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.
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