PCT gear review part 2: CLOTHING
There are always more things you could bring on trail, but this should help you find best options to limit the number of items in your pack.
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.
This shirt made the hike as awesome as it was. I bought it the day before we left and it's the best purchase possible. Breast pockets, a collar to look less trashy in town, durable fabric and sleeves that roll and button up make this shirt the ideal hiking top. The brand and model don't matter. You can find those features in a shirt from any brand, but dammit get a hiking shirt.
I can't begin to care. If you must know, I did the desert in 3/4 capris, the Sierra through Oregon in running shorts and eventually ditched those to only wear compression shorts on bottom.
Compression shorts - Under Armour
Underwear - Ex Officio / Give-n-go boxer brief
BEST. UNDERWEAR. EVER. I wore them the whole trail and they still look brand new. Hell, I even shit my pants once on trail and I'd wear the same pair for another thru-hike.
Sleep shirt - Under Armour / Cold Gear compression shirt
Nice and warm. Long sleeve sleep clothes are also good for keeping your disgusting skin from touching your sleeping bag. This helps keep your bag cleaner for longer. Mine might have been a bit heavy.
Also consider: Icebreaker long underwear. Like SmartWool's merino wool products, they are not cheap, but they are incredibly light and super comfy.
Sleep pants - SmartWool / Microweight long underwear
Merino wool is kind of expensive, but it's great quality. Lightweight, warm and very comfortable. Most any tights will do I guess.
Injinjis, Darn Toughs, Wigwams, Stoics and Balegas all worked well for me. Darn Toughs and Stoics were the best. I like the lighter weight running socks as opposed to the thicker, taller hiking socks.
Smartwool can suck it. Instant holes.
They can't make your hike, but they can break it. My feet swelled a size and a half almost instantly. I like my shoes light and with a wide toe box. Don't wear boots. Trail runners are the way to go.
Way too narrow for my feet and those of most hikers.
The most popular shoe on trails. Solid shoe. Decently wide and wears well. A great go-to. Highly recommended.
Wide toe box and great fit for my foot. Another bonus: they have Velcro for gaiters built in, in case gaiters are your thing. They are for me. Note: these shoes are zero drop and can require a little getting used to. Perhaps not as well suited for the Sierra Nevada or Washington sections. They wore out way faster over rough mountain terrain.
Gaiters - Dirty Girl
I really loved having gaiters. What kind you have doesn't matter, but the variety of designs Dirty Girl offers is cool. Not everyone likes them, but I found them great for keeping large amounts of sand and rocks out of my shoe. Yes, you're feet will still get filthy, and sand will still get in your shoes, though it won't be as bad as it would be otherwise.
Outdoor Research Gaiters
Pretty much the same as dirty girls, but plain looking.
Jacket - Mountain Hardwear / Ghost Whisperer (7oz)
This is hands down my favorite piece of gear. It's so light, so comfy and so warm. Not cheap, but I love it. As always, respect down and keep it dry.
Rain Jacket - Outdor Research / Proverb (13oz)
A solid rain jacket that was neither too expensive nor heavy. Not exactly the most breathable, but what good rain jacket is? There are lighter option out there, but I can't speak for how water resistant they are.
Also consider: Outdoor Research / Helium 2. It's lighter than mine.
Rain pants - Mountain Hardwear / Alkane Pant (9oz)
Great pants. Only really needed them for the Sierra and Washington, but boy were they great in Washington. The zipper up the side makes them easy to get on and off even with shoes on, they're very water resistant and surprisingly breathable for rain pants.
Warm hat - Outdoor Research / WinterTrek Fleece Hat
It was a nice, warm hat. Plus it had a wind-stopper in it.
Gloves - Seirus / Soundtouch hyperlite
Only really used them in the Sierra, but they work just fine. For the rest of the trail I used a pair of Injinji socks that I cut up into hobo gloves. Very hiker trashy, but they worked. I thought the ability to use my phone was going to be nice, which is why I got these gloves. Were I to do it again, I'd get some lightweight liner gloves that are easier to get on/off.
Yup. Preferably polarized. You WILL lose or break at least one pair on the trail.