I should note that I hiked the PCT in 1999, and a LOT has changed wrt/ equipment since then. If I had to do the trail over again, I would change some things (for example, bringing an Alcohol stove). But this list is what it is... my thoughts about what I brought in 1999.
I used a Mountainsmith Mountainlight 5000. I was very happy with
the performance of this pack. After 2650 miles, the only bit of wear
it shows is a little on the bottom seam, which connects the waist pad with
the backpack. I put a little duct tape over this seam to protect
it from further wear.The backpack only weighed 4 pounds empty,
2-3 pounds lighter than manufactured backpacks of similar size. I
liked the "air-flow" back pad, it allowed air to circulate through the
center of the back. It kept me cooler and a lot less sweaty.I also liked the independent left/right
adjustable suspension. I was able to get the backpack balanced "just
right" for my frame.One other feature which I really liked
was the quick-release ice axe strap. When I needed my ice axe, I
was usually not in a place where I could safely remove the pack.
With this feature, I was able to just pull the ice axe off. Some
other hikers I met agreed that this was a slick feature.
I used a Feathered Friends Swallow. I got one with a dryloft (waterproof)
shell. The bag worked great. It was rated to 20F. I spent
a few nights in lower temperatures, but I was never cold. It helped
to wear dry socks and a lot of clothing while sleeping.I often slept outside without a tent.
Even when I had a dewy night (and there were lots of them on the PCT),
the down inside the bag didn't get wet. Although, if I stuffed the
bag when the shell was still wet, the down would pick up some moisture.
I had to throw it in an automatic dryer every now and then.One thing about the dryloft... if the down
did get wet, the dryloft made it harder to dry.
a Wanderlust Nomad-lite. It worked great. Thanks, Kurt.
The actual tent I used wasn't even sown perfectly... I was planning to
get a replacement, but my schedule prevented it. After a few rough
snowy nights, I realized that this tent would do just fine. If I have any complaint, it's that the
tent was really noisy in the wind. Getting it to set up taught was
an art form. Even when it was "as taught as could be", it would flap
in the wind.
I started out with a pair of Solomon Inca Low's (kinda like ruggadized
sneakers), which I wore all the way to Tehachapi. They had only developed
one hole in the fabric, the rest of the shoes were in perfect working order.
I only switched because I wanted boots for the snow.I wore a pair of Vasque gore-tex-lined
boots in the Sierra. I developed some blisters on the backs of my
heels after switching to the boots, but the blisters soon healed.
Although people often say "you either get wet from the outside or from
the inside" (meaning that any waterproofness of gore-tex is negated by
the lack of ventilation it allows), I found the waterproofing very valuable.
I had to slosh through wet trails and snow fields for miles at a time.
Sure, my feet eventually got wet, but it took longer, and they got less
wet. I was able to enjoy more hours of happy dry feet with the gore-tex.
The ventilation problem did contribute to some nasty foot odors though.
I should have aired-out my boots more often. I sent the boots home
at Sierra city, then picked them back up at Snoqualmie Pass and wore them
to the border. By the end of the trip, they were pretty trashed.
The leather by the toe joints started cracking, and the rubber soles were
falling off the toes. I did wear them through the roughest parts
of the trail though, so I can't complain.I switched to another pair of Solomon Inca
Low's at Sierra City. They were trashed by White Pass. They
lasted a long time, and were always comfortable. No complaints.I wore a pair of Nike running shoes from
White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. They're fine shoes for running, but
I'd never hike with them again. My toes were in serious pain by the
time I reached Snoqualmie Pass. If my foot fell on anything other than
level terrain (like a road), my toes jammed into the top of the shoes.
A full day of this can be painful
I started out with a bit generic REI water container, and a platypus drinking
bag. The cheap-o REI container started leaking after a week.
The bite valve on the platypus started leaking after a couple weeks.
I switched to "off the shelf" plastic spring water bottles for my "extra
capacity", and a Camelbak for my "water at hand". The Camelbak bite
valve worked a lot better. I bought it at South Lake Tahoe, and it's
wore gaiters. I started with a pair of "OR" ankle gaiters.
They lasted to South Lake Tahoe, then the snaps broke off. I switched
to a pair of Black Diamond ankle gaiters. The snaps were more durable...
although the fabric started to fall apart by the time I reached Canada.
I tried walking without gaiters for a short while... never again.
I had to stop every 5 minutes to dig rocks out of my shoes.
I started out with a 3/4 length z-rest. By the time I reached Castella,
it was pretty darn flat. I got a new one... full length. I
liked the extra length, and couldn't tell that it weighed more. I
liked the way the z-rest can be folded into many different configurations
- they make excellent seat pads.
a hat by "sunday afternoons". It had a neck flap which could be worn
"up" with a velcro attachment. A lot of people asked me about it.
If you want one, call 1-888-U-PICNIC.
I used an MSR whisperlite international. It was a little heavy, but
it worked well. I couldn't really find a lighter stove before the
start of the trip anyway. I had to clean the jet twice during the
trip. I used gasoline half the time and white gas the other times.
Before I started, I figured gasoline would be an easier fuel to find...
actually, white gas was available in just as many places.
I used an Evernew Titanium pot. This seemed to be the unofficial
pot of the PCT, a lot of people had them. I think the pot has a somewhat
no-stick surface too. For weight and durability, it's hard to beat.
I started out carrying a pair of Teva sandals for use "around camp".
they were kind of heavy, so I switched to some more flimsy slippers.
In an effort to keep my boots dry, I tried using the slippers to cross
streams, but I found that good footing was more important than dry feet.
By northern california I decided that I didn't need the slippers (I don't
know why it took me so long to decide that). Anyway, I got rid of
them and was fine with it.
Merino Wool - don't skimp! (but don't pay full (i.e. REI) price either!)
Fleece, parka, etc:
I started out with a really light fleece, and wore a thin nylon jacket
over the top of it for extra wind protection. At lake tahoe, I switched
to a windstopper fleece. The windstopper fleece was really warm and
just plain awesome. I'd also highly recommend windstopper gloves and
a windstopper hat. I had a parka that weighed 1 pound - it was made with
a gore-tex substitute.
I'll get to that later.