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Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Gear List: 2600 Miles of Freedom

Gearing up to hike the Pacific Crest Trail is no simple matter when you haven't started a long distance hike before. We compiled a list of gear to help budget conscious and those who can drop a little more for a good starting guideline.
Written By: Josh Koop
February 26, 2020
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site but it doesnt change my reviews as I want the best performance for you! .

Well here you are, you have decided to start your preparations for your Pacific Crest Trail thru hike gear list by reading this post! This more than likely means you have a lot of gear to understand and organize, or maybe still looking to start your acquisition. This may feel incredibly daunting and crazy currently but you will find out later how exciting this time is in your life!

To help you make a proper decision I have built lists of good gear at the budget and higher expense but full ultralight gear. This should allow you to figure out your budget overall and make some systematic choices on what you should spend your money on for your hike.

Best Budget Gear List

For many having a spare $2000 or more to build out a set of good gear that can survive a thru-hike without having tremendous issues. While many will say that this isn't likely and almost impossible, I have researched what people have completed a PCT thru-hike with and assembled it here to help.

Hopefully, this list will help you make some quality decisions and get you ready for the trek ahead with some solid gear.

Best Budget Backpack Header - Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Gear List

Budget Backpack Option

  • OneTigris LITE ROAMER Ultralight Backpack - Our Review [ Coming Soon ]
    • Weight: 2.5 Lbs
    • Carrying Capacity: 55 + 5 Liter
    • Details: This backpack isn't full of frills and gimmicks, it is a solidly constructed backpack built to take long-distance use in stride and provide results. Featuring plaid 420D Ripstop Nylon fabric, a roll-up tubular shape with S-shaped straps and back/hip padding.
Best Budget Shelter Header - Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Gear List

Budget Shelter Option

  • 1P Tent - Andake 1P Tent (Requires Trekking Pole)
    • Weight: 1.6 Pounds
    • Details: This is my personal tent for most of my local long distance and week-long hikes, it is strong and durable. If you like a smaller tent and a good deal this is a superb choice.
  • 2P Tent - Andake 2P Tent (No Trekking Poles Needed)
    • Weight: 2.4 Pounds
    • Details: This is the big brother to the Andake 1P tent, it provides much more interior space to keep your backpack in with you for longer trips this is the most common size of tent for thru-hikers.
Best Budget Sleep System Header - Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Gear List

Budget Sleep System

  • QUILT - OneTigris Highlander Hammock Top Quilt
    • Details: The Highlander is a soldier for the cold from 23°F ~ 32°F, featuring 500g goose down (Fill rate 700) filling and 20D windproof ripstop plait nylon exterior for extra warmth, and a unique hollowed back design so you can use your arms freely when lying in a hammock.
  • SLEEPING BAG - Outdoor Vitals Atlas 0-15 
    • Details: Atlas sleeping bags are real-world tested to be warm within 5F of their rated temperature, making it warmer than the industry standard
  • SLEEPING PAD - ECOTEK Outdoors Insulated Hybern8 - [ Our Review ]
    • Weight: 24.5 ounces
    • Details: With 2.5 inches of loft and an R-Value of 4.5, the Hybern8 provides 4 season warmth and comfort you can count on to help get you the shuteye you deserve.
  • PILLOW - Klymit Luxe Pillow
    • Details: This may seem silly but over the course of 4-6 months you will love to have a nice pillow to rest your head on during the many nights out camping.
  • BUTT PAD - Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion
    • Details: Really one of the more overlooked and useful items is what you need to sit and not end up with wet butt issues.
Best Budget Cook System Header - Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Gear List

Budget Cook System

Water Filtration

Electronics

Budget Clothing - Special

Budget Clothing - Worn

Additional Gear

Personal Items


Best Ultralight Gear List

If you have the budget available this gear can help you by being ultralight but ultra-useful and long-lasting. These items are typically a significant upgrade from the budget options above but you are going to spend much higher amounts of money sometimes to only shave ounces.

Any of these would be a super solid upgrade and would be what I would aim to get moving forward after assembling your full budget gear, or if you have some wiggle room now grabbing a big three-item could help weight immediately.

Ultralight Backpack Option

  • ULA OHM 2.0 [ Our Review ]
    • Details: The Ohm 2.0 is a perfect backpack for an ultralight hiker and provides ample ability to carry gear while maintaining a low overall weight.
  • HMG 2400 WINDRIDER / Southwest [ Our Review ]
    • Details: The Windrider and Southwest are 40L packs which are perfect to make a thru-hike while carrying less overall weight.
  • HMG 3400 WINDRIDER / Southwest [ Our Review ]
    • Details: The Windrider and Southwest are 55L packs which are perfect to make a thru-hike while carrying more overall items or weight.
  • Zpacks Arc Blast 55L Backpack [ Our Review ]
    • Details: The range of Zpacks backpacks are all very nicely suited to long-distance hiking. Due to being made of DCF they last a long time, are waterproof and are exceedingly light in weight.

Ultralight Shelter Option

  • High Quality 2 Person Tent Options
    • ZPacks Duplex Tent [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The Duplex is a very large favorite from the thru-hiking community, This tent is proven to last through any distance hike with minimal issues and is a standout.
    • HMG Dirigo 2 Tent [ Our Best Tent for AT Review ]
      • Details: The Dirigo 2 is a direct competitor to the Duplex for Hyperlight Mountain Gear, It is a solid tent which has withstood numerous thru-hikes from the AT and PCT.
    • Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent [ Our Review ]
      • Details: Big Agnes is huge on the thru-hike scene and the Tiger Wall UL2 lives up to their long line of tents and unlike the other two tents above requires no trekking poles
    • NEMO Dragonfly 2 Tent [ Our Review ]
      • Details: NEMO makes some of the nicest quality tents on the trail which live up to all the needs and expectations of a thru-hiker. The large space and quick setup and teardown are helpful to fast camp breakdowns.
  • Hammock Options

Ultralight Sleep System

  • QUILTS
    • EE Enigma Quilt –  [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The EE Enigma features a sewn closed footbox area which is helpful for people who have a tendency to colder feet.
    • EE Revelation Quilt –  [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The EE Enigma features an open instead of closed footbox area which allows for greater movement. Though through a shock cord you can pull the footbox closed.
  • SLEEPING BAGS
    • EE Convert - [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The Convert from EE is a hybrid quilt and sleeping bag and can change into a sleeping bag, basically a convertible, hence the name.
    • Mountain Equipment Xeros Sleeping Bag - [ Our Review ]
      • Details: This is a solid 0-degree mummy bag that is going to help you survive those cold desert nights into the Sierras.
  • SLEEPING PAD
    • Therm-A-Rest Neo Air  –  [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The Neo Air is a hiker favorite for being supremely low in weight and small in size making it easy to add to smaller backpacks.
    • NEMO Tensor Alpine Air - [ Our Review ]
      • Details: The Nemo Tensor is available in multiple forms which allows you to match it up against your needed use. Whether your trip is in Spring, Summer, Fall or even Winter there is a version of this pad that will fit your need to perfection.
    • Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core - [ Our Review ]
      • Details: Larger outside air chambers keep you cradled in the middle of the pad. On a scale of 1.0 - 9.5, the Insulated Q-Core pad has an estimated R-value of 5
  • Sea to Summit Aeros UL Pillow
    • Details: The Aeros pillow is a high-value luxury item to ensure quality sleep while on the trail for months as it provides you a better sleeping experience.
  • Therm-A-Rest Z Seat
    • Details: Definitely need to have a seat for those times when you take a break from hiking and don't want your butt to get soaked.

Ultralight Cook System

Water Filtration

Electronics

Clothing - Special

  • Rain Jacket - Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket
    • Details: This jacket packs into its own pocket so small that you can fit it into your pants pocket. But once you put it on it shines and belies its weight.
  • Rain Pants - Arc'teryx Zeta SL Rain Pants
    • Details: The Arc'teryx Zeta SL pants for men combine light and packable portability with breathable, storm-stopping protection so you're never caught with your pants down when foul weather strikes.
  • Puffy Jacket - Torrid Apex Jacket
    • Details: Equally at home on an alpine approach and a windswept lake, the Torrid APEX Jacket offers warmth, wind protection, and moisture resistance at an ultralightweight. Designed to keep you warm while keeping your pack light, the jacket starts at just 7.75 ounces

Clothing - Worn

Additional Gear

Additional PCT Resources

PCT Resource Page - Our all-inclusive page which has everything we post about the Pacific Crest Trail available to make sure you have the most information possible.

What Is The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)? - Our short guide to help you understand the trail and make sure you aren't missing something vital.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to start your plan to hike the Pacific Crest Trail is awesome, it takes supreme courage and belief in ones-self. This belief is what will carry you through the tough days, the rainy days, the painful days, and much much more.

I would love to hear from you who have already started planning and assembling gear for those who have completed the hike. If starting what would you want to hear to help you to know the most upfront from someone who has completed the trail?

My own planning has begun for 2021 and I have begun to update and prepare my gear, my fallback should I not get a permit is to switch to the Appalachian Trail instead. I can't wait to share this with everyone!

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