Your Pacific Crest Trail gear list can at times feel like one of your most defining features on the trail. It's been a few years since my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, and I've since learned a lot about what gear works on a thru-hike and what gear is better left at home (or thrown in the garbage). My own gear list has changed dramatically – especially since I first hiked the PCT. If I were to go back and talk to myself before I made my PCT packing list and went out to spent a small fortune on gear, I would advise me to take the following. And don't just take my word for it. If you want to learn more about the favorite, most popular, or most hated PCT gear used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers, check out the PCT Hiker Survey Gear Guide.
If you would like to skip directly to a detailed description of each item, please click here.
The base weight of the gear included on this list (not including worn clothing or the small miscellaneous items such as cords, a toothbrush, or Ziploc bags, or consumable items such as water, food, and insect repellant) is 15 lbs (6.8 kg). Note: This includes a 1 lb / 450 g battery pack, 5.4 oz / 153 g personal locator beacon, and a 7.6 oz / 215 g bear bag. All of these items are completely optional for hikers and the base weight without these items drops to 13.19 lbs / 5.98 kg. In the Sierra, bear canister must also be carried. I'm always looking to try new gear and am curious to hear what everyone else has to say about their own setups, so if you've got something to say be sure to leave a comment or get in touch.
REMEMBER, there is no “perfect PCT gear list”. My gear list different hugely from that of my best hiking buddies. Ultimately, the best gear for the PCT is the gear that makes you the most comfortable and happiest. Make good decisions, friends.
The Big Stuff
Shirt (Sierra Onward)
Fanny Pack Strap
The Backpacking Gear
Food Storage (Outside Sierra)
Bear Canister (Sierra)
Personal Locator Beacon
Stuff Sack (Sleeping Bag)
Anti Chafe Balm
Anti Blister Balm
The Camera Gear
- Rubber bands, assorted Ziploc bags, lighter, pen, Sharpie, dice (for Yahtzee!)
The ULA Circuit is one of the most popular and best-reviewed packs for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's a 68-liter pack that easily fits the BV500 and other bear canisters with up to 35 lbs (16 kg) of gear. It has a 1.2 oz / 34 g carbon fiber and Delrin suspension hoop with an internal foam frame and a single aluminum stay for support and can be ordered with a 12″ to 18″ adjustable harness system. Best of all, it comes in green, black, red, orange, blue, teal, grey, or purple. I am also a huge fan of the multiple and very stretchy mesh pockets.
41 oz / 1.162 kg / Find Out More
Other popular backpacks used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
I have yet to make the leap to tarps, and so for now I would have to go with the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 Platinum as my shelter on the PCT. This thing is a palace. There are lighter shelters out there, but I love the comfort that a two-person shelter offers. However, if you don't feel the need for an enclosed, freestanding tent, then there are other lighter options available. Read my detailed review of the Copper Spur 2 Platinum here.
44 oz / 1.247 kg / Find Out More
Other popular tents used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
When you hear about someone splurging on a sleeping bag, it's probably a Western Mountaineering bag they ended up getting. The Versalite is a 10°F / -12°C bag that will keep you warm (without a liner) no matter the conditions on the PCT (so long as you're not a crazy winter thru-hiker). If you want something a bit lighter, check out the 20°F / -9°C UltraLite instead. Read my detailed Western Mountaineering Versalite review here.
30 oz / 850 g / Find Out More
Other popular sleeping bags used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (Regular)
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite from Cascade Designs is one of the lightest full-length sleeping pad on the market. It sports an impressive 3.2 r-value (that's the insulation rating), and it packs up quite small and doubles as a raft (or even a sled). The only problems are that it takes a while to inflate/deflate and it can be noisy, so be considerate to your neighbors. Read my detailed Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite review here.
12 oz / 340 g / Find Out More
Other popular sleeping pads used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
VOORMI River Run Hoodie (Desert)
Long sleeves and hood are the way to go, and the VOORMI River Run Hoodie is one of the only lightweight merino options still available to hikers. Why companies are killing off their lightweight merino hoodies, I don't know. Fortunately, Voormi gets it and has us covered (get it!? Because the long sleeves and the hood cover you? And “covered” also means like taken care of? AHAHAHAHAHA). This lightweight hoodie is, quick-drying, odor-resistant, breathable, and even has funky thumb loops. It keeps you cool in the sun and warm in the cold – what more could you ask for?
7 oz / 186 g / Find Out More
Leaving the desert, you are free to continue being awesome and using a hoodie, but if you want to change it up (like I would), then I would be wearing the Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt 2.0. I know, you might find it strange to be wearing something described as a “dress shirt” on the trail, but 1) this shirt is designed for hard work and travel more than it is for sipping cocktails and brown-nosing, and 2) it's nice to be able to look classy both on and off the trail. It's even got a chest pocket. Function and fashion. That said, what top you're wearing is a pretty personal choice so basically wear whatever is comfortable.
Although I hate the rain, a five-month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail is bound to have some days of shitty weather (I'm looking at you late-season Washington). The Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid is relatively lightweight (for a full-featured GORE-TEX jacket) but most importantly, it's waterproof (again, GORE-TEX). It has two large chest pockets that are accessible when wearing a hipbelt. My view on rain gear is that if you're going to carry it, then it had better work (no point in carrying an ultralight rain jacket that's going to soak through after the first couple hours of downpour.
12 oz / 340 g / Find Out More
This is not the down jacket I have, but this is certainly the down jacket I want (and the one I would bring on the PCT if it magically appeared in front of me). The Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket has a full-length zipper, two hard warmer pockets, a hood, an adjustable hem (that's the waist), and lycra around the cuffs and hood. It's filled with ethically-sourced 900+ fill power goose down and is made in Seattle, Washington (in case there's another Seattle I don't know about). The shell is made with Pertex Quantum (with DWR) and the fill weight (that's the weight of all the feathers inside) is 3.7 oz / 105 g.
10.6 oz / 300 g / Find Out More
These shorts are sexy as hell. However, shorts can change a lot from person to person so these definitely aren't for everyone. That being said, they've got a built-in liner (so you won't need underwear with these) and they've got three stretch pockets and a zipper pocket. I can fit a large cellphone into the stretch pockets and with a 5″ inseam. Honestly, as a man, the best thing about these shorts is that I can pee out the bottom of them. There, I said it. I'm a savage who has to pee sometimes.
3.9 oz / 111 g / Find Out More
This is a hat. I have this hat. I like this hat. That said, hats are hats. This is less a suggestion of what the “best” hat is (although I really do like this hat and you can also get it with either a bison or a fish), and more a reminder that you need a hat. Some people will be wearing full-brim hats, some will be wearing those silly hats that have a built-in shade mullet, some hiker bros will be wearing visors, and some people might not have any hat at all. Wear whatever hat you want – just wear a hat. And if you're not keen on wearing a hat, I would suggest that you reconsider this for the desert (either that, or bring an umbrella).
3 oz / 85 g / Find Out More
I don't know why, but I feel like the number of beanies with sufficient protection from the wind around the ears is growing smaller. Are people just using buffs and hoods? I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something. If you're like me and want a beanie to wear not just when you're hanging out at camp, but also when you're hiking and it's cold as balls out, then take a look at the Outdoor Research Crest Hat. Honestly, I wish it was just a little bigger (I have a big head), but it gets the job done. If you've got a beanie you love, let me know what it is so I can check it out.
1.7 oz / 49 g / Find Out More
If you don't own a buff, then don't be like me and resist buying one for way too long. They're great. The polar buff is the original buff, but with 9 in / 22.8 cm of fleece at the end making it a bit warmer and a more versatile. If you stuff your down jacket (or extra clothes) inside it at night, it also makes a great pillowcase. If you're looking for something more simple, check out the original buff. If you're looking for something even warmer, then check out the polar reversible buff. And if you're looking for something to make you look like a bag, then check out the PCT buff (but honestly, I kind of want one).
2.29 oz / 65 g / Find Out More
You guys, I know that wearing a head net makes you look like a complete tool (and if this is how you had to find out, I am sorry). However, when you're trudging through mosquito country (and trust me, if you're hiking the PCT you will come to know this country well), you are not going to care about how dumb you look – only how many mosquitoes are not currently in and/or on your face. The Sea to Summit Head Net is a lightweight solution with an adjustable hem that you should probably bring an extra one of because you'll be able to sell it for ten times the price to some sucker caught out without one.
1.2 oz / 34 g / Find Out More
Rain pants are not considered an essential item by all hikers, but if you're going to bring rain pants, you want them to be good rain pants (in case you didn't catch this when we were talking about rain jackets above). There's no point in bringing rain pants that will soak through and just stick to you after an hour of rain. Also, if it's raining hard enough for my shorts to get soaked, I run the risk of some chafe (I don't know about the rest of you). I like the Montbell Convertible Rain Pants because I can use them as rain shorts to keep my shorts dry and prevent chafe (I don't really care about my shins or socks). Rain pants (or shorts) are also great for the dewy morning hours when you might find yourself hiking through wet and overgrown brush.
6.1 oz / 173 g / Find Out More
Not everyone considers gloves to be an essential piece of PCT gear, but for me, it's worth carrying an extra 1.8 oz / 50 g to have some gloves to get me through colder mornings or days filled with freezing rain (or possibly frozen rain). The Arc'teryx Venta Gloves may seem a bit overkill, but I used to have a softshell pair of gloves and despite loving them for early-morning use, they did little to help if things got cold and wet. The Arc'teryx Venta Gloves have a durable water repellent finish and are made with GORE WINDSTOPPER materials to protect from both wind and rain. Cold hands suck.
1.8 oz / 50 g / Find Out More
By the end of the PCT nearly everyone was wearing Darn Tough 1/4 Hiking Socks. They're comfortable, made with merino wool, have a lifetime guarantee, and offer great cushion. You will never want to buy another brand of sock. I buy these as presents all the time because you know why? Because they're awesome. There's no better feeling on the trail than a new pair of socks. Read my detailed Darn Tough Socks review here.
2.2 oz / 62 g / Find Out More
If you've never used gaiters before or are at all confused by what they're for or what they do, let me be the first to inform you that they are definitely something you should try out. They basically serve to keep rocks, dirt, poop, etc. out of your shoes while hiking. It might not sound like a big deal, but if you're stopping once an hour, every hour, for five months to empty shit out of your shoe, that time adds us. It also helps prevent blisters (no more having to just ignore that little rock) and they keep your socks much cleaner. I'm currently trying the Kahtoola INSTAgaiter Low Gaiters and we'll see how they hold up. However, if I used Altras (shoes), I would be using the Altra Trail Gaiters instead.
1.73 oz / 49 g / Find Out More
The Moab 2 Ventilators from Merrell is my favorite shoe for trekking. They're wide enough for my fat-ass foot, water-resistant (but still breathable), and have awesome tread/laces. There's a Gore-Tex version available, but I would stick with the standard shoes since they're far cheaper and breathe a bit better. I've yet to have a blowout with these shoes (something that I see often with Altras). Note: buy whatever shoes are most comfortable for you – everyone is different.
33 oz / 936 g / Find Out More
Other popular shoes used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
As was the case with the hat, sunglasses are a personal choice. You're not summiting Mount Everest, you're hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. There's not a “best” pair of sunglasses. However, there are good sunglasses and bad sunglasses. You're probably going to want sunglasses for the desert sun, the hiking at altitude, and (if you're lucky) the snow. Polarized sunglasses are best, and if you've never owned a pair of polarized sunglasses, let the PCT be your excuse to treat yourself to a pair.
1.6 oz / 45 g / Find Out More
I guess the official name for this thing is an “eyewear retainer”, but we all know that just makes it sound even more lame than it already is. But I ask you, friend, to look past your judgements as to the coolness of eyewear retainers and accept that in the context of a thru-hike, they are incredibly useful. I have tried a couple different eyewear retainers and have found this one to be the most durable (if you use one of the ones with prints on a piece of neoprene, the print will fall off eventually). Just don't lose it in the wash and you'll be fine.
0.6 oz / 17 g / Find Out More
Camp shoes are not an essential piece of gear. However, I've tried thru-hiking without camp shoes and the amount of utility and happiness having something easy to wear around camp or in town far outweighs the cost of carrying the extra weight. I found these Batman Sandals at a Walmart on the CDT and have had them for almost two years now. Camp shoes do not need to be fancy. Just get something cheap, light, and somewhat durable (you probably want something that won't disintegrate if it gets wet).
6 oz / 170 g / Find Out More
Not everyone uses trekking poles (though I would say a majority of thru-hikers do) and I have been back and forth on using them for a while now (I'm currently in a “not using” phase). If you fall into the “using” camp, Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles are an excellent option for a thru-hike. They are aluminum poles with cork grips (in my opinion, far superior to rubber grips) and collapse down to 27 in / 68.6 cm. They use an external level lock to adjust which I've found to be preferable to the poles you need to twist to adjust (not a good description, I know, but if you've used poles like these, you know what I'm talking about).
18 oz / 510 g / Find Out More
Other popular trekking poles used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
Now that I'm getting further down on this list, there are a lot of things that thru-hikers use that wouldn't be very cool in everyday life outside the context of hiking. Add the Thrupack Summit Bum to that list (although I shamelessly use it off the trail and receive nothing but complimentary stares from everyone). This lightweight fanny pack revolutionized my hiking and is now where I keep all of my snacks for the day, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lighter, etc. It has an exterior pocket that can fit a large cell phone, two interior pockets, and it's water-resistant. Not to mention its huge sex appeal.
2.5 oz / 71 g / Find Out More
The Thrupack Summit Bum comes with a strap, but if you want an upgrade on both your comfort and your awesomeness, then a Comfy Strap is well worth the investment. This strap comes in a variety of prints, but most importantly it is stretchy (and comfy). It's totally not necessary, but I am happy I have one.
2.2 oz / 62 g / Find Out More
I've been back and forth on bringing a stove or not on thru-hikes, but I think the best idea (unless you are already 100% certain you don't want a stove) is to bring one and then send it home if your relationship with hot food and water doesn't work out. The MSR PocketRocket 2 is a lightweight and compact canister stove designed for use in the backcountry. The average boil time for one liter of water is 3.5 minutes and it requires no priming, preheading, or pressurizing.
3 oz / 85 g / Find Out More
Other popular stoves used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
If you're using a stove like the MSR PocketRocket 2 (and not something like the Jetboil MiniMo), then you're going to need to get yourself a pot (unless your stove is just for making the fire). The TOAKS Light Titanium 650ml Pot is big enough for a single person to make everything from delicious ramen to delicious mac and cheese to disgusting instant mashed potatoes. You can also fit both a small gas canister and stove inside the pot. It comes with a small stuff sack, but I prefer to just use a rubber band to keep the lid while it's packed.
2.8 oz / 79.4 g / Find Out More
Although I'm not 100% sold on any filtration system, I would bring the Sawyer Squeeze along on a PCT thru-hike. Yes, it can be annoying to use if you don't maintain it, but it's reliable, versatile, and lightweight. I used one of these on the Continental Divide Trail and while hiking in both Tasmania and New Zealand. They are reliable so long as you clean them regularly and do not let them freeze. There's also the new Sawyer Micro which I have yet to try (but probably will this year).
3 oz / 85 g / Find Out More
Other popular water filters used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
Whether or not you're planning on doing any night hiking, you're going to want a headlamp (just trust me on this one). The BioLite HeadLamp 330 has a 230 lumen spot and a 100 lumen flood light (hence, 330). It's USB-rechargeable (Micro USB) and is advertised to last 40 hours on low and 3.5 hours on high. It has four settings: white flood, white spot, red flood, and white strobe (you know, for scaring away the bears). The beam's distance is 50 ft / 16 m in flood and ~250 ft / 75 m in spot. It weighs only 2.43 oz / 69 g and has a front profile of just 0.35 in / 9 mm.
2.43 oz / 69 g / Find Out More
Ursack Major Bear Bag (Outside Sierra)
A bear bag is not required nor is it necessary on the Pacific Crest Trail, but I like using one because it gives me peace of mind when storing my food. I use the Ursack Major Bear Bag more as a measure against rodents than I do bears, but it's nice to know that bears won't be able to get at my food either (because there are bears on the PCT outside the areas you're required to carry a bear canister). This bag holds 10.7 L and comes in white or black. I would get the black because the white one gets incredibly dirty. If you're not into carrying a heavy hear bag to store your food, just use a lightweight stuff sack for your food (or just pour it loosely into your backpack around all your other gear).
7.6 oz / 215 g / Find Out More
The one piece of gear that every thru-hiker wishes they didn't need to carry, the bear canister is a requirement for hiking in the Sierra (or if camping in Lassen National Park). I own, use, and would bring the BearVault BV500 with me on another PCT thru-hike. It has a 11.5 liter (700 cu. in.) capacity and doubles as an excellent stool (perhaps its most redeeming quality). Plus, it stops the bears. It requires you to push down two tabs while turning the lid (one after another) to open and does not require any tools (although it can be more difficult if it's cold and your fingers are frozen. If you're going to be taking less food or plan on less time between your resupplies, then definitely check out getting the BV450 instead.
41 oz / 1.162 kg / Find Out More
Other popular bear canisters used by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers according to the PCT Survey's Gear Guide.
If you want to bring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) that's going to actually get you found, then you want something like the ACR Electronics ResQLink+. This device has only one function, to get you found in the event of an emergency. It uses COSPAS-SARSAT (an an international satellite system) with a 406 MHz satellite signal and 121.5 MHz local homing signal to god a fix on your location for Search and Rescuse teams and has a super bright LED strobe light to help you(r body) get found. And in case you're wondering, “What about the Spot?” The Spot is an okay device with absolute shit customer service and questionable reliability. It requires you to purchase a separate yearly plan, but it allows you to send messages (that most of the time get through) with your location, custom text, or a request to help to a select group of people. It sends messages via GEOS and doesn't use the more reliable 406 MHz satellite signal of the ACR Electronics ResQLink+. That said, if you want to check out the Spot you can find it here.
5.4 oz / 153 g / Find Out More
Even if you have a waterproof backpack, a pack cover, and/or a pack liner it's probably a good idea to keep your sleeping bag in a dry sack (because your sleeping bag very often literally keeps you alive at night). A Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack will do the trick. These stuff sacks are both lightweight and durable. They are not designed for submersion, but using one inside of your pack will keep your sleeping bag dry. These stuff sacks have roll tops and come in six different sizes (food bag, anyone?).
1.4 oz / 40 g / Find Out More
Honestly, I really don't like tent footprints and would normally recommend a piece of tyvek for your footprint needs, but if you have a Big Agnes tent (like the Copper Spur 2 Platinum mentioned above), then you have an incentive to get your tent's footprint. Why? Because you are able to pitch the footprint with the poles and fly (basically everything but the tent body) to have a larger area shelter (useful for waiting out storms with friends). However, Big Agnes charges $70 for this footprint. A footprint for a $600 tent. Are they fucking serious?
6 oz / 170 g / Find Out More
These are tent stakes. These stakes are made from titanium, lightweight, and have orange heads to make them easier to find when stuck in the ground. Having titanium tent stakes will not make your hike any better or more successful. They are just tent stakes. You aren't on a mountaineering expedition. You're hiking the PCT. You should probably just use the tent stakes that come with your tent. That said, if you want to spend more on some fancy tent stakes, these are nice.
0.27 oz / 8 g (each) / Find Out More
That's right, after all that business about tent stakes being tent stakes, here I am with more tent stakes. If you are looking for something a bit more heavy duty than the Vargo Ti Shepherds Hook Stakes, take a look at MSR Groundhog Stakes. There is also a ‘mini' version available, but I found those to be too small to be reliable in looser ground.
0.5 oz / 14 g / Find Out More
Sure, you could get a plastic spoon from McDonalds, but if you want a utensil that's going to last forever (so long as you don't lose it), then get a Snow Peak Titanium Spork. It won't melt, it's easy to clean, and it's mother fucking titanium (which means that you can use it to fight off wild animals). Eat your trail meal like the champion you are. But also, look like a total loser because you have a titanium spork.
0.6 oz / 17 g / Find Out More
You just use a store-bought plastic water bottle on the PCT? Yes. And you use it over and over again until the label has fallen off and it's practically turned into a sock before you replace it (and, of course, you decorate it with cool stickers from everywhere you've been on the trail). Smartwater (and LIFEWATR) bottles are quite structurally sound compared to something like the collapsable Arrowhead bottles and they slide easily in and out of backpack pockets (if you've never been thru-hiking before, this may not sound important, but trust me, it it). You can also put a Sawyer Squeeze directly on the top and filter out of one bottle into another. That said, you're using a plastic bottle and killing the environment so you're going to hell.
You might hear the term “luxury item” get thrown around a lot by thru-hikers when talking about their PCT gear and the term “luxury item” might make you think of something like a folding chair or a hardback atlas of the Western United States. However, luxury items do not have to be heavy, overkill items that nobody would ever deem appropriate to have on a PCT thru-hike. They can be lightweight, useful, awesome items that will make everyone jealous of you – like the RAWLOGY Cork Massage Balls. These cork balls measure 2.5 in / 6.35 cm across and weigh 1.4 oz / 40 g each. Not light enough for you? There is also a 1.9 in / 4.82 cm version that weigh 0.9 oz / 25 g each. Best to bring the pair so that you can give one to your new best friend on the trail.
1.4 oz / 40 g / Find Out More
Tape. An often overlooked, but incredibly useful thing to have with you on a thru-hike. Tear your down jacket? Tape! Rip your tent? Tape! Need to shut up your hiking partner? Tape! Just don't bring an entire roll. Either fold the tape around itself, around an old card, or around your trekking poles (good for differentiating yours from everyone else's). You can always get more if you end up using all of what you have. I like Gorilla Tape because it's incredibly sticky, waterproof, and thick. I've used this to patch a hole in my shorts before and the tape didn't come off even after multiple washes. That said, get whatever tape you want – just bring some (because you can't have any of mine).
I've talked a lot about pooping in the woods and packing out your toilet paper in the past, and I will probably continue to do so in the future. Backcountry poops aren't glamorous, but they are a reality of trail life. A lot of people don't bring a trowel saying that a shoe, a rock, a trekking, pole or whatever will serve as a substitute. Yes, sometimes this will be the case, but other times you are not going to be able to dig a proper cat hole (that's a hole for pooping in). Enter the TheTentLab The Deuce #2. It's a lightweight trowel that will help ensure you are practicing proper backcountry pooping techniques. It can be a bit tricky to use at first, but once you get the hang of it, all will be right in the world of your poops.
0.6 oz / 17 g / Find Out More
Unless you're very lucky, at some point on the PCT, you'll pass through a place known as mosquito hell. The location of this place changes with the time of year and how good your karma is, but when you enter it, you had best be ready. If you're not ready to suit up in your rain gear (aka mosquito armor) for these sections, then you need to get some DEET or, even better, some Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion. Picaridin repels insects, doesn't stink like DEET, and comes in a handy lotion. However, I have found that this lotion washes off very easily with rain or river crossings.
5 oz / 142 g / Find Out More
Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm (0.8 oz)
Forget being eaten by an animal, being attacked by insects while you poop, or being struck by lightening, the worst thing on the Pacific Crest Trail is chafe (and more specifically, ass chafe). Thankfully, there is Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm to alleviate your suffering. Simply apply it to your chafe-prone areas before hitting the trail and walk worry free through the wilderness (just be sure that your friends have their own because…that's gross). There's also a “For Her” version that appears to be the exact same thing but it's also “rich in vitamins A, B, E, and F”. What? Man skin doesn't like vitamins? Here that version is in a 1.5 oz, 0.8 oz, and 0.35 oz versions. If you want a smaller option of the original, it's available in a 0.35 oz version. Want more? Get the 1.5 oz version.
2.5 oz / 71 g / Find Out More
Bodyglide Foot Glide (0.8 oz)
No matter what I try – different shoes, different insoles, different socks, liners – blisters are an inevitable part of the trail. I just discovered Bodyglide Foot Glide and have yet to use it (I will be using it on the PCT this summer), but if it works as well as the Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm, then I'm excited to have it in my pack. If you want a smaller option, it's also available in a 0.35 oz version.
2.5 oz / 71 g / Find Out More
If you use lip balm on a regular basis, chances are you've heard of (and possibly even use) Burt's Bees. However, on the PCT you're going to want a lip balm with SPF wich the original Burt's Bees does not have. Instead, you're going to want Burt's Bees SPF 15 Lip Balm. The desert sun, the high elevation in the Sierra, and (if you're lucky) the snow will ravage your luscious lips if you aren't careful to take care of them. It doesn't matter which lip balm you get, so long as you get one with SPF.
0.8 oz / 23 g / Find Out More
As with your lip balm, it doesn't matter which brand your sunscreen is, so long as it meets a few key criteria. Your sunscreen should be broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB), it should be designed to not run off when you sweat (because yes, you will sweat), and it should ideally be SPF 50 (above SPF 50 provides only very marginal additional protection and it's often much more expensive). I like the consistency of Coppertone SPORT SPF 50 (I don't really like Banana Boat), but again, get whatever you're happy with (just make sure you remember to put it on).
3.2 oz / 91 g / Find Out More
This may come as a shock to you, but you're supposed to wash your hands after using the bathroom. The same rule applies in the backcountry. It may be difficult to find proper hand-washing facilities after taking care of your business, so most thru-hikers use the next best option, hand sanitizer. Dr. Bronner's Organic Hand Sanitizer is a lavender-scented spray-on hand sanitizer that will leave your hands both clean and clean-smelling. You're probably going to want to use this any time you're going to be handling food. And a word to the wise, do not shake people's hands in the backcountry; the appropriate hiker handshake is a fist bump (for obvious reasons…poop).
2 oz / 57 g / Find Out More
Listen, bring whatever toothbrush you want, just bring one. Personally, I like the GUM Travel Toothbrush because it folds into itself for storage and packs away easily. However, over time, once the bristles start to wear they get stuck in the brush when closing it. Still, I typically use one of these on the trail since they can fit easily in my pocket, fanny pack, or backpack.
1 oz / 28 g / Find Out More
In case you were unaware, there are small versions of toothpaste available. You do not need to bring a huge tube of toothpaste on the PCT. You can get something like this travel size toothpaste in many of the towns along the trail. Bring whatever makes you happy.
1 oz / 28 g / Find Out More
Perhaps the most important decision of any PCT thru-hike, what is your favorite toilet paper? Granted, it may be difficult to come by toilet paper at times and you may have to resort to stealing toilet paper from gas station bathrooms, but if you get the chance to restock on the good stuff, you're going to want Charmin Ultra Soft to minimize your butt chafe and maximize your poo-free-ness on the PCT. It's probably worth it to just pack out an entire roll at the start (just remember to pack out your used toilet paper).
Friends, even if you have the softest Charmin in your pack, you'll still do well to pack yourself some Sea to Summit Wilderness Wet Wipes. In addition to ensuring the cleanest of bums following a backcountry waste disposal, they can be used to clean your disgusting feet to help keep them blister-free, they can be used to clean your disgusting face before bed, or they can be used to clean your disgusting hands before eating. As with your toilet paper, just remember to pack them out.
I try not to dwell too much on being super-uber-exceptionally-dooper ultralight because I know that my battery pack (almost literally a brick) will always be something I want to have with me. The RAVPower 26800 Power Bank is a 26800mAh battery with three USB ports and a USB-C port (that can be used to both charge the battery pack and also to charge a device). It has pass through charging which means you can charge devices while you also charge the battery, and since it uses a DC 5V/2A input to charge, it will charge more quickly than other comparable battery packs. I use this to charge my phone, headphones, camera, and headlamp on the trail and I literally can't remember it running out of juice before needing to be recharged (but I'm still too scared to try a smaller battery pack).
16 oz / 454 g / Find Out More
Sure, using headphones on a thru-hike might mean that you don't hear that mountain lion sneaking up behind you, but not using headphones on a thru-hike means many hours of boredom. Are headphones worth the risk? Probably? If you are going to use headphones on the trail, do yourself a favor and switch to Bluetooth headphones (I took a long time to make the transition, but now I can't go back to wires). My biggest concern with Bluetooth headphones is the battery life, and the Anker SoundBuds Curve will last nearly the entire day (if hiking from sunrise to sunset and using them the entire time) – a quick charge with lunch will make sure they last. I've had multiple pairs (Anker is good about replacing products that die prematurely) and am still a happy customer.
0.8 oz / 23 g / Find Out More
The Lifeproof Fre Case isn't available for every phone, but if they make one for yours, I would highly recommend that you get one. The case makes your phone virtually indestructible. Gone are the days of worrying about your phone being damaged due to drops, dust, rain, or even submersion. The Pacific Crest Trail is great at destroying your things and your phone will not be spared. Do yourself a favor and get a rugged case.
1.3 oz / 35 g / Find Out More
When you get to town you're going to need a way to recharge your things (unless maybe you're a luddite). I look for three things in a wall charger and the Anker PowerPort II Wall Charger has all of them. What are they? 1) more than one output, 2) a quick charge compatible USB-C input, and 3) a folding plug (to avoid accidentally stabbing a hole in or tearing your gear inside of your pack). There are lots of wall chargers that fit this description, but as with the case with the headphones, Anker customer service has been good to me in the past so I'm sticking with them for now.
5.3 oz / 150 g / Find Out More
Yes, your cell phone has a nice camera and it takes nice photos that look nice on your cell phone's tiny screen. However, if you want to do something with your photos beyond the scope of a mobile device, you really want something that's going to take high quality pictures. If you don't want to drag a DLSR along on the trail, then a GoPro is a wise investment. It's basically the ultimate ultralight outdoor camera. It takes incredible-looking video, photos, time lapses, and burst photos – and it's waterproof (without a housing). How better to document your final moments before a bear rips open your tent in the middle of the night than with a pocket-sized camera?
4.1 oz / 116 g / Find Out More
If you're carrying a camera that won't fit in your hip belt, fanny pack, or pocket, then you need the Peak Design Capture Clip. It makes carrying your camera. The Clip attaches to practically any strap and takes the hassle out of having to store or camera in your pack or having it hang annoyingly from a strap around your neck. There's also an attachment for a GoPro if you want some POV video (or a dash cam for your impending wild animal attack).
3 oz / 84 g / Find Out More
Peak Design Shell (Small)
To me, the Peak Design Shell is an essential piece of equipment if you're using Peak Design's Capture Clip. The Shell comes in three sizes and will keep your camera dry in the rain (in addition to protecting it from the sun, dust, would-be robbers, and snow should you be so (un?)lucky. It can be a little tricky to adjust the zoom and focus with the Shell on and I usually end up removing it each time I take a photo (I've become very good at removing and putting on this cover). It's made from a stretchy fabric that will also help to prevent nicks or abrasion when you inevitably bash your camera against a rock.
2.4 oz / 68 g / Find Out More
For more information on the best options for stoves, water filters, and bear canisters for use on the PCT, check out these posts:
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