PCT data

It's been a couple months since we've gotten off the trail. We have had time to reflect a bit on the experience as a whole. To try and summarize the Pacific Crest trail is a difficult thing to do, but what we can do with much greater ease is show you some numbers and answer some questions that help put our hike in perspective. 

Favorite section

Pedi: Depends on how I look at it. In terms of beauty, the Sierra Nevada is the clear winner. The things I saw up there were beyond the realm of things I knew existed. When it comes to all around good times and adventure, though, it's hard to beat Oregon. It was such a fortuitous time on the PCT. Everything fell into place and new avenues opened up that blew our minds.

Soapbox: Hiking in the Sierra Nevada was also my favorite. I dreamed of that section, seeing Half Dome, experiencing the challenges, and no part of it was disappointing. Many other PCT hikers will echo Pedi and myself. If I had to offer each section an award:

  • Oregon - most fun, least strain
  • Washington - most challenging, diverse, and wet
  • SoCal (desert) - most dry, possibly heaviest average pack weight (long water carries)
  • Sierra - most iconic, best town stops, best tasting water, highest altitude, bear canister award
  • NorCal - most weird

Least favorite section

Pedi: I can't say I really have a least favorite section. Even through the hard times I was thankful to be on trail. If I had to pick something though, it would be split based on how the sections affected me. Southern California was the most physically challenging. I was in near constant pain from blistered feet. Not only did this make hiking difficult, it also meant that I was practically immobile once we were done hiking for the day. This was incredibly inconvenient. Mentally, I think NorCal was the most challenging. It's long, hot and I found myself getting more grouchy during this section. 

Soapbox: Not really applicable for me. Even my sick days didn't keep me from enjoying Washington.

Favorite town stop

Pedi: Portland was a magical place. It was one of only two times I went to a town that was far off trail. It was my first time, and I got a grand tour that packed as much delicious food and culture into two days as possible. We were given a car to drive and town clothes to wear. We were practically normal people! Boy did that make life convenient. All of that being said, most town stops were a delight in their own way.

Soapbox: We had a chance to experience so many places for such brief moments and in such unique ways. With that in mind, I loved our first town stop and zero day(s) spent in Idyllwild. We learned who our hiker family was (kind of). We succumbed to a hiker vortex for the first time there. Two days! As we hiked out we got a hitch from two really interesting dudes.

Least favorite town stop

Pedi: Sierra City. Many, if not most town stops are very circumstantial. It totally depends on who you meet, when you're there and, especially, how long you are there. Sierra City was a tiny thing that would have been fine for a quick afternoon, but the two and a half days I spent there was way more than I would have preferred.

Soapbox: Chester, California. The day I reached the PCT halfway marker I hiked 22 miles with Midway. He and I were both experiencing some kind of stomach bug And we could not get a ride into Chester - the only time that hitching completely failed me. The next day I spent in Chester I mostly slept under a flight of stairs at a hotel.


Number of shoes used

Pedi: 6 (This is an unusually high number. I used three pair in the SoCal alone because of rapid feet swelling and size problems. The second pair I traded for)

SoapBox: 3 pairs... trained in my first pair + 700 miles. 1300 miles in the second. Still wear my third pair sometimes.


If I did the PCT again, what would I do differently?

Pedi: Two things specifically. First, I would start with bigger shoes. Avoiding the blisters and foot pain of the desert would dramatically change my experience during that section. The shoes I started with were only one size larger than normal and were not wide enough. The sweat, heat and friction caused them to become "meat grinder feat" as Soapbox so aptly call them. Once I got shoes that were a full one and a half sizes larger than normal I was good to go. Second, I would add more variety to the food in the resupply boxes we mailed ourselves. I thought they were diverse when I made them. Little did I know how wrong I would be by the end of the trail. I could barely look at a bag of that same trail mix, Pop Tarts and peanut butter crackers.

Soapbox: There are sections where I wish I had hitched off-trail to experience side adventures, days I could have hiked more miles, and to trust that "the trail provides" earlier would be useful at the beginning. More explicitly, I would learn more about the areas we hiked beforehand. We did so much research to prep for the trip itself that I wish I would have obsessed over gear a little less and researched some history, flora and fauna. I found myself often wanting to know more about the places we passed through. That said, I gained so much info about the PCT and logistics, I'm not upset.


ZERO DAYS7354120
NEAR-O DAYS3551317
MILES/DAY (+ ZERO DAYS)16.815.518.321.522.318.4
LONGEST DAY353054523254

ZERO DAYS6334117
NEAR-O DAYS3661319
MILES/DAY (+ ZERO DAYS)16.815.518.321.522.318.4
LONGEST DAY273140363240

We hiked the same PCT, but some days Soapbox hung back, Pedi sped up or one of us wasn't feeling well so we would do our own thing. Let us know if you have questions! 


Dan and Jonathan


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.