CDT Gear Review

CDT Gear Review

So like with each of the trails before the Continental Divide Trail (PCT and AT) I switched around my gear list.  What follows is my gear list for the CDT and my two cents on how that gear preformed.

To see my AT and PCT gear lists go here.

*Click on image to purchase

Pack

ULA Catalyst
ULA Catalyst Pack

ULA Catalyst Pack

 

 

 

 

 

I used the ULA Catalyst pack on the PCT for a good chunk of the CDT.  It’s a good solid pack that held up well.

Pros:  I used it because it can handle more weight.  ULA makes great packs with plenty of features.

Cons:  Weight, no bladder sleeve

Gossamer Gear Mariposa
Gossamer Gear Mariposa

Gossamer Gear Mariposa

 

 

 

 

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is a great little pack.  At 29 oz it was quite durable.  I highly recommend this pack.

Pros:  I liked the side pockets better than the ULA.  Removable back pad was great to sit on during breaks or could be used for added padding at night under my hips.

Cons:  The only down side I personally found was if the brain pocket had too much in it, it would cause the opening of the main compartment to close.

Shelter

Gossamer Gear Spinn Twin
Gossamer Gear Spinn Twin

Gossamer Gear Spinn Twin

 

 

 

 

 

I also used this Spinn Twin on the PCT.  As the desert usually doesn’t have a ton of rain I used this for NM.

Pros:  It’s light, durable, packs small and can be set up in multiple ways.

Cons:  It does take getting used to setting up.  If it’s windy it can be tough to stay completely dry.

 

Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus
Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus

Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus

 

 

 

 

Zpacks makes great products.

Pros:  The Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus was super light and had great floor space.  Pitching it was easy but as I point out below the perfect pitch could be elusive.

Cons:  Durability was an issue, that said Zpacks points out that this tent is probably only good for one thru-hike.  Set up was tricky at times.  Uneven ground made this tent hard to set up.  Also if you had too much angle on the tent pole you’d lose interior space.  Instead of setting up taut there would be a bow to the pitch.  The tent does have a large foot print limiting one’s options as to where you can set up.

 

Sleep System

Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20 Degree Down Bag
Feathered Friends Hummingbird

Feathered Friends Hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

This Hummingbird sleeping bag was the same bag I used on the PCT.  I think between that and the fact I used it for 6 months before the trip as my comforter it wasn’t as warm as it should have been.  This is totally my fault and not he bags.  FF makes some of the best sleeping bags out there.  I love this bag!

Pros:  Excellent durability.  Great packability and warmth.

Cons:  The only one I can think of is cost but when compared to others as good it’s on par.

 

Therm-a-rest Neo-Air Pad
Therm-a-Rest Neo-Air

Therm-a-Rest Neo-Air

I used a small Therm-a-rest Neo-Air for the first month of my trip.  I thought the 2.5 inches the Neo-Air offered would be heaven to sleep on.  It was plush but I found the pad too narrow.  Every time I rolled over I was conscious not to roll off it.  This keep me from sleeping soundly.

Pros:  Weight to comfort ratio. Packs small.

Cons:  Too narrow and use is time consuming.

 

Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Pad
Therm-a-rest Z-Lite Pad

Therm-a-rest Z-Lite Pad

I used the Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite pad on the PCT and 3/4’s of the CDT.  There’s not much to say about it as it’s a simple folding foam pad.

Pros:  Light, simple to use, won’t pop or get a hole in it, and it’s quick to set up and break down.  Lastly it’s versatile and can be used during breaks to sit on.

Cons:  Not as plush as a air pad meaning you’ll feel things below it like rocks, holes and sticks.

Cooking

Soda Can Stove
Home Made Soda Can Stove

Home Made Soda Can Stove

 



 

 

Home made Wind Screen/Pot Stand

Home made Wind Screen/Pot Stand

 

 

 

 

 

I have been using this little gem since around 2002.  Beat up and tired look it still boils water fast enough for me.

Pros:  Weight, simplicity, packability, ease of use, and cools fast.

Cons:  Takes longer to boil water, may not work at altitude (depends on the stove), fuel can be hard to buy in small amounts, very hard to put out before fuel is gone, and flame is hard to see in daylight.

 

Evernew .9 Titanium Pot
Evernew .9 liter Titanium Pot

Evernew .9 liter Titanium Pot

I used the Evernew .9 Titanium Pot on both the PCT and CDT.  It has the dents to prove it.  Evernew makes a great product that is durable and stands up well.  The .9 liter is great for one but would be too small for two people.

Pros:  Light, durable and packs well

Cons:  Handles are short and rubber on handles will burn off if flame is too high.

 

Snow Peak Titanium Spork
Snow Peak Titanium Spork

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

I got the Snow Peak Titanium Spork after my 10+ year old lexan soup spoon broke.  I got an anodize one and would recommend not doing so.  It got scratch up and did look so nice after a bit. I never had a spark before and having the fork teeth was nice to stab pieces of food.

Pros:  Light and durable.

Cons:  Prices compared to other options and harder to trim if you want to fit it in your pot.

 

Electronics

Apple iPhone 6+ (camera, journal, GPS, and music)
Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

I’ve been an Apple user since the PCT.  I liked having all my stuff in one place.  I only got the 6+ because I thought the key board would be larger but it’s not.  I will say it takes great photos and video despite it not having a telephoto zoom.

Pros:  Allowed me to combine many items into one.  Great stand by battery life. Amazing video and photos.

Cons:  Size, no telephoto zoom, and keyboard size.

 

LifeProof Nuud Case
Life Proof Nuud iPhone 6 Plus Case

Life Proof Nuud iPhone 6 Plus Case

The LifeProof Nuud Case was well worth the money.  I definitely dropped my phone a few times in the 2751 miles.  I even dropped it in the Gila River.  It does make the already larger 6 Plus even bigger which made it cumbersome at times.

Pros:  Keeps your phone dry and safe from falls.  Excellent customer service.

Cons:  Size. volume is muted by case making it hard to hear when your surroundings are noisy.  My first case developed tiny hair line cracks in three of the four corners around the screen.  They did not effect it’s ability to keep my phone dry.  Lifeproof replaced the case with no questions asked.

 

Power Traveller Solarmonkey Adventurer
Power Traveller Solarmonkey Adventurer

Power Traveller Solarmonkey Adventurer

I had hoped this was the answer to my prior solar device.  Alas it wasn’t.  I was under the impression that this device would charge direct from the sun as well from it’s internal battery.  It does not.  I also was lead to believe it would charge an Smart Phone 1-2 times.  It does not.  The best charge I ever got was 51%, that’s only 25% of what the manufacturer claims.  I would not recommend this product.

Pros:  Small, durable and easy to use.

Cons:  Does not charge directly from sun. Takes too long to charge for amount of power it produces.  Does not charge as manufacturer claims.

 

Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 16000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology 2-Port 3A
Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 16000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank

Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 16000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank

The Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 was my answer to my solar charger.  It weight 2 ounces more but I knew when it was charged and how much it had left.  I never when below 50% even when out for 5 days.  I highly recommend a external battery over a solar panel (unless your hiking in a treeless area with guaranteed sun).

Pros:  Great amount of power output.  Super simple to use.  It even has a built in flash light.

Cons:  Button for checking power level and turning on flash light isn’t recessed and can be accidentally turned on in your pack.

 

Petzl Tikka RXP
Petzl Tikka RXP

Petzl Tikka RXP

I have been a Petzl fan for a while.  The Petzl Tika RXP is the best Petzl headlamp I’ve owned yet.  The Reactive/Constant lighting settings on this head lamp are great.  With the minimal amount I used it I think I only charged it about 3-4 times on the whole trip.

Pros:  Multiple lighting options (Reactive/Constant/Red/Max output).  Comfortable. Charge lasts a long time.

Cons:  I found it hard to find the buttons with gloves on and once or twice it turned on in my pack as the power button isn’t recessed.

 

Filtration and Water Storage*

Platypus Hoser, 2 liter
Platypus Hoser, 2 liter

Platypus Hoser, 2 liter

I have been a bladder user for a long time but on the CDT I switched to using my bottles.  Mostly so I could see how much water I had.  Water seemed to be more of an issue the go around.  the Platypus Hoser is great.  Platypus didn’t just make another bladder, small details like hose placement, hose clip and the ability to hang your bladder give this item some extra of others.

Pros:  Durablility. Hose Length. Size Options.

Cons:  Doesn’t have a stuck off valve on bite valve. Can’t know how much water you have left.

 

Platypus 2 Liter Platy Bottle
Platypus 2 Liter Platy Bottle

Platypus 2 Liter Platy Bottle

I used two Platypus Platy Bottles to carry my extra reserve water during long stretches.  I like them because they pack down small and last forever.

Pros:  Light. Durable. Easy to repair if they puncture.

Cons:  Not sure there are any.

 

Platypus Gravityworks Filter System
Platypus Gravityworks Filter System

Platypus Gravityworks Filter System

I was unsure of using a gravity filter before the CDT.  I usually don’t like to sit around while hiking.  The Platypus GravityWorks was simple to use and when kept properly cleaned it worked fast.  I liked I could set it up and just walk away for a few minutes and do other camp chores while it worked.

Pros:  Ease of use. Compact. Doubled as yet another way to carry more water.

Cons:  You have to be diligent about back washing it or it slows down.

 

Aqua Mira
Aqua Mira

Aqua Mira

I have used Aqua Mira since the Long Trail in 2003.  I love the simplicity of using it and that at least for me has no taste.  Some say they can taste it.

Pros:  Ease of use.  Lasts a long time.

Cons:  The Part A always runs out before the B.  If your not careful it’s easy to spill the mixture.  You do have to count the drops and wait for the mixture to do it’s thing and then more time for it to treat the water.  If your anything like me and start to loose your mind out there it’s easy to forget when you started the mixture and how much time is left.

*I also used Gatorade and Smart Water bottles for drinking.

Shoes, Socks and Insoles

La Sportiva Ultra Raptors
La Sportiva Ultra Raptors

La Sportiva Ultra Raptors

I’m a total believer that with the right shoes you won’t get blisters.  I didn’t have one blister on the CDT.  For most parts of the CDT the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors stood up great.  The Yellowstore area destroyed a pair of these faster than any area of the trip.

Pros:  Comfort.  Great traction. Support. The toe protection actually stayed on the shoe (most shoes these give out and detach from the shoe)

Cons:  The soles did get ripped up pretty bad but I think any shoe would have with the rocks on the CDT.

 

Ibex Quarter Crew Socks
Ibex Quarter Crew Socks

Ibex Quarter Crew Socks

Ibex makes the best clothes out there!  The Ibex 1/4 Crew Socks have plenty of cushioning and hold up great.  The flat knit seams make them super comfortable all day long.  I also carried a pair of Ibex’s Hiker Crew Socks for use in camp.

Pros:  Ibex quality.  Long lasting.

Cons:  None that I can think of.

 

Superfeet GREEN Premium Insoles
Superfeet GREEN Premium Insoles

Superfeet GREEN Premium Insoles

I have been using Superfeet GREEN Premium Insoles since I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2001.  Some hikers got up to and over a 1000 miles on one pair.  I switch mine out with my shoes and socks to guarantee I’m getting the best support.  Never have I had an issue with any of the insoles I’ve used. They give tons of support and help me cover ground with less fatigue.

Pros:  Amazing support. Durable.  Reliable craftsmanship.

Cons:  ?  Having to trim them myself???

I also tried using thong flip flops for camp shoes.  Worst idea ever as I don’t have toe socks.  Even if I did they pick up burs and other debris and don’t offer much protection.  Crocs are my go to but I went without for most of this trip.

Clothing

Julbo Dust Sunglasses
Julbo Dust Sunglasses

Julbo Dust Sunglasses

Julbo has been shading and protecting my eyes for a long time now.  I started with the Julbo Dust sunglasses but found that with all the hiking on the Divide I needed something stronger than the cat. 2-4 lenses.  In general the Dust are great for me but the Divide demanding something stronger.

Pros:  Photochromatic lenses.  Light weight. They stay put on my face.

Cons:  For this trip…just not dark enough.

 

Julbo Tensing Sunglasses
Julbo Tensing Sunglasses

Julbo Tensing Sunglasses

I contacted my guy at Julbo and told him I need darker lenses for my eyes and he sent these.  I love my Julbo Tensing Sunglasses.  The lenses put a stop to my tired eyes and headaches after spending hours and miles on the Divide without any shade.

Pros:  Amazing protection. Cat. 4 lens with flash +AR coating.  Superior ventilation. Flexible. Super light weight.

Cons:  It could just have been my head but they fitted loosely and I need to add a retention system to keep them from slipping or blowing off my face (Yes, the wind was that bad at times!)

Hats of the CDT

rsz_img_5131 rsz_img_2231 rsz_img_1111

 

 

As you can see I wore three hats on my CDT journey.  The “More Cowbell” trucker cap was the best of the three.  Even with all my hair my head got burned with the visor but it was cooler.  The cowboy hat didn’t stay on in heavy winds.  It wasn’t all that comfortable either.  I also wore an Outdoor Research fleece beanie at night or when it was cold.

 

Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket
Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket

Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket

 

 

 

 

 

The Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket is the lightest rain jacket you’ll find with hand pockets and pit zips.  It even has Velcro closures on the wrists.  I had 44 days of rain on the CDT and this jacket did it’s job and well.  The durability for a jacket this light was top notch as well.

Pros:  Light.  Durable.  Pit zips. Velcro wrist closures.  Adjustable hood.

Cons:  None that I can think of at the moment.

 

Montbell UL Down Parka
Montbell UL Down Parka

Montbell UL Down Parka

 

 

 

 

 

I used to own a Montbell UL Down Jacket which I used on the PCT but it was stolen by some low life on a job site.  I went with the Montbell UL Down Parka this time for the extra warmth of a hood.  I’m glad I did as I used the hood regularly.  The UL Down Parka is extremely light and provides amazing warmth.  Montbell makes incredible puffies!

Pros:  Warm.  Light. Super packable.  Great warmth to weight ratio.

Cons:  I was in between sleeve lengths.  Like most companies the sleeves could be longer on a medium.

 

Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve
Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve

Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely love this shirt.  The four was stretch makes the shirt bliss to wear especially when hiking.  I can’t wait till Spring when OR has more in stock.

Pros:

Cons:

Ibex Woolie 150 L/S
Ibex 150 L/S Woolie

Ibex 150 L/S Woolie

Ah the Ibex Woolie, I looked forward to putting this shirt on every night.  Maybe the semi tight fit was like be swaddled that made it some enjoyable.  Whatever the reason it was heavenly.

Pros:  Warm. Light. Doesn’t hold smell. Wool!

Cons:  I wear my Woolies a lot and have noticed that what’s now called the Woolies 1 are so thin they don’t last more than a two seasons.  If you want a thicker, warmer, more durable Woolie try the Woolie 2 or 3.

 

Ibex OD Heather T
Ibex OD Heather T

Ibex OD Heather T

Yet another wonderful piece from Ibex.  The OD Heather T has a relaxed fit and a soft touch.  It’s 100% merino wool and is 18.5 microns.

Pros:  Light.  No odor. Relaxe fit.

Cons:  None at this time.

 

Ibex Knitty Gritty Gloves
Ibex Knitty Gritty Gloves

Ibex Knitty Gritty Gloves

I’ve owned a few pairs of the Ibex Knitty Gritty Gloves.  They are quite warm and thick.  The palm is covered with no-skid ibexes.  Even in a steady rain my hands stayed warm in these gloves.

Pros:  Warm.  Thick with good dexterity. Anti slip palms.

Cons:  Personally I like a glove that fits snug.  The Knitty Gritty’s have a loose and can feel a bit sloppy when using my hiking poles.

 

OR Rain Mitts
OR Rain Mitts

OR Rain Mitts

 

 

 

 

 

I bought these over mitts in 2000 before I hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Unfortunately Outdoor Research does not make them any more.  Some of the other big name brands do if you really want a pair.

Pros:  Great wind and rain protection.  Very light.

Cons:  Even though their Gore-Tex you’ll get sweaty if you’re working hard.

 

Montbell Versalite Pants
Montbell Versalite Pants

Montbell Versalite Pants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went with these pants because they were light and simple.  No frills, bells or whistles.  For as light as they were they held up great.

Pros: Super Light.  Packable.

Cons:  To be so light they had no ankle zips.  This made getting them off and on difficult.

 

Mountain Hardware Mesa Pants
Mountain Hardware Mesa Pants

Mountain Hardware Mesa Pants

These pants were a comprise.  They had the micro fleece waste band (and I thought crotch but didn’t).  I bought them for those two features and had a seamstress remove the original pocket and add ones with angle opens for easy access.

Pros:  Costs.  Durability.

Cons:  No ankle zips.  Didn’t have all the features I wanted.

 

Ibex Woolie 150 Boxers Briefs
Ibex Woolie 150 Boxers Briefs

Ibex Woolie 150 Boxers Briefs

I love my Ibex Woolie 150 Boxers Briefs.  They have a semi-fit to tight fit depending on your build.

Pros:  Ibex quality.  Amazing fit.

Cons:  Cost

 

Ibex Woolie 150 Bottoms
Ibex Woolie 150 Bottoms

Ibex Woolie 150 Bottoms

The Ibex Woolie 150 Bottoms are just a long version of the boxer briefs.  The Flatlock seems make them super comfortable.

Pros:  Super comfortable.  Warm.

Cons:  It’s not winter all year.

 

Other Gear

Golite Umbrella
Golite Umbrella

Golite Umbrella

 

 

 

 

 

I had never hiked with an umbrella before but they are especially handy.  You can use it for much more than just rain.  They work great for shade and blocking wind too.  Golite is no longer a business but you can get the same umbrella at Gossamer Gear.

Pros:  Light.  Strong. Great for wind, rain and sun protection.

Cons:  You must carry it in hand or rig some sort of way to strap it to your pack for hands free use. Not useful in strong winds.

 

Pacer Poles Carbon 2 Piece Hiking Poles
Pacer Poles Carbon 2 Piece Hiking Poles

Pacer Poles Carbon 2 Piece Hiking Poles

 

 

 

 

 

I used these poles for half the PCT and all of the CDT.  I absolutely love the poles and how they help with my hiking.  The grips are amazing.  In the future I will probably get a carbon fiber set of poles.  I’m thinking of getting the Gossamer Gear LT4 Poles.

Pros:  Ergonomically designed.  Comfortability.

Cons:  The are heavy compared to todays standards.  The only other issue is they don’t collapse down very small.

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