Day 85-89: Lightweight and Inexpensive Backpacking Gear

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Our lightweight packs greatly assist us in walking 20 miles per day on the Pacific Crest Trail. In this post, amidst our normal daily highlights, we also describe some of the gear that helps us travel light.

Day 85: Zero in Sierra City

Shutterbug picked up his new shoes in Sierra City. We have been wearing running shoes for our entire PCT hike. When your pack is light, running or trail running shoes have several advantages over traditional hiking boots: 1) running shoes are very light, often half the weight of hiking boots 2) running shoes are more breathable and less sweaty in the heat 3) running shoes dry out more quickly if you have to ford a creek, and 4) many people already own running shoes so no new purchase is necessary. We have been very happy with our running shoes on this trip, with only two blisters each in over 1200 miles.

Tents, Sleeping Bags, and Packs, Oh My!

The “big three” in backpacking refers to your heaviest pieces of gear — tent, sleep system, and backpack. The best gear varies for each person’s needs because there are tradeoffs between weight, comfort, and price. Below we explain how we selected our big three items.

Tent

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (without rain fly)

We love our Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. It suits our weight/comfort/price mix perfectly. After removing extra stuff sacks, and replacing the stakes with 6 Vargo Titanium Ultralight hooks, this 2-person tent weighs only 2.3 pounds! This is very light, and as you can imagine, when trekking such a long way we opt for less weight on our backs whenever possible. It’s cozier than most tents, but two sleeping pads fit perfectly next to one another inside and we’d rather have the lighter weight than extra space. This is a free standing tent, which is more convenient than a tent in which you must use your trekking poles as supports.