CDT Gear List, Part 5: Clothing and Complete List

If you’ve read the previous posts in this CDT gear series, you know we’re down to the final one. I’m going to go over what clothes I’m bringing, and wrap it up with sharing the link to my complete gear list. If you haven’t yet, you may want to check out the previous posts in this series: 1. Big 3+ (backpack, tent, and sleeping gear), 2. Cooking, eating, water, and food storage, 3. Toiletries, medical kit, tools, and repair, and 4. Electronics, miscellaneous, and snow gear.


On a NOBO thru-hike of the CDT, the first 775 miles of the trail goes through the New Mexico desert. That means, for most hikers, hot days and cool nights for the first four to six weeks. I’ll be hiking in shorts and a lightweight desert shirt, which I’ll likely switch to pants and a base layer shirt once I reach the mountains in Colorado. A buff, a hat, and sunglasses will be with me the entire way. I don’t really give socks and underwear that much consideration. I use things I already have and that I’ve found to work for me. This time, it happens to be ExOfficio panties, a Patagonia bra, and some Smartwool socks. My socks usually get pretty disgusting, even after washing, before they wear out and therefore I don’t mind running through a few pairs on a thru-hike.

I have narrow feet and Salomon shoes seem to always fit me very well. I’m going with the Elevate XA, and anticipate I’ll run through about four pairs. I use Dirty Girl gaiters to keep stuff out of my shoes. One thing to consider if you’re going for zero drop shoes (for example, Altras) and aren’t used to that, is that it puts extra strain on the Achilles tendons. It’s one thing to switch to zero drop shoes and go running for an hour or two a few times a week, a completely different one to walk all day every day for weeks on end. Take Achilles tendon pain seriously if you’re new to zero drop shoes, because there’s a real risk for long-term injury.

Back to clothing. I also carry a puffy, wind jacket, rain jacket, rain skirt, extra underwear, extra socks, camp shoes, and hiking poles. For sleeping (and in camp) I add a base layer shirt and pants, underwear, and a pair of socks.

There you have it, folks. This is the gear I’ll be bringing to the CDT this spring. The grand total base weight is about 14 pounds.

Logistically, I plan to keep most gear I don’t use in a bounce box. Ice axe and crampons will sit at a friend’s house to start with, so I can have them sent to me if I need them.

For those of you interested in the details, here is a link to my complete gear list at LighterPack. I’ll come back to this topic after my hike, and update the gear list with what I ended up using, what worked, and what didn’t.

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Comments 6

  • Dosu ? Kinuta : Jan 21st

    Man, you’re super efficient and good at planning.

    • Emma : Jan 21st

      Thanks! I’ve been a planner all my life, old habits die hard… 🙂

  • Tim C : Jan 22nd

    Why both a wind shirt AND a rain jacket? Could the latter not do double-duty?

    • Emma : Jan 24th

      Hi Tim, that’s a valid point for sure. Experiment and try what works for you! I usually ditch the wind jacket when I reach colder climate and switch the rain jacket for a more robust shell jacket. But in warmer climates I really can’t hike in a rain jacket unless it’s pouring, and even then I sweat a lot in it – so it’s the best of two evils really. Whereas the wind jacket comes in really handy oftentimes when it’s windy or just a bit cold.

  • James : Sep 15th

    What are the sizes of your camp shoes vs your trail shoes vs non-hiking/everyday shoes?

  • Michael : May 6th

    Hey Emma, thanks for posting this. Super useful. Were you happy with those poles? I’ve used them happily for years and am planning on taking them to the CDT, but it seems like almost everyone is using cork handle poles these days.


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