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2012 PCT from scratch
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John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 09:52:12 MST Print View

I'm 22, new to backpacking (but with extensive bicycle touring experience), and trying to thru hike the PCT by September 5, 2012. I am cycling down the Pacific coast starting Feb 1 to get to the start of the trail and will be hiking or trailrunning pretty much everyday in order to get comfortable with my gear and putting high mileage on my feet. In bicycle touring, I ride all day from before sun up till after sun down and go straight to sleep (always stealthcamping, and so far always with a hammock). I have never used a camping stove. Because of my deadline, I am trying to keep my baseweight as low as I conceivably can, and that means buying all new gear.

So here we go!


(weight in oz) (* indicates it is already purchased)

* Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus - <23.8
trash compactor bag - 2.2
[in the Sierras] Bearvault BV500 - 39

* Enlightened Revelation X quilt - 27
* GG Thinlight torso pad - 3.5
* GG Thinlight 1/8" pad - 2.6
ZPacks Hexamid Solo+ w/ beak - 10.8
groundsheet - <4

Platypus 2L (3) - 3.9
Aquamira A+B - 1
Dr Bronners - 1
toothbrush - 0.5
first aid & repair kit (probably going to follow Mike Clelland's exactly until I for sure know what I need)
* Halfmile maps + Yogi's PCT Handbook

* Panasonic Lumix G3 camera (w/ 1 lens, 1 card & 1 battery) - 17.3
* G3 charger - 2.8
* extra G3 battery - 1.8
* extra SD cards (2) - <1

Patagonia Houdini windshirt - 4.3
O2 Rainshield jacket - 5.7
* Montbell UL Inner Down parka - 9
Ibex Woolies Crew LS - 6.4
sun hat
mosquito head net
thin gloves
warm sleep sock
2 light active sock
running shorts
lightweight pants


The stuff where there is no weight I am not entirely sure about the specifics yet. All the weights are from the manufacturers. I don't have a scale and will not be using one, I will just get rid of all the excess that I can and be fine with what I have. My list will get more populated/detailed as I get all the miscellaneous stuff in order. I've just been focusing on the big things first. I am not sure about ice axe / crampon stuff yet since I have not used them. Still not sure about windshirt / rainjacket. My camera is definitely heavier than it could be, but I value photography too much to live with a P&S. Suggestions across the board are encouraged! Thank you for these forums, this community has been my #1 resource.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 10:10:55 MST Print View

Your conditioning which should serve you very, very well. I'm a long-distance, faster-walking guy and the time I most extremely got my butt kicked on the trail was by a ride-eat-sleep-do-it-again, 400-mile-per-week cyclist.

So are you planning to BP with cold food? It's a great way to keep your weight and bulk down, your speed up, and your resupplies a little easier (no shipping/buying fuel). It can get boring, and you might need to count calories to get enough down, but you'll be dialing that in during the bike ride south.

Is that a plug-in camera charger? Looks like it with that low weight (versus solar). Unlike bicycling on Hwy 1, there aren't cafes, etc, to charge up very often but there's a way around that: Use your digital camera like it was a film camera - pick your shots carefully. Then two batteries should last weeks between getting into town.

John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
Re: Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 10:42:44 MST Print View

My concern is that your strength in hiking is similar to my strength in cycling; while cycling kicks your butt, hiking will kick mine. I've been known to be a 800-mile-a-week cyclist when I go across the middle of the country. I've got some serious quads that translate well to going uphill without getting tired, but downhills are what hurt me.

Nice to hear that resupplying will be a little easier. I've always done no stove and it works well and I've never had a hard time getting the calories in. My main concern is while backpacking I will have to worry about getting more calorie dense food and that seems like it might be a little harder without a stove. Perhaps not. While cycling I always look at cal/$ but with backpacking it'll be all about cal/oz.

My camera has a viewfinder, so that'll save battery vs an LCD screen. Definitely still concerned about recharging, but I really like your advice about treating it more like a film camera.

I appreciate the feedback

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 12:30:30 MST Print View

Since you're already getting a Hexamid, you might be able to save a little weight by using the poncho groundsheet instead of a separate groundsheet and rain jacket.

Are you going to use trekking poles, or get a tent pole?

Instead of a knit beanie, consider making the Rayway bomber hat or getting a Blackrock Gear down beanie.

Your ground insulation is awfully thin to me. I'd freeze in southern California with that. Hopefully you know yourself well enough that you can sleep comfortably with that, even when it's cold.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 13:24:07 MST Print View

Aquamira - are you repackaging this? The A+B in their original packaging are more like 3 oz. Also, you can't buy AM in California--plan ahead for this.

Houdini/O2 - This is exactly what I used on the PCT. Both are great, and you can layer them together for a lot of warmth while hiking (also sparing your down jacket from getting sweaty).

If you're really new to backpacking, I would encourage you to get as many nights out as you can with your planned kit, especially in wet weather. The Hexamid + quilt + your clothing sound fine, but you could have some uncomfortable days or nights when it's cold/wet. You don't want to discover that your kit isn't great for cold/wind halfway through the Sierras or Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Also, +1 on the above comment on the sleeping pads--I'd take something heavier like a ridgerest.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 13:28:15 MST Print View

Aquamira does seem rather heavy. I noticed that this summer while using it, and wondered if switching to a Sawyer Squeeze filter might be better. It weighs about the same, and I don't have to wait for the water to be treated. In this case Platypus bottles are already being used, so only the Squeeze filter needs to be added.

John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
Re: Re: Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 15:30:04 MST Print View

Thank you all so much for the feedback. Given me even more to think about!

I was thinking about the poncho groundsheet. I was thinking that I didn't want to spend the extra money, but I guess if I'm going to shell out for a cuben tent I might as well just go all-in. I am going to use a tent pole.

I am not entirely sure whether I will be fine with the ground insulation because I haven't slept on the ground a whole lot. I have about 170 nights of hammock camping experience from 15-125degF but am ready to go to the ground for a number reasons. I think that cycling down the coast this February-April will do a good job in testing out the cold/wet and overall comfort of my system, especially during the first part in the NW, where it tends to be both pretty often. I've heard that some storms hit the Oregon coast in the winter and last for a few days. I'll get in about 70 nights of camping and hopefully get my system down perfect by the start.

My plan was to buy a bunch of AquaMira upfront and then repackage it to send along the trail. I hadn't really given much consideration to a filter. It has seemed like most people doing the PCT use AquaMira, or had it as backup? A filter sounds like it'd be nice to have, and I could potentially not have to worry about replenishing the supply like with the AquaMira. Question about the squeeze filter: would it matter if I'm already using Platypus bottles because wouldn't one bag always be empty? It seems like the one that contained the untreated water has no way of getting treated water in it when it is the only bag left.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/09/2012 15:41:27 MST Print View

Your cycling trip is a great opportunity to test your system. That'll be great if that works out for you.

With the Squeeze filter, you fill all your bags with dirty water and drink through the filter. This is a big efficiency boost because you don't have to stop to filter. I'd offer to weigh my Squeeze filter for you, but my scale isn't very accurate, and my filter might be heavier due to the use its already seen.

I didn't see a phone on your list. If you're going to get one, and don't need a fancy phone, then take a look at this phone:

If you also get a Zebralight H51, you can swap the same battery between devices to save weight.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
why repackage? on 01/10/2012 11:58:42 MST Print View

"My plan was to buy a bunch of AquaMira upfront and then repackage it to send along the trail."

Repackage the Aqua Mira if you really want to, but I wouldn't bother; for me it's better to eat that weight and have a larger AM supply along to not have to do too many resupply boxes, and my recollection is that you can't buy AM in California.

Nor would I bring a filter. I did bring a filter for the first 700 miles, thinking that the water sources would be more sketchy there, but in fact it wasn't an issue, or at least nothing you couldn't very infrequently filter out with a bandana. Ditto the CDT this year, in fact; I bought a filter when in CO, thinking I'd be running into a lot of sketchy sources in NM, but I hardly used it at all. And where I did, chemicals would have still been fine.

John Zahorian
(johnzahorian) - F
Thanks for the replies on 01/12/2012 23:03:51 MST Print View

I've been pondering the water situation and think I'm going to try out AquaMira first since the Sawyer Squeeze seems to be pretty new and people with filters tend to bring backup AquaMira anyways.

That cell phone looks great. I was planning on ditching my cell phone but that looks very tempting to keep around, especially if I have another use for the battery anyways.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Thanks for the replies on 01/13/2012 23:32:30 MST Print View

Nice list. If you're concerned about going downhill (I'm assuming you may have a quad/hamstring muscle imbalance from the biking?) I would strongly recommend trekking poles. Obviously they'll double as your shelter poles but I find them knee-savers on the downhill.

Just my 2 cents but it sounds like your lower body fitness is far superior to mine (the curse of being a climber ;)

Either way sounds like you'll be well prepared and spend lots of time hashing out your kit before you start.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 2012 PCT from scratch on 01/13/2012 23:44:04 MST Print View

Assuming you are leaving the from Portland area beginning February 1st, you will likely encounter quite a bit of rain along the way. And a fair amount of wind. Heck, all the way through Northern California the experience can be quite challenging in itself that time of year. If you can do that and be comfortable, I have no doubt you will make it quite easily on the PCT.

As for stoves, hot food is nice, but I know plenty of people who went without along the trail. I am not sure if it keeps your food weight down all that much, because you end up having to carry foods that don't need to be hydrated or you will need to hydrate with cold water. This takes longer, and while I know Scott Williamson had a system where he carried dried beans and hydrated them during the day, you end up carry that water weight with you. Maybe not a big deal, but something to consider.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

PCT on 01/14/2012 10:16:03 MST Print View

My thoughts:

1) Buy Aquamira tablets instead of drops. It's exactly the same stuff and the tablets are lighter and easier to use. If the cost is too much, consider AquaTabs, which are even lighter still and kill everything but crypto. I lot of guys have hiked the PCT using no water treatment at all. It's your risk, but if you choose smart water sources and use AquaTabs, you should be pretty safe. That's a super light (ie. 200 tablets per oz) and cheap option.

2) Get the groundsheet sewn right in to your Hexamid. Joe will do this if you ask, and it saves set up time and hassle. It also saves weight since you don't have both a groundsheet and bug netting under you.

3) For the light, consider a Zebralight H51 (or another Zebralight). This light is regulated (constant brightness), uses just a single AA (lighter and simple than 3 x AAA which is the same amount of power), can be very bright (up to 200 lumens), waterproof, well built and light (2-3oz). If you just need basic lighting, consider a Petzl e+Lite but you won't want to night hike with that.

4) For the sun hat, I like to get a light coloured hat that is also waterproof/breathable so it can double as a rain hat. It all day rains, it's so much nicer to be wearing a rain hat than a clammy hood. Outdoor Research makes a bunch of nice options.

5) The Montbell UL Down Parka might be a little out-gunned out there. It'll be fine if you really hike sun up to sun down, but if you're hanging around camp it'll be a bit lacking on some of the colder days.

6) Consider GooseFeet down socks (~2oz) instead of your sleeping socks. Way warmer and a real joy to have on cold nights.

7) I don't know cameras, but be sure you're choosing wisely here as this is a lot of weight. You might like some other cameras like the Sony NEX-7, but I don't know my cameras.

8) With that sleeping pad setup, you're going to need to find some nice soft stealth spots to be comfortable. I don't know how you sleep, but a 9oz NeoAir small with your pack under your feet might be quite a bit more comfortable for a 3oz weight gain.

Edited by dandydan on 01/14/2012 10:16:42 MST.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Re: PCT on 01/14/2012 14:51:06 MST Print View

I disagree with some of Dan's advice.

AM tablets - to my taste buds, these leave a pretty noticeable chlorine taste in my water. The AM drops never leave any taste at all.

Hat - it doesn't rain enough on the PCT to make a waterproof hat worth the extra sweatiness that you'll get.

Down parka - I met a few hikers with this jacket (and many with even lighter insulated jackets). I suspect you'd be fine with this unless you get cold easily.

Down socks - I wouldn't bother unless you're a cold sleeper. I don't think it ever got below 25 or so on my thru-hike. I slept in thin liner socks the entire trip.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re: PCT on 01/16/2012 14:03:42 MST Print View

n/m - double post

Edited by dandydan on 01/16/2012 14:20:58 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re: Re: PCT on 01/16/2012 14:20:28 MST Print View

"it doesn't rain enough on the PCT to make a waterproof hat worth the extra sweatiness that you'll get."

Maybe switch to a WP/B one for washington. It's typically pretty wet through WA.

The down socks weigh the same or less than typical sleep socks. Since the OP is planning to bring sleep socks, the down socks would be a warmer and lighter option. I agree they're probably not needed with a 20F bag. However, in conjunction with a warmer jacket, a lighter sleeping bag would be possible if the OP has money to spend.

I personally would take my 14oz quilt rated at 35F (7.6oz 900FP down) and combine that with a 12-13oz down jacket (ie. GoLite Bitterroot), selectively use down socks (2oz) and down pants (6oz) in the colder areas for a total system that weighs 26-35oz. Even better would be to swap out the 12-13oz down jacket for a down vest (MB Ex-Light or Black Rock) through Nor Cal and Oregon and drop another 8-9oz. Total weight = 18 to 35oz.

That's a lighter system than the OP's (38oz), yet it gets you just as much down (about 17oz) so you're just as warm at night but far warmer around camp for those chilly evenings. It's also far more versatile, as you could carry just 18oz of insulation in a lot of areas.

On the down side (pardon the pun), this would be a $700 setup.

Edited by dandydan on 01/16/2012 14:24:13 MST.