Climbing the Pacific Crest Path: The Gear I Used and Why

I’m not an ultralight-gear fanatic. I wasn’t an skilled backpacker after I set out. Shockingly, I wasn’t somebody with a plan. I used to be simply somebody with a ardour, and a severe must get away from my darkness and into the sunshine of the wilderness. 

Right here is the gear that I used on my hike alongside the Pacific Crest Path from head to toe, day and evening. Sure, there’s a lot of nice gear on the market, so how did this gear make the minimize?

By means of a mix of trial and error, just a few handouts, some work ethic, and downright newbie’s luck. And I didn’t want to save lots of 1000’s of {dollars} to buy them, or analysis excessive and low, or obsess about ounces and tag-cutting. I did fairly the alternative the truth is. I considerably closed my eyes and hoped for one of the best. And someway it received me to the monument. Right here’s how this course of can get you there, too!

Gear on My Particular person (aka Attire)

(Picture/Sean Jansen)


“Cotton kills,” was a motto I realized early on mountaineering the path. A fast go to to REI and its polyester Energetic Pursuits shirts had been my go-to alternative. I purchased two, one a long-sleeved and one other a short-sleeved, they usually accompanied me for the two,650 miles of the journey. 

I used to be additionally capable of work out a small contract with Rab earlier than I left on the hike. The model supplied me with its light-weight Phantom Pullover Rain Shell. I had to make use of this jacket extensively through the first 700 miles of path, as a result of I didn’t have a down jacket (till after the Sierras). As soon as I received to Northern California, Rab despatched me its Microlight Alpine Down Jacket, and the chilly nights had been over.


I began out with a pair of prAna operating shorts that aren’t made anymore, and ended up burning them by the hearth one morning after a Might snowstorm in California. So, I needed to hike into city with a breezy, burnt pair of shorts and purchase a Huge 5 model operating quick that I stored (and that did the job) for the remaining 2,400 miles of path. 

I additionally carried with me a pair of Patagonia’s Capilene lengthy underwear high and bottoms. I had already owned them earlier than the hike. I used them principally for sleeping, and I nonetheless personal and use to this present day. 

For pants, I bought REI’s Co-op waterproof Sahara Cargo pants. They collapsed down and stuffed into no matter area was out there inside my backpack.


(Picture/Sean Jansen)

I’ll simply exit and say it. I modified my sneakers 4 instances on path. I began out with a pair of Nike Air avenue trainers. Sure, you learn that proper: Nike avenue sneakers. I wore them for an excellent 200 miles earlier than lastly studying from different hikers that they weren’t going to chop it. And blisters, aches, and potential stress fractures had been assured. 

I additionally realized from fellow hikers with way more expertise than I {that a} pair of path trainers (not boots) had been the optimum alternative. And out of all of them, Brooks’ Cascadias had been the preferred. I purchased some and wore them for over 500 miles, however round mile 400, the crease the place the toes bend at every step at all times ripped open. Many hikers on path had this challenge, each women and men.

So lastly after attempting Nike, Brooks, and even HOKAs (which is one other story altogether), I landed with Altra Lone Peaks. They had been a shoe I lastly picked up in Oregon and wore to the Canadian border and effectively past. I even laced them up yesterday and went for a path run whereas brainstorming what gear to cowl on this article.


(Picture/Sean Jansen)

My reference to Rab began with my very first on-line weblog publish for the backpacking firm Lowe Alpine (now owned by Rab). Again after I bought my sleeping bag by The North Face, I additionally bought a Lowe Alpine Tundra 65L backpack for a similar motive: I preferred the colour (I do know). 

Quick ahead just a few years, and I had used that backpack to journey everywhere in the world on 5 continents. I’d maintain observe of the variety of buses, planes, boats, taxis, and many others., and Lowe Alpine posted it on their web site. Shortly after I discussed I used to be mountaineering the PCT, Lowe Alpine despatched me the newer 65L Cerro Torre for the path. I used that pack for every mile of PCT, and had zero points with it.

I nonetheless use it right now.

Gear for Sleeping


My tent in winter circumstances alongside the northern part of the PCT; (photograph/Sean Jansen)

Disclaimer: Whereas I did go for a big share of substances from REI, please be aware REI didn’t sponsor my hike. For my tent, the now-discontinued Quarter Dome 1 was the selection. From my analysis, I knew I needed a light-weight tent that was simple to arrange, tear down, and deal with many of the climate environments on path. The Quarter Dome was essentially the most economical on the time.

Sleeping Pad

I began out with an EXPED air mattress. Every week into the PCT, I popped it. However a buddy was leaving path for private causes, and he left me his Thermarest Z-lite foldable sleeping pad. It’s light-weight and gained’t pop, which was sufficient for me. To this present day, I exploit this pad on practically each backcountry journey.

Sleeping Bag

(Picture/Baden Powell)

The sleeping bag I had on the time was The North Face Snowshoe 0-degree bag. It weighed over 3 kilos and packed so massive that my 65L backpack had bother swallowing it. However I didn’t know any higher. I purchased the bag years prior as a result of I preferred the colour of it, and it had a zero-degree ranking.

I additionally didn’t know that the correct storage method for sleeping luggage was to not go away them of their stuff sacks for months at a time, because the loft and down will condense and lose their fluff and thermoregulation. So I had a heavy, horrible-packing, and non-lofty sleeping bag for my 6 months on path.

Gear for Cooking

(Picture/Sean Jansen)


I began out with the MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s this tiny little factor that packed right into a small plastic container that I nonetheless personal right now. I carried it with me and used it till Central Oregon after I found that the Jetboil Zip had a French press adapter for its range system and converted ASAP. Since that second, my life has modified without end. Lengthy gone are the times of immediate espresso.


With me into the woods comes my Swiss Military knife that I’ve had since I used to be a child. I don’t care how heavy it’s or what folks might say about them, it’s simply a type of objects like a toothbrush that goes with me all over the place.

I carried with me a Sea to Summit Alpha Mild Lengthy Spork and a Vargo titanium quick spork. The lengthy Sea to Summit spork not solely made it simple to achieve into the depths of every Mountain Home MRE, but additionally has a everlasting house in my package for every endeavor outdoor.


(Picture/Sean Jansen)

On path, I began out like everybody, obsessing over prepared meals like Mountain Home. Then I went onto immediate oatmeal, mashed potatoes, ramen, and all of the bars below the solar. Earlier than lengthy, I used to be packing out fried hen, beer, fruit, pizza, you title it.

Meals is one thing that I craved and salivated over after I survived an extended day up a mountain go. So, I handled myself. I ended stressing about ultra-lite and packability. When it got here to it, if I needed it, all I needed to settle for was that I needed to carry it. And as soon as that call was made, I used to be stoked that I packed out what I did.

Miscellaneous Gear

Climbing Poles

I had by no means used poles previous to the PCT, and now I’ll flip round at a trailhead and head house if I overlook them. That stated, I had no information of this on the time and so I purchased an affordable pair from Walmart that lasted me your entire 2,650 miles.

Water Filter

(Picture/Sean Jansen)

The identical buddy that bailed out and gave me his Thermarest Z-lite pad, really useful that I buy the Sawyer Squeeze water filter. The filter not solely labored nice but additionally gave effort-free reliability when my throat was parched and the slog by way of the desert was excruciating. 

I’ll say, nevertheless, that the luggage that Sawyer supplied with the filter had been rubbish. They’d final just a few squeezes earlier than a gap was identified and all of us needed to filter utilizing plastic water bottles. The SmartWater bottles appeared to be the best-threaded match for the Sawyer. 

Sun shades

For me, sun shades had been at all times the fuel station specials. I considered spending copious quantities of cash on name-brand glass with good UV safety and polarization due to my delicate blue eyes. However I’m too clumsy and will see myself cursing on the choice after I broke them. The $20 specials had been my go-to. 

Bear Can

I wanted a bear can when getting into Kings Canyon and despatched mine to Kennedy Meadows, earlier than the Sierra part. Then despatched it house shortly after Yosemite. However Bear Vault was my alternative for 2 causes: I already owned it and was certainly one of two decisions available on the market, on the time. 

Fly Rod

(Picture/Sean Jansen)

I’m an avid fly fisherman and there was no manner I used to be going to hike by way of a few of the most beautiful trout water on the planet with out bringing a rod. So I had a three-piece R.L. Winston fly rod with an Abel reel and a collection of flies that packed right into a small container.

Tripod and Digital camera

I introduced a small and collapsible Sliokay Tripod that match within the facet compartment of my backpack. 

My digicam was an enormous Nikon D200 DSLR. However I didn’t care about its measurement or weight; it was coming with me on the path or there was no level in me even being on the market.

The Gear I Despatched Residence

Rain Pants

Rain pants had been a fast one I despatched house. They took up area, made mountaineering actually uncomfortable, and in the end, nonetheless received me moist.

Water Bladder

The water bladder was one other one. I confused about water in Southern California and elements of Northern California. However on the finish of the day, none of us actually used them. And it was stunning how heavy they had been, even dry.

Photo voltaic Panel

I believed I used to be going to want one, given the actual fact I had to make use of my telephone to write down articles and share to social media. However airplane mode is superb, and a easy battery pack normally made it into city as soon as every week. 


(Picture/Sean Jansen)

I feel the best factor that occurred to me on path was that I realized as I went. And that is a few of the greatest recommendation any hiker might get. I suffered with everybody else, after which discovered my groove and by no means deviated from that path.

“Hike your personal hike,” was an expression I realized very early on and all of us took it to coronary heart. That’s all of the sentiment that I needed to study by way of the errors I made early on. But when I hadn’t made any path or gear errors, I additionally wouldn’t have had these shared experiences with others on path. 

They helped me refine my package, recommend sneakers to put on, confirmed me the place to get water, and let me strive their French-pressed espresso or Pop Tarts with peanut butter and Fritos on high. And I wouldn’t change any of these experiences for something on the planet.

So, from one beginner thru-hiker to all these hopeful PCTers on the market, simply keep in mind to not stress and study as you go. There are 2,650 miles on that path, and you may’t do any of them till you make step one.