Some of the gear used on a thru-hike is similar to that used on a backpacking trip, but some are unique. Because you’ll be carrying your gear for considerably longer, with the target of hiking for the majority of the day and spending less time in camp, thru-hiking gear is typically smaller and lighter than regular backpacking gear. There is no such thing as the Pacific Crest Trail Gear Checklist.
- A waterproof rain jacket
- 1-liter bottle of water
- Ultra-light & waterproof hiking boots
- First Aid & Emergency Bag
- Water Filter
- Clothing that dries quickly
- The towel that dries quickly
- Map, compass, and GPS Transponder
- Ultra-light Gaiters
The Pacific Crest Trail is a magnificent 2,650-mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada via three states. The PCT, as it’s affectionately known, is the country’s second-longest trail system, taking anything from four to six months to finish if you’re doing it all at once.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what kind of gear to bring. We’ve got your back. So as you plan your epic adventure across the Pacific Crest Trail, use this as a gear list of requirements.
Long-distance thru-hiking is a gear adventure. What you carry and keep at home can make a significant difference not only in terms of flexibility on the trail but also in terms of whether you reach it or not. You have different temperatures on the Pacific Crest Trail. So you have a good understanding of what you need.
Camping three-season tent
An excellent PCT shelter is compact, durable, easy to build, bug-free, and storm-resistant. Even if you’re experiencing a significant temperature shift, you’ll need a tent that can manage it. You don’t have to bother about many sub-freezing nights, but if you do, a three-season tent and a suitable sleeping bag will keep you warm.
It is necessary to have a sizable three-season tent. If you’re hiking the path with another person, bring only one more giant tent that can fit two members and alternate carrying it every other day.
Whenever the sun goes down, temperatures can dip very low like a desert, and you’ll need that warmth most often.
If you’re traveling the PCT from start to finish, you’ll need to stop at a town and stay in a hotel to rest. However, you’ll spend the majority of your time in the woods, sleeping in a tent. Because this trail can get chilly, you’ll need a sleeping bag that can withstand temperatures of at least 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should bring a sleeping pad in addition to your tent to keep your sleeping bag off the ground. It will not only be more comfortable, but it will also prevent the chilly floor temperature from penetrating your sleeping bag and keep you from freezing all night.
The desert is a bright and sunny environment. Unfortunately, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through the desert for around 15% of its length, or about 700 miles, with little to protect you from the sun.
Therefore, in addition to sunscreen, you’ll need a neck buff and a sun-protecting hat to stay calm.
To protect your face, bring a hat with a significant amount of cover. The Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is one of my favorites because it has a large brim and neck coverage while only weighing 2.6 oz.
Ensure you have a flexible rim. Know that you’ll be wearing a backpack, which may chafe on the back of the cap. Anything with a foam-stretched brim is robust, sufficiently retaining the brim in a decent, sun-blocking position while yet being soft enough to bend if it rubs against your backpack.
Also, choose a lighter color, as darker hats absorb heat more quickly.
A waterproof rain jacket
A waterproof rain jacket is an essential gear for PCT because there is a lot of rain along here. Keep in mind your rain waterproof gear should be breathable because the weather in the southern part of the path may be pretty hot. Unless it’s pouring, there’s nothing worse than wearing a warm rain jacket in 90-degree temperatures.
California, it may never rain, but PCT hikers can warn you that it rains, storms, and snowfall when it does. Precipitation can last for days in Oregon and Washington. Also, because the Rab Phantom Pull-On is designed for jogging, it breathes well. This suggests you won’t have to remove your pack to change layers constantly.
This is also a wise option to order your rain jacket one size larger. As the route grows colder as you travel north, you’ll want to layer your rain jacket over your winter gear to keep the wind at bay.
2-liter bottle of water
Keep in mind; water bottles are the essential gear for PCT. Stay hydrated on the trail that makes your camp comfortable and healthy. Carry at least 2 liters of water while traveling across the desert or in locations with no reliable water sources, and more if the journey is particularly lengthy and dry. Streams will be your source of water for the majority of the PCT.
Although if you don’t feel thirsty, we are advised that you drink one liter of water for every 5 miles you hike in the desert. The desert can quickly dehydrate you without you even knowing it.
Whenever you enjoy drinking cold water, invest in an insulated water bottle. Although it is heavy, it will keep your water cool. And nothing beats a cool drink of water when you’re out trekking in the heat.
Ultra-light & waterproof hiking boots
Plan to go through around a half-dozen pairs of shoes if you hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail. You may transport new teams to rest stops along the way if you prepare beforehand. As previously stated, there can be a lot of rain on the trek. Therefore you’ll need a waterproof hiking boot.
No matter how unique your shoes are, you’re bound to develop a few blisters on a 2,000-mile hike. In addition, you’ll be hiking through the desert, which necessitates the use of lightweight hiking footwear to navigate the sand. As a result, anticipate keeping an additional pair in your pack at all times. Even though shoes can be weighty, your feet will thank you in the long run.
Mostly every hiker opts for mesh trail runners to avoid unnecessary foot sweating (which can lead to blisters) and save weight. Hikers ford rivers with their boots on to prevent slipping, and you’ll need a shoe with mesh that dries quickly. Hikers always want sufficient comfort and padding to carry them for the entire day, as well as a sole that will grip the rock. Increasingly, thru-hikers are discovering.
If you’re going on an adventure with no restrictions, get a size higher because your body will grow in the warmer months.
First Aid & Emergency Bag
Getting outside and into the wilderness is beneficial to one’s mental and physical wellness. Accidents do happen, though, and it’s crucial to know how to deal with them.
Evaluate your requirements, the quantity and needs of your travel companions, the weather, the terrain, and the length of your journey while putting together your first aid pack. Here are some suggestions on what should be included in your kit.
A blade, Krazy Glue, dental supplies, blister prevention and care, and over-the-counter medications for stomach troubles, allergies, fever, and pain are among the stuff you should keep in your bag.
The intense light of the desert necessitates the use of both sunscreen and sunscreen. In addition, many areas of the path benefit from bug spray or lotion. If you become lost, a whistle and a mirror can help you find your way back. Most gear repairs may be completed using a needle, thread, and duct tape.
Well, with thru-hiking season approaching and rain and snow remaining a part of the PCT scenery, the topic of water filtering comes up again and again. Would you need to filter water once you’re out in the center of nowhere, in the backwoods, getting it from a stream? Yes indeed!
A stable source of drinking water is worthwhile with the modest weight penalty to ensure you stay healthy on the route and complete your trek.
Getting sick on the path will almost certainly result in you quitting the trail and losing out on a few days (if not weeks) of hiking, giving back to your trail family, and maybe missing out on Sierra hiking windows.
For every hiker who uses PCT, having a good water filter is critical to avoid sickness. One of our favorites is the Sawyer Mini filter that effortlessly attaches to a Smartwater bottle or can be used as an inline filter with a hose and bladder hydration system. It is a standard pick among thru-hikers due to its minimal weight and extended life.
Clothing that dries quickly
No one likes wet clothes for wet weather. Every cold, damp weather, quick-drying clothes are blessed. Predict rain along the Pacific Crest Trail based on when you leave from the south and start traveling north.
As a result, you’ll need quick-drying clothing, including panties, shirts, and sports bras for women, to stay dry and warm. Southern California’s rainy season begins in October and lasts till March. In spring, expect rain virtually every day if you’re in the Pacific Northwest.
The towel that dries quickly
If your camping towel consists of Microfiber, your hiking adventure makes it comfortable. So why do we say that, dries quicker than cotton when it comes to materials?
Although highly plush and absorbing towels feel amazing, their thick cotton loops can take a long to dry. Moisture-wicking fabric draws moisture away from your skin, allowing you to dry faster. Quick-drying: a high-tech material spreads moisture evenly over the towel, allowing it to evaporate quickly.
A fast-drying towel is helpful on any camping trip, but it’s incredibly beneficial for PCT hikers.
When it’s hot outside, you’ll sweat a lot. Of course, the towel will help you wipe away the sweat, but it will be much handier if you can take a quick shower while wandering through one of the trail’s few tiny villages.
Many of these fast-drying hiking towels are antimicrobial, so you can use them more than once to maintain yourself clean without bothering about spreading bacteria.
Map, Compass, and GPS Transponder
Even though the Pacific Crest Trail is well-marked for most of its length, hikers frequently miss their way. So bring a paper map and study how to use it! To navigate the Pacific Crest Trail, you’ll need to keep a GPS transponder at all times. In addition, take a compass with you to aid in the orientation of your paper map.
Keep in mind how to get back on track if you are separated from the group. If you’re hiking ahead of the pack or southbound, you’re highly vulnerable to missing the trail.
The Halfmile map, created by Lan Cooper, has long been the go-to choice for Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. But, for Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers, there is now a new and enhanced version that makes navigating easier (as well as more weather-resistant):
The Pacific Crest Trail Maps by National Geographic, created in partnership with the PCTA and Lan Cooper of Halfmile fame.
Instead of depending on your smartphone, you should bring a physical compass with you (which could be lost or out of battery). The Brunton TruArc 3 Compass is a lovely, inexpensive basic compass that should suffice for orienting yourself on a map.
With the release of the National Geographic Pacific Trail Maps, which are also offered as physical maps and within the Gaia GPS App, National Geographic’s Gaia GPS App has become even more valuable. Navigation should be more straightforward now that the same map is available in both formats.
We’ve been researching gaiters, and they appear to have a positive influence on keeping pebbles and trash out of trail shoes or boots, but we are curious how many people genuinely use them on their thru-hike and if they’re worth purchasing?
Many campers are used by a lot of folks throughout the path, and they work great. We’d recommend starting with these and deciding later on the route.
The PCT is a sand and gravel trail. I began out without gaiters. However, we decided to get some after a few too many rocks and pine needles in my hiking boots.
We enjoy Dirty Girl Gaiters, which are constructed of a flexible four-way stretch fabric that doesn’t allow feet to sweat and weigh less than an ounce. Good of all, they come in various patterns, allowing you to express yourself even though you’ll be wearing the same outfit every day.