New Gear: What I’m Upgrading for the Continentla Divide Trail in 2022

When it comes to gear, I have everything down to a science. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. I had no complaints with my gear for the Pacific Crest Trail, but what kind of thru-hiker would I be if I didn’t play around with my setup a little bit? Over the last year, I have invested in a few changes and upgrades that I’m going to try out on the Continental Divide Trail this summer.  These are a few of my favorite additions.

Also, I am not sponsored by any of these companies. I’m just trying gear that I think will work for me.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400

  • Capacity: 40 Liters
  • Weight: 32 Ounces
  • Why I upgraded: My old packs were both too big for the load that I’m used to carrying now. This pack seemed like a good option for the size and weight. I’m going from 55 to 40 Liters.
  • What I think so far: I love the way this pack carries after taking it on a few overnight hikes. I sometimes forget it’s on my back!
  • Concerns: I’m worried when I weigh it down with 6-8 days of food, it may not perform as well as my last backpack, which could handle a much heavier load.

Gossamer Gear Twinn Tarp

  • Capacity: 2 Person
  • Weight: 9.9 Ounces (with the stuff sack)
  • Why I upgraded: The tent I carry is not very heavy, and it does take up too much space. But since I like to cowboy camp and use a shelter as a last resort, this seemed like a lighter-weight option. I will probably trade it for my tent when the weather gets colder.
  • What I think so far: I love it. It takes up almost no room in my bag and is simple to set up when I need something to cover me at night. It’s light and easy!
  • Concerns: I’m still not great at getting a perfect pitch with this tarp. If the weather gets bad or I need to set this up in the wind, things could get interesting.

Garmin InReach Explorer

  • Why I upgraded: I carried a SPOT Gen3 on the PCT. However, the InReach will be more useful because it has satellite capabilities and topographical maps in addition to the emergency beacon.
  • What I think so far: I haven’t gotten a chance to trail test this one yet, but I like the software because it seems user-friendly. I am notoriously bad at technology.
  • Concerns: I know this device uses more battery power than my last emergency beacon. I will need to be careful about conserving it on longer sections. I also need some practice orienteering before I rely on the maps too heavily.

Katadyn BeFree

  • Capacity: 1 Liter
  • Weight: 2.3 Ounces
  • Why I upgraded: I used the Sawyer Squeeze on the PCT, and I had no issues with it. This change is just to try something new.
  • What I think so far: I appreciate how fast this filters water. It’s also easy to toss in my quilt if the temperatures get cold at night, instead of having to seal it in a plastic bag as I did with the Sawyer.
  • Concerns: Because of the limited outside storage on my HMG pack, I haven’t found a good spot for this where it’s accessible and out of the way. I guess I’ll figure it out as I go!

Trial and Error

The great thing about hiking a long trail is how easy it is to shift my gear to combat the challenges on any given section. I know if my HMG pack is too small, I can revert to my REI Flash. If my water filtration system turns out to be too bothersome, I can mail it home in exchange for my Sawyer Squeeze. If the wind picks up and I have trouble setting up my tarp, I can switch it out for my tent. Everything is easy to replace. I’ve learned that thru-hiking requires adaptability, and gear is no exception. I’m excited to test out these new toys on the CDT!

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