My PCT SoCal Desert Gear List

With one week to go, things are coming together. I have a tentative resupply plan, and I mailed off my first package for pick up along the trail. Yikes!

I have been tweaking my gear list for a while now, and I think I have settled on my choices. The extremes in southern California can be surprising. The mountainous areas of Idyllwild and Big Bear regularly go down to the 30-40 deg F in May. In Idyllwild just a few weeks ago, the temperature went down to the teens during a cold snap.

I took almost this exact setup with me for my last two section hikes of the Mid State Trail. It worked well, so I’m feeling good about my gear choices. Here is my pack list for the first 700 miles of the PCT.

Big Four:

  • Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform shelter (+9 stakes and stake bag)
  • Zpacks ArcBlast backpack
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 deg F quilt + Mountain Laurel Designs APEX balaclava
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear XL roll-top stuff sack for the quilt and sleeping clothes
  • Therm-a-rest Neoair XTherm sleeping pad


  • extra underwear
  • extra Darn Tough hiking socks
  • Athleta leggings
  • Patagonia capilene 4 hoody
  • Patagonia down pullover*
  • Patagonia capilene thermal weight bottoms*
  • Montbell Thermawrap skirt*
  • DeFeet wool gloves
  • fleece neck gaiter*
  • headband
  • sleep socks*
  • Enlightened Equipment Sidekicks* – booties with synthetic insulation
  • Patagonia Houdini jacket
  • Enlightened Equipment Copperfield wind pants
  • * = also part of sleep system


  • BST 3000T stove
  • Snow Peak 700ml pot with reflectix insulation and lid
  • Sea2Summit collapsible cup
  • long-handled titanium spoon
  • camp towel
  • lighter and/or matches
  • 13L food bag
  • Sawyer squeeze filter
  • 2 Sawyer filter reservoir bottles
  • 2 Platypus 1L SoftBottle
  • 4 1L Smartwater bottles


  • Vargo titanium trowel
  • hand sanitizer
  • hand lotion
  • Aquaphor
  • sunscreen
  • toothpaste/toothbrush
  • kleenex
  • handkerchief
  • wet wipes


  • compass/whistle/thermometer combo
  • Erik the Black PCT SoCal map book
  • Black Diamond Spot headlamp with extra batteries
  • phone with Gaia app, Guthook app, and preloaded maps
  • Delorme (Garmin) InReach
  • Victorinox Classic Swiss Army knife
  • Six Moon Designs umbrella (more for sun than rain)
  • first aid kit – rubber gloves, ibuprofen, benadryl, antibiotic ointment, alcohol pad, band-aids
  • repair kit – duct tape, Tenacious tape, and a Therm-a-rest patch
  • large trash bag (backup rain gear, ground cover, stink containment system, etc)


  • Sea2Summit Aeros pillow
  • sit pad (cut from a larger foam sleeping pad)
  • Bedrock sandals
  • earbuds
  • earplugs
  • crossword puzzle and pencil
  • journal and pen
  • sharpie
  • Anker charger, lightning cable, and wall plug

Consumables (not counted in base weight):

  • 3kg of food to start
  • 3L of water to start (8L capacity, and expecting to fill up to 7L just for the longest stretches without guaranteed water)
  • 100g fuel canister

Worn/Carried (not counted in base weight):

  • REI long-sleeve button-down shirt
  • Patagonia Barely Baggies shorts
  • bra/underwear
  • Darn Tough ankle socks
  • Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes, with Dirty Girl gaiters
  • Montbell Wickron cap
  • Casio altimeter watch
  • Komperdell Powerlock poles

The base weight is about 14 lbs, perhaps a little more than truly necessary, but still relatively light. Plus, I can always send a few things back (or donate them to a hiker box) if I find they are not useful enough to warrant the extra weight.

Links to smaller company websites that produce these products are listed on my gear websites page. I receive no compensation for advertising these items. I just choose to share testimonials about stuff I like.

Stay tuned for updates from the trail!

One thought on “My PCT SoCal Desert Gear List

  1. I was generally very happy with this gear list for the desert. I did throw in two more things that aren’t on this list, thinking that I would put them in a hiker box if I decided they weren’t worth it: a lightweight wool tank top and a half-liter Nalgene bottle. Both were very nice to have, so I chose to keep them. I typically wore the tank top when I used my umbrella, and I made my morning coffee in the Nalgene. Because I had excess water carrying capacity, I did get rid of a Sawyer bladder, a Platypus bladder, and a Smartwater bottle before I finished the desert section.

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