What’s in My Pack: Thru-Hiking the PCT

PCT Thru-Hike

My neighbor Annie Emanuels — a lovely young outdoorswoman — is heading off this weekend to hike the PCT. She plans to thru-hike the entire trail before starting grad school in the fall. The other day she let me come over and have a look at all her gear — one of my favorite things to do. And let’s just say, I am not worried about her having to name her pack Monster.

Following are the bulk of the items (i.e., not a complete list) that make up her kit– her total pack weight is around 16 pounds, not including food or water.

Pack and Sleeping

Gossamer Gear Pack + Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Pad: Gossamer Gear is the ultralight backpacking specialists so knows how to design in features that every thru-hiker loves. Here, it’s a harness for your sleeping pad so it can double as the pack frame. Note: Annie will not be bringing an inflatable mattress — that’s hardcore. The average weight of the pack, pad, and removable hipbelt is just over a pound.

Marmot Plasma 15 Sleeping Bag: Down sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees F.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1: There’s no tent sharing on the PCT — even if you are hiking with someone else (unless it’s your significant other). She received some great advice from our other neighbor who thru-hiked the PCT a few years ago — carry all your own gear. You never know if you might need to split up for a week or something.


Sawyer Mini Water Filter: Super versatile in line filter than can be used in many ways. She has some tablets as backup just in case she is forced to drink super sketchy water at some point.

Two 2-liter Platy Bottles (one for clean and one for dirty) + two Nalgenes: This way she can carry six liters of water through the desert if need be — although, with the rain we have had in California this winter, there should be tons more water than usual. Navigating the record high Sierra snowpack come June/July will be another story.


MSR Pocket Rocket + Quick Solo System: A great ultralight solution for simple, one pot meals or for just boiling water quickly.


Goal Zero Nomad 7+ Switch 10 Recharger: To keep the gadgets charged.

Spot Gen3: Friends and family can follow her progress and great to have in case of an emergency.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight & Watertight .3: Safety first!

Halfmile Maps and App: Halfmile creates both paper maps and a corresponding app of the entire PCT trail — all for free.


Apart from lunch snacks, Annie will be eating mostly dehydrated meals, with a mix of Backpacker’s Pantry, Mountain House, and Good To-Go, in addition to meals she made herself based on recipes she learned at NOLS.


For footwear, Annie is going with trail runners and apart from the clothes she plans to wear, she will pack a pair of pants, wind jacket, down jacket, base layer, extra pair of socks, and warm hat. She has a poncho for the occasional rain storm in Southern California and will swap that out for a more heavy duty rain jacket once she hits the Sierras.

I am so excited for her and can’t wait to hear how it goes. Happy trails, Annie!

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