As you may know, I have just finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in America. It was a long and punishing trek with endless climbs but there were also endless lessons throughout. Although I had a reasonable idea in terms of the best gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail, there were many insights along the way which sometimes left me wanting alternative gear. In other words, I managed to choose some of the best equipment for my hike but there were also some regrets.
With this in mind, I wanted to give an outline of my gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail and some pointers for equipment that would have been a lot more beneficial during this long distance trek.
My Gear List for the Pacific Crest Trail
Instead of jumping right into the gear, I wanted to make a quick note about certain aspects which need to be considered when choosing the best gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail. If you have hiking experience, please feel free to skip down.
About the Layer System – The weather on the Pacific Crest Trail changes often. You need to be prepared for scorching heat and freezing temperatures too. While you might want to take a heavy waterproof jacket – the better option is to go light and layer up. In other words, take a lightweight waterproof jacket and layers for underneath which will allow you to regulate your temperature.
About Cotton – Avoid it like the plague. When the weather is hot, cotton is know to cause chaffing. Also, when the weather is wet, cotton is difficult to dry which can leave thruhikers at risk of hypothermia. Alternatively, pick a material that dries quick and keeps moisture from the skin such as merino wool, nylon or silk.
About Keeping Everything Dry – If you get into the tent at night with wet gear and rain is still coming down in the morning, resist the temptation to put on dry clothing. Make sure that either your backpack is waterproof or that you use a decent rain-cover and bin liners to keep everything dry inside your backpack.
Here is a quick look at my gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail:
My Big Five
Backpack | Osprey Exos 58
Tent | Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2
Sleeping Bag | North Face Blue Kazoo
Therma-Rest/Mattress | Z-Lite Sleeping Pad
Trekking Poles | Black Diamond Trekking Poles
Headwear | Columbia Baseball Cap and REI Sunhat
Sunglasses | Fake Ray Bans from Thailand
Jacket| Downjacket from Penney’s
Rain jacket | NorthFace Gortex Jacket
Shirt |Columbia Silver Ridge long sleeve shirt
Shorts | Vuori Trail Shorts
Thermal Leggings | Skins Leggings
Waterproof Trousers | Pac-in-a-sac
Gloves | Thinsulate Gloves
Shoes | Altra Lone Peak 4.0
Hiking Socks | Darn Tough Hiking Socks
Underwear | ExOfficio Boxer
My Smaller Stuff
Headlamp | Petzl Actik Core
Water Treatment | Sawyer Squeeze Mini
Water Bottle | Platypus & Smart water bottles
Camping Knife | Gerber Knife
Raincover | Osprey Pack Cover
Dry Bags | Sea to Summit (9L or 15L)
My Kitchen Gear
Utensil | Titanium Spork by Sea to Summit
Knife | Gerber knife
Food Bag | Sea to Summit waterproof bag
Storage | Ziploc Bags
Phone | Samsung Galaxy Duo
Camera | Canon G7X
Media Storage | iPad Mini
Powerbank | Anker 20,000 AMP & Anker 10,000 AMP
Headphones | Generic headphones
Charger/converter/adapter | Generic Headphones
Cords | USB Phone Cable, iPad cable, camera charger
Emergency Foil Blanket
First Aid Kit
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Baby Wipes & Hand Sanitizer
Second Skin / Blister Cushions
Titanium Spork by Sea to Summit
More in-Depth View of my Gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail
The Backpack – Osprey Exos 58
While I recommend that you jump over and pick one of these up, there are now many options for the best backpack for the Pacific Crest Trail. Make no mistake, putting the right backpack one your gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most important gear decisions and the Osprey Exos 58 is a reliable choice.
Read my full Osprey Exos review here.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Osprey Exos 58
My Shelter – Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
Needless to say, I came across so many tents on the trail. However, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 never let me down and was far superior to most alternatives. I wrote a full review this week for the tent but in short, this is an incredible lightweight tent that should serve you well as part of your gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
Sleeping Bag – North Face Blue Kazoo
Initially, I wanted a Revelation Quilt as my sleeping bag for the Pacific Crest Trail but settled on the North Face Blue Kazoo. It is an excellent tent with a wonderful mummy hood that can wrap the entire way around your face. However, it was not ideal for freezing temperatures and I was required to wear every stitch of clothing on such nights. In hindsight, this was a great tent for winter camping but not for treks with significant elevation or freezing temps.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Revelation Quilt by Enlightened Equipment
Therma-rest Mattress – Z Iite Mattress
Z-Lite is extremely lightweight and the way this mattress radiates heat back up toward the body is fantastic. Also, I never understood why thruhikers put up with the frustrations that came with inflating/deflating their thermarests, I was just happy to have this simple piece of outdoor gear which performed equally as good.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Z-Lite Thermarest
Jacket – Downjacket from Penney’s
Okay, first off, I do not recommend this option on your gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail. However, I found it interesting that such a cheap jacket was able to provide so much warmth and reliability. That being said, I highly recommend that you consider one of the jackets below – each of which is a common downjacket for the PCT.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
Raincoat – NorthFace Shell
You obviously need a rain jacket on your gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail and this is certainly true for Washington at the very least. I used a NorthFace shell which worked pretty good but at the same time, your rain jacket stays in the backpack for the most part and this jacket is not the lightest.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Outdoor Research Helium II
Hiking Socks – Darn Tough Hiking Socks
At one time, I was using hiking socks of any kind. However, I went through so many useless pairs of socks on the trail and always came back to Darn Tough. They have an excellent exchange policy for PCT hikers too in which you take a photo of damaged socks and they send out a pair without any questions. Anyway, buy them and forget the alternatives.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Darn Tough Socks
Trail Hiking Shoes – Altra Lone Peak 4.0
I had a pair of Columbia Outdry prior to the Pacific Crest Trail and they served me well. However, thruhiking is another story and I found the Altra Lone Peak 4.0 to be an incredible companion on trail. Wide tops reduce the risk of blisters and they dry super quick. I will say that they tend to last 500 miles and no more but this still is pretty impressive.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Altra Lone Peak 4.0
Headlamp – Petzl Actik Core
When you finally purchase an excellent headlamp, you will know the difference they can make. Petzl Actik Core comes with a rechargeable battery which is priceless and an incredibly strong beam.
Read my full review of the Petzl Actik Core
Microadventureworld Recommends – Petzl Actik Core
Water Filtration – Sawyer Squeeze Mini
Small and easy to use, what is there not to like? I got giardia on the Pacific Crest Trail from not using a water filter and never had any issues when I used this filtration system. That being said, please do not buy the mini version – they take forever to filter.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Sawyer Squeeze (Regular Size)
Sea to Summit Spork
Incredibly useful and useful for every meal. It was also lightweight and was super easy to attach to my backpack. Thruhikers find this especially important as the long handle lets them dig deep into the bottom of their nutella and peanut butter.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Sea to Summit Spork
Anker Powerbank 20,000 AMPH
Probably the wisest decision of mine was to pick up a 20k powerbank which is enough to charge a smartphone up to five times. Naturally, this can also be used for any electronic equipment.
Microadventureworld Recommends – Anker Powerbank
Please know that this gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail is merely a guide and not gospel. You will find many products, brands, and outdoor gear which can serve the same purpose.
However, the outdoor gear above is equipment that I have come to appreciate the most and the next time I consider packing for a long distance trail, these items will most certainly be on there.
Is there any outdoor gear for the Pacific Crest Trail that you recommend? Anything missing from the list above? Please leave a comment below and let me know.
Disclosure: Please note the trust my audience has for my advice is of utmost importance to me. Hence, I will only recommend equipment I love from brands that I trust. I was not paid to review any of these products and I purchase this equipment myself. I am also without obligation to leave positive reviews for any product, I just know that this gear works for me and it is likely to work for you too. This page contains affiliate links meaning I might receive a small amount from the supplier should you decide to purchase an item through one of my links. Thank you for supporting me.