Changes – Gear List edition

More prep and packing going on over here! I fly out in about three weeks. I fly out in three weeks. THREE weeks. Good golly. It’s coming up quickly! Oddly enough, as terrified as I am, I feel way more prepared for this hike than I did my AT hike. Go figure. For the AT, I did several shakedown hikes in the year before. I garnered support from friends and family in the form of hiking partners, hosts, and care packages. I planned my route (flip flop from Harper’s Ferry), and organized a bounce box and additional specific gear and supplies for my daughter to send as I needed them.

Planning and packing

I love the planning phase of thru-hiking. The excitement of pouring over resources both online as well as in physical books and maps. Creating spreadsheets ad nauseam. Imagining what every day has in store and knowing anything I imagine won’t be even close to the actuality of living on the trail and walking every day. Besides the changes in gear (which I promise I will address in this post!), another change I’ve made this time is in fitness preparation.

I’ve discussed it in more depth in my other posts this year, but I really feel more physically prepared this time. I took a few land navigation course at REI to brush up on my map and compass skills. And all my long walks, hikes, and work with the trainer are finally showing results! No, the scale hasn’t moved. My clothes are only marginally looser. But, two months ago, I was panting to hold a bridge pose for a full minute and needed the full 45 second rest between repeats. Last week, I was at the end of my last 1-minute bridge pose (with just 20 second rests) and I was thinking to myself, “Self, this isn’t hard. It’s moderately easy.” I was kinda bored with how little effort they took. And I’m now walking 9 miles at a decent clip without huffing and puffing. I’m calling it a win for preparation!

I had one more (hopefully the last!) go through of my gear and bounce box this weekend. I laid everything out, sorted what needs to go in the bounce box, what I will carry in my waist pack on the plane, as well as what I will put in my pack for the checked baggage. I’m a bit nervous about checking my pack, but I know many people do it all the time without any issues. I have a strategy for how to pack everything to minimize damage and losing things, too. It will be fine. Yup. And I’ll keep telling myself that until I land and retrieve my pack in Tucson.

Gear packing list

You will note that I have changed up the “big three,” as well as many other smaller items from my AT hike. (You can find my AT packing list here.) Most of the changes were made to save space and weight especially. The CDT is longer with many more miles between water and resupply than the AT.  I want to be sure I can carry all my gear and consumables I will need in between. I’ve also added or deleted items I think will be a better fit for this trail. Additionally, my daughter will be sending me a few items for the snow in Colorado. I’ll add them below the packing list for the start.

And without further ado, here’s my initial gear list for this hike.


  • REI co-op Flash 55 pack – men’s
  • trash compactor bag for pack liner
  • Osprey UL stuff waist pack


  • thin, blue tarp cut to size for a groundcloth
  • MSR Freelite 1 tent with poles and Ground Hog stakes (minus stuff sacks)

Sleep System

  • Sea-to-Summit UL inflatable pillow
  • Sea-to-Summit sleeping bag liner
  • EMS Clarity UL 20* quilt 850 fill
  • Nemo Tensor sleeping pad


  • compass
  • Printed maps from CDTC
  • FarOut app on my phone


  • MSR Pocket Rocket (minus the container)
  • Bic lighter & a few waterproof matches (without container)
  • Toaks titanium, long-handled spoon
  • Toaks 16 oz pot
  • Gerber mini paraframe serrated knife
  • backpacking cozy
  • BV 500 bear can


  • Sawyer Squeeze with coupler
  • CNOC 3 L dirty water bag
  • smart water bottles – 3 full L bottles to start, plus 700 ml with sport top
  • Gossamer Gear water bottle shoulder harness

Health and hygiene

  • First aid kit, including my prescription medication
  • Sharpie marker
  • Toothbrush, unpaste toothpaste tablets, floss
  • dehydrated, disposable wipes
  • backpacking bidet
  • 2 bandanas (one for a hanky; one for a bidet wipe)
  • Six Moons Designs Wander Woman Gear Reusable Wipe
  • Body Glide
  • travel-sized lotion
  • travel-sized sunscreen
  • Bug Dope with DEET


  • OR Helium rain jacket
  • REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0
  • brimmed running hat
  • nylon running beanie
  • buff
  • merino gloves
  • ankle gaitors
  • clip-on sunglasses to go over my prescription eyeglasses
  • Tevas
  • Saucony Excursion TR14 or 15 trail runners (I prebought extras and my daughter will send them along the way)
  • Six Moon Designs UL umbrella


  • UA short-sleeve wicking t-shirt
  • UA long-sleeve wicking t-shirt
  • Outdoor Vitals UL hooded sun shirt
  • L.L. Bean hiking pants
  • Darned Tough hiking socks
  • Injinji sock liners
  • Exofficio underwear and bra
  • tasc Performance merino base layer leggings for sleepwear
  • Smartwool long-sleeve merino tshirt for sleepwear
  • Smartwool merino socks for sleeping


  • Anker PowerCore Essential 20K
  • Anker USB wall charger block
  • Biolite headlamp 200
  • Zoleo satellite communicator
  • Samsung S23 Ultra cell phone


  • Write in the Rain journal and pen
  • Back Diamond ergonomic, cork handle trekking poles


  • MICROspikes traction system
  • Kuhl frost soft-shell pants


The new pack is 1/2 the weight of my old pack. I got a men’s pack this time because I constantly dealt with the straps of the women’s pack rubbing my shoulder and neck junction last time. It was bad enough to need bandaging at one point.

I’ve added a waist pack for a few reasons.

  1. I need something to carry personal documents and small items for my flights.
  2. I removed most of the extra pockets that came with my pack, but still want the quick access to a few pertinent items on trail.
  3. I need something large enough to hold my maps and keep them in easy reach. Even though I will mostly use them for planning the days to my next resupply, I also want them easily accessible for emergency navigation.

My sleep system and shelter are also 1/2 the weight of what I used on the AT. Same with many other smaller items. I changed up the toileting kit to reflect the arid environment I will encounter for a large portion of the CDT. I’m adding ankle gaiters to keep sand and pebbles out of my shoes in the desert. I also added an umbrella this time for the sun protection, as well as rain. I discovered on the AT that using my phone for navigation was challenging during rainstorms because raindrops kept interfering with the touch screen. The CDT is also more exposed with fewer forested areas than the AT, making sun exposure a bigger concern. I changed from the Ursack to a bear can this time, even though the bear can is much heavier. The biggest reasons for this switch are the grizzlies that I will be around for almost 1/2 of the trail, plus the lack of trees to hang a food bag. I have used the bear can on several

As I mentioned above, my daughter will be sending me snow gear for Colorado. I do not have a snow ax because a) I don’t have experience using one. Carrying emergency gear you don’t know how to use can create a false sense of security. Most of the east coast doesn’t require ice axes, except maybe the Whites and parts of Maine in the dead of winter. And b) I already plan to avoid the highest mountains of the San Juans by taking alternates that follow roads and valleys. Again, it’s about my lack of experience with that terrain and elevation, and staying safe by sticking to less snowy alternates.

When I took the pic, it seemed to take up less space than my initial gear pic for the AT. That’s good!

Bounce Box

I used a bounce box on the AT, but never really went into detail about it. Not all thru-hikers use bounce boxes. I send mine about 2 weeks ahead each time. In the bounce box, I keep these items:

  • extra maps for further along the trail
  • one large map of the full trail – I mark my progress on it as I hike.
  • tear out pages from Yogi’s CDT guide
  • nail clippers
  • writing paper – I write letters to several people along the way
  • extra journals
  • flip fuel connector
  • sewing kit for repairs
  • extra vitamins, toothpaste tablets, etc. – so I only carry a few weeks at a time
  • a spare bag for a pack liner in case mine gets a hole
  • those 2 backpacking meals – I bought them to try and discovered that they actually need to be cooked in a pot, not just add hot water to the pouch. I figure they can save me money in town and can replace a restaurant meal.


A final funny aside: we got a new puppy last autumn. She is a chewer more than our big boys in that she chews on people things. The big boys only chew their toys and bones, thankfully. We are working on breaking her of chewing shoes, remotes, and various other items. But… one day last week she got my eyeglasses while I was showering. I purposely did not get new glasses this winter, even though I was due for a new pair. I didn’t want to take new glasses into the wilderness. She chewed the plastic off the arm. Fortunately, they aren’t uncomfortable on, and only scratch a little (like a headband) when I put them on.

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