Afterthoughts on gear

For the most part, I’m very satisfied with my gear choices. No major failures. However, I am a smallish woman so my gear is based around that fact. I got most of my gear the previous year and tested it on the AT for 3 weeks. Economy is also a big driving factor for my gear!

Pack: GoLite Jam. I got it cheap. It’s about the smallest pack anyone can hope to get away with. It was tight with the bear can in the Sierras, but I planned shortish stints between resupply and left Kennedy Meadows at 28 pounds.

Groundcloth: Tyvek, the only way to go. Virtually free, disposable, washable, effective.
Tarptent Contrail: a fine UL tent, uber roomy. Next time, I’d try the Tarptent Moment for smaller footprint and faster setup time.
Thermarest Neo Air Med. My height exactly. 5′ 4″ and 2.5″ of comfort for my bad back. I had leak problems twice though without finding the source. Exchanged at REI no problem.
Bag: Marmot Helium Women’s 15 degree. Pretty darn good choice.

Women’s Patagonia Drifter hiking shoes. The bomb!
Smartwool Ultra Light micro mini running socks. Thin is best.
Injini toe socks, it’s good to mix up your sock options.

Montbell Thermawrap vest. Awesome up till the sierras, then switched to Patagonia NanoPuff jacket.

GoLite tank top
nylon skirt
old $2 Danskin thermal turtleneck. When I lost it I got a Smartwool LS shirt
old polartek long johns. Ugly but fine. Many repairs on these!
vest or jacket mentioned above
Marmot Essence UL rain/wind jacket- totally failed in Washington, dead lining!
REI rain/wind pants- great for glissading, and an extra layer. Totally effective.
3 pr socks plus 1 pr sleeping (warmer) wool socks.
Loki 3-in-1 hat. Freaking awesome.
GoLite visor, with bandana under to protect head/neck sometimes. UL, easy, effective, ugly!
gloves: Mountain Hardware power stretch. with disposable medical gloves in rain/sleet. Good.

Home made alcohol, see other posts. I like my choice.

Stuff sacks:
Sea to Summit waterproof stuff sacks. You MUST put your sleeping bag in one. Get the slightly bigger size than the teeny one your bag came in. Another smaller bag for clothes. Maybe one for food.

Ursack Minor food storage. I love this in less-bear-y areas.

Dermatone Lip Balm. simple, great, non-tasting.
Home made sun sleeves. These really worked great. Wait till YOU sunburn the crap out of your hands!
Black Diamond traverse trekking poles. 3,000+ miles.

Here’s me in my home-made sun sleeves:


About wanderingdot

Thru-hiking the PCT 2011, CT 2014, Ice Age Trail 2017 Artist/sculptor, professor, master fabricator
This entry was posted in Gear, PCT 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Afterthoughts on gear

  1. What did you think of your water filter? You carried a Sawyer in-line filter, right? Also, in non-bear territory it seems that many people opted to sleep with their food rather than hang it or use an ursack minor. Why do you prefer the ursack? Thanks for the post!

  2. wanderingdot says:

    I fully endorse the Sawyer. It’s simple and 1.8 oz. Things to consider are: do you generally drink plain water or lots of flavor drinks? Do you want/like using a Platy sip tube? Check my youtube channel for details about it. Do not think you can “share” it with your partner.

    I often slept with my food toward the end of my hike. By then I was confident and very tired. At the beginning of the hike I loved the Ursack minor. No worries about mice nibbling at your tent waking you up= sleep good. It’s totally annoying waking up 10 times in the night to munch sounds by your head. The minor weight vs peace of mind were fine. Plus, you are needing a food bag anyways right? the PCT doesn’t rain much, so I found my Sea to summit waterproof bag for food was unnecessary.

    FYI you WILL be too tired to hang your food most nights, it’s a pain and takes 5-20 min and you will come to hate it. The most bear-dense area is NOrthern Cali. be aware.

    • Rockin' says:

      Ditto on bears dominating Northern California! I have the regular weight Ursack and absolutely love it. On my shopping list for next summer is the minor for Oregon and Washington. I found that when I left the Ursack behind I did not sleep as well, especially when I slept with my food.

      So WD just when I thought I might take the leap and go to a little lighter tent, you make
      me think. I was looking again at “The One” by Gossamer. I love an easy to set up, fully covered tent at the end of big mile days and probably won’t be a tarp girl anytime soon.
      Any thoughts?

  3. Carol Brown says:

    Hi Wandering Dot – great PCT story. I so enjoyed reading it. I’ve looked for a photo of your homemade sun sleeves, but didn’t find one. I’d love to see what you did as I’d also like to protect my hands/forearms while hiking. Again, great blog! Carol

  4. Tom says:

    Enjoyed your informative posts and youtubes. Could you tell me more about using the Big Zip? You had to take it out of your pack all the time to fill it up – was that difficult? Any additional thoughts on water treatment and hydration? Thanks.

    • wanderingdot says:

      hi Tom

      I hear ya. Some people don’t like using Platys b/c they are hard to get in and out of the pack. It only irritated me when my pack was fully loaded (like in the Sierras squeezing the bear can in). I use the rather small Go Lite Jam original pack. It has an interior mesh pocket against your back for the platy. I tend to let mine ride high so its quite easy to remove. I hiked with a girl using a Granite Gear pack which had a way to insert your platy against your back OUTside the pack. While it probably wasn’t designed for this– i think there was just back padding in there… there was room and she loved that.

      I can say the 3L when full delivers more pressure to push water thru the Sawyer filter when using as a gravity feed. somewhere I have a whole post on that. I recently got the new Sawyer squeeze system, so I’ve been experimenting with that and haven’t been using platys lately.


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