67 Days: Modifying our Gear, Shaking Down Our Packs

With only 67 days until our PCT thru-hike start date, it’s starting to feel like crunch time.  We’ve been spending the past week or so weighing our gear, deciding what to swap or change, what to get rid of, and perhaps what to add.

The PCT is very different from the AT, so our gear list has been evolving to adapt to the different challenges.  We’ve added ice axes, microspikes, and bear canisters to our gear list, at least to get us through the Sierra section.  We will be carrying umbrellas at least through the desert section, the first 1700 miles.  And we are switching to a power pack with slightly more power, to get us through some slightly longer sections without having to worry about phone batteries.

Like most thru-hikers we are on an endless quest to drop weight from our packs, and as a couple we are always looking for gear that makes better sense for a couple.  We’ve swapped our 2 sleeping pads for 1 double pad, and our 2 sleeping bags for a 2-person quilt. I’ve switched to a lighter pack, gotten rid of extra stuff sacks, and dropped my knife and sit pad.  Paul will also likely drop his sit pad.  We’re debating switching to a smaller, lighter cook pot, we’re swapping our hard sided bowl for a lighter plastic jar with a screw top lid, ditching a few extraneous items from the first aid kit, looking for lighter headlamps, and leaving our pack covers at home.

The Sierra gear aside, we’ve been able to bring our combined base weight to 20lbs, just about 10 lbs each.  (Base Weight is everything but consumables such as food and water).  We’ve dropped more than 6 pounds from our combined AT base weight.


We still have a few changes to make and a few spots to cut a bit more weight, but in the meantime we decided it was time to pack up and test out our loads!  Today we took our gear out on a nearby trail for a 10 mile loop.  We had rain for about 3 miles, so we got to put our umbrellas to good use!  Both of us were loaded up with essentially all our gear but food.  My new pack is frameless with no hip belt, so I really wanted to test it out and start getting my shoulders adapted to carrying the load.  Things felt really great today, so after a few more hikes I’ll start adding some food weight to the load.  Paul is carrying the same pack that he used during the last 500 miles on the AT, so he’s pretty used to it by now, but both of us need to re-adapt our bodies to carrying some extra weight.  We made better time than we thought we would today, and we both felt really great.  We’re getting itchy to get out there!