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The Ultimate Pacific Crest Trail Packing List

Headed out on the Pacific Crest Trail? Expert thru-hiker Liz “Snorkel” Thomas breaks down the gear you’ll need, with help from BACKPACKER Gear Editor Eli Bernstein.

On a PCT thru-hike, you’ll be spending months with your gear. Pick it wisely, and you’ll have a friend who never lets you down. On the other hand, gear that is just “good enough” for a short hike could rub you the wrong way when carried day-after-day and may even lead to injury.

Some thru-hiking gear is the same stuff you would use backpacking, but some is a little different. Since you’re carrying the gear for much longer with a goal of hiking most of the day with less time in camp, thru-hiking gear tends to be smaller and lighter than most traditional backpacking gear.

There’s no such thing as the “perfect gear for the PCT”—only the perfect gear for you. What gear you use depends on your skills and experience. But your choices also depend on your age, fitness level, and any health issues you may have. While many PCT hikers who set out on a thru-hike have a similar dream and goal in mind, everyone has a different way of getting there. Your gear choices will change depending on whether your goal is to hike fast, stay comfortable, take great photography, or see the trail in as many seasons as you can stand it out there.

I prefer lightweight and even ultralight gear when thru-hiking. Walking day-after-day, month-after-month takes a toll on the body, and I find that carrying lightweight gear can help reduce the aches and pains associated with backpacking.

But lightweight gear (heck, any gear) is only useful so long as a thru-hiker knows how to use it in different conditions. Test your gear out on backpacking trips before starting a thru-hike. Here’s a solid list of easy-to-learn, thru-hiker-approved gear for your journey.

Read the full article by Liz "Snorkel" Thomas on Backpacker Magazine's website here.

LAST UPDATED

May 6, 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

MEDIA MENTIONS

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

Pete Ortiz
Writer

MEDIA MENTIONS

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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