My PCT Northern California Gear List


Here is the list of gear I used between Donner Pass (PCT mile 1153) and Crater Lake, Oregon (PCT mile 1820). Northern California was hotter than the desert, so I could have left most of my sleeping clothes behind for this section. This was somewhat surprising, but it was July after all (I went through the desert in May and early June) and there was a heat wave during this part of the hike.

Below the gear list, I explained some of the changes I made for this section, when compared with the desert and Sierra gear lists.

Big Four:

  • Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform shelter (+9 stakes and stake bag)
  • Zpacks ArcBlast backpack, with trash compactor bag as waterproof liner
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 deg F quilt + Mountain Laurel Designs APEX balaclava, carried in a Hyperlite Mountain Gear XL roll-top stuff sack (along with the rest of the sleeping clothes)
  • Therm-a-rest Neoair XTherm sleeping pad


  • extra underwear (swim bottoms)
  • extra Darn Tough socks
  • REI long-sleeve button-down shirt
  • Patagonia capilene 4 hoody
  • Patagonia down pullover*
  • Patagonia capilene thermal weight bottoms*
  • DeFeet wool gloves
  • fleece neck gaiter* (also used as eye shades)
  • headband
  • Sea to Summit head net
  • DeFeet wool sleep socks*
  • Enlightened Equipment Sidekicks* (booties with synthetic insulation)
  • Patagonia Houdini jacket
  • Enlightened Equipment Copperfield wind pants

* = also part of my sleep system


  • JetBoil SOL stove
  • insulated metal cup with handle
  • long-handled titanium spoon
  • camp towel
  • lighter
  • 13L food bag
  • Sawyer squeeze filter
  • 2L CNOC water bladder
  • Platypus half-liter bladder (for, errr, adult beverages)
  • 2 1L water bottles (varying brands: SmartWater, Aquafina, Coke…)
  • half-liter wide-mouth Nalgene bottle


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


  • compass/whistle/thermometer combo
  • Petzl e+Lite headlamp
  • phone with Gaia app, Guthook app, and preloaded maps
  • Delorme (Garmin) InReach
  • Victorinox Classic Swiss Army knife
  • first aid kit – rubber gloves, ibuprofen, benadryl, antibiotic ointment, alcohol pad, band-aids, Leukotape
  • Picaridin (bug repellant lotion)
  • repair kit – duct tape, Tenacious tape, and a Therm-a-rest patch
  • large trash bag (backup rain gear, ground cover, stink containment system, etc)


  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear stuff sack 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
  • Sony a6000 camera with Peak Designs mount

Consumables (not counted in base weight):

  • 3kg of food to start
  • typically 1L of water
  • 100g fuel canister

Worn/Carried (not counted in base weight):

  • Rab short sleeved t-shirt
  • Patagonia Barely Baggies shorts
  • bra/underwear
  • Darn Tough socks
  • Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes, with Dirty Girl gaiters
  • Montbell Wickron cap
  • Casio altimeter watch
  • Komperdell Powerlock poles

The base weight (everything but consumables and worn items) for this list is about 15 lbs.


  • Bear can vs. stuff sacks: Because bear cans were no longer required, I chose to mail my bear can rental back to Wild Ideas. There was a short section in Lassen Volcanic National Park that required bear canisters, but I stayed at a campground equipped with a bear box. I learned during the hike that this was probably a better option than camping just outside the park without a bear canister. (See the post for day 67 for details.)
  • Stove and cup/mug changes: Because I was not at my limit for weight or volume in this section, I chose to use a stove that was much easier to light and an insulated coffee mug with a handle. The weight addition was a little more than 0.5 lb, but I think it was worth it. I could enjoy my coffee or tea while making a meal at the same time. The JetBoil stove was also much more efficient with fuel than the BST3000T.
  • Pillows: No, a pillow isn’t absolutely necessary, but I don’t sleep well without one. I liked my Sea to Summit Aeros Premium pillow, but it did have a tendency to slide off the air mattress when I moved around in the middle of the night. Not a big deal, but my Hyperlite Mountain Gear stuff sack pillow (which I already owned) worked just as well for less weight. The HMG pillow also provided the extra benefit of a convenient, water-resistant place to store an extra garment outside of the dry section of my pack.
  • Waterproofing: My Zpacks ArcBlast worked well for me on the PCT, but the heat and sun of the desert and Sierra was hard on the fabric. It started to degrade by the time I got to Northern California, so I was afraid it would no longer protect the contents from wet weather. I find that trash compactor bags work much better than pack covers, and I have a box full of them to swap out when they get too worn. This one lasted 1500 miles with no holes or tears.
  • Clothing: Because my arms were no longer sensitive to sunburn, I wanted a short-sleeved t-shirt. I added a lightweight wool Rab tee, and I wore it almost every day. (I could have dropped the long-sleeved REI shirt, but I carried it and wore it occasionally.) I left my leggings behind for this section, which was a good thing, because I don’t think I ever would have worn them. When it was a bit chilly in the morning, I just wore my wind pants for the first hour or two.
  • Headlamps: My Black Diamond Spot headlamp (an older model*) had a bad tendency of turning itself on, even when I left it in “lock” mode. Another hiker praised his Petzl e+Lite, so I bought one to use for this part of the trail. The e+Lite is very small and light, but it also isn’t very bright. Daylight hours were still long for this part of the trail (July), and I wasn’t planning to do much night hiking, so a weaker headlamp was just fine. (*Stay tuned for the Oregon/Washington gear list. I used a newer model that didn’t have this problem.)
  • Nail clippers: I was dumb for not packing nail clippers from the beginning. The nail file and scissors on my pocket knife were just not good enough.

I hope this is useful. Stay tuned for the final gear list. I made some important changes for the colder, wetter weather of Washington State.

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