Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
Gear Guy

What's the lightest gear for tackling the Continental Divide Trail?

I'm planning a through-hike of the Continental Divide Trail this summer, and I want to go ultra-light. What's the best tarp to use—the easiest to set up, the best in wind, and so on? Syd Seattle, Washington

A: Ah, the Continental Divide Trail, aka the CDT. That's a formidable undertaking—3,100 miles, from Canada to Mexico, through the roof of the nation. The trail traverses Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

I appreciate your desire for minimum weight. One thing you might consider is the two-pound, seven-ounce MSR TrekkerTarp ($129; Using your trekking poles for support, it can be configured much like a tent or as a shelter with a covered front "porch." You can even add a mesh, bug-proof insert ($79), although this will add nearly two pounds. GoLite makes a tarp called the Cave 1 ($119;, a very spartan system indeed. But, set up properly, it'll keep the rain off and weighs only 14 ounces. Add a 12-ounce bug shelter underneath, also from GoLite, for $69.

The alternative is to get a super-light tent, which would have the advantage of much better wind resistance and, of course, built-in bug netting. But that'll add a pound or two. Sierra Designs' Ultra Light Year CD ($189; uses light materials and a trim design to pare the weight down to two pounds, nine ounces. Pack only the fly and a ground cover, and you can trim that load to one pound, 11 ounces. Bibler's single-wall I-Tent ( comes in at just over four pounds, but this is probably the most weatherproof four pounds out there. Alas, the price is a burden—$539. I also like The North Face's Canyonlands ($179;, a solo tent that weighs just over three pounds.

Whatever your choice, hope you have a great hike!

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside