Here is all the information you will need when it comes to an ultralight CDT gear list for 2023. I used a lot of the items in these gear list and have conducted reviews of most of the gear.
I completed my own thru hike of the Continental Divide Trail and learned a lot about what gear works and what to stay away from.
Take a look at the CDT gear list below and starting lowering the weigh of your gear to take on this epic trail.
Table of Contents
- CDT Gear List 2023
- Best Ultralight Tent for the CDT
- Best Backpack for the CDT
- Best Ultralight Backpack for The CDT
- Best Sleeping Bag for Thru Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
- Best Footwear for the Continental Divide Trail
- Best Clothing for the Continental Divide Trail
- The Best Down Jackets for the CDT
- Best Rain Gear for the CDT
- Cooking Gear for the CDT
- Electronics and Camera for the CDT
- Trekking Poles and Snow Gear for the CDT
CDT Gear List 2023
When thru hiking the Continental Divide Trail you will be aware that you will need to carry quality backpacking gear that is ultralight.
Best Ultralight Tent for the CDT
The best tent for the Continental Divide Trail will be ultralight and able to keep you warm when needed. Remember, this is the coldest of all the hiking triple crown trails. You will face many morning below freezing. The best tent for the CDT is any of the tents listed below.
Best 1P Tent for the CDT
- Nemo Hornet 1P – 32oz (907 grams)
- Big Agnes Fly Creek HV1 Carbon 1P – 21oz (595grams)
- ZPacks Plexamid – 16.55oz (469 grams)
- Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo – 26oz (740 grams)
Best 2P Tent for the CDT
- Nemo Hornet 2P – 35oz (1003 grams)
- ZPacks Duplex – 20.75oz (588 grams)
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 2 -18.85oz (534g)
- Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo – 45oz (1270g)
My personal favourite tent for the CDT is the ZPacks Plexamid. Weighing only 16.5 oz / 469 grams, it is very lightweight, quick to set up and does a great addition to the CDT gear list. For two people I love the ZPacks Duplex which is only 20.75oz / 588 grams and the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 2 which is only 18.85 oz / 534g.
Read the review of the Best Lightweight Thru hiking Tents
Best Backpack for the CDT
The best backpack for the Continental Divide Trail is ultra lightweight. With such a long trail you will appreciate any weight saving that is possible. So take a look at Ultralight backpacks only.
The backpack for the CDT should also be comfortable and strong enough to withstand months of abuse. I like to use a large compactor trash bag to keep thing dry inside, don’t spent the money on a heavy dry bag to keep your stuff dry.
Best Ultralight Backpack for The CDT
The best backpacks for the CDT are:
- ZPacks Arc Air – 50 Litres – 19.2oz / 544g
- ZPacks Arc Blast – 55 Litres – 19.9 oz / 565.0 g
- Osprey Exos 48 – 48 litres – 36oz / 1030grams
- Osprey Exos 58 – 58 litres – 37oz /1060 grams
- Osprey Levity 45 – 45 litres – 28oz – 780 grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400 – 50 litre – 30oz / 852 grams
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 – 50 litres – 30oz / 851 grams
Read the review of the Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks
Best Sleeping Bag for Thru Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
The best sleeping bag for hiking the Continental Divide Trail is a degree rated sleeping bag around 10F and 20F. The CDT is colder than most of the other long distance thru hiking trail. There will be a significant amount of nights well below freezing. Not too many thru hikers complain about having a sleeping bag that is too warm.
Here are a list of very highly recommended ultralight Sleeping Bags for the CDT.
- Feathered Friends Hummingbird – 20F / -7C – 24oz – 680g
- Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20F / -7C – 29oz / 820g
- Rab Mythic 400 – 20F / -7C – 23oz / 660g
- Sea to Summit Spark 4 18F / -8C – 31oz / 880g
Any of the sleeping bags on this list will be great for the CDT. As this trail is quite a bit colder than many other trails a sleeping bag is a better option for most people.
Best Ultralight Quilts for the Continental Divide Trail
Ultralight Sleeping Quilts are very popular among ultralight thru hikers. In many situations they are a better lightweight alternative to a heavier sleeping bag. But they have limitations in really cold weather. In fact, I would not recommend an ultralight quilt for the CDT. In very cold weather several degrees below freezing a sleeping bag is more efficient at keeping you warm. If you choose to take a Quilt on the CDT, Here are a list of very highly recommended ultralight quilts for the CDT.
- Feathered Friends Flicker UL 20 Quilt – 20F / -7 – 26oz / 748g
- Sea to Summit Ember EB3 Quilt – 14F – 25F / -10C/-4C – 25.5oz / 725g
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation – 20F / -7C – 22.5oz / 639g
- Katabatic Sawatch – 15F / -9C – 25.1oz / 712g
Honestly, any of the quilts mentioned above will be great on the CDT. It is important to understand that the CDT is a very cold trail and backpacking quilts are not as good as sleeping bags in very cold temperatures below freezing. If you sleep cold then definitely consider a sleeping bag instead.
Best Sleeping Pad for the CDT
Being comfortable at night leads to a good nights sleep. Nothing contributes more to a good nights sleep than a comfortable sleeping pad. Ultralight foam sleeping mats are popular on the CDT for their lightweight and durability. Can’t get a flat mattress when it is foam!
Here are a list of all the best ultralight Sleeping mats for the CDT.
- Thermarest Uberlite – 8.8oz/250g
- Thermarest Neo Air Xlite – 12oz/340g
- Thermarest Z Lite Sol – 14oz/410g
- Nemo Tensor Insulated – 14oz/410g
- Sea to Summit Ether lite Insulated – 15oz/425g
- Thermarest Thermarest X-Therm – 15oz/430g
I love both the Thermarest Neo Air and Nemo Tensor Insulated. I have used them both on multiple hikes over the last several years. They are both highly recommended sleeping pads for thru hiking the CDT. If you are a slide sleeper the best will be the Sea to Summit Ether lite Insulated.
Read the review of the Best Lightweight Sleeping Pads
Best Footwear for the Continental Divide Trail
Footwear is a personal choice. Just be aware the thru hiking the CDT requires long days of hiking and the best quality ultralight footware is best. Also be aware that the CDT is cold and sometimes trail runners are not the best option.
Wait, every other website tells me trail runners are best for thru hiking. Yes, I agree, but not when hiking in temperatures below freezing or in knee deep snow wearing snowshoes.
Consider two shoe options that you can swap out and post to yourself when needed. Waterproof boots for the cold snowy sections and ultralight trail runners for the dry sections.
Here are my 3 recommendations for the best shoes and boots for the CDT Thru Hikers with wide feet.
- Merrel Moab GTX Boots – Great for the cold deep snow of Colorado in a big snow year (which is most years)
- Altra Lone Peak – Great for 90% of the trail.
Here are my 3 recommendations for the best shoes and boots for the CDT Thru Hikers with narrow to feet.
- Brooks Cascadia – They used to be crap but they have improved a lot in recent years.
- Salomon X Ultra
- Salomon SpeedCross
Socks for the CDT
Darn Tough. Darn Tough and Darn Tough. They are the most popular for good reason.
Best Clothing for the Continental Divide Trail
The best clothing for thru hiking the CDT is something that involves layers. While there will not be too many days of extreme heat or humidity like some other trail you can be assured it will be cold.
Layers that you should take include a good rain jacket, puffy down jacket, mid layer and baselayer.
The Best Down Jackets for the CDT
All the down jackets below have a degree of weather resistance that ensures they are the best down jackets for the CDT.
- ARCTERYX – Cerium LT Hoody – 280g / 9.9oz
- Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded – 249g / 8.8oz
- Feathered Friends – Eos – 300g / 10.6oz
- Rab Microlight Alpine – 470g / 17oz
Best Rain Gear for the CDT
- Enlightened Equipment Visp – 5oz / 142 grams
- Outdoor Research Helium – 6.3oz / 178 grams
- Marmot Precip Eco – 10.3oz / 293 grams
- ARCTERYX – Zeta SL – 10.9oz / 310 grams
- Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 – 12.5oz / 353 grams
- Patagonia Storm 10 – 8.3 oz / 235 grams
Don’ forget Rain Pants such as the Outdoor Research Helium Pants. I have used the Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Ultralight Hiking Umbrella on some trails I love it. At only 8 ounces it is well worth the added weight, specially in the desert of New Mexico, you can always ship it home afterwards.
Cooking Gear for the CDT
- Evernew Ti DX Stove Titanium
- Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium Cookset
- Sea To Summit X-Mug
- Titanium Spoon
- Gerber STL 2.0 Knife
- Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System
- Katadyn Micropur Water Purifier Tabs
- Bic Lighter
- 600ml Coke Bottle to store alcohol for stove
Read the reviews:
Best Backpacking Stoves
Best Ultralight Cookware
Best Titanium Spork
Best Backpacking Water Filters
Best Water Purification Tablets
Best Hiking Coffee Maker
Best Instant Coffee for Backpacking
Electronics and Camera for the CDT
- Apple iPhone XR unlocked + headphones + cable 149 grams.
- Sony RX100 + spare battery + case + spare memory card 473Grams.
- Anker 10000mAh Battery Bank plus wall charger- 155 grams (5.47 oz)
Trekking Poles and Snow Gear for the CDT
The CDT Gear List will also include winter to deal with the super cold temperatures. The Continental Divide Trail is the coldest of the 3 Triple Crown Thru Hiking Trails. So be prepared for the cold. Consider snowshoes, microspikes, ice axe and gaiters if is a big snow year which seems to be most years. You can send them home when the snow melts.
- Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles
- Petzl – TIKKA Headlamp
- Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
- Kahtoola MICROspikes
- MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe
First Aid, Toiletries and Misc
- Plastic zip lock bags
- Money / ID / Credit Cards
- Blister pads
- Strapping Tape
- Giardia anti-biotic
- Foot infection anti-biotic
- Safety Pin
- Deet insect repellant
- Lip Balm
- Toilet tissue
- Trail town info
- Total = 375 Grams
Total weight of backpack = 6.6 kilograms / 14.5 pounds.
Food will weight approximately 1kg per day.
Water will weight 1kg per litre.
I’m very happy with my CDT hiking gear list, but of money was no object I would change a couple of things.
How much does you gear list weight? What gear would you change?
Let me know in the comments section below
The best size backpack for the Continental Divide Trail is around 50 liters. There are a couple of sections with very long food and water carries but 50L is the sweet spot. Don’t be one of those hikers starting with a 70 liter rucksack. You may not last very long before your body is worn out.
The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is a very cold trail. Most Thru Hikers will want a sleeping rated at around 10F -20F. Cold sleepers will opt for the lower rated sleeping bag. The Best sleeping bags for the CDT include the Feathered Friends Hummingbird, Western Mountaineering Ultralite, Rab Mythic 400 and Sea to Summit Spark 4.
The best gear to take thru hiking on the CDT will be ultralight and durable enough to be able to last several months of harsh treatment when backpacking on the Continental Divide Trail. The gear list in this blog post has every bit of gear that is good enough for the CDT.