A few weeks ago, I walked an epic journey (for me!): 54 miles in 2.5 days on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Many of you have asked what I brought with me, and what I wore. This post will detail all the gear!
I loosely following this diagram from Bearfoot Theory, although she seems to be missing one big item: the tent! Is it there?? I just don’t see it.
|In the Top–the “brain”|
|bug spray—Picaridin from REI|
|Sunscreen—travel size kids SPF 50|
|Headlamp—Petzl from ’09 (and extra batteries)|
|multi-tool—didn’t need but good to have|
|pack cover—REI brand. Didn’t need since no rain.|
|Whistle—from REI. For safety. Didn’t need.|
|Mug—Miir/Oiselle. Used for “iced coffee” and oatmeal but probably could’ve lived without|
|In the Middle:|
|Toiletries (see photo below)|
|Small lens—50 mm. Didn’t end up using.|
|Jackets—brought both North Face raincoat and lightweight jacket. Didn’t need either one but wore the light jacket in the mornings while packing up.|
|Food (see photo below)|
|Bathroom kit (trowel, TP, wipes) (photo below)|
|Electronics—Anker PowerCore 15000, and charging cables for my iPhone, Garmin watch, and Whoop strap. Only needed this twice, as I wasn’t using my phone (little to no service out there!)|
· Wore Smartwool shirt and socks, REI pants, Oiselle bra, and Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes.
· Brought: 1 extra Smartwool T-shirt, Altra tights, Oiselle shorts, extra bra, 3 pairs each Smartwool socks and underwear. The only thing I didn’t use was the tights–it just wasn’t cold.
|Tent—borrowed my dad’s Big Agnes ultralight Copper Spur 2 person (Joel and I shared)|
|Ear plugs—never used but just in case of someone snoring. Needed these on the flight and didn’t have them because they were in my bag!|
|In the Bottom:|
|Sleeping bag—The North Face Aleutian 40, worked well, only got a little chilly on the last night (I had worn shorts to bed and my feet were a little cold)|
|Sleeping pad—Sea to Summit, bought on REI garage sale. Inflates super easy, really liked this!|
|Pillow—Sea to Summit, borrowed from Dad.
|tripod–didn’t end up using since I forgot the allen wrench needed for my camera clip|
|camera–Canon 60D, attached with a PeakDesign clip|
|Zippered waist pockets:|
|pee funnel–didn’t end up using|
|water bottle (Smartwater 1 liter)|
|water purification (Grayl–holds 16 oz)|
|paper map printed out from here|
To get to Portland, I packed all the above in my large North Face suitcase. It was a challenge because I also had my cousin’s Altra Timps (I was his resupply), and my lens rental case to mail box on the last day of the trip.
What I didn’t bring:
- Bear canister–used a turkey baster bag instead (Cole’s suggestion). Didn’t have any issue with animals, thank God!
- Trekking poles–didn’t realize how important these were! Borrowed Cole’s on the first full day after I was hurting like crazy. Might end up buying my own pretty soon. These definitely help hike up mountains, and save the knees and ankles on the way back down.
- Stove–Joel brought his so I used hot water from that. Need to buy my own soon.
- Gloves/buff–wasn’t cold so I didn’t need.
- Head net to keep mosquitoes out–didn’t need, glad I didn’t bring.
- Sandals–would have been nice at the end of the day, but really didn’t have extra space.
I consider myself a good packer, but I did struggle to make everything fit while on the trail. I could tell the difference when I did a better job packing–I was more balanced and the pack wasn’t as top heavy.
It’s a tough balance, because you don’t want to be out in the wilderness and NEED something that you don’t have. At the same time, you don’t want to be carrying ANY extra weight (my body was feeling every. single. ounce!), so it’s almost better to err on the side of not bringing. As I told my cousin later, when I packed at home: When in doubt, leave it out. However, items for safety, always bring.
Even still, these are the items I didn’t end up needing/using:
- pack cover
- pee funnel
- 50 mm lens
- collapsible water bottle
- extra batteries
- iPhone SD card reader
- 1/4 bag of trail mix (I gave away some food to my bro and cousin)
If I had left out all the above things, it wouldn’t have amounted to more than a few pounds. So in the end, I was cautious (brought gear for cold + rain, even though it wasn’t supposed to be cold or rainy). I could have left a little camera stuff behind, but I was glad to have everything.
Shoutout to my dad for helping me pack the weekend prior. He advised me and what definitely a help–I would have brought extra things if he hadn’t encouraged me and reassured me that it’s OK to leave some things behind. He also helped me with my new camera clip, so carrying the camera was simple and comfortable thanks to his help:
As an aside… the whole trip reminded me a bit of ruck-marching and field training exercises from my time in the Army:
It had been about a decade since I did anything like this in the Army, but I found it refreshing to be able to choose my gear (vs being forced to carry Army-issued gear), choose exactly what I wanted to bring and not bring (vs having to follow a designated packing list), and bringing all the things I wanted for comfort, like my favorite snacks (Picky bars! Twix!) and electronics. Plus my North Face backpack was SO much better-fitting than my rucksack + frame in the Army. And wearing hiking shoes and Smartwool clothes was wayyyyy comfier than combat boots and a uniform.
Coming home, I had a much lighter load–I had eaten the food, used up the TP, mailed back my lens rental, and given the new Altra’s to Cole. When I got home, I had to wash the clothes twice though, cuz they were soooo smelly 😛
My unpacking helper:
I hope this gear list helps!
If you’re a hiker/camper/backpacker:
What are the items you deem necessary, and the ones you leave behind?