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Choosing the right gear for a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike can be tough, but we've got you covered. Check out our gear recommendations below for guidance on choosing the gear that's right for you.
Choosing the right pack is about body fit and capacity. Most hikers will need a 55 - 70 liter pack, while experienced hikers with minimal gear can work with 40 liters. To make sure you get the right size, buy the rest of your gear, get a (returnable!) pack, and pack it. All of the packs listed below are returnable within 30 days or more. Check for fit when it's fully loaded, and don't forget to leave room for food. Read more
When hiking the PCT you'll need to choose between a tent or tarp for your shelter. Tents offer greater privacy and a larger bug-free zone, while tarps are lighter and cheaper than tents - though they take more thought to set up. Which option is right for you depends on your concerns while hiking. Read more
Your sleeping bag is the one piece of gear you should not skimp on when it comes to weight or money. Being warm is the most important consideration here. Most hikers carry a 10° to 20° bag. If you are new to cold-weather camping, sleep cold, or are starting early, go with the first. When it comes to fit, the only way to really know if a sleeping bag works for you is to try it. All of the retailers listed below accept returns within 30 days or more, though double check the details. Read more
A good sleeping pad should both insulate you from the ground and provide comfort. If you're a back sleeper you can save weight with a thinner pad, while side sleepers will want something thicker. You'll also need to decide whether you want save weight with a short pad (your legs will hang off the end) or have greater comfort with a full-length pad. Read more
Staying connected on the trail means making sure you have electricity for your phone when cell service is available as well as the ability to contact emergency services when it is not. External batteries, lightweight chargers, and solar cells will help with the former, while Spot Messenger is a popular option for the latter. Read more
Most hikers use canister stoves on the PCT these days, though canister-less stoves are also an option. While canister-less stoves may be lighter (and use lightweight fuel), the convenience and efficiency of canister stoves can't be beat. If you do choose a canister stove, keep in mind that the fuel canister will add 4oz to 16oz to your pack depending on the canister size you carry. Read more
Titanium stoves are the way to go on the PCT. They're light, durable, and corrosion-resistant. Most hikers get by with a single pot and lid. Look for a pot with measurement gradients, a tight-fitting lid, and handles that fold to save space. If you're solo-hiking, you'll want a pot with at least 600ml of capacity, while couples should look for a pot that holds at least 1000ml. Read more
You'll need to choose between filtration, chemical, and ultraviolet treatment. Chemical is lightweight, though it takes about 30 minutes to work. Filtration is faster, though the filter requires maintenance to keep a decent flow rate. UV is convenient but pricey, and (like chemical treatment) you'll need to run the water through pantyhose or a bandana to get something that looks appealing. Read more