I know you thought it’d never come but yessss fiiiinally here it is: My gear review of the gear I used for 1000 miles / 2 months (Mexican Border – Yosemite NP) along the Pacific Crest Trail! As always don’t expect any technical details (you can look those up on the companies’ product pages), just my two humble cents about my gear.

I got a lot of my gear sponsored by some great small (and some bigger) companies, for which I am super grateful! Just so you know: I have no obligation what so ever to write positively about these products. I’ll write as honest the way I always do and drop as many F*bombs as I normally do. Yep!!!

Here we go:

1. Backpack: Gossamer Gear Gorilla (Size S)

GG Gorilla Yosemite Tunnel ViewGossamer Gear was so kind to provide me with this backpack. It is designed for people who tend to go lightweight, not ultra lightweight (you could use an even smaller and lighter pack for that), just lightweight. My Base Pack Weight (meaning: my gear without consumables like food, water, fuel) was somewhere inbetween 8 and 10 pounds (4 to 5 kg).

I had a bit of a hard time deciding what size (there is S, M and L to choose from) would be the right one for me. I found the explanation on the GG website on how to choose a size not very clear. I measured my torso and then went ahead and asked for a size M. When I got the pack, I tried it on, with different loads and I just couldn’t find a way to carry it comfortably. The frame didn’t fit my back at all, the shoulderstraps were too high up,… With some help from Allison and April, and some back and forth with Jonathan from GG (who did a great job), I decided to swap size M for size S. Much better. Much much better.  It was somewhat an adjustment from my huge GoLite Pinnacle, but once I found the right way to carry the Gorilla, I thought: Fuck, I will never be able to go back to that GoLite Pinnacle. Compared to the Gorilla, I carried all the weight of the Pinnacle on my shoulders. The Gorilla does a crazy good job in transferring the weight to the hips. What I had to get used to though, was carrying the hip belt a bit higher up than I’d normally do. Kinda more on top of my hip bones, the buckle closing over my belly button (I used to wear my hipbelts in a way the buckle would close beneath my belly button….. Of course there’s no way to “generalize” that cause I guess not everyone’s belly button is in the exact same place hahaha). Anyway once I hat the “settings” right, I fell in love with this pack, head over feet. I named my pack Baby Gorilla, aka Babe, and we love each other since the day we met.

This is how I packed my Gorilla:

* Without bearcan:

On the bottom I’d first pack my Zpacks sleeping bag, which can be compressed pretty small (ZPacks delivers a cuben stuffsack with it), then I’d fold my 3/4th Thermarest Neo Air and put that agains the backpanel of the pack. I didn’t need the extra cushioning, I just did it that way, cause it took the least space. On top of my sleeping bag I’d put my clothes bag with the few extra clothes I wasn’t wearing and my ditty bags (repair kit, first aid, toiletries). On top of that was my food bag.

In the side pockets I put my smartwater bottles and my umbrella. In the front mesh pocket I put my journal, my visor, my sunglasses, my ziplock container (in which I soaked my dehydraded meals) and my coffee cup (veeery important). In the hip belt pockets I put my cell phone, two energy bars or some trail mix (easy accessable so I could eat while walking). If rain was hanging in the sky, I’d of course put my rainjacket and rainskirt in the front mesh pocket, where I could quickly grab them if it started to rain.

Also I lined the pack with a trashbag to make it waterproof. I’ve always been doing it that way and I will continue to do so. Works great. After a month or so there’d be holes in the trashbag and I’d just change it for a new one.

GG Gorilla

*With bearcan in the Sierra:

Again on the bottom I’d first pack my sleeping bag. On top of it I put my bearcan (YES the Bearikade Expedition – ya that’s the huuuuge one- fits inside the Gorilla). It’s a tight fit, but it definitely works. That would kinda fill up most of the space inside the pack. Though there was a little space left on both sides of the bearcan, and so I’d fill up those spaces with my clothes (which I had to take out of their stuffsack). Because I opted for the Bearikade Expedition I had some space left inside the bearcan and I could put all of my food, all of my smellables, my coffee cup, ziplockcontainer and some ditty bags inside the bearcan.) With the Bearcan inside there was no space left for my sleeping mat inside of the pack, so I rolled it up and put it in the side pocket. In the Sierra water was available everywhere so I only had to carry one Smartwater bottle and therefor I had one side pocket left to put my NeoAir XTherm (I changed from XLite to XTherm in Tehachapi) in. In the front mesh pocket and the hip belt pockets I put in the same stuff as described above.

GG Gorilla East Vidette GG Gorilla Sierra

I was very lucky that HQ would carry the tent, the waterfilter and our cook system. If I had gone solo, I probably would have put the tent in a side pocket or in the front mesh pocket, the waterfilter in a sidepocket next to a smartwater bottle and the cook system next to my food bag, or inside my bearcan.

After using the Gorilla for 1000 miles there is no real wear or tear detectable. Tell you, I love this pack.

One thing I didn’t like was the strenum strap. The strenum strap on my pack was removable, so you could take it off if you didn’t wanna use it. I wanted to use it. However it started to fall off. And so I lost one part of my strenum strap after a hitch in Tehachapi, it must have gotten stuck somewhere in the car and then when I picked up the pack, it was torn off. I only noticed it when the car was gone already, I put on my pack and wanted to close the strenum strap.

HQ carried the ZPacks ArcBlast (the middle sized one) and loved his pack as well. Of course I tried it on too and I can tell you: That pack felt instantly comfortable!!! He had loads of space in it and carried all of his stuff, the tent, the waterfilter, the cook system and mostly tons of water (up to 10 Liters… Because I couldn’t carry so much weight because of my hip problems HQ had to carry more… good man!) without a problem. The only thing he didn’t like about his pack, is that after only a few weeks the cuben fibre on the inside of the pack, would start to wear out and he had to patch it with duck tape. Maybe it was just bad luck. When he talked to Joe from Zpacks about it, Joe was so kind to send him cuben fiber tape (for free of course) to repair it. Wait there was another thing he didn’t like about his pack: The hip belt. Part of it could have been his own “fault” cause the belt was a bit too small. Result: The spot where the padding was sewn to the strap and the buckle was rubbing on his hip bones. Somehow the sewing wasn’t very nicely done and the tread was pretty thick, sticking out of the padding. If he would have ordered the belt a big bigger, it propably would have been less of an issue, but still: Sewing could have been better. I still wanna try the ArcBlast Zip though, so these issues are obviously not big enough for me to not wanna try ;c) Over all it still is HQ’s favorite backpack ever!

Zpacks Arc Blast

Zpacks Arc Blast with bearcan

Back to the Gorilla: I will keep using it for thruhiking (or rather just hiking cause I don’t know whether I’ll still be able to hike longer distances in the future or not) until it falls apart (don’t see it falling apart in the next few years!) On hikes where I don’t need a bearcan, or where I have easy access to water and food, I might switch to the new Gossamer Gear Pilgrim, which seems to be the perfect pack for even lighter loads.

GG Gorilla Zpacks Arc Blast

 

2. Shelter: Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline Tent

Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline

Taking part in mYAMAdventure, Gen from Yama Mountain Gear provided us with a brand new hand made Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline 2 Person tent. The Swiftline is a non-freestanding silnylon tent, and is somewhat a combination of a single wall and double wall tent. Some walls are single wall, some are double wall (I’m doing a shitty job in explaining so you better just take a look at the pictures or at the Swiftline product page of Yama Mountain Gear; it’s pretty amazing what you can do with this tent and I fail to explain) 2 trekking poles function as tent poles. The tent itself (without stakes and poles) weighs about 2 pounds (ca 1kg) which ain’t that bad (in fact it’s rather awesome!!!) for a 2 person tent offering full protection against the elements and against mozzies.

Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline at Guitar Lake

Like with most non-freestanding tents there was a bit of a learning curve in terms of pitching it right (after a few times we got super duper fast though!) We found out my hiking poles (Leki Carbon Lady) were just a tad too short to get a perfect pitch. We dealt with it till Tehachapi and then Gossamer Gear was so kind to send me a pair of LT4s trekking poles which were long enough. It made quite a difference. So if you buy a Swiftline, make sure your trekking poles are long enough. Over all we absofuckinglutely loved the Swiftline. It has 2 side-entries, one huuuuuge vestibule (really, a third person could in fact sleep in the vestibule. We always left our shoes in the vestibule, as well as our cook system and HQs backpack) and it is just crazy versatile. It’s an all-in-one tent, tarp, bug net, everything you need! There’s enough space inside for 2 people and all of their gear. I took everything inside except for my shoes, but these would have fitted in too, as well as HQs backpack and our cook system. What is pretty awesome is that inside both persons can sit upright comfortably (and there’s even still space overhead) so if you have to hang out in your tent (like during a hailstorm or so) the Swiftline is the place to be!!!

O also: like I said the Swiftline is super spacious but you can still pitch it in very small spots. It somehow can adapt to a lot of different conditions, may it be the weather, may it be the campsite,…

Yama Swiftline tent

Yama mountain gear swiftline tent

Yama Swiftline with vestibule open

 

3. Sleeping bag: ZPacks 10°F sleeping bag

Zpacks sleeping bag

Both HQ and I bought a Zpacks sleeping bag. I took the 10degrees, HQ the 20degrees. We chose the most basic version, with a 3/4 zipper and no draft tube in front of the zipper. We both really really liked our sleeping bags. Damn they were so light and comfy. The only thing I’d change the next time I’d buy a Zpacks sleeping bag is add a draft tube in front of the zipper (you can order all sorts of add ons on the Zpacks website!). Without you’re supposed to sleep on the zipper (the zipper should be underneath you, not to the left or the right), the only problem is that apparently I toss and turn all night and the zipper would never really stay in place and then it’d get cold through the zipper that wasn’t underneath me. Somehow after 2 months I did manage to keep the zipper underneath me at night (ai ai seems like one can indeed learn while asleep) and the problem was kinda solved. Still. Next time I’d get a draft tube, so I can toss and turn as much as I want (if you know about yourself that you don’t toss much at night, you don’t need the draft tube. You can sleep perfectly comfortable on the zipper cause the zipper itself is very flat).

Zpacks sleeping bag in Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline

We had some freezing temps in the desert and I get cold very easily. On those freezing nights I’d sleep with my puffy jacket on, and wrap HQs puffy jacket around my upper legs (somehow I always freeze around my upper legs) and be alright. HQ never needed his puffy jacket to sleep and he had the 20degrees. So it really depends on the person how thick the sleeping bag should be. For me the 10degrees was just right. On the warm nights in Utah and Arizona (during our road trip after our hike along the pct) I would just unzip my sleepingbag, have my feet in the footbox and use the upper part as a quilt. After being used every night for 3 months there was zero wear and tear on the sleeping bag. It’s still perfect like the first day (alright it’s a bit smelly). If I ever need a new sleeping bag (which is not gonna happen in the next few years cause I now have my Western Mountaineering Antelope and my Zpacks 10degrees which are both still in perfect condition) I will absolutely go with Zpacks again.

The Zpacks sleeping bag came with a cuben fiber stuffsack, which compresses the bag to a very small size and fits perfectly in the bottom of my GG Gorilla.

DSC_2072

 

4. Sleeping mat: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite S and Xtherm Regular

Therm-a-rest XLite Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline

Trekking Lite Store was so kind to provide me with a Thermarest Neo Air Xlite Size S (torso size). Up till then I’ve been using the NeoAir XTherm in Size Regular (full length size) but I wanted to save weight and so I contacted Henrik from Trekking Lite Store and asked if he could help me out. He did and so I left Campo with the XLite S in my pack. So did HQ who has been using this pad for a while already.

What can I say about the NeoAir that I haven’t written in a previous gear review? Not much new really. It still is my number one sleeping mat, combining comfort with lightweight.

It didn’t take me very long to get used to the torso-size. What I did was connect the Gossamer Gear sit pad (which is the back panel of my Gorilla backpack) to my NeoAir with the “fast & light mattress snap kit” from Thermarest (I glued a snap tab to my Neo Air and one to my sit pad and connect them with eachother) and that’d make a full length sleeping pad. Underneath of the sit pad I put my backpack to get some extra insulation.

Thermarest Neo Air

Till now (I have over 100 nights on the Xlite and well over 150 nights on the XTherm) I never had any holes in my NeoAirs. I do always check where to put them down and use a groundcloth underneath. HQ had the older version of the Xlite (you will notice the newer version has a different material, the older version feels more like plastic and is in a lighter yellow than the new version) and after like 250 nights on it -might be more- tiny tiny holes would appear all over the mat, so tiny you can’t see them, but by putting the mat under water tiny little bubbles of air would come out. I think the material was just done, falling apart. Anyway he gave the mat back to Thermarest and got a new one -with the newer material- without any trouble. Pretty awesome!

So anyway, I used my Xlite till Tehachapi and I thought it would be a good idea to use my XTherm for the mountains cause I thought it would be colder sleeping high up in the mountains. Last time I hiked the JMT in September it was freezing, so I though in June it would be as cold. I definitely thought wrong, cause this year it wasn’t all that cold in the mountains. In fact it was warmer in the mountains than it was in the desert. So in fact I should have used my XTherm in the desert in my Xlite in the mountains haha.

Neo Air inflating

What I don’t like about the NeoAirs will alway be: The inflating. But as long as that is the only thing I don’t like about the mat I can frikkin live with that. I know there’s that little thermarest inflator that works with batteries and there are bags and stuff to inflate, but o well it only takes a minute to inflate the mat and I started to use that minute to just calm down and think about how lucky I am to sleep in the most beautiful places in the world haha :c)

 

5. Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Pillow Regular.

DSC02175

As for my luxery item: This time I didn’t bring my ukulele. I brought a pillow instead. And I will continue to do so from now one for ever and ever and ever till death do us part. I used to put my shoes underneath my sleeping mat to create a pillow, or I stuffed my leftover clothes (which wasn’t much so it’d be a very flat bad pillow) in a stuff sack, and yes I know a pillow adds weight but hell I can tell you, it was absolutely worth it for me! I love the sea to summit pillow, it’s comfortable and o it’s soooo soft and cosy.

 

6. Trekking Poles: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady and Gossamer Gear LT4S

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady

Leki USA gave me a pair of Micro Vario Carbon Lady Trekking Poles and damn I tell you they are worth the money (alright that’s easy to say for me getting them for free but if these poles ever break I would invest the money in buying them again!). They are lightweight, can be packed small (which is a good thing if you have to fly with them…), are easy adjustable while hiking (even with mittens or gloves on) and there are so many ways you can grab them comfortably so your hands don’t get tired of holding them in the same position all of the time. What I loved (and that is a very personal thing) is the fact that on the shortest length, I could use them as canes. Because of my hip problems that has helped me a lot. It may have looked a bit strange, but using them that way took away a bit of my pain.Leki Carbon Lady trekking poles

Leki Carbon Laky hiking polesLike I wrote before, unfortunately these trekking poles were an inch or two too short for pitching the Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline perfectly.

So I got in touch with Gossamer Gear and they gave me the Gossamer Gear LT4S trekking poles. HQ and I would alternate in using them, though HQ ended up using them more and really liked them. He normally refuses to use trekking poles (he’s just not the type for trekking poles haha) except for the LT4s!!!

Gossamer Gear LT4s

GG LT4 trekking poles Gossamer Gear LT4 hiking poles

 

7. Cook system: Canister stove: MSR Pocket Rocket, Evernew Titanium pot 900 ml, windshield from TrailDesign, Long Spoon from Sea to Summit, Ziplock container and a plastic cup for my coffee.

cook system

We started the trail going stoveless but after just a few days we felt totally miserable, especially since it was freezing cold and raining in Mount Laguna.

Luckely our awesome resupply girl Lindsey mailed us our stove and everything was well.

For a two person cook system this is my favorite set up. In the morning we’d boil water for 2 portions of oatmeal and 1 cup of coffee (HQ doesn’t drink coffee… He’s crazy, I know haha) and in the evening we’d cook dinner. Sometimes we only had to boil water to rehydrate the food we’d put in our zip lock containers (then screw on the lid and let it sit for like 10 minutes), but often we’d cook pasta and some veggies in the pot (that’s why we didn’t opt for the jetboil or the msr windboiler) and then just ate out of the pot.

Because of the windshield (we brought the windshield that came with the Sidewinder Ti-Tri stove set-up from Trail Design )we went pretty long with one gas canister (in my opinion a decent windshield makes all the difference!).

We could have gone with an alcohol stove too but because the fact that in 2015 the drought in California continued, it wouldn’t have been the smartest thing to go with a stove you can not regulate very well (also prohibited in some areas).

DSC_1387~2   DSC_0416~2  DSC02005 DSC02260 DSC01613

 

8: Water treatment system: Platypus gravityworks filter, Aquamira

Platypus Gravity filter

Up till the Sierra we used the Platypus gravityworks filter and we were super happy with it. It consists of a dirty water bag, a line with in the middle of the line the filter and at the end of a line some kind of “adaptor” that would fit onto most bottles. Once there was dirty water in the bag, we hung up the bag in a tree or so (or just held it up) and in no time gravity would do its work. The dirty water went through the line, through the filter, into the filtered water bottle. We were amazed by how fast it went and how seldom we had to backflush. On trail I like this filter more than the Sawyer squeeze because it’s just easy and you don’t have to squeeze. Instead you can eat a snack or have a 2 minute break. In the desert we filtered water in big amounts (like 6 till 10 Liters at a time) and it still went fast and easy.

Platypus gravityworks filter

In the Sierra we mostly switched to Aquamira drops, just because they are even easier to use. (We didn’t want to use them all the way because we don’t like to use chemicals allll of the time…. I know the tab water is treated with chemicals too, I know). In the morning before leaving camp I always premixed the drops for one day in a tiny tiny dropper bottle that I then stored in a dark place. While hiking we’d just fill our smartwater bottle in the stream, add 6 drops of Aquamira, wait 15 minutes (and hiking on of course) and then drink.

O ya, speaking of water. We used smartwater bottles and platypus bottles to carry our water. In the desert we had a capacity of each 7 L. In the Sierra I only took 1 L and HQ took 1,5 to 2 L.

9: Cuben fiber stuff sacks from Yama Mountain Gear

Yama Mountain Gear provided me with several stuff sacks in different sizes. I used them as my clothes bag (HQ too), bag for our water filter, and the smaller ones we used as wallets. After been used for 3 months, they are still good to go and we’ll keep on using them. They are super lightweight, water resistant,… what more to ask for?

10: Solar Panel: Suntactics SCharger-5

DSC_1660

Goaltech making us happy with his trail magic :c) HQ has the solar panel strapped to top of his pack.

Did the job. We used this solar charger for charging our cell phones (HQ: Iphone 4s, Cat: Sony Experia Compact) and charging HQs camera battery. Worked well in full sun buuutttt only if it wasn’t too warm. I could just forget charging my phone (the Iphone charged better somehow, probably because the battery is smaller or so) in the heat of the day. Once the panels were hot they would no longer charge my phone. HQ often strapped the panel to the top of his backpack and charging would function well as long as we didn’t walk through shady spots all the time. Idealy though the panels would lay in the sun somewhere (cloudless sky) where there was also a breeze to prevent them from overheating too fast. We’ll continue using this solar panel on future hiking trips. It’s not perfect, but most of the time it does the job. I can’t write more about this charger cause electronics just bore me to death. I’m sure you’ll find a more details review somewhere on the web ;c)

11. Cell phone: Sony Experia Compact (Cat), Iphone 4s (HQ).

Did what they had to do: Allow us to phone, use the internet, check the Guthook app, take a quick picture. And we had some documents stored on them.

As for phone company or plan, I got a prepaid AT&T simcard, with 1,5 GB internet data use (I have absolutely no idea how to say that with the correct words) for $45 a month. Even though most people say Verizon has better coverage along the PCT I still couldn’t complain. If I remember well AT&T was the only company offering a prepaid simcard my european phone would work with.Internet time in the nest

12: The stick pic

The stick pic gave me a stick pick set-up which I could use on the tip of my trekking pole to make selfies with my camera as well as with my cell phone. I had already used a stick pic on my JMT thruhike in 2013 and liked it alot, especially since I was hiking solo back then. We didn’t use the stick pic veeery much along the PCT, but it has always performed well (stayed where it should be and kept the camera in the right position). It’s a little gadget I like to take with me. It also allows you to make some cool videos (filming yourself while hiking ;c). You’ll soon be able to see the result of those videos in our little PCT film ;c)

13: Camera: Canon G15

Canon G12Still love this camera. It’s not the lightest camera, but it’s a good “inbetween” and I like the quality of the photos!

Canon G12 Camera

HQ brought the Sony RX100 and was rather disappointed. It reacted kinda slow (by the time the Sony was ready to take a picture, I had already taken 3 pictures with the Canon) and dust came into the inner of the camera and has ruined (alright not ruined but still there’s a fucking black dot on all the pics) a lot of pictures and videos.

14: Bear Canister: Bearikade Expedition

Bearikade Expedition

For the Sierra section we rented two Bearikade Expeditions from Wild Ideas. I had rented the same bear can 2 years ago for my solo hike on the JMT and had been happy with the can and the service. Same experience this time. Good service and as far as you can like a bearcan I really like the Bearikade. We could have gone with the weekender size, but we weren’t sure so we just went with the big ones. The Bearikade Expedition fits well inside the Zpacks ArcBlast and fits inside the Gossamer Gear Gorilla as well (it’s a tight fit, but it fits). We didn’t have any bears messing with the cans. Each morning we found them untouched at the exact same spot we left them the evening before.

PS: Don’t forget to ask for the JMT/PCT discount when you rent a Bearikade!

15: Snowline chainsen light spikes

We took these only for the Sierra (we had them send to us in Kennedy Meadows) but ended up not needing them. The snow had melted by the time we reached the passes and so they remained in our backpacks. If you wanna read a review about these lightweight spikes: Check my Haute Route Gear Review! … … … Eh I just checked my Haute Route Gear Review. I didn’t write much about the spikes, but you can find some pictures there ;c)

16. Shoes: Brooks Cascadia 7

Brooks Cascadia 7

Unlike the newer versions of the Cascadias the 7 version is a frikkin champ (well it is for me). I used my first pair from the Mexican Border till Kennedy Meadows South. There were no holes in the mesh what so ever but it felt like the soles had lost their cushioning/support so I decided to use a second pair for the Sierra.

Brooks Cascadia 7

This is how well the sevens still looked when I swapped them for a new pair in Kennedy Meadows

HQ used the Inov 8 trail roc up till Tehachapi. The quality of Inov8 shoes is pretty amazing (I’m using a pair at home too, and HQ is still using the pair he wore till Tehachapi)!!! In Tehachapi he decided he would use the Altra Superior for the next stretch and the Sierra Section so he’d have a bit more cushioning (plus there’s a rock plate you can put into the Superior) on rocky terrain. By the time we finished the Sierra, the Altras were absolutely done (max 300miles). They had holes in the upper fabric that were unrepairable and HQ was very disappointed with the poor quality.

DSC_0377~2

 

17: Dirty Girl Gaiters

Looks like everybody loves Dirty Girls!

What can I say? I’ve been a dirty girl for quite some time now  (I used DGG on the JMT in 2013 too…) and these gaiters never let me down. DGG gave me 5 (!!!) pair of gaiters and I choose some in all colors of the rainbow. I can actually say that I wore them EVERY SINGLE DAY and after 2 months I was still using my first pair, no holes no nothing!!! They really do their job in keeping sand and debris out of my shoes. YESSS both HQ and I had ZERO BLISTERS along the PCT. I’m sure the DGG helped with that. Some people say it makes their feet sweat when they wear gaiters, luckely I don’t have sweaty feet and I never felt like my feet were “overheating” wearing DGG. You know what? I think you will never meet me on trail not wearing DGG! That’s how much I love them!

ddg

 

18: Socks: Darn Tough Vermont

getting out of my shoes hell yes

I know I am a lucky girl cause Darn Tough provided me with 5 pair of socks. I choose some different ones, with different cushioning,… I mostly ended up using the lightest ones (1/4 sock light) with the least cushioning, just because of the fact that the other ones were just too hot for the desert. After two months I finally managed to get a hole in the heel part of the sock and I was almost proud that I was able to “hike” a hole in a darn tough sock haha!

PS: I didn’t take all 5 pair with me of course. I carried two pairs of socks. 1. the” 1/4 sock light” and 2. the “Daphne 1/4 sock cushion“. I’d rinse them every 3 or 4 days (it’s not like my feet had to smell good on trail). I also had a pair of lightweight sleep socks, which are a pair of socks you used to get on long distance flights to South America or Australia. Absolutely love to put these on after a long day of hiking!

19: Underwear: Arc’Teryx Phase SL Briefs.

Thin synthetic fabric but durable. Dry fast. Comfy. I took 2 pair with me and alternated in washing/wearing them.

20: Bra: Bikini from Decathlon

(Decathon in Europe is like REI in America). Did the job, not that there’s much work to do :cP

Decathlon bikini

 

21. Short sleeve Tshirt: The North Face.

DSC03749

I used the same old Tshirt I used on the JMT in 2013. It’s synthetic but soft and comfy, dries fast… Ah I loved it. After 2 months it got sooooo frikkin dirty and the color had faded away, so when we finished the Sierra, I bought a new Prana Tshirt which made me feel like reborn (and a little less like I hadn’t washed myself in 3 weeks :c). Apart from the dirt the Tshirt is still perfectly fine though, no holes no nothing.

 

22. Long sleeve Tshirt: Button down desert shirt from Craghoppers

Craghoppers desert shirt

Liked it (it was really comfy to wear and it felt soft to the skin!) apart from the fact that the sweat stains would just no go away anymore, even after just 2 weeks. The shirt never ever looked clean, not after washing not ever. It was a combo of synthetic fabric and cotton, which in my opinion is a good combo in the desert. Not sure if I’d buy it again though cause it’s just so ugly!

Before leaving Ziggy & the Bear I soaked my shirt in the sink. It was dry after 5 minutes. Fuck!

23. Shorts: Yoga shorts from Patagonia

DSC_3277~2~2

Comfy, sexy, happy :c)

The perfect shorts for hitchhiking. A well, you gotta use what ya got!

O and I found a silk skirt in the hiker boxes at the AOK in Acton, I sewed it a bit shorter and it made up the PERFECT lightweight airy skirt for desert hiking!

172a DSC01898

 

24. Leggings: Arc’Teryx Phase SL Leggings

LA aquaduct

80g for a pair of leggings, nothing can beat that! Love these. I didn’t use them too often. No wait a sec. I did use them quite often. I slept in them at night. When we got up early and it was still cold I would just keep them on and then switch into shorts when it got warmer. I also wore them as a sun protection layer in the desert sometimes. I used them on the JMT back in 2013 too and they are still as good as new.

Arc teryx bottoms Arc teryx SL phase bottoms

 

25. Windpants: Patagonia Houdini

Patagonia houdiniFrikkin lightweight awesome pants. They won’t keep you dry from rain (then they’d be called rainpants) but they do add a layer of warmth. They store very small and hardly take up space in my pack. The only thing I don’t like is that the lenght of the legs is too short. I have a size XS and Patagonia seems to assume that people wearing size XS also have extra short legs. Not Patagonia not!!! Please make the legs of these pants just 2 inches longer and they’d be perfect!

Patagonia houdini windpants windjacket

 

26. Windjacket: Patagonia Houdini

This is probably my favorite outfit: The Mouse Works fleece hat, Patagonia Windjacket (with a tshirt underneath of course, you dirty mind), Patagonia shorts. Yep!

This windjacket was, is and will always be one of my favorite clothing pieces. I wore this jacket almost every morning, every night, and when the day in general was a bit cooler and windy. It’s lightweight, packs very small, and does its job very well! I cannot come up with something negative about this jacket!

Patagonia houdini windshirt

 

27: Puffy Jacket: Quetchua down jacket with hood

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I bought a cheap lightweight Quetchua down jacket from Decathlon and it did the job. I just didn’t have the money to buy the very popular Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down jacket. After using it for 3 months (I often wore it during the night too) it started to stink kinda a LOT but that would’ve happened with the MH jacket too, I’m sure :cP

 

28: Raingear: Outdoor Research Helium II Rainjacket, Lightheart Gear Rain Wrap (rain skirt), Montane Minimus Rainpants (Sierra only), Euroschirm Swing LiteFlex Umbrella

OR Helium II

I have a love-hate relationship with the OR Helium II rainjacket. I hate it when it rains (like really rains), I love it cause it’s light and still offers some protection. I know it’s ridiculous. So it be. This rainjacket is a one layer jacket and it protects you from mild rain. The moment it starts raining like shit it will get soaked and eventually you are gonna get soaked too. I think there’s only so much you can ask from a one layer rainjacket. I like having it for the “just in case” scenario (breaking the lightweight backpacking rules damn right) when it starts raining in California or Tenerife or any other warm place on earth. But you can be sure I’ll bring another rainjacket when I go hiking in the Lake District in England, or in Sweden, or or or!

raingear

Lightheart Gear was super kind to provide me with a rain wrap, which basically is a rain skirt that you wrap around your upper legs and then close around your waste with an adjustable waste band (with a small buckle and some velcro). I like the idea of a wrap. It’s so easy to put on (no dirty wet shoes trying to step into a skirt!). In heavy winds it didn’t perform perfect cause the wind would open the “wrap” and rain would still find its way to my upper legs. There’s an easy fix for that though: Sew a little button or put some velcro on the bottom so the lower seam stays closed.

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On my JMT Thruhike 2013 I used a trashbag as a rain skirt so this rain wrap was definitely a pretty awesome upgrade! Thank you Judy!

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In the Sierra I decided to take my Montane Minimus rainpants instead of my rain wrap, hoping the pants would provide me with extra warmth and extra protection…. that I did not need. O man! 2015 was again a very dry and so also low snow year. I hiked the Sierra in June and it was warm and there was hardly any snow left. I used them once, ya, once. When we hiked over Sunrise Mountain in Yosemite. They kept me dry. Thank god, it would have been really bad if they hadn’t kept me dry using them for the first time. We’ll see what the future brings when I use them more often. For now I can’t review them ;c) But here’s a picture (sorry I’m spamming you guys with pictures, o well, it’s my blog):

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Euroschirm was soooo cool when I got in touch with them. I asked them if they’d want to sponsor not just me but the rest of the crew of the mYAMAdventure hikers too. And they said “yes” in a second. They send me 5 Swing Liteflex umbrellas. 1 for me and 4 for the others. HQ also bought one and we were frikkin happy to have them! We actually used them more against the sun than against the rain (it didn’t rain all that often) and they allowed us to keep on hiking in the heat of the mid day sun! What we loved about using them against the rain is the fact that they keep your shoulders and neck from getting wet; those are the spots where a rainjacket will leak or soak through first eventually. An umbrella takes that problem away. We attached our umbrella to our packs with gearties and so we could use them handsfree. HQ has always been like “Na, a guy doesn’t use an umbrella” but I tell you, you should hear him now! He would make up the best umbrella salesman ever!

Euroschirm swing liteflex

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81a

 

29: Gloves/Mittens: Montane Prism Mittens

In the desert I took some 3 euro thin fleece gloves from Decathlon and used them very often.

In the Sierra, assuming it would be colder in the mountains (yeah right!) I swapped them for my Montane Prism Mittens. Those Montane Mittens are the best warmest cosiest lightweight (2 OZ, 46g) mittens I ever had. I should have brought these for the desert too and should’ve just ditched the gloves. The Prism mittens are made of a Primaloft Gold insulation and a Pertext Microlight outer fabric and they pack very small. They are not waterproof, just windproof. When it rains, I just use freezer bags over them. Cheap and easy solution. I also use my Montane mittens at home and if they ever break, I will sooo buy a new pair. If one can fall in love with mittens, I sure did with these!

 

30: Head coverage: Bandana, Marmot Visor, Fleece hat from the Mouse Works

I almost always wear a bandana when I hike. It protects me from the sun and it keeps my dreadlocks kind of together. In the heat of the day, I love to dip my bandana in a stream (if there is one… ya I wasn’t always that lucky in the desert) and then put it on. Ah some coolness for a few minutes! (I do the same with my desert shirt).

I don’t wear the visor very often but I still take it. I only use it when I get bored of wearing a bandana for weeks. It’s just nice to have something else to wear once in a while. I don’t wear a trucker hat because I wouldn’t know where to go with my dreadlocks. That’s what I love about a visor :c)

Visor

Ryan from The Mouse Works sewed me a fleece hat that I love to the moon and back. It has two ears on it (suits me well hell yeah!!!) and he left a seam open in the back so I could put my dreadlocks through. I wore this hat every single day, I’d always start hiking wearing it and I almost didn’t want to take it off… until it really got too hot. As soon as we got in camp in the evening I’d put it back on and I’d also sleep with it. I had so many people commenting on my hat. I think what I heard most of the people I met briefly on trail was “I love your hat!” and “I love your hair!” Ha! Thank you! I frikkin love that hat (and my hair) too!

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31: “Headlamp”: L.R.I. Photon Freedom Finger Light

Sporting my huuuuge headlamp :c)

Trekking Lite Store was so kind to give me a L.R.I. Photon light, which I turned into a very very lightweight headlamp and that was the only light I used in the evening and the morning (it’s not like you do an aweful lot in camp once it gets dark). The few times we did some nighthiking the moon gave us enough light we didn’t even need a headlamp. People who nighthike a lot might need a bigger lamp, but for me this lightweight thingie does the job perfectly well!

31. Exped down booties

For the Sierra I had my Exped Down Booties sent to me cause I thought it was gonna be cold in the mountains. They were snuggly and warm but I could have definitely gone without.

32. Sunglasses.

No name sunglasses. Wore them every day!

33. Repair kit

Repair set for my Thermarest NeoAir, sewing needle, some thread, baby pin, rubber band, super glue, tenacious tape. Only used the super glue but I can’t remember what for anymore ;c)

35. First aid

Compete (never needed for ZEROOOO blisters yeah!), some band aids, pain meds (loooots of pain meds for my hips), tiny tube of antibiotic cream, essential oils (one for treating hip pain, one for treating small wounds and sunburn,…)

36: Toiletries

Lip balm, toothbrush, small tube with toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion (I hate it when the skin on my legs gets very dry), some tampons, dropper bottle with scentless biodegradable soap, disposable razor blade

Done.

Fuck. No Wait. Not done. I just found this picture:

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As you can see I am wearing a headnet to keep the hungry beasts away. Trekking Lite Store provided me with the Sea to Summit head net. It saved my ass… eh my face.

Also stupid me, cause I thought it was gonna be cold in the Sierra I added my Synthetic Puffy (Montane Fireball smock) (on top of my down puffy, ya I know, totally over the top). Seems like I did wear it as this picture proves.

O ya another thing: We bought a microfibre tiny towel at the AOK in Acton. It served as a towel not just for me, but also for the tent when we had failed to avoid condensation.

What would I change next time?

  • Take a warmer sleeping mat (xtherm instead of xlite) for the desert
  • not add extra layers and down booties for the Sierra (but that really depends on the year. I feel like it was just dry and warm in 2015)
  • Take the Bearikade Weekender instead of the Expedition (though the space inside did feel luxurious)
  • Take two pair of the light (non-cushioned) darn tough socks, not one light pair and one cushioned pair.

 

Eh that’s it. I guess I can say that over all I was really pretty happy with my gear, not much I’d change.

Questions? Did I forget anything? Let me know!

Love and happy trails!

Cat

 

*Damn I forgot to mention my journal (moleskin) and my selfmade watercolor set.

*Another thing I wanna mention is: Bedrock Sandals gave me a pair of their sandals but I wanted to save weight and I didn’t take them along the PCT. Thát is sooooo gonna change when we hike through Arizona and Utah next may. Consider it a new luxury item. When we got back home, I fell in love with my bedrock sandals and I wore them the rest of the summer. I’m not adding this comment because I wanna put links to all of my sponsors, I’m adding this comment cause I’m frikkin grateful the Bedrock crew gave me the sandals and I frikkin love them and I could frikkin hit my head against a wall that I didn’t take them on the PCT.

16 thoughts on “PCT ’15 Gear Review

  1. Good job! Informative, detailed lively text and fun photos. Helpful also to have HQ’s reports. You look so different in each picture — you could give actors lessons! Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome and thank you. Haha Hollywood is welcome to send Johnny Depp over to me, but only if he comes as Jack Sparrow. Na I guess I would have to learn from him… which I wouldn’t mind either hahaha 😀😀😀

      Like

  2. that was a good read cat. nice legs btw 😀 im wondering why you’d pack a relatively heavy/bulky pillow instead of an inflatable. i use those big medical semi-disposable ones with a soft felty travel pillow cover. they’re textured so as not to get sweaty easily. i find them a lot more comfortable than i expected and they weigh probably less than an ounce

    Liked by 1 person

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