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

What’s Changing?

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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Comments 2

  • jhony : Mar 7th

    I like tarps too very much. I don’t know if you have checked YouTube for tarp videos by Back Country Banter, Jupiter, and Evan. They seem to be the masters of tarps. Oh and Ray Jardine’s books? Just a suggestion or three. Oh and Papa Hiker: “Papa hiker’s channel, dedicated to the ultimate tarp shelter how to”
    Good walking to you!

  • Daniel Bartlett : Mar 7th

    As a user of HMG packs I can say that you’ll be fine with 6-8 days of food. I have the 3400 Windrider and did more than 275mi thru the Sierra in 18 days without resupply. The pack was WAY over its weight rating and carried the weight well. Best of luck! #quest4fun



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