DID SOMEONE SAY GEAR LIST? HERE'S JOSH SHEETS FROM THE '22 PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
Words and Photos from Josh Sheets
Here it is, folks—a coveted Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) gear list. This was the gear that accompanied me on my PCT thru hike this year! I suppose I should let you know what you’re getting into when you browse this list. So, full disclaimer: this gear list is tailored more towards pared-down lightweight comfort than outright ultralight. You might see some things that are tried and true and you might see some things that surprise you. Let dive in, shall we?!
Backpack Hyperlite Junction 55 30.5
Shelter Hyperlite Prototype 2-person, Polycryo ground cloth, 11 DAC stakes w/ sack 29.7
Sleeping Bag Mountain Hardwear 15◦ & Western Mountaineering Tioga Silk Mummy liner 33 + 3.6
Sleeping Pad Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite 12
Top (worn) Wuru Merino Lightweight Hoodie (S) 5.5
Bottoms (worn) Janji Transit Tech Pants (S) 7.1
Bottoms (# 2) Brooks Running Shorts (XS) 4.5
Underwear Wuru Merino Wool (S) 2.6
Trucker Hat (worn) Roam hat 2.5
Neck Buff (worn) Buff Merino Wool 1.5
Sunglasses (worn) RayBan Wayfarer (prescription & polarized) w/ Croakies retainer 1.5
Shoes (worn) Altra Lone Peak 5 (3 pairs), Altra Olympus 4 (1 pair), and Altra Lone Peak 6 (1 pair) -- 8.5 size 22.2
Glasses (reading) GUESS frameless w/ Croakies retainer 1
Rain/Wind Jacket Outdoor Research Helium II (S) 6
Down Jacket Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (hooded) 7
Socks (1) Darn Tough 1/4 medium cushion, (1) light cushion, & (1) Injini toe socks (M) 5.3
Head Net 0.1
Gloves Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Gloves & Adidas Edge Climawarm Active Gloves (S) 0.9 + 1.2
Gloves Shell / Rain Mitts REI Minimalist GTX Mitts (M) 1.2
Base Layer (top) Ridge Merino Aspect Midweight half-zip (S). 7.5
Base layer (bottom) Ridge Merino Aspect Midweight (S) 5.8
Beanie Pistil Merino Wool 2
Camp Shoes Flipflops (CVS) 2
Stuff Sack for Clothing Hyperlite Pod (L) and Hyperlite Stuff Sack Pillow 3
CARRIED / ON BODY
Trekking Poles Leki Micro Vario Cor-Teca TA 20.3
Fanny Pack Hyperlite Versa 2.9
Stove Soto Windmaster w/ Triflex pot support 2.3
Pot & Lid TOAKS Titanium Pot 650 ml (w/ sack) 3.2
Cold Soaking Jar Talenti 1-pint plastic jar 0.5
Sponge Scotch-Brite cut in half 0.2
Water Treatment Sawyer Squeeze w/ extra gasket & coupling 4
Headlamp Black Diamond Spot w/ 3 extra batteries 4.4
Food Storage (non-Sierra) LOKSAK OPSAK 0.8
Bear Canister (Sierra) BearVault BV500 41
Utensil Sea to Summit Alpha Light (titanium) Long Spork 0.4
Water Bottles Smartwater 1-liter bottles (4 for the desert, 2 for the rest of the trail) 2.95
Water Bladder CNOC 2-liter bag 2.8
Sit Pad Nemo Chipper Reclaimed Closed-Cell Foam 5.6
Trowel TheTentLab (The Deuce) #2 0.6
Lip Balm/Chapstick Arizona Sun Lip Kist 0.3
Sunscreen Neutrogena 110 SPF 3
Toothbrush Mini / travel size 0.4
Toothpaste Mini / travel size 1
Floss Mini / travel size 0.2
Medications Ibuprofen, Imodium, Advil PM, Neosporin, etc. 1
Power Bank Anker PowerCore 10,000 mAh Redux 6.9
Headphones AKG (wired) 0.5
Phone (w/ case) Google Pixel 6 with Ringke clear case 7.3
Phone Hauler Hyperlite Shoulder Pocket 1.4
Charger UGREEN 65W multi-port charger 4.6
Misc. Cables USB-C/USB-C (phone), USB-C/USB-C/A (power bank), micro-USB (camera), USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter 2.5
Camera & Lens Sony a6500 & Zeiss 16-70mm F4 lens 26.8
Camera Clip Peak Design Capture Clip 2.6
Camera Cover Peak Design Shell 4
Camera Batteries Sony InfoLithium (1020 mAh) and Wasabi Power (1300 mAh) 3
Camera Sensor/Lens Cleaner APS-C Sensor Swabs 0.09
Lighter Mini-Bic 0.3
Pen & Sharpie Making signs and signing registers! 0.5
Safety Pins 2 - can be very handy!
Pocket Knife Gerber - single 2.5" blade 1.4
Therm-a-Rest Repair Kit Alcohol prep pads and glue dots 0.4
Microfiber Towel 1
Lens Cleaner Spray 1.3
My PCT start date was permitted for April 25th. Despite the first 700 miles of the PCT being “desert”, elevations in this section range from 1,200 feet to as high as 9,000 feet over seven mountain ranges. Some of the coldest temperatures I experienced on my hike were in the desert and it was the only time my water bottles froze solid overnight. Additionally, knowing that I tend to sleep cold, I was certainly happy to have been carrying additional clothing layers, a stove to make a hot meal, and a down sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees. This set-up served me well into the High Sierra and beyond to NorCal. Below, I will make some suggestions as to how you can lighten your pack in the middle of the trail.
This gear list was pieced together using items already in my possession. There are certainly lighter/newer options available, and you could also eliminate some items to pare down to truly ultralight status. However, I value carrying items that have been extensively field-tested by me over several backpacking seasons and allows me to be comfortable in a variety of conditions. I believe there is value in knowing your gear inside and out and how it performs in said conditions. That said, I was pretty much dialed in on my gear list and I did not do much tweaking throughout my thru hike.
Yet, there are some notable pieces of gear that I carried on the PCT and that I had not carried previously:
The Arse Pad: Nemo Chipper Reclaimed Closed-Cell Foam Pad
Unlike the AT, the PCT is noticeably lacking regularly spaced picnic tables (and shelters). Thus, I bet you will want something to sit or lay on when taking a break. Be it a Tyvek sheet, a full-length foam pad, or a quarter length foam pad like I had, it was something that I was very happy having as part of my kit.
Fanny Pack: Hyperlite Versa
Honestly, I am unsure how I ever backpacked without a fanny pack. This baby is priceless to have when you are walking around town and can house snacks, glasses, your wallet, and anything else you need quick access to while hiking. It also gave me piece of mind that I always had my valuables with me even when I took off my pack.
Stove: Soto Windmaster
While I have carried a stove before, this was the first stove that required canister fuel. When I hiked the AT, I used an alcohol stove. If you are going to use a stove on the PCT, please use a stove that can be turned off with a switch and a fuel source that cannot spill. Alcohol stoves can be outright banned on the PCT due to open flame regulations.
And, of course, there are some pieces of gear that I would leave behind (or could have lived without) if I ever attempt the PCT again:
Camp Shoes: Cheap Polyester Flip Flops from CVS
The PCT is notoriously dry and, thus, I never desired to change into camp shoes because I had wet feet. Also, because of the dispersed nature of the PCT, I spent very little time in camp (I essentially hiked until it was about to get dark and then started looking for a campsite).
I never used my pot to eat; only to heat-up water. I would pour the warm (but not boiling!) water into my Talenti jar that housed my meal. This made pot-cleaning not necessary.
Pro Tip: Base Layers, Gloves/Rain Mitts, Beanie, & Puffy
I was not prepared for just how blisteringly hot it gets in NorCal. It was hotter than the desert! I did not come remotely close to needing my cold weather clothes north of Lake Tahoe. Thus, I mailed ahead my cold weather gear to Cascade Locks, OR. Other hikers opted for Timberline Lodge as another option.
A final word to the wise. Case in Point: The Umbrella
Needless to say, umbrellas seem to be quite a divisive piece of gear among PCT hikers. They are loved, loathed, or something a hiker carries for many miles, occasionally deploys, and ultimately finds themselves unceremoniously discarding it in a hiker box somewhere around Kennedy Meadows. I did not have a sun umbrella as part of my gear set-up. However, I found a quite festive umbrella in a hiker box in Idyllwild, CA. Soon after I found it, a bet was hatched that I would hike with it until at least Big Bear, CA – a total of almost 90 miles. And if I did? A cool $20 in winnings awaited me. Now, did I have to do such a thing? Of course not. But I must admit, I lost track of how many compliments I received. This particular umbrella was downright unique and just weird enough that other hikers found the story about the bet to be amusing. I wound up loving the umbrella so much and enjoying the conversation-starting nature that I carried it past Big Bear all the way to Wrightwood, CA – a grand total of over 180 miles. The bottom line and moral of this story? Have FUN out there! ENJOY your hike! That’s what you are out there for, right?! Don’t get too wrapped up in the “perfect” gear list or the lowest base weight. If you want to carry something that is fun or important to you, do so! The memories that silly umbrella gave me was well worth the weight.
Josh Sheets is a Social Worker and Adventurer. After completing the Appalachian Trail in 2011, he turned his focus to HIV social work. In subsequent years, he completed other trails including the Long Trail, Colorado Trail, Foothills Trail, Tahoe Rim, Laurel Highlands, Teton Crest and Wind River Range Traverses, and the Uinta Highline. He can be found and followed as “Soulslosher” on the social channels.