How to Not Look Like a Noob on the Pacific Crest Trai
Status can be a funny thing. Of course, it is most obviously expressed through shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting when you start to observe the more subtle signals — the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And, of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series “Insider Goods,” we’re talking to members of different tribes (some with their real names, some anonymously) to learn about the niche status items among Broadway actors, ballerinas, or brain surgeons.
Today, we look at Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. Each year from mid-April to late September, roughly 8,000 hikers seek to walk the entirety of the 2,650-mile PCT, which stretches between the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. Trekking the PCT, which surged in popularity in the past decade partly thanks to Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir (as well as the 2014 film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon), requires specific backpacking gear, which is often super lightweight and durable. But there’s another level to the gear: not looking like a total noob. We talked to four PCT veterans to get the lowdown on what marks someone as a seasoned thru-hiker on the trail and at camp, from the gear to use, the clothes to wear, and the places to stop for free beer and pie.
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