Pacific Crest Trail Hiking Tips - Trail Climb Nation

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Pacific Crest Trail Hiking Tips

Pacific Crest Trail Hiking Tips

Today we look at some very random tips about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve been reading the book Wild relentlessly and I am looking forward to the day I can do this hike. This isn’t your usual top ten things you will need on the trail list. No this is almost a completely randomized list of things I have found across the web. We have how to poop on the Pacific Crest Trail and other nifty things you might not have thought about. Enjoy readers!

  1. Plan ahead and prepare:
    If you wait ’til the last minute, you won’t have time to do it right. Set a goal to never defecate at camp. The rule is 200 feet from water, camp and trail. That’s a minimum. Go further. Go a half a mile. Get away from that lake where everyone sleeps by doing your business after you’ve packed up camp and started your hike.
  2. Have a proper “poop kit”:
    Having the right gear is a hallmark of a skilled and experienced hiker. In addition to toilet paper in a ziplock, you’ll need hand sanitizer, a spare bag to carry out used TP, (freezer thickness seals out all smells) and a lightweight trowel (some weigh less than a AA battery) for digging holes.
  3. The “Rock ‘n Roll” method sucks:
    It’s the bane of our volunteers. You found a rock, rolled it out of its hole, did your business and rolled it back. Toilet paper blossoms from its sides but that’s not even that worst of it. The PCT is essentially 2,650 miles of rocks that we’ve moved. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone to harvest a rock for trail repair and picked into your pile of poo. Make a commitment: bury your waste 6- to 8-inches deep, always.
  4. Dig the hole, make a stew and pack that TP out:
    You’ve found a secret spot. Keep it a secret by promoting quick decomposition. Stir a little dirt into it before you camouflage your site. Act like a cat: hide your business. TP takes a long time to decompose: pack it out. Wrap a bit of clean TP around the used before putting it in some ziplocks. Keeping it in your pack until you reach the trailhead garbage can, the one in town or the can at home is common practice. It’s no big deal.

The Clymb: Every ounce counts on a long dis­tance hike, espe­cially with the big ele­va­tions found on the Pacific Crest Trail, do you have any advice on sav­ing weight in your pack?

Arielle Par­ris ( “To cut weight on your sleep sys­tem con­sider a quilt instead of a sleep­ing bag—it offers incred­i­ble warmth to weight ratio and an inflat­able pad keeps you insu­lated from the ground. Buy a bag warmer than the cold­est you can imag­ine being on trail—you’ll thank your­self later. A bivvy is an extremely light option as a shel­ter, espe­cially with a Tyvek sheet as a ground cloth or tarp. If you are hik­ing with a part­ner, split­ting up the tent halves the weight. Don’t buy a foot­print, just use tyvek. Adding light­weight base lay­ers only for sleep­ing and a down jacket with hood will keep you warm and dry even when it hails in July.”



Apart from footwear, this is one piece of equipment you don’t want to get wrong. However, as with footwear, you sometimes only find out if a pack isn’t for you until you’ve worn it. I’d suggest whittling your choices down to two, buying one and doing a weeks, or weekends shakedown hike to see if it works. If it’s no good, take it back and get your second choice. Any decent equipment shop should offer a no questions asked returns policy.

Size, for a PCT thru-hike you need to aim for around 55 to 70 litre capacity (3356 to 4271 cubic inches). The specs given for capacity will not relate to the main compartment, but will probably take into account any side pockets, rear mesh panels and hip pockets etc. As long as you have a total capacity around this mark you’ll be fine. If you’re unsure, look at something near 70 litres. Or, take your other equipment to the shop and see if it will all fit in.

Backpacks are not waterproof. You’ll need a waterproof liner that’s fits in the main compartment, this is essential, not necessarily for the first few weeks on the PCT where it will be dry but once you hit Oregon, and more likely than not, Washington, you may get rained on. Damp gear is no fun, especially down products. A Ziplock in each hip pocket would be advisable also for the little items you will keep there. Again, you could use a poncho.

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