The Ultimate Gear List for the Pacific Crest Trail

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

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


My Clothing

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


Electronic Equipment

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


Miscellaneous

Passport
Travel Insurance
Emergency Foil Blanket
First Aid Kit
Credit/Debit Cards
Cash ($US)
Duct Tape
Toilet Paper
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Baby Wipes & Hand Sanitizer
Second Skin / Blister Cushions
Moleskin
Electrolyte Sachets
Titanium Spork by Sea to Summit
Ziploc Bags


More in-Depth View of my Gear list for the Pacific Crest Trail

The Backpack – Osprey Exos 58

Picture of an 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

Microadventure Tent

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.

Read my full Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 review

Microadventureworld Recommends – Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2


Sleeping Bag – North Face Blue Kazoo

North Face Sleeping Bag

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

Ultralight Sleeping 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.

Read my full review for the Z-Lite Themarest

Microadventureworld Recommends – Z-Lite Thermarest


Jacket – Downjacket from Penney’s

Derek Cullen

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

Podcast on Soundcloud called Everything Micro

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

Headlamp by PetzlWhen 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

Tp Link PowerbankProbably 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.

Wondering When to Start the Pacific Crest Trail?

Are you wondering when to start the Pacific Crest Trail? As one of the great long-distance hiking trails in the world, trekking the Pacific Crest Trail, also known as the PCT, is a dream escape for most adventurers. At the same time, do you know the best time to start the PCT? Remember that proper timing is important for your safety and to ensure a truly rewarding hiking experience throughout. With this in mind, to help you plan for this adventure, here is everything you need to know when deciding on the best time to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

When to Start the Pacfic Crest Trail Hike

Answer – Mid April to Early May

Female Hiker on the PCT
Bailey Started the PCT on May 10th

Most northbound hikers start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail between the middle of April and early May. On the other hand, southbound hikers generally begin around late June or early July. Most hikers would prefer to start early, but most sections of the trail are still covered with snow during spring and early summer which can mean an early start is not always a good idea.

In Southern California, dangerous stretches of snow blankets the trail on the first 200 miles from the border. If you enter the Sierra early enough, you are also likely to come across a significant amount of snow and anxious crossings on particularly treacherous streams. In Washington, steep and dangerous snow slopes also make trekking the PCT quite risky and first time hikers are encouraged to avoid such scenarios whenever possible.

Making a late start is not always the best time to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. During this period, Southern California is likely to be dangerously hot and dehydration or sunstroke are serious concerns. If you intend to start late and plan to finish the entire trail as a thru-hike, there are also consequences which you need to keep in mind.

Checking the Current Weather Conditions

Tent on the PAcific Crest Trail
Camping in the High Sierra

As you can see, weather is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding the best time to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Therefore, you must make sure to check the weather conditions during the your hike and you should look to follow the Pacific Crest Trail blog to get updated with the conditions of the trail and to know if the snow has already melted.

Study the weather conditions well and work around some windows of opportunity. Above all, ask yourself the important questions – are you fit enough to sustain “Big miles” in order to catch up or get ahead on trail? Will winter be over before you are done with your hike? In case you might be asking yourself, “Big miles” is different for each hiker but in time, most hikers look to cover a minimum of 25 and 30 miles on a daily basis.

Considerations for When to Start the Pacific Crest Trail

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a truly exciting experience, but things could happen along the way that is beyond your control. Injuries are often the reason for delays but also, many hikers love nothing more than taking a day off every once in a while which will set you back in the long run. Although the PCT trails are easy to follow, putting in the miles is a constant challenge even for experienced hikers and catching up is much easier said than done. With this in mind, make a decision to start early rather than late and this is likely to give you an option to take days off whenever needed. Furthermore, in the event of arriving at the foot of the Sierra too soon, you will have time to wait for the snow to dissipate and peace of mind that you are still ahead of the pack.

If you have any questions about when to start your hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, please leave a comment below!

Why I Will Not Be Using My Vango Tent for the Pacific Crest Trail

I genuinely love this tent but allow me to explain why I will not be using my Vango Banshee tent for th Pacific Crest Trail.

You see, I am a sucker when it comes to romanticizing over my outdoor gear. For example, I bought my Vango Banshee 200 several years ago for one reason – it was cheap. As you might expect from the pictures, it was also quite small for carrying around which also appealed but honestly, I bought the tent because it was one of the cheapest I could find.

Storms and Wild Camping in Africa

Serengeti Tours

Since then, I have taken the tent into many wilderness areas but most notably, I have used this backpacking tent in the wilds of Africa. Why is this important? Well, you come face to face with every terrain and logistical matter when you go camping in places like the Serengeti. Terrain is rugged and unspoiled in these areas but the weather is also particularly unpredictable.

On one occasion, I was stood in the middle of a rain storm holding the corner or two tents in each hand while the occupants took shelter under a nearby tree. Seriously, I was pretty much flying two kites as the weather attempted to claim these two tents and send them flying into the wilderness. In case you might be asking yourself, I was leading an adventure tour at that time and fully responsible for the safety of my clients. In hindsight, this was an extremely dangerous as the Serengeti is home to some of the most spectacular lightning storms you are likely to encounter.

Anyway, throughout this episode, my Vango Banshee sat quietly in the corner and let out little more than a whimper as a storm raged around us. In fact, I remember looking back to see how it was doing and laughing at the resilience of my “cheap tent”. After all, the two tents I was holding had a combined value of more than $1500.

Why I Cannot Use My Vango Tent for the Pacific Crest Trail

Best Tents for Microadventures

You see, I am very attached to my outdoor gear and eventually, each piece becomes what seems like an important part of a story. From wildlife corridors and immense volcanoes to deserts, mountains and abandoned buildings; the Vango Banshee was with me for so many outdoor adventures and never let me down.

Alas, I am taking a long distance trek next month from Mexico to Canada and as you will probably see on my Pacific Crest Trail Blog, the weight and size of every item counts. In the case of the tent, my Vango weighs almost 2lb more than the one I have my eye on and this is quite a lot on a long distance hike. In fact, as far as weight goes, this would be considered quite a heavy backpacking tent for the Pacific Crest Trail.

More importantly, the inside of a Vango Banshee is very compact and confined. If you are looking for the best tent for microadventures, this is definitely a good shout in my option, and cheap too. However, while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018, there are likely to be times when I will need to wait out storms or rest up for the day in the tent and simply put, this is when space will matter.

For this reason, I will be leaving my Vango Banshee somewhere safe and purchasing a new home made of fabric. No mortgages here, my friends.

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Do you have a favorite backpacking tent? Let me know in the comments – I love to hear about other peoples experiences with their outdoor gear!

What Was the Meaning of Frodo’s Trek in Lord of The Rings?

Did you know that Frodo hiked 2,172km on his journey to take the One Ring back to Mount Doom? That’s almost half the length of the Pacific Crest Trail in America and the equivalent of walking the entire length of Ireland three times over. 

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018

While there was no ring involved, hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland is the longest distance (350km) I have attempted until now. At that time, the trek was intended as practice for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but in truth, I also wanted to ascertain if thru-hiking (long distance hiking) was even something I found enjoyable.

And I knew this practice hike was necessary. You see, on my cycle across Africa, it took just a few hours to fully realize a distinction between drawing lines on a map and riding a loaded bicycle for twelve hours every day. In short, one of the above is either exciting or fun, while the other is often an encounter with pain, misery, and relentless questions.

Now, you might be asking yourself; with so much pain and misery involved, why even bother cycling this far? or why hike more than 4,000km on the Pacific Crest Trail?

Well, let me use Frodo to explain this one.

When Frodo Hiked 2,172km to Mount Doom

When Frodo and friends set out to take the One Ring back to Mount Doom, they embarked on an outdoor adventure of epic proportions. In fact, this long distance adventure involved camping and hiking through forests, mountains and beautiful landscapes with the occasional spot of bother in between.

As seen on this journey and other folklore or fairy tales, there are often theories regarding the greater purpose of these adventures. For example, when Dorothy left Kansas to seek out the Wizard of Oz, the ensuing story was an analogy of life and a representation of the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Cambell.

The Heros Journey and What it Means

In short, the Hero’s Journey is a famous claim that almost every myth or story is created in the same format. That is to say, each of these stories will begin in “the world of the mundane” and then finish with a triumphant return with many trials and tribulations in between.

Sounds simple, right? Kinda.

More specifically, the main characters in these stories are often bored or disillusioned with life even in spite of there being no pain or suffering. At this time, they receive a “call to adventure”, a moment in which someone or something introduces this character to a new world or a new way of life.

In the past, the character has often refused this calling for various reasons, mostly pertaining to various fearful questions.

How will I survive? What if it doesn’t work? What about the money?

However, sometimes or at some point, the character decides to cross this threshold and step into a world of uncertainty. From this moment onward, they undergo a series of trials and encounters with endless fears and temptations. At the same time, on this path, they will also find friends and possibly even a mentor who will help them on this journey.

In the end, the character has embarked on a fulfilling and meaningful adventure. Furthermore, they learn that the destination of their journey is actually the insightful knowledge that they gain from this new world and the understanding that they now have about their true potential.

And not just Dorthy but also Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Shrek, and Neo in the Matrix.

Anyway, the Hero’s Journey is also meant as an analogy in a sense that people can often feel bored with some aspect of their life. Maybe this relates to a particular career path or a college course, or possibly an unfulfilling relationship.

Either way, this theory illustrates how the meaning of these stories is often the same and relative to the world in which we live.

 

 Back to Frodo and the Meaning of his Adventure

If I take one more step, it will be the farthest away from home, that I will have ever been.” Sam, Lord of the Rings

With the above in mind, we can see the precise moment when Sam finally “departs” and crosses the threshold on his journey. We witness the realization of potential as the ring is cast, once and for all, into the fires of Mount Doom. And we see Frodo choosing how to spend the rest of his days when he sails across the high seas with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins.

It would also seem that I am not the only one who often yearns for rhyme and reason on a journey. After all, Lord of the Rings fans and enthusiasts are always quick to obsess over the finer details of this cult movie. For example, one Reddit user calculated that Frodo traveled 2,172km for six months through the wilderness to reach Mount Doom.

Sure, that’s a lot of hiking and camping which was surely deserving of an epic finale. However, I think it wrong to suggest that every outdoor adventure requires a divine purpose. In fact, my own perspective of this movie is simply that the journey itself was beautiful and worthwhile – nothing more. Indeed, as pointed out by someone on Quora, while the ring is a corrupting object made by an evil immortal being, the metaphor is not really important in Lord of the Rings and the magic of this movie is the adventure itself.

At the end of the day – it was just another story, and you enjoyed it for what it was.

Isn’t that enough reason to embark on another?

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