My gear reviews so far. I am still working on it. Feel free to email me about my gear.
Backpack – Mammut Creon Light 45+5 l
It’s a great pack. I loved it before the pct. After 800 miles I started to fantasise about a new pack. It’s a great pack if you don’t put more than 30-35 lb / 10-15 kg in it. In the desert, at times it was a lot more. With the bearcannister it was more. There is insufficient padding in the hip belt for more weight. I wasn’t bothered by the lack of padding in the shoulder straps but someone else might. I actually cut open the hipbelt and added more padding. I had a kneebrace which I used for extra padding, and I have used my towel a lot for extra padding. I think the pack just wasn’t designed to carry more weight.
The bearcannister fit inside. Just. I think it ruined my pack. The cannister rubbed against the frame which caused the fabric to rib.
Later on the fabric to keep the pack from my back was ripping which made the frame dig in my back.
It’s a good pack for weekend hikes, maybe for long trips in Europe, it is not suitable for a PCT-thru-hike because it is not designed for heavier loads, big water carries and bearcannisters.
– The bottom zipper to access items on the bottom of the pack
– Two pockets on the top flap.
– Spacious pouches on the outside
– The weight of the pack
– Frame. My back was clear from the pack, which is nice and cool.
– A second hip belt pocket
– More padding in hip belt as it became very uncomfortable after 200 kilometer.
However Mammut USA has a really good warranty policy and they replaced my pack with the recommendation to get a more suitable pack.
Backpack – Mammut Heron Crest 40+10 l and Hera Crest 38+10
This pack was supposed to carry heavier loads better.
I wasn’t too impressed with the extra padding in the hipbelt and back. Firefox said, after swapping backpacks for a quarter mile, that it felt like a piece of cardboard on her back. I got funny brown spots (like chaving but not really) on my back, I already had them on my hips.
The Heron hipbelt broke after 120 miles. The Hera showed the same problem within 2 days.
The Hera is a female pack and has a smaller hipbelt and shorter back. Like on all three Mammut packs I had, you can change the back length. Whoever a males length size m is different females length size m. The maximum size on the Hera was m and even after extending the back length maximum (beyond size m) it felt like carrying most of the weight on my shoulders. Not comfortable.
– More padding
– Two compartments
– Too many zippers and buckles. Yes it’s cool that top part can be taken off but it’s extra weight, yes that side zipper is nice, but not necessary when having the main compartment spit in two.
– breaking hipbelt. It’s not that strong.
– Not enough padding. Not comfortable with 35 + pound loads.
Tent – Z-packs Solplex
When I got the tent I had to cut and fix the guidelines to the tent. I was surprised that it was a fixed line, I am used to pull the guidelines tight during or after the setup. I bought these line spanners/adjustables and applied them later to the guidelines of my tent. I can strongly recommend doing that, it makes the setup so much easier.
I found that the tent has plenty of space. My sleeping pad is little too short for me which makes place for my pack. The walls are high enough so you hardly touch the walls while sleeping.
In comparison to nylon tents I found that cubenfiber is very waterproof. Nylon will guide the water away from you, and when you touch it it goes right through. With cubenfiber it won’t.
I read a review online of a guy who said that you should have a free standing tent when hiking the PCT, he claimed to have hiked several long distance trails. I disagree. I have always managed to pitch my tent. I use big rocks on rocky floors, I tie my tent to trees where I have the opportunity, when hiking up Withney I used a long rope to hang my tent from a tree so I could take my trekking poles. Be creative.
I carry extra line. Guidelines can break when you tie them to sharp rocks. Also I used the line to tie the guidelines to trees. And occasionally I used the line for hanging food, my lines combined werveling enough for that, a bit of an over kill maybe. I found a little bit of extra line useful and worthwhile carrying.
I love this tent. I love the challenge of setting it up. I love that I can look outside without opening zippers, yet I didn’t feel like anyone could look inside. Be careful with the fabric it can damage. Z-packs does give extra tape to fix holes. The tape is amazing, I patched a few holes somewhere in the desert, and the tape helt the rest of the trip. I had a few tiny needle point holes in the fly, some bigger ones in the floor. By the time I reached Cascade Locks I had lots of little pin holes.
– lightweight, one of the lightest tents I could find
– It uses my trekking poles
– Airy and open, I have windows to look outside
– I like the challenge of setting up my tent
– Adjustables for the guidelines, just give the costumer the tool to make the guidelines adjustable.
– Airy and open, sometimes I felt people could see me while I was changing.
– There are tents with removable floors. This can be an advantage when having to pack up a wet tent. You can keep you floor dry! This way your (short) sleeping pad stays dry and your sleeping bag stays dry.
– I am a person who never believed in footprints for tents. With this tent I would recommend having one, not a cubenfiber one just a piece of cheap tyfec, yet I never got one. I think it will improve the life of the tent. In the desert I really missed some sort of pad to sit on. Later I felt I didn’t need one anymore until my pack was too big for me and I was forced to take a little pad.
Trowel – Spade of Deus
I started the trail without a trowel. It’s possible to dig a hole with a stick or stone. Later I kept borrowing the trowel of Podcast and Ewalk. It’s soo much easier digging a hole with a trowel. I got the lightest trowel, and it works wonderful.
– Many choices for colours
Sleepingbag – Mammut
It’s a 15 degree bag I found out on one of the labels. I had maybe 2 or 3 nights a cold night. Probably you could do with a 20 degree bag. Also I use a liner. I like that I can wash my bedding although after 2000 miles I cared less and less about that. On warmer nights I could sleep in just my liner and using my sleepingbag as a sort of quilt. I don’t like laying right on my sleeping pad. There is usually dirt and sand on it, not comfortable.
– The zipper is always a little difficult.
Sleeping pad – Exped
I expected a lot of problems with my inflatable pad. I was afraid of punctures. I had some problems with it in Iceland, the lanes were clogged together so there were big lumps where I slept on. The warranty replaced the pad for me, that’s the one I brought on the pct.
I always said to myself, if my sleeping pad breaks I will not buy an inflatable pad anymore. This whole trip I have been jealous of the people who have a non inflatable pad during lunch to sit on to do stretches and yoga on. I am sort of sad it didn’t break.
The pad is very comfortable though. If I were to choose again I would have a small top body inflatable and a legs foam pad.
I think this was very soon one of my favourite items. It’s always close, because on trail, when you think you have to pee you’ll keep walking, so when you do stop, you really have to pee. You don’t want to be searching for toiletpaper and (according good hiker etiquette) your ziplock trash bags, you just want to go and keep it dry.
The idea is that the sun disinfects the rag. I rinsed it in streams now and then, and off course I washed it in town. I met a few girls who didn’t have one because of the idea, but believe me it’s is super handy. All the girls who didn’t have one and gont one, loved it. Any piece of rag wil do the job. I would recommend to make a hole or loop with a small carabiner to easily click on and off the rag.
Water filter – Sawyer mini squeeze
I liked my filter the first 500 miles or so. It did the job. Around the half way point I leaned how to properly flush back the filter and it did run more smoothly after. Give it a few good smashes in your hands too loosen all the dirt that is stuck in there.
The filtering is a lot of effort. If I were to choose again I would take the platypus gravity filter. You hand it from a tree you set up and you have water. It’s a little expensive though, if you were to choose the sawyer squeeze, take the bigger one, it does run faster.
I used drops often as well. I didn’t mind the taste, well I didn’t taste the taste. But take a backup, for water treatment. At the start I had the filter with drops as a backup, after the half way point it wasv the other way around.
– Not too expensive
– It’s not running fast after a while.
– Read the manual how it deals with freezing temperatures, mine was out in the frost, I have been told it doesn’t like that. I threw mine away after the trail just in case.
Stove and cookware
A pot is a pot, just pick one. I had one that file a cup inside and had a lid. I just took the pot, the pot is really crooked so the cup doesn’t fit inside anymore.
My stove was the whisperlight. A nice little stove, but heavy. I took it because supposedly it is faster and better at high altitudes. It’s not. Most other hikers used cannister fuel. You can get this fuel in almost every town. You just turn it on and you’re cooking. I had to let a little fuel in. Start it. Pre heat. Then turn it on. Wait for the blue flame. Then I was cooking. It’s a lot of work and effort that you don’t want to take. This was a reason for me for not having hot breakfast, for mostly only cooking one hot meal a day, even when I planned for two. If I were to choose again I would go for a jet boil sort of stove, or depending where I hike, an alcohol stove. Alcohol stoves are prohibited on the PCT, and probably also on the CDT.
– Cheap fuel, on the whole trip I spend about 40 dollars on fuel. Petrol from the gas station works just fine, this was 3 dollars for fuel and a vitamin water. This lasted me whole of Washington. The fuel, not the vitamin water. The other three times I bought a one or two liter bottle, which would last me forever.
– It doesn’t use a lot of fuel so it’s ideal if you’re with hiking with friends.
– I never had problems nor did I do any maintenance on my stove
– I have a theory that the smell of petrol kept away the mice in Washington. It’s not proven, but it was the only thing I did really different from other hikers. I did not seem to have the mouse troubles others had apart from a few scratches on my pack. I wasn’t particularly careful with my food either.
– pre heating takes a lot of effort. Again if you’re hiking with friends you can split chores.
– Always dirty fingers.