May 10, 2010 at 12:53 am #1258759
I'm thru-hiking the PCT northbound starting around May 21st this year. I'm going solo and anticipate taking four months to get to Canada. My gear list can be found here
Any comments/critiques are appreciated.
Dave aka CometMay 10, 2010 at 2:40 am #1608246
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
Nice list, well thought out. This year the PCT is playing out quite a bit differently than in 2009, mainly in the sense that snow is taking longer to melt out this year, for what it's worth. So keep in mind my comments reflect experiences from last season.
First, starting on May 21st, you will be hitting Southern California as things typically begin to really heat up. I would suggest that you carry more than the ~3.3 liters of capacity. There are stretches approaching 15-20 miles in Southern California where there was not any water available along the trail. The guidebooks you are using do point those out. At the most, I believe I had 5 liter capacity, although I seldom carried more than four.
On your headlamp, and I know I've mentioned this so many times that people are sick of hearing it – the eLite is a terrific headlamp for camp. Wonderful. But in my experience, it is at best a mediocre headlamp for night hiking. I tried, but ended up supplementing it with a much more able headlamp. Chances are that you will elect to hike at night, either to escape the heat of the day or perhaps you will need to get in the miles to make a post office before the weekend. I found that with the eLite the hiking was slower and much more exhausting because it had such limited range and required greater concentration on finding the trail.
I haven't met a lot of people who liked using the Go Lite umbrella. There were several who carried them, but the general complaint was the performance under breezy conditions. It was almost always hot and windy in So Cal. Something to consider, but I would carry a wide-brimmed hat for at least Southern California. YMMV.
The BearVault 450 is obviously limited in its capacity. What is your resupply strategy in the Sierra?(FYI – I was told last year that the hiker box (really drums) at the Muir Trail Ranch were fantastic – seems a lot of JMTers leave a ton of food behind.) Anyhow, it's around 90 miles between Kennedy Meadows to Kearsarge Pass, which leads to the towns of Independence and Bishop (you need to hitchhike in). Also, if you are going to climb Whitney (which I would recommend heartily), that is going to take a good portion of one day in this stretch. Something to think about.
A lot of people wore just shorts in SoCal. But when it is hot and sunny, you are going to go through more sunscreen than with pants. Just something to consider – plus pants do a better job protecting against a lot of desert plants. I had never hiked with pants (other than rain pants in my life) up to that point, always opting for shorts. I was glad to have made the switch.
If I had to do it again, I would probably have brought some type of gaiters with me to keep rocks and dirt out of my shoes in SoCal. The rocks and dust filled my shoes, which breathed well but as a result, also took in a fair amount of debris. My feet swelled pretty good in the heat, and by the time I reached Big Bear I swapped out my size 9.5 shoes for size 11.
The iPhone did not get good reception in many stretches of the PCT – this is more of a function of the network than the phone. I didn't use an iPhone but friends did. The AT&T coverage wasn't that good in many areas.
Finally, if you finish by, say, Oct 1 you will average just about 20 miles per day. This does not take into account any zero days or generally lower mileage days in the Sierra (certainly, I'd recommend enjoying the Sierra and not rushing through it like a bat out of hell – another reason to maybe carry a larger bear canister).
Best of luck to you! Enjoy the trail.
DirkMay 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm #1608438
You have both a balaclava and a warm hat listed. Seems redundant. I only wore a Balaclava last year and had no trouble staying warm; just roll it up on itself when you don't need your face covered.. I have a question about your clothing layers. Can you be warm with in while its snowing or have freezing rain? People had cold and snowly weather from early to mid June last year in the Sierra and snow in Washington at different times in Sept. Just 2 weeks ago, hikers were freezing in SoCal from lack of layers as it stormed. Many years, we get a snow storm in the SoCal mountains in late May. I'm only saying this since I see nothing for your lower half except wind pants. I carried lightweight thermals in places. You could get by with a lighterweight down jacket as the one you have will be too hot for anything other then use in camp. I used a MontBell down jacket that weighed ~6oz that made a very nice pillow so I carried it the whole way. I actually preferred hiking in long pants and long sleeves in SoCal to deal with the sun.
I briefly used a GoLite Chrome Dome umbrella. It did make it cooler on the few days that I had really hot temperatures. However, the issue of wind is a problem. I sent it home since most of the time I had unusually cool weather. If you ditch it, you may want to get a wide brim hat instead of the visor for SoCal.
Add more water capacity for SoCal. I often carried 4.5L last year (once carried 6L and needed it) but had cooler temps then normal throughout SoCal. You can't count on Water Caches being full as I saw some that were empty or almost empty last year.
When I passed through, Muir Trail Ranch had almost nothing in the hiker boxes and met some hikers who had been counting on it who were very hungry. Don't count on a hiker box for resupply in the Sierras as you don't know who is hiking in front of you.
I hiked with a guy with an IPhone. He was always plugging it in everywhere there was an outlet at a store/resturant to keep it charged. But for the most part, it worked out well for him.
I didn't see a compass. I used mine a few times when I wasn't sure which way to go (some junctions weren't labeled which was the PCT) and it helped point me to the right snow covered pass in the Sierra. I know a few people who tried to climb the wrong pass. Mine weighed 0.8 oz and had a mirror which I considered multi-use.
You have the GoLite Virga jacket and the Gatewood cape? Doesn't that defeat the point of using a tarp poncho since its suppose to be rain gear and a shelter? You have a wind jacket after all.May 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm #1608476
@sschloss1Locale: New England
I think the other members of the class of '09 covered the big things. Here are a few more thoughts:
You'll want DEET for the Sierras, Northern Cal., and Oregon.
I'd also suggest carrying your insulated jacket from the border.
I'd suggest getting a ground reflector of some sort for your stove. There are lots of places where the ground is nothing but dry duff. I have a supercat, too, and I often had to cook right on the trail because it was the only place around clear of flammable stuff.
I don't think you need the bear bag or the cord. In the Sierras, you have to use the canister. Everywhere else, you can safely sleep with your food. I've heard reports of mouse problems in Washington, but no one I was hiking with had any problems.
Have a blast! It's a great trail.May 11, 2010 at 12:49 am #1608610
Thank you for the great responses guys. I appreciate all of the advice and comments!
-My gear list is misleading, in SoCal I will have capacity for just over 6L of water (2 of each size platy).
-Good idea re: headlamp. You sold me on taking my Tikka XP
for at least the first stretch where I am most likely to night hike.
-I do plan on climbing Whitney and neglected to factor in the extra food needed. Also, I plan to do the 9 mile hike and hitch into Lone Pine. Do most people skip Lone Pine?
-I will consider wearing my REI Sahara convertible pants and gaiters for at least the Southern section, especially since Sean also mentioned pants.
-I didn't mean to have both hat and balaclava for SoCal, but I sleep cold when my body fat drops on long trips so WAS going to wear both in an attempt to preserve heat. I can always get the hat mailed if I'm cold though.
-Solid advice, if I send the umbrella home early, I'll get my Tilly hat sent out to help create some personal shade.
-I updated the gear list comments on my watch as it does include a compass.
-Good call out on the Gatewood Cape/rain jacket redundancy. My experience with the GC as raingear in wind is not the greatest. I have both pieces listed in the Sierra because I was afraid of being cold and wet at the same time. You're right though, probably just a waste of 8 ounces.
-Yup, forgot to but the bug repellent on the list. I'll get it weighed and put on.
-I'm considering the suggestion re: insulated jacket from the start.
-Great idea re: reflector under the stove.
-Good to know that I won't need to be OCD about hanging my food on this trail.
Thanks again guys. Can't wait to see what adventures unfold along the way!
CometMay 21, 2010 at 10:10 am #1612178
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