Before starting your thru-hike it’s important to research gear. Finding durable gear that is still lightweight and affordable can be tricky. Although there are a few places in towns along the trail to buy gear new gear, it isn’t something you’re going to want to spend your extra money on when you could be staying in a motel for the night instead. Your most important gear throughout the entire hike will be your pack and tent. You will need to take into consideration that you may want/need different gear when you’re hiking in the mountains versus hiking in the desert. Many people chose to swap gear before switching from the desert to the mountains or vice versa.
- Backpack- You want a pack that will fit your bear canister, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and whatever else you are carrying. It would be ideal to have some sort of pockets on the outside and have easy accessibility to your food. Mac suggests the ULA Circuit Backpack because “it has multiple, mesh, stretchy pockets and can hold the BV500 bear canister”. It’s a popular pack along the pct and cost $235 US.
- Tent- In a survey that Mac put together, he found that most people preferred the Big Agnes Fly Creek Tent. The HV UL3 tent is ultralight and weighs 3lbs 5oz, helping to minimize your weight to carry. It’s a three-person tent and 39 square feet. The tent’s canopy is made of nylon polyester mesh.
- Sleeping Bag- Austin Williams, along with many other hikers, suggest “using a sleeping bag with a rating of 32 degrees”. He also suggests using a ground cloth under your sleeping bag “to protect it from ground moisture”. A good choice for a sleeping bag is the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag; the sleeping bag is filled with goose down and you can choose from either a 35 degree rating or 20 degree rating.
- Sleeping Pad- Very important if you want to sleep comfortably, especially because it’s what you’ll be sleeping on for the next couple of months. Once again referring to Mac’s survey, the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite is said to be the best sleeping pad for the hike. It takes up less space than a liter water bottle and is made of Rip HT Nylon which avoids abrasions.
- Stove- Some chose to bring this, some chose not to. Some bring this for part of the hike, some bring it the whole time, and some don’t even bring it at all. Personally, I think I would want the stove for at least part of the hike despite the extra weight it adds. I don’t think I could happily survive that long without warm meals or coffee. A common stove is the Jetboil Sol Titanium Stove, suggested by Jocelyn Songer.
- Water Filter- along with just about everyone else who has hiked the pct, Liz Thomas favors the Sawyer Squeeze. Sawyer Squeeze is a fast and efficient way to ensure clean, drinking water.
Snow Gear (The Sierra):
- Base-layer that is different than your desert base-layer (obviously)