View Full Version : Gear Differences

10-24-2010, 16:12
are there any major gear differences between the PCT and the CDT?

Is there anything that one would find surprising that you carried on the CDT but not other trails?

I was planning on using mostly the same gear on the CDT this comming year. Thanks in advance.

10-24-2010, 16:50
Howdy Chance! You are gonna love the CDT! All the big scenery of the PCT with an even more remote feeling.
Anyways I hiked the PCT in 2009 and the CDT this year. I used all the same gear and strategy as on the PCT.
The CDT was wetter ,cooler, and windier the the PCT but not drastically so.(except for Raintana uh I mean Montana but it was an unusual year.. ain't they all!)
The few small changes I made were merely different brands and refinements to my system. I went from a Golite Pinnacle on the PCT to a Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus pack thereby saving 1lb etc.
The same 20 degree Western Mountaineering Ulra-light Bag worked just fine throughout the CDT.
I did not use GPS so I was heavily dependent on my compass. For the CDT I used a Suunto M3 compass(PCT was a cheap Coleman). Basically the more expensive compass was not strickly neccesary but I have had the cheap compasses burst at altitude and on the CDT you will reach 14,000 feet. The CDT in Colorado averages 11,000 feet through the entire state.
I went Northbound so I hit snow in Northern New Mexico and walked atop it for the next 200 miles as i took the San Juan Route. I picked up my Iceaxe and gloves at Chama NM. I also had sent a bunch of sheetmetal screws to use for ice traction. By screwing them into the bottom of my trail runners I did get better traction on the icy crusted snow.
The one thing I would do different would be to carry a set of Crampons for the San Juan Mountains Section of southern Colorado. Remember I was Northbound so I reached the San Juans at the end of May so for a Southbounder your snow will be all at the beginning up in Glacier NP.
I did not want or need snowshoes however.. there were times in the afternoon when if I had had them they would have made the going a bit easier. YMMV.
On the PCT I used the Wilderness Press guidebook maps.
For the CDT I got Jonathan Ley's CDT-CDT ROM and printed the maps myself. I printed them on 8.5X11 paper single sided. If I were to do it again I might print the maps double sided savign paper and weight.
I also liked the way some hikers had printed them on 11X14 paper. Much more detail was visible and you could actually read everything. Sometimes my laser printed 8.5X11 maps the names of peaks and rivers etc. were illegible.
One other thing I did different from the PCT was to write "Hiker to Town" and "Hiker to Trail" in big bold letters on my Tyvek Gorundsheet. The CDT is less well known to locals as many times people told me my sign made the difference and got them to pick me up. The resupply hitches are long and can be tough on the CDT. Get Yogi's town guide!
Another difference was I took an Ipod shuffle loaded with some music and audio books. I was totally anti-ipod on the PCT and only rarely used a tiny radio. The CDT can be a much more solitary experience. I went weeks without seeing another person on the trail. The little shuffle was nice to give me a break from my own thoughts. It was nice to hear another voice besides the ones in my head! Anyhow I know the whole "technology on the trail" thing is different for everyone. HYOH and all that.
Anyhow I am beginning to write a book here!
If you have any other questions I would be happy to answer them here or also by email [email protected]
Of course I only know what worked for me but it was all the same stuff I used for the PCT as well with only the few exceptions above.
I am jealous! I know what an amazing time I had and if you liked the PCT you are really gonna love the CDT!:sun

10-24-2010, 21:38
what did you use as a shelter on the CDT?

10-24-2010, 22:09
I used the Gossamer Gear One Tent for both the PCT and CDT. I really like this shelter. After 5600 miles it is finally showing it's age. I used it about 30 nights on the PCT, mostly I cowboy camped. On the CDT I used it a lot more due to the wind, mosquitos, and rain.

10-24-2010, 22:10

10-24-2010, 22:37
looks a lot like my lunar solo. I'm thinking about a way ray tarp with a bug netting canopy.

Did I mention i'm taking my girlfriend too and it'll be her first long trail?

10-24-2010, 22:54
Since there was no need to carry a bear cannister on the CDT, I also used a lighter pack, the Gossamer Gear G-5 (discontinued now), at 9 oz. Other than that, it was pretty much the same shelter, clothing, and water capacity. I carried a can of pepper spray through Glacier and Yellowstone, but that's probably not needed. I'll confess to a slight grizzly phobia.

You'll use navigational skills more on the CDT, for sure. I did not use a GPS, but my map and compass were often in my hand. (I also used Ley's maps along with the DeLorme Atlas pages.) I used my wristwatch a lot for timing my pace for navigational purposes, too. I never got more than a few hundred yards off my intended track.

For planning, you'll have to deal with getting permits in Glacier and Yellowstone.

10-25-2010, 07:22
If NOBO, i'd send myself snowshoes to Chama if you are planning on getting to Cumbres before June 20th. You can decide at Cumbres if you think you need them.
Bear Spray in Glacier is a good idea.
GPS is important IMO on the CDT.
The rest is the same.
Have fun.

10-25-2010, 16:55
Same water capacity on the CDT as the PCT was in the desert or on the rest of the trip? I had capacity for 7 in the desert and four for most of the rest.

Any recommendations for snowshoes? And i'm planning on carrying microspikes in the necessary parts

10-25-2010, 18:50
I did the whole CDT with a 3 liter platy and a 1 liter soda bottle. With the exception that for the longer waterless stretches I sometimes brought an extra 1 liter soda bottle out of town so my total cpacity never exceeded 5 liters.
That being said I have noticed my water requirements are a bit lower than most other hikers I have met. I usually am comfortable with 1 liter every 10 miles in =<80 degrees.
You will no doubt hear a lot about the Great Basin divide in Wyoming. I had no water troubles through there at all. There are some brand new solar wells the BLM has put in(15 and 30 miles out of Rawlins NoBo on the Non-Ferris Mtns route). Using the water info on Jonathan Ley's maps was super helpful and almost always accurate. I like the way he comes straight out and says the spring might be dry etc. The CDT "horror stories" regarding water never materialized for me. Water planning turned out to be a non-issue for me. I only went without water for 25 miles once due to my own poor judgement.
Yes, there are WAYY more cows, elk, antelope, and wild horses on the CDT than on the PCT. Yes, sometimes there was animal poop in the only water availiable. The majority of the time water was as good or better in both quantity and quality than the PCT. YMMV.

10-25-2010, 19:11
Ditto the above on water in my experience, never more than five liters. If I were to hike the PCT again, I'd carry the same. I carried more on the PCT (my first long hike) out of inexperience. I've learned I can also go about 10 miles per liter in moderate heat, and a dry camp takes a liter per night.

In the Sonoran desert in New Mexico, you don't have water caches but lots of developed wells with wind or electric power. I hear those solar wells in the Red Desert in Wyoming are nice. It will depend on your route choice, though.

I remember a few 25 mile carries, nothing much more than that, and only once a planned source was dry which made for a dry dozen miles to the next one.

10-25-2010, 20:39
Functionally, my gear on the PCT vs the CDT was pretty much the same. The only difference was in degree vs kind. I took a tarp, had a frameless ruck, hiked in sneakers, used an alcohol stove, etc.

My AT to PCT gear was a huge jump.... My PCT to CDT gear? Not so much.

If you are curious...


10-31-2010, 11:50
Any snowshoe suggestions? I've never used a pair before.

11-05-2010, 22:43
Any snowshoe suggestions? I've never used a pair before.. I think this pretty much applies whether you plan to hike nobo (as I did) or sobo. I went through the San Juans about two weeks after IceAx this year and I'm currently on the 55th of about 330 zeros that I'm taking until resuming my nobo thru hike around July 1 at Steamboat Springs next summer. I carried microspikes and my ice ax and found both very essential a couple of times. I had my snowshoes packed up for my wife to send to me, but never called for them. Every year is different and 2010 dumped a lot of snow on N NM and S CO. There was still a lot of snow in the S San Juans when I went through, but it mostly slowed me down not from postholing but from the effort to "keep found". Spend the $$$ you would have spent on the snowshoes on a GPS instead---and download Out of Order's track. That really helped me stay found and find my way back to the trail when I misplaced the trail.

11-05-2010, 23:00
Did I mention i'm taking my girlfriend too and it'll be her first long trail?

Wow. Starting on the hard one, huh?

11-05-2010, 23:13
Wow. Starting on the hard one, huh?

I hiked on and off with Tradja and Jess on the CDT. This was her first really long hike as well. They are still married. :D

(Though they did do the Tahoe Rim Trail and the JMT together first. That probably helped. A lot! Tradja had already done the AT and PCTx2; so a very similar situation to Chance.)

Chance, if you get, ah, the chance, even a two week long hike with resupply may help your better half get the idea of what a long hike may be like. (the TRT is a perfect intro FWIW)

Good luck!

11-08-2010, 20:33
I'm thinking two weeks on the AT in southern VA, then trail days, then two weeks in northern VA as well as hosting some trail magic since i live in the area.

I hiked with Tradja and Jess on the PCT some this year. Any idea how I could get in touch with them? I'd love to pick their brains a bit.

Thanks Mags.


11-14-2010, 13:21
download Out of Order's track.

Where do I find these?


11-14-2010, 23:38
I hiked with Tradja and Jess on the PCT some this year. Any idea how I could get in touch with them? I'd love to pick their brains a bit.

Thanks Mags.


I sent you an e-mail via WB... Did you get it OK?

11-15-2010, 19:50
I sent you an e-mail via WB... Did you get it OK?

I didn't. Try this one, [email protected]

Thanks again mags.