Gear for the Continental Divide Trail

Gear for the CDT

Gear for the CDT includes (starting top left, from L to R):

My gear list for the Continental Divide Trail northbound through New Mexico is exactly the same as my southbound thru-hike of the Arizona Trail in fall 2017. I’m preparing a box with an alpine axe, foot spikes, gaiters, and a few other high elevation items like a vest and some mitten shells. That box will be picked up in Chama, NM at the beginning of May just in time for the South San Juans. I have a warmer sleeping bag (a 1997 Western Mountaineering Apache, 10 degree) in a box, ready to ship to Creede, CO just in case in the first few hundred miles over 11,000 feet I find myself freezing my ass off. Although, with my 20 degree bag and clothing I sleep fine in outside temperatures reaching low 20s to the mid teens. If an annoying amount of wind is present that can be a game changer so I’ve got a warmth upgrade I can call on and catch up with in the Western bag.

I would expect to carry the FF Flicker 20 the entire way (or pick up again once leaving CO), only adjusting a layer or two of clothing using a bounce box.

Here’s my core carry for the AZT and the CDT. Pack weight, minus food and water, is normally about 10 and a half pounds. In advance of the CDT I am weighing almost 12 pounds, most of that coming from additional vitamins, contact lenses, a third pair of socks, a SPOT GEN3, and paper maps which I normally do not carry.

Hyperlite small 2400/3400 Pod
A pair of Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes with 2-3 layers of SeamGrip over a selected area of the toe box for reinforcement.

Altra Lone Peak 3.5. in a Size 10.5 – one full size larger than I used to wear in the Lone Peak 3.0 model. I’m between sizes on these things and I hear a lot of users mention sizing is weird in the 3.5. While having aggressive looks, The Lone Peak sole is fairly effective over a wide range of terrain. It’s a shoe that will cover a little bit of everything, never excelling in any one specific type of terrain. I’ve worn trail runners with much more effective out soles than the Lone Peak but that often comes with other trade offs.  I’m happy with the range of terrain the Lone Peak will cover, and that’s ideal during a thru hike.

The Lone Peak is padded well: soft enough to effectively cushion joints over the repetition of strides over a long hike with weighty pack, but still remain sensitive and nimble underfoot.  In a size 10 my big toe will softly touch the end of the shoe when walking on anything graded 5 or 6 percent downhill. In the size 10.5 I have a wee bit too much room in the toe box and my big toe will slap a bit on the top part of the toe box.

After wearing both a size 9.5 and 10 on the trail I’ve decided to settle on a size 10.5. To take away the bit of volume I mentioned, I use the Rockplate which came with a pair of Altra Superiors. It’s basically an 1/8″ dense but flexible piece of plastic. I place the Rockplate insert underneath the foot bed that comes with the Lone Peak. The Rockplate takes away a bit less than 1/8″ of volume from the entire shoe. Not much, but it makes a difference. So I now have shoes that will fit but also have enough room to accommodate the swelling of my feet from hiking 15, 20, 25 miles per day. They’re not perfect shoes but they’re reasonably priced and good enough to make the miles, especially when I take the time to put a good layer of Seamseal or Aquaseal on them before wearing the first time.

  • MONTBELL Tachyon Anorak windshell, blue (1.5oz) Not the new version (2018) but the 2015 version shown here.
  • MONTBELL Torrent Flyer 2.5 Layer Gore Tex PacLite shell. The Japanese version from the global site which is awesome to order from. The Japan sizing has shorter sleeve lengths, not so much extra room in the belly and upper arms. I swear… are Americans all tall, portly, with big long arms?

Not shown:

  • SPOT Gen3. Bought used off eBay for $70. I am begrudgingly carrying this stupid thing so my wife and mom can track me easily. I can believe a new one cost $170 and the basic service required is $200+ tax… a grand total of almost $400! This is one of the the biggest rackets going in thru-hiker and outdoor gear circles. Ugh.
  • iPhone 7+. No 8 or X upgrade in the budget. Broke glass during AZT. Will have Guthook app for CDT loaded and using as main navigational tool.
  • Maps – various amounts of pre-printed topos and a few state road maps for broader reference.
  • Yogi town guide pages – I’ll carry each state, one at a time and get rid of the used pages as I go.

ADDING IN PAGOSA, CO and carrying for 2-3 weeks: