Anwen Roberts

PCT gear round-up: the big four

GEAR. GearGearGearGearGear. I’ve thought about gear so much over this past ten months or so of planning that it’s lost almost all meaning. For anyone serious about hiking for five months straight, though, it’s worth some research. Here I’ll talk about the four most important gear choices I’ve made and why I chose them. Keep in mind that it’s very possible that I might end up changing my mind and switching some of this gear on-trail if it ends up not working for me.


Osprey Aura 50

The pack in question

I’ll be carrying an Osprey Aura 50L. It’s a women’s pack (sister to the Osprey Atmos), which may or may not really be the best for me in the long run due to my broad shoulders and smaller chest. So far it’s been comfortable on day hikes with around 20lbs, so I’m optimistic.

Why I chose it

I got a great deal on the pack when a local outdoors store closed down. I was going to go for a specialized ultralight pack like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, but it cost a more than what I was comfortable paying at the time, and I was a bit concerned about durability. Now, I kind of wish that I’d bought a UL pack instead, but as far as weight goes, the Aura isn’t too bad (3lbs 2oz), and is rated pretty well by other thru-hikers who have used it. Plus, Osprey has the best lifetime warranty ever – they’ll repair or replace your pack, no questions asked.


Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2

There’s a whole tent in there!

Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2

What it looks like without the rain fly

Always on the lookout for a deal, I got a killer one – about half-price – on the Mountain Hardwear Super Mega UL2. Check the top image for a photo of the tent with the rain fly set up (picture taken during my test campout in the Rocky Mountain foothills, south-west Alberta).

Why I chose it

I wanted something lightweight, double-walled, free-standing, and larger than a single person tent. I was considering the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2, but stumbled upon this one at half the price at a local dealer. It fulfils all of my criteria, though It’s a bit awkward to get in and out of. Also the stakes feel cheap. But really that’s my only complaint so far.

Sleeping bag

Enlightened Equipment Revelation

I don’t think that’s how it works.

I ordered a custom-made Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 degree sleeping quilt in bright fuschia, just because.

Why I chose it

I wanted something light-weight, real down, and preferably not a human burrito wrap mummy bag. I’ve used it once, at about 0 degrees (32F), and I shivered all night, so lesson learned. I think part of the reason was due to my inadequate sleeping pad, though (Thermarest Z-lite sol), which I have since replaced.

Sleeping pad

Thermarest NeoAir Xlite

Made for each other

NeoAir Xlite

The NeoAir Xlite in its full inflated glory

I started off with the Thermarest Z-lite Sol which made me wish for the sweet embrace of death as I tried to sleep through my last freezing-temperature test campout. I have since invested in the cushy pad of my dreams, the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite (WR).

Thermarest Zlite Sol

We can’t ever be friends

Why I chose it

As hardcore as I wished I was, the closed-cell foam pad was not working for me. I have some lower back issues, and I’m a habitual side-sleeper so I had to ultimately go with an inflatable pad. I’m a bit concerned about impaling it on a cactus or pine needle, but I’ll just have to be careful if that’s the price of a good night’s sleep (or any sleep, let’s be honest).



Trying not to obsess: 3 weeks to go
I'm not good with titles



  1. Reply


    March 10, 2015

    Great minds think alike as we have similar gear and similar logic (tent and pad) I have a z-lite sit pad that I love and use as my “front porch” to get in/out of my tent. I stand with my back to the tent on it and then crouch down and back-in to the tent. I swapped out those stakes with Gossamer Gear titanium stakes. I also bought a polycryo sheet from Gossamer Gear to make a super light groundsheet for it. Search “polycryo groundsheet” on YouTube by Scott Hayden. I’m adding the grommets this year as last year I just used the sheet but in wind it was tough to keep in place. See you on the trail!

  2. Reply


    March 10, 2015

    GoalTech – Thanks for your comment. I considered the polycro groundsheet but I’m using a reflective space blanket instead. It was super cheap ($5) and t’s pretty durable, but I haven’t found any other accounts of hikers doing the same thing, so hopefully it isn’t a big mistake! If so, then I’ll be making an order with Gossamer Gear on-trail.

  3. Reply


    March 11, 2015

    I’d think that’d work. Probably the main thing is just the comparison in puncture and tear resistance of which I don’t know on the blanket. Might be worth a test with an edge piece if you have any extra to poke and prod it to see how it holds up.

  4. Reply


    January 11, 2017

    I am looking into an EE Revelation. I’m debating on length. I’m a 5’9.5″, medium-built female and while the Regular would be the “right” size, the Long would allow me to snug it up over my head (I tend to be a side sleeper so I do not believe condensation would be an issue). May I ask your height and the length that you used? Was your choice optimal for you or did you wish that you went with a different length or width? I would be willing to trade a few ounces for a few more nights of being toasty, but only if it’s really worthwhile.

    • Reply


      January 28, 2017

      Hey, sorry for the delay in getting back to you! I’m also 5’9.5″ and medium built side sleeper. The regular length is fine but I still find myself wishing I sprung for the longer version so I could tuck in more. I like being able to pull the quilt over my head on colder nights but I have to bend my knees to do it. I say go for the long! A couple extra ounces are well worth the better sleep. Since you’re similar to me in build I would say the wider size is unnecessary, though. Hope that helps!

  5. Reply


    January 12, 2018

    Thanks for the info. Was the 20 degree quilt warm enough? I’m trying to decide between the 20 degree and 30 degree for the PCT this year. Thanks.

    • Reply


      February 22, 2018

      Sorry for the late reply! I know that temperature tolerance varies from person to person, but when it comes to quilts I recommend erring on the cooler/lighter side for the PCT. You can always wear an extra later. Halfway through the trail I stopped using my liner and mostly slept in my underwear. I don’t think the nights were especially warm, but I think I got used to sleeping a bit cooler. I heard several people complain that their sleeping bags were too warm/heavy, and not many complaints of the opposite. I say go for the 30 degree if you sleep really warm at home, otherwise go 20 degree. 10 degree would be overkill, I think. Just make sure the quilt is long/wide enough for you. I really wish my quilt had a couple of extra inches to it.