GDT 2021 Gear List

We are hiking the GDT this time around with our son, Toothless. He will be about 8 months old when we start hiking.

Over the past few months we have been working out what gear to bring on the GDT with him. We have been overcoming his constantly changing needs as well as gear shortages.

This post will list out our main systems and gear, compare against what we carried for our first GDT thru in 2018 and talk about first impressions and rationale for the selection.

Throughout the hike we might revisit these choices and reflect about them at the end.

Our gear list is here on Lighterpack and our thoughts below.


Baby Carrier

What we are bringing:

HappyBaby Original

Compared to 2018 GDT:

We didn’t hike with a baby in 2018 so this is a new piece of equipment.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

We did a two part pack configuration review with an infant carrier and selected the Happy Baby carrier there.

Originally we chose the Ombihino carrier since its most compatible with hip belts but it slides down our shoulders when wearing rain gear or our poofy hoodies and it pulls too much on Natasha’s shoulders.

The Happy Baby Original carrier corrects these problems with the waist belt and is designed to sit high enough on our waist such that it sits above the hip belts on our packs and is still compatible with our packs.

Kyle’s Pack

What we are bringing:

Z-Pack Arc Haul

Compared to 2018 GDT:

Same exact pack. It has been repaired.

I have made a minor modification to my shoulder strap to make heavier loads more comfortable. I used what I had on hand, so it looks a bit eclectic, but it does help.

The problem with the Arc Haul is the shoulder strap seems to collapse then applies a very concentrated load on the foam pads. At that point, all the pack weight that goes to the shoulder straps is basically concentrated to a thin line on your shoulder. The foam pad does very little to pad this.

I sewed a wider (yellow) strap in to keep the 1cm wide one from collapsing. Then below that I put a piece of “magic carpet” from our MYOG bike pannier project (green/black) to distribute the load to the foam better. I can remove this plastic piece if necessary; it’s not permanent.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

I wrote a review of it here.

It worked very well on the GDT in 2018 and my gear hasn’t changed enough to rethink this one yet.

It’s very nice having a pack with a bit more weight rating than needed when hiking with a partner. I can take some of Natasha’s food or pack weight if she is injured or unable to sustainably carry it for some reason. Also on the GDT there can be some long stretches without a resupply which can bump up food weight quite a bit. With an infant, pack weight has also increased. When Natasha carries Toothless, I need to carry most (if not all) of the food to keep both of our total pack weight low enough. On the GDT this year, with all the food in my pack, I find I’m riding the max load rating of the pack on long food hauls.

Natasha’s Pack

What we are bringing:

Natasha’s old Gregory Cairn 48 pack with the lid removed.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

Natasha used her Granite Gear Crown VC for the past few years, including the GDT in 2018.

The Crown VC is a roll top pack that is relatively lightweight and is designed with thu hikes in mind.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

The Gregory pack was her first backpacking pack and fits very well. We hiked the JMT with it, but it’s difficult to pack which makes it inefficient at carrying gear. We like to stuff our packs and avoid pockets but this pack has a lot of compartments.

When carrying Toothless during the SCT hikes Natasha found her GG pack was very uncomfortable. We found this was due to a combination of:

  • Total pack weight. Toothless plus food plus gear was more than the total weight Natasha has ever carried before.
  • Interference between the carrier waist belt and the pack hip belt. Poorly tightened hip belts lead to too much load on shoulders and not distributed to the hip. Are

The Gregory pack has a tapered hip belt which gives clearance for the front carrier and Toothless’s bum. This allows for both to be tightened appropriately without interfering with one another.

Since I will be carrying most of the food to keep the total weight down on Natasha, the volume and packing inefficiency is less of a problem.


What we are bringing:

ZPacks Triplex

Compared to 2018 GDT:

ZPacks Duplex

Why we are carrying this in particular:

We selected the tent based on total mass, floor space (must be able to fit both of us and an infant and our sleep systems) and overall design.

It helped that we already used the Duplex for years, but we also had reconsidered all feasible options for backpacking with Toothless and didn’t constrain ourselves to the ZPacks line.

We wrote about our first impressions.

Sleep System

What we are bringing:

Natasha and I will sleep on our Exped Synmat Duo pad with our MYOG Ray Way quilt.

Toothless is sleeping on a ProLite sleeping pad with a PeaPod travel crib.

He also has a modified Morrison Outdoors sleeping bag. Our original modification did not work well enough, so we cut open the sleeves so his hands could escape and he could suck his thumb. We used plastic snaps to keep the sleeves rolled up.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

Natasha and I are using the same sleep system for ourselves as 2018. The sleeping pad is a new one, with silicone strips added, but is the same model.

We didn’t have a baby in 2018 so his sleep system is new.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

We spent a lot of effort trying to find something that worked for all of us and wasn’t extremely heavy.

Our original plan for the sleep system is discussed here.

Our thoughts on the final sleep system are written here.

Ultimately we traded off some weight for pack volume, sleep quality and cost. We could have gotten a new quilt (and tried down, hoping my down allergy would be fine) but that would cost too much.

Cook System

What we are bringing:

Natasha and I each have a 600mL Evernew Titanium pot and a Snowpeak titanium spork.

Toothless has two spoons (we are starting with Dairy Queen spoons) and a full arm/ torso bib. He eats out of our bowls.

We have a ISO butane fuel stove. A Snowpeak Lite Max.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

We carried the same stove, pots and sporks in 2018.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

The system worked well and is fairly light. We have considered alcohol stoves instead of fuel canisters but with an infant who loves playing with water bottles, carrying the alcohol seems risky. The fuel canisters are easy, robust at a range of temperatures and lower risk for an infant.

For Toothless, the spoons are a great size and are light. We carry two spoons to trade with him. The bib is very light and modified btk have a velcro closure. The bib keeps his clothes clean and dry which is a huge deal. This means he has fewer clothes since we do less laundry.


What we are bringing:

We are each carrying 2x 1Lwater bottles. Basically smart water bottles or equivalent.

We are using chemical treatment using household bleach. We have a funnel prefilter to catch large debris.

More about our decision to go with this system here.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

We carried water bladders in our packs and a gravity water filter in 2018. Chemical treatment was a backup but not a primary method.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

Mostly weight and convenience.

The water bladder hoses were constantly played with by Toothless and he would drink from them. Which lead to water being wasted. And we found we barely drank from them because we were putting the hose in places he could not reach.

The gravity filter works if you can fill it, sit and eat while it fills your pack, and be done. But with Toothless everything takes so much time that we wanted to shave tasks off of the entire routine. Although the bleach needs to sit, Toothless adds 30-60 minutes to our morning and evening routines so we have the time to spare as long as we don’t have to actively do anything. Also our gravity filter died before we started the GDT and we know from experience the Moose River will be hard on it. Chemical treatment will just be easier.


What we are bringing:

We are each wearing running shorts, sun hoodies, baseball caps, trail runners and carry “dance pants” as wind pants, synthetic hoodies for a warm layer, and rain jackets and pants for wet brush.

We also carry sleep wear: base layer pants and shirt for sleeping.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

Toothless carries pretty much the same thing. He has a long sleeve sun shirt, thing hiking pants, shoes and sun hat that he wears. We carry warm synthetic pants and fleece hoodie for him. For sleep he has a baselayer pants and shirt. For rain he has a rain bunting but that is intended for brush and heavy rain since we also carry an umbrella.

In 2018 I wore pants.

In 2018 we wore button up sun shirts. This time we are wearing sun hoodies. More on this here and here.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

I chose shorts this time to dump heat when carrying Toothless. Also, shorts and dance pants are lighter than hiking pants.

The sun hoodie rationale is discussed here and here.

For Toothless, the idea is the same. We want to keep as much sun off him and use his sleep clothes as redundancy for his daytime clothing. His layers are designed to be worn for long stretches – since we front carry and have an umbrella the need to change his layers should not be frequent.


What we are bringing:

All the usuals.

Wet wipes, TP, cat hole trowel.

Wash bag (Scrubba), soap.

Compared to 2018 GDT:

We are carrying more TP than 2018.

In 2018 we did not carry soap or a wash bag. We used a plastic bag or our water filter dirty bag as a wash bag.

Why we are carrying this in particular:

We are carrying a wash bag and soap to deal with diaper laundry. I have discussed this here. This gets our other laundry more clean as well so it’s nice. We are also not carrying a water filter so we are not carrying a dirty bag.

2 thoughts on “GDT 2021 Gear List

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