GDT 2021 Final Gear List

We hiked the GDT in 2021 with our son Toothless.

Before we left on the thru hike we wrote a post breaking down the gear we decided to bring.

This post will list out our main systems and gear and document how they worked out for us on the GDT in 2021 with our 8 month old son Toothless.

Our gear list that we took when we started on the GDT is here on Lighterpack; our gear list we finished with is here on Lighterpack. Our thoughts and notes on the gear is in the post below.

Packs

Baby Carrier

What we brought:

HappyBaby Original

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

The carrier worked fairly well considering the abuse we gave it. After Section A we started to see holes wear through the linen fabric where the carrier comes in contact with our pack hip belts. We repaired this with webbing we cut off Natasha’s pack.

Eventually more holes wore through and we added more webbing. Once we had the waist band reinforced here the carrier wore down less quickly.

By the end of the hike we had holes wearing through the shoulder straps as well.

One of the snaps on the nap hood pulled out of the linen. We permanently sewed the loop closed with dental floss (which we use often use to repair shoes and webbing on our gear) and the repair held up for the remainder of the hike.

The linen is very sun faded and sweat stained.

All of the buckles and straps remained functional and in good condition.

The carrier remained comfortable through the entire hike. It can definitely be uncomfortable if worn more than 3-4 hours straight and breaks are often needed during the day while hiking, but this I think is due to Toothless shifting around during the hike and the weight on our backs overall. Near the end of the hike we had lost some weight and lost some of our natural “padding” so the carrier and our packs would make us sore just from the pressure being applied to our bodies. This isn’t an issue with the carrier; just a byproduct of our decision to hike with a calorie deficit to minimize the our food carry weight on some of the longer sections.

As we expected the thin but wide shoulder pads were beneficial to not only distribute Toothless’ weight but also make it possible to wear a pack on top of the carrier.

Overall I am happy with the decision to bring this carrier. That being said, I would be much happier if there were more technical baby carrier options. If there was a baby carrier that used more technical fabrics, was more lightweight and integrated with other backpacking gear (eg: backpacks) better I would give it a very serious consideration.

Kyle’s Pack

What we brought:

Z-Pack Arc Haul

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

My pack failed on the 2021 GDT thru hike in two locations.

I got this pack in the winter of 2016 and brought it with us on every backpacking trip since. I have taken it on one GDT thru hike in 2018 and basically everything else we have done including trail building and maintenance trips. So this pack has seem some stuff and has some miles under it.

Before the trip I repaired it in a few areas and added reinforcements to the shoulder pads to distribute the load better.

During Section B the tensioning system on my frame failed. I heard of others on the trail that had this happen to them. It sucks. The tension lock that the frame tension webbing goes through when tensioning the pack failed. It broke in half. This makes the frame lose tension and go completely limp. This is really uncomfortable for me, especially with a heavy pack and baby. You lose the ventilation, support of the frame, and the pack (and all the lumps that go with it) hits my shoulder blades and back. Have you ever felt a diaper cream tube pressed between your shoulder blades? I did a field repair with rope from my rope kit and this held up the rest of the hike. I was in contact with Z-Packs, but my only option was to ship the pack back during the hike for paid repair. New packs had a 5 week leadtime, and the repair itself would likely take most of the rest of the thru hike when logistics were considered. The GDT has infrequent and fairly remote/ poorly supported resupply locations. Getting a replacement pack on trail at the last minute and shipping a pack out for repair is a real challenge.

I’ve considered repairing the frame system but given the state of the rest of the pack and some of the design flaws with the frame system, I am considering putting my effort and money elsewhere. I either would want to fully repair and resolve those issues or get something different.

During Section E, right after we left Pinto Lake, I found the frame on my pack had split. The best I could do here was wrap it in Tenacious Tape. Thankfully that held up and we didn’t get any splinters from the frame.

The coarse mesh stretchy pocket has gotten much more snagged.

The shoulder pads and hip belt have compacted and have lost a lot of their comfort.

Natasha’s Pack

What we brought:

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

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

It actually did pretty well.

The pack did not fail – it is quite durable.

The pack is not water proof and does tend to soak up water. Natasha used her rain cover this time (which she normally doesn’t use with her Crown VC) but despite that, the sides and back of the pack tend to soak up water both during rain and car wash. Since Natasha uses the schnozzle bag from our Exped sleeping pad as a pack liner and loads Toothless’ Peapod crib in her pack outside of the pack liner sometimes some of the gear that should stay dry has a bit of moisture on it. This usually is easy to dry off and doesn’t impact the warmth or effectiveness of the gear, but there were a few days I stressed about it on the trail.

Tent

What we brought:

ZPacks Triplex

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

The Triplex performed just as well as the Duplex did on our 2018 thru.

The width of the Triplex is unfortunately 3-4 inches too narrow to fit our Exped double sleeping pad and Toothless’ Peapod comfortably, so it was sometimes a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Also, since it’s such a tight fit, the sleeping pad would sometimes slide into the mesh wall and push it out past the overhang on the vestibules allowing rain water to collect in the tent when the doors are open (which is almost always). This only happened a couple times but it sucked. The issue here isn’t really the width of the Triplex but the width of the Peapod. If the Peapod was more square or tapered like the ProLite sleeping pad below it, there would be more room. We could also close the vestibules completely, but then there isn’t much ventilation and condensation accumulates inside the tent.

Finding a good spot to pitch the Triplex is a challenge. It is quite large. We generally did okay, and our most difficult times finding a spot to pitch the tent were oddly enough on tent pads. Regardless, the size of the Triplex is noticeable and you definitely lose some flexibility when finding a spot to camp.

As noted before, the Triplex can be a challenge to pitch well. Due to the large surface area a slightly uneven pitch has a large effect on how taut the tent walls are. We found that it was almost necessary to use all guy lines to pitch it well. While I was not always proud of our tent pitch, I have seen a fair number of tents on trail that were pitched worse than ours.

Sleep System

What we brought:

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

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

The same as 2018: awesome.

The quilt remained quite warm despite some moisture getting on it a few times. This is sometimes difficult to avoid when you have two adults in a baby in the tent; things can get a bit hectic. Toothless can get VERY bouncy and energetic in the tent sometimes. The sleeping pad held up to his bouncing. When bouncing around and playing there is a risk he decides to wave around a wet sock or something. There just is so much more going on in the tent that setting up your sleep system carefully to keep it dry is a lot less likely to happen with a baby. We also need to swap gear and food between our packs when we swap carrying Toothless and that always introduces a bit of a risk of getting the contents a bit damp. Having a synthetic quilt was nice for those reasons.

However, the quilt takes up a lot of volume. It would be much easier to pack all of our gear with a down quilt, and I am sure that a smaller quilt can be kept dry easier in the pack. So we’d only have to try to keep the quilt from getting wet once it’s in the tent.

Cook System

What we brought:

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

Toothless started the GDT with two spoons (we used those long Dairy Queen plastic spoons) and a full arm/ torso bib. He eats out of our bowls.

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

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

Our titanium cookwear worked well.

The plastic spoons for Toothless broke. We replaced them, then they broke again. Then after feeding Toothless with our titanium sporks for a while we realized he adapted and learned to use those, so we just shared a spork with him at dinner time. We only brought our titanium sporks from that point on.

Our Snowpeak Lite Max is getting a little tired. The arms that fold have bent right where the screw hole is. I don’t know how or why this happened but rather than bend it back, we should probably repair it or replace it.

Water

What we brought:

We each carryed 2x 1L water bottles (Lifewtr)

We used chemical treatment using household bleach. We brought a funnel prefilter to catch large debris.

More about our decision to go with this system here.

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

All I can say is that I’m converted now.

We knew from our 2018 thru hike that there are a few water sources to be concerned about, but it is mostly fairly clean and clear water on the GDT. There is a lot of silt at some rivers but you can almost always find a less silty water source nearby.

The system is really easy to use. Just thread the funnel (with the coarse filter on it) on your bottle, dunk it in the water and let the bottle fill up. You might need to “pump” the bottle a bit to get it to fill. Then drop a few drops of bleach in, thread the cap on and start hiking again. This takes minutes.

Then we would wait 60 minutes or so for the water to treat. Once this is done, we would swap our flip top lid over to the bottle to drink out of (only clean water touched the lid we drank out of).

We never had an issue waiting 60 minutes for the treatment to work to the level we wanted. Since there is two of us and we each had capacity for 2 liters of water, we always had some water that was fully treated in a pinch. Since the bleach treatment is so quick and easy to do (other than waiting for the bleach to work) it was never a burden to collect water quickly before you run out of your other bottle. At a given time we’d each carry just over 1 L of water.

Sometimes the bleach would have a strong smell, but in those cases you can just let the bottle sit with the cap off for about 30 minutes and the bleach would evaporate in the sun. Just be sure to do this after you let it sit long enough to treat the water.

The bleach dropper was stored in our packs in a small pill bag (the same type we use to store our ibuprofen in our med kit) and never leaked.

The funnel was really helpful when filling from low flowing source; it let us really get the bottle in there to scoop water in.

Clothing

What we brought:

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

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

Toothless carried basically the same clothing system:

  • Hiking Clothes
    • Sun shirt
    • Lightweight hiking pants
    • Socks (plus a spare pair)
    • Fleece hoodie
    • Poofy pants
    • Synthetic soft bottom shoes
    • Sun hat
    • Toque
    • Mitts
  • Rain gear
    • Rain bunting
  • Sleep clothes
    • Baselayer pants (plus a spare pair in case of a blowout)
    • Long sleeve baselayer shirt

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

I’m happy with our decision on clothing overall.

I really needed the running shorts, especially at the start of the hike. Carrying Toothless was a lot of work and can be very hot. Shorts let me dump body heat easier. The dance pants were nice during breaks to keep the flies and mosquitos off of my legs (mostly the flies – I was getting a couple dozen fly bites a day). The dance pants worked great on cool mornings or on windy ridges. Near the end when it was getting cold I could wear my dance pants under my rain pants to keep warm in the snow or close-to-freezing temperatures.

I ditched my torque. I just wasn’t wearing it. At night I would wear my hoodie instead. And besides, my toque was stretching out (it lost it’s elasticity) so it wasn’t very comfortable. I kept my buff.

Natasha ditched her sun gloves. They became too small. Unsure if they shrunk in the wash or if her hands got bigger after Toothless was born. Regardless, they were too tight and uncomfortable.

Eventually I ditched my sunglasses.

We ditched Toothless’ mittens right away. After that Toothless used all of his clothes and his system worked well. We did not have any water proof shoes which made it difficult for him to walk around once it has rained. Usually this is not a problem in the Rockies but it became a problem during Section E because of how much precipitation we encountered. We wrapped his feet in plastic bags instead and this worked great during the car wash but was less than ideal for him to crawl or walk around since the bags would snag and wear through quickly. But the bags generally kept his feet dry and kept them warm.

Toothless’ clothes held up well other than his shoes. His shoes wore a hole under each big toe. We repaired with Tenacious Tape but that eventually started peeling off once the shoes got wet and muddy.

Toothless absolutely refused to wear sunglasses so we never really got to use those.

Once in Jasper we changed out some gear due to the precipitation and cold.

  • Natasha
    • Bought warm gloves
    • Bought a warm midlayer hoodie (a smartwool hoodie) for sleep
    • Bought 2x pair smartwool socks
    • Ditched toe socks
  • Kyle
    • Ditched sun gloves (Natasha already ditched hers early on)
    • Ditched sunglasses
    • Bought warm gloves
    • Bought a warm midlayer hoodie (Rab) for daytime wear and/or sleep.
    • Bought 2x pair Darn Tough socks
    • Ditched 1 pair of toe socks; kept 1 pair of toe socks
  • Toothless
    • Bought warmer baselayers for sleep
    • Kept existing baselayers for extra layer during day or sleep
    • Bought rain boots
    • Ditched shoes
    • Bought 2x warm knee high socks (like ski socks)
    • Ditched 1 pair merino wool socks, kept 1 pair
    • Ditched sunglasses

From this gear most of it worked well.

I got blisters from my new socks. I wear toe socks to avoid blisters so wearing darn tough socks while hiking didn’t help my feet much. I wear Darn Tough socks at home, but I always wear toe socks for hiking and running for this reason. I expected this and since it was the last section I knew I just needed to tough it out 4-5 days before we would be done the hike.

Our midlayer hoodies were awesome. We wore them constantly.

Toothless’ new boots still let his feet get wet. Possibly from water soaking in from the side or top from the car wash. But they kept his feet warm and his socks kept him warm.

Toothless’ new baselayer was huge on him. It was the smallest size we could find. We had to modify it before we started hiking but thankfully the modifications worked perfectly. Natasha sewed the hands and feet shut and cut holes for his thumbs so he could still suck his thumbs at night. This kept him toasty.

Overall in the last section the clothing was much heavier but more appropriate for the weather as it was changing. I am glad we made that change.

Sanitary

What we brought:

All the usuals.

Wet wipes, TP, cat hole trowel.

Wash bag (Scrubba), soap.

How it performed on the GDT in 2021

They worked well.

We had to carry more wipes than usual, but after we got the hang of things with Toothless we knew how many we might need. In general we ended up bringing too many, but we always had enough in case he needed them. It’s a tough call.

The wash bag worked on trail better than I thought it would. We did laundry 2-3 times a day (mostly diaper laundry) and it held up to our abuse. We used the wash bag as a dirty diaper bag (and strapped on top of our packs) and it held up to the brush without tearing any holes.

It’s nice to have soap on trail. But I still wouldn’t carry it if I wasn’t doing diaper laundry. We had wipes and hand sanitizer to clean ourselves with so even with diaper changes we could keep our hands clean.

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