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<- 2011 PCT Thru Hike Gearlist ->
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Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
<- 2011 PCT Thru Hike Gearlist -> on 03/28/2011 22:41:47 MDT Print View

Here's my 2011 PCT Thru Hike Gear List, I'm mostly concerned if I have enough clothing layers but I'm pretty sure I'm good. Let me know what you think.

Link is:

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
pct list on 03/28/2011 23:11:40 MDT Print View

Looks like a pretty solid list.

Im sort of curious what is in your first aid kit, I just sort of attacked mine to half the weight but still not sure if I have too much stuff or not enough.

The fleece sort of sticks out to me. I think it needs to be traded out for something, not sure exactly what though. Maybe a lighter fleece? I have a micro fleece pullover and it only weighs 7 or 8 ounces.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: pct list on 03/28/2011 23:29:08 MDT Print View

Mine is pretty basic actually, I have some antiseptic creams, a couple alcohol pads, some gauze, 1/2" wide athletic tape, some bandages, moleskin, 2 big safety pin, finger nail clippers, 2- 1/2oz mini droppers of Dr. Bronners, small roll duct tape, 40' light rope, toothbrush, extra pre filter for my frontier pro filter, book of matches, probably gonna add some dental floss and a sewing needle.

About the fleece, I wanna trade it out for a fleece hoody actually but just haven't found one that I like for the right price.

Thanks for the feedback!

Edited by bahlers7 on 03/28/2011 23:35:03 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
NOBO? Starting when? Gear changes along the way? on 03/29/2011 00:17:38 MDT Print View

It's always helpful with a trip-specific gear list to state starting date, direction of travel, and in this case, whether you plan on specific gear shifts at different phases.

Assuming a NOBO trip starting at the conventional time, i.e., late April, early May or so ...

Overall your list looks great to me. With a 30F rated sleeping bag, you might indeed want the baselayer top and bottom to wear along with your down inner jacket to augment the bag at times along the trip. I used a 20F bag for the first thousand miles, but was happy with a WM 32F bag for the remainder.
I personally like long pants rather than shorts, but each to their own --- there certainly are those who are okay in shorts.

You don't need a nalgene fuel bottle; a 16 oz plastic soda bottle works fine, FWIW.

Don't take the rain wrap, or perhaps have it mailed to you at Cascade Locks (OR/WA border). The PCT is quite a dry trail overall.

The frontier pro filter will only do so many gallons; I suggest that you buy some aqua mira liquid and bounce or mail via resupply boxes.

What's really tough to do is evaluate a list for what's NOT listed. Little things add up; for example, will you carry toilet paper and purell? Something to dig a cathole? Are you going to be happy with no cell phone and no MP3 player? (no commentary either way, just wondering)

I suggest that you have some sort of non-collapsible water bottle (perhaps just a gatorade bottle). Helpful in a variety of ways.

Are you carrying any spare cord? How about sun glasses? Spare batteries for headlamp?

I presume you've thought about how well that pack will carry with the addition of a bear cannister and and ice axe for the Sierras.
Also, for the Sierras I highly recommend that you have two pairs of decent wool socks (one to wear during the day, one to sleep in). I find it quite handy to bring a couple of simple bread bags to be able to put my dry socks in my wet shoes for moving around in camp.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: NOBO? Starting when? Gear changes along the way? on 03/29/2011 01:19:08 MDT Print View

Ya, I guess you guys need some info. It is a NOBO and I will be starting May 13th in the evening.

As for the shorts, those are my go to's for backpacking.

I considered the water bottle instead of a nalgene, but like to keep it simple with the flip cap for easy measuring, etc.

As for the rain wrap, what about precip in the sierras? I know here when you get up to those altitudes the weather can change pretty quickly and catch you off guard if you're not prepared, but I've never been to the sierras.

For water filtration, I have a hard time wanting to using chlorine dioxide. I prefer to just use a standard filter, I have a backup if needed that I can have shipped.

I would carry toilet paper but I feel as though if I ran into Mike Clelland on the trail he would kick my butt and steal my TP.... Haha, no I've converted to no TP. I'll have the Dr. Bronners so no Purell. Sticks usually do well enough for a cathole. Good without the celly and mp3.

Will probably switch out a collapsible for a wider mouth bottle.

I have 40' of cord in my first aid, probably should double that? No sunglasses. Did forget to put in my list an extra battery for my light (have more if I need them to be shipped).

I'm trying to keep my list pretty simple, I want to use the gear I have listed for the whole trip (granted if something gets too worn I'll have to replace it of course). I would prefer not to send different items for each section of the trail.

Thanks for the reply Brian, definitely appreciated!

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Great list on 03/29/2011 02:16:15 MDT Print View

Brian -

That's a great list - I wish I had gone lighter although I did appreciate my warm (and significantly heavier) FF sleeping bag.

The only thing I can think of adding to your list is a headlamp (assuming the photon is the only light you are carrying) that can throw a beam. I guess it really comes down to whether or not you plan or will have to do any night hiking. I tried night hiking with a Petzl e+Lite, and while you COULD do it, I found it slowed me down a ton. I suppose it might be unnecessary to carry a more substantial light, especially with your 11 pound load, but I found it helped me extend my hiking into the evening hours. But there are plenty of people who found the e+lite and their brethren sufficient, so my suggestion is borne largely from preference.

Have fun on your trip!


Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
follow-up on 03/29/2011 07:39:28 MDT Print View

Rain wrap for the Sierras: I can only say that my experience was just one afternoon of rain in that ~300 mile stretch, and only a couple of days of rain (tops) in all of California. It can surely vary of course, but still. So carry it for the Sierras if you're inclined, and get it when you get your bear can and mail it home when you get rid of the can. Don't carry it throughout CA !

Sticks for a digging a cathole: I politely request that you dig your holes deep enough --- you know the discussion threads about this, please let's not start another one, but IMO "finding sticks" isn't always going to cut it when you "need to go now". The ugly truth is that there are always more rocks and more roots whereever one tries to dig than seems reasonable. I personally use a sand/snow stake which is dual use as ... a stake. Some make do with the tip of a trekking pole, but this can be challenging sometimes.

40' of cord seems like plenty to me depending on exactly what you anticipate doing with it (I won't even raise the whole bear/food-hanging issue, as what most thru-hikers do outside of the Sierras raises eyebrows among those discussing it at home ...).

Sunglasses: definitely take them. Definitely take them! Have a good pair in particular for the Sierras. If you don't want to buy sort of low level glacier glasses, make some side shields out of duct tape.
If you visit your optometrist and they dilate your eyes and give you a pair of those fashionable folding cardboard-earpiece sunglasses, take a pair of those *as backup* in the Sierras as you definitely want sunglasses (FWIW, I did manage to lose a pair of sunglasses in CA).

Sending items to different sections of the trail: For the Sierras you have to make some adjustments, if only to get and return the bear can, and most folks would suggest an ice axe, though if doing it again, I'd use a black diamond Whippet as one of my poles, and in fact will carry one to start the CDT this year. I'm still going to mail it back home after I'm done with the worst of the snow (it's quite heavy for a trekking pole).

I agree with Dirk on the light source thing; I normally carry an e+lite, but would upgrade to something beefier if I anticipated night hiking; you might therefore consider a higher candlepower headlamp to start the trail (the first 700 miles is when you'll want to night hike, if at all, due to the heat), and again --- swap for your e+lite when you get your bear can at Kennedy Meadows.

Note that if you're carrying an e+lite that you may have trouble finding those coin-type batteries in a lot of trail towns. Due to that plus cost, I bought a bunch of them online ahead of time and included replacements in resupply boxes.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: follow-up on 03/29/2011 10:31:27 MDT Print View

Awesome! Thanks for the follow up Brian, looks like a little tweaking and I should be good.

Dirk, thank you for the words. How much night hiking did you do? I'm thinking that I won't be doing much, if any, but do have a petzl tikka that I could easily swap for the first 600-700 miles.

Thanks again guys!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
<- 2011 PCT Thru Hike Gearlist -> on 03/29/2011 14:26:14 MDT Print View

That fleece item is jumping out at me as the one piece of your clothing that doesn't seem to fit. Currently your gear list has the following upper body items:

Sahara Tech Shirt
Micro Fleece Pullover
Down Jacket

I'm inclined to think that you could swap out the 10 oz. fleece and instead bring a LS baselayer and a windshirt for about the same weight (or less) which would allow you to diversify your system.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: <- 2011 PCT Thru Hike Gearlist -> on 03/29/2011 14:32:17 MDT Print View

Awesome Sam, I was really thinking on getting an LS baselayer but thought it to be not enough but with the added windshirt it should definitely work! That way totally makes the most sense! Thanks!

Eric Swab

Locale: Rockies
2011 PCT Thru Hike Gearlist on 03/29/2011 16:31:42 MDT Print View

+1 on the baselayer, get one with a hood, 1/2 zip, and thumb loops, together with a hooded windshirt it is a great combo that you can adjust easily while still moving.

Travis Naibert
(outwest) - F
Rain gear and bugs in the Sierra on 03/29/2011 21:54:50 MDT Print View

I like your list a lot and I think you will be happy with most of your choices.

The thing that sticks out to me is your choice of lower body clothing. I think you will be happy hiking in shorts (I was) and wool baselayer tights work well, but I don't think you will be happy with the rain wrap in the Sierras. While it is a neat, lightweight, breathable option for rainwear it is NOT multi-use as a bug proof layer. And in the Sierra in the summer you are almost completely safe from rain and almost sure to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

When I hiked the PCT I settled for rain pants for this very reason. Pants are generally light (<6 oz), are bearable to hike in unless over 80 degrees, easy to put on during breaks in any temperature, slightly warmer in the evening than just tights, and best of all bug-proof. If you do decide on the rain wrap and shorts, I would suggest sending the wrap ahead and getting a pair of nylon pants for the Sierra, but even better IMO is to just carry rain pants because then you get rain protection too in case of freak thunderstorms.

For the record I use Sierra Designs rain pants that cost less than $30, are 5 oz, take about 90 minutes to wet out in moderate rain, and are hardly breathable. Easy and cheap at REI type stores.

Hope you have a great hike!

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
PCT gear list on 03/29/2011 23:11:25 MDT Print View

Looks like a great list, love the way it is organized on that web site. Like the others said, I would drop that fleece and go with a baselayer/windshirt combo. Gives a lot more versatility.

How do you like the Trail Gloves? I have a friend who tried them that didn't really like them, but everyone online I hear about loves them. How many miles do you expect them to last?

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: PCT gear list on 03/30/2011 02:10:02 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input guys! It's good to get some feedback from multiple people for sure!

Eric- I'm definitely looking into get a baselayer that has just that, a hood and thumb loops.

Travis- I'll definitely keep that in mind. I haven't seen those rain pants from Sierra Designs at REI but then again I haven't looked for them, definitely will now though.

John- I love the Trail Gloves!! Absolutely love them! They are exactly what I'm looking for in a backpacking shoe. I did a lot of backpacking last year in VFF Treks and my feet were always a little sore at the end of the day but always good to go in the morning. I got tired of pulling out weeds that would get stuck inbetween my toes with the VFFs too. But the Trail Gloves I don't have to worry about that. They definitely provide just enough protection for my feet so they aren't sore at the end of the day but also allow my feet to get the ground feel that I love! I think Merrell definitely hit the spot on these shoes, for me anyway. I still run in VFFs though.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Night hiking on 04/01/2011 00:33:35 MDT Print View

Brian -

As Mr. Lewis pointed out, you probably see the most light usage in Southern California for the obvious reason: it can get hot during the day (especially for a Pacific Northwesterner, anyhow). It got up into the 90s low 100s and I finally figured out it was probably better off to start early, hike until 11 or noon, find shade till 4 p.m. or so and then hike into the evening.

But I also needed a good headlamp in other spots - including far north. Almost always this was because I had some food package waiting at a post office that was due to close for the weekend and I was racing to get there before it shuttered its doors till Monday. In the far north, we raced bad weather a few times and (because I finished in mid October), the sun rose fairly late and it got dark early. SO we hiked into the night during a very cold October. But it all turned out good.

I hope you have an enjoyable trip. Hang in there, especially early. Things get better and easier as you go down that trail.

Edited by dirk9827 on 04/01/2011 00:36:42 MDT.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Which baselayer?? on 04/01/2011 14:10:48 MDT Print View

What kind of baselayer would you guys go with? I'm leaning towards a Patagonia cap 2 with a zip rather than merino for drying capabilities. What do you guys suggest?

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Baselayer on 04/01/2011 14:57:29 MDT Print View

Hey Brian,

I'm going with a Smartwool microweight baselayer, also with the same zip as the Patagonia Capilene. I own both, and the difference between the two would be the Smartwool regulates heat better, and doesn't stink up. My drying experience with the microweight is the same as with the cap.


Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Baselayer on 04/01/2011 15:06:25 MDT Print View

Dug- Are you taking both the Smartwool and Patagonia layers? Originally I was gonna go with merino then thought about the cap 2, but maybe merino would be the way to go. Btw, did you get the ptarmigan alright?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Micro Grid Hooded Fleece on 04/02/2011 05:58:21 MDT Print View

Microgrid Hooded Fleece is a bit pricey, but it combined with a hooded windshirt will keep you comfy in almost anything while hiking.

It really breathes well and stays surprisingly dry under a windshirt in most rain and snow. It seems drier and more breathable than other micro fleece tops I've had.

I don't have much hair on top so I really appreciate the hooded aspect. You may not though. It acts as neck gaiter/balaklava so is worth the extra weight.

It isn't very warm without an outer shell of some kind as wind can blow right through, but that is the reason it breaths so well and stays dry.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Micro Grid Hooded Fleece on 04/02/2011 06:46:44 MDT Print View

+1 on the Melanzana fleece hoody