I am officially less than a month away from my PCT adventure! Although there is much to discuss regarding gear, I decided to start with my Big Three Items: Shelter, Sleep System, and Hiking Pack.
My goal is to have an overall backpack weight of around 25 lbs. This includes food and water. I made my decision on which items to bring based on previous backpacking trips, gear efficiency, cost and weight. I understand that there will always be something better and lighter in the market. However, it usually comes with a hefty price. I am also a firm believer in the motto of hike your own hike. What works for me, may not work for you, as well as the other way around. So here are my big three gear choices and why I chose them. Maybe you will fall in love with them just as I have.
Backpack– ZPACKS Nero 38L
Tent– Nemo Hornet Elite 2 person
Sleep System– Big Agnes Blackburn UL0, Enlightened Equipment 20 degree & Nemo Tensor Mummy Pad
I will be using the ZPACKS Nero 38L backpack. They are ultralight, weighing only 10.7oz. I really enjoy the ability to configure this pack. I did this by adding a pack liner to help keep my gear dry. I also added a shoulder pouch, water bottle sleeve, top side pockets and a pair of padded belt pouches. I have been hiking with this pack for a few months now. Although it is frame-less, I still find it comfortable. With all my additions to the pack, it now weighs 1.02 lbs. Very remarkable.
I have decided to stick with the Nemo Hornet Elite 2-person tent. It is durable, light weight and I have had it for a few years now. I changed the stuff sack to a tall dry bag from zpacks and 4 of the 6 tent stakes to MSR Core Tent Stakes. With the tent, drybag and tent stakes, my Nemo tent now weighs 1.92 pounds. I really enjoy this tent system. It is roomy enough to keep all my gear inside and is easy and quick to set up. It is also a double walled tent which aids in the prevention of condensation.
Since I am a very cold sleeper, I will be using the Big Agnes Blackburn UL 0 sleeping bag for the first few sections of my hike. After making some modifications to it such as removing the flex pad sleeve and tags, it now weighs 2 lbs 1 oz. Once I hit warmer weather, I will be switching to my 1.43 lb Enlightened Equipment 20-degree Revelation Quilt. Both sleep systems will be kept in a 1.4 oz waterproof compression dry bag.
I have fallen in love with the Nemo Tensor Insulated Mummy Pad. Because of back issues, I cannot use a sleeping mat. The added air to the pad will provide enough comfort and warmth to get me through the night. With the vortex pump (this helps blow up the pad) and a rubber band to hold everything together, the Nemo Tensor weighs in at 16.25oz.
I should note that besides great reviews, the discounts I received on my sleep system and tent played a major factor when determining which gear to choose. I used the website called ExpertVoice. It is a company who works with over 500 brands in offering major discounts to those who qualify. Those who qualify include:
Service Members: Active duty military, veterans, professionals in fire and rescue, and law enforcement.
Industry Workers and Members: Instructors, athletes, members of industry organizations, and others who play a role in an industry qualify.
Retail Store Workers
Simply fill out an application. The company will notify you within a week or two and let you know if you have been approved.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my gear selection. My goal is to carry gear that is light, comfortable and also provides me with the best best opportunity for a good nights sleep. The grand total weight for the Nero 38L backpack, the Nemo Tent, the Big Agness sleeping bag, and the Nemo sleeping pad is 5.04 lbs. However, the weight will drop to 4.44 pounds once I reach the Sierras and switch out my sleeping bag. Although it may not seem like much of a difference, everything adds up. Once I complete my hike, I will do a thorough review on how my gear held up over 2,650 miles.