Creux du Van

2018: Creux du Van, Switzerland

 

Easter adventure and PCT preparation camp for the Swiss-PCT-team of 2018. Snow line at around 1.000masl and we hiked above 1.300masl most of the time in knee deep snow. First attempt to climb a narrow gorge had to be aborted due to massive ice and avalanche left-overs on the trail... But Creux du Van was worth the effort. We camped close to the rim and had a fantastic sunset and sunrise at around -6C. #ilovemountains #havetomovetoswitzerland



Walensee Switzerland - an escape into winder-wonderland…

A few impressions from my last escape into the mountains. And whoever says it’s not worth it to take the train for 7h to go there - even for a day only - just have a look at these pictures.

And another thing that is so crystal clear now. I will have to move into the mountains at some point of time. 7h is ok but it’s better to be as close as possible.

Probably some of my best photos so far. You can find the entire set of pictures here: Photo Gallery
Thanks again to the famous Dietmar for his inspiration.

#ilovemountains

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The mountain is calling and I must go - John Muir. What Jane and the EOFT did to me…

The last weeks have been great fun with all the little projects. Many inspiring people and great conversations. But also a lot of work. I’ll elaborate on this issue a bit more later. To make a long story short - I have still not really figured out how to balance and not to into an extreme with most things I do...

M1-Coworking in Mainz. I love the concept of flexible coworking space.

Therefore it was time to force myself away from the computer and do something good. So I went to an inspiring speech of Jane Goodall the famous primatologist and very famous for her studies of chimpanzees. She talked about dedication and how important it is to just follow what you are passionate about and dream of. If you really want it then there is nothing that will stop you. A very tangible story how she developed from a secretary to one of the most well known scientists. And there are careers where you just follow your passion. 84 years old and still running and inspiring people. Thanks, Jane!


 

And then Sunday. What a shock! I went to the EOFT - the European Outdoor Film Tour 17. It’s a now 17 tradition that they show cool stuff crazy people do in the outdoors. From climbing mountains, over kayaking, flying, jungle-expeditions and more. It’s really inspiring and great stuff to watch. Even though the character has shifted a bit to absolute outstanding quality video footage now produced with teams around, helicopters, drones and all the fancy shit doesn’t make it less great to watch.

But it also got me. Re-socialisation was going well more or less until yesterday. But while I was watching these short videos I became super itchy. I felt like being on the wrong side of the screen the entire time… 😳 And again the more white and high stuff was involved the more excited I became.

Also these adventures were talking about how rewarding it is to walk, ski, whatever for 20 hours a day and why it just feels right. That life is so easy out there. The beauty of being far away from things. The amazing feeling to be exposed to natures forces. I could see people frowning with disbelieve but I knew what they were talking about. Shocking what 1,5h of video footage can do to one. What can I say - I guess I am ruined for life… 😂 And - it’s time to plan some outdoor stuff. Soon. Now.

I am coming...

But there is short term hope for now. The perspective of a winter-wonderland hike for a few days in the Alps over New Years. Desperately needed to fuel the outdoor cells… 😍

Fun fact: The price to send a A3 envelope to New Zealand: 7€. The price to send a A3 envelope within Germany (yes, also only 5km into the next village: 6,99€. The look on the clerks face when I asked her how they can transport an A3 envelope over 11.995km for only 0,01€: priceless… 😂


My 11 "unusual" tips for a long distance hike.

Many essential things are discussed in depth in the hiker scene when it comes to long distance hiking. There is a lot of high quality recommendations and feedback on gear, food & planning. That's why I don't even want to bother taking this topic up again.

But I would like to share some of the small and little things which I discovered during my last 8.000km of hiking. Little things which made my hiking life a lot easier or which I found extremely important for an enjoyable hike, a sustainable setup and time & weight savings on the journey.

1. Clothes line in the tent

Usually there are two loops in the top corners of most tents. Get a very thin line or even a fishing line and tie a piece betweeen these two loops. You will have a perfect cloth line in your tent to hang socks or other wet/damp items. If it's warm enough you will have a chance to dry them. And they are also off the ground which will minimise the risk of mice getting them or being attracted by the smell.

2. Gaiters

If you wear trail runners do get gaiters. Since trail runners have a low cut they are prone to collect a lot of little rocks, sand and branches which you kick up while walking. They are now offered by most companies and these tiny little things are great. They have two great advantages: Firstly you don't have to take your shoes off so often anymore to prevent bilsters from rubbing and secondly you will make your shoes and socks last longer. Every little sand crystal stuck in our sock will create more friction between it and the shoe with the consequence of getting holes earlier.


3. Waterproof gloves

There are times where you wish you had waterproof gloves. This usually happens when it is a bit chilly, it rains and you get a bit of wind. With your hands on the poles they are very exposed and they also don't move much by holding the poles. With this the circulation is also not supported much. Does it make sense to carry big and heavy water proof gloves. Usually not. An easy fix for this are zip-lock bags. Take a gallon bag or smaller, put a little piece of ductape over one of the side-edges and then cut a little hole in that piece. That's were you can stick your trekking pole through and your hand will go through the regular opening of the zip-lock. Voila. Ultralight-waterproof gloves:

4. Camera clip

If you carry a camera, especially a bigger one - make sure it is accesible. There is NO sense of carrying a camera which is in your backpack. You will never take your backpack down every time there is a potential photo opportunity. Trust me. And more over many photo opportunities don't even last long enough to take your pack down and get your camera out. Especially when you are taking pictures of wildlife. I started out carrying my camera in a classical camera bag strapped on my chest belt. It works perfectly fine. The only two disadvantages are that the bag stats bouncing once you go a bit faster and you always have to strap and unstrap it when you take your pack up and down.

Now I use a tiny little clip with a little shell which I can pull over the camera to protect it from dust and water. It's a game changer!

Camera can be released with one hand and is always accesible. If you a carry a heavy camer make sure you can also make us of it. Otherwise don't carry it. This is the Peak Design Clip I use for my camera: Pro Clip

5. Food rotation

One of the toughest things at the end of a long distance trail is to actually find something you are willing to eat and which you are not sick of already. Therefore: make sure you rotate your food everytime you can. Even though you might still like it and could do it another turn try not to. Safe it for later so you will be able to eat it until the very end. Because once you have overdone it with one thing it's very unlikely that you'll be able to eat it again on the trail. And it sucks to stand in front of a huge candy bar isle not being able to pick anything because you can't stand it anymore...

6. Take care of your feet

Tackled very often but can't be taken up often enough. Your feet. They are the most important thing on a thru-hike. They carry you and your gear. If you don't take care of them you will have to suffer with every step or even have to go off trail. The biggest mistakes I (and I guess most of us) have made is to ignore the little signs. Especially at the beginning when you are not fully "grooved-in" this becomes crucial. Therefore: If you only feel the lightest rubbing, pinching or whatever. Stop. Don't think it will be ok for another hour or for the day. If you hike 25 miles a day the slightest rubbing will lead to irritated skin or a blister eventually. To heal something like this on a trail is painful. It takes forever since you usually walk on your feet every day and they don't get the brake to recover. Therfore take a quick break and solve it. If it is a rock in your shoe, take it out. If you have a hole in your sock, change it. If you feel a rubbing, get leuko-tape and tape the area properly. If the tape comes off. Fix it. Prevention is easy but we tend to think it will be ok. Don't let it come so far.

The second point is hygiene. Especially when you sweat a lot during high temperatures make sure you wash your feet and socks as often as you can. Take them off during a break, wash both and if you don't get them dry rather walk in wet socks than dirty ones. Your sweat will build little crystals which will function like sand paper on your feet and especially soles. Once you have open spots it's easy to catch infections. So keep them shiny and clean!

7. Duct tape - reduce your base weight

Duct tape is a great tool to fix many things. But you won't need an entire role of tape to fix something until you get to a point where you can take of any issues properly and with unlimited ressources. Therfore don't roll it on a pen or straw but around your trekking poles. You will therefore not have to carry it on your back and safe precious space in your pack.

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8. How to fix cracks in your heels

Sometimes I do get problems with my heels developing cracks. It's hard to heel this. As long as they stay closed and don't open up to much they are usually not a big issue. But if they rip further and you start developing an open wound also the problem with infections can arise again. An easy and very effective way to fix them is to use standard super glue! It sounds a bit odd but it works. It keeps the cracks together and stops them from ripping further.


9. Only carry what you need until the next resupply point

Don't carry anything you don't need! Every step is going to hurt more long term and you will increase the risk of injuries. Therefore - get rid of everything you don't need. And if you have stuff which you will only need for a certain stretch don't carry it the entire way. Send it to where you will need it and once you are out also send it away. Either find a friend where you can store stuff or bounce a box a couple of time until you can pick it up again. More room in your back = more space for chocolate ;-)

10. Use two separate food bags

I find it very helpful to use to separate food bags. One for my breakfast and dinner food and one for snacks and lunch. Why? Because I can leave the breakfast and dinner bag in my pack and I will only have to get a smaller bag out without going through my entire food. And on top it is easier to pack in your backpack if you don't have one giant but two smaller bags.

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11. Sleeping pad size

You don't necessarily need a sleeping pad that is long enough for you. If you are inbetween sizes go for the smaller one. Or even try to go one lower. Seldemly you do lie fully extended on your mat anyways. And on top you can also trick a bit. I usually build a pillow out of my jumper and my downjacket. The pillow does not have to lie on top of the mat - 20cm saved. And also our feet can be bedded on your pack or other equipment items instead. So even with 1,90m (6'2) I can easily go with a small mat and save some weight and space... ;-)

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That’s it for now. I’ll think of a few more and if you want I’ll put together another set.

Let me know if you have any little tips and tricks you would like to share! I am always curious to learn more. Just leave me a comment...


Te Araroa Gear List

I hiked the Te Araroa NOBO in the season of '15/'16 and in 2017 I also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. On these two long distance trails I tried out a lot of different gear and also learned a lot. When I started in New Zealand I was completely over-packed! I had a 75l backpack and carried about 16kg of base weight! Only after three weeks I had the first big "roll-over" where I changed my tent, shoes, backpack and also ditched a lot of stuff.

Changing and reducing gear has almost been a sport since then. Looking back now on how carefully I changed and decided not to carry the one or other extra I almost can't believe how much I voluntarily carried 😂

But I also have to admit that without going through the process myself I would probably not be as convinced of my setup now. I also would have felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff I am doing now (not taking) without the first hand experience. Based on the knowledge I have now and also the confidence in my own capabilities eg. with cold, wet, dry and injuries I still feel safe with the minimal equipment.


What to pack?

Pointing it out again - everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong. You should never risk your health or even life by under packing and not being prepared! If you don't feel comfortable take whatever makes you comfortable! You can still throw stuff out on the next re-supply stop but you can't "get it" in the middle of nowhere if you need and don't have it with you.

In general I do recommend the same stuff I carried on the PCT at the very end. The two trails have a lot in common so also the same gear works fine. So the base with all the detailed explanation is my "Final PCT Gear List" - check it out if you need detailed info to the single sections and items.

One of the major differences between the PCT and the Te Araroa: there is a lot more water involved on the TA! From both sides - above and below. You have more river crossings and many more rain days. Also the Kiwi forest - called bush - stores a lot of water and since the trail is very often overgrown you will have to brush through soaking wet ferns and other vegetation. Therefore the rain gear is more important than on the PCT. I highly recommend a rain skirt for this. It will most likely be to warm for rain pants but the rain skirt is perfect for the TA. It prevents your shorts from getting wet and cold since they also don't dry quickly in the wet forest. I would also recommend a stronger rain jacket than on the PCT since you will go through much rougher terrain - a lot of thorn-bushes, scrubs and more. The very thin ones will most likely not survive for long. Or you'll have to replace them along the way.

Sleeping bag: You can definitely go with a lighter one. Since you are able to spend most nights on the South Island in the backcountry huts you will always be warmer. A +6C comfort temperature sleeping bag was more than enough.

Also the Sawyer Mini will do instead of the Squeeze since you won't really need it.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
439g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
595g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
356g
2.320g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
56g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
50g
441g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain skirt
54g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.357g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Stuff sack
15g
154g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
Peak Design Pro clip
140g
Camera rain cover
Peak Design rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.173g
Additional Gear
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
50g
Total base weight
5.069g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.242g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!

 

As summarised earlier for the PCT already:

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

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Tent:

The Zpacks Solplex is my choice. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

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Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. As mentioned above I would go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I only had a 3 or 4 cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat is my choice since it is light and through the air chamber also gives the best possible insulation from the ground.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! As a water filtration system you can go with the lighter Sawyer Mini instead of the Sawyer Squeeze. I only filtered my water 4 or 5 times on the entire trail. Since there is water everywhere in New Zealand and you rarely have two hours without a water source you can either carry a 2l Platypus or get an additional thin water bottle for the few occasions where you will need it.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink swimming pants, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind. And the above mentioned rain skirt Zpacks Rain Kilt. I would personally make it shorter and keep it over your knees for better movability.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Left: my "carry-on", Right: my outfit

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT,

The only luxury equipment - my camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!


Do What Make Good - Home



My final Pacific Crest Trail / PCT Gear List

Since I have been asked for advise and recommendations many times during the last weeks regarding the "right gear" I sat down and compiled my gear list again. This Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) gear list includes everything I have used on my thru-hike in 2017. You will see it also includes a few tips and tricks, recommendations & explanations on why and how I used certain items. At the end of the article you'll find an overview table with all items and weight. Also check out the Gear section on my site for further info.

Overview

I started out with more and different gear at the beginning of my Pacific Crest Trail journey. Even though I thought I knew what I would need based on my previous experience I changed and optimized quite a few things along the way again. You never stop learning. The most commonly used reference is the one of your "base weight". It includes everything which is in your backpack including the pack itself without food and water. And you usually do not count what you are wearing as your minimal/standard outfit.

I managed to lower my base weight to only 5.4kg (6.6kg incl. my camera gear)! When I saw the numbers earlier I was surprised myself..

Since most of the gear and thoughts are still valid I have recycled a lot from my original post which I put together before I started. If you want to read some background info and compare to what I have now feel free to check out the Post "My Gear List..."


What to pack?

First of all, everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong.
Every environment is different and requires different equipment!
You should never risk your health or even life by under-packing and not being prepared!

The main questions to consider are usually:
What weather will I have to expect? What will be the lowest temperatures?
How remote will I be and how quickly can I escape or receive help in an emergency situation?

This will determine a lot when it comes to the right equipment. The big three are usually your backpack itself, the tent and the sleeping bag. Tent and sleeping bag will depend on the conditions - how stable does the tent have to be (e.g. very stable in Patagonia with a lot of wind and no shelter, less in New Zealand where you can usually camp in the forest and have shelter) and how warm and big does your sleeping bag (and with this usually also the cloth) have to be. By volume and size of all these things you will be able to choose a backpack.

 

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

P7180915.jpg

 

Tent:
ll prefer a tent over a tarp. Even though the days of rain on the PCT are very limited I find it easier to keep things clean, have a protection against mosquitos and stay dry in a tent. Especially since I don't carry a lot of spare cloth or rain protection and I usually do get wet during the day if it rains. So I really need to stay dry and warm in the night - but that's me. Along the way I changed my tent again. I started out with the MSR Hubba NX Solo which for a free standing tent only weighs 1.12kg and has a good stability. But again, the lighter you can get the more fun. So I switched to the Zpacks Solplex which is an incredible tent. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

P6051814.jpg

 

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:
ightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. I started out with a Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C plus a silk liner (120 gr.) to protect the sleeping bag from oil and fat and it gives a bit more of insulation if I need it in cold nights. I had a few cold nights below freezing and used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it. It was ok but when we hit the Sierra Nevada and the potential risk of camping on snow I changed it to the Western Mountaineering UltraLight which weighs 822g and is rated to -7C. Most nights it was way to warm and I only used it as a blanket. In some cold nights in the Sierras & North Cascades I was happy to have it. If you want to go "Ultralight - freeze at night" I would go with the Summerlite and deal with a few uncomfortable nights.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat is my choice since it is light and through the air chamber also gives the best possible insulation from the ground.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:
people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! I use a Sawyer Squeeze water filter (the Sawyer Mini is fine if you only have to filter water once a week or so but if you need it every day in the desert for several liters you will go nuts...) and a 2l Platypus to use with the Sawyer and to carry more water if needed. And if I knew that I had to carry 6 or more liters in a stretch I bought 1 or 2 big water bottles on the last stop and used them as long as I needed them.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:
to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over-pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink swimming pants, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind.
Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.<br
cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.<br
m shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.<br
as I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Left: my "carry-on", Right: my outfit

Medics and hygienic How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienic consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack. (What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT,

The only luxury equipment - my camera Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear Most of the time I also carried the following items on top:
Tyvek (1,60m x 0,60m) to sit / lay on especially when wet, dusty or spiky.

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

Cheap and simple flip flops for camp & city to air out my feet

Temporary items On long hikes one very helpful thing is to mail things ahead to the place where you will really need them and then also to send them off afterwards. Also don't carry anything for 5 month. Carry as much as you need to get to the next resupply point or as much as you need to stay safe. For some conditions you need extra equipment, an extra layer or other special items. On the PCT I temporarily carried:

Thermarest sit pad for the stretches with snow, micro spikes & ice axe for the Sierra Nevada and a mosquito head net for Oregon.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
439g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
822g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
356g
2.547g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
89g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
50g
474g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.303g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Rope
33g
Hanging food
2 small carabiners
20g
Stuff sack
15g
202g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
Peak Design Pro clip
140g
Camera rain cover
Peak Design rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.173g
Additional Gear
Ground sheet
Tyvek 1,60 x 0,60m
100g
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
150g
Total base weight
5.423g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.596g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!

 


Final Pacific Crest Trail / PCT Gear List

» Find a table with all PCT gear items and weights at the bottom...

I started out with more and different gear at the beginning of my Pacific Crest Trail / PCT journey. Even though I thought I knew what I would need based on my previous experience I changed and optimized quite a few things along the way again. You never stop learning. The most commonly used reference is the one of your "base weight". It includes everything which is in your backpack including the pack itself without food and water. And you usually do not count what you are wearing as your minimal/standard outfit.

I managed to lower my base weight to only 5.4kg (6.6kg incl. my camera gear)! When I saw the numbers earlier I was surprised myself..

Since most of the gear and thoughts are still valid I have recycled a lot from my original post which I put together before I started. If you want to read some background info and compare to what I have now feel free to check out the Post "My Gear List..."


What to pack?

First of all, everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong.
Every environment is different and requires different equipment!
You should never risk your health or even life by under packing and not being prepared!

The main questions to consider are usually:
What weather will I have to expect? What will be the lowest temperatures?
How remote will I be and how quickly can I escape or receive help in an emergency situation?

This will determine a lot when it comes to the right equipment. The big three are usually your backpack itself, the tent and the sleeping bag. Tent and sleeping bag will depend on the conditions - how stable does the tent have to be (e.g. very stable in Patagonia with a lot of wind and no shelter, less in New Zealand where you can usually camp in the forest and have shelter) and how warm and big does your sleeping bag (and with this usually also the cloth) have to be. By volume and size of all these things you will be able to choose a backpack.

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

P7180915.jpg

Tent:

I still prefer a tent over a tarp. Even though the days of rain on the PCT are very limited I find it easier to keep things clean, have a protection against mosquitos and stay dry in a tent. Especially since I don't carry a lot of spare cloth or rain protection and I usually do get wet during the day if it rains. So I really need to stay dry and warm in the night - but that's me. Along the way I changed my tent again. I started out with the MSR Hubba NX Solo which for a free standing tent only weighs 1.12kg and has a good stability. But again, the lighter you can get the more fun. So I switched to the Zpacks Solplex which is an incredible tent. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

P6051814.jpg

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. I started out with a Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C plus a silk liner (120 gr.) to protect the sleeping bag from oil and fat and it gives a bit more of insulation if I need it in cold nights. I had a few cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it. It was ok but when we hit the Sierra Nevada and the potential risk of camping on snow I changed it to the Western Mountaineering UltraLight which weighs 822g and is rated to -7C. Most nights it was way to warm and I only used it as a blanket. In some cold nights in the Sierras & North Cascades I was happy to have it. If you want to go "Ultralight - freeze at night" I would go with the Summerlite and deal with a few uncomfortable nights.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat is my choice since it is light and through the air chamber also gives the best possible insulation from the ground.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! I use a Sawyer Squeeze water filter (the Sawyer Mini is fine if you only have to filter water once a week or so but if you need it every day in the desert for several liters you will go nuts...) and a 2l Platypus to use with the Sawyer and to carry more water if needed. And if I knew that I had to carry 6 or more liters in a stretch I bought 1 or 2 big water bottles on the last stop and used them as long as I needed them.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink swimming pants, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Left: my "carry-on", Right: my outfit

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT,

The only luxury equipment - my camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Most of the time I also carried the following items on top:
Tyvek ground sheet (1,60m x 0,60m) to sit / lay on especially when wet, dusty or spikey.

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

Cheap and simple flip flops for camp & city to air out my feet

Temporary items

On long hikes one very helpful thing is to mail things ahead to the place where you will really need them and then also to send them off afterwards. Also don't carry anything for 5 month. Carry as much as you need to get to the next resupply point or as much as you need to stay safe. For some conditions you need extra equipment, an extra layer or other special items. On the PCT I temporarily carried:

Thermarest sit pad for the stretches with snow, micro spikes & ice axe for the Sierra Nevada and a mosquito head net for Oregon.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
439g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
822g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
356g
2.547g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
89g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
50g
474g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.303g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Rope
33g
Hanging food
2 small carabiners
20g
Stuff sack
15g
202g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
Peak Design Pro clip
140g
Camera rain cover
Peak Design rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.173g
Additional Gear
Ground sheet
Tyvek 1,60 x 0,60m
100g
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
150g
Total base weight
5.423g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.596g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g


PCT Side Trip: Climbing Mt. Rainier (14,410ft / 4,392m)

We just made it on time. Arrived at 1.30 in Ashford. That gave us 1.5h for a desperately needed shower after 10 days, a laundry run, pick up of our rental gear and some quick food before the briefing started. We were only three minutes late. 💪 Rental gear? Of course we are not prepared for anything up there with our tiny little ultra light packs for hiking. So we had to get boots, crampons, gaiters, helmets, gloves, harnesses, thick down jackets, avalanche transceivers and so on.

What brings us here? As if the day in day out walking on the PCT wasn't already enough we had signed up for a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier. Why? Well, we have seen and walked around the mountain for many days now and we just couldn't resist. Kaylee had never climbed a mountain and I am fascinated by them anyways. We had talked about it earlier already but ditched the plan for various reasons. But standing in front of it changed the plan again. And now we are here! Lucky as ...! We managed to get two more spots in an RMI trip which also solved the problem with the permits you need. Ready to Rock'n'Roll 😎

And then the briefing with Tyler started. He gave us a quick introduction of what we had to expect during the next days. A gear check later we were released for the day.
We got some funny looks during the breakfast the next morning when I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, two waffles with whipped cream and straw- and blackberries, Greek yogurt with blueberries, milk, orange juice and coffee. Well, for us it was still a "town day" which meant: eating!

We left for Paradise Valley - our playground for today. This day was dedicated to the mountaineering school. An introduction for the Padawans and a refresher for the Jedis in the group. A good session and great fun to slide around in the snow for the self-arrest training. We were also lucky of being in a fun, fit and excited group - or how Tyler called us: "gang".

Training on the ice wall

And on the next day (of course after another gigantic breakfast) we left at 8.15am for the real journey. It was still pretty smokey and clouds on top. Not the best conditions to climb for views... Guess who we got greated by on our first days.

After about an hour of hiking up the paved sidewalks of the park we hit the snow field which would bring us up to our rest stop at Camp Muir. The pace was nice and easy. I guess Kaylee and I are also in the best shape of our life for this kind of hike - used to walking for 12-14h, carrying a more or less heavy pack and also still some altitude acclimation help a lot now!

 

Early afternoon we made it to Camp Muir. A few little shelters with bunk beds and toilets. This is where we would hang out and rest for the next few hours.

 

Getting ready for the hike - stretching.

As for most climbs in our latitude you go to bed early and rest until you start the hike in the middle of the night to get on the top for sunrise and back down before the snow gets to slushy and dangerous. So you try to sleep which usually doesn't work since you are not tired, to excited or somebody always snorres in these huts as well... Wake up call at 12am and start of the hike one hour later. We all got ready and geared up with harnesses, crampons, headlamps and our pack for the night with snacks and a few more layers. And then the adventure began. A smooth traverse over a flat glacier, through Cathedral Gap onto the Ingraham Glacier, traversing below its massive ice fall and up Disappointment Cleaver on loose rocks back into the glacier which was just an endless sea of penitentes (spiky ice formations). The smoke had almost disappeared but clouds had pushed in a bit so the view was limited. Also the drill in the climbing teams was pretty strict and no time for breaks other than the three major ones on the way up. The weather forecast had a chance of rain and thunderstorms in the early afternoon so especially the guides wanted to get up and down as fast as they could. So no Fotos on the way up besides a few during the break. Mountain artwork 😉

 

Close to the top on the crater rim the ice disappeared and it flattened out a bit. Safe to take the camera out.

As you can see - you can't see anything 😂 We were in the middle of ancloud which had formed on the peak. Not the nicest thing after working hard to get up here. But it is what it is. The wind was chilly on the rim so we dropped down in the crater to put a layer on, take a break and celebrate a bit. The obligatory peak photo (yes, this could have also been taken somewhere on sea level in a backyard 😂)

 

Our rope team: Flo, Jules the guide & Kaylee. Notice - the pink shorts are going everywhere 🤘🏼

It was so wet and cold in the cloud that my face-marmot got a bit of a frost bite...

At 7.15 we left the peak again after we had spent maybe 10 minutes up there. No reason to stay longer with 0 visibility. So down again on the same route. Only difference was that we could see a bit more now. Luckily the cloud only covered the top but a few hundred feet lower the visibility improved.

One of the trickier parts in the steep and crevassed section of the glacier. A fixed ladder had been installed to cross the crevasse safely.

Through the huge field of penitentes.

Beautiful penitentes

 

Down Disappointment Cleaver and back onto the Ingraham Glacier.

 

 

One of the more dangerous sections on the route - the ice fall. The glacier is pretty steep here and the ice is broken up pretty heavily leading to overhanging ice formations. The worst accident in Mt Rainiers climbing history had hapened right here when an ice avalance burried several climbers. The warmer it gets and the more the ice is moving the higher the risk of ice falling out of "place". So something you want to leave behind you as quick as possible and look at it from a distance...

Our guiding dream team at our last break before we started the last section back to Camp Muir.

Hannah, Tyler & Jules

In day and sun light we could finally see the entire beauty of the glaciers and crevasses. So beautiful. Now with almost no snow left you the bare ice sticking out almost everywhere.


Back in the camp at 11am - 10h after we left in the middle of the night. We packed our stuff, ate and drank a bit and set off for the last 2.5 hours down over the snow field. Sliding, glissading down the hill is soooo much fun. And again we were proven wrong. Did Kaylee and I think that Sonora Pass was the last glissade of the PCT we had to learn better.

The further we did get down the better the weather turned. Blue sky above us, no more clouds or smoke. Apparently this is where we stood on top of a few hours ago 😳

Final photo of the climbing crew - happy and tired.

A few more steps down to the toad where we got picked up again. What a trip. I know I am repeating myself. But it is what it is. I love mountains and everything connected to them. Not that it was my most challenging climb so for nor that the weather was great on the top but just being on a mountain just feels good. Every time.

Kallie, one of our climbing partners coincidentally lives 10 minutes away from my friends Jeremy & Anna who we will spend the weekend with now in Seattle. So she gave us a lift and dropped us off. Time to celebrate 🍻