Pacific Crest Trail Gear List

I've been asked by alot of folks what gear I carried in my pack. Here is my gear list and some suggestions on approaching selecting equipment for the Pacific Crest Trail.

By Colin Arisman

Colin Arisman's Pacific Crest Trail Gear List:


Here are some of my suggestions on choosing gear for the PCT.

Ultra-light on the PCT: Most long-distance hikers aim to reduce the weight of their pack as much as possible. It is not uncommon for a thru-hikers pack to weigh less than 10 pounds without food or water. The lightweight approach requires planning, skill and experience however the rewards are significant

  • Less strain on your body
  • Faster walking pace
  • More ability to be relaxed and engaged with your surroundings.

Be sure to do overnight trips before you get on trail and put all the gear to the test that you plan on using.

Our gear spread out after a night under the stars in Southern California.

Our gear spread out after a night under the stars in Southern California.

Buying Gear: Many realize late into their hike that they want to go lighter. Do your research, plan ahead and avoid replacing your gear later in the hike. Focus carefully selecting the “big 3” (shelter, sleeping bag, backpack), the three heaviest and most expensive items you will carry.

Footwear: Many folks are surprised to realize that almost all thru-hikers wear trail running shoes rather than hiking boots. Running shoes are preferable as they are breathable and dry quicker than leather or Gore-Tex. The Pacific Crest Trail is a gentle walking path free of rocks along most of it’s length and with a light pack load little ankle support is necessary. Expect to wear your shoes out every 450 miles – most hikers replace their shoes 4 times along during the journey.

Ditch the:

  • Pack cover (replace by lining pack with a trash bag)
  • Big comfy pad (replace with ¾ length foam pad)
  • Rain pants in dry climate
  • Extra changes of clothes (besides extra socks which are key)
  • Mug, plate & Nalgene
  • Books (consider a IPod Nano with audio books)