My PCT Gear & All the Swaps Along the Way

It’s late April 2020. I was either supposed to start the Continental Divide Trail early May, or be knee deep in my prep for a long traverse through Norway. Instead, I’ve found myself awkwardly living in an AirBnb while the owner is stuck in Australia, with no imminent hikes in sight. I’m growing a little restless just like everyone else, all due to a little thing we like to call Coronavirus. Honestly I haven’t looked up the news in ages – is it still out there? Are we still in hiding? I guess according to the queue outside the Sainsbury’s superstore it is and we are. Ah, happy days.

As no one is planning any hikes anytime soon, I thought right now would be a great time to discuss my 2019 Pacific Crest Trail gear. I mean, no really, the timing is of course awful, but it doesn’t matter. A PCT gear post was bound to appear in my future and as I’ve found myself with ample time on my hands, that future is now. Embrace the awkwardly timed gear post.

Exploding gear in the Sierras

Background Story

2019 was an interesting year for the PCT. We dealt with a 202% above average snow year, and on top of that, I had an early start date on March 25, which meant I hit the Sierras early May. The trail was dominated by snow for a majority of the time (and you can read the blog posts aptly named Snow Hell part 1, 2 and 3 if you care to acquaint yourself with the grim highlights).

Hiking in the US for the first time did allow me the novelty of trying out some of that US cottage companies’ ultralight gear, which you can’t get that easily in Europe without paying hefty import and duty fees. I spent months researching and deciding and putting in orders that were subsequently sent to Scout & Frodo’s in San Diego. I picked everything up the afternoon before starting the hike (don’t do that) and tried it all out on trail. I did end up making some changes along the way, getting a new pack after the desert and replacing bits of gear to accommodate different weather conditions.

I have two Lighterpack summaries – a pre-hike and a post-hike one. I’ve used the post-trail list for the bullet points below. Have a look at the links for all the details and weights for each individual item.

Pre-trail 2019 PCT Gear List
Post-trail 2019 PCT Gear List

I went through quite a few small and somewhat bigger gear swaps (mostly due to the plethora of gear stores along the way and all the online gear companies that offer USPS postage, which can be addressed to post offices), but weight-wise it mostly evened out in the end. Except for me carrying microspikes from day 10 until the very last day, which was the main reason for the increased weight. Bugger. I’ll talk about all the gear I used / swapped throughout and why.

The Tarptent Notch Li looking pretty on a sunny morning in Northern California


• Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 backpack
• ZPacks + SWD Shoulder pouch + Lycra shoulder pouch

Let’s dive in with the biggest culprit. I decided to go for it – chase those UL dreams and attempt a thruhike with that coveted (and painfully cool) frameless pack. I thought my dreams were made of the Mountain Laurel Designs 48l Prophet pack, in wasabi green, of course. I wavered on what size to order – they measure by a person’s overall height – which made me a medium, but looking at torso sizes, I was very much a small. Besides that, I’m a female with a small built, so I contacted MLD, and they agreed I should go for the small. The only other pack I’ve ever owned was the Osprey Aura 50, very comfortable but also more restricted and a lot heavier, so I was in for a change.

Fast forward to my first day on trail, and I found myself crippled with pain, wondering how fast I could exchange it for another. A few weeks later I’d adjusted to the pack and actually started to like it: I liked the freedom of carrying something so small, but I still struggled those first few days out of town, when I was carrying a lot of weight in food. Essentially, I was pushing the pack at its upper weight limit. At the time my base weight was about 12 pounds / 5.5 kg, and I wasn’t comfortable until I got down to carrying only a few days worth of food with me. Even so, the pack wasn’t right. The torso length for the small I ordered proved to be too small. Saying that, I was already cinching in my hip belt at its limit, which means the medium would’ve been much too big. Sigh.

There were a few more annoyances with the pack. The side pockets were too tall to be able to reach for a water bottle while on the move. And having to take my pack off to drink water just doesn’t make any sense. I had to undertake some intense acrobatics and twist too many limbs in awful ways to reach a bottle without stopping and taking the pack off.

My first pack on the PCT: the MLD Prophet

Either way, it was clear I just wasn’t lightweight enough for my ultralight pack, and it was never going to serve me during longer food carries or the Sierras, which would also have me carry a bear can. When I reached Walker’s Pass towards the end of the desert and made my way into Ridgecrest, I swapped the Prophet for a pretty reliable pack (that didn’t come with a 12 week lead time) – the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I hate the grey colour and it’s much too big at 60 litres (I’d like one at 45-48 thank you bye), but it was oh so comfortable. Still lightweight at just under 2 pounds (as opposed to the 1 pound Prophet), load lifters (love load lifters), a basic frame inside and nicely padded shoulder straps and hip belt. It also carried the BV500 bear can comfortably inside, which was another big reason for choosing this pack (I might’ve tried the Six Moon Designs Minimalist otherwise – well, if it wasn’t for the word MINIMALIST written in huge letters across the back). The one main downside was that the foam pad that makes up the back created a hot spot right in between my shoulders (that one area you can reach yourself) which was quite annoying at times.

The next hike? For the next hike I’ll be making my own pack – with all the features I need, nothing I don’t need and hopefully it’ll be strong enough for whatever I’ll throw it against. Currently being designed, so watch this space for future MYOG (make you own gear) ramblings.

A new pack (the Gossamer Gear Mariposa) and a new outfit

The Other Three

• Tarptent Notch Li + pegs + 2 Hilleberg pegs
• Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
• Enlightened Equipment Revelation 850DT 10℉ quilt reg/wide
• ZPacks Large rectangle dry bag (for quilt)

Okay, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.
I have way too much to say about these items. Let’s try and keep it short-ish.

Tarptent Notch Li with mesh and Dyneema inner. Let’s start by saying that out of all the tents on the market right now, this tent is still the closest to what I’m looking for. Double-walled, a small footprint (though it could be smaller), side entrance. Can sit inside without hitting things and you set it up using two trekking poles. Plus it’s super light. Those are the pros. They’re big pros.

There are also some cons. A tent that solely relies on tension is useless on loose ground when there are no rocks and a wind blows and it gets freezing cold and you’re pitched on a slight slope and it begins to rain and you tie your guy lines to trees because your pegs continue to get ripped out and you spent the night miserable and not sleeping under a collapsed tent getting very wet and you end up climbing into the San Jacinto mountains paralysed with exhaustion. I’m sure the tent can take some adverse weather, but you’ll rely on finding a good place to pitch it first. Then, the outer fly is too high off the ground (why do UL tents do this?) and in rain it splashes mud underneath and gets your inner dirty and everything wet. That’s a big con. When I was cowboy camping I also noticed the Dyneema bathtub floor was getting pierced by grass. Grass. Clearly silnylon is the better choice here (which is the ever-so-slightly cheaper and ever-so-slightly heavier option). So what do I think? It’s a great fair weather tent, I still like it (it looks cute in pictures), but personally I’d need something a little more robust.

Not a good night

Sleeping bag:
Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10℉ with 850 fill power. I used to have the very lightweight 20 degree Revelation that everyone has and everyone hates because it’s super cold. I knew I needed a warmer quilt, and I decided to go for another EE because at least I knew how it would compare to my old one. I wanted to get a 0 degree with 950 fill power, but just as I went to place my order they announced they’d started to overfill their quilts (aka make them resemble their supposed warmth rating more) and the 0 degree became super heavy and expensive. I went for a 10 degree extra wide one and stuck with 850 fill power and I LOVED IT. It was so fluffy and I was so happy.

Sleeping pad:
NeoAir XLite from Therm-a-Rest. The yellow one EVERYONE has. I used to have the Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated pad – that orange one, but it started moulding and after three thruhikes (mind you, with no punctures whatsoever), I figured it was time for something new. The NeoAir is the lightest on the market, so I thought it could do no wrong. Not true. I hated it. I hated it with a passion. I hated it so much that I didn’t want to set up camp and often just sat in my tent feeling sorry for myself because I really didn’t want to inflate that awful piece of gear. The mouth piece is a cheap joke that doesn’t keep the air in and I would borderline faint / explode with rage forcing in air every night. Even deflating the pad was an ordeal. Compare this to the S2S, which has a superior mouth piece that holds the air inside, and took me 13 (THIRTEEN) breaths to inflate. Compare that to thirty+ for the NeoAir. I also hated how I would often slide off the sides just lying on it. Towards the end of the hike it started to deflate more during the night. Not sure if it was a puncture or something else, but barely getting through one thruhike vs still being functional after three thruhikes is not a good score (I’ll add that the mould on the S2S pad was courtesy of my Hilleberg tent, and not the pad itself). I vote against. Sea to Summit now has a lighter, grey version of this pad, although it’s still heavier than the NeoAir, and that makes me a little sad.

Cowboy camping with Speedy

Clothing Worn

• Marmot Annika LS Shirt
• Uniqlo AIRism sleeveless top
• Montbell SupportTec Light leggings
• Icebreaker Cool-lite Impulse running shorts
• ExOfficio Underwear
• Injinji Trail socks
• Brooks Chaser visor
• La Sportiva Bushido II shoes
• Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles
• Outdoor Research Active Ice Chroma full sun gloves

I came to the PCT with my Te Araroa clothes. A thin, merino wool long sleeved shirt and short shorts. Both Icebreaker. Both black. Unfortunately the shirt was growing thin due to sun exposure, and the reddish-brown patches on my shoulders and arms were quickly turning to holes. After the desert I was in desperate need of a replacement. There wasn’t much merino, so I figured I’d try the stereotypical PCT uniform: the button up shirt.

Of course, my main concern was colour combination. What was going to fit with a boring grey pack? After a lot of consideration I decided to be bold and go white. A white shirt, oh yes. At the time I was hiking with Speedy and Speedy had the uncanny ability to get very dirty while I had the uncanny ability to stay very clean, so my white shirt was going to prove just how pristine I was going to stay. Against my expectations, I actually did find the perfect white Marmot shirt in Bishop, and my white vision became a reality. I have to say I was doing quite well (apart from the decolouring under backpack straps and hip belt etc etc.) I never grew confident of the material though. It stank and didn’t provide any warmth and I’m forever unsure why someone would chose polyester over merino wool. To me, there are no real benefits other than sartorial ones.

After the shirt I found my shorts adopting many many holes, and I found a new pair in the Icebreaker store in Portland. They were so expensive I had a mild freak out in the changing rooms. The first pair I’d bought in New Zealand, clearly a lot cheaper. But I figured I like the merino liner pant and I was probably going to regret not getting anything new once they fell to pieces in a week or so, so I bit through it and just got them. While you could never (ever) justify the price, they’re still a great pair of shorts.

My monochrome PCT uniform

Leggings: Despite it being summer and the PCT running through a lot of desert, it gets cold. Mornings, evenings, nights, Washington. I always carry leggings (got hooked on these Montbell ones you can only get in Japan – thanks Speedy for buying me another pair on your perfectly timed holiday). They add the right amount of warmth and dry fast.

Underwear and socks:
I wore ExOfficio underwear (that runs too big in size and is too expensive which means I got the very ugly colourful ones because they were on sale at REI and nobody else wanted to be caught dead in them) and I wore Injinji socks. Somehow the Injinji socks I wore years ago in Tasmania lasted forever (I wore the same pairs in Japan and Iceland and even brought a pair to New Zealand with me) but the ones I brought along the PCT got holes all the time, within weeks. It must’ve been the sandy terrain and for the first time I considered getting gaiters (but I refused to wear those horrible Dirt Girl ones that are supposed to show your personality through an awful selection of prints so ultimately decided against). I had to buy Injinji liner socks once because they didn’t have my usual medium thick ones, and I got holes within days. Unlike the popular Darn Toughs socks you don’t get a lifetime guarantee, so Injinji turned into an expensive habit. I did try a pair of Darn Toughs, hoping for less holes and more warmth in the snow but it didn’t help on either account. Well, I did get a pair replaced for free, but unfortunately my feet hate merino wool. It’s scratchy and painful and they overheat inside my shoes. So I’ll be sticking with the awkward toe socks made out of the superior material that gets holes a lot.

La Sportiva Bushido. My forever shoes. I always wanted to try these and finally got the chance – and I’ll be sticking with them. They work for me because I have narrow feet and I like a high drop, as opposed to the zero drop shoes that are so popular nowadays. Sizing was a bit awkward when I tried to pick up a new pair halfway through the hike (I’d started with a 7 and the 7.5 was pretty much exactly the same but the 8 was too big. I bought the wrong size and had to buy a new pair a few hundred miles later). Nevertheless, my first pair lasted 1550 miles. But I think I just walk in a way that doesn’t put too much stress on them, because that’s not typical.

New shoes! La Sportiva Bushido and Bushido II

Trekking poles:
Trekking poles hate me. It the one piece of gear that always fails on me, despite me using it the least. Perhaps it’s payback because I don’t like to use them. I prefer to keep my hands free so I can eat or take pictures while walking. I only use trekking poles when the terrain requires me to, and I prefer to just use the one when I can. I still keep them because when you need them, you need them – and I set up my tent with them as well. I got some of the lightest I could find (the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles), because they end up in my pack’s side pockets a lot. They fold into a Z-shape and take up little space. The one downside is that there’s a locking pin you need to push in to fold them up, and either the mechanism tightened up or got rusty over time, but it became impossible to use. I’d need to put them on the floor and use my scissors as a tool to force the pin. Kind of uncool as these things were very very expensive.

Wide brimmed hats look stupid on me and I have my limits. Did exchange my lightweight cap for a visor towards the end – heads get hot.

Sun gloves:
I found out gloves don’t just exist for the cold but also the heat. I should’ve picked these up a lot faster than I did. I had a sun rash that was horribly painful and kept coming and going. But I didn’t buy any gloves until my thumb nails started coming off (but that’s a different story). Apparently, sun gloves are not an overly dramatic day hiker thing.

Oh, and let’s not forget sunglasses. Sun and altitude is a thing, and apparently snowblindness as well. I picked up a pair in South Lake Tahoe after learning all of this. The hard way.

All the layers and protection. Don’t forget your sunglasses in the snow

Clothing Packed (Hiking)

• Patagonia Houdini windbreaker
• Enlightened Equipment Torrid APEX Women’s Jacket
• Icebreaker Cool-lite merino wool sleeveless top
• ExOfficio Underwear
• Injinji Trail socks

Upper body:
Down jackets are a thruhiker staple. I wear them at night and I hike in them. This time I tried a synthetic version – the Enlightened Equipment Torrid APEX jacket with hood. It’s light and wow it’s much warmer than I expected. Definitely warmer than the heavier Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody I had before.

For an outer shell / rain jacket I brought my usual Patagonia Torrentshell. A huge favourite of mine although it grew a little heavy later on during the hike. I used it a lot, but about halfway through the weather conditions had changed and I didn’t need a jacket that thick or warm anymore. I wanted to get a lighter waterproof option and desperately wanted to buy the (crazy expensive) Patagonia Storm Racer which proved such a niche item that even Patagonia shops didn’t carry it. I thought I’d try the Outdoor Research Helium II but didn’t quite like the fabric and in the end went rogue and got the Patagonia Houdini jacket (on sale) which is a windbreaker and not waterproof at all. I sent the Torrentshell home and threw in a flimsy $1.99 supermarket poncho and hilariously wore it during some Sierra storms (and once used it as a makeshift shelter to hide under during the day). But it worked because I only needed it a few times. While the Torrentshell was great at the start and got me through a cold desert and snow, the windbreaker proved a great layer for the weather later on.

I brought my lovely warm and super light Prism Montane down gloves that don’t work in rain because I thought it wasn’t going to be that wet on the PCT. I was wrong. While there wasn’t much rain per se, the gloves got soaked just from brushing snow and condensation off plants crowding next to the trail, rendering them useless. A sales assistant at the gear shop in Sisters didn’t have any waterproof shells but he did gift me some latex gloves to wear on top, which definitely helped.

Waterproof socks:
Oh, how desperate I was. The snow was a silent horror, and I could not deal with the cold conditions. The mountains before Sisters got me sloshing through a fresh batch and my feet turned to ice cubes. I have no idea how I managed to keep on walking in that state. Now waterproof socks never stay waterproof, but helplessly clinging onto distant hopes and dreams I bought a pair in Portland anyways. Of course they didn’t stay waterproof (it only took half a day) but they did keep my feet warm (warm and wet). I used them a lot in the end, and despite them not doing what they were supposed to do, they clearly did some other things that proved useful.

All the gear for snow in the Southern Californian desert

Clothing Packed (Sleeping + Camp)

• Japanese Brand Grey merino wool long sleeve
• Uniqlo HeatTech leggings
• Icebreaker Merino wool socks
• Muji Flip flops
• ZPacks Medium stuff sack

Every night I clean up before getting inside my tent (wet wipes or stream water) and rinse all the dirt off my legs, arms, neck and face. My tent is my clean space, not the place where I accumulate all the dirt and sleep in it, so I have a clean set of camp clothes for this use only. I wear a long sleeved merino shirt I picked up in Japan before I knew what thruhiking was, and cheap, thin, light cotton leggings from Uniqlo. I also have a thin pair of merino socks and all this doesn’t add too much weight but keeps me happy at night.

Flip flops:
A luxury to some but indispensable to me. (Also think: dirty showers other hikers have used. Yikes.) I have a simple pair from Muji which is lighter than any flip flops I’ve ever seen and they’ve been with me for the past four years. They’re only now coming apart which I’m very sad about, because the new ones they sell are heavier and bulkier.

Even clean hikers get dirty…

Snow / Sierra / Mosquito Gear

• Kahtoola MICROspikes
• BV500 bear can
• Sea to Summit Head net with Insect Shield

Microspikes: I got a pair of Kahtoola microspikes after hitching into Idyllwild from Paradise Cafe, when we found out the conditions in the San Jacinto mountains wouldn’t allow us to wait any longer. We all hit the gear shop and tried on crampons and walked out with the same microspikes. I used them most days for a long, long time. It was horrible but that’s a whole other story. The $70 price tag did shock me initially but hey, they kept me alive. I encountered so much snow that I kept the spikes with me for the remainder of the trail. I’d grown so terrified I didn’t trust anywhere to be snow free, mostly because nowhere was. Ironically, I didn’t actually need them in the Sierras (which I hit last) at all.

Bear can:
Carrying a bear can is mandatory in the Sierras, so to keep the hungry bears at bay, I used the BV500 bear can (thanks Prince for lending me yours so I wouldn’t be stuck with a useless bear can in Europe – European bears don’t try and eat humans late at night). It was a good size, and fit (almost always) (almost all of) my food for the longer Sierra carries. I’d like to add that I saw five bears on trail, one off trail, and none in the Sierras.

Mosquito gear:
You’d think mosquito gear is optional and a luxury until you hit Oregon during mosquito season. Have you ever seen those full body suits made noseeum mesh? The ones that look painfully ridiculous? Like, if you really needed those, then surely you’d just choose to stay at home and not hike at all? Well, once you hit the wrong place at the wrong time, you will pray for one of those suits. I never knew mosquitoes could be this vicious. I didn’t know I could be running as fast as possible and still have mosquitoes all over, stinging me. I didn’t know how they could swarm lakes and crowd my vision and land on me by the hundreds. But they can. I was so desperate I grabbed a mesh stuff sack out of a hiker box and wore it over my head (advertising Big Agnes for several weeks) until I picked up a lightweight bug net. I also picked up a piece of mesh fabric from a lake resort and wrapped it around my legs, and I ran. Mosquitoes are decidedly not fun.

Getting stylish with a mosquito net wrapped around me like a skirt

Food + Drink

• Sea to Summit Spoon + small measuring cup
• Sawyer Squeeze water filter
• Sawyer 64 fl. oz. Water pouch
• Plastic water bottles
• ZPacks Large stuff sack
• Loksak OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bags

A titanium spoon is all I need. Wait no, I have a tiny plastic measuring cup which I used to pour protein powder into a wide rimmed plastic bottle. I also carried a Smart water bottle and two 64oz Sawyer water pouches. I never needed more than one (apparently I’m good with dehydration and never carried more than 2.5 litres), so could’ve sent one home. This section also includes overpriced but very lightweight Dyneema stuff sacks from ZPacks, and I secretly really love them. I stored my main food in Opsaks though. They’re like huge ziplock bags and keep the smell out, keeping your food save from rodents. I’d use two and keep them against the back of my pack, creating a frame. The ziplock mechanism never lasted but they were great nevertheless. For dinners I’d eat meals out of small ziplock bags (like a hobo) so there was a lot of plastic in my life (sorry). I’ve never used a stove so cold soak instead.

Water filter:
I used the new Sawyer Micro water filter but switched out to the normal sized Squeeze for the first time sometime during the desert, after ruining the filter in a disgusting well filled with remnants of yellow water. I have to admit that the Squeeze is significantly better than both the Mini and the Micro, the flow of water remaining much higher throughout. I hoped the Micro would be a good choice but it’s as bad as the Mini I used to have. Although oddly enough, my very first Mini from Tasmania lasted a lot longer than the ones I got more recently. It’s like everything in life was better three years ago.

Sawyer water filter breaks

Toiletries + First Aid

• TheTentLab The Deuce #1 UUL Backcountry Trowel
• Kula Cloth Pee rag
• REI Co-op Multi towel mini
• Sea to Summit Mesh stuff sack XXS
• Tooth brush / Scrub glove / Scissors / Nail clippers / Sunscreen / Anti-bacterial gel /
Eyebrow pencil / Lip balm / Ear plugs / Soap
• Body lotion / Moisturiser / Toothpaste (all in 30 gr Sistema pots)
• Deodorant (30 ml Muji spray bottle)
• Plasters / Medicine / Tape
• Tenacious Repair tape
• Tarptent Dyneema repair patch

I love toiletries. I bring small amounts of body lotion, moisturiser, sunscreen, deodorant (yes, deodorant – a water based one like Weleda that keeps everything a little fresher), toothpaste and a full sized toothbrush, because I prefer not to ruin my teeth with a useless one cut in half, as the cool kids do these days. I also have some nail clippers and a tiny pair of embroidery scissors – they are great for opening food packaging. I’ve never needed a knife (I have teeth) but I’ll always bring scissors. Maybe one day I’ll actually try and cut down on toiletries, somehow, without cutting down on hygiene.

First aid:
Which includes personal and gear first aid. I don’t care much for first aid. Kind of like how everyone carries duct tape but I’ve never needed any. I have some Dyneema patches that came with my tent and some Tenacious repair tape (which I used once, in New Zealand). I think I have a few plasters but no medicine.

Pee rag:
Goodness. Pee rags are great and pretty horrible at the same time. I tried the Kula Cloth pee rag. It’s stupid expensive and the buttons were so difficult to undo that they borderline ripped out of the fabric. But I figured it’s better than using a bandana (which I never would, ever), because why would you want your backpack to absorb the pee from your own a pee-soaked piece of fabric? The Kula Cloth at least saves on toilet paper, and that’s nice. If you’re not quite sure about getting one, know that when you hang it outside at night to dry, all sorts of creepy insects like to crawl around in it. Just FYI.

Lunch break gear

Electronics + Personal Items

• Find Me SPOT + Extra AAA lithium batteries
• iPhone 8 + case
• Anker PowerCore II 20,000 mAh battery pack
• RavPower USB Fast Charger 30W Quick Charge 3.0 Wall Charger
• Cables x 2 + ear phones
• ZPacks Tablet Zip Pouch
• Petzl Bindi headlamp
• Sony RX100 + batteries
• Sony Battery and Travel DC Charger Kit + extra NP-BX1 Battery
• Joby Tripod Griptight GorillaPod + remote + stuff sack
• Passport
• ZPacks Wallet zip pouch + 2 cards

This is probably one of my heavier sections. I carry a lot of electronics. I got a new camera, a ‘real’ one for the first time: the Sony RX100 VA. I keep this in my hip pocket. I take a lot of pictures for this blog, and use my iPhone to edit them, write the entries, and uh, download and watch a lot of Star Trek in my tent at night.

Power bank:
To keep everything charged I got a new battery pack, and choosing the right one turned into such an ordeal that I even emailed the Anker customer service for advice (and they were great, btw). I wanted something like a 15,000 mAh battery with some sort of quick charge ability (to be able to charge the pack quickly during town visits and not have to stay the night all the time), and this also meant I needed a wall charger with the same capabilities. In the end, a 15,000 mAh quick charge pack didn’t exist, and considering all of the combined weights (I also wanted a dual USB wall charger and a lot were very heavy) – I married the Anker PowerCore II 20,000 mAh power bank with a RavPower 3.0 QuickCharge charger. Despite it being quite heavy, the power bank charges in 5 hours, so that turned into a great piece of gear. I kept all these electronics in an amazing zip pouch from ZPacks. It also held my passport, my PCT permit and Canada Entry permit printed just big enough (for me) to read the words.

Personal items:
My wallet! Randomly, my favourite piece of gear ended up being the ZPacks wallet I got towards the end of the hike. It’s a completely overpriced tiny little thing, green and Dyneema (of course), but it’s just so cute and it weighs nothing and after breaking ziplock bags all the way up and down the trail, it was sheer luxury and joy.

Cheap rain poncho dreams during a Sierra storm

That’s it!

My rendering of the oh so prosaic (but not prosaic) PCT gear blog that’s saturating the internets. Let’s end with this one thing everyone cares too much (or not enough) about: pack weight. I tried to get my pack weight down as much as possible but I have my limits – I need a comfortable bed at night and warm clothes to wear. I’ll be the lightweight one but not ultralight. I eat food and not chips. And it’ll always fluctuate. Every destination requires / allows for slight gear changes, and gear is a nerd-fest that will never let you down. Upgrading to all this new gear for the PCT was NOT CHEAP. I’ll be attempting the make-your-own-gear corner for a little while in order to create some bespoke items. Let’s see how that goes…

If you’re still reading and longing for more words – I’ve got more gear talk relating to some other areas – Iceland here, and a post about Te Araroa gear here, which is more of a discussion on hiking styles and a way to find out what gear suits you as a person. Enjoy and good luck venturing into gear nerdom!

Published by

Rosanne Luciana

A Dutch-born London-based hiker who has swapped an East Asian backpacking experience for the opportunity to truly immerse herself into nature, by quite simple, walking.

2 thoughts on “My PCT Gear & All the Swaps Along the Way

  1. I really enjoyed your nerdy gear blog because I’m getting ready to gear up for some treks after a forty year break in back packing. I’m now 73, lost 60 pounds and believe that I can get these old bones up a trail again. I’m especially intrigued by your interest in making your own gear because I sew. I presume you mean to build a pack. Will you design your own, work from a pattern? Look forward to following your extra nerdy geary blogs.


  2. Lovely to have a blog post from you at this time! I was wondering what you were getting up to as I’m sure work as also slowed down.

    I’ve been keeping busy by planning hikes in the UK and nearby, I’m going to be out of shape and there are so many National Trails to choose from. For longer ones there’s the Scottish National Trail which probably would be a breeze for you, or the Coast to Coast Way in Ireland – they’re not the same level as the PCT or Te Araroa but we may need to stick local for a while.


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