I used slightly different equipment on the CDT vs. the PCT. I made most of the changes to reduce my pack weight. I also wanted to try a few new things to broaden my horizons a little. Everything worked out pretty well.
I used an Arc’teryxKhamsin 52.The pack was about 4000ci, and weighed about 4 pounds empty.The top-hat that came with the pack was a bit heavy, so I made a replacement which saved about 4-6 ounces.The pack worked great.I especially liked the side zipper on the pack.This allowed me to get stuff buried in the bottom without removing everything else.I found the suspension very comfortable as well.Some people have reported that the 52 suspension doesn’t fit their back well.I think this may be partially due to improper fitting.I found that I had to pay careful attention to the tension on the load-lifter straps (the ones above the shoulders).A lot of people like to yank these as tight as possible in order to ease the stress on their shoulders.If this is done on the Khamsin 52, it warps the backrest and drives the top of the pack into the shoulder blades.I had to change the tension on these straps periodically as my pack weight fluctuated.
I used the same Feathered Friends Swallow that I used on the PCT. The bag worked fine, but after two long trails, it’s pretty trashed. The dryloft shell has delaminated rather extensively. This doesn’t affect the performance of the bag too much, but it does reduce the water repellency of the fabric. Down bags last a long time, even with heavy usage. I’ve found that washing the bag periodically is essential to keeping it nice. (If you have a down bag that you feel is “dead”, get some down soap and follow the instructions – be sure you rinse very thoroughly).
I switched to a home-made tarp on the CDT. The design of the tarp is essentially the same as the one created by Henry Shires. The tarp is set up as an A-frame, with mosquito netting hanging from the edges. I changed a few things (used Velcro & made it slightly taller). I used my hiking poles as the main supports. I used a painter’s plastic drop-cloth as a ground sheet. The tarp and ground sheet weighed about 1 pound. I also had to carry 8 tent stakes, which added about 4 ounces. I picked up some titanium tent stakes on the way – they were fantastic, they “go into” anything and don’t bend.
I started out with a pair of Solomon gore-tex mid-weight boots, which I wore to Mack’s Inn:place>. I had intended to change to sneakers once I got out of the snow, but the boots were working so well, I wore them till they were trashed. At Mack’s Inn, I switched to a pair of New Balance 765? These were awesome shoes. I wore them to Lake City, and probably could have worn them all the way to the Mexican border. At Lake City, I changed to a pair of Solomon Inca Low's. This was the exact same design that I wore for much of the PCT, and they worked well. Solomon doesn’t make this design anymore though.
I also wore a pair of Superfeet insoles – one pair for the entire trip. The superfeet were amazing. I used the blue variety, designed for use in addition to the shoe’s existing insole. (I’ve found that green superfeet have almost no padding in the toe area. By using the blue superfeet, I could take advantage of the toe padding on the original insoles.) On the PCT, I couldn’t feel my feet by the end. On the CDT, I had zero foot pain or numbness.
I started out with an Olympus Stylus Epic, the same one I used on the PCT. This is a great camera, it's a simple "point & shoot", it has a good lens for its size, and its very lightweight. It uses standard 35mm film. The camera is somewhat weather resistant as well. It's not resistant to being dropped on concrete though. I switched to an Olympus Stylus Zoom 80 in southern Colorado - as great as the Epic, plus a 2x zoom lens. In other places, I used various disposable cameras. I would have liked some type of polarizing filter, but they're just not available on point & shoot cameras. I didn't want to carry a heavier camera.
I used 1 liter plastic water bottles – the type used for bottled water. My pack had an outside side-pocket for easy access to water. This setup was a bit lighter than using a camelbak.
I wore ankle gaiters in order to keep rocks and dust out of my shoes. I started with a pair that I made. These lasted until central Wyoming, then I switched to some ‘rugged spandex’ OR ankle gaiters. Those lasted the rest of the trip. Ive never had good luck with the snaps on OR gaiters though they always seem to break rather quickly. I had to change the understraps every 4-5 days - sacrificed the cord I used to hang food for this purpose.
I started out with a 3/4 length blue foam pad. It was flat and rather useless by the time I reached Butte. I switched to a ridgerest that lasted the rest of the trip (although I threw it away at the end it was trashed)
I started out with the same hat I had on the PCT, but lost it in Glacier NP. I bought a straw "sam snead" hat in Lincoln. The hat held up great, although it did get a bit smelly. Alas, it was taken straight up to hat heaven by the wind. I finally got a Columbia broad-rim fabric hat for the rest of the trip - loved it.
I used a home made alcohol stove. The design I used is the one posted on www.pcthiker.com. I used JB weld to hold the two halves together instead of tape. One stove lasted the entire trip.
I used an Evernew Titanium pot. They last forever.
My favorites are Smartwool socks.
I used a home-made poncho. It fit over my entire pack and body. I figured out a way to lash it down so it didn't flap in the wind. The poncho kept me dry, even in the snow and wind. It was a hassle to take a break while wearing the poncho though. (had to "un-lash it", etc)
This is a list of everything I brought with me (note some items changed along the way as indicated)
In Backpack - Arcteryx Khamsin 52
- Food bag (OR, large, held up to 7 days worth of food)
- Socks, 3-4 pair (I like fresh socks!)
- long-sleeve mid-weight polyester shirt
- light-weight capiline pants
- Nylon windbreaker
- Moonstone windstopping thermal pullover jacket
- Nylon windpants (non-coated)
- Rain poncho
- Warm hat
- Sun-protecting hat
- Cookpot (contained stove, windscreen, stove stand, and spoon)
- 16oz bottle of methyl alcohol (stove fuel)
- PUR hiker water filter
- 30 ft of 3mm perlon cord
- Sleeping Bag
- 1.5 liter water bottle
- ziploc bag with maps, papers, journal, a pen
- 1 liter water bottle - in side pocket outside pack
- 1 small can of pepper spray - clipped to chest harness
- Strumstick (attached to outside of pack)
- Ridge-rest foam sleeping pad (attached to outside of pack)
- 2 bandanas
- plastic garbage bag for pack cover
- I added some fleece pants in Colorado
In top-hat of Backpack
- a book
- 1 small nylon bag containing:
- headlamp - Petzl tikka LED lamp
- flea comb
- small swiss army knife (the smallest one they make)
- cigarette lighter
- ~5 feet of duct tape
- small length of heavy duty thread
- a couple sewing needles
- small bottle of DEET
- 2-3 safety pins
1 small nylon bag containing:
- small bottle of H2O2
- small tube of Vaseline
- dental floss
- powdered toothpaste- eco-dent
- small elastic bandage
- small piece of soap
- bag of: no stick pads, band-aids, butterfly bandages, gauze, blister-care products (compeed & curad)
- Various maps