PCT Product/Gear Review

This company makes stellar products! I had the opportunity to take some of their bars along with me on the trail and I'm so happy I did. They have about 200+ calories per bar and they keep you going with out the harsh crash that others bars such as Snickers can give. Another major plus is that they're organic and raw. I'm a vegetarian and I fell in love with their products! The only downfall was certain flavors, such as the cinnamon bars, didn't agree with me while hiking. Off trail I was fine, but for what ever reason I couldn't stomach it while on trail. Bottom line: Raw Revolution is a very healthy, clean energy source to get you up those mountains and on your way to Candada. They're a wonderful, health conscious company! 

In the beginning I had a problem with my pack "squeaking." I asked other ULA users and they said they had the same issue. After a couple hundred miles the "squeek" subsided and I could walk quietly. The overall comfort of the Catalyst was wonderful as long as I wasn't carrying too much water (read:southern CA) The durability was superb! My pack ended up getting a few holes (read: squirrels) and it still held steady. Towards Canada I developed severe pain in my shoulders from not having enough cushioning. Many hikers use "pack fat," which is basically anything that acts as a barrier between the backpack and your  body. I used socks folded over for added protection. Overall this was a wonderful backpack and I would highly recommend it. It's still going strong and I expect to get at least another solid 3 months out of her. ULA also has WONDERFUL customer service! 

(2lbs 2oz)
I only used my tent MAYBE 15 times the entire trail. When I did it was great. It didn't collect a lot of condensation. There was PLENTY of room for myself, my things, and if need be, another person. At one point I fit 3 people in my tent (not recommended for comfort) Although, I preferred to sleep under the stars at night, this tent was fabulous when I needed the shelter. It was light and roomy. It did the job. Personally, I prefer to cowboy camp. If you are going to utilize a tent, I recommend the Tarptent Rainbow.

First I would like to say this is an AMAZING bag. The quality and craftsmanship is wonderful. But... I am sad to report that this bag didn't keep me warm. It's not the bag, it's me. Because of my brain injury I am unable to regulate my body temperature and stay warm. Needless to say I froze out there. I know many others who carried the same bag and were too hot most of the nights. My situation is a little different. I should have gone to a 0* bag. I would often NEED to snuggle up with other hikers in hopes of stealing their body heat. If you're looking for a bag you will not go wrong with Western Mountaineering... but if you're anything like me you might need two. 

This piece of gear was crucial to my sleep system. I sleep extremely cold and this beauty added a few degrees that I needed. Not only did it add warmth to my bag, but it also kept my bag much cleaner! You can wash you liner anytime! This is one of my gear essentials!  I highly recommend having a liner!

This beauty was terrific! Comparable to sleeping on clouds! What set this apart from the NeoAir was the comfort and sound aka there wasn't any! You don't have to worry about waking up anyone in the vicinity because of "crinkle" noises. The Synmat was extremely comfortable. I never had any issues blowing it up at night, it took me between 15 and 18 full breathes to get it fully set up. You do have to be careful of sharp objects though! I ended up getting a hole in mine during the last leg of the desert and I couldn't repair it even after full submersion. I did have to switch out to a z-lite, but if I had the choice I would have replaced it for another. Wonderful buy! 

This sleeping pad took some getting used to. Having gone from the Synmat UL 7 I was used to being pampered. However, that's not to say this is not comfortable. I used the Z-Lite for the rest of my hike and I had no issues. You don't have to worry about puncturing, it doubles as a sit pad, and you can use it as a pack stabilizer. The only issues is that you will have to buy more than one for a thru-hike because they compress to an almost negligible pad around 900 miles (depending on weight). Bottom line: this is a good pad that will not falter.

I LOVE THIS JACKET!  I fully believe everyone should own one! It packs small. It's extremely durable. It keeps you warm. It works even when it's damp (unlike down). I recommend getting a hood; I used mine close to every single day on trail. I purchased a mens because I wanted more room in the bust and the length was longer than the female version. I am extremely pleased with the quality and craftsman shift of this jacket. I don't have anything negative to say about this piece of gear. Go buy one! 

I never had any issues with this jacket. It held up and I never got wet when I had it on. With that being said, I wouldn't purchase it again. It's heavier than I would like and I don't care for the placement of the pockets. They are up way to high for my liking. I did enjoy the under arm vents. Seeing as how I hiked in 2012 (a perfect weather year) I didn't put it through the ringer. I maybe wore it for a total of 10 days on trail. It's a good jacket, but for the CDT I'm going to switch it for something else. 

Although I didn't get much rain on my thru-hike I did wear these pants A LOT! I love them! I usually wore them when I was cold (read: all the time). They were extremely warm because they trapped in my body heat. I don't recommend this unless you want to get very hot, very quickly. I put these pants through the ringer and the didn't give on me until the very last day. I highly recommend these pants! Very durable when they were in a few down pours they worked like a charm! 

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! I wore this jacket nonstop on trail, and I still wear it a lot even after the trail. This jacket is extremely warm. It may be too warm if you overheat easily. If you're anything like myself it's going to be your new best friend. I am a fan of the hole in the sleeves because it traps more heat for your hands. I especially like how the zipper comes up higher on you chin so it also retains more body generated heat. This is worth it's weight in gold for me. It's an essential part of my gear as well. It's also my favorite color... can't beat that! 

I also fell in love with these tights. I put them through the battle field and they never gave way. After 6 months of constant abuse I still have zero snags, rips, tears, seam vaulters, or any other defect. Terramar  also has excellent customer service, in the event you need it. 

One of my favorite pieces of clothing! Surprisingly this skirt held up the best out of all my gear. I wanted to remain as "girly" as I could on trail and this piece helped me do just that. Unfortunately, all of Lulu's attire is limited to a certain amount and never gets remaid. Once they're out... they're out forever. I have been searching for the same skirt (different color) ever since I got back. I was hoping to use it again on the CDT in 2014... but sadly I think I may have to go buy material and make this skirt myself (read: exact replica) One of the best purchases I made! 

The gaiters were absolutely wonderful (when I wore them). I never had any problems with debris coming in from the top of my shoe. I ended up ditching them while on the last leg of the desert because the shoes I wear let in debris anyway. It was a losing battle. The functionality and comfort of these gaiters is superb. They stretch and move with you, rather than against you. I highly recommend Simblissity not only for the gaiters but for the outstanding customer service as well! 

I LOVE these socks! I still have both pairs that I used almost daily out there. They have more padding in the heel and toe box while less on the arch of your foot. The fabric is multi-way stretch so they move with your foot. They are a little pricey ($18/pair) but they're worth every cent. Any sock that can hold up to a thru-hike and still be functional afterwards gets 5+ stars. The pink detail was also a no-brainer! 

These socks are VERY thick! I would not recommend them for a thru-hike as your main pair of socks. With that being said, they are an EXCELLENT sleeping sock. I interchanged these socks on "laundry" day with the Bridgedales. I went through 6 pairs during 6 months. That's pretty amazing. All of them did end up wearing out. The second I had a hole, it was safe to say the entire sock was going to disappear by the end of the day. I once took off my "sock" at night only to discover the entire bottom half had disappeared. It was a neat magic trick. I was very confused as to where the material had gone. Bottom line: Wonderful, thick, sleeping sock and occasional hiking when I was doing laundry. Good sock worth the weight. 

I used this headlamp for almost 2000 miles and enjoyed it. However, after about 1700 miles I noticed the bulb was dimming. I replaced the batteries and the problem stayed.  I night hike A TON! I never heard of any other hikers running into the same problem. This could be because for about a month I completely switched over to night hiking. I went through a lot of batteries but this headlamp did it's job. I consider it a workhorse. When I went into Bend, OR I replaced it for a Black Diamond Spot (wonderful switch)! The Tikka Plus2 was great when I had it, but after I made the switch to Black Diamond I wondered how I had ever lived with the Tikka. 

After I switched from the Tikka I realized what I had been missing! For anyone who does a lot of night hiking this is the light for you! It's a little heavier than the Petzl but worth every ounce. I felt like I had a police search light on my head sometimes. I never ran into issues with the bulb dimming (unless I needed to change batteries). I give the Spot 5 stars. Both the "spotlight" and "flood light" settings work wonderful! You also have the option to dim them should you need less illumination. If this isn't in your gear list, I'd make a switch! 

Cell Phone: Motorola - Atrix 2
This phone worked great for what I got it for; the camera! Aside from that I wouldn't recommend it for much else. If you have AT&T plan on being without service for pretty much the entire hike. There are very few places you get service. I did use this phone as my sole camera and it took BEAUTIFUL pictures! But as far as the phone itself... look elsewhere. It used way too much battery, even after un-instaling any unnecessary applications. Airplane mode drains very fast too. If you want to keep battery life either leave it off or keep in "sleep mode." Bottom line: Excellent Camera and Video... horrible battery life. 

These are by far my favorite piece of gear. These trekking poles were amazing. I had never hiked with them before and to be honest at first I was opposed to the idea, but it was the best decision I made. They were the lightest trekking poles that I came across on the PCT, and I never had any problems with them. They never faltered, broke, or refused to give me everything they had... and they're still going strong. Helinox's customer service is absolutely spectacular as well! I fully stand behind them and the company! Best trekking poles ever! 

Great investment! Having skin cancer it was vital that I had sun protection on trail. This umbrella did a remarkable job of keeping me protected from not only the sun, but also the occasional rain. The craftsmanship of this little beauty is unsurpassed. I thought it might be a little hot since it was black, but I never ran into any issues. It's incredibly light extremely durable. I have only wonderful things to say about Helinox and their products! 

Shoes aka Shoe Addict 

I love shoes. I love flashy shoes. I love glow in the dark shoes. I LOVE THESE SHOES! Both models were absolutely perfect for me. I had purchased these before the hike and I liked them so much I was going to try them out for the first 100 miles before Kick Off. I never switched out to the many pairs of Brooks Cascadias I had previously bought. The Noosa's are VERY light! The mesh toe box does an excellent job of keeping your feet cool! I didn't get a single blister in these shoes! I had to replace them roughly every 600(ish) miles. Over 2000 miles walked in 4 pairs. I didn't even have inserts! The only down fall was the tread (virtually nonexistent) and the mesh while your walking through sand. These may seem like deal breakers but the shoe itself is so insanely comfortable this was a small sacrifice for top notch shoes.! Everyone knew me for my bright shoes. I have no problem with that! BEST SHOES EVER!

AMAZING SHOE! I switched out to these shoes in Washington because I needed something with tread. I suddenly stuck to every rock, dirt mount, and log I came across. I felt like a frog with sticky pads on my feet. The toe box is wide and allows for free movement. I have absolutely fallen in love with the no-lace system. They NEVER get dirty! They're purple! When I finished the hike I called Salomon because they started to wear unevenly and shortly after I had myself a new pair of shoes - defect free. I am a lifelong Salomon customer and you will not go wrong with these shoes! No inserts needed for this model either. WONDERFUL SHOE! WONDERFUL CUSTOMER SERICE!

This filter does what it's meant to do. Filter water. I came across some disgusting sources in Southern CA and after I had filtered you would never have known. The filter needs to be replaced frequently (2 times in less than 800 miles). It gets EXTREMELY hard to pump when it's at its tail end of life. When I was in the Sierra's I ended up ditching the filter and didn't treat for the rest of the trail. I don't recommend this method unless you know the risks. I never had any problem with untreated water. However, in Mid-Oregon I started carrying a dropper of bleach which I practically never used. I would not recommend this filter. I would use either bleach or the Sawyer Squeeze. 

Knife: Gerber Gator
Yes, I really did carry this beast the entire trail. I do not recommend it. This is one of my few "luxury items" that goes with me everywhere. It offered a sense of security and protection... which DID come in handy. It's a very heavy knife and you DO NOT NEED anything of this magnitude out there. All you need is a little pocket knife. It is however, an important piece of my gear list. 

I am a fan of the pocket rocket. It performed flawlessly. You have the ability to control the flame (Read:simmer). It's very light and canisters were abundant along the trail. I cooked roughly every night and it never faultered. It was also a great source of heat! But, I do not recommend using it as a heat source. The only problem I had was when it was FREEZING (Read:below 20*) The canister took awhile to start up. This is an easy fix. Sleep with the canister. I am a fan of this stove! 


  1. gear choices look good so far! Good luck on your hike, maybe I'll meet you at KO (I'll be camped in the Class of 2011 area.

    Wandering Dot

    1. Thank you! That would be amazing!!! : D

  2. Zooooooooooooooom zzzzzzzzzzzzooooooooooooooooooooom zooooom !

  3. "nano puff" is my new favourite thing to call my lover.

  4. Hi, I have a big debate in my mind regarding my PCt gear for 2014.
    I dont know if buy a wind jacket, or waterproof jacket. As you said you only used 10 times. Maybe a windjacket and one of those plastic ponchos??

    what the people carry normally?

    1. Adrian, sorry for getting back to you so late. My route of action for the PCT would be to carry GoLite's Trinity jacket at 6oz.. and on top of that I also carry an umbrella for the sun and rain. You would be fine with a pancho too because the PCT is in another drought year and I hardly expect the weather to be anything like torrential down pour. However, if you make it up to Washington late season I would definitely recommend getting a sturdier rain system.