SUL Trans Catalina Trail Gear List

The Trans Catalina Trail

'SUL' or Super Ultra Light is a category used in the lightweight backpacking community which simply means that the backpackers baseweight is five pounds or less. During the winter months it is usually not reasonable (and at times bordering on unsafe) to go SUL, but in the summer it can be a fun way to increase the enjoyment of longer multi-day backpacking trips.

While planning for the Trans Catalina Trail I decided to try the lightest setup possible. Part of the reason for this is that I like taking a break from civilization and living in a minimalist fashion. This seems to provide a perspective on what is really important that is sometimes difficult to find with the distractions in civilization.

Also, I wanted to finish the TCT and a few side trips in three or four days. Although the actual TCT is a relatively short trail the rolling hillside topography means the total altitude change is an incredible 10,000 feet in just 37 miles. To give some perspective the John Muir Trail has about 40,000 feet of elevation change in over 222 miles!

This means that the Trans Catalina Trail climbs an average of 270 feet per mile. The John Muir Trail climbs only 180 feet per mile. That's almost an extra 100 feet of elevation per mile on the TCT versus the JMT. Come on!!

All of this means that a lightweight load will make the TCT easier and will leave more time to enjoy the incredible ocean views. My base weight for this trip was under 4.4 pounds, but who's counting right?

Click for Full Size


  1. Where can I find some of those MYOG silk sleeves?

    1. Hi Bruno, I'm not sure where they are available commercially. I cut the sleeves off a long sleeve silk shirt and sewed some adjustable elastic onto the ends. A good thing about making your own gear is that you can make it exactly like you want. Have fun!

  2. Can someone tell me where I can find a trans Catalina Island t-shirt for my husband?