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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Must-Haves for PCT Hikers

By on November 15, 2017

It’s that time of year again. Time for holiday shopping and wish list making. Whether you have an aspiring PCT hiker on your shopping list—or you’re the aspiring PCT hiker—here are ten of my personal, hand-picked, trail-tested gear items selected for improving the long-distance hiking experience. Each of these items were selected for their usefulness on trail and in camp for adding a little extra comfort and convenience. Treat the hiker you know—or yourself—to one (or more) of these great gear items and get ready for all your 2018 trail adventures.

1. Balega Blister-Resist Socksbalega socks

What goes in your boots (besides your feet) is just as important as your boots themselves—a painful lesson to learn on trail. That’s why I use Balega Blister-Resist Socks. Woven with a blend of mohair and Drynamix fibers, they wick away moisture to keep feet cool, dry and comfy. They also feature a seamless toe to avoid friction spots and a deep heel pocket to keep them in place over long distances. Plus, they dry super-fast. I carry two pairs. I switch them out midday, dry them overnight, and they’re ready to go again. Available in no-show, quarter and crew sizes.  $13–$18

2. Cnoc Outdoors Vertex Trekking Polescnoc vertex

This last summer, I swapped out my old, beat-up aluminum alpine trekking poles and picked up a pair of Cnoc’s Vertex Carbon Trekking Poles—and they’re pretty darned nice. First, they’re super-lightweight, at just 15 ounces for the pair. Next, extended and locked, they’re super-sturdy on the steep grades and can easily support some heavy leaning. Finally, folded up and stowed, they’re super-small and can be stashed away in a pack pocket. To top that off, they’re made by a local Portland company that strives to keep their gear simple, functional and affordable—all nice!  $75

3. Helinox Chair Zerochair zero

It’s no secret that I like being comfy on trail, and I’m willing to tote along a couple extra pounds to improve my outdoor experience. That’s why I never hike without my Helinox Chair Zero. Weighing in at a single pound, this compact, ultralight camp chair sets up in just seconds. No more searching for suitable rocks and stumps, this little chair provides a comfy seat anywhere on trail and in camp. I pull mine out for lunch breaks on trail, kicking back at viewpoints, and cooking and relaxing in camp. I can’t recommend this item enough—I love my chair!  $120

4. Klean Kanteen Insulated Bottleklean bottle

There’s nothing quite as refreshing on a hot summer day on trail as a big drink of icy-cold mountain stream water (after it’s been filtered, of course). But fill up a regular bottle or bladder with that icy-cold water and it doesn’t stay icy-cold for long—and drinking tepid water is just not quite as refreshing. That’s why I carry my icy-cold water in this 20-oz. Insulated Bottle. Sure it weighs a few ounces more than a regular bottle, but it keeps my icy-cold water icy-cold and refreshing for more than eight hours! It also keeps my morning coffee steamy-hot for hours.  $25

5. Mont-bell Sunblock Umbrellasun umbrella

An umbrella while hiking? Yeah, it may seem a bit foofy, but when slogging across mile after mile of scorching desert and lava beds where shade is scarce, it’s nice to carry some of your own. This summer, I added a Sunblock Umbrella to my gear kit and what a difference it makes. The exterior UPF-50 silver material reflects sun and heat, while the interior black material keeps things cool underneath. And since it weighs a scant 6 ounces, it’s a small concession for what can be a big reprieve from the sweltering summer sun. It works just as good in the rain, too!  $45

Gift Guide Giveaway! We’re giving away a holiday gift package with several of the gear items featured on this list. Click on over the the Contest Page and enter for your chance to win!

6. Petzl Noctilight Casenoctilight

In year’s past, I used to carry both a headlamp and a tiny tent lamp for nighttime lighting. Now, I just carry my headlamp in a Noctilight Case and I get both uses in one compact package. The Noctilight is a small, 3-ounce headlamp case that converts your headlamp into a tabletop or hangable lantern that provides nice, diffused lighting for camp and in tents. It’s also a convenient little thing to store your headlamp in when not in use. It works best with several Petzl headlamps, but is also compatible with some Black Diamond and Princeton Tec models.  $20

7. Saxx Quest 2.0 Boxersaxx boxer

Okay dudes, this one is just for you. Ladies, please give us a minute. Hiking long distances, often in the same underwear, can be pretty rough on the junk. Especially when it starts to get sweaty down there and chafing becomes an issue. Well guys, take care of your tenders in a pair of Saxx. The high-performance Quest 2.0 Boxer is made of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking mesh fabric to keep things cool and funk-free downstairs, and features Saxx’s patented BallPark Pouch for perfectly cradling your kickstand. These may be the best hiking underwear ever!  $30

8. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypackultra-sil pack

Whether you’re section-hiking, thru-hiking or basecamping, packing along a compact summit pack is super-convenient for side trips and trail errands. That’s why I carry the Ultra-Sil Daypack. I break this thing out any time I need to fetch water off-trail or away from camp (it will hold my filter and several bottles), or whenever I want to tag a peak or viewpoint with my lunch, jacket and camp chair (see #3). Stuffed, it’s smaller than a tennis ball, and weighs less than 3 ounces. It also makes for a convenient stuff sack for spare clothing and sleeping bags.  $33

9. SOL All-Season Blanketsol blanket

I call my All-Season Blanket my 11th Essential. I use it for everything: tent footprint, rain fly, rain tarp, pack cover, sun shade, blizzard shelter, gear cover, poncho, insulated wrap, picnic blanket, seat pad and more. The uses for this thing are practically endless—including as a heat-reflective emergency blanket. This new model from SOL weighs just 12 ounces and folds nice and neatly into a little roll. I keep my blanket easily accessible on the back of my pack so I can whip it out for any need. With so much versatility, this item is a no-brainer.  $18  (Available Feb. 2018)

10. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregonpct guides

Whether you’re planning a weekend, section- or thru-hike, Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon will provide you with all the info you need. This comprehensive guidebook to the PCT thru Oregon is crammed full of trail and regional info, topo maps, elevation profiles, historical info, regional resources and tons of spectacular color photos to get you amped up for your own wilderness journey. Want to go even farther? The companion guides for WashingtonSouthern California and Northern California will give you the lowdown on all 2,660 miles of the PCT.  $25 ea.

You can support PCT: Oregon by purchasing gift items from this list. Just click on the links to purchase from our retailer partners. PCT: Oregon will receive a small percentage of each purchase, which helps cover hosting and maintenance costs.

The gear items featured on this page are selected and approved by PCT: Oregon guidebook author Eli Boschetto. This post contains affiliate links. All purchases made through these links help support the costs and operations of PCT: Oregon. For more information on PCT: Oregon gear reviews and affiliates, click here.

Main photo: Ten of guidebook author Eli Boschetto’s personal gear picks—all perfect for the hiker on your holiday list.


  1. Reply

    Rhonda Burmeister

    November 21, 2017

    Need some gear

  2. Reply

    Rhonda Burmeister

    November 21, 2017

    Would Love some new gear. Thanks

  3. Reply

    Derek Jennings

    November 22, 2017

    This would be so handy to have!

  4. Reply

    Jeffery L Savage

    November 22, 2017

    Awesome collection of gear! Would be a welcome win.

  5. Reply

    Audrey Stewart

    November 23, 2017

    I could use this when I go to Montana for the holidays.

  6. Reply

    Debbie Spearman

    November 23, 2017

    This would be awesome to have

  7. Reply


    November 24, 2017

    All the gear is great and I’d use it all minus the men’s underwear. Good for hubby tho.

  8. Reply


    November 26, 2017

    The gear is amazing

  9. Reply

    Linda O Thornsbury

    December 1, 2017

    Awesome giveaway. Thanks for the opportunity to win

  10. Reply

    Tabbatha Roth

    December 1, 2017

    All of the fear would be awesome to have

    • Reply

      Tabbatha Roth

      December 1, 2017

      Gear not fear lol sorry


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