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PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated
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Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
shoes on 02/01/2011 07:19:44 MST Print View

for all day snow slogging (ie snowshoeing) GTX can be helpful, but they take forever to dry out- for a thru hike where you're likely to encounter multiple environs I'd say the disadvantages (hot, breathe poorly, take forever to dry) outweigh the advantages

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Momentum 90 on 02/01/2011 07:30:10 MST Print View

Hi Brendan, if you're still thinking of making your own windshirt, Momentum 90 is pretty fantastic stuff. Similar to original Pertex Quantum, it has a really nice hand and great DWR. Relatively easy to work with if you're used to light fabrics. The edges really should be seared after cutting, or ideally cut it with a hot knife on a pane of glass. Ayce's kits are pretty nice and foolproof, and he'll help you out with determining the right size, adding a little extra fabric for length or a hood, etc. Good Luck on your hike! SoBo on the PCT is different for sure, sounds very cool!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
SAVINGS of 7.2 pounds on 02/01/2011 11:43:22 MST Print View

SAVINGS of 115.6 oz - or - 7.2 pounds

obviously the bear canister is for the required zones in california, and the extra water vessels are for the Mojave, so the total of the subtracted oz isn't quite exact.

- Get a MUCH lighter backpack, under 16 oz is just fine. (save 26 oz)

- Replace the 34 oz shelter with a 9 oz tarp. Much more versatile and MUCH lighter (save 25 oz)

- replace the sleeping bag with a quilt and bivy set up (quilt approx. 19, bivy approx. 5 = 23 oz) (save 5 oz)

- NIX crampons - (saving 4.6 oz) you won't need them. But, make sure you are skilled with an axe and choose your route carefully. Crampons are a lot more dangerous than prudent snow skills. The North Cascades has perfect summer snow conditions, and there is no need for crampons.

- NIX Playty hoser 3.0 liter (save 3.8 oz)

- NIX Gaitor aid 20oz (x2) (save 1.8 oz) You'll be fine without these.

- NIX bear canister (for all but the required zones in the sierras) (save 41 oz)

- NIX toilet kit - Use natural tp and dig with a tent stake. (save 1.8 oz)

- replace 3 oz headlamp with something under an oz (save 2 oz)

- Minimize all stuff sacks. Less than 1 oz is fine. (save 2.7 oz)

- NIX hand sanitizer and take only soap. (save 1.5 oz)

- NIX pack towel - (save 0.4 oz)


QUESTION - I don't see any system for keeping gear dry? Add a 2.2 oz trash compactor bag.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Crampons on 02/01/2011 11:52:11 MST Print View

Not disagreeing with Mike here overall, but I think the answer is a little less clear cut. I suggest that you monitor the Postholer snow conditions info and make your decision at the relative last minute if going SOBO.

It's a La Nina year, FWIW, and in any event it's early to determine what Northern WA is going to look like at this point. I plan a CDT SOBO so I'm thinking in similar terms --- I tentatively plan to start out with Kahtoola Microspikes. Or not. And maybe a Black Diamond Whippet (self-arrest pole). Or not. TBD.

Similar with the Sierras, too soon to know what June will be like there. In 2008 I used neither the light ice axe nor the mini-crampons I had carried, so sequentially mailed those home. The crampons I put on a couple of times only to have to fairly quickly take them off again, a PITA and just generally not needed. I took the axe off my back just once, so I could say that I had used it, but pretty quickly went back to preferring trekking poles. But the snow conditions that you encounter could be very different.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
About crampons. on 02/02/2011 13:07:10 MST Print View

About crampons.

I've spent a LOT of time on sumer snow, and there is almost no occasion where crampons are required.

Crampons are for ice, and in the summer the snow might feel hard enough that you might "want" crampons, but it would be safest just to find a different rout, or take a nap while the snow softens during the day.

Things get a lot more dangerous with crampons because the user (especially the inexperienced user) will trip on those points.

- now -

I do advocate the use of the ice axe as a safety back-up! BUT, and axe REQUIRES PRACTICE!

I teach mountaineering on summer snow, and the axe is essential. And I spend a full day teaching skills to my students on summer snow in the cascades, the northern rockies and alaska.

If you travel in the cascades in early season you will be on spring snow (and that stuff is soft). If you travel in the sierras in mid-summer and the snow feels hard, just wait. The warmth of the day will soften the snow up soon enough.

For extended summer snow travel with ultralight running shoes, I would advocate adding a pair of NEOPRENE SOCKS to the gear list. (5.5 oz)

Joseph Johnson
PCT Gear on 02/02/2011 16:19:19 MST Print View

I'm with Mike, all of it is sound advise. In addition to other advise, I'd like to reiterate that crampons will almost certainly be unnecessary.

Even if you keep most, or all, of your gear listed, it seems to me that the Circuit is more pack than you are gonna need, unless you are doing really long food carries.

Additionally, The Driducks and wind jacket are redundant, I'd just stick with one, probably the Driducks as it is more versatile.

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
Revised list--major cuts on 02/02/2011 19:00:24 MST Print View

I took most of Mike's gear recommendations and made some big reductions in my pack weight. Right now, my gear list is at 9.75lbs exactly--4lbs down from before. I didn't come up with 7 lbs of savings, although it's close to that if you count the weight of the bear canister (which I was only going to carry in the Sierras regardless, otherwise I will hang my food). One thing I did not change was the sleeping bag, mostly due to budget. I recently bought the sleeping bag I listed here, and I can't find a decent quilt for any sort of reasonable cost. However, I'm going to attempt to make my own quilt after some sewing practice, so if that works out I could cut an additional half pound off of my base weight. It's the same story with my down jacket -- a bit heavier than I'd like, but getting the top of the line stuff is prohibitively expensive for me. Anyways, here's the list.


The two big cuts are the pack and the tent. From the research I've done on resupply along the PCT, as well as on the ULA Ohm, it seems like the ULA Ohm could be the perfect pack with this trimmed down list. It looks as though I could do an average of 4-5 day resupply periods (possibly less), with a max of about 6 or 7 days. I'm basing this off of resupply strategies found here and here. I'd estimate that my average "fresh" food supply weight would be about 10lbs at 2lbs per day, with an absolute max of probably 15lbs. So, I would have to think that my total max weight would never go above 33-35lbs (12.75lbs for Sierras gear + 15lbs of food + 5lbs (~2.5L) of water). According to this recent post about the ULA Ohm, the "sweet spot" is less than 30lbs, with optimal being 20-25lbs. One guy even said that he did 40lbs, which wouldn't be ideal but certainly OK for short stretches. Unless there are any major objections, I think I want to go with the ULA Ohm at a savings of about 22oz.

Does anyone have experience with the ZPacks Hexamid? I think that it should be ideal for the PCT, and the added bug protection is nice. Am I correct in saying that a bivy is unnecessary for this shelter? The downside is that it costs about twice as much as the Tarptent, but I think that the weight savings (21oz) are probably big enough to justify that. It also pretty much requires that I carry trekking poles, which I'm not accustomed to. They seem like more trouble and cost than they're worth, but maybe my knees will disagree.

If I succeed in making some homemade down gear, I may be able to get to about 9lbs of baseweight. I'll start with the quilt, and if that isn't a disaster I'll try making a down jacket (using Thru-Hiker's patterns).

I will trust Mike on the crampons issue, since I wasn't too sold on them to begin with. I will need some place to find training for an ice axe, though.

Let me know your thoughts on the snazzy new list.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
food on 02/02/2011 19:20:10 MST Print View

Hi, Brendan,

Re the question of how many days' food you'll need to carry, that's going to depend a lot on how fast you guys like to hike, and also on what style of hike you want to do. Some people want to get up in the morning, hike all day, and not stop until it gets dark. Others want to fish, bag peaks, or just spend a lazy afternoon by a beautiful lake. I've only hiked the JMT, not the PCT, but I believe the JMT section is where there are the most difficulties with resupply. The long section in the Sierra without easy resupply is between MTR and Whitney. That part *can* be done in 5 days, or even less -- the question is whether you *want* to do it that fast.

Carrying two bearvault BV500's for two people is going to be pretty inefficient. The bearvault doesn't hold very much in relation to its weight, which is why it's cheap. Depending on how fast you want to cover the Sierra, a single bearikade expedition might be enough for both of you, and that would be a huge saving in weight. Bearikades are expensive, but you can rent them from the manufacturer, or maybe borrow one from a trail angel.

3 oz seems like a lot for aqua mira drops -- do they really weigh that much? If you want to dedicate 3 oz to water treatment, you might want to consider a steripen, which will kill protozoan cysts very quickly. The batteries will last for longer than the time between resupplies. Water treatment is not necessary for the Sierra section, especially if you're selective about where you collect water from. A steripen is about $90, but that might be cheaper than the amount of aqua mira you'd need.


Edited by bcrowell on 02/02/2011 19:37:30 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
That's ULTRA-LIGHT! on 02/02/2011 23:18:31 MST Print View



Did you buy the ZPACK HEXAMID TWIN yet? If you don't use trekking poles, don't take 'em.

The GG SPIN TWIN doesn't require any trekking poles. 8.6 oz!!!

And you'll be fine with just a tarp and no bug netting. Andy Skurka doesn't take a tent on the PCT! You'll be so light that you can find bug free environments (ridge lines with a slight breeze, hi elevations, etc)

- This GG shelter is big enough so you won't need a bivy or a floor. Take a scrap of tyvec (cheap and 2 oz) for a ground cloth if you really want one.

- A heavy sleeping bag is fine. You'll spend 1/3 of your time in it, so it's nice to be warm.

- A nice down coat is awesome, keep what you have. You'll spend a lot of money upgrading, and you'll save the weight of two CLIF bars.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 02/03/2011 00:16:32 MST Print View

Brendan, if you are interested, send me a PM about my SpinnTwinn, which I keep intending to put up for sale, but go back and forth about various shelter options. Btw, I think your list looks really good. I don't know when most SoBo'ers start, but just a general warning about the amount of snow that can be in the PNW forests, even up to early July -- I live here and I always get surprised when forest roads are still closed. That said, most of it will be walkable. Finally, I saw that you have friends who live in Portland, but if you needed a place to mail things to that could be brought to the Columbia Gorge, I'd be happy to help.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 02/03/2011 02:12:24 MST Print View

A couple of things..Cascades snowpack is currently 74 percent of normal - that bodes well for a southbound trip. But do monitor the weather.

Don't worry about spending money on "Delicious Mexican Food" on the PCT - as far as I remember, there wasn't much of that. But what there was seemed much more delicious at the time due to constant hunger.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 02/03/2011 02:16:25 MST Print View

If you want Mexican food, then definitely eat at Arribas in Idyllwild. It may not be the greatest Mexican food, but it's great to me, and the serving sizes are sized for thru hikers...especially if you get there on Tuesday for the $1 taco special.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 02/03/2011 04:01:07 MST Print View

I'm not a big fan of base layers. I assume they're for sleeping in? I find that I'm not willing to get in or out of them when it's cold. I just go to sleep in my hiking clothes, and if that makes my quilt stink, I don't care. So I don't carry that. Same with sleeping socks.

I'm still searching for the right set of rain gear. Zpacks CloudCape and CloudKilt are intriguing.

Like you, I also want to try making down gear from a thru-hiker kit. I have a New Balance Fugu jacket that is great, but I want to try a down vest...although that may not be the best thing to combine with the short sleeves of a CloudCape.

I don't see long pants on your list. Wow, I could not hike like that.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
I just go to sleep in my hiking clothes on 02/03/2011 23:33:38 MST Print View

Eugene wrote:

"I just go to sleep in my hiking clothes, and if that makes my quilt stink, I don't care."

Right on for you!

This is an lightweight camping forum and you are my new hero!

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Tent on 02/03/2011 23:47:44 MST Print View

I agree w/Brian up above, since you're low on funds and you already own it, run with it! It's a solid tent.

The only other thing I'd recommend, which I'm actually new to but really like, is a tarp. Alpinlite, MLD, Mountainfitters, the list goes on...all have tarps, very light, spacious models, and an option would be a bug tent that attaches to the inside of the tarp. Both Alpinlite and MLD, for starters, have lightweight two person bug tents fir tarps. Gives you the option of being just tarpy, or bug tent tarpy. :). I'll be doing a review on my tarp/bug tent set up this week on my YouTube channel.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
PCT / summer backpacking list -- input appreciated on 02/04/2011 12:38:02 MST Print View

"And you'll be fine with just a tarp and no bug netting. Andy Skurka doesn't take a tent on the PCT!"

Yes but he does take a bivy with bug netting. No?

Bryan Sheckler
(bsheck) - F
recharging I phone? on 02/04/2011 12:41:50 MST Print View

How do you plan on keeping your I phone charged?

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Sleeping in clothes? on 02/05/2011 09:52:06 MST Print View

Ok, if you are wearing clothes full of sweat, doesn't that make it harder to sleep warm? Hey, I have slept in clothes plenty of times, but after a while, it's nice to let the clothes dry out on a long trip and sleep in something else, like long underwear. In areas with low humidity, my clothes dried out fast, but anywhere with moisture, I found it almost imperative to get out of the wet/damp stuff of else my down bag/quilt would be gain extra moisture, making it far less effective.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
let the sun shine in on 02/05/2011 13:03:22 MST Print View


thats when you pray there's going to be sun so that you can dry yr bag ... for weekenders it isnt usually a concern

you can also try a hawt nalgene inside so the extra heat pushed out the moisture ... which of courses costs you weight in fuel unless yr burning wood

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/05/2011 13:04:05 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Reply to sleeping in clothes. on 02/05/2011 14:54:15 MST Print View

Reply to sleeping in clothes.

Obviously, you'll need to take off any wet clothes before climbing into the quilt. But, I think that the term "extra" clothes or "sleeping" clothes is a bit of a distraction for me. You should take the clothes you need to deal with the expected (or possible) weather. You need to be warm and comfortable, no need to suffer.

Taking a set of long underwear is fine, because those might be put to good use in the event of cold (or wet) weather. But, those are your layers, nothing "extra" about them. And potentially -ALL your layers are "sleeping" layers.

If it's been raining and I'm camping under a tarp, here's what I do.

If it's raining, it's usually pretty warm. It is a lot colder at night in clear weather.

I strip off my outermost layers. The layers next to my skin should be (mostly) dry.

I take off my socks and trade them out fro a dry pair.

I keep the wet stuff I took off in a pile under the tarp. I know from experience it won't dry out over night, and I just put them back on (cold and wet) in the AM.

If my down sleeping bag gets damp, I will ANY the opportunity to dry it off during the next day. THat might mean strapping it to my pack if it gets sunny (and breezy) while hiking.


Also - sweaty clothes are different than rain soaked clothes. If you are sweaty during the day, and you have synthetic fabric, these should be totally dry within a few minutes after you finish hiking. If you hike VERY slowly and at a relaxed pace for the last 1/2 hour of the day, you should dry out just fine. If it's so hot that you are sweaty at night, being cold won't be an issue.

Edited by mikeclelland on 02/05/2011 14:57:22 MST.