The moment you have all been waiting for…my gear review follow-up from hiking in 2015 and plans for the upcoming PCT/CT hikes in 2016.  This really is a bit much, I get that, but once I started I wanted to get it all down on paper.  Remember, these are my opinions on what works for me, your mileage may vary.

QUICK ACCESS LINKS:

Additional Sleep System
Clothing
Miscellaneous
Additional Items
Traditionally Carried By T-Rex

 

 

The Big Three:

 

Shelter

  • Started With
    • Nemo Obi 2P
  • Continued With
    • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3
  • Finished With
    • Zpacks Duplex

The other two tents were fine, although the Nemo simply didn’t have the headroom and was heavy for what it offered. The Big Agnes was a great tent and light for a tent of that size, but @ 3lbs 10oz, it was a bit ridiculous.

Zpacks Duplex:

  • Weight:
    • 20oz
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Virtually waterproof, especially with bathtub
    • Great ventilation with 4 doors
    • Incredibly light
    • “Comfortably” fits 2
    • Cuben Fiber tape fixes almost anything
  • Cons
    • Price ($600+ ouch)
    • Condensation an issue if you aren’t careful of setup location/doors
      • All single-walled tents suffer this affliction
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Absolutely, in my opinion, it’s one of the best pieces of gear money can buy.

 

Sleeping Quilt

  • Started With
    • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 30Degree
  • Finished With
    • HammockGear 20 Degree

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Enlightened Equipment, but I am a side sleeper and it wasn’t wide enough, especially for cowboy camping.  The inevitable draft drove me crazy, so I got a great quilt from Hammockgear that I will use again this gear.

 

Hammock Gear Burrow 20:

  • Weight:
    • 24oz
      • Extra wide & long, plus 2 extra oz of down
    • Link:
    • Pros
      • Plenty of room to move around, still really light
      • Comparitively inexpensive
      • Great customer service
      • Compresses well
    • Cons
      • Can’t get it wet and maintain warmth….true of all down
      • Bit much for warm sections
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Absolutely, very excited about this new quilt and the great compromise between warmth and weight.

 

Pack

 

ULA Circuit:

 

I used this pack for the entirety of 2015.  This is a fantastic pack that really only has a couple minor negatives.  Overall, I think it is the best pack for people on the fence, especially those with base weights over 13lbs to start the hike.

 

  • Approx Weight:
    • 41oz, as sent
    • 38oz, as used
      • Removed top pocket, bladder container
    • Link:
    • Pros
      • Super-comfortable for a lightweight pack
      • Plenty of space, even with bear can
      • ULA is a great company to work with
      • Useful storage pockets
      • Lots of adjustability
      • Very durable
    • Cons
      • Heavy compared to new Dyneema packs
      • No ventilation on the back
        • The back sweat and chilly back struggle are real people
      • Once you have trimmed down your gear, more volume than necessary
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Highly recommended, in particular for first-timers….I will continue using this pack in some capacity until it falls apart. That said, in 2016, I am actually planning on moving onto a Zpacks ArcHaul, to save a bit less than a pound of weight.  This isn’t a mark off the circuit, just an evolution in the way I’m hiking and how much I am carrying.

 

http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/arc_haul.shtml

 

Total Weight of Big Three (Assuming Arc Haul):

  • 4lb 4oz (68oz)
Hughface

Cute Huge face interlude to break up the wall of text.


 

Additional Sleep System:

 

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad:

  • Weight:
    • 13oz (with patch kit)
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Warm insulating layer
    • Far more comfortable than a pad
    • More forgiving for rocks and sticks
    • Durable (if you are careful)
  • Cons
    • Have to inflate it every night when you are tired
    • Have to put it away every morning when you are tired
    • Very loud to roll around on
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Required to use something inflatable with a quilt and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Given a choice, I would get something newer and lighter, but this is still in good shape and not working half the year makes you re-evaluate how you purchase gearJ

 

Aeros Pillow Premium:

  • Weight:
    • 3.7oz (with patch kit)
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Much more comfortable than a sack of dirty clothes
    • Super easy to blow up and deflate
    • Easily used to prop yourself up.
    • Drool stains are easy to clean
  • Cons
    • Completely unnecessary
    • Not real supple
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I love having this pillow with me, but I also recognize that it simply is not a necessary item. I should probably step up my clothes bag game and stop carrying this around in 2016, so I do NOT  plan on taking this with me for my next hike…..but I still might because I’m weak.

 

Total Weight of Additional Sleep System:

  • 16.7oz

 

 

20150810_124455

Bros need gear too. Do not attempt this level of Bro without proper training. (Shoutout to Brotein)


 

Clothing:

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket:

 

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Dome Perignon:

 

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat:

  • Weight:
    • 9oz (Worn)
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Very breathable
    • Fits snugly, but not too hot
    • Wrap works well with wind and sun, total coverage
  • Cons
    • Pain to take “skirt” on and off
    • Bill was always crooked (more of a user problem)
    • Can be hot with full coverage tightly pulled on
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I will be using it again, but wouldn’t put a huge endorsement behind this hat. Hats are personal preference, but if you are looking for a cap style, there are worse options for sure.

 

Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 Wrap Sunglasses:

  • Weight:
    • 5oz
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Relatively comfortable
    • Photochromatic feature is nice when transitioning from light to dark
    • Polarized
    • Light, but durable
    • Named “Dolemite”
  • Cons
    • Vents don’t work for me, still fog up
    • Sometimes waiting for transition makes me take the glasses off as it is too dark to see
    • Sometimes slip looking down
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Honestly, these are ok. I’d like to get something a bit more comfortable that doesn’t fog as badly, but my money is needed elsewhere.  Will use again in 2016.

 

Exofficio Men’s Reef Runner Lite Long Sleeve Shirt:

  • Weight:
    • 8oz (Worn)
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Good sun protection
    • Great ventilation
    • Dried very quickly
    • Easy to clean
    • Extremely durable
    • Great comfort, even after a beating
  • Cons
    • It can stain
    • It doesn’t wash itself
    • It costs money
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Simply put, one of, if not the best piece of clothing I have ever owned. I will wear a new one in 2016 and plan to wear this shirt until I die.

 

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs:

  • Weight:
    • 3oz (Worn)
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Does not bunch, prevents chafe
    • Only needed a single pair
    • Dried very quickly
    • Easy to clean
    • Extremely durable
    • Great comfort, even after a beating
  • Cons
    • It isn’t socially acceptable to only wear these in public.
    • It doesn’t wash itself
    • It costs money
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Simply put, one of, if not the best piece of clothing I have ever owned. I will wear a new one in 2016 and plan to wear this underwear until I die (cheap copy, but completely true in both cases).

 

North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pant (or something close):

  • Weight:
    • 4oz (Worn)
      • Removable portion 5.6oz
    • Link:
      • http://www.backcountry.com/the-north-face-paramount-peak-convertible-pant-mens
    • Pros
      • Great sun protection
      • Warm on chilly morning
      • Good pockets
      • Durable against snags
    • Cons
      • Slow to dry
      • Thick, very hot and sweaty
      • Heavy
      • Crotch ripped easily
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Not terrible, but simply not suited well for the PCT. Convertible pants are a decent option, but these pants were simply too heavy and too hot.  If I go convertible again this year, I will send the bottoms from Truckee to Cascade Locks.  Will not be wearing these again….likely to end up in REI Sahara or something inexpensive and lighter.

 

 

Salomon Men’s XA Pro 3D Trail Runners:

  • Weight:
    • Worn
  • Link:
    • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D3OLGH6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01
  • Pros
    • Durable, 850-900 miles per pair
    • Hard plastic toe saved my toes from being stubbed and helped keep them dry
    • Dried very quickly, considering
    • Drawstring tie system made lacing up easy
    • Perfect for my skinny feet
    • In conjunction with SuperFeet Green insoles, perfect arch support
      • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0033BPBD4?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00
    • Cons
      • Back of heel padding tends to wear out quickly
      • Lack of standard laces limits options
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • While I wish I could figure out the heel wear issue, these are the perfect shoes for me otherwise. If you have a skinny foot, I would look here first as you search for the right foot system.  Will use again in 2016.

 

Darn Tough Vermont Men’s ¼ Merino Wool Cushion Hiking Socks:

  • Weight:
    • 9 oz
      • 1 pair worn, 1 pair extra
    • Link:
    • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E1VIJO?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00
    • Pros
      • Lifetime warranty, they will replace when they fail
      • Extremely durable for socks, got 1500 miles out of one pair
      • Great wicking and foot protection
      • Quick drying for a thick sock
      • Warm at night
    • Cons
      • Can be hot in the desert
      • Somewhat heavy
      • Expensive
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Everyone needs to figure out their perfect foot system, but after trying forms of these, plus Injinji’s and regular running socks, these are the best for me, without question. Highly recommend and will use again in 2016.

 

Eider Target Aero Rain Jacket:

  • Weight:
    • 12 oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.rei.com/product/856506/eider-target-aero-jacket-mens
  • Pros
    • Good durability
    • Works as well as other top rain jackets at keeping basic rain out
    • Snug, but comfortable fit of hardshell hood
    • Drys fairly quickly for Gore-Tex
    • Like any hardshell, gets real balmy
  • Cons
    • Reversed, euro zippers
    • Somewhat heavy
    • Expensive if not on sale
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Fairly good jacket, but Arc’Teryx and Marmot make lighter and better options. I will wear again as it suits me fine, but if it fails I will purchase another brand.  I am firmly in the Hardshell camp by the way, their versatility keeps me from carrying a wind jacket and it makes me feel more comfortable in the rain that a simple bag or Frogg Togg.

 

Running gloves of unknown Origin:

  • Weight:
    • 8 oz
  • Link:
    • The Cosmos
  • Pros
    • Dry quickly
    • Optional mitten offers great versatility
    • Built-in snot rag is invaluable
    • Can remove pointer fingertip to operate phones
  • Cons
    • Not particularly warm
    • Very cold when wet
    • Still inhibit dexterity
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • These runner style gloves are a really good option for me. I intend to add a pair of mittens in the sierras and just suffer through colds nights in the desert until then as needed.  Obviously, will use the same pair this year.

 

Smartwool Micro 150 Bottoms:

  • Weight:
    • 5oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.smartwool.com/shop/men-clothing-baselayers/mens-nts-micro-150-bottom-sw0np741?variationId=001
  • Pros
    • Very warm for weight
    • Perfectly shows off what I’m working with
    • Comfortable against the skin
    • Wicks away moisture and doesn’t hold smell
    • More durable than silk
  • Cons
    • Almost see-through
    • No way to make cooler/adjust warmth
    • Rarely used
    • Expensive
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • My only real issue with these is I rarely need them. Was I glad to have them when it was cold? Yes.  I will use again this year, but I will bounce box them after the Sierras until Washington for sure.

 

Random Sleepwear/Town Clothes:

  • Weight:
    • 8oz
      • 3oz for Running shorts without liners
      • 5oz for Random Nylon REI shirt
    • Link:
      • It’s running shorts and nylon mix random shirt
    • Pros
      • Good durability
      • Looks suitably trashy
      • Kind’ve comfortable
      • Sort of stays clean
      • Shorts have great breathability
      • Don’t have to sleep in hiking clothes
      • Can wear in town
    • Cons
      • Shirt is a little heavy
      • Styling is not always up to date
      • So many options
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • I’ll get a new sleep/town shirt and replace the running shorts after removing the liner. Removing the liner is important to let things “breathe” a bit overnight and it saves a little weight. Sleeping in your hiking clothes is for the birds.

 

Total Weight of Clothing:

  • 5lbs 13.9oz (93.9oz)
  • 3lbs 3.6oz(51.6oz) not worn

 

20150817_093913

I miss the trail more than I expected, these pictures don’t help.


 

Miscellaneous:

 

Anker Astro E4 Classic 13000mAh Portable Charger:

  • Weight:
    • 11oz
      • Counting USB Cable
    • Link:
      • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BQ5KHJW?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00
    • Pros
      • Chargers modern large smartphones 3-4 times
      • Battery charge LED indicator easy to read
      • Very Reliable
      • Inexpensive
    • Cons
      • Heavy
      • Slow to recharge, up to 8 hours for full charge
      • USB 2.0 Only
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • I recommend this over a Solar Charger, it is lighter and far more reliable. That said, there are better, lighter options now out, so I may upgrade before the hike, and definitely when this starts to fade.

 

Casio Protrek-3000 Sport Watch:

  • Weight:
    • 9oz (Worn)
  • Link:
  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ENCCNZQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01
  • Pros
    • Digital compass is handy
    • Solar rechargeable
    • Never set the clock thanks to Atomic Clock Wireless Transmission
    • Altimeter, Barometer, Alarm, Timer etc, make it versatile
  • Cons
    • Heavyish
    • Hard to read in the dark
    • Large face
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I like this watch, does what I need, just a few minor tweaks would make it great. Will use again in 2016.
    • I recommend this over a Solar Charger, it is lighter and far more reliable. That said, there are better, lighter options now out, so I may upgrade before the hike, and definitely when this starts to fade.

 

ULA Rain Skirt:

  • Weight:
    • 3oz
    • Link:
      • http://www.ula-equipment.com/product_p/rain-kilt.htm
    • Pros
      • Versatile and used many times to keep items dry
      • Great for wearing while doing laundry
      • Kept legs dry while allowing for ventilation
      • Lighweight
    • Cons
      • Rarely used
      • Kindve pricey
    • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
      • Recommended and will use again. To me, simply better than rain pants, especially dealing with wet low-lying bushes/leaves.

 

ULA Pack Cover:

  • Weight:
    • 3oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.ula-equipment.com/product_p/pack-covers.htm
  • Pros
    • Easy to put on
    • Dries quickly
    • Helps significantly in moderate-light rain
    • Fairly durable
    • Lightweight
  • Cons
    • Cannot help with heavy rains
    • Some view as unnecessary with pack liner
    • Can get snagged
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I do and do not plan to change. This not only helps with the pack, but can be used inside the tent to help keep things dry off the floor.

 

euroSHIRM Swing LiteFlex Umbrella (ChromeDome):

  • Weight:
    • 8oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.euroschirm.com/schirm/liteflex/info.cgi?session=YVlU28ndM4ip1&sprache_land=englisch
  • Pros
    • Portable shade
    • Helps keep you cool when you don’t have to use rain jacket in a warm shower
    • Helps significantly with rain off core and top of pack
  • Cons
    • Only occasionally needed
    • Easily snagged and not particularly durable
    • Small coverage area
    • Requires putting away trekking poles unless rigging up a system that prevents easy movement
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I like my trusty Umbrella and will use it in 2016, HOWEVER, I do NOT plan on carrying it until Washington for the additional rain protection. Being a more seasoned hiker, I simply don’t need the sun protection anymore and it isn’t worth the weight to me anymore.  That said, it’s a nice piece of gear to have around in a pinch.

 

Sea To Summit Headnet:

  • Weight:
    • 1oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.seatosummit.com/product/?item=Mosquito+Head+Net&o1=0&o2=0&o3=143
  • Pros
    • Easy to put on and tighten up
    • Provides protection from the soul-sucking hellspawn that are mosquitos
    • Light
  • Cons
    • Only occasionally needed
    • Can get too close to skin allowing mosquitos to still land
    • Inherently impairs vision
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • 100%, don’t leave home without it. Those bastards will never, ever leave you alone, so handy protection like this is very necessary.

 

nothingZ Camp Shoes:

  • Weight:
    • 11oz
  • Link:
    • https://www.nothinz.com/diamond-breeze-swival-multiple-colors
  • Pros
    • Comfy
    • Allowed me to rest my feet at stops and at camp
    • Could be hiked in, if needed
  • Cons
    • Heavy luxury item
    • Bulky, difficult to pack
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • I will be replacing these in 2016 with some really lightweight flip-flops, weighing in at about 3oz. I think camp shoes are important to allow you to easily take off your shoes and socks at breaks and in camp, helping prevent blisters and promote foot health.

 

Snow Peak 450mL Titanium Cup:

  • Weight:
    • 5oz
  • Link:
    • http://www.rei.com/product/870073/snow-peak-titanium-single-450-cup
  • Pros
    • Very light
    • Big enough for whole serving of Idahoans
    • Handle helps with hot beverages
    • Easy cleaned
  • Cons
    • Single-walled, so hot beverages/food will burn if handles aren’t used
    • Expensive
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Great cup. I didn’t want the weight of the double walled variety and it works great for me.  As I am stove-less, this is mostly for beverages, cold-meals, or the occasional hot food if my wife if cooking with her stove.  Will take again in 2016.
20150705_080322

Wan to do this? Bring the right stuff.


 

Additional Items:

  • Platypus 2L Hydration Bladder
    • 3oz
    • Great option when you need to carry more water in the Desert and Hat Creek Rim.
  • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
    • 5oz
    • Will be switching to a Petzl E-Lite
    • Rarely use headlamps, especially after Desert.
  • Duct Tape
    • Always have some, about 3oz
  • Random Toiletries
    • Ibuprofen, Moleskin, Immodium, Athletic Tape (Leukatape), Wet Wipes, TP
    • ~8oz
  • Microfiber Pack Towel
    • 5oz
    • LOVE this thing

 

Total Weight of Misc (No watch):

  • 3lbs 2.3oz (50.3oz)
  • 2lbs 2.3oz(34.3oz) with Flip Flops and no Umbrella for 2016

 

20150727_132048

Easier to get to these places with less weight…


 

Gear Traditionally Carried by My Wife T-Rex:

 

JetBoil Flash Stove:

  • Weight:
    • 2oz (Stove and Cup, no stand)
    • 3 oz With full fuel canister
  • Link:
    • http://www.jetboil.com/Products/Flash-Cooking-System/
  • Pros
    • Boils water very fast
    • Fuel Efficient
    • Isobutane commonly available
    • Fairly wind resistant
  • Cons
    • No real temperature control
    • Cannot do more than boil water easily, due to above and lack of simmer
    • A bit heavy
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • Good stove, provided you just want to heat things up or rehydrate them quickly and efficiently. I would probably go lighter, but T-Rex likes it and it stays for now.

 

Water Filtration:

 

  • Started With
    • Sawyer Squeeze
  • Continued With
    • Katahdin Gravity Filter
  • Finished With
    • Platypus Gravityworks

The Sawyer is a nice, lightweight solution, one that is extremely common to see on the trail.  The mini’s suffer from flow issues, but the Standard size is sufficient.  However, unless you really like to work on your forearms, squeezing a plastic bag or bottle through this contraption all break is not my idea of restful.  Ours broke near Lone Pine and we picked up a heavy Gravity Filter from the store there by Katahdin.  Easy to use, but heavy and tough to clean/reassemble.  Saw people loving the Platypus Gravityworks and made the change…best decision ever.

 

  • Weight:
    • 4oz
  • Link:
  • Pros
    • Very easy to clean
    • Very easy to hang and filter 2L at a time
    • Fairly light for a gravity filter
    • Durable
    • Relax and laugh at people squeezing bags of water into bottles of water while you nap
  • Cons
    • A bit heavier/bulkier than a Sawyer
    • Must be back-flushed (easy to do)
    • Expensive
  • Recommended/Will Use Again in 2016?
    • 100% recommended and I tell everyone who asks to get it. Definitely one of my favorite pieces of gear and T-Rex loves it as well.

 

 

Total Base Weight (Not Counting T-Rex) 2015: 12lbs 9.6oz(201.6oz)

Total Base Weight (Not Counting T-Rex) 2016: 10lbs 8.6oz(168.6oz)

 


 

Could I cut a bit more and will I trim this down slightly? Yes.  But overall, I am happy with where I am right now and comfortable with my gear choices.  There is no better teacher than experience and I got that in spades on the trail in 2015.  Most of my research before the hike paid off, but with a few tweaks this year it should be just about perfect.  I am not an extreme UL guy, but I think around 10-11lbs is a sweet spot that I am willing to live with and still be comfortable.

 

So I hope this was helpful, if anyone is still reading this, I appreciate the effort. As with all decisions for your hike, everything is a personal choice to some degree, but I trust this helps give you a few ideas or see why I prefer certain pieces over others. I’ll leave you with this classic hiker quote from my boy HDT:

 

“Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

 

Perhaps more aptly he also said:

 

“The rule is to carry as little as possible.”

 

 

Any Questions? Comment!