Gary’s Gear List, First Edition

As someone who has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for the first time forty years ago it has become more and more important for me to become gear and weight conscious as the miles tally up on my hiking career. It is for this reason, that I’ve made it my goal to leave the border with a pack weight of just twenty pounds including my food. Obviously, when in the Sierra Nevada region more cold weather gear will be required which will increase pack weight in that area. One benefit of having such a long hiking career is that I’ve been able to accumulate a healthy list of gear items that can accommodate a variety of weather conditions. This will allow me to cut ounces by swapping items in and out between mail drops and drop offs from our support crew. Keeping that in mind, when you browse through my gear list remember that items along the trial will be picked up and dropped off and this list is more fluid than rigid.

Starting with my “Big Four”, which is made up of my pack, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, you’ll see this section will account for the mafority of non-food/water weight. My pack is the ULA CDT Pack, which could be swapped out should I need more space in the Sierra’s. Jon and I are splitting the weight of the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 as our tent. My main sleeping bag, which will change in the Sierra’s as more warmth is needed, will be my Marmot Hydrogen Bag which is rated down to 30 degrees. I’ll be sleeping on the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm which adds some warmth by having a layer of air between me and the ground and is also quite comfortable.

Gary's "Big Four" Items for the Pacific Crest Trail (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s “Big Four” Items for the Pacific Crest Trail (Click for Larger View.)

Moving on to how I’ll cook my meals. I’ll have my pocket rocket stove from MSR along with, typically, an eight ounce fuel can, 2 sporks (because I am notorious spork breaker) and a simple lighter.

Gary's Cooking System for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Cooking System for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

Now that we’ve covered my food preparation let’s talk about hydration. I’ll mostly be carrying two collapsible Platypus bottles for the majority of the trail and supplementing during the long dry spots on the trail with a regular old two liter bottle. My filter will be the Sawyer mini water filter, you can’t beat the ease of use and the weight saving size of that thing!

Gary's Hydration System for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Hydration System for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

Now that we’ve met some of the basic needs along the trail like shelter, food and water we can move on to some of the other items I’ll be carrying inside my pack. Let’s start that off with the navigation and trail essentials I’ll have with me. This includes crucial things like maps, compass, headlamp, first aid and repair kits, my knife and cordage. These are all things we’ll need at some point or another along the way.

Gary's Navigation and Trail Essential for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Navigation and Trail Essential for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

After trail essentials and navigation I’ll have some sanitation and hygiene items along the way. Here is the list of those items.

Gary's Toiletries for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Toiletries for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

Outside of sanitation and trail essentials there are always some items that don’t seem to fit into a certain category, these might be organizational items like stuff sacks and wallets, or personal items like journals and a phone. Here is what I am calling my miscellaneous category, for lack of a better term.

Gary's Miscellaneous Items for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Miscellaneous Items for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

We’ve basically covered all the stuff that I can’t wear, so let’s circle back to those items that can be worn. Firstly, there are the clothing items that will, for the most part, be in my pack. These are situational items such as thermals, jackets, rain gear, beanie, gloves, etc.

Gary's Clothing in Pack for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Clothing in Pack for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

Secondly, there are the items that will serve as my primary clothing pieces. I’ve also included items that will mostly be outside of my pack in this section. These other items are predominantly trekking poles, watch, and eyeglasses.

Gary's Primarily Worn Clothing for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Primarily Worn Clothing for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

Finally, there are those items that we’ll need only as needed. These things include ice axes, snowshoes and bear canisters in the Sierra Nevada area and possible heavier boots, gaiters and crampons should conditions dictate.

Gary's Sierra Nevada and Cold Weather Gear on the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Sierra Nevada and Cold Weather Gear on the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

So that’s it, that’s the first iteration of what I’ll be taking with my on the trail this year. Some items may drop out if I can save some ounces here or there. I’ll leave you with my pack totals as they stand now. Keep in mind, if you are doing the math on your own here that these totals have the weights of the “Clothing Worn” section dropped because it’s a pack total and those items won’t be in my pack, they’ll be on my back.

Gary's Pack Total Weight for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)
Gary’s Pack Total Weight for the Pacific Crest Trail. (Click for Larger View.)

3 thoughts on “Gary’s Gear List, First Edition

  1. I broke several sporks in prep and hiking the trail last year. That’ll probably depend on where you store it in your backpack. I kept mine in my hip-belt pocket so it was readily available. Maybe that’s too much flexing. Later I was given a lowly plastic spoon from a friend-thru-hiker which lasted the whole trail (like: http://www.rei.com/product/781525/rei-campware-soup-spoon). So you might want to test this out, and reconsider the Light My Fire Spork choice. Your having two of them allows your to have a backup of one fails, whereas, when my only utensil failed it was food eaten with my fingers or a stick.

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  2. Re: Water filtration. I started with a Sawyer Mini, along with a 16 oz squeeze bag and backflush syringe, because it was light. I would fill the squeeze bottle with dirty water and filter it into my 3L Platypus bag and into my two 0.7L SmartWater bottles. [Note: There were times like outside of Tehachapi that I also carried a 2L Platypus bag for a total of 6.4L of water] I did not put the filter inline with my bite valve because the Mini wouldn’t filter fast enough to allow me the amount of water I wanted to drink. I’m a guzzler.

    Over time the Sawyer Mini slowed down. I would backflush it and it would get a little better, but over time it would get slower and slower along with harder and harder squeezing. I remember one day in the Sierras that I timed it and it took 6-7 minutes to filter 0.7L of water. Since it took so long I began not filtering at all, a risky behavior. In time I finally had my resupplier ship me a new Sawyer Squeeze (regular size) to Timberline Lodge. I found that I could filter 0.7L of water in about a minute. Sweet! So I went back to filtering everything thereafter and stopped my risky behavior.

    Over time (about every 400 miles) the squeeze bag would develop a split near the top nozzle. The first time this happened I thought I had been too rough with it, but the second time I was careful and it still split in the same spot. By that time I was near Belden so while staying with the Brattens I dug through their hiker garbage and took a 1L Pepsi rigid plastic soda bottle while my family bought and shipped a new squeezable bottle to me further up the trail. Even though I got the new squeezable I only used it for back up because I found that the rigid soda bottle was better at filling and getting dirty water out of shallow streams. I know that with a rigid bottle you have to release the back pressure, but that was a minor inconvenience to me. Also I found that I could easily fill up my dirty rigid bottle in a stream, cap it, and only filter it later when I got to camp or a stopping point. I don’t know why but I had never done that with the squeezable bottle. It was too dinky and flimsy.

    So as a result I have two recommendations: (1) Use a Sawyer Squeeze (regular size), and (2) use a 1L rigid plastic bottle as your dirty bottle. So if you have time, please experiment with your water system to find out if you can work with it.

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  3. OK, last comment i promise… I used a Black Diamond Whippet as my combined pole and ice axe through the Sierras. I liked that it was out and available as I hiked. I also like the feel of the ice axe head in my hand as I hiked. I felt I had more control of the pole holding it like that. This past year I did not need any heavy snow boots, snowshoes, or crampons. All I carried were the Whippet and Kahtoola MICROspikes in the Sierras. I finished on September 6, 2014 so I did not need any snow equipment in the Northern Cascades. Although I had them sent to me in Snoqualmie I turned around and sent them back in Skykomish – yeah, I had to lug them to the next post office. I know I was dumb that way, but I was being cautious.

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