Pacific Crest Trail: Planning Our Thru Hike

Pacific Crest Trail: Planning Our Thru Hike

Pacific Crest Trail Planning is a test in logistical strength. On top of deciding on and purchasing all of our clothing and equipment that we’ll be taking with us, as thru hikers we need a way to maintain our gear and food so that we can stay out there and keep going.

While everyone is different, in fact the unofficial motto of the Pacific Crest Trail is “hike your own hike,” we’re sharing our plans and strategy for completing the thru hike here.

Hiking Our Own Hike

There is ample online information on how to plan and execute a long-distance thru hike, with hikers detailing their plans and projected itineraries. While this information is of course helpful for figuring out what you need to do, there’s no right way to hike or to complete the trail.

Hiking our own hike! If only it looked this good all the time.
Hiking our own hike! If only it looked this good all the time.

Most of this advice falls into one of two camps: the resupply boxers and the wingers (and some with a mix of the two). Some hikers rely only or mostly on resupply boxes to refill their food supplies as they need. Others plan less and and use opportunities to resupply in towns along the Pacific Crest Trail as they go.

After a lot of thought about how we would be managing our hike, we liked less the idea of having to pack boxes upon boxes of food that we may or may not like after months on the trail, and liked more the idea that we could choose our food and plans in the moment at any given time.

Do whatever feels right for you. If you baulk at the prospect of planning your entire hike in advance- don’t. If you would feel more secure in having your food already taken care of, resupply boxes could be a great option for you.

Hike your own hike, plan your own hike.

Resupplying Food

One of the top questions people ask us about hiking the trail is how we will be carrying enough food and water for the whole thing. That’s not an option for any hiker, but we will be replenishing our food and water supplies in towns that the trail passes through along the way.

Before officially starting the trail, we'll be sending only one resupply box to ourselves.
Before officially starting the trail, we’ll be sending only one resupply box to ourselves.

While we have an idea of what towns we will be passing through to resupply at the beginning of our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike, our plans are less rigid for the rest of the way. We tend to trust that the actual experience of the hike will be different from what we have in mind and that planning too much of the hike in advance doesn’t leave us many options for trying new things and satisfying our tastes and preferences as they change.

Carrying Gear

Pack weight is a big deal in the hiking community. Not only is it one of the most important aspects of your day to day life, but it’s also a matter of prestige. Seriously.

Backpackers come in multiple types: ultralight, minimal and everyone else. Ultralight backpackers tend to rely on selecting “ultralight” gear that is very lightweight.Minimal backpackers are the pinnacle of ridiculous weight pretentiousness, and go to extreme lengths to reduce pack weight, like going without even what seem like the most basic necessities and modifying gear extensively. Everyone else is simply deemed to be carrying too big or too heavy of a pack.

While we’re barely in the ultralight category, we have paid special attention to our gear, selecting gear that’s both functional and lightweight. Check out our condensed pack list for an overview of our Pacific Crest Trail gear list:

Big 4 Name Weight (oz)
Shelter Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 3 Tent 54
Tyvek 8
Sleeping Bag ZPacks 20 Degree Twin Quilt Extra Long 31
His: Cocoon Silk MummyLiner 5
Hers: Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Mummy Bag Liner 14
Sleeping Pad His: Therm-a-rest Neoair Xlite 12
Hers: Therm-a-rest Neoair Xlite 12
Backpack His: Gregory Mountain Products Contour 60 Backpack 64
Hers: Deuter ACT Lite 60 + 10 62
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 8.2
Stove MSR WhisperLite International Stove 11
Fuel MSR Fuel Bottles: 11oz (1), 20oz (2) 13
Camping Pots GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist Cookset 18
Food Storage Armored Outdoor Gear Ratsack 9
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 1.6
Water Treatment Aquamira Technologies Water Treatment Drops 4
Storage MSR Dromedary Bag – 10 Liter 11
Camel Back 7
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 0.7
Warm Weather Headgear His: Columbia Bora Bora Sunhat 3
Hers: Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat 6
Cold Weather His: Beenie 3
Summer Top His: Icebreaker Men’s Tech T Lite Short Sleeve 6
Hers: Underarmour Running V Neck 4
Sun Top His: Columbia Fishing Shirt 7
Hers: Sol Cool Hoodie or Dry Fly Light Shirt Ex Officio 7
Summer Bottom His: Kuhl Radikl Pant or Colombia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant 11
Hers: ExOfficio Bugsaway Damselfly Pant 6
Base Top His: Stoic Merino Top 6
Hers: Smartwool Long Sleeve Merino Crew 6
Base Bottom His: UnderArmour Cold Gear Tights 7
Hers: UnderArmour Cold Gear Tights 7
Warm Top His: MontBell UL Down Jacket 8
Hers: Montbell UL Down Parka with Hood 9
Rain Top His: Marmot Precip 12
Hers: Marmot Precip 10
Undies His: ExOfficio Give N Go x 2 5
Hers: ExOfficio Give N Go x 2 4
Bra Hers: Moving Comfort Urban X-over 8
Socks His: Darn Tough x 2 5
Hers: Darn Tough x 2 5
Injinji Sock Liners x 3 5
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 4.7
Headlamp His: Energizer Triple Beam LED Headlight 3
Hers: Energizer Triple Beam LED Headlight 3
Bug Net Coleman Insect Head Net x 2 1
Pillow His: REI Backpacker Pillow 8
Hers: REI Backpacker Pillow 8
Poop Shovel Coghlan’s Backpackers Trowel 3
Med Kit Tape, bandages, pain meds, allergy meds 11
Anti-Chafe 2Toms Sport Shield Roll-On, 1.5 Ounce 4
Multitool Leatherman 830846 Skeletool Multitool 5
Other Misc Other Misc 16
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 1.9
Camera Sony A7II 20
35mm FE 2.8/f 5
24-240mm FE 3.5-6.3/f 28
B+W 72mm Kaesemann Circular Polarizer 2
Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone x 2 2
Battery x 2 3
Think Tank ~ Digital Holster 10V2 – Small SLRs 16
Tripod Joby GP3 GorillaPod SLR-Zoom + BH1 Ball Head 14
Phone His: iPhone 6 5
Hers: iPhone 5s 4
Battery RAVPower 3rd Gen Deluxe 15000mAh External Battery 11
Charging RAVPower 9W Solar Charger 18
Blogging OMOTON® Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard 11
Reading His: Kindle Paperwhite 9
Hers: Kindle Paperwhite 9
Listening BOOM Swimmer Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker 7
Safety DeLorme inReach Explorer Satellite Communicator 7
Per Person Subtotal (lbs): 5.3
Per Person Total (lbs): 22.3

Get the full overviews of our gear here:

Pacific Crest Trail Gear List Part I: Equipment

Pacific Crest Trail Gear List Part II: Clothing

Pacific Crest Trail Gear List Part III: Technology

Sending Supplies

When you hike for about 20 miles a day everything takes a beating, including your stuff. It’s expected that we will have to replace some of our gear and equipment, or even exchange some of it if it doesn’t work as we need it to.

Just like our food resupplying strategy, we’ll be resupplying gear as needed as we go. We have the option to resupply in towns with outfitters like REI or independent stores, or order gear online to be shipped into an available post office if we know what we’ll need in advance.

Bounce Box

There are times when you need piece of gear or equipment further up the trail, but not necessarily at the moment. Because the weight of your pack is such an issue in long distance hiking, it doesn’t make sense to carry it around if you won’t be using it. This is what your bounce box is for.

With a bounce box, you pack extra items that you don’t need at the moment into a box, and repeatedly send it up the trail, “bouncing” it, to locations where you can get it and retrieve extra supplies. We’re doing this with our laptop computer (not advisable to bring with you on the trail), as well as additional gear and supplies we bought in bulk.


While it may not look like a lot, especially in comparison to all of our gear planning posts, we’re ready to hike our own hike and let the experience of hiking the trail guide us from day to day. If you want to learn more about our Pacific Crest Trail Planning and hike, check out our Trail Journal.

As always, please share your questions or experiences with planning your long distance hike with us in the comments section below!

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