Soapbox's gear review: pt 2

Use sites like Steep and Cheap if you can tell they post brands or gear you like. Also, this is a great gear reference: 10 lb Backpack. Feel free to ask questions. Try things on before you buy them. Go to a store and look before you make an online purchase!

Wearables (clothing):

In general you're going to probably be able to figure out what clothes to wear without consulting blogs, but here's my data for the sake of completion. I hope someone finds it useful.

Shirt - Columbia Silver Ridge

It’s a shirt. Whatever. Oh - it cleaned up well in the wash. You’ll want to wear something. Or maybe you are a nudist? Me? I prefer a “Tradewinds Grey” color to protect from the sun and harsh elements on the PCT. 

Bottoms - "I can't begin to care.” - Pedi.

I wore these stupid heavy canvas pants I bought for $2 at a thrift shop until I stopped worrying about getting sunburned behind my knees then I tied the pants to the bottom of my pack and forgot about them. Seriously… I left these things tied to my pack for 200 miles or so until I threw them away in Bishop, CA when I was doing a shakedown. I wore some elastic Prana shorts I found on Steep and Cheap the rest of the way. Sometimes I wore compression shorts or running tights.

Compression shorts - Nike something.

Personal decisions are hard. 

Underwear - Ex Officio / Give-n-go boxer brief


I really can’t improve upon Jonathan’s review. I hope to own these boxers for a long time and I intend on taking them all over the world. And damnit, for $20 they better last forever.

Extra shirt - Stoic / Breathe Composite (pretty light?)

Warm long sleeve. Especially nice to have in the Sierra otherwise useful as a pillow or sleep shirt (protect your sleeping bag/quilt from getting dirty). Personally? I don’t use sleep clothes and I ended up getting rid of this after the halfway point. Probably could have gotten by without it the whole way.

Sleep pants - I had running tights but definitely did not sleep in them more than a few times. I am a warm sleeper.

Socks - Stoic Synth / Trail Crew Sock

I used Injinjis and Stoics almost exclusively. Stoics were the best; I went through six pairs or so the entire trail and still have a few of them. Injinjis were nice early on to help prevent blisters, but they wore out within 100 miles and were a pain in the ass to get my weird toes into. I only picked these because I found them on Steep and Cheap for a great price.

Interesting side note - Injinjis make great sun gloves if you cut holes in the toes once you wear them out as socks. I started the trend and Pedi picked up on it pretty fast. You’re going to want to wash them before you put them on your hands…

Shoes - Solomon / Sense Mantra (16 oz) AND Brooks / Cascadia (13 oz)

I had very few foot problems the entire trail. I went through 3 pairs of shoes, but only two different models.  In general, I think shoe choice is very personal and you'll know what is right when you try them on.

Brooks Cascadia: Join the Brooks Club! If the PCT had a fork in it, we'd search for Cascadia shoe prints. It was usually the right way. A very popular shoe for a good reason. I hiked 1300+ miles with one pair. 10mm heel-to-toe drop

Solomon Sense Mantra: Really loved this trail runner while I was in the desert. I was able to get 800+ miles out of them. I trained in them then wore them to Kennedy Meadows, CA. Solomon has a great manufacturer guaranty as well. I think if you are hiking with under 25 lb, this is plenty of shoe and it's light, dries very fast, and is pretty durable. Note: the synch shoestring never broke, someone told me it definitely would. It did not. Also, I think this is a 6mm drop shoe.

Gaiters - I’d wear 'em if the whole trail was in the snow, but otherwise they make taking my shoes off too much work.

Jacket Mountain Hardwear / Ghost Whisperer (7oz)

Expensive, but worthwhile, I think. This lasted the entire trek and I washed it with Nikwax and it’s like-new (minus the hole and lack of branding/logos). The material is very delicate. Wear something over it if you are being active, I climbed a tree and the bark caught and ripped a hole instantly. No bueno. That said, all down is an investment. It lasts if you treat it well.

Rain Jacket - Outdoor Research / Proverb (13oz)

Another Steep and Cheap find. Great value when found on sale. Certainly not the best jacket on the market, but it served its purpose.

For "next time": Jonathan said in his review, consider: Outdoor Research / Helium 2. I'm also researching some Marmot-made options like the Mica and the Essence. Check out Snarky Nomad's reviews.

Rain pants - Mountain Hardwear / Alkane Pant (9oz)

Great pants. They saw heavy use in WA when we were in the rain for days on end. Also great for in the Sierra. Not sure if they are essential, but it was nice to have them, particularly in the multiple day long downpours.

Warm hat - Some outdoorsy hat, you need a hat. It's just a hat. There are many like it.

Gloves - Nope.

I thought about buying gloves every time I went into an REI or outfitter… But I never bought them. I would have worn them in WA if I had them. In the desert and in the Sierra I would cover my hands with a bandana, cut up injinjis, cut up sleeves from a cotton shirt. Whatever. HYOH.

Sunglasses - Solar Shields

Solar shields. Solar shields. solar shields. They may get worn out, scratched, or lost, but never stolen. Don’t get attached to your shades because you’re going to lose them at some point. Or break them. Probably both.

Happy hiking,


I walked really far with a bunch of stuff and this is what I think about that stuff: Clothing

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. 


Shirt REI / SaharaTechShirt

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. 

La Sportiva / Wildcat

Way too narrow for my feet and those of most hikers.

Brooks / Cascadia

The most popular shoe on trails. Solid shoe. Decently wide and wears well. A great go-to. Highly recommended.

Altra / Lone Peak 2.0

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.