MY Equipment Review


When I first began researching this adventure I stumbled upon a Blog by Keith Foskett
In his Blog, he explains about sponsorship and how to go about it. I followed his instructions and received almost all  of my kit free or heavily discounted.
But before you do this, do your research, make sure it’s the right kit.
I made several wrong choices which I later had to swap out which cost me more money.

Below is a big thank you to many of my sponsors

I am sure you have heard this a Million times
But here it is again…………………. Go light,

My original kit was far too heavy, but I was confident that I could carry it WRONG!
If I bring everything then I will not have to buy in the US saving me Money… again WRONG!!!
But don’t be Anal, if your new to hiking don’t try and go “Ultra Lite”.
You want to be warm, dry and comfortable, not cold wet and miserable.
The trail is Long, so you have plenty of time to try out different kit, what works you keep what does not, bounce up the trail.  I say Bounce  because  as  your  fitness improves  or  you get  a better hiker  you may change your mind and get  that piece of kit back
Below is my actual equipment  that I took with me. Yes, it is a bit scary. Well the start was a big  learning Curve
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4JwkhWPPUyJQUJYVVF4cnFuSUE/edit?usp=sharing

Gear

Vaude Terratrio 2P tent

Weight: – 2.5kg or 5.5 lb
I was looking for two main qualities in a tent: it had to be robust and had to be easy to erect. I looked at all the lightweight ones but to be honest I just didn’t like them, they were like coffins and most of them your pack stayed outside!
This is a two-man tent with plenty of room, I can put it up in two minutes and in the dark although its heavy by backpacking standards.
I loved this tent, it withstood ferocious winds and storms, plus several l large dumps of snow. I felt smug when other hiker’s tents and tarps were being blow around and shredded. This tent appeared to be bullet proof!
I carried this tent all the way to Kennedy meadows, I was never cold and the tent performed well. I camped on sand, snow, ice, dirt on rock
I only swapped it out due to the fact I had to carry my bear canister and heavier snow gear.

My new tent was a Big Angus fly creek 3,a 3-person tent. As the weight was far better than my Vaude and I fancied a bit of luxury. My thinking was when bad weather hits I could just throw all my gear straight in and be all dry. Which worked well.
I must say most of my fellow hikers were extremely Jealous of my palatial tent
I also brought the additional footprint to give the tent a little more protection
The rain fly is separate (unlike UK tents) so goes over the outer tent. This provides extra warmth when it’s cold. But when it is soaked due to rain or condensation, you must be quick to strip it off and then quickly put the inner tent away before that gets wet. I ended up carrying an extra dry bag to put the wet fly in so it didn’t soak the tent But I would still use this tent again.
weight 3lb

Lamina 20 sleeping bag

I started with this Lamina 20* Sleeping bag (20 F/-7 C)
It was very warm and comfortable, and  water-repellent being a  synthetic bag
weight 2lb 14 / 1.29kg
But due to all my other kit being so heavy I swapped it out at Mount Laguna.
I  had only used it for four days and  I had no issues with it

I replaced it with The Feathered Friend Hummingbird UL 20*
This was a down bag and I swapped it mainly because it would compress to nothing in my pack giving me plenty of space also it was light. The only thing with down is you can’t get it wet or it’s just useless. But I loved this bag and I was never cold even just sleeping in my boxers
Weight 1lb 9oz / 717gm

Exped SIM Lite UL – 15oz

A super light and compact 2.5 cm thick Self Inflating Mattress.
This pad made it to Canada with me, although I soon grew tired with the battle to get it in its own stuff sack and settled for another drybag instead.
I must say I never got it to self-inflate until I got to Stehekin, when it decided to self-inflate and almost burst. On returning to the UK Exped quickly replaced it so thank you
I really loved this pad, I always slept well and was always warm even when sleeping on snow.
After Kennedy meadows, I did manage to puncture it but with the supplied repair kit it was soon as good as new. I did see other pads that seemed to compress smaller, (as the Exped was a little bulky) But I was happy with the Exped and so would use again Weight: 470g + 15g stuff sack

Osprey Aether 70 Backpack – Weight: 2290g


I tried many bags but loved the feel of the Aether on my back. It is a large bag and so you can easily over fill it (ha) But then I always carried too much stuff, but as the weight is evenly distributed to your hips and shoulders it doesn’t feel that heavy! It also has loads of little side pockets which are easily accessible, As I obtained this in the UK it comes with a built-in rain cover. I also liked the detachable bag which you can unstrap and take with you. I purchased the 3 Litre reservoir too.

In Hindsight I should have stuck with this bag but due to exhaustion and trying to carry too much weight I swapped it for an Osprey EXOS 48 I loved this bag or rather the feel after I had shed almost 20lb of unnecessary “GEAR”
But I really should have gone for the 58 Liter as I found this one just a little too small
as I struggled to get  all of my food and gear in side.
Several of the Ultra-light hikers had these bags and they loved them.
As I brought this bag in the US it doesn’t come with a built in  rain jacket as the UK ones do, so you need to buy one separately or a big Trash bag! Like the Aether the top can be detached and used separately. I posted my Aether bag up the trail but later swapped back as I preferred  the fact that I could fill from both ends helping me break camp and pack quicker
Verdict I should have stuck with my Aether 70L bag!

Osprey Reservoir /Platypus 3L

Again, with the shake down I let my Osprey reservoir get sent up the trail with my pack,
This was to lose weight as the platy pus was lighter and when I swapped back I kept with the platypus. I would however purchase a second bite valve and post or bounce up the trail as when the valve begins to leak which it will loosing precious water you can easily swap it out
Also, a tip when using a bladder, I found it far better just to place it on the top of the bag, that way you don’t have to remove everything to refill it!!!

Other Water

as my hike progressed and I found out what I was doing my preparation changed , I used my bladder / reservoir for drinking and carried two smart water bottles for helping filter my water and towards the end of the day for cooking, although there were parts of the PCT when I needed to carry as much water as I could
These smart water bottles are perfect to fit the side pocket of most packs and so seemed to be the number one choice for the majority of hikers

Tyvek LW Ground sheet


Cheap as chips as was left over from when I re-roofed my house. Once cut to size It was perfect. To stop it feeling like cardboard wash it a few times before use

Stoves

I started with the MSR Dragonfly, I practiced using it in the garden and a few test hikes I thought it was Brilliant the “Dog Bollocks “so to say. But I hadn’t really thought this through. I was a green hiker, and didn’t think anything about carrying a litre of Fuel. OMG what was I thinking!!!!! oh yes, I wasn’t.
It was a brilliant stove, Boiled water quickly but it was so Noisy.

MSR-Pocket-Rocket-2
It got swapped to a MSR Pocket rocket. What an amazing little stove, it never ever let me down and I used it day and night. I would however recommend taking a small lightweight wind shield. Yes, you can find stones and rock etc but it makes life easier.
I carried the stove inside my pot with a scraper, bottle of olive oil and bottle of chilli sauce oh and my lighter.

Wind Screen

Wind Screen

Optimus Terra Weekend HE Cook

I was I’m a dilemma when deciding on what type of pot to take. A large wide pot or a tall narrow pot. I went with the Optimus Terra weekend He Pot and it was brilliant and lasted me the whole trip, I used it several times a day and it performed better than expected. It has heat exchanger which helps reduces “time to boil saving fuel
The main pot is 0.95 L, and the lid double as a fry pan or small pot, It and mesh storage bag which keeps it all together. I also stored my MSR pocket rocket, my lighter, spoon, pot scarper, Oil and chilli sauce inside, I would use again

Sea to summit Titanium spoon

A spoon is an essential bit of kit this one made the whole journey and was always attached to my pack when not in use. Buy the long  handled one as it’s especially useful if you splash out on a Mountain House meal or other freeze-dried packet dinner. I must admit I sometimes I missed a fork but it’s another thing to carry and loose

Klip It Microwave Soup Mug

This generous capacity Mug from Sistema, well its possibly a bit heavy but I would take it again. Before I became organised I would often knock over my drink, but this cup has a locking lid. I also, often made hot chocolate which I drank while writing my blog and again no chance of knocking it over in my tent

Water Purification


I loved this filter when I brought it but again it was one of my first casualties as it was just too heavy. Great if your car camping but just far too heavy to carry on the PCT

Saywer

It was replaced with the Sawyer Squeeze filter. Sawyer make two, the mini and the larger one shown in the picture. Go for the larger one as the mini will drive you mad as it takes forever to filter a litre of water. It is a small and lightweight brilliantly clever yet simple water filter
I must say I stopped filtering water, after Kennedy meadows, but then I only took my water from springs, If I couldn’t find a good water source I used domestic bleach and added a few drops to my water.

Exped Fold Dry Bags

I loved these bags I used the largest for my food another for my clothes, another for electrical’s and  another for putting my fly in when it was wet, I also used another to put my sleeping pad in as I couldn’t fight the one  that came with it.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles


I started with some cheap trekking poles that twisted to lock, they did the job until I bent one, so it refused to telescope in, although It was still usable, but as the miles fell they began to wear out and were soon down to the nubs
It was no good I needed new ones, again the choices are vast so when I met a fellow hiker I would grill them on their choice of hiking pole. Black diamond with cork handles seemed a popular choice

Electronics

Samsung Galaxy S3

Phone functioned as expected.
Only real issue was my lack of service I went for AT&T this was a bad choice in 2014 has it got any better? also when nearing the end of Washington, I struggled to get a Satellite fix so I was unable to use GPS I presumed this was software related as others with I phones didn’t seem to experience this issue
I  carried a spare battery. and installed a large capacity memory card. I also carried a mains charger lead.

Headphones

To be honest I didn’t listen to any music to well over half way,
I preferred to listen to the nature, water walls, bird song and the sound rattle snakes or a Mountain lion creeping up on me etc !!
When I did use them I preferred the ones that clip over your ears so you don’t have to keep stuffing back into your ears.

Olympus Tough TG-830

Wow what a great camera so thanks you again Olympus. This camera so exceeded my expectations I dropped it in water I bounced it down mountains, froze it in the snow and roasted it in the desert and yet it still managed to capture amazing photos and video. The battery lasted well although I did take a spare just in case.
Verdict Just a bloody awesome camera.
I took many cards and changed then regularly as I had a phobia of a card going faulty and losing the pictures. I also never deleted anything waiting to get home before editing anything

Sansa 8 GB MP3 Player


I brought this separate MP3 player because of great reviews. I thought it was great, when I used it on my training hikes and it has a radio too.
Thesound quality is pretty good.
I added an extra 8 GB micro SD card to expand the memory to 16GB which was ample for me, But I often listened to the radio when I could get a signal. So yes, great little device .10/10

Travel Speaker

This sadly was another casualty of my shake down. Instead of bouncing I put it in the hiker box so unable to offer any reviews as it never got used.

Solar Monkey adventure

What a brilliant solar charger it performed better than expected. I carried it fastened to my pack so that it always had a charge, and as it has an internal battery when in town I charged it via the mains giving me extra juice.
¾ through the Hike the usb ports became a little loose and gave me some issues but I Must say a big thanks to Customer support as they rushed me out a new one from the UK so panic over Verdict Bloody brilliant
Since writing, this Solar monkey have made several improvements the newer model is now waterproof!!

Back up Battery

Power Monkey/Power traveller
Again, a Brilliant back up battery that came into its own toward the end of my hike when the Sun hid for several days. It is sleek and compact. So, Don’t Hike without this travel essential to power your devices on the go.
Verdict Brilliant
Since writing this I have been using an anka
Which has done very well although its much heavier

TIKKA PLUS2 headlamp

I loved this headlamp. It has both white and red lights and each of those have two intensity levels. I used the red when night hiking so people could follow me. This headlamp never let me down and it was heavily used. I did take two spares but they were not needed

Julbo Bivouak Chameleon Sunglasses

I must say these sunglasses were recommended by one of my sponsors and so I went with his recommendations.
They are Fantastic sunglasses, they grip well and securely to my face – ideal for the trail, they included strap which was very handy.
I used these contanly on the trail from start to finish the magnetic side fittings were good in the snowy sections of the Pct. Visibility is super and the photochromic lenses make them very versatile. Oh, they look good too. Not cheap but I didn’t pay for them 10/10

Clothing

I haven’t included weights as to me this is essential stuff unless you plain to hike naked along the trail and good luck to you if you do

Mountain Hardware Glove

Butter™ Glove
I manged to somehow lose my original gloves so brought these in Wrightwood. Although they are light-weight, they kept my hands warm and seemed to dry very quickly wet I got them soaked
10/10

Rab Microlight Jacket

I must say This jacket certainly lived up to exceptions It was light, extremely warm in fact I was never cold when wearing this jacket and it compacted very small saving space in my pack. On arriving at a campsite for the evening this jacket was the first item I put on before putting up my tent. The jacket was always filthy whilst I was on the trail but looked brand new once I could get to a launderette. It also stood up to the harshness of the trail and has no rips or tears which is amazing since I wore it most days nonstop for 5 months Verdict Great product 10/10
NB this is not waterproof if it rained I put my jacket over the top!!

Marmot Precap jacket

This jacket performed brilliantly although it didn’t get a lot of use until I reached Washington, its design helps air flow allowing the jacket to shed excess moisture vapor so you don’t seat from within
It has great arm movement, Pit Zips™ and Pack Pockets™ It also stuffs into its own pocket to help packing. But whenever I need this baby it was always at the bottom of my pack.

NosiLife Cargo Shorts

Great permanently insect-repellent travel shorts. They certainly worked in Mossies country
I loved these shorts as they need minimum maintenance – just wash, shake, hang-dry and you’re good to go. What I didn’t like was that the belt loops at the side were fastened by poppers, and so as the miles whizzed by and the weight fell off these poppers wore out and so they were useless and so the belt stayed around my waist and the shorts around my knees. Also, I found that when climbing that I did not have enough knee room to step up but that was also due to the shorts not staying up eventually I swapped them as I had worn them out and they no longer fitted.
I would say that I complete over 90% of the trail in these shorts
So yes, I would use again 9/10

Craghoppers  NosiLife  Long Sleeved Shirt

Great shirt, I lived in shirt for many months, it was great for the desert as the long sleeves protected you against the sun and the neck rolled up to help protect your neck. You could also button up the sleeves maintering it short when needed.
I found this a lightweight and very practical shirt

montane terra pants

I must admit that I didn’t wear theses much as I preferred my shorts, even through the bloody Poodle dog I stayed in my shorts.
But yes, they performed well and did the task, I tended to wear them mainly on wash day!!

Waterproof Trousers

In all honesty I didn’t carry them until Portland, where they moved from my bounce box to my pack and then I think I wore them about 4 times. so will I take them again maybe not!!

Hat

What Does what it says on the tin!!

Beanie

My Staples beanie Perfect other makes are available
Again, does what it says on the Tin.

Fleece /Thermal top

Active Long-Sleeve Zip is a base layer but also great to keep you warm, I usually threw this on when I made camp to stop me getting cold and when it was hot it helped keep me cool must be magic

T shirt / Vest

Under Armour Heatgear compression short sleeve
Sadly, that’s not my body although it did look good whilst hiking, I carried two of these and replaced them when they wore out.
When cold I would wear under my shirt or fleece but mainly I just wear this and my shorts. I loved the fit of them so would use again

Underwear


I carried two pairs of pants made from Merrell wool and if I am honest lived in them a week at a time before washing well I am a hardened hiker oh and a smelly bloke. I used 4 pairs on the whole trail swapping my old faithful pair out just past halfway, I’m sure you ladies have a better strategy

Socks

I used Horizon socks but these were mainly because I was wearing boots, I always carried 4 pairs but swapped them regularly during the day or when needed and always rinsed them out at night. I didn’t wear them in bed, didn’t feel the need
When I swapped to trail runners, I switched to smart wool socks and repeated the process.

Footwear


Bergauhaus Explorer Trek GTX

When I was looking for boots, I quickly fell in love with these. They were so comfortable, waterproof and I thought that they would perform well on the trail, give me good traction on the many hills and keep my feet dry.
The Blub said “Tough suede and mesh upper is combined with an EVA midsole and OrthoLite® foot bed for great cushioning and anti-odour properties. A Bergauhaus engineered TPU PLANTAR PLATE™ protects and secures each foot while the OPTI-STUD® outsole delivers outstanding grip on all surfaces. And they were on the e Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Recommended Kit List
Weight (approx.): 1120g
They looked and felt perfect even Better When Bergauhaus sent me three pairs. I tested them on my training hikes yes theses will be perfect.
AND YES!! they were they transported me across deserts and across snow topped mountains, but they were heavy, its only when a friend caught up with me and gave me a bollocking for wearing boots that I decided to try something different as most of the Hikers on the PCT were wearing trail runners. Again, there are many brands to choose from, Mongoose, Merrill, Brooks Mongoose, Solomon’s etc I chose

Solomon’s XA Pro 3D


They took a little getting used to especially the lace system, and I was a little worried about blisters, being new shoes, BUT WOW they fitted like a glove straight out of the box. and I loved them, I began to do bigger miles (when permitted) as they were much lighter on my feet.
I used three pairs to get to Canada, I could of used less but I wanted to look after my feet and not have my shoes “Ducktaped together, also once you wreck you shoes , then you socks get wrecked followed by your feet and as they are most important for hiking I swapped out my trail runners. 10/10 I would use again

Miscellaneous

Gerber Paraframe 2

When I left staples they guys presented me with a knife which I added to my kit. It was only when I tried to cut up some mole skin that I thought this is bloody useless .
Whilst at the Post office in Warner springs I found the above knife on the ground , a previous Hiker must of dropped it, It was a great knife very sharp and folded neatly away . Later up the Trail I came across  a Hiker and asked if he had lost it , indeed it was his. So as soon as I reached the next town of Wrightwood .I manged to find the exact knife and brought it . There are a hundred or so knives to choose from big one small one Swiss army etc But for me this was was perfect 10/10

Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel Alloy


The Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel is light and compact and is the perfect tool to dig that all important hole with, remember at least 10cm deep and away from water courses. The handle has an opening at one end allowing you to store essential paper and a gas lighter to burn used paper.
It does exactly what it says on the tin

Life Systems First Aid Kit


And not forgetting my first aid kit, I added blister packs, needles, more plasters miles of mole skin, small scissors, the rest was taken up with various pills.
Again a lot of medicines are much cheaper in the US, so I didn’t have to take so many.
to many hikers this maybe excess weight, over kill etc. Buti liked to have it.
Also, your first aid kit will evolve, at the beginning its mainly foot care and blister prevention later its bites!!

Compass

Doesn’t really need any explanation, I always carried one just in case, and yes, I know how to use it,

Other things I carried, tooth paste tooth brush, towel but soon ditched and used my banana, several bananas to keep the sweat out of my eyes, a whistle, just in case and a bug net for those pesky mossies. I also carried a bottle of deet when in mossie country.

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