Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike Gear: Choosing Our Big Three

Well, we’re still about 2 months away from taking our first steps on the Pacific Crest Trail. But, rest assured, almost all of our gear has been selected and purchased. We are very, very excited to be hiking the PCT in ultralight (UL) fashion.

We are working on a very intense and detailed spreadsheet of every last item we will carrying, but here’s an article on our “Big Three” ie the three heaviest, most important, and costly pieces of gear we’re carrying – packs, sleeping bags, and tent.

Let’s start with the packs.

After many hours of research, Sean aka BigFoot decided to get his pack from ZPacks. ZPacks is a small company making a big mark on the ultralight backpacking scene. Products from this company are handcrafted in the USA and designed for long distance hikers BY a long distance hiker. Owner and designer, Joe Valesko, has hiked nearly 10,000 miles on three different continents and has created some magnificent products to help you (literally) follow in his footsteps. Thanks, Joe!

Sean chose the Arc Blast Backpack z pack

  • 60 L total capacity
  • Up to 35 lbs weight capacity
  • Waterproof
  • 21.9 oz
  • $370, MSRP (added optional hipbelt pockets)




Convinced by a significant discount in the form of a Pro Deal, I went with Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) for my pack. HMG has developed a reputation among ultralight backpackers for its quality USA handmade products and exceptional customer service. This company was also created by and for backpackers and was among the first companies to design a high end ultralight pack.



I chose the 2400 Windrider in Black (150 Denier).


  • 40L internal capacity
  • 10 L external capacity
  • 20-40 lbs weight capacity
  • Waterproof
  • 29.6 oz.
  • $310 MSRP


We are very excited to put these two excellent brands to the test side by side. One last thing I will say about packs is that we LOVED our Opsrey packs on the Appalachian Trail. They were comfortable, spacious, and the company had outstanding customer service when I needed them. Osprey was easily the most popular brand on the trail, and the only other brand I recommend for those of you not going ultralight!

Sleeping Bags, well actually, QUILTS!

We both chose the same company and product for our new sleeping bags quilts. We are still waiting to receive our precious new sleeping cocoons from Enlightened Equipment. This company was yet another that began when the owner decided to create his own sleeping quilt to suit his desire for high quality and ultralight weight. All products are hand crafted in the USA and custom built using cruelty free down feathers.

We both chose the Enigma bag and customized it to our needs.EE


  • 20° F temperature rating
  • Sewn foot box
  • No zipper or hood (saves weight)
  • 900 down fill
  • Mine  = 16.5 oz
  • His = 19 oz
  • $325 MSRP (each)



Well, for about 5 months anyway. For our shelter, we went with Big Agnes. A very popular and big company in the outdoor industry, we chose the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 for some very important reasons

  • Freestanding tent (ie has its own poles / doesn’t use trekking poles to stand up)
  • 2 doors and 2 vestibules (CRUCIAL for couples)
  • 50 oz (+5 oz for the footprint)
  • $425 MSRP (+$70 for the footprint)

Part of the joy of sharing a tent is splitting the weight. We will also save some weight in the desert section of the PCT by only carrying the poles, stakes, and rain fly as the tent body will not be necessary. We will have the tent body mailed to us before we enter the High Sierra.


BONUS – Sleeping Pads

I guess that makes this the “Big Four,” but a very important item worth mentioning is our new Thermarest Sleeping Pads. We both went with the NeoAir XLite.NeoAir_XLite_1_


  • Mine = 8 oz (torso length), $130
  • His = 12 oz, $160




So if you’re keeping track at all, with our big four and splitting the tent…

My pack + quilt + 1/2 tent + pad = 81.6 oz (5.1 lbs), $1,015 (woahhh)

His pack + quilt + 1/2 tent + pad = 80.4 oz (5 lbs), $1,105 (:-O)


…and this is us (thanks Imagr)


2 Comments on “Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike Gear: Choosing Our Big Three

  1. Haha! That is definitely us at REI as well. Looks like you guys will be in good shape. 🙂

    • Getting our entire list together by weight and cost. Dear Lord, I can’t believe the amount of $$$ we spend to go eat Ramen in the woods. lol

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