Disclosure: I am extremely grateful for the generosity of #TheNorthFaceSG for their support these past 10 years. Although I am no longer an athlete with The North Face Singapore, I am starting my through-hike with some gear that was provided to me at no cost.
My choice of clothes are setup to be layered. My shorts and tank top are my base layer. If it gets chilly, I’ll throw on my long sleeve shirt. If it’s windy, my wind and waterproofs go on over that. My puffy and thermal leggings are really just for around camp, although if it’s exceptionally cold, I could walk in those too.
My long sleeve shirt is an older generation model of The North Face Impulse Active 1/4 zip. Unzip the neck, pull up the sleeves, and it vents well. The thumb holes are great for keeping the hands a little warmer. It’s a pretty flexible piece of gear for cooler conditions.
My puffy is The North Face Thermoball Hoodie. I like its synthetic fill, as it gives a little extra safety margin over down in wet conditions, but it’s a bit heavy at 350g. If you were buying a puffy specifically for the drier conditions on the PCT, you might also want check out the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, or one of the Montbell down filled jackets, for some weight savings.
I got to try the new Montbell Travel Umbrella in orange and dark blue (Thanks Saori and Chow!). The orange lets a lot of orange light through, and it turned out to be quite distracting. I also felt it was a bit hotter under the canopy than the dark blue one, so here’s a tip: If you are buying this umbrella for shade as well as for rain, get it in dark blue.
I took about a month to adjust to the Altra Lone Peaks. I actually put them aside after a few weeks because of issues I was having despite trying to get used to them with lower mileage. I went back to my old shoes, but after a month in those, I developed other issues. I then tried the Lone Peaks again, and this time, had no issues with them. Go figure. Anyway, I’ve been training with them, and love them now. The only downside is that the outsole does not grip well on wet surfaces. The upcoming 4.0 version of the Lone Peak fixes this issue as it will be using Vibram MegaGrip outsoles which has good grip in the wet.
I like having 2 pairs of socks that are of slightly different thicknesses, so that I can accommodate for the swelling in my feet.
My cap is an old Salomon baseball cap. I like it because the white top keeps my head cool in direct sun, and it’s black beneath the bill, which cuts the glare. It’s also pretty light, and the whole thing is soft and crushable.
I only use a single trekking pole. I lost the other while trekking in Nepal and running to get a photograph. When I returned, the pole was gone. I had the other one with me as it was dangling off my left hand. Since then, I’ve not found a need to replace the missing pole. A single pole works well for me as I often need one hand for the camera, and I also need one pole to set up my tent.
My glasses are Rudy Project Rydon with prescription inserts and the Photochromatic ImpactX 2 lens, which goes from very dark, to almost clear. I’ve used this lens for ice-climbing in China and to mountain biking in Indonesia. It’s very versatile. I can also remove the lenses and just use the prescription insert with the frame. Dorky, but it works. In the interest of full disclosure, I got lenses, frames and prescription inserts from Rudy Project USA in exchange for one of my photos that was used in their catalogue.
My shorts are Speedo 16″ Leisure, and not the ones you see in the photo. I was going to go with running shorts, when I chanced upon the Speedo’s. They are very quick drying, have pockets and more durable than running shorts. The downsides are that they are a bit heavier, and feel very coarse.
Not shown: Dirty Girl Gaiters. I’ve not had good luck with short gaiters in the past. They tend to give me some pain around my lower calf where they rub. I will pick these up before hitting the trail, and hope they will work.
My Big 3
My backpack is the Hyperlite Mountaineering Gear Southwest 3400. I’ve been training with this pack for the past 3 months and I’m quite happy with it. I’ve added 2 Z-Packs shoulder pouches for quick access to my phone and camera. My sleeping quilt is the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20, and tent is the Z-Packs Hexamid Solo Plus, with 6 Sonic stakes. My mattress is the small Thermarest Xlite. It’s too short to for full body coverage, so my backpack, with food bag inside, goes under my legs, elevating my feet slightly to help with swelling and inflammation. I’ve a piece of Tyvek for a groundsheet.
Electronics and Tools
Most of my electronics is centered around photography. My iPhone with the Guthooks app is my primary navigation tool, and I also carry a Moment fisheye lens for the iPhone for certain shots. My main camera is the Sony RX100iv, which is a slightly older model. I carry it because the bigger, higher resolution sensor over the iPhone allows for better dynamic range, more detailed files with less noise, and shallower depth of field in certain conditions. I anticipate having to shoot plenty of selfies, so I’m carrying remote triggers, and an Ultrapod that I can attach to my trekking pole and use that as a selfie-stick, or makeshift “tripod” by sticking the spike into softer ground.
I bought the older Inreach SE (I wish I’d bought the Explorer instead as backup for my iPhone GPS), and you can follow my progress herewhen I start the trail on April 8th.
What’s missing? No watch, I’ll use my iPhone.
I’m carrying a small 500ml Nalgene bottle with me. It’s a bit heavy at 87g, but I can use it as my coffee mug in the morning and the wide mouth makes it easy to mix drinks in the day. If I put a sock over it, it becomes a hot water bottle at night, or a make-shift ‘foam’ roller.
1.5 liters is the normal amount of water I carry. In the desert, or where else I might need more, I’ll just buy extra bottles and fill those up as I go. The Nalgene is my ‘clean’ bottle, where I mix filtered water with drinks. The filter screws directly onto my Smart water bottle, and ‘dirty’ water goes into that, and I squeeze to filter as I need.
My stove is the BRS3000T. It’s crazy light, but poorly made, with poor quality control… I bought it for $12 off eBay, and when it arrived, it didn’t work. I opened up the valve, cleaned it, fired it up again, and then it worked. But really, for that price, I shouldn’t complain. Test it before bringing it out though!
The Lexan spoon is lighter than my Ti Spork, and it’s nicer to use.
The pot is a tiny Toaks 650ml. It’s the smallest one that will accept a small fuel canister inside. I haven’t figured out how to store the pot in my pack, so the mesh sack is coming with me.
Not pictured: Bic Mini Lighter, fuel canister
The rest of my gear is just my hygeine stuff, first aid and repair kits.
The full list of my gear is available in my Lighterpack. I’ll try to update this list at the end of the trip. Check back to see what changes I’ve made, what worked and what didn’t.