I guess you could also call this post "PCT gear review."
Note: UL means ultralight. There is a trend among backpackers to carry gear as light as possible.
Note II: Always look for gear at a discount. Steep and Cheap is my favorite, but you get almost any piece of gear for a discount. Just because someone has a pack full of nice new gear doesn't mean they shelled out for it.
Note III: There is almost never an end all, be all for any single piece of gear. See what fits for your style and budget. These are simply my observations and opinions.
Pack - Granite Gear / VC Crown 60 (2lb 2oz)
Your pack needs to do two things. It should hold your stuff and ride comfortably. That's about it. That's exactly what the Crown 60 does, and it does it well. It does not have tons of bells and whistles, but it doesn't need to. It's comfy, light and reliable. One of my favorite pieces of gear. If it has a shortcoming, it's the lack of hip-belt pockets, but you can buy them and add them if you like. A very popular pack this year.
Also consider: ULA / Circuit (2lb 6oz), the most popular pack on trail. If you're really UL try out a Gossamer Gear or Z-packs pack.
Sleeping bag - North Face / Blue Kazoo (2lb 6oz)
My sleeping bag is slightly heavier than average, but not by too much. It kept me warm almost every night but the most bitter cold and did so at a cost that was impossible to pass up. Not the fanciest piece of gear I own, but certainly one of the best values.
Also consider: Mountain Hardwear / Phantom (2lb)or Western Mountaineering. Expensive, but incredible bags.
Sleeping pad - Thermarest / Prolite 4 (1lb 8oz)
My pad is an inflatable one, so you have to blow it up. Not a big deal, since it is one of the more comfortable options out there. It doesn't pack down as small as other pads, nor is it as light as most others, but it performs well and was cheap.
Also consider: Thermarest / Neo Air , the Cadillac of sleeping pads. Expensive, but the most comfortable and definitely UL. Requires lots of blowing up. Were I to do the trail again, I'd get this in a 3/4 length and use my pack for under my feet. (8oz for the shorty)
Also: Thermarest / Z-lite. Very popular, UL, durable and inexpensive. Doubles as a sit pad. Not exactly the cushiest pad though. (10oz for the shorty)
Groundsheet - 2' x 7' sheet of Tyvek (4oz?)
Totally necessary. I bought mine for $5, it weighs next to nothing, adds mild insulation and protects both your tent and sleeping pad from punctures and abrasions.
Tent - Easton / Kilo 1p (1lb 14oz)
I loved my tent. It's light, reliable, kept me warm and dry, has a decent size vestibule, and doesn't take too long to set up. Add the great price at which I purchased it, and it is a great buy. The big downside was that it is a monopole tent and, therefore, not freestanding, which means you have to be careful how you set it up in the wind, but that was never really a problem for me. Unfortunately nobody seems to have it in stock anymore.
Also consider: Big Agnes / Flycreek UL 2, a very popular tent on trail and with good reason. (1lb 15oz)
Don't consider: Tarptent / Contrail. Everyone I knew who had one if these hated it.
Headlamp - Petzl / Tikka XP 2 (3oz)
While the headlamp can be a pretty inconsequential piece of gear, I loved mine. Bright/dim, beam/diffused, white/red lights. It's got all the features and doesn't weigh much.
Also consider: I can't be bothered to care.
Knife/multitool - Leatherman / Style CS Multitool (1.4oz)
Great little tool. Not too heavy and just the right tools, which include a knife, scissors, clip/bottle opener and a file.
Goal Zero / Nomad 7 and Guide 10 (13oz) and (6.4oz) respectively
These worked well for the desert and Sierra, but their effectiveness dropped off rapidly by time we hit dense forest in NorCal and Oregon. Useless in Washington. Plus, they aren't exactly UL, especially not with the Guide 10 attached.
EasyAcc / 5000mAh Ultra Slim Power Bank (5oz)
At only $20 and and 5 ounces, I think this is a much better option for recharging your phone. It'll give my iPhone two charges, which should be enough for pretty much any section of the trail. It's also much smaller and less cumbersome than dealing with a solar panel.
Trekking Poles - Black Diamond / Ultra Distance Z-poles (10oz)
These are among the lightest poles available on the market and worked well for me. One broke, but Black Diamond had great customer service and immediately replaced it. Poles are actually one of the few pieces of gear where weight doesn't seem to matter so much. Even having poles is up for argument. The lighter your pack, the less necessary they are. Sometimes I wouldn't use them for most of a section and find them irritating, especially over rocky terrain. Other times I found them invaluable. Mostly, I recommend looking for a pair that are affordable.
Stove - JetBoil / Flash (15oz)
The JetBoil is faster than anything else out there, but it's really only effective for boiling water. If you try to cook pasta and stuff in it you're going to burn stuff to the bottom, which is a major pain in the butt to clean. It's also slightly heavier than other options. If you cook a lot of Mountain House, Ramen or instant potatoes, though, it's awesome.
Also consider: MSR / Pocket Rocket with an Evernew / Titanium pot
Nothing is going to be perfect, but this setup allows for actual cooking if you have things like Knorr sides or Mac'n'cheese. Not as fast as a JetBoil, but it's a little more versatile and lighter. Remember, variety is key when it comes to eating on the PCT.
A small one for odds and ends like toothbrush, permits and Ibuprofen. Also for sleep clothes. You could honestly just use a gallon ziplock bag though. Why didn't I think of that while I was still on trail