January 19th, 2015

Trekking The Trail of the Moment: What to Pack for Pacific Crest

Inspired to follow in Cheryl Strayed’s footsteps after seeing "Wild"?  Find out how to pack smart for this bucket list journey.

Throngs of fans inspired by "Wild", both the movie and the memoir it’s based on, are now hitting the Pacific Crest Trail, the country’s longest thru-hike, in record numbers.

Those who know Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ story may recall that she wasn’t exactly the smartest packer. Learn from her rookie mistakes and don’t bring a “Monster” (Strayed’s affectionate name for her over-stuffed backpack) filled with things you don’t really need. It will literally, and figuratively, wear you down. So what are the essentials to pack? Here’s our list of what to pack for your own ‘Wild’ Pacific Crest Trail adventure.


Size and model will depend on your own measurements and the length of your journey, so make sure you get a proper fitting from an outdoor specialist store. Either way, add in the ultra-lightweight Pack-It™ Specter Packing Organizers to keep all of your gear organized, so you're not pulling apart your whole pack on the trail.


Headlamp (LED is recommended and don’t forget to pack extra batteries!)


PCT Atlas Maps

Trekking Poles

Yogi’s PCT Handbook 


Camping stove


Energy Trail Mix

Travel Mug/Utensils


Mini Lighters


Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad


Jumbo Trash Bag (Hikers recommend this for quick shelter during rain and wind.)


Collapsible water sack/bottle

Water Filter

Water Treatment


Toilet Paper


Blister Repair

Anti-chaffing cream


Bug Repellant

Hand Sanitizer


Moisture-Wicking Underwear

Base Layer

Lightweight rain jacket and pants

Hiking Boots

Hiking pants (Ones that zip off into shorts recommended.)

Thermal bottom

Hiking Socks

Long sleeve quick-drying travel shirt

Sandals (You’ll want slip-on shoes to change into after setting up camp.)

Warm Hat

Sun Hat


Thermal Pants

Other Essentials:

Pocket Knife


Notebook/Pen (You’ll want to channel your inner Cheryl Strayed after all!)


Paracord (Use for laundry hanging, bear bagging, etc.)

Travellite Towel

Duct Tape (Great for all types of gear repair. And, hopefully, you won’t be using it to keep your shoes together like Cheryl.)

First Aid Kid

Superlight TSA Lock® (Keep your tent/bag locked if you’re at a campsite.)

All Terrain Money Belt (Keeps money handy around camp.)


You won’t find this on any official Pacific Crest Trail packing lists, but Cheryl Strayed carried her favorite book of poems, Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of the Common Language, during her entire 1,100-mile-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail to keep her company at night and her spirits up.

Taking an object that lifts you up–whether it’s your favorite book or even a few photos of your loved ones—will be worth its weight.

Have your own tips for what you’ll need on a thru-hike adventure such as the trekking the Pacific Crest Trail? Let us know your best tip in the comments below!  

Kathleen Rellihan is a travel writer and editor living in Washington, DC.

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