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Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike Gear List

This is a list of the gear I carried on the Pacific Crest Trail. What I actually carried from day to day varied, depending on how close I was to supply, where I was along the trail, and so on. I come up with a total base pack weight of about 11 pounds 12 oz. That is what was on my back minus food and water. When I was carrying one liter of water and three days worth of food (2 lbs a day for me) my pack weighed about 19 pounds, 12 ounces, “average.” On my heaviest carry between Kennedy Meadows and Vermillion Valley Resort, I started out with about 18 pounds of food and about three pounds of extra gear, like bear canister and an ice axe. That made my heaviest pack about 32 pounds.If you notice any errors, please let me know.
Item Brand Name Comment Oz.
The “Big Four”
Backpack Golite Pinnacle 2008 Model 25.0
Shelter/Stakes Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis Includes 2 oz of stakes 15.0
Sleeping Bag Marmot Hydrogen Older model 23.0
Sleeping Pad Ridgerest (Trimmed) Bomber, also doubles as pack frame 14.0
Subtotal: 4 lbs 13 ozs
Clothing in Pack
Thermal Bottom Patagonia Midweight Capilene Part of my sleep system 7.0
Jacket Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket Also part of my sleep system 16.0
Rain Shell Outdoor Research Zealot Replaces my old Red Ledge Thunderlight 7.7
Sleeping Socks Possum Wool Light, warm, saved for sleeping only 2.0
Underwear Under Armour Boxerjock Popular hiker choice 4.8
Socks Darn Tough, 1/4 Sock, Mesh 1.4
Warm Hat Turtle Fur Micro Fur Balaclava 1.1
Gloves Possum Blend Gloves Light and warm but abrade easily 1.5
Subtotal: 2 lbs 9.5 ozs
Cooking Items
Stove/Pot/Stand Caldera Keg Efficient, compact 6.3
Fuel HEET, Denatured, Rubbing (alcohols) Usually Heet, ave. weight used 5.0
Utensils Spoons (2) “Carry-Out” style .2
Ignition Mini Bics (2) No “survival toys” needed. 1.0
Subtotal: 0 lbs 12.5 ozs
Water Carriers Platypus Two, 2.5 Liter 2.4
Water Bottle Generic Empty Liter Water Bottle 1.1
Water Treatment Aquamira Water Drops ‘A’ and ‘B’ bottles 3.0
Subtotal: 0 lbs 6.5 ozs
Map PCT Atlas Combines maps and data 5.7
Compass Suunto Clipper Worn on watch band .1
Lights Photon II Micro-Light x 2 LED lights are awesome .3
First Aid Various See below for list 6.0
Pocket Knife Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Has scissors, blade, toothpick, tweezers .7
Cordage Parachute Cord For bear bagging, etc. 1.0
Duct Tape 10 feet For blister prevention, gear repair, etc. 2.0
Subtotal: 0 lbs 15.8 ozs
Sanitation and Hygiene
Toilet paper Standard Partial Roll 2.0
Toothbrush Generic/w cap Yes, I cut the handle in half .5
Toothpaste Generic Small tube .5
Hand Sanitizer Prefenz Weight estimated 2.5
Subtotal: 0 lbs 5.5 ozs
Sleep Bag Sack Generic With turkey roasting bag liner 1.0
Food Sack Generic Silnylon .8
Pack Liner Hefty 18 gal? Trash compactor bag 2.2
Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8K 5.0
Permits Government Issue Fire, Thru-Hike, Canada entry .5
Bandana ADZPCTO Cotton 1.0
Data Yogi, etc Yogi’s Handbook section , etc. 3.0
Spare Glasses Prescription With case and clip-ons 2.5
Tripod UltraPod Camera Tripod 1.6
MP3 Player, Recorder Iriver T60 For audio journal, Radio, Music 1.7
Cell Phone Kyocera With charger 5.1
Wallet Generic Credit Card, Cash, Driver’s Lic. in ziploc 1.0
Monocular Brunton 7×18 1.8
Batteries Various Spare Camera and MP3 2.4
Hip Belt Pocket Gossamer Gear Large .8
Subtotal: 1 lb 14.4 ozs
Worn or Carried Outside Pack
Underwear Under Armour Boxerjock 6″ legs 4.8
Long Sleeve Shirt Trekmor Travel Shirt Good for sun 9.0
Pants/Shorts Mountain Hardwear Mesa Pants Convertible to shorts 13.0
Socks Darn Tough, 1/4 Sock, Mesh Mixed and matched w/ 1/4 cushion socks 1.4
Socks Darn Tough 1/4 Cushion Mixed and matched w/ 1/4 mesh socks 2.4
Shoes Asics Gel Kayano Highly subjective. Try on many models and brands ~20.0
Sunglasses Prescription Madatory 1.0
Sun Hat REI Vented Explorer Hat (weight guessed) 5.0
Trekking Poles Yana Poles Originally Titanium Goat 6.8
Wristwatch Casio Databank 150 Calculator, Phone #s, Time 1.0
Subtotal: 4 lbs 0 ozs
Carried in the Sierras, Washington or as needed
Rain Pants Mont-Bell Versalite Will have in Washington 9.7
Rain Mitts eMountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Mitts 1.2
Ice Axe CAMP USA Corsa Ice Axe For the Sierras 7.0
Bear canister Bear Vault BV500 Kennedy Meadows to Sonora Pass (see Yogi’s Guidebook) 41.0
Bug Repellant Repel 100 Picked up at Kennedy Meadows 1.0
Subtotal: 3 lbs 12 ozs
I swapped out my Wild Oasis for a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo 23 oz. in Cascade Locks. It’s floor was nice in the rain.

15 Responses to Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike Gear List

  1. Joe McNamara

    Hey Buck, first , thanks for the hike you did across the Brooks Range. The DVD is great.
    I’m wondering about the Six Moons Lunar Solo,looks like a good tent, but is there any problems with
    having the space to set it up, it looks like after guiding it out, it takes up alot of area? Thanks.

    Joe Mac

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Joe,

      I’m glad you liked Alone Across Alaska!

      The Lunar Solo is an awesome shelter. It’s true that it does take up more room than some shelters, but then it gives much better coverage than many shelters. It’s a very good compromise in my opinion. I don’t think I ever had a serious problem finding a spot to set it up. With any shelter I sometimes use rocks or small logs to put a tie-out exactly where I want it. Usually it isn’t an issue. I really like the Lunar Solo especially in rainy country. I used it on the north parts of both the CDT and PCT and on other long trips and I wish I would have had it on the AT. To sum up, for lightweight backpacking my favorite shelters are the Hexamid with netting for where it’s mostly dry, and the Lunar Solo where it often rains. If I had to choose one, I’d get the Lunar Solo.


  2. Jim Williamson

    Great Spreadsheet on Gear

    My son and grandson are flying from England to hike 500 miles of the PCT during August of 2014. We’ve found your web-page, and would like to ask your advice on which section of the trail you would recommend for that month. Of course, there are so many variables, from weather and terrain, to availability of water and everything else, that it feels overwhelming to choose just one section. So here’s the question – taking ALL the variables into account, if you could just choose one month and 500 miles of the trail, in the month of August, what would you recommend?

    Thank you in advance for your help!!!

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Jim,

      It would be really difficult to beat the Sierra of California. That’s the most popular hiking area on the PCT and for good reason. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of one of the most scenic trails in the world. I’d probably start at Kennedy Meadows and hike north to Sierra City which is just a bit less than 500 miles.

      I would not hike south of Kennedy Meadows in August because of the heat.

      That would be my choice. Any 500 miles stretch north of Kennedy Meadows would be an awesome hike in August.

      Have fun!


  3. Michael

    Very helpful article, thank you!

  4. Michael

    I would suggest bringing a harmonica. (Hohner Special 20 in the standard key of C.) It is small, lightweight, and you can play while walking. You have plenty of time to learn on the trail and it keeps the bears away.

  5. Kevin

    Thank you so much for spending the time to put together this website, it has been very helpful an informative. My girlfriend and I are doing a SOBO AT thru hike leaving July 10th and I’ve been driving myself and her a bit nutty researching gear as to not “waste” any currency unnecessarily, but I think it may be inevitable from what I’ve been reading anyway. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall seeing trekking poles in your gear list, do you not carry them or did I indeed just overlook them? Also, in the essence of saving weight and currency, what do you think of Frogg Toggs for rain gear? I was considering them and installing some pit zips in them. Also considered buying silnylon and making my own poncho and kilt, but didn’t find much in the way of silnylon rain gear, so maybe there’s a reason it’s not being used. Any input you wish to give will be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Kevin and Alice.

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Kevin,

      Researching gear can be fun but someone with OK gear and a good attitude will outperform someone with the very best, most expensive gear and a bad attitude.

      I did use poles and they are on my list under “hiking poles.” I’ve been using Yana Poles recently but they are expensive and require care to use without breaking them. More inexpensive poles will work fine if you are on a budget.

      Lots of hikers use Frogg Toggs with good success. Beware of “bushwhacking” with them, though, and bring some duct tape or Tyvek tape in case they rip. Many people report they tend to run large, which can be an advantage for layering.

      I personally wouldn’t choose a silnylon rain jacket for lack of breathability, but that would be much less of an item in a poncho. I will leave that up to your own research. I DO know that if it were my choice between the Frogg Togg jacket and a silnylon poncho I’d go Frogg Toggs.

      Have a great hike!


  6. Isaac

    I am currently a senior in high school, going through the ever tedious college process. However, I am also thinking about taking a gap year, and I have a plan (an unrealistic dream, really, but I’d like to think it’s a possibility none the less) to take a year and through hike the PCT, among other endeavors such as some smaller trips and rock climbing. I have many many questions, and if this plan really does begin to form, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again, but I’ll start with something more general for now. Do you have any insights into this on everything from what season to which direction? Or if you think it’s a bad idea all together? This is something I’d really love to do and I have to start somewhere, so I’d love the help of a seasoned veteran of long distance hiking like yourself.

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Isaac,

      My first bit of general advice would be to make sure you like long distance hiking. IF you haven’t already, take the time to go backpacking for a week or two to get a feel for it. Often people like the idea of a thru-hike and find the reality is less fun than they had imagined.

      Most people recommend a south to north hike. That’s the direction I hiked and I would do so again. There is a fairly narrow “hiking season window” to avoid as much deep snow as possible. For a south to north hike starting in April and finishing in September tends to work out the best.

      Good luck!


      • Isaac

        I’ve done some long backpacking trips before in a few different places, and I know it’s something I love (which is what brought me to this idea in the first place), but I can certainly see how it could easily turn out to be not exactly what I had hoped for and much harder than what I expected…
        For now this is really all I needed but I hope you won’t mind hearing from me again as this vision progresses and forms.

        Thanks so much for your input as well as for your prompt response! I really appreciate it.
        – Isaac

  7. Phil

    Hi Buck,
    So I’m wanting to put a plan together for hiking the PCT starting mid June and finishing mid sep. Made a few 100+ miles hikes in and around Glacier NP before, so I’m not overly concerned with the terrain. I really wanted to start somewhere south of Mt Hood and shoot for the Mexico boarder. What are your overall thoughts on this idea. Thanks so much and look forward to views. Phil

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Phil,

      You’d be hiking each section of the trail during seasons with which I have no experience. This would be a good question to ask on the Pacific Crest Trail Facebook group where there are thousands of members, many of whom would know the normal trail conditions during those seasons.

      Sure seems like a great season to be hiking the Sierra, though!

      Good luck!


  8. bob

    I saw somewhere that garbage bags work good for rain gear if you cut out holes for the arms and use it for a Pancho.One 55 gallon hefty construction bag is lightweight ,durable, and about five feet long.Anybody ever use these?

    • Bruce "Buck" Nelson

      Hi Bob,

      I have used garbage bags as rain gear while firefighting. The work a whole lot better than nothing and a whole lot worse than real rain gear.

      My rain gear is multi-use. I wear it for rain, as a wind blocker, for warmth and to wear while doing laundry. In my opinion real rain gear is superior in every category.


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