Packing for the PCT is about determining the necessities and then finding or creating the lightest version of that necessity you can. The basic idea is the less weight you carry the farther you can walk each day while putting less strain on your body. Many ultralight thru-hikers aim to have a lighter pack than I will be carrying but at around 16 pounds (base weight without food or water) my pack is within the range of acceptability for long-distance hiking. Selecting my gear was an agonizing process of reading reviews, shopping for discounts and testing gear. I don't wish to do it again but I am happy with my kit. Here are some of my favorite and most importance pieces of gear I will be bringing.
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 - 2 lb 14 oz. A nice lightweight pack that I tested out while hiking in Patagonia. If found it to be durable, comfortable and conveniently designed.
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 - 2 lb 8 oz. A 3 season, 1 person tent. I put the tent through the ringer in Patagonia and found the tent to be easy to set up, spacious, durable and extremely rugged and dry in the elements.
Marmot Helium - 2 lb 6 oz. A down sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees. A standard selection for the Pacific Crest Trail.
Big Agnes Q-Core SL - 16 oz. Super comfortable inflatable pad.
Homemade Alcohol Stove, Caldera Cone and Vargo Titanium 1.3L Pot - 8.5 oz total. Alcohol stoves are standard on the trail due to their lightweight, and cheap and available fuel. The Caldera Cone (shown on the right) serves as a pot holder while increasing efficiency and speed of the stove.
Aquamira - Changing the chemical water treatment game. Kills everything in 30 minutes providing safe drinking water. Leaves no unpleasant taste unlike many other chemical treatments.
Marmot Super Mica - 9 oz. A super light jacket that stood up to abuse during four months of hiking in South America. It is both very impressive at repelling water and breathable.
Clothing and Layers
Almost all of my clothing is wool. It keeps me warm when I get wet and never stinks - even if you wear it everyday and never wash it! I will be carrying 2 lightweight wool tee shirts, a thin long sleeve wool shirt, lightweight wool long underwear, a light wool hat, and 2 pairs of wool running socks.
Synapse - 12 oz. Trail running shoes and sneakers are standard footwear for Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. Heavy hiking boots tear apart long-distance hikers feet and are unnecessary with reduced pack weights. The Salomon
Synapse is one of the first shoes designed specifically for thru-hiking. These were my only shoes while backpacking in South America. I found them to be extremely comfortable until they fell completely disintegrated after I put 500 miles on them. Many thru-hikers go through between 4 and 5 pairs of shoes on the trail.
Kindle Touch - 7.5 oz. Weeks of battery life, 20 books and hundreds of songs - all weighing less than a paperback book.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 - 9 oz. I spent weeks looking for the camera that had the most favorable ratio of weight to still image and video quality. I settled on the RX100 - a camera that has redefined the capabilities of a compact camera. Combining a large sensor and decent manual controls the camera has been a good compromise for my needs as a long distance hiker and avid photographer. All of the photos on my site were shot with this camera.