Overview – What a surprise package. This is one of the lightest freestanding tents on the market at the moment. The only lighter tents are the tarp style shelters that use trekking poles as support. The Nemo Hornet was big enough for me without feeling cramped. I loved the side entrance which allowed me to lay in my sleeping bag while cooking meals in the vestibule. I suspect in coming years this tent will be a very popular tent on the long distance trails as hikers search for a functional, lightweight tent.
Pros – Very Lightweight. Quite large for a 1 person tent. I loved the side entry and vestibule. Easy to set up. Cons – Nothing negative to say about the tent, except maybe the tent pegs are easily bent when hammering them into hard ground. Maybe that is a good excuse for me to buy titanium tent pegs. My CDT gear review, Very Highly recommended.
Overview –I used the Osprey Exos 58 on my hike of the PCT last year and was impressed. I wanted something smaller for the CDT. The natural choice was the 48 litre model of the same pack. It was very comfortable with padding in all the right places. When carrying lighter loads below 10kg (22lb) the pack was super comfortable and a dream to hike with. When hauling heavier loads above 15kg the pack was still comfortable with little excess strain placed on the body. As a framed backpack there were no pointy objects in the pack sticking into my back, as can happen with some other lightweight packs on the market.
Pros – Super comfortable. Lightweight. A loop for an Ice Axe. Good sized pockets on the outside. Great for carrying heavy loads when needed. Lifetime guarantee from Osprey. Cons – The mesh on the side pockets is not very strong and ripped due to excess wear and tear. My CDT gear review – Very Highly recommended.
Overview- This sleeping bag took a little to get used to it. It is not a tight fitting mummy style sleeping. It is a wide and spacious bag. Wide enough for me to cross my legs while inside the bag. I am a side sleeper, so for me the extra width enabled me to stretch and curl up into various positions while inside the bag, something I am unable to do with ‘Mummy Style’ sleeping bag. I am a cold sleeper. At temperatures below 20F I noticed the cold. Unfortunately the CDT is a cold trail and temperatures below 20F happened on several nights. I only had one sleepless night due to cold weather that got down to about 10F.
Pros– It is a wide bag with plenty of room inside to stretch out. Material is resistant to the damp. Lots of loft. Flap for a pillow inside the hood. Cons – For me (I’m a cold sleeper), the bag is rated closer to 20F. 700plus down. My CDT gear review, Recommended.
Overview – This was a heavy luxury item. At 755 grams it is much heavier than its competitors. That extra weight meant it was comfortable and warm thanks to the added insulation. It was also silent. Similar mattresses from competitors make a lot of noise as I toss and turn during the night. As a slide sleeper the mat was super comfortable. I never used a ground sheet under my tent to protect from sharp objects like thorns and I never got a hole in my mat. I did have a problem with the mat when one of the internal baffles failed, causing a bubble to appear. The mat was promptly replaced by Nemo but the replacement mattress failed in the same way on the last days of the hike. Despite being extremely comfortable it did fail twice. I will try a different model in the future.
Pros – Possibly the most comfortable mattress on the market. Added insulation material. Quiet when I roll over. Good resistance to punctures. A great mattress for slide sleepers like myself. Cons – The mattress is a little heavy. It failed twice. My CDT Gear review, I would recommend trying another other Sleeping Pad. Check out this review:Best Lightweight Sleeping Pads
Overview – This is a reversible stuff sack with nylon on one side and soft comfortable fleece on the other side. During the day my sleeping bag is stuffed inside this sack, during the night I simply stuff my down jacket or spare clothes into the sack to make a comfortable pillow. This has served me well for several years and has covered many thousands of miles of hiking and cycle touring. Some ultralight hiking pillows are not comfortable for me as my beard (or stubble) will rub against the pillow and make a loud noise that keeps me awake.
Pros – When stuffed with a down jacket it makes for a very comfortable pillow. Doubles as my sleeping bag stuff sac, or spare clothes stuff sac during the day. Cons – A luxury Item. A little heavier than other stuff sacs. Not 100% waterproof. My CDT gear review, Recommended luxury item.
Pack Liner/Garbage bag – 60 Grams. Light and functional. I replaced them regularly during the hike as they started to wear out and develop holes.
Overview – I used these shoes in the desert of New Mexico and from Wyoming north to the Canada border. Most hikers only get about 500 miles out of their shoes before they are worn out, I was able to get about 1000 miles out of these shoes. They are comfortable and a great fit for my wider than normal feet. Pros – Lightweight. Strong. Long wear life. Cons – Either my feet have grown or they feel about 1/4 size smaller than other brands. My CDT Gear Review – Highly recommended for a breathable long wear life hiking shoe.
I liked these boots a lot. I have slightly wider feet than normal and my feet fit nicely into these boots, though they seem to be about 1/4 size smaller than other brands in their sizing. For the snowy mountains of Colorado I needed a boot that was waterproof. Previous experience taught me that my feet get really cold when I’m hiking through snow for extended periods. The waterproof layer prevented the cold water and snow from entering into my feet. This boot also worked well for me in the hot weather. The boot lasted me 1300 miles before they wore out, that is exceptional wear life. I liked them so much I will be using them again to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2017.
Pros – Lightweight. Waterproof. Long wear life. They wore out after 1300 miles. Worked well for me in hot weather. Cons – I wore a hole in the Waterproofing layer after about 500 miles. Either my feet have grown or they feel about 1/4 size smaller than other brands. My CDT Gear Review – Highly recommended as a lightweight waterproof boot.
Overview – The Gold standard in socks. These are the most popular socks on the trail for a reason. The merino wool blend resists the funky foot smells quite well. They are comfortable and super tough, just try and put a hole in them, if you do they will be replaced by Darn Tough for free. That means you have a pair of hiking socks for life! Pros – Comfortable. Lightweight. Tough Cons – Nil My CDT Gear Review – Very Highly recommended. If you only take one piece of advice from me, BUY DARN TOUGH SOCKS.
Overview – From the cold windy mountains of Tasmania to the high Arctic tundra of Alaska this jacket has served me well. Three very hard years of use has worn it out and now it has too many holes to be of much use anymore. It served me well on the CDT. Pros – Lightweight. Warm. Cons – Nil, except there are other lighter and warmer jackets on the market. My CDT Gear Review – I Highly Recommend this jacket but I am looking to upgrade
Overview – I bought these convertible pants on Amazon half way through my hike. What a surprise. They fit great and have just enough stretch to make them super comfortable to hike in. Pros : I like the convertible option. Stretch material. Strong. Cons : A little heavy. Expensive. My CDT Gear Review – Highly recommended (so far).
Overview – I wore these comfortable, lightweight pants to bed almost every night. This helped keep me warm and prevent my sleeping bag from getting dirty. I also wore them on cold mornings as part of my clothing layers. Pros – Lightweight. Comfortable. More practical than a sleeping bag liner. Cons – Nil My CDT Gear review – Highly recommended
Overview – This shirt lasted me half of the PCT last year and it fell to pieces half way through this hike. It worked great in both the hot weather and cold weather. It also did a great job at combating the funky smells that I produced after many days and weeks between showers. If it was able to withstand a bit more wear and tear it would be the perfect hiking shirt. I will continue to use a similar shirt in future hikes. Pros – Lightweight. Worked well in both Hot and Cold weather. Cons – The material doesn’t have a long wear life. Expensive. My CDT Gear review – Recommended but I’m going to look for a harder wearing thermal hiking shirt.
Overview – I made a last minute decision to change to a lycra / polyester blend stretch underwear. It turned out to be a great decision. I suffered from very little chaffing for the length of the hike. My anti-chaffing cream (Vagisil) was rarely needed. Pros – Lightweight. Comfortable. Strong Cons – Nil My CDT Gear review – Highly recommended
Overview – I needed this for the brutal cold of Colorado and Montana. It worked great. I swapped between this and a cheap fleece beanie. Pros – Light. Cheap. Warm Cons – Nil. My CDT Gear review – Recommended for the cold weather
Patagonia Shorts 119grams – These shorts have served me well for many miles of hiking and cycling. They died a slow death on the CDT. I replaced them with a cheap pair for the duration of the trip.
Gloves 65 grams – A pair of fleece gloves given to me by Leki. They worked well, although I have always suffered from cold hands so I would have liked a thicker pair, the CDT can be a very cold trail.
Overview – This jacket survived its second thru hike. It served me well on the PCT last year and again it served me well this year. The jacket is very light, it folds up very small into its own pocket and is waterproof, windproof and just breathable enough. I learned another great use for this jacket. When worn inside the sleeping bag it traps heat very well. It needed to be washed often to remove my oily, dirty, sweaty residue. Pros – Lightweight. Packs to a small size. Waterproof. Windproof. Lifetime warranty. Cons – Not breathable enough in humid weather. My CDT Gear Review – Highly recommended.
Overview – This is the second pair of these pants I have used. The last pair were ripped after only several days use last year on the PCT. They are covered by a lifetime warranty and were replaced. They are lightweight, waterproof, windproof and just breathable enough to work in all but the hot and sweaty environments. Pros – Lightweight. Packs to a small size. Waterproof. Windproof. Lifetime warranty. Cons – Not breathable in humid weather. My CDT Gear Review – Highly recommended.
Overview – These are some of the lightest, highest quality trekking poles on the market. They are comfortable to use. Probably the best feature for me is the small folding size. As somebody who travels with their hiking poles this is a necessary option. Pros – Lightweight. Folds to a small size. Great for the traveling hiker. Cons – Expensive. My CDT Gear review – Recommended. Highly recommended for the traveling hiker who needs a trekking pole that folds to a small size.
Overview – I used this Ice Axe for several weeks in the mountains of Colorado. I used a 65cm shaft on my Ice Axe. I think the longer the shaft the better, I think something around 75cm or larger would have been a better choice for me. Pros – Lightweight. Strong. Cons – I used a 65cm Ice Axe, I should have used a 75cm-80cm My CDT Gear Review – Recommended, the longer the shaft the better.
Overview – The Gold Standard in ultra light spikes for Thru Hikers. They performed as expected and I felt safe when hiking in the snow and ice of Colorado. A much better option than heavier crampons. Pros – Lightweight. Easy to use. Cons – Nil My CDT Gear Review – Highly Recommended.
Overview – The headlamp was mainly used for early starts in the snow of Colorado. Other than that, it spent most of the time in my bounce box. Rarely did I hike at night. The light on my phone was all I needed most of the time. Pros – Lightweight. Rechargeable battery. Cons – I rarely hiked at night so most of the time it was a wasted item of gear. My CDT Gear Review – Recommended. Worked great when I did use it.
Overview – A good lightweight, Titanium stove. It works great but can take 5-7 minutes (or more) to boil water. At times I wish I had a Jetboil so I didn’t have to wait so long for water to boil. Pros – Lightweight. Simple to use. Easy access to alcohol fuel. Cons – Slow to boil water, 5-7 minutes. My CDT gear review, Recommended as an alcohol stove and lighter than a Jetboil.
Overview – A good reliable pot that has served me well for many years of hiking and cycle touring. I use the lid when cycle touring but make a lightweight lid from Aluminium foil when hiking to save weight. Pros – Lightweight. Simple cooking pot. Cons – Food can burn easily and stick to the inside of the pot. My CDT gear review, Recommended.
In many ways this is a luxury item. I could have dispensed with this item and used my cooking pot as a cup when needed. I loved how it folds up into a small, flat profile for easy storage. Pros – Packs up small Cons – A heavy luxury item, I could have used my pot as a drinking cup My CDT gear review, Recommended luxury item.
Titanium Spoon12 Grams I managed to break the Titanium spoon while using it as a screwdriver. I will replace it with a similar item.
Gerber STL 2.0 Knife28 Grams – Lightweight and functional. I rarely used my knife, I almost question if I needed it.
Bic Lighter – 20 Grams – A necessary item, obviously.
600ml Coke Bottle to store alcohol for stove – 27 grams – Another necessary, lightweight item. Lighter and cheaper than any item available at a gear store.
Overview – The Sawyer Filter is the most common method of filtering water among Thru Hikers. It is lightweight and simple to use. The squeeze bag that comes with the filter is fragile and didn’t last long before developing a massive hole. Luckily, the filter thread fits nicely onto a Smart Water Bottle which is available in most Gas Stations and Grocery Stores in USA. There is a rumour that if the filter freezes it will break and the hiker will not know it is broken until they get sick. I’m not sure if there is truth to this statement or it is just hiker talk. I didn’t take any chances when my filter froze in Northern New Mexico, I replaced it. I also back flushed it regularly to remove the dirt and debris from the filter with syringe that was supplied when I bought the filter.
Pro – Lightweight. Effectively filters debris and all the nasty waterborne diseases. Cons – The squeeze bag that comes with the filter is poor quality and breaks way too easily. The filter can break without the hiker knowing about it if it freezes overnight (maybe). It is easy to loose the rubber washer on the thread. My CDT recommendation, Recommended.
Overview – I have had a love / hate relationship with the Steripen over the years. I think it is great to use in the clear, flowing mountain streams, or in third world countries with poor urban water supply. In other water sources I suspect its not so good. It will not filter debris from the water. I used the Steripen in the mountains of Colorado and got Giardia. I used the Steripen in the mountains of Wyoming and got Cryptospiridium. Maybe it was user error, maybe I didn’t boil my water enough when I made my coffee in the morning. Either way, I got sick under the Steripens watch. I will limit my future use to hotel room water supplies in third world countries. Many years ago my Steripen failed, I contacted customer service for repairs, I was treated poorly.
Pros – An effective method for treating water. Rechargeable. A cheap method in the long term for treating hotel water in third world countries. Cons – I still got waterborne diseases while using the Steripen. Poor customer service. My CDT gear review – Recommended to treat clear water, not recommended for the CDT.
Overview – I didn’t use them on this hike. These were my backup in case of emergency. I’ve used them in the past, they have been great, but there are cheaper methods for treating water such as bleach. Pros – Effective water treatment Cons – Expensive. Does not remove debris from water. My CDT gear review – Recommended as a back up, but consider cheaper options such as bleach as a backup.
Overview – I used these as my large capacity water bottles. They are a great, lightweight option. I posted them ahead in my bounce box when I was in areas with lots of water. Pros – Lightweight. Collapsible. Cons – Not the same thread as a Sawyer water filter but with care it can be threaded onto the filter.
Overview – I like the fact that I have a strong water bottle. The best feature is the fact that I can fill it with boiling water and stuff it into my sleeping bag on cold nights, an instant hot water bottle. I can also wrap my wet / damp clothing around the hot water bottle to dry them. But it is heavy in comparison to other water bottles. Pros – Strong, virtually unbreakable. Can be used as a hot water bottle. Cons – Excessively Heavy for a Water Bottle. Expensive My CDT recommendation, Recommended when traveling in very cold weather where it can be used as a Hot Water Bottle. In warmer weather, Not Recommended.
Overview – My phone was possibly the most important item in my gear list. I downloaded maps onto the phone and used the iPhone GPS for navigation. I also used it to write my blog, listen to music, audiobooks, podcasts and more. For protection it was housed in a LifeProof Case Pros – A necessity for the modern lightweight hiker. The lifeproof case served me well. Cons – If my phone broke while on the trail without paper maps I might be in trouble. My CDT gear review – Highly recommended to have the smartphone and Lifeproof case.
Overview – Taking great photos is important to me. The G16 is a great balance between quality photos and lightweight. I’m very happy with it, but, although my ideal camera would be the new Sony Rx 100v – 299 grams.
Overview – I need an external battery to power my phone. If my phone dies, I lose my GPS and navigation aids. I have used this battery for 3 years without problem, but it is heavy. There are now lighter and cheaper versions of external batteries such as Anker 20000 mAh Battery which is my current pick for the best lightweight external battery. Pro – Reliable. Cheap Cons – Heavy My CDT Gear Review, I would recommend a lighter option such as the Anker 20000 mAh Baterry – 354 grams