4265 kilometers from Mexican border to Canada. For a full day to day account, you can visit → my 2018 PCT blog ←. Below I'll give an overview of the gear I used, my resupply strategy and the resources I used to plan my trip and to make it to Canada.
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.
I'll provide a list per section of where I got my resupplies and on what day of the hike. You can check the corresponding day in my PCT blog for a little story on what happened that day.
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.
- 5 Julian · first trail town.
- 7 Warner Springs · lunch at the golf resort and small resupply at the community center.
- 11 Idyllwild · took my first zero here.
- 17 Big Bear Lake · plenty of stores and restaurants.
- 21 Cajon Pass McDonalds · breakfast lunch dinner.
- 22 Wrightwood · ride to Walmart at Rancho Cucamanga.
- 27 Hiker Heaven · took an uber to nearby huge Walmart.
- 28 Green Valley/Casa de Luna · Casa de Luna sadly closed down at the end of the 2019 season. You can some resupplies at the gas station in town though.
- 31 Hikertown · drove a van to nearby town for lunch and small resupply.
- 34 Tehachapi · stayed at the Marriott.
- 40 Kennedy Meadows · Bear Grumpy and the General Store. We camped behind the General Store and hung out on the porch mostly playing UNO.
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.
- 44 Lone Pine · I took about 9 days worth of food with me from Lone Pine to make it to Red's Meadow in one go. Fitting everything in your bear can is quite the challenge.
- 54 VVR (Vermillion Valley Resort) · made a sidetrip here for breakfast, lunch and a two day resupply.
- 56 Mammoth Lakes · made it to Red's Meadow in time for dinner the day before. Taking a restday in Mammoth Lakes.
- 60 Tuolumne Meadows / Yosemite Valley · sidetrip to climb Halfdome and resupply while at it
- 65 Sonora Pass · long hitch to Bridgeport to pick up a box. Did not like the town. Skip altogether or try Kennedy Meadows North.
- 68 South Lake Tahoe / Stateline (Nevada) · stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The dinner buffer on the top floor of Harrah's is well worth it! Also a bit unreal to walk in these big casino's after being on trail for several months. Also sent a box with 6 days of food to both Caribou Crossroads and Castella as well as shipping my bear can to Ashland.
- 72 Truckee · meetup with past and present trail friends.
- 74 Sierraville · sidetrip to the neighbouring Sierracity hot springs.
- 78 Caribou Crossroads · short sidetrip from Belden to Caribou Crossroads trailer park to pick up my resupply box and get q great breakfast including blueberry milkshake.
- 80 Drakesbad Guest Ranch · just dinner and ice cream.
- 82 Burney Mountain Ranch · lovely oasis of peace with a swimming pool. They have their own very small shop but they have a pretty good idea of what hikers want. Great place to take a zero and recharge.
- 86 Castella/Weed · my package was missing at the post office so the nice lady working there drove us to Grocery Outlet in Weed after closing. Next morning she found my missing package and forwarded it to Mazame Village (Crater Lake).
- 90 Etna · stayed at the Hiker Hut.
- 93 Seiad Valley · last stop in California. This is where you can fail miserably at the pancake challenge. I had regular breakfast of course with milkshake and small resupply.
- 96 Ashland · stayed here for almost 3 days. Took the bus to Medford to visit Walmart, Grocery Outlet and REI. Back with an Uber. We basically got food to last all the way to Canada here.
- 99 fish Lake Resort
- 101 Crater Lake · pick up box at Mazame Village.
- 104 Shelter Cove · lunch.
- 107 Sisters · stayed at the parents of a hiker buddy for a couple days. Great bakery!
- 112 Timberline Lodge · finished my 24h challenge here, hiking 65 miles (106 km) straight. Best breakfast buffet on trail!
- 114 Cascade Locks · as we happened to arrive the day before trail days, we met plenty of old trail friends.
- 118 Trout Lake · breakfast, park shower, laundry and back to the trail!
- 120 Packwood/Mt. Raineer National Park · sidetrip to Mt. Raineer National Park to meet up with a friend of Roadrunner whom I'd been hiking with for quite a while. Normally you don't go through Packwood but there was a fire detour in the Goat Rocks wilderness.
- 123 White Pass · pick up box.
- 127 Snoqualmie Pass · plenty of restaurants and shops. The Washington Alpine club is great to stay at.
- 130 Stevens Pass · I have a box at Skykomish but it's Sunday and next day it Labor Day. So alas, it will stay there and after a hitch there, I get a very expensive and limited resupply at the gas station and burger place instead.
- 134 Holden Village · on a fire detour but very nice place to get a meal with a small shop.
- 135 Stehekin · last place before Canada. Pick up box and my bear can so I can carry it to Manning Park and take it home on the airplane. Make sure to check out the bakery. Multiple times!
- 139 Manning Park · enjoy some food and a drink and find a ride to Vancouver.
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)
Pacific Crest Trail
|Finish||Manning Park (BC)|
|Length||2650 mi / 4265 km|
|Elevation gain||315.000 ft / 95.000 m|
|Best hiking season||March - September|