Lets talk gear

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Gear – one of my favourite topics. I could talk about gear all day if given half a chance. But let us focus down and talk more specifically about the gear I’ll be carrying at the ‘start’ of my upcoming hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. I say what I’ll be carrying at the start of my hike because it is bound to change along the way. In fact it will have changed by the time this is posted as my gear is constantly evolving.

For now, I’m happy with what I’ve ended up with. It works for me. My base weight (weight of all items, except what you are wearing and consumables) is around 7kg (16pound). Having had the Te Araroa under my belt certainly helped to have a really good idea of what works for me on a thru hike.

Now, you ultra-lighters out there are bound to have a look and say ” Whoo there buddy – far too much stuff, you can cull.. [insert most of my gear choices]”. And on the other hand all you weekend warriors are looking at my gear and saying “What! is that all you’re taking? What about ..[insert unlikely scenario]”. And that is all fine.

It’s definitely not an ultralight set up, more of a light weight kit but it meets my needs. This gear will keep me safe, sheltered, fed, hydrated, dry and is adaptable to rain, hail or the harsh desert sunshine. Most of all it will be comfortable. For me the PCT is a journey, it’s not about racing others to the Canadian border and having to pair down every single item and scrape through by the skin of my teeth.  Horses for courses right? I do go ultralight at home most of the time.

I’ve watched far too many gear setup videos on Youtube from all sorts of people and have more than a fair idea on what I need to meet the goals of this trip. Ultralighters do move quick and cover plenty of ground in a day but I’ve watched ultra-lighters sans underwear for the sake of saving 30 grams and suffer massive chaf for hundreds of miles; ultralighters ditching paper maps (again to save a few grams) and loosing the trail for entire days because their phone charge has died and they can not navigate; and ultralighters bailing off trail to town at the first hint of a rainstorm because their gear is not going to handle it. And many more examples of ultralight fails – although plenty of successes as well . I’ve also seen videos of peeps planning on carrying hatchets, 6 pound tents, bowie knives and an array of pots and cutlery for cooking… only to struggle under the weight and ditching most of it at the first trail town. On the flip side I ‘ve also seen plenty of heavy hitters successfully complete Te Araroa.

Again, there is nothing wrong with either of these options – ultralight vs mega weight – it’s just not going to work for me.

So, lets get into it.

Check out most of my gear here – but it does keep changing. 

  • Base weight:             7.5 kg
  • Food / Water                6 – 10 kg
  • Carried:                      12-18 kg, dropping back to 7kg as food & water is consumed.

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 2.24.11 pm

The Big Three

IMG_6455Packing system:

  • Osprey Exos 58 pack
  • I’ll use a garbage bag as a liner

Sleeping system:

  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 degree quilt
  • Z packs cuban fibre stuff sack
  • Sea to Summit silk liner (to keep my quilt clean)
  • Thermarest pad
  • Sea to Summit Aero inflatable pillow

Shelter system:

  • ZPacks Hexamid tarp modified with Sea to Summit nano bug net
  • Cuban fibre ground sheet

Clothing worn: 


  • La Sportiva Wildcat trail runners
  • Dirty Girl gaiters
  • Darn Tough socks
  • Outdoor Research Equinox zip off pants – may ditch to use Purplerain kilt
  • Exofficio boxers
  • Bandana
  • Exofficio shirt
  • Prescription glasses or sunnies
  • Outdoor Research Sun Runner hat – with detachable neck flat.
  • Not in photo – Leki Corklite walking poles

Clothing carried: 


  • Generic Flip-flops
  • Icebreaker 150 weight merinobottoms
  • Light gloves
  • Sleep socks (Icebreaker)
  • Spare socks (Darn tough / Injinji – I’ll trial the best setup)
  • Icebreaker merino beanie
  • Spare Exofficio boxers
  • Buff
  • Town shirt and town shorts
  • Ibex 200 weight hooded thermal top
  • Montane wind jacket
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down jacket

Wet Weather Gear: 


  • ULA rain skirt
  • Z packs Challenger mitts
  • Marmot Precip jacket (has pit zips) – changed to Frog Toggs UL2
  • Euroschirm umbrella – this will double as sun protection in Southern California

Cook system: 


  • Food bag – undecided on Zpacks or Ursack (rodent/bear proof bag)
  • Macpac Titanium 900ml pot and lid
  • Homemade pot cosy
  • Homemade cosy for commercially made dehydrated meals
  • Sea to Summit collapsible cup – probably the 1st thing to be ditched – yep, gone now
  • Soto Tianium stove head
  • Optimus Ti long handled spoon

Water and hydration system: 


  • Sawyer squeeze filter – guaranteed for 100,000 gallons
  • Sayer dirty water bag
  • Extra 2 Lt Platypus water bag
  • Smartwater Bottles
  • plastic water scoop

First Aid & Repair: 


  • Medicines: Vitamin I (Ibuprofen), Telfast, Imodium, aquatabs
  • Tenacious tape
  • In container with yellow lid: Needle, thread, razor blade, dental floss
  • Mole skin, k tape, few band aids
  • Nail clippers, splinter picker, gauze pads, alcohol swabs
  • Spare lids – platypus bladder, smart water and gatorade



  • Deuce of Spades potty trowel
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes
  • Ear plugs, Dr Bronners, tooth paste, tooth brush
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Pack towel

Ditty Bag (odds and ends):


  • Stuff sack, bug mix, sunscreen, chap stick, head net, cord
  • safety pins (ie. clothes line), sharpy, biro, Sunnto clip it compass, pocket knife, thermometer, mini bic, Black Diamond Storm headlamp


Probably the biggest area in which weight could be lost from my pack. I’ll see about bringing the GoPro, associated batteries and charger.


  • Garmin inReach Explorer 2 way satellite communicator
  • Anker 26,000 mah battery pack
  • iPhone tripod mount
  • stick pic camera mount
  • GoPro Hero 4
  • GoPro batteries and dual charger
  • Joby mini tripod
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • Spare SD cards, cables for Anker, iPhone SD card reader, dual wall cahrger
  • SanDisk wireless storage – to transfer photos/video off phone to SD cards direct
  • Apple earbuds

Wallet, ID and permits – self explanatory


Bounce Box with Section Gear / Change out gear: 

Different sections require different bits of pieces. The Sierra requires ice spikes and an ice axe as well as warmer clothes. Washington demands warmer clothes and good rain gear. I’ll mail these ahead to myself and collect them as required. The bucket looks like an odd container but this will double as my food drop bucket required for Muir Trail ranch in the Sierras.


  • Bucket
  • Rain pants, thicker thermal bottoms, spare pair of trail runners
  • Sol thermal bivvy, spare platypus bladder, spare cables, thicker gloves, snow mits
  • Fleece pullover, merino long sleeved top, spare socks x 2, Kahtoola micro spikes
  • Maps for each section (obviously I’ll carry the first lot)


  1. Hey Mike. Like you we like the comfort of having hard copy maps. When we got our TA maps printed the printers offered us waterproof paper which was lighter than regular paper, more hardy and means you don’t need a map case. Can also double for waterproof underlay for the tent in a pinch. Only down side is you can’t burn them so have to carry them till you can throw them away and they are maybe not as eco-friendly but may be worth looking into.
    Good luck with the prep. Elaine and Dave

  2. Hi Mick, have you tested the Frogg Toggs rain jacket yet? I’m looking to buy one for an upcoming Larapinta Trail trip in May/June. Hopefully if fits the bill for that walk….. very lightweight, could double as a wind shirt (I think, anyway), and a fair chance it won’t be used at all 🙂
    Did you buy the Ultra Lite2 model, and where did you get it from? Suppliers in Australia seem limited, and postage from USA is high. Amazon Aust. doesn’t have my size yet….. I wear an XL raincoat normally but on-line advice seems to be go down a size to L.
    Good luck on the PCT, Cheers, Ross

    1. G’day Ross. Yep have tested the Frog Toggs. It’s almost like Tyvek with an outer shell layer. Went with the UL model. Very light indeed. It will be perfect for the Larapinta. They are thin so they need a bit of care. The shoulders will rub through on a thruhike I’m thinking. But for the price and weight, well worth it. I got my from the US Amazon site, postage was about $5. Even with the US price and postage you save a stack of coin for a good jacket that will do the job.

  3. Thanks Mick, Good tip. I’ve ordered the raincoat with US Amazon today, along with several other items… that’s the trouble with those sites!
    Will you take no camp shoes? Looking at your gear list I see you were going to take lightweight flip-flops and have now deleted them. This is something I’m weighing up (excuse the pun). On TA I used a pair of sandals I found at Rivers (385gm for size 9) and they were good… they crunched up well and it was essential to get out of wet shoes at night. However its still a significant weight. What will you take, if anything? Cheers, Ross

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