10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.

Are you considering a multi-day backpacking trip or a long thru hike, such as the Pacific Crest Trail? Do you wonder which things to pack for thru hiking the PCT?

You can benefit from our experiences thru hiking the PCT, the Vermont Long Trail, and the West Coast Trail. Here are a list of 10 things that we pack and love!

Hiking the PCT

Please note that this post includes affiliate marketing links. This means that we may benefit from a small amount of any purchase. This would be at no additional cost to you. We only endorse products that we use and love!

For Meals and Food:

  1. Ursack Allmitey Bear Bag. This works for rodents, as well as bears. CD used this for his thru hike in 2004 and we still use it today. You may consider sleeping with it under your pillow depending on how significant the rodent problem. It is durable, effective, and convenient. It is a must – have!

2. Titanium Spork. In the world of sporks, we vote for titanium. After breaking a couple of plastic sporks each, we decided to endorse something more durable. These have lasted us 5+ years and I anticipate that they will last at least another 5.

3. GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug. CD did not have this on the trail as he was given it last year. He tells me that he would have taken it if he knew it existed. Apparently, he may consider taking it in place of water bottle. That is saying a lot since he was never far from his Nalgene when we first met.

4. MSR Dromlite Water Bag: 6 L. Methods for carrying water on the trail are a matter of personal preference and comfort . This is CD’s choice. More than 16 years later, it still has not gotten a leak.

5. Evernew Titanium Pot, 1.3 L. It is years later and this pot is still good as new. It is just the right size to feed one or two thru hikers or three or four car campers.

To Stay Warm and Dry:

1. Gators. There are different lengths, colors, and styles for different purposes. Wet grass, snow, mud, rain, and bugs are a few examples. Ours get a lot of use!

2. Camp socks. Spare socks for your sleeping bag are a must! You will thank us later! I currently love “Darn Tough” socks but any socks will work. CD carries three pair of socks. Two for hiking and one only for camp. He continues to stand the principle of camps socks. Whether we are home, in the Sprinter, backpacking, or car camping, we wouldn’t consider getting near our sleeping bags with anything other than our camp socks!

3. Marmot Driclime. This is my favorite layer of all time! CD thru hiked with in 2004 and still wears today. It works for any temperature, packs small, weighs little, and stands up to the challenge. He gave me a Marmot Driclime for my birthday the first year that we met and I was quickly convinced.

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For Health and Safety:

1. Mosquito Head Net. When you need this, you will be glad it is packed. It is small, versatile, light, and effective. We recommend wearing it over a sun hat with a brim all the way around. This will keep the net from sticking to your skin or being irritating.

For more tips on handling mosquitos while on the PCT, check out this post: https://ramblingfootsteps.com/2020/05/07/pct-packing-list-throwback-travel-journal/

2. Black Diamond Head Lamp. CD uses this every day on the trail and at home. It is a way of life I guess.

For a look inside CD’s pack from Northern California onward, please check out the following post. https://ramblingfootsteps.com/2020/05/07/pct-packing-list-throwback-travel-journal/

If you are seeking a different perspective, you can check out the “what I didn’t need” gear list from REI. You may notice some healthy differences of opinion that are worth checking out!

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/pacific-crest-trail-packing-brought-didnt-need?cm_mmc=sm_pin-_-always_on-_-brought_didnt_need-_-blog

I hope your thru hike gives you everything you need.

Enjoy and Hike Your Own Hike!

Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.

CD’s trail journal entries become less consistent in Oregon. He documents damp air, cool nights, mosquitoes while hiking, and endless self reflection.

His journal entry from 8/7/04 addresses the mosquitoes three different times in two short paragraphs.

  • As I was alternating between swatting mosquitoes and pumping water today I wondered, “What can’t I just sit on the couch and go use the tap when I want water like most people?”
  • Soon, however, it was back to the woods and endless mosquito-hatchery ponds.
  • Today’s mosquitoes are worse than last night’s but seem to be staying outside (but close).

Tips for handling mosquitoes while hiking.

1. Setting up your Tarptent.

  • Lay down your floor cloth
  • Lay your tent on top of your things
  • Arrange your pack and other belongings on the floor cloth
  • Pull up your tent
  • Climb in quickly
  • Enjoy!
#PCT

2. Cooking dinner.

This may not be the best if bears are a consideration but you pick your poison I guess.

  • Get into your Tarptent
  • Set up your stove and prep your meal in your floor-less tent
  • Quickly move your stove just outside the vestibule, exposing only your hands. Light outside your tent
  • Wait inside the tent
  • Reach out, grab the food and eat

3. Hiking.

  • Expect to be bitten by mosquitoes as soon as exciting your tent
  • Wear your rain jacket for protection
  • Be organized and efficient
  • Start walking
  • Once you hit a good hiking speed, remove your arms from you rain jacket and tie them around your waist
  • Untie your rain jacket and slide it back over your arms and head as you approach water stops or other stops
  • Repeat as often as needed

4. Using your mosquito head net.

5. Embrace at least 20% DEET.

  • Longer hair
  • Thicker hair
  • A longer, thicker beard
#PCT. Notice the hat and the beard.

6. Embrace at least 20% DEET.

You will likely regret it if you don’t have it on hand.

#PCT

The trail through Oregon leads to Mount Hood. CD found himself sleeping close enough to the Timberline Lodge to hear the music and see the lights of two wedding receptions. Such common first-world activities brought forward the surreal reality of having walked there from Mexico.

Was it worth the mosquito bites and endless buzzing? A picture is worth a thousand words.

#PCT
mosquitoes while hiking
#PCT
#PCT

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10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.

My husband was a thru-hiker. Here are some of the habits that I assume he picked up on the trail.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommend. Clicking these links will not cost you extra money but will help us grow our website. Thank you for your support!

1. He drinks the dish water from the pot, even when car camping with a potable water source. This is not my favorite.

#PCT

2. He puts on his “camp socks” for sleeping and insists that everyone in the family do the same.

He also has sleeping socks at home as well.

3. He makes a solid argument that floor-less tarp tents are better than traditional tents for avoiding rodents.

He argues that while they may not keep rodents out, a tarp tent at least doesn’t keep rodents in. I can’t really argue with that I guess.

#PCT

4. He can wear gators pretty much anytime and has gators for any occasion.

#PCT

5. He doesn’t understand why people exercise when they should just thru hike.

“They should go outside.”

Notice the switchbacks. #PCT

6. He wears layers all the time, even to go the grocery store.

He adds layers and takes off layers constantly. The sun is shining and a layer comes off. The sun is behind a cloud and a layer goes on. Our kids do this as well and it is exhausting.

#PCT

7. He anticipates river crossing, even on day hikes.

He sometimes crosses rivers that we don’t even need to cross or at least he talks about how to cross rivers that we don’t need to cross.

8. He keeps his things in tiny bags and boxes. Seriously, he has endless tiny bags.

#PCT Kennedy Meadows

9. Pack weight is a constant concern, even on grade school field trips.

#PCT

10. He doesn’t know the day of the week, time of day, or federal holidays but he can tell you how to find the nearest mountain pass.

Thru Hiker For the Win.

To learn more about the PCT and CD’s thru hike, you can check out these links!

Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.
10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.
Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.
PCT – Southern California, Thru Hike Throwback
PCT Menu: Throwback Thru-Hike Edition
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PCT Thru Hike: Welcome to Kennedy Meadows.

By this time, the rhythm of the trail may be felt. They wake up in the mornings, slow moving, yet excited, hungry, sometimes cold and wet. The group scatters during the day as natural differences in pace dictate. Hikers are left to their own thoughts and to hike their own hikes. At night they come back together to swap stories, laughs, and for general camaraderie. Life is good at Kennedy Meadows.

Mile 697: Kennedy Meadows General Store.

Packs are often re-organized here. Heavier clothes, an ice axe, and crampons may be added. Northbound from here, the trail has more water, more shade, and more breath taking views.

Just outside Kennedy Meadows. CD fell off of the trail after taking this picture – he tore his pack. #PCT

Mile 760.5: Upper Crab Tree Meadows

At the base of Mt. Whitney, CD admits feeling short on sleep.

He wrote: “It’s 9:00 – hiker midnight“. “I can only hope that everyone in the world gets to experience this much magic and beauty every now and again.”

The view from Mt Whitney is worth the day hike for sure!

Atop Whitney. #PCT
Back toward the meadows. #PCT
The other side of Whitney (toward Whitney Portal). #PCT

The descent isn’t too bad either!

PCT Sierras

Here are some quotes from CD’s trail journal.

  1. The trail may be more of a river or a waterfall due to snow melt. I sometimes call it a “swimming trail“.
  2. Beautiful water sources are less enjoyable when swarmed by mosquitoes.
  3. There aren’t as many rodents above tree – line. I have never appreciated that more.
  4. Creek crossing are great when you don’t consider all of the risks.
  5. I drank water without filtering it. I felt pure and connected to the planet. When I didn’t sick, I felt so alive! (I don’t recommend this, by the way.)
More of the swimming trail.

Please check out these other links and posts to learn more.

Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off: Thru Hike Throwback
PCT Thru Hike Throw Back: Hot springs, Fresh Fruit, and Friendships
PCT Menu: Throwback Thru-Hike Edition
PCT – Southern California, Thru Hike Throwback
Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.

Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.

Hikers load up on supplies at Kennedy Meadows to head into the higher mountain passes. Once down the other side, unloading and re-packing again is common. CD was kind enough to record a hiking pack list from his stop at Pooh Corner, north of Lake Tahoe.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommend. Clicking these links will not cost you extra money but will help us grow our website. Thank you for your support!

Here is CD’s hiking pack list!

Backpack:

Bag liner: Coolmax, 9 oz. A 6-7 oz silk liner was more common among the 2004 class.

Backpack: Granite Gear Ozone (please remember this was 2004). It weighed 3 lbs, as compared to the 2 lbs packs that most people carried. The weight was a trade off for having a frame and increased comfort.

For Camp:

Tarp Tent: two person model. Floorless, ~2 lbs.

Sleeping bag: EMS Mountain Light 20 degree bag, down. 2 lbs.

Tyvek: ground cloth, 5 oz

Z-rest full length: Most hikers used 3/4 lengths but for the couple of extra ounces CD chose warm and comfortable feet

Headlamp

Cooking and Water:

AquaMira water treatment

Spoon and fork: Apparently most people didn’t carry a fork but CD found it helpful for hard ice cream. Was this before the invention of the spork?

Evernew Titanium pot, 1.3 L: The trail standard in 2004

Stove: homemade pop can stove.

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Clothes:

3 pair of socks: CD alternated between 2 different pair of bike socks while hiking and had a separate pair of camp socks. He insists on separate sleeping socks when we camp as well and it really is much better!

Camp Sandals: 3 oz

Wind shirt: Marmot DriClime

Rain jacket: Marmot PreCip

Convertible pants: Mountain Hardware. CD still has these. The shorts faded so much that when he puts the pieces together it looks like he is wearing shorts over different pants.

Tee shirt: Techwick

Hat: fleece

Gloves

Sunglasses

Miscellaneous Hiking Pack List Items:

Sunscreen

Chapstick

Burt’s Bees

Picture of family

Permit

Safety Pins

Needle and thread: He had recently used to fix his pack after he fell off the trail while looking through his camera

Compass: CD said he never used it but felt it was important to have handy

Toothbrush and toothpaste

A Book: People’s History of the US, by Howard Zinn: broken into sections and mailed along in bounce boxes

Teachings of the Buddha, pocket guide

Trail Guide: broken into sections and mailed along but CD wrote that he often ended up with the wrong section. “I accidentally sent the Echo Resort to I-80 section to Pooh corner” … and so on.

Data book: The quick reference guide, broken into sections

Bug repellent. This was a new addition to the pack

Ursack Bear Bag

Nalgene: 16 oz. Mostly for dipping water and mixing drinks

Dromlite 6 liter water bag H

Hand trowel

Gauze, duct tape, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen.

Things that were left or replaced at this point on the trail and did not make this hiking pack list:

Bear Canister (replaced with Ursack Bear Bag). Chaco sandals (they needed to be re-soled). Heavy long underwear. Ice axe. Crampons.

Backpacking Menu: PCT Thru-Hike Edition

Food is a common topic among PCT thru hikers and backpackers. How does a backpacking menu look and how many calories do I need? When should I eat?

CD’s trail journal is full of words of wisdom. Job #1: Eating and Job # 2: Hiking.

Backpacking Menu:

Breakfast

1/3 lb of granola with re-hydrated soy milk

Second Breakfast

Pop-tarts (may be substituted by something else with 500 calories)

Eleven-sies

gorp or other trail mix

Luncheon

bagel and cheese or Nutella or peanut butter – whatever gets it up to 750+ calories, frequently snack a bit, too

Afternoon Tea

Clif Bar, gorp, granola, recently Twix or Snickers bar

Dinner

1/2 a bag of Bear Creek Cheese and Broccoli Soup mix (4 servings), 6-8 oz of pasta, and 7 oz of tuna (the tuna is every other day recently) – which usually fills about to the 1 liter mark on the pot and totals 1000+ calories.

Snack

Twix bars or Sourpatch kids

Just in case you wonder how big CD is and why he needs all of this food. His self stated goal was to walk to Canada and not lose any weight. Surprising, he found a set of skis in the desert and took them for a spin.

With this backpacking menu, CD eats 3 lbs of food per day and it sounds like most other hikers were averaging 2 lbs per day. Since I don’t weigh my food, I have no idea what that means, however.

Food Inspired Quotes From CD’s Trail Journal:

  • I heard about a Mexican restaurant near the highway up ahead, I hadn’t intended to walk that far but I was hungry for margaritas and good food, so I pushed on. It was Del Taco.
  • For breakfast I had four eggs, toast, an orange. Lunch was most of a large pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Cookie.
  • “After breakfast, snack, ice cream, errands, and fixing the rub spots, we hung around at the grocery store”
  • “I had a veggie burger, a 22 oz. Arrogant Bastard Ale, a fudge ice cream dessert thing, and a small pizza”
  • Buying the whole apple pie with ice cream was cheaper than piece by piece, so I did that
  • I carried the Five Iron of Love for two consecutive days so they owe me a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
  • “Another town, another pint of Ben and Jerry’s”
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Stay tuned for the Pink Palace, The Saufley’s house, all kinds of trail magic, and Kennedy Meadows!

A view of the PCT through the dessert and headed northbound.

CD also has a hidden talent that he apparently picked up on the trail. He can open the ice cream freezer at any gas station and know exactly how many calories are in each option. I thought it was kind of bizarre until I read this record of his daily diet, however.

To learn more about CD’s 2004 PCT Thru Hike please follow our blog and check out these links.

Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off: Thru Hike Throwback
PCT Thru Hike Throw Back: Hot springs, Fresh Fruit, and Friendships
PCT – Southern California, Thru Hike Throwback
Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.

PCT Thru Hike: Warner Springs

CD’s PCT thru hike trail journals are interesting. The common themes are food, water, dust, heat, sleeping, walking, and people. It all seems pretty basic really.

Meadow track to Warner Springs. #PCT

Warner Springs offered CD an introduction to the thru hiking community. He left town with a group of 15 or so hikers and they stayed together through a hot springs North of Lost Valley Road, I think.

Looks like Truffula Trees. #PCT
Hot Springs North of Warner Springs. #PCT
#PCT

They rinsed clothes and soaked their joints. Local characters gathered there as well included a local stripper and a guy that carried his pipe, which he preferred to light with a magnifying glass, on a string around his neck.

CD and the pipe guy went to town and returned with watermelon. Apparently watermelon is not common on thru hikes and it was a big hit!

Phlox in the burn. #PCT

That time that CD left me on the road in order to give some thru-hikers a lift to town.

I have had only one experience on the PCT in southern California. CD and I were driving from Palm Dessert to San Diego. As we approached the PCT, I could feel CD’s excitement. I could tell that he really wanted to be a trail angel for someone.

We rolled over a hill in our Honda Civic hatchback and saw two hikers waiting for a ride to town. CD pulled over before he could even tell me his plan. Next thing you know, the two hikers, their packs, and CD were out of view and I was standing on the edge of the road.

It was me, tumbleweed, and the hundreds of rattlesnakes that obviously lived there.

I was out of place in clean clothes, sandals, and with my purse over my shoulder. Another set of hikers showed up from the South. They stopped to chat. They had met on the trail in 2004, did not complete their hikes that year, but went on to get married. On the trail again, they were hoping to complete it this time. I was new to the secret code of “trail names” but we were able to figure out that they had been on the trail with CD in 2004. They had crossed paths in approximately the same section of the trail that we were on then. I thought of this today while reading their names in CD’s trail journal.

A short time later, they got picked up by a passing car. I reached back to the old fashioned communication means of my youth and asked the hikers to send CD my way if they happened to see him hanging around town. I stood there, without a cell signal, waiting for CD.

More than an hour later he came back for me. It was fine. I was fine but I like to remind how about how he deserted me on the edge of the road during a hot day in the desert and didn’t pick me up until dusk.

This came out beautifully by accident. I love the frame of the moon. #PCT

Please follow us to learn more about CD’s hike!

Hiking Pack List: PCT Northern California.
10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.
Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.
Backpacking Menu: PCT Thru-Hike Edition

Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off

4/28/2004 was the first day of CD’s Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. April 28 is also my birthday, so we celebrate.

He kept a trail journal and has offered it to me. This is just the beginning.

#pct #pacificcresttrail

Transition to life on the trail

I know very little about his time on the PCT. The first few weeks were a time of transition and learning. He went from hiking with a friend to hiking alone. He re-organized his pack and overhauled his food plan.

Prior to being on the trail, he imagined walking and walking just to see what was over the next hill. The people and relationships that make up the trail were not really part of the plan.

Human connection

Walking over 2500 miles by yourself in order to better appreciate human relationships seems counter-intuitive. In 2020, it is also an interesting topic in light of physical distancing in the face of pandemic.

CD tells me that he experienced his first trail magic just a few days into his hike.

#pct #pacificcresttrail

Trail Magic, Pacific Crest Trail Style

I was hiking through the hundred-plus degree desert sun and contemplating how much water I didn’t have. As I was reluctant to hike too far off trail for water and was pretty sure I could make it to the next source, I laid down on the side of a dirt road and put my feet up on an embankment trying to make my own shade.

Despite the heat, a family was settling in for a picnic up the road. Within a short time, the father came up and asked me where I was hiking.  He was quite excited to learn that I was, indeed, on my way to becoming a PCT through-hiker He gave me water, fruit, and Gatorade. It was just the sign that I needed to let me know that I was on the right path.

With this, CD had his first glimpse of how much larger the thru hike was than just the trail alone.

He went on to Warner Springs, feeling lonely but not as thirsty as he may have otherwise been. Fellow hikers offered him a room to share. Being early in the trail, there were more questions than answers.

Self Reflection on the Pacific Crest Trail

How fast should I hike? When and for how long should I rest? How much should I interact with people? What was my larger goal? Was there supposed to be a larger goal?

It sounds like all of these questions were a collective work in progress during the next four months.

So, every April we celebrate CD’s PCT kick-off anniversary.

In 2020, lets walk around the block and see if we find some trail magic. I bet we will.

#pct #pacificcresttrail
#pct #pacificcresttrail

Please follow our blog to hear more about CD’s hike and our other adventures.

Tips for Handling Mosquitoes While Hiking the PCT.
6 Reasons to Consider a Floor-less Tarp Tent.
Backpacking Menu: PCT Thru-Hike Edition
10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.