Have you been thinking about planning a backpacking trip or section hike along the Pacific Crest Trail and you have no idea what backpacking gear you’ll need?

Maybe you’re already in the process of planning your next overnight backpacking trip but need help figuring out what backpacking gear to pack and how to pack your pack.

At the beginning of August this year, I section hiked 250 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail here in Washington, by myself, for 17 days. Starting from Snoqualmie Pass, I headed south along the PCT until I reached Cascade Locks at the Washington/Oregon border. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you all of the backpacking gear I brought with me for this backpacking trip.

When it comes to backpacking gear and packing for a trip, I look at everything as a “system”, instead of individual pieces of gear. For this trip, I brought with me my pack, Shelter System, Sleep System, Cooking System, Water Filtration System, Poop Kit, First Aid Kit, Repair/Tool/Toiletry Kit, Electronics, Packed Clothing, Misc/Seasonal Gear and Worn Clothing.

Here’s all of the backpacking gear that worked for me for my solo section hike along the PCT in Washington this summer, starting with my pack.

My Pack

One big backpacking gear change I made this season was changing out my pack. I went from using the Osprey Eja 48 to the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60. The Mariposa 60 comes in just at 2 pounds and has a removable internal frame, but I left mine in for additional support.

Things I love about this pack? The load lifters AND all of the awesome pockets throughout this pack. I’m obsessed with all of the pockets on this pack.

I use the big mesh pocket on the outside for storing dirty, wet stuff like my tent fly when it’s wet, my camp shoes, microspikes, bug repellant and trash. I use the big side pocket to store my tent poles, footprint, tent stakes and butt pad so I have easy access to them whenever I stop for a break or get to camp and want to set up my tent.

On the other side, there are two outside pockets – one I keep my water filtration system in and the other one my poop kit. Again, items I want to have easy access to when out on trail during the day.

The hip belt pockets are super roomy and big enough to store my iPhone 12 in. I keep things in here like sunscreen, my knife, gloves, Chapstick and extra snacks to eat while hiking during the day.

The only thing I don’t love about this pack is the color, which I have in the green. That’s okay. I hear they make this same pack now in purple. 😉

Shelter System

 For my shelter system, I used the Big Agnes Copper Spur 1-person, freestanding tent along with the matching footprint. This is my second year using this tent and I love it.

I considered switching to a trekking pole tent to save some weight, but I love the flexibility of having a freestanding tent. I can literally set it up anywhere and on anything. It’s small enough that it fits in even the tiniest spaces, like this awesome spot I found on top of this ridge, with an epic view of Mount Rainier.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur 1-person tent is just over two pounds, not super light, but light enough for me. It’s easy to set up, has plenty of room inside to store my gear inside while I’m sleeping, and I don’t feel claustrophobic when I’m inside changing or packing up my gear. I’ve never had an issue with condensation with this tent and it always keeps me warm and dry in both the rain and in freak snowstorms. I love this tent and plan on using it again in 2023.

Sleep System

 Since I tend to sleep cold, my sleep system is a little heavier and warmer than most other backpacking sleep systems.

My sleep system consists of an Enlightened Equipment Enigma Custom Quilt, the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm inflatable sleeping pad, an inflatable pillow, a silk liner for my quilt, a pair of synthetic booties to sleep in and a 13-liter lightweight dry sack to store my sleep system in.

I love my Enlightened Equipment quilt, not just because it’s purple, but because it’s super light, coming in at only 24 ounces and it keeps me really warm at night.

Paired with my quilt, I also use the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm inflatable sleeping pad, which has an R-Value of 6.9 meaning it has a lot of insulation, helping me to stay warm on even the coldest nights out on trail.

I use a Cocoon Mummy Silk Liner because it not only helps keep my quilt clean when out on trail, but it also adds an additional 5 to 10 degrees of warmth at night. I also have a Cocoon inflatable pillow because it’s really comfy and I have a pair of Enlightened Equipment Sidekick synthetic booties for those really cold night when my feet might need a little extra help staying warm.

I’m super paranoid about getting my sleep system wet so I store my quilt, liner, pillow, booties and the clothes I sleep in, inside a Sea to Summit 13-liter lightweight dry sack and keep it at the bottom of my pack throughout the day.

Cooking System

For my Cooking System for this trip, I used the:

I switched over from cooking meals directly in my pot to Ziplock Freezer Bag cooking. This means I use my pot to boil water and then add the boiling water to my meal in a Ziplock freezer bag.

Make sure you get the quart-sized freezer bags, NOT the sandwich bags. The sandwich bags won’t be able to withstand the heat of the boiling water.

Then I put my Ziplock freezer bag meal inside my food cozy for about 10-12 minutes and let my food rehydrate without using any extra fuel or having to clean a dirty pot after dinner. Then all I have to do after dinner is dry off the water inside my pot before putting it all away for the evening.

For food storage, I kept my food and scented items stored in a 10-liter Ursack, which is a rodent-proof, bear-proof food bag. At camp, I made sure to keep my Ursack out of my tent and at least 100 feet away from where I was sleeping.

Hard-sided bear canisters were not required when hiking through this section of the PCT.

If you’re curious about the backpacking food I brought with me and how I set up my resupply strategy for this trip, make sure you check out my blog post, Backpacking Food I Ate on the Pacific Crest Trail for 17 Days.

Water Filtration System

For my water filtration system for this trip, I brought with me the:

 Poop Kit

My Poop Kit pretty much stays the same for any backpacking trip I go on. Inside my Poop Kit, I carry a:

Remember, whatever you pack in, you MUST pack out. This also includes used toilet paper and baby wipes. Please, do not bury used toilet paper or baby wipes. These items need to be packed out and taken with you. This also goes for feminine products, not only when in the backcountry, but also when using a backcountry privy.

This is why I keep Doggie Bags in my Poop Kit. I pack out all of my used baby wipes in a doggie bag and then store the doggie bag with the rest of my trash.

For all of my trash, I put everything in a used Ziplock bag and store it in the outside pouch of my pack. This way, I always remember to take my trash out of my pack at the end of the day and put it in my Ursack at night. As soon as I get into town and have access to a trash can, I can easily grab my trash bag from the outside pouch of my pack and throw it away.

Backpacking First Aid Kit

My Backpacking First Aid Kit also stays pretty much the same for any backpacking trip I go on, unless if I’m leading a group trip, then I’ll add a few more things. To see all of the items I carry in my Backpacking First Aid Kit, check out my blog post, How To Create A Backpacking First Aid Kit.

Not only is it important to have a Backpacking First Aid Kit and bring it with you on your backpacking trips, but it’s also equally important to know how to use all of the items in your kit.

My Backpacking First Aid Kit weighs just over a pound at 24.6 ounces. Not the lightest system I carry in my pack BUT having these items in my kit helps me feel safe and confident, whether it’s me who gets sick or injured out on trail or I come across another hiker who might need help.

Repair/Tool/Toiletry Kit

 This is another system in my pack that pretty much stays the same for each backpacking trip I go on. In my Repair/Tool/Toiletry Kit, I carry a:

For gear repair items, I carry things like:

For toiletries, I carry:


 Since I film all of my big hikes and make videos for YouTube, I tend to carry more electronics than most hikers, which is why my Electronics System comes in weighing 3.42 pounds.

Here’s all of the Electronics I brought with me for this trip:

A GoPro 10 with a small selfie stick to use for shooting videos and taking photos when out on trail. I also brought 6 GoPro batteries with me so that I could replace my battery instead of charging them each night using my power bank. I did bring with me a GoPro Battery Dual Charger that I would use to charge my batteries whenever I got into town.

An iPhone 12 that I used take photos with, listen to music on and power up the FarOut App, which I used for navigation when out on trail.

A CRAVE Plus PRO External Power Bank that I used to charge all of my electronics with when out on trail. Then when I would come into town, I’d use my Anker Quick Charge Port to charge all of my electronics at the same time in one outlet, including my power bank.

A Garmin inReach Explorer+, which is a 2-way satellite communicator, a GPS tracker, navigation tool, 2-way satellite messenger and SOS device all in one. With my Garmin inReach, I have the option to send text messages to family and friends at home when I’m out on trail and I don’t have cell service. And if I ever find myself in an emergency and need to press the SOS button, I have 2-way communication with emergency responders.

Plus, charging cords for all of my electronic devices along with an extra memory card for my GoPro.

Packed Clothing

 For my packed clothing, I brought with me my:

  • Melanzana Micro Grid Dress, or my Mellie, which is probably my most favorite clothing item I own. On trail, I wear this early in the morning when it’s cold and put this on as soon as get to camp and change out of my hiking clothes for the day.
  • Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket, which is my synthetic puffy jacket that only weighs 5.7 ounces and is incredibly warm. Really nice to wear on those chilly nights at camp.
  • A pair of Athleta leggings in case it gets too cold to wear shorts
  • My Teva sandals which I use as camp shoes and water crossing shoes, so my trail runners and socks stay dry
  • A tank top and lightweight pair of shorts to sleep in
  • A pair of liner gloves
  • Two extra pair of Darn Tough hiking socks

Misc/Seasonal Gear

 This system of gear tends to change for each trip I go on, depending on the time of year I’m hiking, where I’m hiking, the type of terrain I plan on hiking in and local rules and regulations for the area I plan on traveling through.

Here are the Misc/Seasonal Gear items I brought with me for my PCT section hike:

A pair of Black Diamond Carbon Trekking Poles, which I NEVER go backpacking without. On my trekking poles, I also keep duct tape wrapped around each pole, for easy access in case I need to use any when out on trail.

During this trip, it ended up raining on me one day while I was out on trail so I was really happy I had packed my rain gear with me. For my rain gear, I had a:

For my rain jacket, I had the Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket. This is probably my most favorite rain jacket I’ve ever owned. It’s made of a waterproof/breathable fabric, so it keeps me dry and warm, without feeling like I’m sweating in a garbage bag. It has pit zips for built in ventilation and only weighs 5.7 ounces. I also like that this jacket has a droptail hem, which means it’s a bit on the long side in the back and doesn’t ride up under my pack, helping to keep my back end covered and dry when it’s wet out.

For my rain wrap, I had an Enlightened Equipment Rain Wrap that use over my leggings instead of wearing a pair of rain pants.

I carried a pair of microspikes, which I did end up using during my section hike when I went through the Goat Rocks area. There were a few snow traverses in this section, a couple of them fairly sketchy, so I was super happy to have my microspikes and be able to use them and feel much more comfortable crossing over these sketchy sections.

After hiking through the Goat Rocks area, I didn’t need my microspikes for the rest of the trail so I sent them home to myself from Trout Lake.

Bugs were a HUGE issue the in the section before coming into and coming out of White Pass, so I was really happy to not only have bug spray repellant, but also my Bug Bucket Hat to keep the bugs from flying into my face. My rain jacket also came in pretty handy during these two sections as well.

My Thermarest Z Seat or my butt pad. I use this thing every time I stop for a break or get into camp at night. I love being able to sit on one of these instead of just sitting on the dirt.

Worn Clothing

For worn clothing, I had my daily hiking uniform, which consisted of:

  • A grey, lightweight Outdoor Research Echo Sun Hoodie. I love hiking in this thing. It helps keep my skin protected from the sun, it’s light enough that I can comfortably wear this in the heat and not feel too hot and the hoodie is big enough to wear comfortable over my hiking hat.
  • A pair of Athleta running shorts because I feel the most comfortable hiking in a pair of shorts.
  • A Buff to protect my neck and face from the sun and wind. I also use this as a hair accessory when I want to keep my hair out of my face.
  • A pair of Darn Tough hiking socks
  • My Knockaround sunglasses
  • My Thru-Pack Summit Bum fanny pack in purple, where I keep my GoPro, extra batteries, my phone, The Hungry Hiker stickers to give out to subscribers I meet out on trail and extra snacks in.
  • My last pair of Salomon Odyssey Pro Trail Runners, which they don’t make anymore. I’m super sad because on this trip, I finally wore through these shoes.

The total base weight for all of the backpacking gear I brought with me on this trip, not including food, water, fuel, trekking poles or the clothes I hiked in was 20.57 lbs.

If you’d like more details about the backpacking gear I mention in this blog post, I’ve created a PCT Section Hike Gear List on LighterPack.com that has all of the links and details for all of the backpacking gear I mentioned in this blog post.

How I Pack My Pack

To pack my pack, I always start by putting both my rain jacket and puffy jacket at the bottom of my pack, unless it’s raining. Then I either wear my rain jacket or keep it in the front mesh pocket of my pack for easy access.

Then, I take the dry sack that my sleeping system is in and I stuff it all the way down to the bottom of my pack, sitting on top of my rain jacket and puffy jacket, making sure that it sits at the bottom of my pack horizontally.

Once my Sleep System is in my pack, I’ll take my food bag and put it right down the middle of my pack vertically, so it sits right on top of my Sleep System. Then I put my inflatable sleeping pad inside, right next to my food bag.

Then I take the two big pieces of my tent – the body of my tent and the tent fly and stuff them into my pack, filling the space in-between my food bag and my sleeping pad.

If my tent fly is wet, I’ll stuff it in the front mesh pocket of my pack so that the inside of my pack doesn’t get wet. Also, if the rain stops, I’ll have easy access to my tent fly and be able to take it out and let it air dry in the sun during a break throughout the day.

From here, I stuff things like my First Aid Kit, Cooking Pot with the fuel canister, Electronics Bag, Repair/Tool/Toiletry Kit and any other loose clothing items into the inside body of my pack. Then I close my pack and cinch down the straps.

On the one side of my pack with the large pocket, I store in here my tent footprint with the tent stakes inside, the tent poles and my butt pad. I like having quick access to these parts of my tent because it makes setting up my tent once I get to camp so much easier and faster, especially if it’s raining out.

On the other side of my pack with the two pockets, I store my water filtration system, including the small Gatorade bottle in the bottom pocket and my Poop Kit in the top pocket. Both of these I want to have easy access to when out on trail during the day.

For my collapsible water bottle. I stick this in my shoulder strap sleeve as soon as it’s filled with filtered water.

In my fanny pack, I carry my GoPro on the selfie stick with extra batteries, my phone, The Hungry Hiker stickers and any extra snacks I want quick access to throughout the day.

In the front mesh pocket, I put in here my rain pack cover, my microspikes, my camp shoes, my bug repellant and bug net, and my trash bag.

In my hip belt pockets, I’ll store extra snacks for the day and a pair of liner gloves just in case my hands get cold and my knife.

And that’s it! I make sure I pack and unpack my pack, in the same, exact order each time so I always know where everything is, inside of my pack at all times. Having good pack organization will not only help prevent you from losing gear, but you’ll be able to get to items you need quickly whenever you need them and you’ll never have to worry about where something is because everything will have its place within your pack.

I hope you found this blog post helpful with trying to figure out what backpacking gear you’ll need and how to pack your pack for your next overnight backpacking trip or a section hike along the PCT.

Keep in mind, we all have different trip objectives and needs when out in the backcountry. What works for me, may not work for you. Hopefully this post inspires you to start planning your next backpacking trip and will help take the mystery out of what kind of backpacking gear to bring with you.

If you’re planning on packing for an overnight backpacking trip in the near future, I’ve put together a FREE Backpacking Gear Packing List that is designed to help you get organized when planning your next trip. CLICK HERE to get your FREE Backpacking Gear Packing List.

If you’d like more details about the backpacking gear I mention in this blog post, I’ve created a PCT Section Hike Gear List on LighterPack.com that has all of the links and details for all of the backpacking gear I mentioned in this blog post.

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