Kyle and I have made a couple more gear changes for the PCT that we want to update you on.
Old cook system:
- Snowpeak Trek 1400ml TI pot– 7.4oz
- MSR Superfly stove– 4.6oz
- Two Snowpeak TI sporks– 1.2oz
- 1 8oz canister of isobutane fuel (enough fuel for 5-8 days)
Total weight: 21.2oz
New cooks system:
- Evernew Non-stick TI 1.3L pot– 8.1oz
- Caldera Cone system– 1.5oz
- Gram Cracker Stove– .1oz
- Esbit tablets– .5oz each, so 4-5oz for 8 days
- Two Snowpeak sporks– 1.2oz
- Antigravity Gear Pot Cozy– 1oz
Total weight: 18.3oz
Why change to a new system? A couple of reasons. First off it is a little bit lighter. Shave ounces wherever you can right? Second, I was looking for a form of fuel we could ship to ourselves in our mail drops and solid fuel, like the Esbit tablets can be sent through the mail. Canister fuel cannot. A couple of times on the AT we found ourselves in small towns that did not sell canister fuel, I do not want to end up in this situation again. The other benefit to Esbit is that once you burn them they are gone. Forever. With canister fuel you end up carrying around the empty canister after you use it up. This was really frustrating to us on the AT. We would get to town and need to buy a new canister because our old one wasn’t going to last until our next town stop. But the old one wasn’t completely used up either, so we would have to take it back out with us to use it up and then carry around the empty canister until we got to town. We saw some people just burning their extra fuel so they didn’t have to carry it anymore but I think that is pretty environmentally insensitive. With the Esbit option the tablets burn away to nothing! Other reasons to switch is that we wanted a new pot. The Snowpeak Trek is a fine pot, but I don’t like the deep design, I prefer a pot that is a little shallower and the frying pan lid is flimsy, unreliable and hard to fit anything in. One night on the AT we had cooked up some gravy in the lid and I went to lift it off the stove and the whole things collapsed. Gravy everywhere. So we have switched to the Evernew Non-stick TI 1.3L pot. It is shallower, and the frying pan lid is deep, wide, and awesome! We have paired the whole system with a pot cozy from AnitGravity Gear which makes our Esbit tablets last a lot longer. All you really have to do is get the water to a boil, add your food, take the pot off the stove and put it in the pot cozy and ten minutes later you have dinner! It takes a little bit longer this way, but while you are waiting you can do chores around camp, and you don’t have to feel bad about how much fuel you are wasting.
There are some possible problems with this system. Occasionally on the PCT, in the height of fire season stoves with an open flame and no shut off valve (like Esbit stoves and alcohol stoves) are banned. Sometimes all stoves are banned. We are prepared for this possibility and will have our MSR Superfly set aside so my parents can ship it to us in case of fire restrictions.
The other changes we have made are to our packs. Both Kyle and I are planning on carrying the same packs on the PCT as we did on the AT. I have a Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 and Kyle has a Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60. I love my pack but ultralight hip belt caused me weird nerve damage pain on the AT. I ended up wrapping it in foam from old sleeping pads and duct tape. What would be convenient is if you could switch out the hip belt for the cushier one they use on their Blaze packs, but the hip belt stabilizer straps on the cushier hip belt aren’t compatible with the buckle size on the Crown. So I took matters into my own hands. I ordered the cushier hip belt and took it and my pack into The Rainy Pass, a great gear repair and down care shop here in seattle. I asked them if they could retrofit the hip belt with a strap that could fit the buckles on the pack and they said no problem. Took them a couple of days to do it and now I have my light weight pack back with a nice beefy hip belt. I hope that this will make it more comfortable in general, but especially on those long water carries we will have in the desert. Kyle’s fix is a little simpler then mine, they simply don’t make a hip belt for men that can synch down small enough, especially after he has lost a couple of pounds on trail. So we are buying him a women’s medium hip belt to give him the versatility in size that he needs.
Lastly, we got a new camera. If you have been following the blog then you have already seen some of the beautiful photos Kyle has taken with it this summer. When we hiked the AT we got a little point and shoot camera, the Olympus Tough. As far as point and shoot cameras go this is a great option because it is waterproof and does take some okay pictures. It worked well for the AT but at this point we have owned it for three years and the quality of the pictures it was taking were starting to decline rapidly. We knew it was time for a new camera and Kyle wanted to upgrade to something that was still fairly compact but could take much better pictures. After contacting some AT thru hikers who had hiked the PCT last year he decided on the Sony A7 with a 35mm F2.8 lens. This camera is a full frame mirrorless camera that is similar to a DSLR but significantly more compact. Kyle can carry it comfortably at his side without it driving him crazy and it is still easy to access and use. It takes incredible photographs and video and we are very excited to document our trip with it.
That’s all the gear updates we have for now. Since we committed to most of our gear this summer we have already had a chance to test it and determine that, yes, it is going to work for the PCT. Our next goal is to pin down the clothes we will be taking with us!