Overall, my gear list pretty much stayed the same from the beginning until the end of my hike, with only minor changes. Below you will find links to my LighterPack lists for each section of the hike. I’m going to use the same template for this post as my pre-hike list, but will be including some commentary on the items, especially if they were ditched or added to my set-up. I will be doing in-depth reviews on core pieces of gear, which you can view on my gear review page, and will do a separate post on clothing systems and layering, and what I think is really appropriate for a PCT thru-hike from Spring - Autumn. This is like, 99% accurate. There are some toiletries that possibly changed during certain parts of the trail, parts of my first aid kit got depleted or I threw some things away, etc. But for the most part, this is accurate, especially for the important items.
- Zpacks Arc Haul - overall good
- lined w/ Gossamer Gear pack liner - liner tore, repaired w/ duct tape fine. Used 1st bag from Campo-Ashland, 2nd bag from Ashland-Manning Park. Would use again.
- Customizations: 1 shoulder pocket, 2 hip pockets, lumbar pad, ice axe loop (1 side only), V-strap top closure - Did NOT use V-strap closure, ended up not liking how it cinched down. Everything else was perfect.
- Zpacks Duplex Tent - Loved
- MSR mini groundhog stakes (8) - Fine. The pulleys would break. I probably replaced all 8 at some point just because I liked being able to pull on the string to get them out of the ground. Durable, stayed in ground really well.
- Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt - Loved everything about this
- Customizations: 10*, 950 fill, short, wide
Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad - Short w/ stuff sack- Ditched stuff sack, and pad. Did not enjoy having the pad only go down to my knees. I would kick my backpack out from under me and my legs would have no support.
- ADD: Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad - Women's - I liked that this pad was full length, and I already owned it.
Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad - 1/8"- This was just a hassle and a ton of dirt got onto it when I layed it down and the point of it was so I wouldn't have to sit in the dirt. Before getting rid of it completely, I cut it down to a sit pad size, but threw that away too.
- Sea to Summit Aeros UL regular pillow - I almost sent this home at the beginning bc I couldn't get comfortable using it, but after 2-3 weeks I was in love.
- Talenti soaking jar - Replaced every so often, stopped carrying for good at Snoqualmie Pass. Perfect size for 1 pack of all the classic cold soaking foods
- Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon - Long - No complaints. Good utensil. Still amazed I didn't lose this ever.
- Zpacks 14 L food bag - No complaints. Held up well, no holes or tears.
- Gallon Ziploc trash bag - the best trash bag.
- ADD: Snow Peak LiteMax Stove - Carried in the Sierra and Washington. If I were to do this again, would continue to cold soak in the Sierra, only bring stove for WA.
- ADD: Toaks 750 mL cup pot - Carried in the Sierra and Washington. If I were to do this again, would continue to cold soak in the Sierra, only bring stove for WA.
- ADD: OpSak Medium - Carried in Sierra to store overflow food that would not fit in bear canister during first 1-2 days after resupply.
- ADD: BV 500 Bear Canister - Carried in Sierra from Kennedy Meadows South to Kennedy Meadows North. Requirement. Would carry this again because the lighter options are way too expensive.
- Sawyer Squeeze filter - Great filter, probably wouldn't change my filtering system.
- Smartwater 1 L Dirty x2 - In the desert, I kept both bottles "clean". Had 1 clean and 1 dirty in the Sierra & NorCal. Only carried 1 clean 1 L in OR & WA.
- Smartwater 0.7 L Clean x1 - Kept a 0.7L bottle with me at all times. Used for drink mixes.
- Evernew 1.5 L bladder x2 - Ditched one of the bladders at KM South.
CNOC 2 L bladder x1- Kept this through the desert, but had some issues with leaking, so could never trust it to store water. Left in hiker box at KM South.
- ADD: Smartwater 1.5 L Dirty - Added this is OR & WA because it made things easier.
- Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Jacket w/ Hood - I love this jacket so much. It was the perfect amount of insulation for me in all parts of the PCT. I didn't wear it much in NorCal + Oregon bc of how hot it was.
- Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Long Sleeve Top (sleep shirt) - Another winner. I never felt like I needed something warmer or heavier to sleep in. On the contrary, some nights I would wake up with sweat on my chest bc I was too warm. I liked to wear something though bc I'm not a fan of my skin touching sleeping bag material.
- Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layer Bottoms (sleep pants) - Again, perfect thickness. Never needed anything warmer for bed. These pants did get snags in them and run, so I had holes in my butt, so you shouldn't sit on rocks/ trees directly while wearing them.
Montbell Tachyon Wind Pants- Unfortunately, these didn't work out for long. They acquired holes along the seam on the inner thigh and I put so much duct tape on them that they were probably 3 times heavier than the actual product. They did keep me warm, though, and I carried them until Donner Pass when I finally threw them away. Frogg Toggs Ultralite Rain Jacket- These held up ok initially, besides some places I needed to use duct tape to patch. They were an excellent warmth layer while they lasted. In NorCal after I got a bad sunburn, I hiked with this on, unzipped, for the better part of a week to fully protect my arms. This was the final nail in the coffin. It got destroyed after that. I threw this out in Belden when I got my new OR rain jacket.
- Injinji Midweight Crew Socks - Love these socks! They were pretty durable. The longest I wore one pair until they got a hole was from Donner Pass to White Pass!
- Darn Tough Midweight Crew Socks (sacred socks) - These were my sleep socks, only to be worn when it was very cold, and never allowed to leave my pack liner so they wouldn't get wet. I used them mostly in Washington, but on a handful of nights in each section.
The North Face E-tip Gloves- I carried these for too long. I maybe wore them twice in the Sierra when we started hiking before the sun rose, and literally never again. I ditched them in NorCal, picked them up for Oregon, and traded them out in Washington. I am not really a glove person, and these were simply too thick and warm for me (and they're considerd thin) Post-pedicure "flip-flops" - Camp shoes- This was such a hopeful attempt at UL camp shoes. They broke on my first night. I picked up oversized flip flops in Warner Springs, and then purchased Croc sandals in Big Bear.
- ADD: Icebreaker Beanie - I purchased this in Warner Springs bc I had a few cold nights early in the desert and thought a beanie would help. It really didn't and I hardly ever wore it bc when I did, it just rode up on my head, and didn't cover my ears, which were the things that were actually cold. Despite this, I carried it the whole time (except in NorCal), until I found a replacment in Portland.
- ADD: Mountain Hardware Waterproof Gloves - I sent these to myself for the Sierra so that I would have a warmer glove. Spoiler Alert, its not actually very cold in the Sierra and these were definitely overkill. I never wore them. I sent them to myself for WA, but ended up swapping them for the Montbell rain mitts (see below).
- ADD: Croc Sandals Camp Shoes - I picked these up in Big Bear Lake. I didn't wear the sandals that often on the trail - mainly when I was going to the bathroom in camp, after I already took my shoes off - but they were helpful in town. They were also completely useless when they got wet, so I couldn't use them as a water shoe without fear of slipping and injuring myself. I loved having flip flops in town, especially since it was usually really hot, but I would mostly look scornfully at them while on trail, cursing their extra weight and volumne.
- ADD: Darn Tough Ankle Socks - I picked up an extra pair of socks for the Sierra, to have a total of 3 hiking socks, but this was unnecessary, since it was always sunny enough in the Sierra to completely dry out the previous day's wet socks.
- ADD: Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket - I swapped this jacket for the Frogg Toggs in Belden. I've had it before, and I'm not this jacket's #1 fan, but this does the job on a PCT thru-hike. I mainly used it as a warmth/ emergency layer/ to do my laundry in until it started raining in Washington, and I thought it did a good enough job in the rain: Trapped in enough heat to keep me warm, but not too much that I was profusely sweating under it.
- ADD: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants - I bought these when I bought my OR jacket bc they were on sale. For some reason, I held onto them throughout all of NorCal and Oregon, which was NOT necessary. Don't ask me why I didn't send them ahead, laziness I guess. I mainly wore them while doing laundry. They were super great to wear in Washington though, when it was actually cold and rainy. They did get tears along the inner lower leg seam. Hot Mess & Butters also had this problem. It appears to be a weak spot on the pants. It wasn't a big enough problem to render the pants useless, but I will be warrantying them.
- ADD: Montbell Zeo-Line L.W. Balaclava - I picked this up to replace the Icebreaker beanie I purchased in Warner Springs. It was a much better layer for me, and I wore it most nights in Washington.
- ADD: Montbell Zeo-Line Lightweight Gloves - I bought these in Portland, replacing my North Face gloves. These were lighter and better at wicking sweat. I wore them to sleep a few nights in WA, and wore them a few times on cold days in WA.
- ADD: Montbell UL Shell Mittens - Instead of carrying the heavy Mountain Hardware waterproof gloves I had, I swapped for these to wear over the LW liner gloves. They were only annoying when I wanted to use my phone and take pictures, but I usually didn't need to do this when it was raining. I was very happy with my much lighter weight glove set-up in Washington.
- ADD: Extra Pair Injinji Socks - Definitely a good idea in Washington! While the extra pair of hiking socks was unnecessary in the Sierra, having a third pair of dry socks in Washington was great since it wasn't sunny and warm enough to dry a pair of socks, even with them hanging off my pack all day.
- ADD: Patagonia Capilene Thermal weight Hoodie - I threw this into my Cascade Locks box to wear in Washington, and it was the best idea I had. It was a perfect layer over my short sleeve shirt on cold, sunny days.
- Deuce of Spades trowel
- Compact travel toothbrush
- Travel-sized toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Lip balm w/ SPF
- Small stick sunscreen
- Mini nail clippers
- Mini Tweezers
- Hand Sanitizer
Mom's Stuff Salve
- ADD: Small lotion bottle
- ADD: Tube of Vagisil - Amazing for preventing and healing chafe
- Small Body Glide - Sometimes carried. Good for chafe hot spots during the day.
- Wet Wipes - Always had a pack with me. Gave myself a baby wipe bath almost every single night on trail.
- Personal rx meds
- Toilet paper for #2
- Garmin InReach Explorer+ - Great! I sent out a preset message to my parents every night that I didn't have cell service. The message only didn't go through once, on a night with bad weather in Washington. My parents and family like to track progress on the synced online map based on my nightly location messages.
- Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife - Worked as I needed it to: cut salami, tape, etc.
- Bic mini lighter - Of the "click ignition" variety. I found that these click ones didn't work at high altitudes. I had to borrow Hot Mess's lighter throughout the Sierra (thanks bud!).
- First aid kit: leukotape, alcohol wipes (2), band-aids (4), antibiotic ointment (1), small amount of ibuprofen, TUMS, benadryl, immodium. - Never needed alcohol wipes or band-aids. Used A LOT of ibuprofen, benadryl, and Claritin.
- Repair kit: needle, duct tape, thermarest repair, cuben fiber tape, tenacious tape. Needed to use all of these items at some point on the trail, except for the thermarest repair.
- Maps: Halfmile, Guthooks, Gaia on iPhone, carry paper back-up in Sierra, Washington. Never used Halfmile app, never carried paper map back-ups.
Petzl Bindi headlamp- REI dropped the ball on this and didn't follow up with my pre-order, so I brought a different headlamp.
- ADD: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp - Bought this after my Bindi order was not fulfilled. It was fine. Didn't have all of the features I wanted, lower lumens, slightly heavier, and no red light, but it was a good headlamp, great for camp and hiking in the dark right before sunrise/ after sunset.
- iPhone 8 plus + case + charging cord - Used for so many things. Guthook app, camera, entertainment (podcasts, music, audiobooks). Held charge very well. Would only be at 70% battery at the end of the day in airplane mode with frequent music/ podcasting and guthook-checking.
- Sony a6000 camera w/ f3.5-5.6 16-50 mm lens - Carried for the whole hike, but didn't use as often as I anticipated. Next hike I would carry differently: Rigged onto my shoulder strap, and with a weatherproof cover, instead of sitting in my side pocket.
- Anker PowerCore II 20000 external battery (2 USB ports) - This was a really great power bank. I never ran out of battery. It was probably too much power than I needed, as I really only ever needed to charge my phone. My other devices (Garmin, headlamp, camera) held enough power that I only needed to charge them in town. I would carry a 10,000-15,000 mAh one next time.
- Anker Powerport Speed 2 wall charger (2 USB ports) - Great charger, charged things very quickly, and fits into a socket sideways, so it won't block the other outlet. This was usually great, though sometimes, trail angels/ establishments would have large power blocks and my charger would end up blocking another outlet, which was mildly frustrating since I kind of bought this so I wouldn't block other outlets. Oh well.
- Micro USB cord (Anker + Garmin + Sony + headlamp)
- Earbuds - Apple, generic ones that come w/ iPhone - These things are champs. They resided in the breast pocket of my shirt 100% of the time, I put them through the wash and dryer multiple times and they still worked. I went through 2 pairs, but the first only broke after 1,100 miles when I stepped on them on the floor accidentally, and the next pair lasted from there to Canada!
- Zpacks DCF small dry bag - Pretty good, but some holes wore into it.
- "Wallet": ID, 1 credit, 1 debit, health ins card, small amount of cash - necessary, I used a Lululemon gift card holder/pouch that I use as my wallet IRL. Stored in a sandwich ziploc bag w/ my PCT permit and CA campfire permit.
- Gossamer Gear Liteflex Hiking Umbrella - Only used in the desert. It was nice to have when it was really hot and I couldn't find any shade.
- Sea to Summit Bug Net - Used in the Sierra and NorCal where the mosquitos and gnats were the worst for me.
- Bandana - Pee rag. Needed to replace it once.
Tennis Ball- Brought this from home to use to roll out my feet. It came in handy during the first weeks on trail, ultimately I got rid of it in Tehachapi.
- ADD: Extra Buff - Was gifted this by a trail angel in Julian and carried it the rest of the trail. It was a pot holder when I used a stove, a snot rag, and a spill clean-up rag.
REI Sahara Long Sleeve Shirt- This was a great shirt! I ultimately switched out for the short sleeve version, just because I wanted to tan my arms and was tired of constantly wearing a long sleeve. Lululemon On the Fly Shorts- I really liked these shorts. The pockets were huge, they were durable, comfy, and stretchy. However, they bled color onto my shirt, and the thick waistband held onto sweat excessively.
- Patagonia Active Mesh bra (old version) - This bra was amazing. It's my favorite sports bra for hiking. Comfy, not itchy, wicked sweat well. I'm sad they don't make it anymore, because I want more.
- Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear - Merino wool - Only carried 1 pair of underwear and it was fine. Never got a UTI, used my pee rag 90% of the time.
- Injinji Midweight Crew socks - Love these socks!
- Altra Lone Peak trail runners - Used the 3.0s, 3.5s (mens & womens), 4.0s. the 4.0s happened to be my favorite!
- Rx transition glasses - Oakley. Pretty much hated my glasses bc of the way they looked on my face and the lenses never got dark enough, making me look ridiculous in photographs. Can't wait to get LASIK!
Dirty girl gaiters- Only wore in the desert, but wish I also wore them in NorCal and Oregon.
- Buff regular - Wore exclusively on my head in OR & WA, used as a pillowcase cover at night, so it was probably covered in drool.
Patagonia Trucker Hat- Wore throughout California, but it started getting itchy on my forehead and bothersome, so I sent it home. Outdoor Research Sun Gloves- Only used these in the desert
- Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork hiking poles (& tent poles) - I sort of broke my first pair bc the bottom wore down so much while I had the tech tips on them. Thankfully, my mom had the same pair, so she sent me hers in Chester and I mailed mine back home. Her's had the carbide tips on, which I would recommend over the tech tips. Did not have any issues with the poles for the second half of the trail.
- ADD: REI Sahara Short Sleeve Shirt - I really liked the short sleeve version. I felt more free, and liked my arms tanning.
- ADD: Patagonia Strider Shorts - These shorts were great! Quick-drying, very comfy and lighweight. Not as durable as my other shorts (they got a hole in the butt from a log), but I liked them.
- Kahtoola Microspikes - Loved having these in the Sierra. They made me feel much more secure on the snow. I sent them home in Mammoth Lakes since there wasn't much snow north of there.
- CAMP Corsa Ice Axe 60 cm - Never used my ice axe, it stayed attached to my pack during the whole time in the Sierra. I can't comment on whether someone should carry one or not, but I really only carried it because I didn't want to not have it, fall down a slope, and be blamed for not carrying one. It's a personal decision, and if the snowfall is above 50% of normal, or you are entering the Sierra pre-June, I guess I would bring it again.
Gear I Won’t Shut Up About
I did a lot of research on gear prior to beginning the PCT. A LOT. I’m a gearhead. I like gear, I like collecting it, I like reading reviews on it. I poured over gear lists of previous hikers to find commonalities between what they used and liked the best. And after using most of this gear for 2,700 miles, I’ve developed some obsessions. These are the pieces of gear you’ll probably hear me talking about the most (sorry to all of my friends who literally don’t care and will probably have to hear this in person at some point).
My Whole Sleep System. Obsessed. I’m in love with my quilt, and I’ll recommend the Enlightened Equipment Enigma 10* to anyone, or at least, every woman who wants to hike the PCT (men can get away with the 20*). The customizations of short & wide worked out really well for my body and sleep style (mostly a side-sleeper). I was never claustrophobic, a problem I encountered with basically every classic sleeping bag I’ve tried. I was never cold in the middle of the night once my body got a chance to warm the quilt up. I felt like it was my little home, and snuggling up in my quilt at night was one of my favorite activities on the PCT. My sleeping pad, the NeoAir Xlite Women’s was great. Super light, slightly higher R-value than the unisex one, so comfortable. Once I hit NorCal, I was more comfortable on my pad than in a real bed. And my pillow! I hated it for about the first 2 weeks. I couldn’t get comfortable with it. But after I finally got used to it, it was wonderful. It’s so light, I don’t know why you would be a gram weenie and skimp on it.
My Montbell Balaclava. I wasn’t even going to go to Portland when I got to Cascade Locks, but this balaclava I picked up at the Montbell store there made it all worth it. I struggled with my beanie the whole hike: it just didn’t stay on my head. This balaclava went on my head immediately after getting to camp almost every night in Washington. I like the ability to wear it under your chin, over your chin, over your mouth, or over your nose, and the ability to not wear the hood. Its just so versatile! There’s a little bendy piece at the nose part so you can kind of hold it to your face better. It was the perfect layer to sleep in! I also would have worn it in the early morning, but my thermal layer had a hood, which was sufficient. Next hike though, I would bring a thermal layer w/o a hood, and use this, which would save a couple oz.
My Tent. The ZPacks Duplex truly is an amazing tent. I had some struggles with it in the desert: camping with groups was difficult at times because it had a big footprint, I was still perfecting the pitch, etc. I even contemplated switching out for by Big Agnes. But, towards the end of the desert and into the Sierra, I finally appreciated how great this tent was. It’s so simple, so lightweight, and actually pretty versatile. I couldn’t believe I’d thought about not using it. Once I got the hang of things, I could set it up in under 5 minutes. The big doors were great, and its SO light. And it was a PALACE inside for just myself and my gear. I actually called it “The Palace” because it looked so regal, like a castle. And also because it was huge. I got some micro holes in the top that I repaired w/ cuben fiber tape, which has held up well. There were some other small ones I was too lazy to fix bc of how small they were, but guess what? I was poured on in Washington multiple nights and I never got wet inside the tent (except for that one night, but I think that was due to my pitch and how slanted the ground was). But it rained after that night and I was bone dry. I would 100% recommend it to anyone about to embark on the PCT if its in their budget. I will continue to use it, but I may look into other lighter, smaller options on a future solo thru-hike (like the ZPacks Plexamid), just because I really don’t need that much space.