Continental Divide Trail Northbound Gearlist
Last month, I was in Silver City and Lordsburg, NM sending off this year’s crew of Northbound Continental Divide Trail hikers. Although I won’t be heading out on a CDT thru this year, time down in the Bootheel of New Mexico has given me the space to do some brainstorming on what gear I would—and did—bring out to the southern terminus of the CDT. Although all my miles on this trip have been daytrips or walking to water caches, and my camping has been in the backyard of a trail angel who lives on the CDT, I’m pretty sure this is the system I would bring out when I’m lucky enough to hike the CDT again.
Temps for the month have been in highs around 70, lows around 40, wind between 10 and 30 mph.
A few notes:
Despite the lack of rain, I opted for a full coverage shelter in the MLD Solomid. We’ve been having 30 mph winds in the afternoons and at night both south and north of Lordsburg, so I wanted a shelter that is tried and true in staying up in that kind of weather. Needless to say, I had no problem keeping my Solomid up and keeping the wind off my face at night in this shelter. Most importantly, it has been raining and snowing in the Gila, so even though we’re in New Mexico, rain gear and a good shelter are worth having.
With all the thorns, sands, and tumbleweed between the Southern terminus and Lordsburg, gaiters are a must for this trip. I also purposely opted not to bring an inflatable pad because of all the thorns in this section. I would potentially pick up an inflatable pad at Doc Campbell’s (a town where you can resupply before the Gila) before entering the higher altitude and cooler Gila Wilderness.
My Montbell windshirt was a must in this climate. Even though there was no rain while I was there, the NWAlpine Eyebright offered a breathable alternative to wearing my down jacket all day. Even though the trail starts in New Mexico, it can rain in the Spring and this year’s hikers got poured on! I would definitely carry my Mountain Laurel Designs rain kilt, which also makes a nice mini-ground sheet. I especially enjoyed my Montbell Down Parka early in the morning and in the evening—I slept in it all nights.
I would opt not to bring sleep socks (reflected in the gear list). I didn’t wear the tights, but know that they would be very useful in the Gila.
Also given the spikiness and cross-countryish nature of the section from the border to Lordsburg, I would seriously consider during the impossible and wearing pants instead of my Purple Rain Skirt, although I would switch back to my skirt as soon as the spiky cross country ceased.
My 28 degree MLD Spirit Quilt was just warm enough for the coldest nights, and perfect for the usual desert temperatures. Even though it only weighs 17 oz, the fabric is pretty tough and because it is synthetic, I never had to worry about feathers ending up everywhere as I tossed and turned off my groundsheet and onto spiky things in the night.
I’m trying out the GoMotion Fusion Backpack sternum strap light and felt that the desert would be the ideal place to use it. The GoMotion weighs more than I’m used to carrying for a headlamp, but hiking in the desert is easiest before the heat of the day sets in late into the evening, so I was willing to invest in a more robust headlamp. Plus, since the CDT has so much road walking, there is a lot of easy hiking that can be done at night by headlamp.
Backpack, Shelter, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad
|backpack||Gossamer Gear Kumo||17|
|waterproof pack cover||Gossamer Gear Pack Liner||1.2|
|sleeping pad||Gossamer Gear Nitelite Torso||5.4|
|shelter+guylines||Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid||11|
|shelter support (poles, etc.)||(Using trekking poles)||0|
|shelter stow sack||Mountain Laurel Designs cuben fiber large||1.5|
|stakes (rubber banded)||6 Toaks Titanium V-shaped stakes||3|
|sleeping bag (no stuff sack)||MLD Spirit Quilt||17.2|
|ground sheet or bivy sack||Gossamer Gear polycryo - medium||1.5|
|Hipbelt||Gossamer Gear Kumo Hipbelt||3.7|
|underwear - bottoms||Ex Officio briefs||1.5|
|long sleeves||Smartwool PhD Arm Warmer||3.4|
|base / wicking layer bottom||Uniqlo tights||3.4|
|insulating top||Montbell U.L. Down Parka||6.5|
|raingear top||NW Alpine Eyebright||5.4|
|raingear bottoms||Mountain Laurel Designs Rain Kilt||1.7|
|windgear (soft shell) top||Montbell Tachyon Windshirt M||1.8|
|warm hat||Outdoor Research Transcendent Down beanie||1.7|
|spare socks||Darn Tough Run/Bike ulralight 1/4 length||1.2|
|clothing stuff sack||Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben fiber-size M||0.3|
Cooking and Hydration:
|stove||Trail Designs Gram Cracker||0.1|
|windscreen||Trail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri||0.9|
|fuel bottle||none - fuel tabs||0|
|matches / lighter||paper matches||0.1|
|cook pot and lid||Trail Designs Fosters Can Pot||1.3|
|utensils||Toaks Long Handled Spoon||0.3|
|Food bag||Odor and Critter Proof bag||1.5|
|water storage||Platypus 2+L hydration bag||1.5|
|water storage||Sawyer 2 Liter squeeze pouch||1.3|
|More water storage||Sawyer 2l squeeze pouch||1.3|
|Hydration hose||Platypus hydration drinking tube (trimmed to reduce weight)||2.7|
|water treatment||Sawyer Mini Filter||1.4|
|Water treatment cleaner||Sawyer Mini Filter Cleaning Syringe||1.1|
|Light||Go Motion Fusion Backpack Sternum Strap Light||3.5|
|trekking poles||Gossamer Gear Light Trek 4 two-piece hiking poles (2 of them)||8.2|
|sunscreen||Sawyer Stay Put Sunscreen||0.7|
|toothbrush||Cut off toothbrush||0.2|
|toothpaste||Powdered toothpaste transferred into a tiny bottle||.5|
|hygiene||micro bottle alcohol gel||0.1|
|Pills||Imodium, Benadryl, ibuprofen, naproxin||0.8|
|firestarting kit||Wetfire Fire Starter||0.1|
|Gear Repair||Gear Aid Tenacious Tape||0.2|
|Blister Care/Gear Repair||Leukotape sports tape||.5|
|Camera||I'm still looking for a good one? Have any suggestions?||5.0|
|trowel||Qi Whiz original potty trowel||0.6|
|Sun Umbrella||Montbell UL Trekking Umbrella||5.4|
|Trail Running Shoes||Altra Lone Peak 2.0s|
|Socks||Darn Tough Ultralight Run/Bike Merino|
|Pocketed Skirt||Purple Rain Adventure Skirts|
|Long Sleeve, collared shirt||Still looking for a good one. Any suggestions?|
|Sports bra||Ex Officio Give N Go Crossover Bra|
I’m still looking for a good camera and a good long sleeve collared shirt for the CDT. The sun was pretty intense, so I’d up my hat to something with 360 full brimmed coverage that would stay on my face during intense wind. Is there a model out there that you like that won’t require a trip to Australia to procure? I would probably look for a long sleeved shirt instead. I’ve increasingly been toying with sun gloves , too, but haven’t really experimented. Does anyone have a brand they like?
Are there any pieces of gear you would recommend for bringing on the CDT? What gear have you enjoyed carrying in the desert?
Liz "Snorkel" Thomas
Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.