Equipment update – July

Here it is three months and 1,100 miles into my journey and my equipment has changed a bit from when I started last April. As I am about to enter Washington, this is a list of what has and hasn’t been swapped out. 

Backpack:  by far the biggest item I’ve had problems with. I started with an ultralight pack from Zpacks, Arc Blast. (1lb, 1oz)  It didn’t fit well, so I exchanged for a different model, the Arc Hauler. (1lb, 8oz) That one broke…twice. Gave up on Zpacks and went with an Osprey Atmost. (4lbs, 8oz) It didn’t fit well either, so I returned it. I’m presently I’m using an Osprey Aether. (4lbs, 15oz)  See a weight trend here? However the Aether seems to fit well and that matters the most to me right now.  My base weight for the PCT may be too high for Ultralight packs. No firm idea what the base is right now, but with the Aether pack I’d estimate around 22-25lbs, which is double what an UL base should be.  However the Aether is designed for hauling huge amounts of weight in comfort. 

Shoes: I started with Brooks Cascadias 10’s, which in previous years were top rated. This year they sucked so hard…  I barely got 150 miles out of a pair before they failed. Changed over to Vasque Mindbender trail runners and got over 400 miles before they showed wear in the soles. Been happy since. 

Camp Shoes:  Every book on UL backpacking says to NOT bring camp shoes. So I didn’t… Then I had to use the public shower at Mount Laguna, looked at floor and cringed. Yeah, PCT hikers need at least shower shoes. I had to wait until Idylwild to purchase some and got a pair of heavy duty ones.  I’ve since used them for stream crossing, camp use and around town while washing clothes and I’ve been totally satisfied.  Worth it. 

Tent: Still using my Big Agnes Copper Spur-1. It’s a solid, excellent tent.  I’ve been snowed on twice, hailed on several times and rained on dozens of times and kept totally dry. More than half of all tents I’ve seen used on the PCT are Big Agnes. That says a lot. 

Sleeping bag:  Still using my 20 degree down quilt from UGQ. It really has kept me warm into the low 20s. 

Sleeping Pad: I started with the large Thermarest NeoAir and it’s still going strong. Amazing comfort for just 1lb and no leaks yet. It is noisy when you move. A lot. I later supplemented it with a small Z-Pad I also use for sitting/laying on at lunch break. Using it under the Neo at night reduces the noise by half, but adds 10oz. Still worth it. 

Seat/Chair:  Didn’t start with one, but decided I wanted something with back support after being stuck in my tent for hours more that once waiting out a storm. I purchased a Thermarest Trekker chair that uses the Neo pad as the cushion. Adds 10oz. Seems to work and the long waits are much easier now. 


  • Camera/Cell Phone/GPS:  still using the iPhone 6+. It’s huge and a pain to carry, but the large screen is a joy to use and the camera is damned good. The waterproof case keeps it fresh. 
  • InReach Personal Locater Beacon (PLB).  Piece of mind in case the worst happens and it’s handy to send text messages when there is no cell service. 
  • Anker 10,000mAh battery. Solid and works great. Charges the phone 2-3 times. 
  • Quad AC 40watt USB charger.  So nice to charge all three at the same time. 
  • I was loaned a 6 watt CIGS Solar Panel by John Swartz ( to evaluate. I loved the size and weight but it didn’t quite have the power to charge my huge phone when conditions weren’t perfect. I swapped it out for a heavier 10 watt silicone panel and will see what happens in Washington. The weight is a major factor, though; 9oz vs 18oz. We’ll see if I keep it. 

Stove:  I started with a Soto Windmaster stove with an 800 ML cup. I swapped it out for a Jetboil with a 1L cup because I wanted to do more than boil water. It’s heavier but works in wind and simmers better. 

Clothing:  While I don’t recommend hiking the PCT to lose weight, it’s worked for me. So far I’ve lost 30Lbs on this trip!  

  • My old clothes no longer fit and I’ve replaced my shirt and pants twice so far. 
  • I’ve replaced three pair of socks, and several others (I carry 4 pair) may wear out over the next 500 miles. 
  • I’m adding rain pants in the next resupply box at a White Pass, just in case of cold rainy weather. 
  • I have an XL down puffy jacket that fits like a tent and I may pick up a Large to replace it. The slimmer fit would be better as an under layer. 
  • My wind/rain coat from Zpacks still works well. I use the puffy as a warmth layer under it in cold weather. 
  • Finally, I’ve gone through six hats. I’ve broken three, (OR Sun Runner) didn’t like one and lost one. (REI Sahara) I reordered the Sahara to replace the baseball cap with Oregon State on the front I got as a temp. (I hope no one in Washington Assaults me 😝)  


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