So this is definitely a work in progress…
It looks like the PCT is going to take some more logistical planning compared to the AT. On the AT, you could adjust food/schedule on a whim. There were enough towns (every 3-5 days) to change plans. As best I can tell in researching, and speaking with Class of 2017 PCT thru-hikers, things are different on the West Coast.
I’m still using all the same gear from my 2012 AT hike, with a few tweaks.
1) Layering two pairs of toe-socks, not one pair with a standard outer sock.
2) Gravity water filter; cause gravity is your friend after hiking all day.
3) Custom Jetboil Ti; combining the quick boil of Ti, but simmer control burner from a different Jetboil stove, I know have the best of both. Quick boils/simmer ability. I’d rather not eat so much gas station pop-tarts, snickers, and beef jerky on this hike. Good in = good out.
4) Altra Lonepeak 3.5 shoes; thru-hikers are all about these shoes. I see why. After a few 5-day hikes in the Pacific NW, and some in 3-day hikes on the East Coast, ZERO blisters. These have a giant toe-box. The 3.5 has a tighter upper mesh than the 3.0 to keep trail dust out of the insides.
5) Garmin inReach GPS; on the AT, if you break a leg, someone is close by. Enough people with proximity to enough towns makes things less dire. PCT… umm… not so much. Cell service is much more scarce. Few thru-hikers. Few towns. Less help. Coupled with needing to see the trial under a snow pack in the Sierra’s, a GPS may be helpful. This bad boy also can send AND RECEIVE emergency SOS messages. Text friends & family anytime, anywhere with it’s satellite capabilities.
6) Ratsack food bag; hanging a food bag off of small dessert shrubs… that does zero good. Pest-proof food bag that need-not be hung. Helpful.
7) Extra bottle cap with 1/16″ drilled holes; shower on demand for a few extra grams, anytime, any place. Just because you’re a thru-hiker doesn’t mean you need to smell like a nursing home.
On my 2012 AT thru-hike, I messed up. My bounce box was awesome. But with awesome, comes weight. Early in the trial, this bad boy weighed ~20 lbs. Granted it got lighter from month to month. However, imagine carrying this thing to your hotel room on your zero-day, in additional to pack. Gross. New strategy for 2018… Use a lighter bounce box. Duh… How? Glad you asked… Take 5-months worth of stuff (toothpaste, protein powder, wet wipes, etc.) and split them into 5 separate boxes. Have a your amazing family/friend ship these out once per month. Here is the key, still replenish and bounce your 1-month supply every 8-10 days up the trial. Spreading the total weight, and reducing postage dramatically. Last tip. If you have food in that box, consider plastic instead of cardboard. A number of hostel owners, post office workers, and hikers can attest to eager mice ready to chew through that cardboard box to eat your 30 days of crappy ramen.