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Preleminary PCT/JMT Gear List
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Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Preliminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 10/24/2011 22:48:00 MDT Print View

My hope is to thru-hike the PCT in 2013 or at least the JMT summer 2012. Some may be thinking I am crazy for putting a gear list together for a trip that far off. My reason is that I wish all my gear to be dialed in well in advance so that the actual thru-hike is more enjoyable.

Pack: I would really like to try a lighter weight pack such as a Gossamer Gear Gorilla or Mariposa Plus but feel that they would give me upper back, shoulder, and neck pain. So, I will probably try a ULA Circuit (same weight as my existing Exos) to provide a good custom fit, comfortable ride, and the volume needed to cover all my needs, including lots of water in the desert and a bear canister through the Sierras.

Sleeping Bag: I have a WM Summerlite and Apache MF (usually a cold sleeper). I would be interested in trying a Katabatic Gear 22*F Alsek Quilt but would rather use gear funds for the Circuit. Planning on using the Apache from the Mexican Border through the Sierras, Summerlite from N. California through Oregon, and switching back to the Apache if Washington gets too chilly. Thermarest NeoAir R all the way supplemented with a light CCF in cold weather if needed.

Shelter: I will be trying a shaped tarp on the PCT and may consider switching to my Tarptent Moment or MSR Hubba in Washington or sooner if the tarp does not go well.

Clothing/Insulation: Plan on using my MB Thermawrap Jacket or getting a UL Down inner or Ex Light jacket. Also thought about using the Thermawrap with a Ex Light or WM Flash vest. Marmot Mica in CA and OR, may switch to 12oz Westcomb eVent shell for WA and add rain pants.

Below is my gear list at this point. Items in black I already have, items in red I do not have. Keep in mind that I my goal is not X/SUL but a good all around light system that has been tested and proven by other long distance hikers. Thanks!


Edited for brevity and modified spreadsheet.

Edited by radio_guy on 10/28/2011 12:02:48 MDT.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Preleminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 10/25/2011 08:57:03 MDT Print View

Pack: The Circuit is a great pack.

Sleeping bag: I used a WM Summerlite for the entire trail, and I'm a cold sleeper. I also used a silk liner and slept in my Thermawrap a lot of nights. The Apache may be overkill since it probably won't get below 25 or so on a typical thru-hike. But you should take whatever you need to be comfortable.

Hydration: You don't need a filter. Use a bandana if there are a lot of floaties.

Clothing: Again, you have to take what you need to be comfortable. But I would swap out the fleece pants for some lightweight long underwear. For me, fleece would be too warm to hike in. And if you're in camp, you can just get in your bag.

Paracord: I didn't carry a rope on the PCT. I never hung my food or even needed a rope at any time. You might carry a few extra feet of whatever you use for your tarp/tent guylines just in case.

Maps: I would either download the free maps from Halfmile ( or buy the 3-volume guidebook from Wilderness Press, rip out the maps, and just toss the rest of the text away. Also, I'd get Yogi's guide and take the town/trail pages.

Microspikes: I bought these for Fuller Ridge, and it turned out that I really didn't need the. We had an average snow year in the Sierras, and I didn't even carry the microspikes there. I would only consider microspikes in a big snow year.

Other stuff: There are much ligher poles available. Don't forget sunblock! Don't bother with the trowel (you can use your feet, your poles, or a stick to dig catholes). And you'll need DEET for the Sierras and Oregon.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Preleminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 10/25/2011 09:19:37 MDT Print View

Hi Scott, what year did you do your thru?

Sleep/Clothing: Good to hear the Summerlite treated you well. The fleece bottoms are actually Under Armour heat gear tights, comfortable for me to hike in. I am considering getting something lighter and using a silk liner for warmth and keeping the bag cleaner.

Hydration/Food: The Aquamira filter weighs 2oz, I am more comfortable using it to take out floaties and chemicals than a bandanna. May consider NIXing. The paracord is for hanging my food bag. I even hang my food up here in the Midwest (using the PCT method!) to avoid hungry critters. It makes me sleep better.

Microspikes: I am considering these since the Sierras have been having above normal snow pack. This may still be the case for the next couple of years given the trend.

Other Stuff: I am hard on my BD poles, would love to try GG LT4s but read reports of people snapping them (especially in stream crossings) and I know that I would probably be in that group. Chances are I would probably be reverting back to the BDs when the LTs broke. Call me crazy but I am able to get away without using sunblock as I prefer pants and long sleeves along with a good hat. May consider it for high sun exposure and snow reflection in the Sierras. I also HATE deet, it does not work too well for me and I even managed to keep my sanity in buggy Alaska this summer without using it. May carry a small bit of 3m Ultrathon bug cream for my hands and face as my shirt and pants have Insect Shield (permethrin).

Edited by radio_guy on 10/25/2011 09:21:18 MDT.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Preliminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 10/25/2011 19:28:03 MDT Print View

Gear list above has been updated. Input welcome!

Edited by radio_guy on 10/25/2011 22:18:31 MDT.

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
Maps/Guidebooks - PCT Atlas from Erik the Black on 10/26/2011 16:45:52 MDT Print View

I have used these for 6-8 long section hikes and they are excellent. Erik is coming out with his 3rd edition in time for the 2012 thru-hiking season.

Check them out:

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Maps/Guidebooks - PCT Atlas from Erik the Black on 10/27/2011 23:55:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for the guide book suggestion. Looks like Erik the Black's are about $175, Yogi's about $40, Wilderness Press PCT Data and Guide books about $75 but are not being updated, and Halfmile's PDF maps $Donation. Some seem to like one over the other, I will have to give it some thought.

Looks like downloading Halfmile's maps and the Postholer Data Book may be a good way to get started in advance. Eric's PCT Atlas through the Sierras may be worthwhile when the new version comes out since I may be able to do the JMT this coming summer.

Edited by radio_guy on 10/27/2011 23:58:12 MDT.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: Maps/Guidebooks - PCT Atlas from Erik the Black on 10/28/2011 05:07:24 MDT Print View

I will add another vote for the light sleeping bag. I got by on the whole trail with a 30 degree bag that had already been used for an AT thru-hike, supplemented very occasionally with the thermawrap jacket. No problem.

And definitely get sunscreen in the Sierras. Reflection from the snow burns the heck out of you from below, so a good hat doesn't do everything it usually does. I had some nasty burns going through the Sierras :)

For maps and guides, another you could use your iphone in some cases. See if you can download a decent set of waypoints for the PCT into an app like Gaia Lite, then make sure the iPhone is charged to full. You can use the GPS function occasionally to check your location (not constantly, but you shouldn't need it constantly). Just keep the phone safe. It's not as hard as it sounds.

You can also use the iPhone to get around needing Yogi's Guide for towns. The internet has all the info on towns, so you can figure out mail drops and places to stay ahead of time. Unless Yogi's Guide is updated soon before your hike, a lot of the info may be outdated or somewhat lacking. I don't know if Erik's books will have town guides, but they only had town maps as of the 2nd editions. I can imagine the 3rd editions will be greatly improved, though.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
PCT Gear List on 10/28/2011 06:16:59 MDT Print View

"My hope is to thru-hike the PCT in 2013 or at least the JMT summer 2012. Some may be thinking I am crazy for putting a gear list together for a trip that far off. My reason is that I wish all my gear to be dialed in well in advance so that the actual thru-hike is more enjoyable."

Kudos to you on this! Rather than critic each item in your list I will simplify it by saying that if I were to hike the PCT again I would take the exact gear listed in my profile with two possible exceptions. I would likely change out the inflatable pad (We will see when I get my replacement pad from POE) and possible trade my MLD Blast for the next size up. Other than that I have it dialed in for my style of hiking.

As far as an iphone charger. I was able to have charge on my iphone for the entire trail including the 7 days between Kennedy Meadows and VVR without a field charger. I used my iphone for my journal, water report, GPS once in SOCAL, camera, ipod, camp light and ocassionally a compass. I was able to maintain battery life by keeping it in airplane mode unless I needed the GPS or cell. It actually worked out much better than expected.

I have been putting together a video of my 2011 thru hike and can feel the Trail pulling me back. I would love to lace up the trail runners and do it again. You're in for a treat!

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Preliminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 10/28/2011 09:32:59 MDT Print View

I'd carry a quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Even a quilt that you can carry for the entire trail will be about as light as the lightest sleeping bag you'd consider.

I think a Rayway bomber hat is the ideal sleeping hat for long hikes. I think fleece hats are worse than worthless.

Stop considering a ULA potty trowel. Carry a real ice axe or nothing at all.

Some people say you can dig cat holes with your heel. I think that's BS unless you dig inadequate holes or are willing to occasionally spend hours looking for soft soil. Sometimes the soil is incredibly hard. You don't need a trowel, but consider bringing a type of tent stake that can dig well.

I prefer a mechanical pencil instead of a pen because it always works and doesn't smear/run.

I don't think gloves are worth it. They're not that warm, and your hands will warm up quickly without them, especially if you break camp quickly.

I'm not a fan of a folding utensil. It creates more space for food to get stuck in, which makes it harder to clean. I also hate the way a titanium utensil feels in my mouth.

I currently carry Dr B's soap while section hiking, but I think I'm going to stop. I always carry hand sanitizer and use that frequently. My plan is to buy soap as needed when I'm in town instead of carrying it on the trail. It may make a big difference that I'm a cookless hiker that has no need to do dishes and I brush my teeth without toothpaste or soap while on the trail.

For guidebooks I would carry parts of Halfmile maps and Yogi's guidebook, and add Asabat's PCT water report for SoCal. The Wilderness guidebooks are nice before and after the hike, and maybe also as reading material on zero days, but I don't read these while on the trail since I fall asleep before I can read much of it.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Good suggestions on 10/28/2011 12:00:37 MDT Print View

Gearlist above has been updated. It is good to have veteran PCT hikers giving advice here and it is much appreciated.

Sleeping bag: Changed Apache for Summerlite based off recommendations. Apache could be on standby to be shipped if I am too cold. Maybe I can make a 20*F quilt this winter... it would weigh about the same as my Summerlite and be half the price of a Katabatic Alsek.

iPhone: I did get about a week out of it on a trip earlier this year in the boonies by utilizing a few power saving techniques (Verizon version with no removable SIM card to save battery). Gaia GPS is installed and works very well for me but I don't fully rely on it for navigation; that is what appropriate maps are for. It is handy for getting an exact position from time to time. GPX files are supported.

Other than a new pack and Sierra gear, almost everything on the list are things I already have and use regularly.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Good suggestions on 10/28/2011 16:13:56 MDT Print View

"It is good to have veteran PCT hikers giving advice here and it is much appreciated."

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention my standard first piece of advice for aspiring through-hikers: Don't listen to past through-hikers, including myself ;)

I thought by "iphone charger" you meant the wall charger. I occasionally used a bounce box, but I think it ended up being more of a burden than it was worth. I think I spent a couple hundred bucks bouncing that thing, and probably didn't save much of anything by using it. But your idea of the iphone as occasional position-checker is exactly the best way to do it.

You're way too organized about this. You're making me look bad.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Good suggestions on 10/28/2011 16:50:32 MDT Print View

"Don't listen to past through-hikers, including myself ;)" Ha! You may be right there. I have talked to past thru-hikers for all three big trails and they all have their own way of doing things. Still, it is helpful. I scan through journals from time to time but don't focus on them; I want the PCT to me my own experience that is not skewed by the view of others if you get what I mean.

To be honest Ryan, your awesome PCT series here on BPL did not help me out much. It took me from casually thinking of a thru to making it a necessity! It is on my mind so much now I feel I have to do it before I can move on with my life : )

BTW: I really do not want to use a bounce box at this point. The iPhone is 5.4oz and the wall charger 1.6oz. In my mind, the charger only weighs a few sips of water or a few bites out of a power bar.

As far as resupplying, my plan is to have mail drops part of the time in more difficult/remote stretches and resupply in town for the easier more populated sections. I have some particular dietary limitations due to some health factors and would probably be healthier mailing food the whole way but understand the reasons why that is not a good idea.

Edited by radio_guy on 10/28/2011 17:03:24 MDT.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Did 2,000 from Mexico to Oregon this year on 11/26/2011 20:15:06 MST Print View

My thoughts:

Ditch the Aqua Mira. The end result after waiting 5 minutes for both components to mix is bleach. Save the weight of an extra bottle, the time, and money, and go straight bleach. 3 drops per liter for very questionable water, 2 for questionable, 1 for fair.

No sleep socks. Just wear your dry pair, save time in the morning by not having to switch to your hiking socks, and just slide into your shoes. It isn't brutally cold on the trail.

Your iPhone will lose power at some point. Brunton "Inspire" recharger was perfect for the job, just 5.5 ounces...if you're going to rely on the phone, get it. I downloaded Halfmiles PDFs and used my iPod Touch. You'll need the extra juice. 4-5 extra recharges.

Big yes on the RailRiders Eco Mesh pants. Mine lasted, even on some rough glissading in the Sierra. Great choice!

Same for the ExOfficio Boxer Briefs. One pair lasted the whole 2,000 miles and I can still wear them now. I'm getting more pair, they're amazing.

Save weight and ditch the trowel. You'll be sending it home by Agua Dulce anyway! There's sticks and rock aplenty to dig with.

Smartwool socks: they wore out on me pretty fast. My WigWam wool socks though, they lasted and are less expensive. Comfort was the same.

Halfmile for maps, hands down. On your phone is fine if you get a recharger. Guide: Yogi. I have a few issues with it, but there's nothing better at the moment. (I'm not hating, but most things listed from a thru-hike from 9 years ago aren't of interest to me. Even if Scott Williamson said it. A lot changes! Update, Yogi, please?)

Good luck on the planning!!

My gear lists/reviews:

Edited by Pittsburgh on 11/26/2011 20:28:27 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Did 2,000 from Mexico to Oregon this year on 11/26/2011 20:32:32 MST Print View

"Ditch the Aqua Mira. The end result after waiting 5 minutes for both components to mix is bleach. Save the weight of an extra bottle, the time, and money, and go straight bleach."

Dug, you might be interested to know that Aqua Mira is not at all the same as bleach. Chlorine dioxide is more effective than chlorine for water treatment.


Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Looks good on 11/26/2011 21:12:08 MST Print View

Apologies as I've not read all the replies in this thread, so perhaps duplicate comments.

Overall I quite like your logic and plan. I agree with the idea of using gear you already own insofar as it will do the job, so your swapping sleeping bag plan sounds right to me; I used a WM 20F bag until after the sierras and swapped to the very same (Summerlite) bag after that, and was happy throughout.
Adding a thinlight --- or two --- is a good option. Consider having at least a 1/4" (not 1/8" thinlight) from the start just because there's more stuff in the first 700 miles or so that can pop your neo-air than you'll encounter later. On the CDT this year, I liked two 1/8" thinlights to start the trip, mailed one home when out of the snow, and eventually mailed the other home (when definitely done with snow). So I didn't practice what I just preached here this year in New Mexico and it worked fine for me --- FWIW.

I think the Circuit is a great choice of pack. I personally wouldn't swap to a lighter bag; partly for me now it's just durability. I used Gossamer Gear packs on the PCT and part of the AT, and found they really did get me just about one thru-hike each, whereas my Circuit has now done half the AT and all of the CDT this year and is still going strong, and I've heard similar things from friends. It's a bit heavier, but overall a better and more comfortable pack (for me, at least).

Shaped tarp: for a good chunk of the PCT, my tent was more about bug protection than rain shelter. I just carried a poncho as both rain gear and "adequate" tarp until Kennedy Meadows, and that worked for me, but after that I was glad to have a tent with bug mesh --- a single walled tent will work fine. Not optimal always for WA state, but I live there and have done a fair bit of backpacking with a single walled tent, FWIW.

I used a thermawrap jacket throughout. I had a larger thermawrap vest to layer just in the Sierras but didn't actually use it much. I did, however, not hike in a particularly high snow year (2008 for me). The EX Light is a great jacket, I used it this year, but IMO no need to buy new gear if you already own a thermawrap jacket. Just consider something (not too heavy) to beef it up in the Sierras, mail that home along the way if not needed. FWIW, I find now that I use my thermawrap vest more than I do the jacket --- in colder temps for me it's a great piece of gear to hike in, with some sort of wind shell or wind shirt, whereas I normally can't hike in the thermawrap jacket without getting too hot (depends on conditions of course). So layering those two was for me a good combo. I had a size medium jacket and so bought a size large thermawrap vest, and that layered well.

Camp Corsa is a good choice for an axe. Ditto microspikes, can always mail these home if it's clearly not a bad snow year. I was happy without either axe or traction device in my year, but started with both until I could personally assess conditions.

Stove: there's a reason the majority of thru-hikers use alcohol stoves. You can certainly make it with a cannister --- or you can just eat cold. No single right answer here, but ... all things being equal I'd suggest you make a simple stove (such as the Skurka fancy feast --- google it) and try that out a couple of times at home. It's just nice to have more options for getting fuel along the way.

You've clearly thought a lot about this; Best of luck!

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Aqua Mira/Bleach on 11/26/2011 21:21:47 MST Print View


You're right that the chemical properties are not identical, but the end result is.

I've used bleach around the world, including some pretty worrisome parts of India, as well as the PCT where he will be hiking. Works perfect.

So you can save the weight of the extra bottle, and the time it takes to mix it. Nothing fun about reaching for the cap of mixed Aqua Mira you've been waiting 5 minutes for and tipping it over.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Aqua Mira/Bleach on 11/26/2011 21:46:03 MST Print View

"You're right that the chemical properties are not identical, but the end result is."

Dug, that depends on your definition of the end result. The EPA claims that chlorine dioxide is much more effective than chlorine. Also, you really don't know that bleach works perfectly. Your own personal system might be more resistant to water problems, and the average backpacker might need the extra help.


Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
. on 11/26/2011 21:55:06 MST Print View

True about my system vs. other backpackers systems. Although, of the chemical options used on the PCT this last year, bleach was the #1 option.

It's light, effective, and easy. It does not have long term health effects if used properly. (The city of New York bleaches it's public water).

Plus, you'll save money on getting your teeth whitened.

So if there's anything else you'd like to share, IM me, and we can let this thread stay on course. :)

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Preliminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 11/26/2011 23:25:43 MST Print View

I have never used the summerlight, don't know anything about it, but a 19 oz bag warm enough for the high sierras sounds too good to be true. Probably wrong, but just something to look into.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Preleminary PCT/JMT Gear List on 11/27/2011 01:59:19 MST Print View

I think the advice here is excellent. I agree that the Circuit is an excellent pack - personally, I'd be less inclined to swap out a pack if it felt good. Pack weight by the end of the Sierra won't be an issue - but depending on the year you might want something that can handle extra water weight without much of an issue. There can be dry stretches in Northern California and having a pack that can carry water weight comfortable is a plus - the Circuit handles that weight perfectly well.

I know in the last couple of years water hasn't been an issue - well, maybe too much water and snow!

While your mileage may vary, I carried up to 5 liters of water on stretches in 2009 - it was hot in SoCal. Even then I had to conserve and be careful. Make sure you have capacity.

On sleeping bags, just by comparison I carried a FeatherFriends Lark bag that works great in the Pacific Northwest but was overkill in many spots on the PCT, but rather appreciated when weather turned.

Here is my impression:

In SoCal, it was WAYYY to warm. I generally used it like a quilt because it was downright hot for much of SoCal (daytime temperatures greater than 90 degrees) until we reached Big Bear, when it became more manageable.

In the Sierra, I was glad to have a warmer bag because we had a couple of very cold nights. But could I have made it with a lesser bag? Absolutely.

In Northern California and Oregon, the bag was generally overkill until I reached the northern section of Oregon. Nice to have, but again, I could have gone with a 20 degree bag.

Now the entire strategy of sleeping bag I think really hinges on your speed of your hike. I finished in mid-October during a particularly (unusually so) cold snap in Washington. We had snow, but we had nightly temperatures in the teens and in the single digits for about a week. Very glad for a warm bag then. But this was highly unusual - it usually doesn't get that cold here until much later in the year.

What would I do now? Carry a lighter bag. Carry less stuff overall. If you arrive in Washington and it's raining, be sure to make sure you have extra warm stuff. My feeling is that 25 degrees and snowing makes for better hiking than day after day of 41 degrees through steady rain. If you get here in September that generally isn't as much an issue.

I would definitely carry the beloved NeoAir. That thing has improved my sleep in the outdoors by twenty fold - get the patch kit, I did put a hole in mine (due to a pen in my pocket) but finding where the hole was turned out to be quite the exercise involving a motel room bath tub, great patience and skilfull manipulation of the pad.

Tent - I used the Six Moon Designs Luna (mostly for bug protection)until I reached Washignton, when I switched to the dependable Hubba. This turned out to be a great call, because we got a couple of feet of snow and the Hubba sheds snow fairly well. And it doesn't sag like most silnylon tents do up here. So that was nice. Finally by the time I reached Washington I had lost so much weight that the Hubba's additional weight felt like nothing. I was glad to have it, but I didn't get to Washington until the third week of September (honestly, Septemember and October are gorgeous hiking months here with the changing of the larch and assorted fall colors and lack of bugs). Just gets dark earlier and earlier, especially in the mountains when the sun drops below the surrounding peaks.

I hope you have a wonderful trip!


Edited by dirk9827 on 11/27/2011 03:14:18 MST.