Pacific Crest Trail Gear Changes
Sunday, March 18, 2018 6:33 pm

Although my gear worked well for my Appalachian Trail and Long Trail thru-hikes, I felt compelled to make some changes because of the demands of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Gear on the Pacific Crest Trail

Two of the Big Three

The largest change is my tent. Although my Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Tent served me well on the AT (and the one time I used it on the LT), I wanted something that was more lightweight and easier to set up and take down. After seeing a Zpacks Duplex Tent on the AT and becoming jealous, I selected that tent for my PCT hike since it saves nearly two pounds of weight, partially by repurposing my trekking poles as supports.

The next largest change is my sleeping bag. While there was nothing wrong with either the REI Igneo 19 mummy bag (AT) or Sea to Summit Spark SP II Sleeping Bag (LT) bags, I still felt a new bag was in order. The Igneo was far too warm during the height of summer on the AT, and the Spark II will be too cold in the early season, especially at the PCT’s higher elevations. I settled on the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag, a 20°F bag that’s a little less than half a pound lighter than the Igneo.

Although I considered going all-in with Zpacks and replacing my pack as well, I felt that changing out two of the big three more than enough for one hike.


My Lowa Renegade boots served me quite well on the AT and LT (I’ve now gone through four pairs of them), but for the PCT, I wanted something a bit more lightweight, and more importantly, not waterproof.

Lighter shoes will make the hiking easier, and because of the likelihood of a significant number of fords in the Sierra (as well as hiking on or in snow), I wanted something that wouldn’t take a week to dry out if they got wet. Also, non-waterproof boots should help keep my feet a little drier once they start sweating.

After trying out many pairs of boots, I settled on the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Shoe.


Most of my clothes have stayed the same between my AT/LT hikes and my PCT hike. The main difference is I’m starting with extra socks and the camp clothes I experimented with on my LT hike. I’m also replacing the rain jacket I had with a new one; the armpit zippers in my old jacket were rusted together and un-openable. Actually, I either forgot, or didn’t realize, that jacket had armpit zipers. Either way, the new jacket has a more adjustable hood, which should help visibility when I have it up.

For the PCT

The most important new piece of gear is a BearVault BV500 bear canister, required in the Sierra. Weighing in at 2.5 pounds empty, this single item makes up for all the weight savings from my new tent and sleeping bag. Fortunately, I only need it while in the Sierra, so I won’t be carrying it for most of the hike.

I also am taking a set of Kahtoola Microspikes for traction on snow and ice. Those, I will be carrying from the start (since there’s the potential to need them early on), and sending back home with my bear canister after exiting the Sierra.

I’m also bringing along a second Platypus 2L Platy Bottle to allow for extra water capacity in the desert, just in case.


With the exception of my headlamp, all of the rest of my electronics have been updated. I expect great pictures out of the improved camera on my iPhone X, and my Apple Watch 3 should work just as well at (inaccurately) counting calories as its predecessor.

Since I got the distinct impression I would be spending less time in town on the PCT than I did on the AT, and that those towns would be further apart, I opted to replace my battery pack (which I was quite happy with) with the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger, which has 33% more capacity and a much faster charge time. I also picked up an Anker four-port power adaptor to add two more ports, allowing me to charge everything at the same time, thus making the most efficient use of time at power outlets.

Odds and Ends

With the exception of the compression sacks I’m using for clothes and my sleeping bag, I replaced all of my dry sacks, as all of them had developed holes from their time on the trail.

And finally, I’ll be taking a pair of sunglasses. There’ll be too much exposed trail on the PCT to not have them.

Full Gear List

To see the full list of gear I’m taking on the Pacific Crest Trail (or the gear from my earlier trails), follow these links:

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