I’ve done this before with my PCT/AT Gear list, but as always, I was trying new things on the CDT much of the time, faced much different weather, and learned what worked really well for me, and also what didn’t work well at all.
I’ll start with the essentials and work my way down:
Backpack: Gossamer Gear Kumo 36 Superlight Backpack, Weight – Roughly 14oz after modifications.
I used the updated 2015 version of this pack and loved it. I modified it by cutting the hip belts and a few other holds that I was not using. This pack carries a heavier load comfortably for me, including having my snowshoes and snow gear on it with several days of food. It also has a higher capacity at 2,200 c.I. The pack has the perfect blend of ultralight and durability for a long trek. After several thousand miles on the pack and many summits where it got abused, it still looks like new, and carries like it (still very comfortable). It’s the best pack I’ve ever used, hands down, and I’ll continue using it on any overnight hikes and summits where I’ll be needing layers.
Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Enigma – Short, Slim, 0 Degree. 21 ounces
For the CDT I upgraded from my 20 degree Zpacks quilt to the EE Enigma 0 Degree, at a cost of just 5 ounces I gained a 20 degree rating, and man am I glad I did that. The CDT is cold nearly year round. Montana was actually the warmest that I travelled through, and the only time I felt the 0 degree was overkill. I’m also a cold sleeper – I think Handy Andy was just fine in his 20 degree EE quilt. This quilt is so good though. It breathes well, and I joked that the 0 stood for the number of nights I slept cold, which is on point. Several times I was able to cowboy camp (no tent/tarp, just sleeping on the ground), as Andy and others had to set up their tents for the added warmth. Since I love cowboy camping and seeing the stars, this was a big plus for me. If you’re doing the CDT, expect nights to be cold the entire time. What worked on the PCT likely wont be warm enough on the CDT. Upgrading to a warmer bag is smart, and Enlightened Equipment makes beautiful, functional quilts at a very reasonable price. The next quilt I get will definitely be another Enlightened Equipment, they’re just great!
Tarp: Gossamer Gear Q-twin Cuben Tarp – 7 ounces, (8.5 with steaks).
This is a cuben, A-frame style Tarp. I used it the entire way. for the weight, this is the best tarp I have used. Last year, I used a home made Ray Way Tarp, and I loved it. However, this is a very similar tarp, but half the weight. Most nights I used the Polycro ground cloth that Gossamer Gear Sells, but further north, where there were bugs and much more rain, I began to use the Mountain Laurel Designs Big bivy, which was roughly 5 ounces. I don’t think they sell it any longer. But the tarp and bug bivy combo was very nice!
Sleeping Pad: Neo Air Xlite torso length – 8 ounces
This is the same pad I used last year, the same one that was ripped by a bear in Shenandoah NP. It made most of the triple crown with me, likely logging over 6k miles. It leaks a bit throughout the night, and I have recently upgraded. But it was a boss, and got me through so many miles!
Other than that, my gear was mostly similar to that of the previous year, outside of one big thing – Rain Gear. The CDT rains like none other; it was an every day thing. I used the OR helios 2 rain jacket. It was terrible. It was good for about a day or two, and then was pretty useless after. Handy Andy’s frogg toggs worked better. I also had a pair of Montbell Rain Pants, which were excellent. If I were to go back and do it again, knowing what I know now, I would have gotten a Montbell rain jacket that is Gore-tex, such as this one.
If you have any specific questions on the above, or other items I used, please do not hesitate to leave a question in the comment!