Planning a trip as big as a PCT thru-hike can be a daunting task. Below I have gathered some of the resources I used while planning mine, as well as all my resupply points along the trail.
In my humble opinion, your gear is the most important part of your hike. Which makes sense given what you carry on your back is what you have to survive on. But you have to find what works for you and it's very possible you don't end with the same things you start out with. In the resource section at the bottom of this page you can find some guidance in putting together your ideal gear list.
If coming from Europa, you might want to order and pick up things when you get to the US. Long distance hiking and ultralight or lightweight hiking isn't very well known in Europe and getting proper gear that doesn't weigh a lot can be hard and or expensive.
As a general rule, don't take any doubles. It's very easy to take too much stuff with you. You really don't want that when going on a 2650 mile hike. This is the gear I ended up taking. I'd say I was pretty happy with most of it but will swap out some items for lighter versions going forward.
Find a good balance between how much weight you want to carry, how much luxury you want and how much money you are willing to spend. For example you can skip on all luxuries and not bring an inflatable pillow and only a halfsize thin sleeping pad. Yes you will carry less weight, but you likely will also be more tired as the quality of your sleep is less so was it worth to skimp on the weight?
The yearly Halfway Anywhere survey is a good starting point. Watching vlogs and gear reviews can be nice and gives you a good idea of what companies exist, but it only gives you a single opinion. Did it work for that person is no guarantee you'll be happy with it. The top gear choices in the survey worked for a whole lot of people, so more likely that it will work for you.
Doing resupplies and planning them is a major part of your hike. You don't want to carry too much food and you don't want to run out. Getting it right is hard and you probably never fully master it. Below a breakdown of how I resupplied along the trail and which towns I visited.
South California has plenty of trail towns. Even the first couple days, you can get a decent resupply at Lake Morena and Mount Laguna but as I left Campo with about 5 days of food, I carried a pack too heavy up to Warner Springs.
Sierra Nevada. It's about 10-12 days of hiking to get through the mountains to Red's Meadow / Mammoth Lakes. Your main options to get out of the mountains for resupply are Lone Pine and Kearsarge pass to get to Bishop or Independence. And a sidetrip to VVR near the end.
I'll give an overview of the resources I used to both prepare my trip as well as what I used on trail to help me towards Canada. The hardest part by far is making the decision to go and do it. Then putting together your gear list. Everything else will sort itself out once you are out on the trail.
Lighterpack is a simple website that allows you to create a shareable gear list. You can create your ideal gear list, share your current gear with others to get input, ... For example below, you will find the gear I took with me on my PCT thru-hike.
my PCT 2018 gear list
Halfway anywhere is a hiking blog which holds a yearly survey among PCT hikers. The outcome of this survey is a great starting point for you gear list. Furthermore, you get a feel for popular trail towns and resupply spots. Next to the survey, you will find a ton of useful information about hiking the PCT.
Halfway Anywhere PCT survey 2017
Homemade Wanderlust Dixie 2017 PCT vlog. After I decided to hike the PCT, this vlog was my main source. I was following Dixie as she was on trail.
Homemade Wanderlust 2017 PCT thruhike vlog
Darwin on Trail vlog. Lots of gear reviews from an experienced hiker. Of course, you have to find what works for you but if you don't know much about proper hiking gear, vlogs like this are great to get familiar with what's out there.
Darwin on Trail
Guthook's PCT App. All you need for navigating on trail. It has detailed info on where (wild)camp spots are, town info, elevation profile and a lot more. If you have cell service, you can also leave comments for others. Especially useful to find out if a water source is still flowing.
Guthook's Pacific Crest Trail Guide
Pacific Crest Trail Association. Official PCT website. Great for info on permits.
CICERONE Pacific Crest Trail guidebook. Didn't use it all that much, but nice read on trainrides.
CICERONE The Pacific Crest Trail guidebook
PCT Water report. More realtime report on water sources. Great tool to get through the desert without carrying too much water all the time. Because nothing is worse than carrying water to a water source. Trail wisdom at its best. Once you reach Kennedy Meadows, you hardly need it anymore.
PCT Water report (Google Drive)
|Finish||Manning Park (BC)|
|Length||2650 mi / 4265 km|
|Elevation gain||315.000 ft / 95.000 m|
|Best hiking season||March - September|