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2021 PCT Ultra-Awesome Gear List

My PCT Thru-hike Preparation

Here is a breakdown of how I spent my time preparing for my 2021 PCT NOBO thru-hike:

  • 90% analyzing gear
  • 9% watching vlogs of other people hiking the PCT
  • 1% calculating food and water resupply
  • 0% learning navigational skills and how to read a topographic map

So yes, you could say I am feeling very prepared for my thru-hike…if my thru-hike consisted of a multiple choice quiz on the weight, fabrics, and volume of the items on my gear list. However, this will not help me when I am wandering through the Mojave Desert in 100° temperatures, wondering how difficult it is to self-diagnose heat exhaustion after my phone died and I hope I am walking in the right direction before I run out of water.

I rest easy knowing I am not alone. My echo chamber of UL (Ultra Light) backpacking gear subreddits and YouTube videos has confirmed other thru-hikers love talking about gear as much as I do. I have made multiple gear lists and spreadsheets in search of the perfect, yet personal balance of the backpacker’s Holy Trinity of Comfort (or Quality), Weight, and Cost. My well-versed cousin and PCT alumnus shared with me while I was preparing for my 2018 SOBO JMT hike that you can pick 2 out of 3 attributes for any given piece of backpacking gear, but you can’t have all three.

My JMT gear list heavily favored cost and comfort. I suffered the weight consequence the entire 220 miles along the JMT. One of the thru-hiking sayings is that you pack your fears. As the raw skin turned to callouses on my shoulders and hips on the JMT, I told myself I’d make lightweight gear my priority next time. With that, I’d have to sacrifice cost or comfort. My PCT Big 3 (backpack, shelter, sleep system) weighs half of what they did for the JMT. I’m still not in the sub-10 pound UL Cool Kids Club because I am not yet willing to give up certain comforts, like my pillow, sleep clothes, and flip-flops. We’ll see what happens on the trail, how my starting gear varies, and what my finishing gear ends up being.

Continue exploring Daniel Gerken's complete gear list here.

LAST UPDATED

May 8, 2022

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My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick

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Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz
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The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

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