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Smokebeard’s Final PCT Gear List and Review

Smokebeard's Final PCT Gear List and Review

Lots of people have requested me about gear – what number of pairs of footwear did I’m going by means of, did my tent leak, how was my backpack, that kind of factor.  Right here’s an inventory of the primary items, together with some smaller trinkets which helped me alongside my method.  One factor I found in the course of the journey was how many individuals contemplate gear as single-hike (and even half-hike) disposable.  For example, a well-liked model of ultralight gear warranties its stuff for “one 2500 mile thruhike”.  Individuals are prepared to pay for, and toss, gear, if it’s tremendous light-weight and helps them get to Canada.

I’m not in that group.  I’m additionally not somebody who counts each ounce, i.e. a “gram weenie”.  For me, gear has to work first, and be light-weight second.  I additionally don’t purchase knock-off gear.  There’s a big group of parents on the market who will purchase stuff off Alibaba that’s clearly clones of a well-liked gear, or produced someplace with zero environmental laws, or one thing low cost and disposable (see above).  I like stuff that lasts.


Osprey Exos 58, measurement L.   The older (good) mannequin, with the hip and shoulder strap pockets.

Beloved it.  I began with out the “brain” or higher half that provides a number of liters of capability; I simply didn’t want it.  The pack was principally too massive, BUT, the body match me, and I wanted the general weight carrying capability a number of occasions.   Measurement-wise, the 48L would have been high quality.  Many individuals make do with much less.  In some desert stretches I carried numerous water, and within the Sierra I carried loads of meals.  Once I added chilly climate and different gear in Washington the additional weight capability once more got here in useful.  Lots of people wouldn’t carry this pack as a result of it’s so heavy, at 2.7 lbs.  I ended the journey with a number of holes torn within the outdoors mesh pocket, a results of me placing the pack down on rocks or towards prickly timber.



Huge Agnes Fly Creek UL2

Beloved it.  Began with simply fly, poles, and a light-weight twine setup I used to pressure the poles in order that they could possibly be arrange with out the tent.  This let me depart the 1+ lb tent physique residence.  In Spring, within the desert, there’s no bugs, so why carry the load?   I ended up getting the tent physique despatched to me fairly early on, as pitching it within the wind with out the physique to anchor it was annoying.  I ended up with 2 small holes, 1 within the door, and 1 within the backside, each of which have been clearly from abuse.  Just a little Gorilla tape and they have been fantastic.

Sleeping bag

Not a real sleeping bag, however the Enlightened Gear Revelation 20 diploma quilt.  I used to be solely chilly a number of occasions, and 90 % of that was resulting from me not snapping/zipping/buttoning up the quilt correctly.  I’d get up chilly within the morning and assume, “man, I should have buttoned up the quilt”.  For me, a 20 diploma bag/quilt was good on the PCT, however then once more I feel we had common climate.  Your mileage might differ.  No matter quilt you select, ensure you connect it correctly to your pad, and zip it up correctly, if you’d like it to maintain you as heat as attainable.

Liked it.   I awoke a number of occasions after cowboy tenting with ice on the highest of the quilt.  Since I didn’t die in a single day, I’m giving the quilt the credit score for preserving me heat.

Sleeping pad

Thermarest Neoair X-Lite, full size.  Everybody complained that they made crinkly noises, however every night time I used to be so drained that once I closed my eyes, I fell asleep.  I by no means received a full night time’s sleep at any level on the path, however I’m unsure it was the fault of the pad.  Or quilt.   I feel the shortage of a correct pillow performed the most important position there.  Later within the journey I put my pack on the foot of my tent and rested the pad on it, to alleviate my plantar fasciitis, so I’m considering a three/four size may need labored as properly.

It principally labored.   It leaked, however so did everybody’s.  Most individuals spent an hour in a lodge toilet, holding their pad beneath water within the tub to seek out the bubbles.  I couldn’t discover the opening in mine, and I didn’t have the patch package for it anyway.  I simply re-inflated it a few times an evening.


Footwear & Socks

5 pairs of Altra Lone Peak three.5. I wore a mixture of Darn Robust brief socks and Injinji climbing socks, switching utterly to the DTs as soon as it was clear that Injinji’s don’t maintain up – a minimum of for me.   I wore the Altras about 500 miles every, solely sporting the only down on the pair that went by means of the Sierra.  The remaining I swapped out once they felt dangerous, though even new ones solely felt “good” for a day or two.  I’m nonetheless on a quest for a shoe and sock combo that lets me hike with out ache in each step.


Over 600 miles on the previous pair (pictured on left).


Nice footwear.  I hear the model could be very totally different, so undoubtedly go searching.


MSR Pocket Rocket, Evernew titanium pot, Gossamer Gear bamboo spoon.

Beloved all three.  I solely carried the range for the Sierra and then the north half of Oregon and past.  Even within the Sierra, the one cause I carried it was to forestall a hypothermia state of affairs if somebody went within the drink crossing a river.  This by no means occurred, so it was simply additional weight, though it’s good to have a heat meal now and then.  I feel any titanium pot that matches your meals is ok, and my bamboo spoon was good and light-weight, and additionally didn’t contain an enormous industrial course of to supply.  Most individuals had titanium sporks, which I felt was pointless.

I often carried the medium-sized, eight oz. can of gasoline (13 ounces full), because the four ounce can was a waste of metal for my part.  Nowhere did I see the particular software wanted to “pop” the cans in order that they’re protected to recycle.  In the direction of the top when gasoline was getting arduous to seek out in shops, I’d simply seize half-full 8oz cans from hiker bins.  Weight snobs would burn half of them, then dump them and get new cans, somewhat than carry each cans with a view to fritter away all of the gasoline.


I wore the identical garments day by day.  Sure, it acquired gross after some time.  I had a separate “town” shirt that I slept in a few times when my essential shirt was simply too moist or too foul.  I began off with my “Get Dirty” wicking T and an REI longsleeve shirt together with REI sahara pants.  Even within the desert, I attempted to stroll absolutely coated. I had an previous random Patagonia base layer prime and backside that I used for sleeping when chilly.

The pants lastly blew out, since that they had 100s of miles on them from final yr, and earlier than.  I changed them with Ex Officio bugproof pants – very good.  One factor I really like is the zipoff zippers are totally different colours, so that you by no means seize the fallacious leg to attempt and mate with the fallacious aspect shorts.  I received an Ex Officio bug shirt for Sierra and north.  I by no means wanted bug spray with the bug garments, and scarf wrapped round my head.

Baseball hat.  Lots of people, principally the ultralight crowd, tended to put on all-around hats, particularly straw ones.  It appeared a part of the uniform.  My previous Marmot hat has been with me for a very long time, so it was becoming that I wore all of it the best way to Canada.  In the long run, it was fairly soiled and gross, however so was I.

My Shemagh – it’s just like the Hitchhiker’s towel – scarf, turban, hostel towel, sarong, something.   Sure, 6 ounces, no, it’s not a “pack towel”, however you additionally look approach cool.


On the PCT, cotton doesn’t kill the best way it does within the East, however I’d nonetheless avoid it if I might.  The poly/cotton bugshirt received moist greater than as soon as from sweat.  Aside from that, consolation is king.  Undoubtedly go together with some wicking underwear, to assist keep away from chafing.  I additionally discovered extra chafing with the poly/cotton mix shirt than with pure poly.

Well being and magnificence

The Deuce of Spades poop shovel – I appreciated it and felt like an ultralight hipster, however it carried out poorly north of Sierra resulting from roots, rocks, and skinny soil.   It was exhausting to get a correct cathole.

Flagyl (aka Metronidazole) – I by no means wanted it, however was glad to have it.  Nothing sucks greater than having explosive Giardiasis.  You’ll have to get this from a physician.

Child wipes – sure and extra sure.  All the time carry a resealable pack of child wipes.  And use them to wash up earlier than getting a hitch; you’ll set a greater instance for the remainder of us.

Bug dope – I by no means used any.  In any respect.

Sunscreen – I had a bit of 1 ounce tube of SPF30 that I stored in a shoulder strap pocket.  I solely used it within the Sierra to cowl my nostril and cheeks.  The complete beard actually helps right here, as did my shemagh.  Within the desert, I used to be wrapped up the entire time, apart from early morning or late within the day when the solar angle was low.  These things you will discover in any drug retailer.  Your necessities might differ from mine.

ENGO blister patches – these have been a literal gamechanger for me.  I had virtually no blisters on the balls of my ft, they solely popped up when these patches wore out.

My previous trusty first assist bag, with bandaids, antibiotic ointment, Leukotape, Immodium and gauze.  Some individuals carried a small baggie with simply 1 or 2 bandaids to save lots of weight, I felt it was value it to be ready.  For Washington I added a 200-count bottle of Advil, and took four every night time earlier than sleep.

Miscellaneous Gear

Polycro groundcloth – too small, however in any other case nice.  I had minimize it small for cowboy tenting and use beneath simply my tarp.  Once I pitched the tent on prime of it, the edges of the tent flooring obtained moist.  Nonetheless, it weighed virtually nothing and packed small.   I noticed no benefits to this over Tyvek, and it was a heck of quite a bit lighter.

Lawson Ti stakes -No issues with them in any respect, even hammering them in, and an awesome improve over aluminum stakes at half the load.

Nylofume plastic bag liner for pack – no leaks, weighed virtually nothing.  Beloved it.

Cascade Designs Carbon Fiber treking poles – Nice and low cost, no issues in any respect apart from put on.  Cascade Designs changed decrease sections once they wore down after 900 miles, which I assumed was fairly superior.

Chromedome – life’s higher underneath the dome.  Get the eight ounce, actual sized one.  Don’t be tempted to chintz out on the mini or ultralight one.  Additionally, all of them break, the trick is to be artful together with your damaged one as you progress ahead.  Some mornings within the desert I used to be “under the dome” by 8am.  And it’s additionally an umbrella, which was superior once I needed to hike all day within the rain.


Petzl Aktik Core headlamp – a light-weight for when all others exit.  This headlamp rocked; big battery capability and Demise Star-like energy when set to full.  Solely my headlamp was wanted on our massive nighthike of the Aquaduct.  Everybody simply walked alongside with theirs off.  I nighthiked three occasions, and this factor made it straightforward.  After seeing it, different individuals stated, “wow, my headlamp sucks”.

S7 Lively telephone – superb telephone, epic battery life, built-in shock proof case, waterproof.  It survived the entire approach and individuals remarked on the digital camera high quality.

Anker 5000 and 10000 – I began with the 5000 and then switched to the 10000 for the Sierra, since I knew I wouldn’t have energy for over every week.  I by no means ran out.  Hipster hikers will in all probability select a no-name model and no-name charger in the event that they’re half an oz lighter, however the 5000 was rubber coated and fairly rugged, and the 10000 had an aluminum case.   That is necessary as a result of they will burst into flames if broken, as my pal Cherry Bomb found outdoors of Huge Bear.   Anker claims hers lit on hearth as a result of it was dropped – arduous to verify, however aluminum is certainly higher than plastic right here.   Between the telephone, brick and charger I used to be carrying a pound of electronics.   Not ideally suited, however I didn’t see a means round it.

Not electronics – however I carried paper maps and the pages from the 2016 Yogi e-book.  I discovered the paper maps instructional and fascinating, and truly wanted them once we have been on snow up within the mountains.  When there’s no seen path, or worse, 10 seen trails of footprints within the snow, you’ll want to truly seek advice from topology to determine the place you’re alleged to go.   The city maps from the Yogi e-book have been superior; nice to get a hitch in and know the place the tenting/bathe/beer/grocery was.

Final ideas

Individuals make an enormous deal about gear.  Principally its weight.  My philosophy was to attempt and carry functionally equal gear that was as mild as attainable, with out spending frivolously.  There’s a diminishing return as you get lighter and lighter, relative to the fee.  As Man Waterman as soon as wrote in his ebook (I feel) Wilderness Ethics, “if you can pick up a pack, you can carry it all day with the right attitude”.  I didn’t sweat each ounce, and in reality loved watching the anguish of the ultralight guys once I talked about pack weight or how a lot water I carried.  I additionally made the acutely aware determination to be snug, as an example to hold gadgets just like the umbrella and scarf.

Gear isn’t what’s going to get you to Canada.  Through-hiking is 90 % psychological, and the opposite half is bodily.  Good gear undoubtedly helps although; it may be an enormous morale killer to hike or sleep in moist garments, or to get up chilly each night time, or get sunburned, or get devoured by mosquitoes.  Lots of people, some well-known, have completed lengthy distance hikes with actually low cost, non-fancy gear.  What’s essential is your option to be snug with it.


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