My PCT Sierra Section Gear List


I had hoped to post these gear list updates from the trail, but it proved too difficult with just a smartphone and so many other things to do during town stops. I planned in advance to make many changes at Kennedy Meadows (PCT mile 702), which is where most people consider the high Sierra to start. I used this gear list until Donner Pass (PCT mile 1153), where I was again able to make significant gear adjustments.

I listed changes as items ADDED to and REMOVED from my PCT desert gear list. I was generally happy with this gear list, although there were a few items I could have left behind. Low temperatures (in the Sierra and the desert) were 30-35 degrees F.

Big Four:

  • Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform shelter (+9 stakes and stake bag)
  • Zpacks ArcBlast backpack (removed one shoulder pouch to make room for the camera mount)
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 deg F quilt + Mountain Laurel Designs APEX balaclava
  • REMOVED: Hyperlite Mountain Gear XL roll-top stuff sack  (I used the quilt and sleeping clothes as padding around the bear can.)
  • Neoair XTherm sleeping pad


  • extra underwear (swim bottoms)
  • extra Darn Tough hiking socks (lost somewhere in the Sierra – sad trombone sound)
  • Athleta leggings
  • REMOVED: Ibex lightweight wool tank top
  • Patagonia capilene 4 hoody*
  • Patagonia down pullover*
  • Patagonia capilene thermal weight bottoms*
  • REMOVED: Montbell Thermawrap skirt
  • DeFeet wool gloves
  • fleece neck gaiter*
  • headband
  • ADDED: head net (and boy did I need it!)
  • ADDED: lightweight mittens (didn’t really need)
  • sleep socks*
  • Enlightened Equipment Sidekicks* (booties with synthetic insulation)
  • Patagonia Houdini jacket
  • Enlightened Equipment Copperfield wind pants

* = part of sleep system


  • ADDED: Bearikade Expedition food storage canister
  • BST 3000T stove
  • Snow Peak 700ml pot with reflectix insulation and lid
  • Sea2Summit collapsible cup (didn’t use much)
  • long-handled titanium spoon
  • camp towel
  • lighter and/or matches
  • REMOVED: 13L food bag
  • Sawyer squeeze filter
  • REMOVED: Sawyer water bladders
  • ADDED: 2-liter CNOC bladder (I found it easier to use and store than the more rigid Sawyer bladders.)
  • 1 Platypus 1L SoftBottle (removed 1)
  • 1 1L Smartwater bottle (removed 2)
  • half-liter Nalgene


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


  • compass/whistle/thermometer combo
  • ADDED: Vargo pocket cleats (didn’t really need, but it felt safer to have them**)
  • ADDED: sunglasses (only worn over snow, to prevent snow-blindness)
  • SWAPPED: National Geographic John Muir Trail map book (instead of the Erik the Black PCT SoCal map book)
  • Black Diamond Spot headlamp with extra batteries
  • phone with Gaia app, Guthook, and preloaded maps
  • Delorme (Garmin) InReach
  • Victorinox Classic Swiss Army knife
  • REMOVED: Six Moon Designs umbrella (more for sun than rain)
  • first aid kit – rubber gloves, ibuprofen, Benadryl, Imodium, antibiotic ointment, alcohol pad, needle, band-aids, Leukotape
  • ADDED: small bottle of Picaridin (bug repellant lotion, only enough for the really bad days)
  • repair kit – duct tape, Tenacious tape, and extra dyneema cord
  • large trash bag (backup rain gear, ground cover, etc)

** This need varies tremendously by date entering the Sierra and from year to year. In some years (such as 2017) an ice axe is much more important.


  • Sea2Summit Aeros Premium 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 (swapped out once, when it stopped working), and wall plug
  • ADDED: Sony a6000 camera and Peak Designs mount

Consumables (not counted in base weight):

  • 9kg of food to start (estimate – I never weighed it.)
  • 1L of water to start (4.5L capacity)
  • 100g or 250g 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

My pack weight leaving Kennedy Meadows was the heaviest on the entire trail. (Compare the height of the pack in the photo below. Left: Entering Kennedy Meadows. Right: Leaving Kennedy Meadows.) My bear can took up most of the room inside the pack. My base weight was about 17 lbs, and I estimate that my pack weight (base weight plus food, water, and fuel) was more than 40 lbs leaving Kennedy Meadows, which is the heaviest pack I have ever carried any meaningful distance.



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