We split our gear review into three posts – shared items, Andy’s gear review and Laurie’s gear review. Below is the first installment.
Tent – Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 – We loved our tent. It was home for 6 months and it performed very well. Being a 3 person tent it was very roomy for two hikers and all our gear. We prefer this model over the new HL3 because it is truly freestanding whereas the new ones need to be staked out at the rear corners.
We mostly used the tent as you see in the picture – without the fly. It was like cowboy camping without the bugs. We only used the fly when it got really cold or when it rained.
The UL3 is made of strong materials and performed flawlessly the first 4 months. Over time though, the no-see-um mesh around the zipper and pole clips developed micro holes and the zipper itself stretched out, making the zipper difficult to close.
We imagine many tents would suffer similar issues given the months of use we put it through. We highly recommend this tent!
One more thing, the Fly Creek lineup of tents were hands down the most popular on the PCT.
Groundsheet – Tyvek custom groundsheet – There are companies that cut Tyvek to the specs of many tents. While the length and width wasn’t quite right for our tent, it was cheap, durable and very strong. We got no holes in our Tyvek the entire hike – it worked very well.
And Tyvek is all white (at least on one side), making it perfect for hitch hiking signs too!
Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket – We used a Pocket Rocket the entire trail. For us warm food is worth the weight of the stove, cooking pot and fuel. These things are well made and easy to use.
Windscreen – Titanium windscreen – super thin titanium is expensive (we paid $15 on eBay) and VERY NOISY. The one we purchased started to fray within a week and small bits of titanium would fly about – one such piece almost went into Andy’s eye!
It was also very sharp and hard to put back into its stuff sack. We ditched it within two weeks, found some aluminum foil in a hiker box and used that the rest of the hike.
Cooking pot – Evernew Ti 900ml pot – Andy purchased the solid titanium version 6 years ago and loves it. A non-stick version is also available, but since we mostly use it to boil water, the non-stick option is unnecessary.
It’s very lightweight and very strong. You can definitely eat out of it too, but because we usually ate different dinners we used separate eating containers.
Eating container – Talenti ice cream pint size container – Talenti ice creams and sorbets come with screw top lids. Water will still seep out of the lid but they are tight enough to cold soak your food and rehydrate on the go.
We primarily used them to eat out of by adding warm (and sometimes) boiling water into the containers along with our dry dinners. The containers are BPA free but boiling water does deform their shape slightly.
When they got too foul, we tossed them after buying more ice cream in town. And that’s the best part of this system. You need to eat the ice cream in order to use the container 🙂
Battery pack – Anker Astro 5600mAh battery – We first started with a cheap $10 10,000mAh dual usb port charger we bought on amazon. But since Andy used a second battery and all we had to charge was Laurie’s iPhone 6 Plus we switched to a smaller, lighter unit Andy had lying around from his JMT hike.
It charged the iPhone almost 3 times before it ran out of juice. And in towns it was fast to charge – usually a couple of hours.
Camera – Canon S120 – We bought this camera because our Cannon S110 stopped working the first day on the trail. We didn’t want to buy it because it was a costly expense at the start of our hike but we are glad we did.
It takes great pictures and is easy to use. Our phone cameras worked well for scenery photos but we liked having this camera for close ups such as flower shots. It also has a star mode that the previous models don’t have. We enjoyed playing with it and taking pictures of the stars and the Milky Way. If you want to take a point and shoot camera with you, we recommend this one.
My one gripe with this camera – as with most Canon cameras – is that you can not charge it with an external battery. So we bought and carried additional batteries but they didn’t last as long as the original one.
If you have any questions or comments, drop us a line below or email us.