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another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience
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Joe Guilmette
another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 14:03:24 MDT Print View

hey there! i'm by no means an ultralight hiker, so I figured it would be good to get feedback from you all.

i have a lot of experience on multi-day trips, have spent two months of horseback in Mongolia on the Russian border, a couple weeks here and there in the Brazilian jungle, and in addition have over a year of minimalist overseas travel-style backpacking.

so while I may not have much experience in thru-hiking, i haven't done something even as long as the JMT, i know what it is to live out of a backpack for many, many months at a time. the PCT is somethings I've always wanted to do and I feel like 2013 is the year its going to happen, the timing is just perfect for me.

i'm going to be going with my girlfriend, who has a similar level of experience. the attached gear list is assuming a solo attempt. when i get it dialed in we'll split some of the shared gear.

right now i have this down to 19lbs (13lbs in the pack, 6lbs worn). obviously there is quite a lot of fat to cut, so be ruthless :) i'm not married to the gear, so much as the function.

you may notice i am bringing a hennessy hammock. yes, I have a lot of experience in them (5+ years) and I absolutely love it. a good, full length pad and sleeping bag is enough to be toasty warm, and the full system is comparable to a simliar GG tarptent shelter. yes, the first part of the trip is going to be a little harder to find trees, but it's no big deal, i can use the rainfly as a ground sheet and use the bag/pad sans bivy and just tough it out. if I have to lay out the bag and let it dry off in the AM it's no big deal, it wont happen that often. for those of you who doubt the hammock, i would love to convert every one of you, but i will spare you for now :)

the cooking system, i foresee needing the most help. i love jetboils, and i like the ability to cook food when possible. i like fresh food, and will make sacrifices to have decent meals (chicken stir fry, vegetables) on nights where we came from a resupply that had such supplies. also, my girlfriend is filipino, which means every meal will have instant rice. the only other stove i've used is an MSR Dragonfly that we ran off diesel in Mongolia, so i'd love your expertise.

can I use a simple alcohol stove and still have some versatility and speed making coffee for breakfast, boiling water for MH meals, cooking up a mean stirfry a few nights a month? what do you think?

clothing is also a concern, i've never had to shave weight from clothing. the pack as well. in the past my concerns were pack size (to conform to carryon requirements for airlines) and the ease of unpacking. this is actually why i'm drawn to the camino, front loading packs are great - i love the ability to get to the bottom of a pack without digging around, and i hate having to pack/unpack things in order because i basically have a giant dry bag on my back.

please, tear this gear list apart. basically the only thing i'm set on is the sleeping/shelter system and the electronics.

ALSO - some guidance on food/water, as it has the most drastic effect on packweight. in the sheet you can see that i am assuming 2.5lbs of food per day, 6-4 liters of water in the pack (depending on leg of trip), and up to 6 days between resupply points. so, as you can see, the wet pack weights are absolute worst case scenarios.

thanks guys!

Edited by loltron on 10/15/2012 14:08:25 MDT.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

A good start on 10/15/2012 14:37:04 MDT Print View

Taking a trip: 1) lay out all the clothing and gear that you are going to pack, 2) lay out all the money you are bringing, 3) Bring half the clothing and gear and twice the money ! (a bit tongue in cheek -- but I've found it to be true with the few long trails I've done).

I'd start off by NOT spending $4K on gear for the PCT (unless of course budget is not an issue). All I can think of is how many tasty burgers you could be buying while on the trail! Don't know if you own all this already or are planning on buying it all...but check out a REI garage sale for much better deals on Jetboils, hiking poles, etc, and then hit up Gear Swap and the like. Can't really picture a hammock in the dessert, but then again I've never been :-)
I'd start by searching the BPL forums for some gearlists from PCT hikers to get some ideas. Overall a starting weight of 15 lbs is not bad --by regular standards -- but this is BPL so prepare for the flames -- you can certainly drop that to 10 lbs or under with splitting some gear and fine tuning.

Enjoy fine-tuning your prep for what I'm sure will be an amazing adventure for the both of you !

Joe Guilmette
Re: A good start on 10/15/2012 14:49:54 MDT Print View

we say the exacttttt same thing in the UL travel community (of which I'm an arrogant, opinionated member).

i already own the vast majority of the gear on that list. i need to spend another $1500 or so to get everything on there. the costs listed are the full retail prices of everything, just to see.

the only thing i spend my money on is fancy restaurants a few times a year, gear and airfare. i usually dont bat an eyelash shelling out $300 for a sleeping bag (and then another $600 for the other two temperature sizes in the line), but I'll fight tooth and nail in cambodia to get a $10 beach hut for $8. i still don't know exactly why this is...

i have actually been 'fine-tuning' this list and scraping other people's gear lists to get it to this point. this place has a good reputation and a very active community, so i'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say.

thank you for the quick reply!

Edited by loltron on 10/15/2012 14:59:46 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 14:59:16 MDT Print View

Most of the listed gear has cheaper, lighter alternatives. That is a huge cost number.
The cooking gear is pretty heavy. Do you need all that? Most of my meals involve little more than bringing something to a boil and letting it cook in its cozy. So I am very happy with a light alcohol setup that is about 4 oz total(vs. your 24 oz). Alcohol is generally pretty easy to source off trail too. Its a little harder to simmer, but is doable if you want to.
I would take fewer redundant items of clothing.
Why an ipod and phone both?
I would want a warm hat of some sort.

Joe Guilmette
Re: another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 15:17:05 MDT Print View

"Most of the listed gear has cheaper, lighter alternatives. That is a huge cost number."
--don't mind the cost, i own most of that already. however, would you mind noting some items off the top of your head that can be replaced with lighter alternatives?

"The cooking gear is pretty heavy. Do you need all that?"
--well, you tell me. i've never used an alcohol stove. i'd like the ability to be able to cook fresh foods from town on occasion. also, i really like bringing eggs along, they keep for days and come with their own (not so durable) case.

here are my thoughts on cooking
-i'm cooking for two, and my gf is filipino, so instant rice is going to be made every night (if i want to survive this trip with my balls intact)

-i'd like the ability to be able to cook fresh foods from town on occasion (this is not a deal breaker)

-in the past i used a titanium pot and i hated not only it's price but the fact that you can't look at it without denting it

-how possible is it to cook, say, scrambled eggs, or chicken stir fry, or bacon, or things like this on an alcohol stove? on occasion these types of comfort foods REALLLY make the fat kid inside of me feel good. 90% of the time tho, you are correct, i'll just be boiling water.

i'm very curious about your cooking set up if you wouldn't mind sharing.

"Why an ipod and phone both?"
--maybe it's all the traveling and bussing, but i prefer to save the battery in my phone as much as possible for 1) safety in case it's needed and 2) i use it as a camera. the ipod is really 1oz and has a long battery life that i wont mind running dry (and FM radio).

"Warm hat"
--do you really use it often? i've never actually owned a beanie or warm hat.

"redundant clothing"
--what stands out to you as the worst examples of redundant clothing in the list? i noticed that everyone brings 'windshirts', something i've never actually used or seen before. on the 1 day in california that i get caught in a rain storm, i'd rather have a rain shell than a windshirt. then again, on the other 60 days that i'm in california, i'd like to have something comfortable and breathable to block the wind.

what do you recommend?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 17:16:22 MDT Print View

Windshirts are pretty light and can be pretty useful. A lot of people swear by the Patagonia Houdini. I have a golite that is fine but like a Stoic I picked up recently better(lighter and cheap).

Redundant clothing: 3 pairs of socks; 2 short sleeve shirts.

Warm hat: I use it A LOT, even in the east, even in fall and spring,even occasionally in summer at high elevations. I wouldn't think of going without a warm hat.

Cooking set up: I have a lot of set ups. Probably my current favorite is a Starlyte made by Zelph, a titanium bowl(cheap), foil lid, foil windscreen, mini-bic, and a homemade reflectix cozy that goes around it all. I think its about 4 oz all together. My titanium bowl seems bombproof. Sometimes I will use Heineken pot instead. Sometimes I use a cat food can stove too. I think the best way to simmer with alcohol is probably just to have a separate simmering stove, since they are so light, but I have used them with simmer rings too. If I really planned on needing variable heat(fresh eggs and stir fry probably do), I would consider taking my jetboil. But honestly, I haven't used my jetboil since I made my first alcohol stove.

Alternative packs: Zpacks, Gossamer Gear, golite, Six Moons Designs, Mountain Laurel designs. A frameless Zpack model works well for me at less than 25 pounds total pack weight and is 4-8 oz. I like the frameless packs but not everyone does.

Alternative bag: Consider a quilt from Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Katabatic, etc.

Alternative hammock: I think there are some lighter options but I sleep on the ground so can't tell you much there.

Hope some of this is helpful.

Joe Guilmette
Re: another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 17:44:38 MDT Print View

so would you say that a wind shirt AND a 7oz outer shell can be whittled down to just the outer shell? or would you say bring both? i can't say i'm comfortable going without a jacket designed to withstand a rainstorm (which as far as i understand a windshirt is not). so if i had to choose i'd prefer the Marmot Mica over the Houdini.

as far as the cooking setup - awesome. you gave me some great google fodder to get me started. i think with a little skill and a decent frying pan (that will boil water faster thanks to greater surface area) i'll be in much better shape.

here are the wet weights (pretty worst case).

assumptions: 6 days between resupply, 2.5lbs of food per day and variable amounts of water.

Desert: 28.2lbs (41.2lbs total)
Sierre: 21.6lbs (34.6lbs total)
OR/WA: 23.8lbs (36.9 lbs total)

so, two things. first, do you think those assumptions are within the realm of reality? second, given that i'll most likely be above 25lbs when weighted with water and food, what do you think about packs?

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: A good start on 10/15/2012 18:06:59 MDT Print View

Joe, your international UL travel experience is impressive!
Here's my 2 cents, FWIW:

To more accurately resemble a typical gear list, reclassify most of your clothing weight from 'worn' to 'packed'. This bumps your base weight to about 16 pounds (probably on the high side of average).

Break out individual items like stuff sacks, hammock, tarp, stakes, skins, etc. This can help identify where you can cut back.

Are your trail runners really 12 ounces total or 12 ounces each?

Items missing or that you might want to consider:
- Undershorts
- ID and $$ in ziplock
- Watch
- Eliminate pillow or replace with something lighter.
- Warm hat
- Comb
- Hand sanitizer (For convenience or when water for washing with soap is scarce)
- Bug repellent (Repackaged)
- Sun screen (Repackaged)
- Compass, map, pen/pencil.
- Knife or scissors
- Take smaller amounts of soap, alcohol and Neosporin. Resupply as necessary.
- Bear canister, ice axe, traction aids.

Regarding clothing:
Your clothing list looks pretty typical for a PCT thru-hike.
In 1550 miles on the PCT, I wore a warm hat many nights and early mornings. I also wore my windshirt nearly every day at sometime throughout the day. I carried the windshirt in addition to either a DriDucks jacket, rain cape, or umbrella.

Re-weigh and repeat.

Take care.

Edited by Lancem on 10/15/2012 18:08:42 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/15/2012 18:08:55 MDT Print View

Re alcohol stoves- they are slow and they are on/off, nothing in between. I have 2 alcohol stoves and with ambient 50 degree temps they took (average) 8 minutes to boil 2 cups of water. I think they are a great choice for someone who only wants a hot rehydrated dinner or is a very patient type. Personally I like more speed and I like to be able to make my meal, my hot drink and have water going for hot water bottles (for inside my sleeping bag). I used to use an MSR Dragonfly. I now use an MSR Pocket Rocket, although if I were shopping now I would look at other models as well as there are more options now than there were when I bought my Pocket Rocket. The canister stoves are fast and have simmer capability. I wouldn't use one for winter camping in cold weather - for that I'll go back to my Dragonfly- but for 3 season stuff my canister stove is fine. It boils 2c of water in 50 degree ambient temp in 2:30 minutes average. That means for what I can heat with one go of my alcohol stove, I can do 3X that much with my canister stove and still have time to spare. You could use it for cooking, as well. It's not the lightest option out there but it's a lot lighter than a white gas stove or even a Jetboil.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest on 10/16/2012 08:12:50 MDT Print View

Joe, might want to use the useful tool, Easy to compile a entire inventory and then simply drag it into various kits.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: "another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience" on 10/16/2012 08:37:39 MDT Print View

I sort of skimmed the other posts so if I repeat some things forgive me. I thru hiked the PCT this summer in 81 days and my gear list is on my profile (still I believe). That said, I hike every year so I've spent some cash on gear and am probably on the far end of light - feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt.

First thing that jumped out to me was the sheer # of garments you have on your list. You'll have a SS or LS shirt and shorts or pants that you wear 100% of the time on trail and then I'd recommend just your wind shirt and pants with an insulation layer. For the majority of my hike I would of considered my quilt my sleeping bag and insulation jacket but I did carry a down vest from the start -> Lake Tahoe. Sleep clothes = pajamas, leave them at home. Extra and Just in case = don't need, leave at home.

Cooking on alcohol is essentially, boil water, add food, soak, eat, clean. I actually only made it to Big Bear before I said screw cooking and went cold the rest of the trip - this was mainly motivated by me trying to find more time in the day to hike and eliminating an hour of stopping and cooking was an extra 3 mpd. I would expect this not to be a priority of yours so carry the canister stove if cooking gourmet on trail is what you like to do - I have started to believe the weight savings of alcohol stoves has more to do with carrying the exact amount of fuel for the 3 or 4 day leg so a canister is really just a small weight penalty to have bacon and coffee every morning.

I know you're "set" on your electronics but I feel that there are redundancies in your list. You're iPhone can do everything your other listed electronics can do by itself. I carried a iPhone and camera - I used the iPhone as my journal, logistics, all of my maps and navigation, updated water reports, and for a short time in OR as a music player. I turned my phone on every day when I had my first navigation question and left it in airplane when not using the GPS. The battery never failed between town stops and I didn't require a solar charger or battery pack. I used my phone very heavily in OR and WA to navigate through snow and very little later in the trip to journal - if you're planning to journal a lot a charger or battery pack might be of use. I cannot recommend Guthook's App more highly - $25 for all 5 apps and I didn't have to use any paper maps ($90 printing of Halfmile I think is about the average). I am not recommending going w/o maps - I just felt confident enough with my experience and my phone to go w/o.

I'd tell you to get rid of your hammock and just get a tarp - a $10 Walmart one will suffice and be lighter than you're hammock. You won't be setting up either enough to justify "carrying the shelter you like." My tarp went up less than 10 times and 3 or 4 nights were in WA due to a low pressure system sitting on top of the state - you will cowboy camp over 90% of the trip. Go as light as possible with your shelter - but do have netting for Yosemite and OR. I looked like a 13 yr old with acne in OR and I was wearing a headnet.

Carry 1 foam sleeping pad, drop the pillow and use your food instead. Drop the rain mitts (its summer for crying out loud - and it only snows in the Sierra). Get rid of the crocs. You'll only want/use/need your Ursack in the Sierra - just have it sent out. Another call you prob won't listen to but something to think about, I have over 6k miles without treating water with no "giardia" incidents to show for it. I don't use pack liners either - only time my sleeping bag got wet (in my pack) was in the desert from sweating through the pack seams!

Your water and food consumption will vary. In the desert you'll want more water and probably less food since you'll just be starting out. In the Sierra you'll likely want more food bc of the increased difficult, altitude, and lower temperatures and you probably won't ever need to carry water - I carried 4 ppd for 6 days from KM -> Mammoth and ate every last peanut butter cracker. NoCal and on your metabolism will be raging so you'll just have to listen to your body but there are an increased # of town stops with means more burgers and milkshakes.

Whew all that eliminating, now for my addition advice - swap out your first aid kit with gear repair type stuff like duct tape, super glue, needle and thread, safety pins. If you get hurt to the point those things won't fix it, a first aid kit wouldn't of helped anyway and you'll likely need professional assistance. Chrome Dome - you'll see 1 out of 2 hikers with these, I don't leave home without it and carried mine from start to finish. Small but important, ear plugs are essential if you plan to stay at trail angels/hostels or split hotel rooms with people.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/16/2012 08:48:40 MDT Print View

I never carry more than 1.5 pounds of food per day. Its pretty easy to do if you pack calorie dense food. That extra pound a day adds up quickly.

I don't think I would plan to carry a frameless pack unless my total pack weight was 25 pounds or less. I am fine at 25 but don't think I would want a lot more.

I am a big fan of alcohol stoves. Easy and cheap. No canisters to deal with. Easy re-supply. You will spend a little more time boiling water, but I usually have something else to do while the water is boiling. A watched pot.... I never need variable heat, but if you do, I would consider a canister. There are ways to cook slower with alcohol, but then you have more stuff.

Frying pan = heavy. I wouldn't take it unless I had a specific need for it, like to cook caught fish. But other people cook differently.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
cooking on 10/16/2012 17:14:40 MDT Print View

As someone who doesn't like a to cook at all, carrying alllllll that stuff for the odd chance you can make something fancy the day after a resupply is hard to believe. It sort of changes the standard thru-hiker-mileage-monster paradigm, which is totally ok. You can always send all that stuff home if you get tired of it. Is gorging on awesome greasy food in your resupply town not quite enough?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/16/2012 18:44:53 MDT Print View

assumptions: 6 days between resupply, 2.5lbs of food per day and variable amounts of water.

Desert: 28.2lbs (41.2lbs total)
Sierre: 21.6lbs (34.6lbs total)
OR/WA: 23.8lbs (36.9 lbs total)

I would modify your assumptions. You will not need 2.5 lbs of food AND have 6 days worth of food. Even if you are lazy like I was you can find easy resupplies about every 100 miles with only a few exceptions. If it takes you six days to hike 100 miles then you won't need 2.5 lbs of food per day. You can find the easy resupplies in my journal at, 2011, trail name Malto. My resupplies were optimized for speed so I stuck with those that were close to trail where possible.

I also took an iPhone and a shuffle and would do it again. The shuffle has great battery life and if you are smart about chargers it will add little weight. One other suggestion, i would take seperate gear for both you and your gf. I wouldn't want to be stuck with a two person tent for example if one of you chooses or has to stop. others may disagree but I saw this happen many times on both the AT and PCT.

Joe Guilmette
Re: Re: Re: another 2013 PCT gear list - lots of experience, zero long distance hiking experience on 10/16/2012 19:30:01 MDT Print View

So based on all your *awesome* advice, I've updated my gear list:

here's where we are now in regards to dry pack weight (plus 3.1lbs worn gear):

Desert: 12.1 lbs (15.2lbs dry total)
Sierra: 11.7 lbs (14.8lbs dry total)
OR/WA: 11.6 lbs (14.7lbs dry total)

compared to before 19lbs before, i'm seeing a ~4lbs savings.

--cooking (1.6lbs of savings.
ok ok, you're all right. a jetboil is going to be a lot faster, but i have other things i can be doing while i wait for water to boil. there are many town stops where i can eat greasy, nasty food. also - i'll still be able to have a morning cup of coffee, so it's no big deal. the weight savings are huge, as are the costs.

someone mentioned I should bring an ice axe, crampons and a bear can. i think i'll be ok with just the ursack. from what i understand in the worst spots there are bear boxes for food, and in the rest the ursack is allowed. i think there are a couple spots where they want a bear can instead of an ursack, but the chances of running in to a ranger who cares on the 4 days that i'm in this area are pretty slim.

do UL people really bring this stuff? i really don't want to bring some huge ass ice axe... i have hiking poles for balance, and i don't think very many people every self arrest (or even know how). in regards to crampons, are these really necessary? again, i have hiking poles...

speaking of hiking poles, i usually like to hike with them, but do you guys all use them with packs this light?
my spreadsheet that i made is pretty wonderful, and i can hack it up and add features if i like :) it also will separate gear weights and wet weights based on which leg of the trip i'm on!

--sleeping (3lbs of savings)
you guys are killing me. i love hammock camping. by switching to a Bivy and a tarp i save 3.5lbs... thats a lot. so you win. this i feel less good about. i'm going to be way less comfortable, and unless i want to lay prone and mummified in my sleeping bag i'm going to be open to bugs. for the few nights that it rains i'm going to exposed (i have a tarp to cover up, but i've never used this to protect myself before so i'm skeptical). also, the fact that i'm going to have to find a flat space to sleep is going to anger me after years and years of hammock camping.

it would be nice to lay about and relax, reading my kindle or something with bug protection. does anyone have any recommendations for a good, UL tarp tent that offers bug protection and rain protection?

i'm scared to go without a rain jacket, but in this version i am going with just a DWR windshirt and a chromedome. if i die of hypothermia on some mountain my ghost will come back and haunt this forum :)

i'm still not sure about these, so more feedback would be nice. i'm hearing everything from 1.5lbs to 4lbs per day, which is a big difference.

here's where I have it now:
Desert: 20.7lbs (35.9lbs total) 1.5lbs per day, 6ltr
Sierre: 12.2lbs (27.0lbs total) 2.0lbs per day, 1ltr
OR/WA: 14.4lbs (29.1lbs total) 2.0lbs per day, 2ltr

this is pretty wonderful, you guys are a great, great community. thank you so much for all of your help thus far!

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
ice axe, crampons, poles on 10/16/2012 19:38:48 MDT Print View

Those snow tools are very nice to have on sloped icy snow. You can try kicking steps, but that tires out my ankles and risks jamming a toe, and it takes forever and isn't as safe.

Usually I'm fine in the snow, but on one hike I decided to try walking on the snow for a little while before putting on my microspikes. I didn't even take three steps before slipping and tweaking my knee. Fortunately I was able to continue. I learned that carrying snow tools without using them was very foolish.

On some passes, trekking poles make a big difference. Do switch to snow cups though, otherwise you might break a trekking pole after it sinks into the snow like I did. I saw many bent and broken trekking poles, probably for the same reason.

Joe Guilmette
Re: ice axe, crampons, poles on 10/16/2012 19:41:14 MDT Print View

how about gaiters? i remember the very few times i've been postholing on a trail it took me all of 2 steps to have both shoes filled with snow...

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
food on 10/16/2012 19:50:20 MDT Print View

I don't have time to read all the the responses but one thing is your 2.5 pounds of food, get it down to 1.5 per day. That is the easiest most cost effiecient thing you could possibly do.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: ice axe, crampons, poles on 10/16/2012 19:51:27 MDT Print View

Your feet are going to be wet anyway, especially in the Sierras.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
space blanket on 10/16/2012 19:55:47 MDT Print View

What's the space blanket for? I think you might be better off swapping it with a cheap Walmart poncho. It'd weigh less and probably be about the same size. It's still a vapor barrier if that's what you wanted it for, but it'll also double as more substantial rain gear. If you spend more on a Golite poncho (7 oz), you'll get a secondary shelter or a big awning for your primary shelter.