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The PCT Thru-Hike Checklist: 29 Things To Do Before You Start

Getting ready for a thru-hike is a daunting process. Unplugging from the stress of day-to-day life for a multi-month trek sounds incredible, but first, you have to actually get to the starting line. Not only do you have to prep for the logistics of the hike itself, but you have to make sure your home affairs are in order. That way, you can focus solely on the trail when the time comes.

Trust me: getting your ducks in a row before you hit the trail (while you still have cell service) will make your hike go much more smoothly. If you’re getting ready to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, make sure you complete everything on this checklist before you go.

The PCT Thru-Hike Checklist: 29 Things to Do Before Starting the Trail

1. Get your permits in order.

2. Learn snow skills and practice with your ice axe.

3. Download the first water report.

4. Keep an eye on the snowpack.

5. Get in shape.

6. Learn to identify poodle-dog bush.

7. Make a hitchhiking sign.

8. Figure out section-specific gear.

9. Get your bills on autopay.

10. Health insurance.

11. Cancel car insurance and surrender plates/registration.

12. Cancel or pause subscriptions.

13. Visit your doctor: renew prescriptions + address outstanding health concerns.

14. Put your stuff in storage.

15. Notify your landlord and employer.

16. Notify your credit card company you’ll be traveling + make sure you know your debit PIN.

17. Entrust someone with your important personal information and passwords.

18. Designate someone to handle your mail.

19. Set your vacation reminder.

20. Shakedown hikes: test your gear + make needed returns and exchanges.

21. Gear TLC

22. Activate subscription for your GPS beacon + program the device and practice using it.

23. Download books, movies, music, apps, maps, etc. that you plan to use on the trail.

24. Get your blog/social media/etc. set up.

25. Familiarize yourself with the trail: outline a tentative itinerary + choose where you want to send boxes.

26. Arrange travel to the trailhead.

27. Personal grooming.

28. Try not to freak out.

29. Enjoy the comforts of home while you still can.

You can find more details on he things you should do before starting trail, written by Kelly Floro here.


May 9, 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


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

Pete Ortiz


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).

Halfway Anywhere
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