Unicorn’s Totally Amazing PCT Gear List

Last updated Apr 13, 2021 | Published on Apr 12, 2017

If there’s one thing all long distance hikers have in common, it’s an obsession with backpacking gear.  Thru-hikers have an amazing capacity to discuss all aspects of their hiking equipment for hours on end.  Gear is the most commonly discussed topic on the PCT Facebook page and hikers frequently share pictures of their gear to get feedback and share ideas with other backpackers. So I decided to put together my own PCT gear list too.

April 2021 update: I compiled this post for my 2017 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (I also blogged about the entire experience, which you can read here: Unicorn’s Pacific Crest Trail Blog – PCT 2017). Some of the gear is a little outdated but most of it isn’t. As I write this note four years later, I’m still using some of the exact same gear today. If I were to hit the trail again today, I would make very few changes.

All the Things in my PCT Gear List! Except for the Clothing I’m Wearing

Long Distance Hikers and Ultra-Light Gear

Long distance hikers are obsessed with pack weight.  The goal is to have as light of a pack as possible – because the lighter the pack, the less likely you are to injure yourself while on the trail.  Through-hikers are famous for cutting the handles off of their toothbrushes and snipping unused buckles and straps from their packs to save weight.

For a pack to be considered light, a hiker should strive for a base weight of under 20 lbs (“base weight” does not include consumables such as water, food, or fuel). Ultralight hikers sport a base weight of under 10 or 15 lbs. I know it seems counter-intuitive…when going into a wilderness area you’d think you’d want to bring more, not less, in case of an emergency. But most long distance hikers travel with extremely light packs and they survive just fine… usually 🙂

I’m Going to Wear these Clothes EVERY DAY

As discussed in a previous blog post about the ALDHA-West Ruck, I’ve been honing my gear for some time. I’ve weighed every piece of gear, down to the safety pin, and have a finalized gear spreadsheet which I’ve checked and double checked.  I’m happy to say that my final base weight hasn’t changed since I attended the Ruck – my pack currently weighs 17.5 lbs.

The list is extensive and detailed.  I suspect it may bore those of you who aren’t total hiking nerds, so feel free to skim this part.

Close-Up of my Carried Hiking Clothes

Without any further ado, I present to you UNICORN’S TOTALLY AMAZING PCT GEAR LIST!

PCT Gear List: The Big Stuff

PCT Gear List: My Everyday Clothes

  • Purple Rain Skirt
  • Red Bandana
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters
  • Farm to Feet 1/4 Damascus Socks – Note: I switched to Injinji Toe Socks later and was much happier
  • Nike tank top
  • Lucy Leggings – light weight baselayer – bottom
  • Odlo hooded lightweight baselayer – top
  • Brooks Juno Moving Comfort Sports Bra
  • Unicorn Hat
  • FitBit Zip
  • REI Carbon Fiber Hiking Poles with Duct tape wrapped around them – Note: one pole broke after 200 miles and I had to eventually replace them. These days I used Lekis.
  • Lone Peak Altra Trail Running Shoes

PCT Gear List: Everything Else

Packed Clothes and Outerwear

  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket (hooded)
  • Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket
  • Smart Wool 250 long-sleeve base layer –  top
  • Montbell Wind Shirt
  • Marmot Long sleeved Sun Shirt
  • Brooks Moving Comfort hiking bra
  • Smart Wool 250 base layer –  bottom
  • ULA Rain Skirt
  • Mountain Laurel Designs tall gaiters
  • Exofficio Underpants
  • Buff (neck gaiter)
  • Outdoor Research Beanie
  • Peppers UV Sunglasses
  • Sunglasses case
  • North Face Etip gloves
  • Wright sock cool mesh II ankle socks
  • Farm to Feet Roanoke 1/4 crew socks (I’m still experimenting to determine which socks work best for me)
  • Osprey 8L stuff sack – for clothes

Electronics and Navigation

  • Goal Zero Flip 20 battery – Note: I switched to a bigger battery on the trail
  • Generic Dual USB Port Wall Plug
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 – 3″ charging cord
  • iPhone 7 LifeProof case
  • iPhone Headphones
  • Garmin InReach Explorer – 2-way satellite texting device
  • Garmin charging cord
  • Cannon PowerShot G7 Mark II w/ battery & memory card
  • Osprey Camera Case
  • Extra Camera Batteries x2
  • Camera Battery Charger
  • Ptec Byte Headlamp (includes 2 AAA batteries)
  • 2 spare AAA batteries for headlamp
  • Halfmile Paper Maps for each section of the Trail
  • Pages for each section of the trail ripped from Yogi’s guidebook
  • PCTA Long Distance Hiking Permit
  • California Campfire Permit
  • Suunto Hiking ABC Watch
  • 2 spare batteries for watch (CR2032) and spare FitBit Battery (CR2025)


  • Sewing Kit – Dental Floss & 2 needles
  • Deuce of spades poop trowel
  • Quart Freezer Baggie w/ 1/2 roll Toilet Paper
  • Camping Towel/Pee Rag
  • Camping Towel/Washcloth
  • Chapstick
  • Small Lighter
  • CRKT M21-12 pocket knife
  • Repair Patches (tenacious tape)
  • 3 carabiners
  • Umbrella
  • 4 safety pins
  • Extra mini light clipped to bag – Lumo by Neebo
  • Tiny Swiss army Knife w/ scissors & tweezers
  • Bug Head Net
  • 15′ parachute cord

Water Filtration and Management

  • Sawyer Squeeze Filter
  • Sawyer Squeeze 32 oz bag
  • AquaTabs (10) – as a backup
  • Smart Water Bottles x3 (1.45 oz each) empty
  • HydraPak 3L water dromedary bag
  • Sawyer Cleaning Plunger
  • 3 Silk Tea bag liners

Cooking/Food Storage

  • Snow Peak Giga Power Stove
  • Evernew mug
  • Snow Peak Cooking Pot & lid
  • Simple Outdoor Solutions Food Cozie
  • Long-Handled Spoon
  • Cooking gear mesh carrying bag
  • Osprey Bag 12 L (food bag)
  • Loksack Opsack Bag (odor-proof food bag liner)


  • Loksak 7×7 Baggie
  • Travel Toothbrush
  • Powdered Toothpaste
  • Sawyer 50 SPF 1fl oz sunscreen
  • Dr Bronner’s Soap
  • Sawyer MaxiDeet Bug Spray
  • 2 Hair Ties
  • Feminine Supplies (minipads and ob tampons)
  • Lotramin Foot Cream 1oz tube
  • Poop baggies (for bagging used toilet paper)
  • 1/2 of a comb
  • Nail Clippers

First Aid Kit

  • Ace Bandage
  • Benadryl (5)
  • Earplugs
  • Ibuprofen (20)
  • Fluconazole (2) – prescribed by my doctor in case needed
  • Tinidazole (4) for Giardia – prescribed by my doctor in case needed
  • Nitrofurantoin  (10) antibiotics – prescribed by my doctor in case needed
  • Vitamins
  • Joint pills
  • Electrolyte Pills
  • Moleskin
  • 3×3 Sterile Pads (3)
  • Leukotape – rolled around a straw
  • 2 Clean wipes, 3 triple antibiotic, 3 hydrocortisone & 1 bite/sting pad – packets
  • Baggies
  • Imodium (4)
  • Body Glide .35oz anti-chafing stick

Additional Gear for the High Sierras and snowy sections

  • Kahtoola Microspikes
  • Kahtoola K-10 Crampons
  • Black Diamond Whippet (Self Arrest Pole)
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots and Boot Socks
  • Tevas (Creek crossing shoes)
  • Snow baskets
  • Zip-off hiking pants
  • Bear Cannister

And there you have it!  This is my entire list – for now.  I anticipate that I’ll be making adjustments as I go.  It will be interesting to see how my final gear configuration compares to this initial gear list.  We shall see.

Backpack Loaded with Gear!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. While clicking these links won’t cost you anything, they will help me to keep this site up and running!

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


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