stuff, im 6'4" and a similar build it seems. I just decided on a WM Flash for the puffy in size XL, but the large isnt too much smaller, it might fit you, but like you said, $$$. I tried on a RAB microlight in L and XL and the result was that XL way too baggy, L great athletic fit, arms long enough, torso too short, but at 4" shorter than me it might be perfect, also if you're a student you could get 15% off if you get it from EMS. I tried on the montbell inner parka and inner jacket, on both L was too short in arms and torso, and XL too baggy (still a little short), again our height difference could make it viable.
Other tall people things that I have had to worry about have been solved my marmot and patagonia both of which I find to work better for my frame, I'm a size L for both companies, but its still variable.

Hope this helps somewhat, good luck!


Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Looks good overall on 01/19/2011 09:28:16 MST Print View

Down jacket: I don't think it matters, either should be plenty IMO, though with a 30-degree bag I guess you want to augment your warmth with the jacket. I know the Alpine Light is quite warm, no experience with the other choice.

Tent: the one you have now seems like a good choice to me, particularly since you already own it and your funds are limited!

Bear can: I don't think it's realistic for two thru-hikers to share one bear can between them. Nor do I think that the park rangers in the Sierras will think so either if they stop you and check.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
jackets on 01/19/2011 16:56:48 MST Print View

Hey, haven't hiked the PCT but I've somehow become a student of puffy jackets over the last few months. I love the flash, but the torso is a bit short. I'm 6'2", slim, and with a really short torso, so the medium seems to just barely fit, but I think WM tends to carry jackets with pretty short torsos. I checked out the EB first ascent downlight pullover hoody, and it looks pretty great from what I can tell. Puffy, UL, has hood, and it packs into its own pocket to form a really comfy down pillow. It comes in tall sizes--medium, tall should fit well. I bet you'd be able to find one pretty heavily discounted sometime before summer, and if not, its relatively affordable as these things go. I tried on the rab and its a really nice piece, but fit could be a little awkward. Torso didn't seem that tall, and the chest is really bowed out on those jackets at least on me, and you look even slimmer than I am. As far as synths go, the nano is awesome, but its got a really bag short fit, so I doubt that would work for you. Golite has a nice syth with a long fit, but its a bit more heavy (also a lot warmer).

Nitro seems like a good bet for sleeping.

I'd highly recommend checking out granite gear packs if you're able to. They are not quite as sexy or as 'in' as some of the more UL packs, but they ride like a dream. I was carrying a golite jam at the beginning of the summer with a skin out weight of something like 10-12 lbs, but switched back to my old trusty GG nimbus ozone at the end of the summer which was much better even with the same weight. Also a lot of their packs have adjustable torso. Just an idea, but of course packs are highly personal and dependent on body type. I'm doing an AT thru this spring and deciding between a gossamer gear gorilla and granite gear pack..

Don't know about the mica fit, but the TNF is a bit baggy and has a shorter torso. My medium fits me, but not good for layering puffy stuff underneath. Using a windshirt for that. People who've actually hiked the PCT, might totally disagree, and I'd take their view over mine, but I like having a very light windshirt and a rain jacket as well. The windshirt is just too versatile not to bring! Its always been my most used piece. If you go with something as light as the TNF triumf than you can bring a UL windshirt like montbell or pat houdini and still come out to what a better rain jacket would weigh except with more versatility. I might change my mind on my thru, but taking that combo with me as of now.

Have a blast on the PCT!

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 01/20/2011 08:32:27 MST Print View

Definitely take a map and compass and know how to navigate with them.

I find aluminum foil on a roll too thin to use as a windscreen in winds more than 10 mph or so. The disposable flat oven liners are foldable and seem to work ok without too much more weight though.

The cat stove designs seem a little inefficient and unpredictable to me. I like Mark Jurey's penny stove design. It is a little tricky to build though.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 01/20/2011 09:31:32 MST Print View

Re: stoves. Consider a Caldera Cone, which is compatible with your pot I think (see With the larger pot it will give you good fuel yield and a lot less fiddling. Small alcohol stoves are light and work great with smaller pots, but once you cross the 700ml mark, I think you need something more efficient. Messing with makeshift stands and windscreens when you are tired and just want to eat is a pain, IMHO.

One way to save some money is to develop your own meal system, and you can dial that in for two people and the pot size you are using. Cozies will help a lot. A used or borrowed Seal-A-Meal will help too. Given the time you have, you can test recipes at home-- pasta and rice are big on the student food list anyway :)

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
Shoes and packs? on 01/26/2011 20:03:03 MST Print View

Thank you for your help everyone. I've started to narrow down a few items on the list, but I'm just as confused on others. Here are some updates and more questions.


1. I updated the gear list and reposted it. As it stands, excluding a bear canister, ice axe, crampons, and any worn clothing, it comes out to precisely 14 pounds. Not as light as I'd like, but perfectly comfortable the way it looks now. I expect that my estimates are a little conservative and that the weight may come down by as much as half a pound once I get more accurate measurements (hopefully). That said, I'd like to bring it down even more if possible.

2. I purchased a down jacket here on the gear swap forum. Got an Eddie Bauer Downlight Sweater (new) in M-Tall for $55. It fits perfectly and I couldn't have gotten a better deal.

3. Discovered, thanks to reading the thread, "A New Paradigm for Understanding Garment Warmth" that Polartec Power Stretch is a lot warmer and lighter than Patagonia R1, so I'm looking to use that for my bottom baselayer. I think that's a great find, I wouldn't have expected that result. I still want to bring the merino longsleeve crew since I expect to hike in that at times.


1. Packs -- I'm still totally lost here. If my base pack weight stays at 14lbs, and if I carry about 1.75lbs/day of food with roughly 4-5 days on average for resupplies (optimistic?), and carry roughly 2-3 liters of water at a time through WA/OR/Sierras (also optimistic?) that works out to roughly 25-28lbs on the low end of fully stocked. I would consider 25lbs or so the "average" weight that I'd expect to carry on any given day.

If the longest necessary time without restock is 10 days in the Sierras (a guess based on anecdote, could possibly be less?), adding in the bear canister, that is about 34lbs (keeping constant amount of water--I'm guessing here again, as I've done most of my hiking in New Zealand, Michigan, and the Wind Rivers where water is usually plentiful). I'm guessing it would be about the same with a pack full of extra water rather than food (through the desert). So the upper end of what I expect to carry is roughly 35lbs (could approach 40lbs max in practice, who knows).

Essentially, I'm facing a great deal of uncertainty about my "true" pack weight given the gear list that I have. It could be around 25lbs under good circumstances, but I could be carrying as much as 35lbs as well. Can anyone give me an idea of what a good estimate is based on my base weight? I was almost sold on the Osprey Exos (leaning towards the 58L, but unsure of whether or not that's too much volume). But now I'm not sure--I don't know if it will be able to carry those higher weights comfortably, and the pack itself is not really as light as I had hoped (2lbs 10oz in 58L size large). I'm looking at the whole gamut of Granite Gear packs (Nimbus Ozone, Nimbus Meridian, Vapor Trail, Escape AC60) based on their reputed comfort. I am also considering a ULA Circuit, and pining after the thought of carrying something along the lines of a GG Mariposa Plus or ULA Ohm (though I think my list is a bit heavy for these packs).

I think my only recourse is just to order a bunch of packs, load em' up, and see which one is most comfortable. In case your eyes glazed over when reading the above novel, here are the Spark Notes: I'm looking for the most comfortable pack possible, something that is capable of carrying a maximum of 35lbs, but also something that can make 25lbs feel nice and light. Again, comfort is my main concern here, and at this point, I'm willing to go up to about 3lbs-3.5lbs or so to get the most comfortable pack possible (I have traumatic pack experiences--Gregory Z55 and a 110L (!) NOLS pack which reached a max of 80lbs--while hiking off trail).

2. Shoes -- Also more or less lost here. This is complicated by the fact that I want to go southbound. Do I need crampons for Northern Washington? What about GTX for the snow? I'm skipping GTX for the rest of the trail obviously, but I was thinking about something like the Vasque Velocity GTX for extra traction and stuff for the snow, but maybe that's a bit much. Any other recommendations? Yea or nay on the Vasque Velocity/GTX?

3. Rain jacket -- Seriously...huge fail. I wanted to use the Marmot Mica or TNF Triumph but they are way too short. Center back length is 28" for Medium. I have a Marmot Aegis with a center back length of 28 3/4" and it's too short for my torso. I may need to just splurge on this and get a Super Mica which has a longer torso--but it's heavier and more expensive than I would like. Any other options for me (long torso, low budget)?

Sorry for the long post, this always seems to happen.

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
a couple other things on 01/26/2011 20:12:29 MST Print View

Just a few other notes.

1. I'm starting to lean towards carrying a wind shirt. The Montbell Tachyon looked quite nice, but I may make my own to cut costs and ensure an acceptable fit. Does anyone have any experience with Momentum 90? I was going to some from Thru-hiker but I don't know anything about this material. Too flimsy for a wind shirt?

2. On the issue of cost, the nice thing is that I have family and friends all along the west coast that I can stay with / leech off of for food. I have several friends in Portland, grandparents/a sister in Chico, CA (20-30 miles off trail or so from what I can tell), family friends in Fresno, and grandparents/aunt+uncle in Yucaipa, CA (10 miles off trail). That should help me cut down costs. However, I do have trouble curtailing my spending when it comes to delicious Mexican food, which will be a problem in California...

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
?'s on 01/26/2011 20:17:44 MST Print View

1. I think the Exos would handle your upper end weight just fine (based on my experience w/ a 46), the Exos does a pretty good job of shrinking up w/ smaller volumes (via compression straps on the side and top)

the Circuit is very well represented on the PCT (CDT and AT for that matter)- don't think you could go wrong w/ that choice

I think the Ohm could be doable, but would definitely be pushing it w/ weight and volume- would be really tough w/ a bear canister

2. can't help much there

3. a lot (lot) of DriDuck jackets make it through the PCT just fine- not sure on fitment, but definitely fits the budget requirement
they also evidently breathe as well Event- not bad for $20

Nate Powell
(powell1nj) - F

Locale: North Carolina
re: PCT list on 01/26/2011 20:27:58 MST Print View

+1 on the DriDucks. You can always buy an extra set if you're worried about durability. My DriDucks jacket in size small is a good torso length for me and I'm about 6' 155lbs. It weighs in at 5.3oz. I combo it with a pair of Tyvek pants at 2.5oz. I don't know if the Tyvek pants are the best idea for a thru-hike - I use mine more for bottom-of-the-pack just in case type gear. The jackets really are a good deal though. Nice looking list. I'm jealous of your trip.

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
DriDucks on 01/26/2011 20:50:09 MST Print View

Thanks for the tip on the DriDucks. I don't have any experience with them, but from what I hear, the PCT is pretty dry anyways. Originally, I was planning on using my rain jacket as a wind shirt, but I think I may just carry the DriDucks (the ones that BPL sells, right?) and a wind shirt as well. Good recommendation.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Various on 01/27/2011 01:23:43 MST Print View

Packs: I think a Circuit is a fine choice for you. I had something on the order of what your weight looks to be ending up at, and did exceed 40 pounds a bit starting into the Sierras. I used a GG Mariposa Plus, and that weight seemed to overstress the backpack strap connections at the upper part of the pack, so loose thread was showing somewhat alarmingly a few days after I left Kennedy Meadows. Didn't fail, but made me nervous.

10 days of food in the Sierras: you don't have to do it that way. I resupplied in Independence, then went to MTR, and then to Mammoth Lakes to minimize amount of food carried per stretch. Some folks extol the virtues of being out there continuously, but I don't see it. It is a bit of a hoof off trail to get to Independence, but that ultimately seemed worth doing to me.

Shoes: No one can help you select the optimum shoe but yourself, I'm afraid.
You don't need crampons in Northern WA, or at least if you start at a reasonable time and keep your pace up it seems unlikely. You'll go through a lot of snow before that; it's certainly not a bad thing to have crampons at home ready to be mailed out, but if when you get to Snoqualmie Pass you find that reports ahead are that crampons are needed (reports by thru-hikers, mind you, not by random well meaning folks ...), then hitch into the Seattle area and buy some at a local REI (Seattle is the HQ of REI). I'd take you there myself, but I'll be on the CDT (sorry!).

Rain jacket: dry ducks sounds like a good choice to me, and don't bother carrying the rain pants part of that set. This assumes you have a separate wind shirt and are only putting on rain gear for actual rain. If you're wearing them a lot, dry ducks will wear out. An alternative is a poncho, especially if you find that at all helpful as part of your shelter system.

Your thought process sounds very good to me, I'd wager you'll be well prepared and have a great time!

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
packs on 01/27/2011 07:03:42 MST Print View

I own the osprey 46, the ohm, and the circuit.

I like the frame and air panel on the osprey better than the ula packs. I like the other features on the ula packs much better than the osprey. The belt and shoulder straps just feel / fit me better on the ula packs than they do on the osprey. I can say if I had never tried the ula, I would have been very happy with the osprey, so its by no means a bad pack.

If I were only hiking by myself, I believe I could make my ohm work on my planned JMT hike this summer, but packing food for 3 (and still not sure how we will split it up as we dont want to buy 3 bear canisters), I think I am going to need the circuit, and my winter gear needs the circuit as well.

not sure if any of this helps, but at least I own all three...if you need any specific measurements, let me know.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
rent canisters on 01/27/2011 10:52:14 MST Print View

"... and still not sure how we will split it up as we dont want to buy 3 bear canisters"

Sorry for the thread drift, but consider renting canisters. I believe you can do this in Yosemite park itself, or in some sporting good type stores in the vicinity; perhaps a call to someone in the park will give you specifics.

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
New update on 02/01/2011 04:29:50 MST Print View

Here is the latest spreadsheet and some comments/questions.


1. I managed to cut down the base weight down to about 13.5lbs, which seems to be a safe estimate. This excludes ice axe/crampons/large bear canister for the Sierras (adds 3.2 lbs to total). I consider this a full-comfort, no compromise sort of list.

2. Packs -- I'm strongly leaning towards the ULA Circuit at this point. I can't ignore all of the recommendations for it, and it seems to fit perfectly with my gear list. Thanks for the recommendations everyone. However, I'm still flirting with the idea of a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus and will likely find a way to test drive an Exos 46, but I'm thinking the Circuit will be a great choice. It's really between the Circuit and GG Mariposa plus at this point.

3. Shoes -- Still inconclusive on this one. Thinking of trying something classic like the Vasque Velocities for Northern Washington / Sierras and switching to some sort of lightweight running shoe for the flatter parts of Oregon and Southern California. I will just need to experiment since I don't have any experience with lightweight hiking footwear yet. My main question is with regards to GTX: is it useful for heavily snowy conditions like mid-June in Washington (or early June in the Sierras)? I will skip GTX for the rest of the trip.

4. Crampons -- Assuming I'm going southbound and starting at Washington sometime in mid-to-late June, are crampons necessary at all? Are they needed or helpful for the Sierras if going northbound? I was looking at something extremely minimalist like the Grivel Spider for a bit of extra insurance, but crampons + ice axe might be redundant.

That's about it! Now I just need to scrounge up the necessary money to buy a lot of this stuff, and then actually get outside instead of researching endlessly.