- Oct 19, 2016 at 11:34 am #3431896
I hiked the PCT NOBO from Campo to the Canadian Border (and 30 miles back down to Harts Pass) from April 26th to September 21st.
I’ve never made a big post to BPL, so hopefully I don’t mess up the formatting and it comes out looking the way I want it to. My baseweight hovered around 7-9lbs throughout the hike. Sometimes I had a BW of around 7lbs, other times it was in the teens, like in the Sierras when I had a bear can, ice axe, and a 4lb inflatable alligator. Feel free to ask any questions.
Lighterpack gear list: https://lighterpack.com/r/7y4jz6
Thoughts on the big stuff:
EE Enigma: I really liked my EE quilt until northern Washington. In northern WA, the temperatures were dropping down to around freezing and my quilt wasn’t as lofty as it was at the start. Now that it’s been lying out in my closet, the loft seems to be back to normal or close to it.
Neoair: I loved the Neoair. It was a little too long for me, and I’ve considered cutting it down to 5′ in length. Does anyone have any info on trimming Neoairs other than that one old youtube vid?
MLD Burn: Great pack. Very durable. Very light (~10oz after removing the hipbelt, sternum strap, all elastic cord, all loops/straps not necessary for the pack to function as a hipbeltless sack).
Fanny Pack: This was great. I loved having my phone, snacks, water, aqua mira, and other stuff right there. I could drop my pack and walk down to water sources with my fanny pack – no stopping bent over my pack rummaging through it for snacks/water treatment.
Clothing: Ideally I would have a lighter down jacket (something like a Montbell or Borah Gear jacket in the 5oz range), but I don’t make enough money for that, so the UNIQLO will do for at least another thru hike. I liked having a lightweight fleece and a down jacket for the entire trail. For large parts of the trail (Desert, Norcal, Oregon), the down jacket was unnecessary, but sending things back and forth can be a hassle. Wind pants are great. They kept my legs warm on many mornings, and kept the bugs off throughout Norcal and Oregon. In Washington they kept my legs warm-ish when it rained. They dry very quickly. Very thin material, but they held up very well and will come on the CDT with me in May.
Changes I made throughout the hike:
I started sharing a Big Agnes tent with my hiking partner in Mammoth Lakes (1000 miles in).
At Cascade Locks, we bought and shared a 10×10 silnylon tarp until Canada. Both of us regretted this decision. It was annoyingly large and therefore difficult to get a good pitch. When it froze over from snow/freezing rain, I worried that it would rip from the weight. It’s much more practical to have a fully enclosed shelter (like a shaped tarp) with a much smaller footprint IMO (with that said, I really liked my 6×9 flat tarp in the desert). We will probably carry a tent on the CDT.
I switched out the Frogg Toggs jacket for an OR Helium 2 at White Pass in Washington. Was this worth it? Do the jackets differ much in performance? Probably not, but the OR jacket is more durable.
I found a short sleeve button up shirt in a hiker box in Tehachapi and wore it for the next 1000 miles or so. I didn’t like it. My arms were open to mosquitoes and the sun.
I switched from a Sawyer Squeeze to Aqua Mira at mile 800. I will use AM on all of my future hikes.
I had 2 platypus bags from the start and they both popped from being used with my Sawyer. I won’t use bladders again.
I stopped carrying toothpaste and hand sanitizer around mile 1000 or 1500. Toothpaste is far less important than brushing properly, and I started carrying wet wipes, which made hand sanny redundant.
I carried my umbrella from White Pass to Canada. It kept the upper part of my body dry and allowed my to hike in the rain with my rain jacket partially unzipped and my hood off.Oct 19, 2016 at 11:36 am #3431897
Welp, the wrong stuff is in bold, but I think it’s still readable.Oct 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm #3431996
John S.BPL Member
Sam, thanks for the gear review. I love these!Oct 20, 2016 at 1:46 pm #3432085
Trevor WilsonBPL Member
@trevor83Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Thanks for the review and thoughts! Did you find the pack without a hipbelt comfortable enough for the sections of longer resupply or in the sierra?
I recall a recent Gear Swap item with cut down Neoairs. Perhaps, if you find that post they may be able to help you…Oct 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm #3432094
Trevor: Before the PCT, I went on some short hikes with the Burn before I cut the hipbelt off, occasionally unclipping the hipbelt to see how it felt. I personally couldn’t tell the difference, so I cut it off for simplicity and of course to save weight.
The worst section was in the Sierras, when I had 9 days worth of food leaving Bishop. I remember my arms went a little numb on that stretch…
I think if I were to hike a shorter trail with long food and/or heavy water carries, I would use a lightweight framed pack, but on a long hike like the PCT, it was worth it to me to save weight and suffer for 9 days rather than swap packs for such a short period of time. Hope that makes sense.Oct 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm #3432101
Trevor WilsonBPL Member
@trevor83Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Makes sense in the context of such a long hike. Thanks!
My longest jaunt was 12 days worth of food in the Sierra as well and I now my shoulders and hips would have been in agony with a frameless pack and no hipbelt (I had a HMG Porter), thus my question.Oct 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm #3432584
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I printed you gear list. Thanks for the link.
I still have great issue with your hip belt-less, frameless pack. I like comfort and use an Osprey EXOS 58. It transfers weight to my hips and the big bones and muscles of my legs, not my shoulders and spine. The comfort of the EXOS'”extra weight” of a good hip belt and minimalist frame far exceed any the comfort I’d derive from the weight lost by removing them
I had an original Neoair, the first one in the ‘Vegas valley, and returned it to REI for several reasons. I prefer a Prolite reg. Sleep systems are a very personal thing I’ve found.Oct 24, 2016 at 5:29 pm #3432678
todd harperBPL Member
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Thank you for taking time to post this! I really enjoyed your post.
Actual, long, experience like yours helps many find their way.Nov 8, 2016 at 9:53 pm #3434793
Wow, my gear list for my AT hike last summer is scarily similar and I am looking at what to mod for PCT next year. I’m looking at changing my quilt (I have Wilderness Logics 15F, I wasn’t warm enough) and have been thinking about either a 10F Zpacks or EE because there is more down there relative to the WL (even the 20F quilts from those companies have more than WL). I definitely get cold when sleeping. I had a Big Agnes and am also prolly going to switch to a tarp set up, maybe zpacks altaplex or hexamid plus a STS bug net.
How much did you love that umbrella? Actually the bigger thing with that is I was thinking of it for desert shade. I used Frogg Toggs until I got a rip near end of Whites, was able to borrow a Marmot precip but was also thinking of switching to OR Helium or similar more durable maybe slightly more breatheable jacket. The uniqlo I love in theory but I don’t know it really kept me warm enough. I had the coat which came longer (hey, it was under $30)Nov 9, 2016 at 10:38 am #3434832
Ben CBPL Member
Thanks for sharing, Sam. I am curious about your Burn. I mostly carry a zpacks Zero with a hipbelt, no frame, and like it. It is showing some wear and I will soon be in the market for a new pack. Did it hold your bear can fine? Did it generally have enough volume? I carry loads similar to what you list. My main addition is a 1/8 ” foam pad (but no bivy) and a cook system.
Also, it looks like you were stoveless. I would enjoy hearing about your stoveless meal prep over that period of time.Nov 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm #3434902
Ben C: It held the BV450 just fine. It generally had enough volume, but there were times when I wished for a bigger pack. 5 days of food or less was about the comfort zone of the pack for me. On future thru hikes I will probably look for a pack in the 45-50 liter range just so I can pack out bulkier foods like chips.
There’s actually not much to say about my stoveless experience. I cold-soaked ramen and Knorr rice sides for dinner every night. I never experimented with anything else because I’m lazy about trail food.Nov 9, 2016 at 5:35 pm #3434904
Dawn W: the umbrella was nice in the rain. It was nice to be able to hike with my rain jacket partially unzipped and my hood off. It’s just nice to have a little bubble of dryness to hide under when it’s raining all day long. Uniqlo is OK, if I had the money I would go for a Montbell jacket with no hood, I’d rather use a beanie and my buff to keep my head warm at night.Dec 24, 2016 at 9:26 am #3441753
Bri WBPL Member
I just finished a SUL 33-mile weekender trip yesterday, and I brought along my ZPacks Zero XS (no hip belt or frame). During the hike I was thinking an UL fanny pack in the front would have been convenient if I wanted to extend my volume just a tad, but not go over SUL. Did you find that it shiftedthe weight forward a bit? It wasn’t a huge hassle, but taking my pack off to retrieve my snacks and other small items was a pain. I have a 5 oz.-ish Patagonia Fanny pack. Your review makes me think I’ll bring that along next time. I saw Patagonia now makes a mini version of that same Fanny pack at around 2.5 oz.Dec 24, 2016 at 2:24 pm #3441779
rick .BPL Member
@overheadviewLocale: Charlotte, NC
Great post-trip gear review!
I have one question: when do we get the 4lb inflatable alligator story? I remember seeing several brave hikers floating their neoairs in a lake and wishing I had a spare floatie.
Several times you just dealt with some minor annoyance rather than fix it, I can relate, constantly swapping gear gets annoying. After a month or two, it may not be the best xyz item, but it is YOUR xyz item.
Except for buying a neo-air in Yosemite pretty much kept my gear consistent, replacing a few things (food bag, dry bag) as they wore out but not swapping out, and added a fleece in Washington, sawyer fullsize when the mini stopped. I threatened to switch to aquamira dozens of times but ended up filtering the whole way. Everyone who thought treating was silly had a pretty rough story to go along with that!
I used a Rab Microlight jacket (12.5oz) and probably woudn’t have complained if it was even warmer. Surprised that you’d go with less. I must run cold while hiking, but I’m typically hot-blooded back home.Dec 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm #3441801
Bri: I wouldn’t say that it shifted the weight forward. I don’t think I carried enough weight in it to make any noticeable difference in that regard. It was great for convenience, though. I liked having things right there for easy access. I plan on using a fanny pack on all of my future hikes. I say give it a try!Dec 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm #3441813
Rick: haha, the inflatable alligator story is really an anti-story. The person I was hiking with and I bought them in Mammoth Lakes (around $10 at Safeway/Vons) with the intention of floating around in the Sierras, but we never ended up using them. As it turns out, lakes and rivers in the high Sierra are cold as hell. The alligator did make a great sit pad, and was a morale booster – hard to be in a bad mood with that thing strapped to the outside of your pack. Had a lot of laughs about whole thing.
I’m a big fan of aqua mira now – don’t think I can go back to filtering. The fleece in Washington is definitely something I’d recommend to future hikers; weight isn’t the first thing on your mind when it’s cold and wet, you just want something that works. As for the down jacket, after my hike I stopped seeing the merit of an UL 3 season down jacket. I think a thick wool sweater/fleece + rain/wind jacket is a more versatile option for 3 season. I think a beefier down jacket makes much more sense if you want a true insulating layer. Rather carry a 12.5oz jacket that actually keeps me warm than a 9oz jacket that’s hardly more than a wind jacket.Dec 30, 2016 at 4:24 pm #3442455
Thanks for posting, Sam.
1.) this feeds my cabin fever, and 2.) this was really useful, especially your responses to folks’ questions. I have had the same questions re: BV450 and the Burn, how much was comfortable to carry after a resupply without a hipbelt or frame, the Uniqlo jackets, etc.
Thank you!Dec 30, 2016 at 4:26 pm #3442456
Actually, I do have a question of my own. How were the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants with your trail runners? I worry sometimes that pants with that type of closure at the bottom are made more for hiking boots rather than sneakers. I’d rather have something that closed nice and tight to my ankle rather than laid baggy around my shoe.Dec 30, 2016 at 9:08 pm #3442496
Nick: the Dynamo pants were fine with trail runners, but I did find it a little annoying that they were baggy around the shoe. My Dynamo pants recently ripped on a day hike and have since been replaced with the discount dance wind pants that were recommended on here and on the Ultralight subreddit. The discount dance pants have an elastic ankle cuff that keeps them snug around your ankle which is more comfortable, but less ventilating than the Dynamos, which have ankle zips.
All in all I prefer the Dynamo’s, but it came down to the price tag for me ($70 vs $18). The ankle zips on the Dynamo’s were nice for venting and for taking the pants off/putting them on without removing my shoes. They are also insanely lightweight.Dec 30, 2016 at 10:49 pm #3442508
Thanks, Sam. This is the first time I’ve gotten wind (lolol) of the Discount Dance pants. Like those Guinness ads used to say, “Brilliant!”Dec 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm #3442591
Kevin BurtonBPL Member
Regarding your tarp collapsing under the weight. You can use paracord and mount a ridge poll / tree between two trees and lay it over that. Only takes a few moments and it will shed weight easier.Oct 18, 2017 at 7:38 pm #3497465
Trey FBPL Member
Hey Sam, finding this thread late, but one question about aquamira. The only thing holding me back from that route is the wait time. I’m so used to drinking a bunch of water at the source when I arrive, and then carrying less with me. How was your experience with this? Did you find it a draw back that you had to load up on water and walk with it for a while? I’d like to stop worrying about backflushing my sawyer and keeping it from freezing when it’s cold at night.
Oct 19, 2017 at 12:15 am #3497506
- This reply was modified 11 months ago by Trey F.
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
For a few decades, I used iodine tablets or Auqamira because you can’t get lighter than that, right? And I didn’t like squatting at the water to pump a filter since that’s where the mosquitos are. (Sawyer Squeeze does help versus older filter schemes).
What moved me from chemical treatment to using mostly UV was thinking about pound-miles. Say in a 6 mile stretch between water sources / treatment stops: that’s two hours, and in the Sierra in the Summer, I’d drink one, maybe two quarts in that time. And I can’t drink the water for 20-30-40 minutes depending on water temperature (which tends to be cold in the high Sierra and colder home here in Alaska). So one quart = 2 pounds and I carry it 2 miles before I can start to drink it. So 4 pound-miles. And I carried more from my previous water stop because of that delay. Versus using UV treatment: I can aspire to be out of water as I approach the next source and I can “camel-up” immediately on at least pint (I’ll often drink a quart) so I’ve saved between 2 and 4 pound-miles.
I have carried a Steripen at 0.16 to .25 pounds over that whole distance of 6 miles, but that’s only 1 to 1.5 pound-miles. And I can’t brag about my base weight quite as much, but I’ve reduced my average actual pack weight.
It’s even more dramatic on group / family trips because that single 3-4 ounce Steripen lets multiple people save several pound-miles each.
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