One of the fun things about my upcoming PCT adventure is shopping for new gear--it's pretty much all I did in December, scrounging through websites looking for clearance deals, comparing gear and people's reviews, scanning blog posts and forums for what worked for people on months long backpacking trips.

My old kit is all at least 15 years old, early to mid 1990's technology. Today I got the itch to weigh "the big 4" and see how much weight I've dropped: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. I can't find the sleeping pad, so I'll just make it "the big 3".


Then: North Face Inca Trail, 4.8 pounds

Now: ULA Catalyst, 2.81 pounds

The old purple North Face backpack was purchased many years ago--I'd say sometime in 1988 or 1989, I have a picture of me the last time I climbed Mt Whitney, with some old Air Force buddies, so it's definitely that vintage. It was the newest thing at the time--internal frame with two side pockets for canteens, open cell foam padding for ventilation, an adjustable torso, and 70 liters. And it weighs in at 2185 grams/77 ounces. That's 4.8 pounds.

New backpack is a lightweight ULA Catalyst, size medium. It's also an internal frame, with two hydration holes and a hydration sleeve. It's a bit larger than my old pack, at 75 liters. And it's 1277 grams/45 ounces/2.81 pounds.

Total savings from changing out my pack: 2 pounds.


Then: Sierra Designs Meteor Lite CD, 9.28 pounds packed

Now: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, 1.98 pounds packed

Old tent was big and a bit heavier, but it was marketed as "lightweight" back in the day, with a mesh ceiling even. It was in no way lightweight--the tent bag itself weighs in at 2.6 ounces alone, and the fly is 38 ounces. All together, this two man tent weighs at 4211 grams/148.5 ounces/9.28 pounds. It's obvious that it needed a replacement, and I went to the other extreme, the lightest weight one-man tent I could find.

I chose a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent, because I wanted sometime mostly free-standing and wanted to drop a lot of weight. It was mentioned frequently in PCT forums and blogs and gear lists, along with the BA Copper Spur tents, but those are still a bit heavier yet a bit more free-standing. As I pack it, it comes to 1.98 pounds, including the ground cloth, and putting the tent/fly/ground cloth in one bag and the poles and stakes in the other.

Total savings from tent: 7.3 pounds

Sleeping Bag

Then: Marmot Sawtooth 15 synthetic, 2.86 pounds

Now: ZPacks 20 degree down, wide long, 1.26 pounds

That old Marmot bag is synthetic, because I was fearful of down getting wet. I'm not that fearful anymore; I can avoid the wet. So I replaced it, and custom-ordered a Zpacks bag. It worked great up in the snow a few weeks ago, and I'm happy.

Total savings from sleeping bag: 1.6 pounds

Adding it all up

Doing the math, just by changing out the big three items I've been able to cut about 11 pounds from my base weight. That is (literally) a massive load I won't have to be carrying, and I'm really pleased I made these investments, and my poor old legs will appreciate it for sure!