PCT Gear Review

Here’s a list of everything I took and bought along the way. I’ve reviewed each item, said whether I would use the item again and put an * next to the item if it was sponsored through the mYAMAdventure program. If you click the item description you will be taken to each item’s website where you can see pictures and more details. Ask away if there’s any questions 🙂

Item Name Description Use again? (Y/N) grams
BIG 4
Tent YAMA Mountain Gear SW Cirriform  *  Y 765
It took me a couple of attempts to work out the correct pole length for each end of the tent, but was simple to set-up each time after this. I loved how lightweight and spacious it was (my pack and all gear could fit inside and I could sit up at the entrance end), but the one concern I had was packing it up in bad weather. As it was a single wall tent, even if only the roof was wet, once packed up, the whole tent became wet. It dried quickly in the sunshine, and would dry well in wind, but I decided to swap it out for the Yama Mountain Gear Silnylon double wall concerned that I might have bad weather in Oregon & Washington. The double wall worked better for me in consecutive days of rain because I could wrap the fly and inner netting separately, keeping the net dry. The DW had less room inside the net, but a larger vestibule where I was able to keep my pack. You can also just use the DW tarp (without the netting) and I did this one night when there was only room for one tent, but two people so we both cowboy camped under the tarp. I would take the SW for hiking in dry climates and the DW for wet weather.
Sleeping Bag WM Alpinlite & compression sack  * Y 965
I loved this sleeping bag, no complaints whatsoever. (This was not part of the mYAMAdventure program, I contacted WM separately and was able to loan the bag. I have emailed them asking if I can buy it off them as I love it so much).
Sleeping mat Women’s NeoAir X Lite Y 345
I am so impressed that this mattress lasted the entire PCT. Up until Casa de Luna I didn’t have a ground sheet but was pretty thorough about clearing the ground where I camped. At Cascade Locks I popped one of the baffles with a loud noise but there was no hissing sound and it worked perfectly up until the end.
Backpack Gossamer Gear – Mariposa  * Y 825
Loved the weight, the massive outside pockets and the comfy hip-belt (also with big pockets). However, this is an ultra light pack and when I was in the Sierras I was often carrying 7+ days of food and a bear canister and my pack was not ultra light, it was heavy! I found this pack comfortable as long as I wasn’t carrying more than 35lbs (15kg).
KITCHEN/WATER
Water Filter Sawyer Squeeze incl 1 litre bag Y 100
Get the large, not the mini! My large froze in a storm on top of San Jacinto and the first opportunity I had to replace it was in Big Bear – but only the mini was available. I bought the mini and used it up until Timberline Lodge but it was incredibly slow and made filtering water very frustrating. When I bought a large one again in Bend I couldn’t believe how fast it filtered! HOWEVER, the bags are terrible and break way too quickly, use a Platypus or alternative bag.
Water container Platy 2l bottle Y 36
Loved them and they all lasted perfectly.
Water back-up Aquamira drops Y 57
Only used these a couple of times when my filter froze. I would take them as a back-up but prefer the efficiency of the Sawyer filter.
Stove Jetboil Minimo & 100g gas Y 645
Loved my minimo. Boiled water in 2 minutes unless at altitude and the pot is a great size.
Spoon MSR Folding spoon Y 10
This one plastic spoon lasted me the entire way!
Food storage bag Loksak Opsak odour proof bag 12″x20″ N 45
Terrible! I went through 5 of these bags. In the Sierras I put my opsak in a bear box while others had their food in a drysak and in the morning my Opsak was the only one chewed through by a rodent! Was it because it was see-through? The ziplock part ripped way too easily and I was really disappointed. I would probably consider an Ursak.
RAINGEAR
Umbrella Euroschirm Swing Liteflex  * N 225
I took it for the desert section and it was great when there wasn’t any wind, but there was often a breeze and it inverted very easily. I carried it until Kennedy Meadows (broken in 3 places from inverting so many times), then I finally threw it out. I missed it throughout the rest of the hike but I’m glad I wasn’t carrying the extra weight for the few wet days. I would take a poncho instead.
Jacket OR Helium 2 N 160
Loved how light-weight it is, but I didn’t find it that waterproof. I would take a poncho instead.
Pack liner Trash Compactor Bag Y
100% worth it!
Rain skirt Lightheart Gear Rain Wrap  * Y 91
Loved it. It kept the water of my upper legs (down to my knees), provided extra warmth and most importantly it didn’t stick to me or make my legs sweat.
CLOTHES I’M WEARING
Shoes Brooks Cascadia  N 0
Terrible! I went through 2 pairs of 10s and 3 pairs of the 9s. The 10s developed holes in the upper material after 150 miles making gaiters pointless as all the sand/stones came through the front of the shoes where the holes were. The 9s lasted approx 400 miles before developing the same holes. I kept going with the same brand as I didn’t want to try a new shoe out on the trail but Brooks need to do something about this shoe!
Socks Darn Tough  * Y 0
Perfect! I took 6 pairs with me, a combination of their running socks (very thin), and different thickness hiking socks. The running socks developed holes quickly so I would stay away from these and get the lightweight hiking socks. But whatever you get, Darn Tough has an exchange warranty and I was able to change them for new ones at an outfitter in South Lake Tahoe.
Sock liners Injinji crew liners N 0
I use these on caminos and they’ve always lasted quite a while but on the PCT under my Darn Tough socks I was lucky if they would last a week! I went through 9 pairs before I decided to stop buying them and started taping my toes (to stop them from rubbing on each other).
Skirt Purple Rain Skirt Y 0
My favourite piece of clothing! I wore this every single day for 160 days and it still looks brand new! Whenever it got dirty on the trail I would splash water on it from a stream and it would look clean again. The yoga waistband is incredibly comfortable, it dries super quick, the pockets are very generous and best of all, you can pee standing up! Love, love, loved it!
Underpants Icebreaker hipkini then Exofficio Y 0
I preferred the exofficio, they dry quicker than the Icebreaker and are more comfortable.
Desert shirt Patagonia Sol Patrol L/S Y 0
Perfect shirt. Great length sleeves and easy to roll up, comfortable, quick drying and not too smelly. My only complaint is the colour I had: Pink, but it did hide the dirt. Again, wore it everyday for 160 days and it still looks like new.
Sports bra Sweaty Betty then Patagonia Y 0
My sweaty betty deteriorated in washing machines so I bought a Patagonia padded sports bra without a hook fastening and I love it, maybe even more than the Sweaty Betty.
Knee Brace LP Support Y 0
Much needed!
Sun hat Prana Y 0
Anything that will keep the sun off your face is a must.
Sunglasses Dirty Dog Polarized Y 0
Loved these glasses and wore them everyday, until I lost them on the second last day… great mid-price option.
Gloves for desert (sun) 0
Gaiters Dirty Girl  * Y 0
I wore one pair the entire way and they only developed holes in them at White Pass – very impressed!
Hiking Poles Carbon Pacerpoles  * Y 0
Couldn’t have done it without them! Best poles I’ve ever used.
SLEEP CLOTHES
Baselayer top Icebreaker Oasis L/S Crewe 200 Y 160
Perfect and still looks new.
Baselayer bottoms Icebreaker Everyday Leggings 200 N 160
Not so good, have holes in knees and thighs. Wouldn’t buy this model again.
Socks Darn Tough  * Y 45
See above
Beanie Mouse works  * Y 70
Loved my beanie and ordered a balaclava from the same company which I ended up wearing more than the beanie – to sleep in through the Sierras, Oregon and Washington. Would always take a balaclava from now on.
Earplugs y 10
I used a pair of earplugs maybe 4 times but would always take them.
Drysack for clothes Sea to Summit Ultra-sil, 4 litres Y 26
Kept everything dry and in one place.
CLOTHES IN MY PACK
Wind pants & Jacket Patagonia Houdini Y 95
Loved them both. Kept me warm but not sweaty like a rain jacket/pants but not good enough to replace wet weather gear (not waterproof).
T-shirt Icebreaker Tech T N 115
Carried one the entire way and only wore it in towns when I was washing my shirt. Wouldn’t take it in future, would just wear raingear while washing.
Down Jacket MH Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody Y 203
I think I wore this every night and in Washington I slept in almost every night too. Perfect down hoody!
Socks (1 spare) Darn Tough  * Y 40
See above
Gloves Lowe Alpine Polartec Y 35
Fine in desert when not very cold but changed to Sealskinz for Sierras and Washington and these were much better in bad weather.
Camp shoes Bedrock Sandals – Gabbro  * Y&N 220
Lightweight, good to wear in showers but not so good to wear on a cold night because of the toe strap. If weight was an issue I would take these again, if weight wasn’t an issue, I would take my Teva’s so I can wear socks with them.
ELECTRONICS
Phone & Case iPhone 5s & Mophie juice pack plus Y 205
Can’t go anywhere without my mophie!
Music player Nano – 6th generation Y 35
Love it, until I lost it at Shelter Cove 😦
Camera, case & spare batt Sony RX100 III Y 355
Best compact digital camera I’ve ever used and made transferring my photos to my phone (via inbuilt wifi) a breeze. Can’t travel without it.
Tripod Ultrapod Y 50
Only used it on a few occasions but love the night photos that resulted from using it.
Solar Panel Anker E5 Y 280
I was going to take the Poweradd Apollo but changed to this one and I’m glad it did. The Anker holds more charge and I needed this extra charge as I was charging a camera, phone, SOS device and music player. It’s heavy but that’s the compromise I made.
Headlamp Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Y 80
This malfunctioned on me (drained my batteries as soon as I put them in) so I replaced it with a Petzl Tikka and it worked perfectly.
SOS Delorme InReach Explorer  Y 200
So worth it! I used an AT&T prepaid Sim and had phone service maybe 50% of the entire trail, but having this meant I could always send and receive messages even without phone service. My friends and family could always see where I was from the tracking option and I would send a message each night to let them know I had arrived at camp or a trail town. 100% recommend.
OTHER
Compass Silva Ranger N 35
Carried it the entire way and didn’t use it once.
Maps per 2 sections Y 90
Rarely looked at them but would always carry paper maps in addition to apps.
Trowel Qiwiz original titanium Y 11
Perfectly small and light but did the job well!
Ziplock bags Quart freezer bags for rubbish etc Y 5
Can never have enough!
Victorinox Swiss Card Scissors, tweezers, nail file… N 25
The tweezers aren’t good enough so I would get a separate set of tweezers and scissors instead of this.
Knife Opinel No.8 Outdoor Knife Y 60
I didn’t use it that often but it made me feel more protected than a pocket knife.
PackTowl Ultralite medium Y 34
Definitely need a towel and this was the perfect size.
ITEMS IN MY BOUNCE BOX (not counted in total base weight)
Bug Head Net OR deluxe spring ring headnet Y 60
I carried this from the Sierras onwards and used it for mosquitoes and when cowboy camping.
Microspikes (for Sierras) Kahtoola Y 420
Only used them once to climb Mt Whitney but taking them will always depend on the weather.
Fleece Macpac hooded Y 285
Used this in the Sierras, Oregon & Washington to sleep in only.
Total grams 6,913

There were quite a few times in the rain in Washington that I wished I had a poncho with me to keep the rain off me and my pack. This is probably something I would take in future if I knew I was going to a particularly wet area. If I took a poncho, I wouldn’t take the OR Helium jacket and depending on the length of the poncho, I might not need the rain skirt either.

 

Planning for the PCT

Blogging from the trail

Resupply – how, what & why

A mental vs physical challenge

Post PCT Reflections

Video

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18 responses to “PCT Gear Review

    • Hi fivesummits, it’s really nice to be able to let your feet breathe at the end of the day. Sometimes my shoes would still be wet when I came into camp (from a stream/rain etc) and it meant that I could take them off and put on something dry. You can also wear camp shoes through streams if you don’t want to get your shoes wet. I guess I could have done without them but I would still always take some kind of camp shoe on future trails. I hope this helps 🙂

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  1. Before selecting your knee brace did you try various competing brands/models? I have a couple knee braces with which i am not completely satisfied. I’d love your input. Thanks.

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    • Hi Bob, I’ve used heaps of different stretchy knee braces since my knee operation a few years ago and the best for me (material type) is the blue LP support type. It stays in place, provides enough support for me and doesn’t rub anywhere. They have different types depending on the injury. Good luck!

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  2. Hi Kat,
    So pleased I’ve just found your website/blog – it’s really, really useful 🙂
    Planning to do the PCT next year (also from the UK) and I was wondering how much of your stuff you bought from America, and how much you managed to get at home? Some of the gear I’m looking at (particularly recommended tents!) seem hard to get here?
    Thanks!
    Clare

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    • Hi Clare,

      You must be getting pretty excited!!

      I got quite a bit of my gear from America, not to say that the gear here isn’t good, but I think the US has more of an emphasis on lightweight gear and it’s cheaper there too. (Here you want heavy wet weather gear!)

      But I was also part of the mYAMAdventure program which supplies gear so through this I was given: tent, backpack, socks, gaiters, rain skirt, umbrella.

      All my other gear, I decided what I wanted (based on reviews and weight), then bought it wherever it was cheaper – Amazon, REI, other online sites or from a shop. It helped that I knew someone in America who could receive the packages for me because quite a few places wouldn’t deliver internationally and even if they did it made the price crazy expensive for the postage.

      Looking back, I didn’t actually buy that much gear here which isn’t that good but I had to try and keep the prices down because I was on a limited budget.

      Writing to companies for sponsorship could be an idea too.

      Good luck!!

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  3. Hello – Firstly can I say I LOVED reading about your adventures! Secondly what poncho would you recommend? I was looking at the Altus but have read the new one isn’t as good as the old… and the Ferrino is a bit hot… I hate walking hot! What would you buy now? (thanks in advance for all and any advice)

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    • Hi Colleen, I’ve been searching for a poncho for a few years now and Altus & Ferrino seem to be the best but I still haven’t tried either (couldn’t find the Altus online and the Ferrino is expensive to buy online). When I came back from the PCT I went back to Spain and walked another Camino – I wanted to take a poncho with me but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I bought a Trekmates poncho – I was walking in northern Spain in November and it didn’t rain once so I didn’t get to test it out! Sorry I can’t help more with this question!

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      • Thanks for the reply – I’ve decided to stick with the Vaude I had before for now, it’s a bit of a pantomime horse but it kept me dry last time so I’ll just create my own kind of camino chic 🙂 But I’ll have a look at the trekmates… might be a better kind of chic! many thanks x

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  4. Hi Kat, very useful and detailed info on your site! I have the GG Mariposa in mind for my PCT thru-hike and see you used the same. Due to its size I was wondering though if it was not too big. I mean the outside pockets are so big and practical (to put tent, water, jacket only needed in the morning but then taken off) that I was wondering if there is enough stuff left to put inside so that it still properly closes (i.e. lid reaching not further down than buckles). Not an issue during your hike? Don’t have all my stuff yet but looks like your setup will be similar to mine: light but not ultralight 😉 Many thanks.

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    • Hi Tania,

      I never had a problem – I packed my tent, mat, sleeping bag, food and clothes in the main part and only used the outside pocket for things I needed to get to quickly – wet weather gear etc so it was usually always pretty full… (My water was always in the side pockets). I would’ve loved it only being half full though!

      I found this bag the perfect size, I have no idea how I could’ve put a bear canister in a smaller bag. (When the bear canister was inside my bag, my tent went into a side pocket and I carried less water because it was more readily available in the Sierras.)

      Happy trails!!

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      • Hi Kat,

        I’m having a similar ‘dilemma’ regarding what bag to take on my PCT section hike this summer (we are only hiking the Oregon and Washington stretch, so no bear canister required)! I’m guessing (and hoping) that my husband will be carrying the tent. I originally purchased an Osprey Ariel 55 for the hike, but I’m just not loving it whilst going out on practices in the UK. Would you recommend I stump up the extra cash to get a GG Mariposa or Gorilla?

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      • Hi Kathryn,
        This is a tricky one because I usually wouldn’t have bought a pack without trying it on first but Gossamer Gear were one of the sponsors when I was in the mYAMAdventure program and I feel I was very lucky that it fit and felt comfortable without trying it on. If you live around London and want to try out mine I’d be happy to meet up – mine’s a Mariposa, size medium with a small hip belt. I’ve not used the Gorilla so I can’t comment on that one, but as long as you’re going light, the Mariposa is a great pack.

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      • That is a very kind offer – it would be so useful! From the GG website I think I would be the same size (although height-wise I fall exactly between a S and M which is another reason I’m reluctant to just order online). Whereabouts is a convenient place in London to meet up – coffees/ drinks are on me!

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