When I was planning my thru-hike on the PCT, I loved looking at people’s gear lists. Like many other hikers, I got sucked into the world of ultralight backpacking. Even though there are plenty of great gear companies out there, it can be tricky to find ethical options. This is my tried and tested cruelty-free gear list.
For the gear nerds among us, here’s my LighterPack list.
|Hyberg Attila X
|w/ trash bag liner
|Six Moon Design Lunar Solo
|w/ piece of tyvek + 6 MSR Mini Groundhog stakes
|Enlightenment Equipment Apex 20° Quilt
|Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite
The backpack was kind of a last-minute buy, only a week before I got on trail. I had downsized my gear so much that it was tempting to get a lighter backpack as well, even though I loved my Osprey Exos 58. I looked into options and went with Hyberg, a German cottage company focused on affordable ultralight backpacks. The Attila X being my first frameless pack, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the pack turned out to be super comfortable and held up great the entire hike. I was lucky enough to get some good deals on the tent and sleeping pad on eBay and loved both on trail. There were a couple of really chilly desert nights where I wished I would have had a warmer sleeping bag, but at the end of the day I was happy with the quilt as well. As for tent protection, I started out with a cheap polycro groundsheet, which I switched out for a piece of tyvec pretty early on.
|Food Bag & Cookware
|Granite Gear Zip 9L
|probably my fav piece of gear
|Sawyer Micro Squeeze
|probably my least fav piece of gear
|lost and replaced w/ a cheap pocket knife
|Sea to Summit Titanium Spork
|for cold soaking
|I liked the LIFEWTR bottles
|1-3 depending on the section +1 for filtering
I didn’t really mind cold soaking, and I certainly loved its simplicity and the weight savings that came with it. If you’re interested in going stoveless but unsure if you want to fully commit to a hike without morning coffee and hot dinners (all the hot food in town though!) consider giving it a try for the first 500 miles or so to see if you like it or not. That’s what I did. When I picked up my stove and pot (the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 + TORKS 450 ml Titanium Pot) at Hiker Heaven, I honestly wasn’t too excited about it. I thought I might want a hot meal in the Sierra, so I kept it for then and ended up using it for about a month until I sent it to Portland with all my snow gear. In the end, going stoveless worked out great for me!
Couscous magic ✨
As for the water filter, I went with the Sawyer Mini. It only took a couple of weeks until the flow rate decreased dramatically, even though I back-flushed the filter every time I got to town. I refused to get a new filter on trail, because technically, it worked, but I wouldn’t take it on a long trail again (and I saw a lot of Sawyer Minis in hiker boxes!). Most of my hiking pals who used the regular Sawyer Squeeze where happy with it, though. I got to try out the BeFree Katadyn on trail as well and liked it a lot.
|Patagonia Micro Puff
|Patagonia Capilene Lightweight
|first sleeping, later hiking shirt
|Patagonia Capilene Thermalweight
|Frogg Toggs UL Rainjacket
|+ a cute trash bag cape in Washington
|used as pillow case
|hiker box find
|Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew
|1 worn, 2 extra
|1 worn, 1 extra
Patagucci is quite pricey, but one of the few brands that offers high quality eco-friendly synthetic options. Clothing is probably where you can save the most, especially when you keep an eye on mid-season sales and consider buying second hand (which doesn’t always have to mean used). I was happy with all my clothing choices, but would probably carry rain pants for particular wet sections (like allll of Washington) next time.
|+ 2 cords
|Samsung Galaxy S8
|KLIM Fushion Earbuds
|given to me after I lost mine
The only thing better than sleeping in a tent is sleeping under the stars.
|toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, lip balm, small comb, wet wipes, menstrual cup, ear plugs
|in zip-lock bag
+ sunscreen for CA, bug spray in OR
|leukotape, ibuprofen, needle, alcohol wipes, b12
|in zip-lock bag
|The Deuce, toilet paper, pee rag
|tp in 2 zip-locks
|Black Diamond Ergo Cork
|w/ duct tape wrapped around the top of one
|piece of a Zlite
|hiker box find
|ID, visa card, permits
|in zip-lock bag
There’s no need to carry soap, shampoo or razors, since you’ll most likely find those in hiker boxes and Motels. I enjoyed every single shower in town, but I also fully embraced the hiker trash life on trail.
|Black Diamond Raven
|Snowline Chainsen Pro
|sleeping bag liner
|Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus
|for the Sierra + WA
|Outdoor Research PL 150 Sensor
|lost in Northern CA
There’s not much to say about snow gear. Everything worked out well for me and I was hella glad to get rid of everything again once we got out of the Sierra.
|Saucony Peregrine 7
Altra Lone Peak 3.0
|not proud to say that I went through 6-8 pairs of sunglasses
|broken but loved
Once on trail, I was stunned by how little it actually takes to make me feel comfortable in the wilderness. Going light allowed me to pack out some luxury items every now and then – mostly fresh/heavier food – without immediately feeling the added weight on my shoulders. Without snow gear, my pack came in at just under 5 kg (~10-11 lbs). Whatever you decide to pack, remember that on a long trail like the PCT you’ll have plenty of options to add, ditch and switch out gear (: