The Best Thru-Hiking Shelters for Couples (2023 PCT Survey) (2024)

ByMac Gear, Pacific Crest Trail Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a couple can be a huge test of a relationship. An important consideration is which tent or shelter to use as a couple.

Will you sleep together or separately? Who will carry what part of the tent? Will you use a two or three-person tent? Will you bring no shelter and cowboy camp every night until it rains and then have a huge, relationship-ending fight?

As part of the PCT Survey, I may ask which gear couples split between one another (e.g., if they only carried one stove). If you’re a prospective couple planning to hike the PCT and are looking for more data beyond the PCT Gear Guide, leave a comment below or get in touch and let me know what you think.

Table of Contents

1Notes on the data

2Tow vs. Three-Person Shelters

2.1PCT Couples’ Shelter Size

3Couples’ Shelters

4Highest-Rated Shelters

5Most Common Shelters

6Wrap Up

The Best Thru-Hiking Shelters for Couples (2023 PCT Survey) (2)

Notes on the data

  • This year’s survey has 110 completed surveys by hikers who reported hiking the PCT as a couple (I guess at least one member of one couple failed to complete the survey).
  • All ratings listed are the average (on a scale of 1 to 10) from each hiker who rated the gear.
  • I’ve only included shelters used by at least five couples.
  • More detailed posts focused on data from the PCT Survey are always in the works; to be notified of new surveys, click here.

Tow vs. Three-Person Shelters

One consideration couples hiking the Pacific Crest Trail need to make is whether to bring a two-person shelter or a three-person shelter. Typically, if you want more room, you’ll bring a shelter made for one more person than you have sleeping in it. For example, if I know I will (potentially) spend a lot of time in my shelter during a trip, I will bring a two-person shelter to use alone.

Two people and all their gear can get crowded in a two-person shelter, and sometimes, having the additional space of a three-person shelter is a welcome weight penalty. That said, three-person shelters have rather large footprints, and campsite selection can be more limited for a couple carrying a three-person instead of a two-person shelter.

Here’s the breakdown of two versus three-person shelters on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2023.

PCT Couples’ Shelter Size

  • 65.3% – Two-Person Shelter
  • 34.7% – Three-Person Shelter

Interestingly, among the most-used shelters where the two-person and three-person versions were represented on the trail, the three-person version always received a higher overall rating than the two-person version.

The Best Thru-Hiking Shelters for Couples (2023 PCT Survey) (3)

Couples’ Shelters

#ShelterRatingPriceWeightFloorFreestandingCapacity
1Durston X-Mid 2P9.22$2802.4 lb | 1.085 kg33.2 ft² / 2.1 m²No2
2Zpacks Triplex7.20$7991.37 lb | 622 g37.5 ft² / 3.5 m²No3
3Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL28.80$5002.62 lb | 1.188 kg38 ft² / 3.53 m²Semi3
4Zpacks Duplex8.33$6991.19 lb | 539 g28 ft² / 2.6 m²No2
5Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL38.75$5803.63 lb | 1.65 kg41 ft² / 3.8 m²Yes3
6Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL28.38$4501.88 lb | 853 g28 ft² / 2.6 m²Semi2
7Durston X-Mid 2P Pro8.33$6541.31 lb | 595 g28.75 ft² / 2.7 m²No2
8Big Copper Spur HV UL26.60$5302.69 lb | 1.22 kg29 ft² / 2.69 m²Yes2
9MSR Hubba HubbaN/A$5503.25 lb | 1.47 kg29 ft² / 2.69 m²Yes2

Highest-Rated Shelters

The Durston X-Mid 2 was the highest-rated shelter among couples on the Pacific Crest Trail this year. It’s a two-person, side-entry, non-freestanding shelter (i.e., you use trekking poles to set it up) that weighs 2.4 lb / 1.085 kg. This year, it was also the most common shelter among couples on the PCT. It’s also available in a Pro version (made with lighter materials) and a “plus/+” version with more space (so that two people can sleep orientated the same way).

Most Common Shelters

The Durston X-Mid 2 was the most common shelter among couples on the Pacific Crest Trail this year. It’s a two-person, side-entry, non-freestanding shelter (i.e., you use trekking poles to set it up) that weighs 2.4 lb / 1.085 kg. This year, it was also the highest-rated shelter among couples on the PCT. It’s also available in a Pro version (made with lighter materials) and a “plus/+” version with more space (so that two people can sleep orientated the same way).

Wrap Up

Although couples on the Pacific Crest Trail share other gear, shelters are the only thing that differs materially from solo hikers. Double-wide sleeping pads and sleeping bags aren’t too popular among long-distance backpackers.

If you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, or awe-inspiring statements to make regarding the data here (or the data in the PCT Survey Gear Guide), then leave a comment below!

The Best Thru-Hiking Shelters for Couples (2023 PCT Survey) (2024)

FAQs

The Best Thru-Hiking Shelters for Couples (2023 PCT Survey)? ›

Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Share Harrowing Moments From 2023 Season. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has become one of the most popular thru-hikes in the world. Nearly 10,000 people are listed as having completed the gargantuan 2,650-mile trek that spans the U.S. west coast from Mexico to Canada.

How many people completed the PCT in 2023? ›

Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Share Harrowing Moments From 2023 Season. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has become one of the most popular thru-hikes in the world. Nearly 10,000 people are listed as having completed the gargantuan 2,650-mile trek that spans the U.S. west coast from Mexico to Canada.

What percentage of hikers complete the PCT? ›

Despite being slightly longer than the Appalachian Trail, the PCT has a similar completion rate. The Pacific Crest Trail Association estimates that 700 to 800 people attempt to thru-hike it each year, and about 15% to 35% (versus the AT's 25%) actually succeed.

How much money does it take to thru-hike the PCT? ›

How much will it cost to thru-hike the PCT? A typical hiker spends between $8,000-12,000+ on a thru-hike.

What is the best guide for hiking PCT? ›

Buckle up, there are quite a few:
  • Yogi's Pacific Crest Trail Handbook.
  • Half Mile's Printable PCT Maps.
  • Half Mile's PCT Smartphone App (For iOS) (For Android)
  • Guthook's Pacific Crest Trail Guide (GPS) Smartphone App (For iOS) (For Android)
  • The Water Report.
Feb 2, 2015

What is the fastest anyone has done the PCT? ›

With a new, supported fastest known time (FKT), the ultrarunner traversed 2,650 miles (4,265km) of the west-coast, running from the US-Mexico border to Canada in just 46 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes.

What is the highest pass on the PCT? ›

The PCT crosses eight named passes above 11,000 feet in this section, the first being Forester Pass (elev. 13,153′), the highest point on the entire trail.

What is the average base weight for a PCT hiker? ›

Most hikers aim for a base weight under 20 pounds, while a base weight under 10 pounds is considered ultralight. Pack weight is what your pack actually weighs on-trail, including all consumables.

Is it safe to hike the PCT alone? ›

The PCT is rugged, remote and it can be challenging and dangerous. You are responsible for your own safety and you should do everything you can to avoid unnecessary rescues. Don't go alone. Find someone with experience who will take you out.

Why not to hike the PCT? ›

Accidents. Falling, getting swept away by a river, going over a waterfall, impaling yourself with a trekking pole, eating something poisonous, falling from something else, breaking a leg and not being able to get help and just sitting there for days waiting to die one way or another.

What is the most popular pack on the PCT? ›

ULA Circuit

What do hikers eat on PCT? ›

Some popular options for “cold-hydrated” food include:
  • Beans and rice (instant white rice rehydrates better than brown)
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Lentil soup and corn chowder from bulk bins.
  • Hummus.
  • Homecooked and dehydrated meals – our favorite.
  • Instant ramen noodles.
  • Trail salads.

What is the most scenic part of the PCT? ›

Snowgrass Flats and the Goat Lakes Loop is a good section of the PCT to do as a day hike, provided you have literally all day: at 12 miles and with more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain, it's a big hike. But it provides access to Goat Rocks, which many call the most scenic spot of the PCT.

How many people have finished the PCT? ›

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association website, 9,421 people have completed the the PCT as of 2023, and 112 of those people did it more than once. These numbers are based on a self-reported honor system, so it may not be a fully accurate measure of the exact number of people who have completed the hike.

Who holds the PCT record? ›

Karel Sabbe completed the 2,653 miles / 4,269km in 46 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes. Photography: Karel Sabbe.

Is the PCT more difficult than the AT? ›

The trail lacks switchbacks making the climbing quite difficult at times. The elevation gain/loss is almost 100,000′ more than the PCT. The PCT was designed and built so one could use pack animals on it. As a result the trail has a much easier grade and meanders up/around climbs.

How many people have completed the AT trail? ›

Since 1936, more than 20,000 hike completions have been recorded by ATC. This includes thru-hikes and multi-year section hikes. We refer to anyone who reports their completion of the entire A.T. as a “2,000-miler.”

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