Training for the PCT

Training for the PCT and Shakedown Hikes

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Training for Thru Hiking

Some things a thru hiker will learn by completing a shakedown hike and doing some training before a long distance hike.

  • Why it is necessary to train for the PCT
  • Why a shakedown hike is important
  • Read blogs written by other hikers and learn from their journey
  • How to lighten your backpack by completing shakedown hikes
  • Learning to put a little bit of trust in technology

When I committed to hike the Pacific Crest Trail I spent more time reading through forums and checking out other hikers blogs than I thought about planning and preparing for my own hike.

I learned that almost every other hiker felt the same combination of excitement and the feeling of being under prepared.

I decided not to let that bother me, I’m good at adapting to situations. Sometimes, it’s ok to feel a little bit overwhelmed by the long journey ahead.

My journey to hike the PCT saw me transition from a traditional hiker to lightweight hiker. Normally, like most people I would carry about 12-14kg in my pack, minus all food and water.

In the months leading up to hiking the PCT I lightened the load in my pack to less than 8kg. Completing Shakedown hikes were part of the process of learning about myself and my gear.

Edit: My pack is now around 6kg and getting lighter, check out my current hiking gear list

I’m happy with that. I lightened my load by evaluating every single thing that I had in my pack. I did this by taking a series of overnight training hikes, known as Shakedown hikes.

Each with several goals of testing myself and my gear.

Shakedown Hike in the Blue Mountains

My first shakedown hike was on the 6 Foot Track. An easy 3 day , 44km hike, plus another 6km (for me) of walking to get to the trailhead. I’d hiked this trail before and knew it to be a great trail to use as a Shakedown Trail.

Navigation was not an issue so it made a good training hike.

I planned to walk the track twice, a total of 100km in 3 days. On day 2 I hiked 50km. The most I have ever walked in one day, and all this with my backpack. My base weight on this hike was just under 10kg.

After the hike I re-assessed everything I was carrying. I found ways to lighten my load, and learned the value of  Ibuprofen, the hard way. A good place to get good gear in Australia is Snowys.com.

When the hiker finally makes it onto the long distance trail the idea is to start slowly and allow the body to adapt to it’s new job of hiking everyday. It is a process that takes many weeks. Don’t be the hiker that hikes too fast or too many miles at the start. Injury forces many hikers off the trail every year.

2nd Shakedown Hike

After research and learning more about lightweight hiking I set of into the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for another shakedown hike. This time my backpack was down to 9kg. Again I learned things.

My blister tape was crap (leukotape is the best), the rain gear had holes in it from a recent cycling crash and my Kindle was dead weight. So I ordered new (lighter) rain gear, will try new strapping tape (leukotape) and I’ve ditched the Kindle in favour of the Audible Audio Books for my phone.

I also noted there was some gear I hadn’t used on both hikes. If I went on 2 hikes and had gear with me that I never used, then it was time to get rid if it.

Now my pack is under 8kg. I suspect within the first month of my hike it will be even lighter. Not that I am obsessed with it.

Want to know all about the best gear on the market?
Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags and Quilts for 2021

Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks for 2021
Best Lightweight Sleeping Pads for 2021
Best Lightweight Down Jackets 2021

Best Lightweight Tents for 2021
My Current Lightweight Gear List

Technology on the Trail

I learned to embrace technology and trust my phone. I have set it up so everything I need can be used offline. It has my offline navigation maps from Guthook and Halfmile, my offline kindle (reading app), PDF maps, PDF trail info, PDF water reports, PDF town info and files of all the other info I need.

My phone has a wifi app to transfer my photos from my phone to my BikeHikeSafari Facebook site or to this blog, all offline and while out on the trail. I can then write my blog while on the trail, uploading it either when I have reception or WiFi.

When there is reception or wifi I am able to dictate rather than type on the small keyboard, I tried this out while on the trail. It worked great, however, I don’t think I’ll talk to my phone when other people are watching!

This works on apps for Facebook, WordPress (my blog), texts, notes and more. To keep my phone charged I carry a USB battery which will charge the phone about 8 times while on trail. I learned to embrace the new technology.

Almost time to leave

Now, it is only days away from flying to USA to start the hike of the PCT. Soon, I’ll be camping somewhere in the California desert on the Pacific crest trail. Time to start packing!

A big thanks to my sister and family for hosting me for the last couple of weeks in Sydney and GT from Charter North for my trip through the outback on route from Darwin to Sydney.

Below are some photos from the ‘outback’ and my recent training hikes and shakedown hikes.

Camping with Charter North.
Camping in the ‘Outback’ with Charter North.
The 3 Sisters, Blue Mountain. Training hike
Training hike
Training for the PCT involved hiking to some cool Waterfalls near Leura

The Best Thru Hiking Trails in the World?
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the Appalchian Trail
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
Te Araroa Trail

The Best Hiking Gear at the Best Prices :
Backcountry.comREI | Moosejaw.com | Amazon |
Hyperlite Mountain Gear | Patagonia | Feathered Friends |

Nemo | VasqueSea to Summit | Enlightened Equipment |
 Snowys.com
Traveling Overseas to go Hiking?
World Nomads Travel Insurance

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  1. Super stoked for you Brad. I’ve been reading Twinkle Toes and Carrot’s blogs from 2014. Looking forward to following you on your blog now too. I wonder what your trail name is going to be!?

    1. Thanks Sally. You’ve hiked with me, what trail name do you think I should have? I’ve never been much for nicknames though, none ever stuck for me despite some peoples best efforts.

      1. You’re a cop , so maybe some tough street name….haha. I will think more on it.

      2. I remember how you killed up that climb, out of Thrasher cove, you were crushing it. How about Trail Crusher..?

  2. awesome stuff! are you happy with the fly creek? thinking of getting one myself! best of luck for the flight and the adventure! look foward to following your blog!

    1. Thanks, I must say I’m not completely happy with the BA fly creek, I like the light weight but I prefer the side entry of the Copper Spur. Although heavier I think I would prefer the extra weight for the comfort and convenience. Time will tell, I will see if it grows on me, if not I will exchange it at some stage on the trail.

      1. ohhh ok… is the copper spur that much heavier? for me, and my bad back, weight is everything.

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