12 Long Walks – PCT & CDT Gear List

This one’s for all you gear junkies out there. Sorry about not including weights for the various items. Never having been much of a “gram weenie” it’s not something I tend to dwell upon. That being said, I am a subscriber to Backpacking Light, which is the undisputed gram weenie capital of the Hiking Universe!  Perhaps it’s time I came out of the ‘anal retentive’ closet? 

Back on point, according to my best ‘guesstimate’ my three season base weight (ie. pack weight not including perishables) during the 12 Long Walks was between 7 and 8 lbs. Don’t ask me about skin out weight…………I have no idea what that means………..sounds more like porn industry terminology than backpacking jargon…………..anyway, without further adieu here is my gear list (more or less) for the PCT and CDT in 2012:


  •  MLD Burn – My favourite backpack. The first one lasted me more than 8000 miles and the second one, which I carried during all three of the Triple Crown hikes, is still going strong. This is a great pack if your base weight is under 10 lbs. If you are carrying more than that, I would recommend looking at some of the larger capacity MLD models such as the Prophet or Exodus.



  • Quilt: Katabatic Gear Palisade 30°F – Very conservatively rated. I regularly encountered temps down to the low 20’s in Colorado on the CDT and never had a single cold night (I’m an average sleeper; neither hot nor cold). After having used Katabatic Quilts (both the Palisade and the Sawatch) for all of the last year, my sleeping bags days have definitely gone the way of the Dodo.
  • Sleeping mat: Therm-a-rest Neo Air (small)
  • Bivy: MLD Superlight Bivy
  • Groundsheet: Cut-down-to-size Polycro Plastic


Base Layer

  • Hiking Shirt: REI Desert shirt (long sleeves).
  • Shorts: Macpac Cross Terrain
  • Socks: 3 pairs – 2 pairs REI Merino Wool Liner socks; 1 pair Wrightsocks CoolMesh
  • Bandana:  1; cotton
  • Hat:  Adapt-a-cap

Insulation Layers

Outer Layer


Except during the colder months, I did not cook during the 12 walks. Instead of a pot or a bowl, I carried an empty Gatorade Powder container and a hard plastic spork from REI. Actually, for about six months of my journey I used a spoon I picked up at a McDonalds in Florida. 


In regards to consumable items such as sunscreen and hand sanitizer, I will generally transfer contents into small dropper bottles, thereby saving on space and weight.

  • Duct tape
  • Antiseptic wipes (4)
  • Paper medical tape
  • Sunscreen
  • Ibprofun (10)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sewing needle
  • Dental floss
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush


  • 2 x 600ml plastic bottles (one for each side of the pack)……..Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water………all the same.
  • 2 litre Platypus hydration bladder 
  • Aqua Mira Drops (chlorine dioxide) for water purification………..I don’t tend to purify my water very often. If memory serves, maybe twice on the PCT and three or four times on the CDT.


  • Brooks Cascadia or Montrail Sabino Trail – I switched back and forwards between these two models the entire eighteen months. Never had a blister. That being said my feet are so calloused that they have been described by one podiatrist as “the place where foot files go to die.”




12 Long Walks – PCT & CDT Gear List — 4 Comments

  1. You don’t mention a bear canister in this list. I like the opsak and other light weight options, but I’ve stopped arguing and now own a Bearikade expedition (which takes a good portion of my pack volume and weight). I’m thinking these will soon be required everywhere. For example, Olympic national park coastal region near my home requires them not for reason of bears but raccoons, according to park rangers. How do you get away with not having one? General thoughts?

    • Hey Craig,

      Thanks for the message.

      General Thoughts – I get why Parks are upping the ante in regards to canisters. For too long many hikers have been careless with their food. However, I’m a big believer that there should be more emphasis on education. Based on my experience, I’d say that preventative techniques such as not cooking where you camp and campsite selection are more important than canisters when it comes to hiking in bear country. Additionally, I hope more and more parks will recognise the Ursack in the near future.

      In regards to personally carrying a canister, I’ve done it a few times over the years, but if there is any way I can legally avoid doing so I will. Even if it means using lockers when available, hiking out of peak season or doing extremely high mileage days.



      • Thanks. I heartily agree. Also thanks for your references to Adapt-A-Cap. I’ve been looking for just such a cap as I start my first long distance hike, PCT, April 25. I ordered the cap along with cargo pants and sun gloves from Stephen today. Very helpful. (I just turned 59, so I can use all of the help I can get.)

        • Hey Craig,

          No worries. Have a great time on the PCT! I’m sure you have heard it a million times, but it really is an incredible hike.
          I need to get another Adapt-a-cap one of these days. After many years, my other two have slowly disintegrated.



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