More PCT resources

(In other news, on January 11 I got my permit)

Some resources that may be useful for Sobos:

PCTA Sobo Guide:

Postholer PCT Snow report:

PCTA Trail Closure Page:

PCT Water Report:

California Fire Permit:

Yes. I have my fire permit too

Halfway Anywhere PCT Survey:

Relish’s Sobo Guide:

Bear Can Rental (Triple Crown Outfitters): It is cheaper to rent than to mail your canister out and then back if you rent over the Black Friday sale. We are renting even though we own canisters.

Shrink’s Sobo Guide:

Artemis’ PCT Guide:

FarOut App (aka Guthook):

PCT Southbound:

Facebook Group for arranging rides to Northern Terminus:

Washington PCT Trail Angel Group:

PCT Washington Facebook Group:

ALDHA (List of addresses for mailing boxes):

Stehekin Shuttle info:

Craig’s PCT Planner:

Harts Pass Snow info:

Halfmile Paper Maps (bottom of page):

Halfmile Trail Notes and Elevation Profiles:

Puff Puff’s Sobo Blog:

Dan Stenziano’s Vlogs:

Lauren Roerick’s Vlogs:

Hurlgoat’s Vlogs:

On tents —another perspective

This is what The Trek had to say:

Caveat. Lots of affiliate marketing and they want to give you an excuse to buy.

However, it is well done. And it’s current form follows up on the data at

The big change from prior years is at number 5.

To quote:

Top Tent Brands

  1. Big Agnes (55 hikers’ favorite)
  2. Zpacks (46)
  3. NEMO (36)
  4. Gossamer Gear (26)
  5. Durston Gear (15)
  6. REI (13)
  7. TarpTent (13)
  8. Six Moon Designs (12)

Compare the prior years:

Top Tent Brands

  1. Big Agnes (114 hikers’ favorite)
  2. Zpacks (76)
  3. NEMO (27)
  4. MSR (19)
  5. TarpTent (15)
  6. REI (14)
  7. Six Moon Designs (13)
  8. Gossamer Gear (7)
  9. Lightheart Gear (5)

Interesting data. MSR makes tougher (but heavier) tents — better for rougher conditions and the news is they have a sweeping redesign in store that will make them weight competitive.

Lightheart gear makes excellent tents. As for Nemo, I looked at Nemo. I was planning to buy a Nemo Elite before we set them up side by side in an REI and started crawling in and out of them.

Big Agnes tents are perennial favorites. I really enjoyed our Copper Spur until I became comfortable not using a freestanding tent.

Compare with the data from 2017 (format was different):


Top 1-person models:

  1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1
  2. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1
  3. REI Quarter Dome 1
  4. Nemo Hornet 
  5. ZPacks Soloplex

Top 2-person models:

  1. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 
  2. ZPacks Duplex 
  3. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2
  4. MSR Hubba Hubba 
  5. REI Quarter Dome 2 
  6. Nemo Hornet 2PElite 2P

Top 3-person model:

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3

The evolution of the survey and of hiker preferences is interesting.

I moved from an REI tent to a Copper Spur to a Triplex. My moves were driven by weight and size issues with the Triplex being the lightest and the largest.

The moves also came as I became more comfortable with a non-freestanding tent and appreciated more and more what a truly waterproof tent meant.

But I’m also always camping with my spouse (or I might very well make much different choices).

The other caveat is that about 90% of the people hiking the Appalachian Trail have no significant long distance hiking experience and the 10% who have a lot of experience are often on tight budgets currently.

So what this survey reflects is what people who really did not know what they are doing, did. On the other hand, it worked for them.

Gear for the PCT

Here is what I am currently using:

  • Backpack: Hyperlite Windrider. It is light, waterproof and fits me very well. I use a Dyneema liner for my sleeping bag to keep it dry (replacing the dry sack stuff sack I used).
  • Tent: Triplex. Great for two people and much lighter than the Copper Spur 3p. I have two pole cups to improve interior volume:
  • Bags: we have matching Feathered Friends bags that zip together.
  • Pads: we both use XLights. I have no idea why it bounces around in the ratings so much. We tie them together with Dyneema cord.
  • Puffies. Win and I both have puffies that are warmer for the weight than Ghost Whisperers. Basically puffies with better down.
  • Shells: that is in flux. We used on the Appalachian Trail with a lot of rain. The PCT has less rain and our packas have some wear on them. I wasn’t happy after recoating them with silicon.
  • Rain gear: we have used rain kilts/rain gaiters and rain pants. have really served us well. But we are considering some DIY dyneema pants. Full zip breathes so much better.
  • Fleece: we used the Terramar Ecolater full zip. It has been discontinued but we are looking at its replacement and some other alternatives. Have ordered them. The company claims 6-7 ounces. I’m hopeful.
  • Sun layer. We got ours from Yogi. She charged us less than Black Diamond charges for them when they are on sale. I also have sun gloves and sunglasses.
  • Stove: we’ve been using a snow peak for years.
  • Water treatment: We each have a Sawyer Micro with CNOC bags. I also carry drops as a back up.
  • Poles: the Black Diamond Ergo cork. Aluminum bends instead of snapping and we’ve both had that work out for us.
  • Ice Axes: we have Black Diamond Axes. I’m not sure why they bounce around in the ratings. One regular and one pro raven.
  • Spikes: Snowline. We have used them to walk in the Virginia weather. The lightest of the well rated spikes. They worked well on shakedowns.
  • Bear Canisters. We both have BV 500s and we also both have LightAF flat bottomed bear bag kits.
  • Socks: we have a variety plus trying out some.
  • Emergency beacons? We have one that we’ve used to reassure everyone and for the insurance.
  • I’m using a that is really light and recharges from my 10k Anker battery pack.
  • Other: pillow. Titanium spoon. Hat. Quesadilla pan. Win carries a titanium pot. I have a Frogg Toggs rain hat. Clothing is another topic. But a buff is a great gear item.

To analyze alternatives I thought I’d start with recent gear surveys and how I made other choices. This is a long and rambling post with my comments intermixed with survey data from several years.

I present 2019 as the baseline since 2020 had a disrupted season and a skewed sample size.

In Salt Lake City area for altitude training.

This is the highest rated (from the 2019 survey):

  • Backpack: ULA Circuit—like much of the highest rated gear it is heavier than many alternatives.
  • Shelter: MSR Hubba NX—I looked at the MSR tents but they are heavier than alternatives and too small. The Copper Spur is sometimes first in the surveys and we really liked ours.
  • Sleeping bag: #1 is Western Mountaineering Versalite—Feathered Friends are bags on par. Their biggest problem was a lack of affiliate marketing kickbacks until recently.
  • Sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm—Again the heavier choice. It is heavier than the pads we both ended up with deciding to use after trying one (from an REI garage sale).
  • Insulated jacket: Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket—Meh is my thought for this change from the usual Ghost Whisperer. I like my Eos and Win’s Montbell is best in class. The Rab has 700 fill power down. The fill is not even the 850 of the REI Magma (which is a great product line).
  • Shell: Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket—Ok. I can believe that. Win and I have both used Arc’tryx rain jackets. They are great—but heavy like most other #1 choices.
  • Stove: SOTO WindMaster—I have stove envy for this stove.
  • Water treatment: Sawyer Squeeze—spot on though we are carrying Sawyer Micros paired up with CNOC bags. I also carry drops for a backup and for faster access to water.
  • Trekking poles: Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork—best choice too. The carbon version is much more expensive and .4 ounces lighter.
  • Ice axe: Black Diamond Raven Pro—Great choice.
  • Traction device: Snowline Light Chainsen Crampon—I’ll be. That is what we have.
  • Bear canister: Bearikade Weekender—so expensive. The ones we bought are $200 apiece less. AND, you can rent them for even less. If the canister stretch was longer I’d consider spending the money to save ten ounces.
  • Shoes: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat—I’d be wearing them but they don’t fit my feet right (the arch is long and slow). But I did buy a pair and tried with them.

Compare to 2020:

This is the most common (from 2019):

  • Backpack: Osprey Exos—I’ve used an Exos. It, the ULA and the Hyperlite are very popular on the trail and on the Appalachian Trail. They are also close in the way users rate them. The way an Exos carries on me, my posture is better with the Hyperlite. 2019 and 2020 had the same results for most popular.
  • Shelter: Zpacks Duplex—we have a Triplex. For two people it works much better. For the weight, especially on the Appalachian Trail it was really superior. Year in and year out the most common tent on the PCT is the duplex.
  • Sleeping bag: Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20—again always the most common.
  • Sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite—lighter than the XTherm. Warm enough all the way down to 17 degrees in our experience.
  • Insulated jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (Hooded)—Win (Happy) has one. She has given it a lot of use. She did let me talk her into getting a better puffy for Christmas. This puffy has long the most common on the trail.
  • Shell: Outdoor Research Helium II—Not waterproof enough for me. For comparison, these are truly waterproof and very light. So I’ve moved to Lightheart Gear from my The Helium and Frogg Toggs are generally the most common on any trail.
  • Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2
  • Water treatment: Sawyer Squeeze
  • Trekking poles: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
  • Ice axe: C.A.M.P. USA Corsa
  • Traction device: Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
  • Bear canister: BearVault BV500—what we have. x2 (one each).
  • Shoes: Altra Lone Peak—Altras throw my knees out. Win has gone back to them.

If you want to rent or buy gear, I’ll just cut and paste a notice here (I get no referral fees from any purchases so you don’t need to let them know I sent you).

The following is a quote:

TCO’s Black Friday sale is live! You can visit hundreds of different websites to purchase your gear. Please visit our website to see if we carry the gear you want. Each sale helps us continue to operate here in Kennedy Meadows and to stay available to answer questions both on the phone and online.

PRICE MATCH — We would like to earn your business! If you see something advertised at a lower price than TCO, please call, message, or email me. We almost always price match other sales.

ICE AXES, SPIKES, and BEAR CANISTERS — Buy them now with Black Friday prices, we hold your order here in Kennedy Meadows, you pick up when you arrive. If you need to cancel for ANY reason prior to pick up, you receive a full refund. You can’t lose!

BEAR CANISTER RENTALS — $20 off with Black Friday prices. Reserve now, you can always cancel with a full refund if you don’t make it to Kennedy Meadows. Bear canister rentals are a VERY POPULAR item.

INTERNATIONAL HIKERS — Buy your gear now with Black Friday prices, we can either hold your order until you get to Kennedy Meadows, or we can hold it for a few months and then ship it to wherever you stay in San Diego, Campo, or another destination before you start your hike. If you need to cancel, you get a full refund (excluding closeout items). We only ship orders to USA addresses.

CLOSEOUT ITEMS — These are products that have been discontinued by the manufacturer. We have priced these items way below our cost, many are 50% or more off. Once you purchase a closeout item, it is yours, there are no refunds even if we hold your order and then you cancel your order. I hope that makes sense.

Again, I really appreciate your support! Feel free to reach out to me in this FB group or privately if you have any questions.

Home phone (8am-5pm Pacific only) 559-850-4453

From Yogi

Postscript the 2016 data.


… asked hikers which piece of gear they would most like to UPGRADE and came up with the following list:

  1. Sleeping Bag (Nobody with a Western Mountaineering UltraLite said they would upgrade their sleeping bag.)
  2. Rain Gear
  3. Backpack
  4. Shelter (Nobody with a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 said they would upgrade their shelter.)—this is one of the reasons I bought a Copper Spur for the AT.
  5. Down Jacket
  6. Sleeping Pad (Nobody with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm said they would upgrade their sleeping pad.)

See also from earlier years:


LEAST LIKED gear out on the trail.

Here’s what I came up with.

NOTE: an appearance here does not necessarily mean that this gear was not liked by other hikers.

  • LEAST LIKED BACKPACKS: Osprey Atmos AG 65, ULA Circuit
  • LEAST LIKED SLEEPING BAGS: ZPacks 20°, Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20, REI Igneo
  • LEAST LIKED SHELTER: MSR Hubba NX 1, Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1

And here are a few more stats I managed to harvest from the data mound:

  • 62% of hikers who would upgrade their WATER TREATMENT were using a Sawyer MINI.
  • 33% of hikers who would upgrade their SLEEPING PAD were using a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol.
  • 33% of hikers who would upgrade their SLEEPING BAG were using a ZPacks or Enlightened Equipment bag.
  • 52% of hikers who would upgrade their SLEEPING BAG were using a bag with a temperature rating of 19°F (-7.2°C) or higher.


  • There was a surprising amount of distaste for ZPacks – particularly their 20 degree bag and backpacks.
  • Again, the Sawyer MINI was a much-hated piece of gear. If you’re thinking about bringing it, I would definitely consider sucking it up and bringing that 1 oz / 28 g extra and getting the Sawyer Squeeze.

This is kind of a rebuttal to some of the quirkier results in the 2020 survey (eg the Sawyer Mini suddenly coming up as the best filter).

And compare with the Appalachian Trail statistics.

On preparing for the PCT

That essay actually seemed more useful than aimed at trying to sell me something.

Additional links:


And we finished the Appalachian Trail

We started this section with a four mile night hike from Cornwall Bridge to a shelter. We started at 11:43 pm.

Then we made it to ten mile shelter.

That was about twenty miles in about twenty hours.

Then we did the broken bridges to Telephone Pioneers Shelter.

Started with 77 miles left. 789.0 completes the trail.

Then we got to the famous RPH shelter and had pizza.

More hiking.

Then we did a Nero and laundry at Cold Springs/Beacon, New York.

Then we crossed the bridge and raced the sunset up the mountain.

Sunset on Bear Mountain
Posing at the finish

So many stairs. 20+ miles in the day. 425+ flights of stairs climbed. A lot of vertical.

Trail on the way to Bear Mountain

But we finally finished the trail.

Making a new tarp, step by step.

I start with a window film kit. 7’x9.3’. 1.5 mil thick (instead of the .7 mil lighter weight).

This type even has one edge pre-taped.

Double sided tape and nylon washers.

Place the washer on the double sided tape and then fold over. Repeat for each edge.

Then tape the corner down with a fold of transparent gorilla tape to reinforce it.

Then you have four corners.

Then make a hole. Use a hot metal skewer or a drill.

Then you have a tarp. This one is pretty large.

Ready to fold up and store in a zip lock bag.

About eight ounces. Smaller tarp or less tape would weigh less.

Usually I deal with a 5’x7’ tarp or 35 square feet. 7’x9’ is around 63 square feet—so twice as large .

Polycro rainflies.

I’ve recommended polycro tarps several times.

Here is one in action.

It had shock cord at the corners (connected with a sheetbend knot) and a ridge line.

In this case I set up a copper Spur 2p tent up under it in the rain—set up dry and was dry in the morning.

The tarp weighs less than the extra weight a wet tent has.

I would usually set it up a little higher so that there is a little airflow between the tent and the tarp. The pitch of the tarp in the picture was not optimal.

The way the available trees and such were it was hard to reach up high enough to get the space given the rise I got from the tent platform and how tired I was that night.

The picture was taken the following morning. That is my food dry sack brought back to the tent and my backpack sticking out.

You can also make this into an ultra light tent by using just a bug net with the tarp and using the tarp like you would use the outer layer of a tent/rain fly. Ounces for pounds.

For a ten dollar window film kit (I get the heavy duty ones) it is a great item to have available.

For more, including links on how to make one and other uses for polycro:

And someone else doing the same thing (photograph used with permission):

That is a larger 20’x10’ sheet of polycro but the same principle.


This is the sort of heavy duty window film you can buy at Home Depot or Amazon to make your rainfly with.

You can fold over the edge seam over a small plastic washer instead of making a grommet or using a sheet bend knot.

Ok. So we still have about 77 miles left.

So we had a zero at a wonderful cabin


And met with friends.

So the plan was to hike through Falls Village, Connecticut, catch a shuttle back for ShireCon 2021 and then finish.

Kind of like a couple years ago on the trail.

Good news first. Our grandchild who was exposed to Covid got through quarantine and tested negative.

But that was reason enough to go home early and put family first.

So. We have from Cornwall Bridge to Bear Mountain. Route 4 at 1481 was where we got (and got to experience knee deep fording at 1481.4.

Win hiking where the trail goes through a crack in the rock.

We had a great stretch of hiking, including the only wheelchair accessible part of the trail.

And parts that were not.

Our target is 1404/Bear Mountain, New York. about a week, without trail legs.

I’m sure we can find a week somewhere.

But that is my update.

Pictures from the trail