CDT Rain/Weather Gear
Howdy friends. I'm hoping to complete a SOBO CDT thru-hike this summer, starting around July 4. For those of you who have completed a thru-hike or spent significant time in the CDT area, what did you take for rain/weather gear? I have a 4-oz Shakedry jacket that worked great on the PCT and Florida Trail but doesn't provide a ton of extra warmth, a 6-oz / 3-layer Arcteryx anorak that's a little thicker and more abrasion resistant, and a HMG umbrella.
I also have 2-oz wind pants, but I might hike in long pants in general, as I've found myself pretty sun sensitive on exposed hikes. I'll probably carry a alpha fleece and down puffy as well. I know people love wind shirts, but my Shakedry jacket is pretty similar, though less breathable.
What did you take for weather protection? Is there logic to the lightweight jacket + umbrella? Or a heavier rain jacket with no umbrella? Does anyone have that super cool HMG rain jacket? If so, how's it working out? I get cold easily and I really don't like being damp. Any other thoughts or considerations? Thanks!
Don't have much to add on the specifics of what jacket but just having a good reliable rain jacket is pretty vital. I'd skip the umbrella as most times on the CDT when it's raining it'll be quite windy and exposed.
My first CDT I didn't carry rain pants and got really cold in Colorado - to the point of moderate hypothermia and really wish I'd had rain pants. The make-shift trash bag and wind pants didn't help at all in those conditions. Last year I carried rain pants all the way through and was really glad to have them.
I think that will be the biggest difference. You'll experience more cold rain on the CDT as even in the summer up at 10-12,000ft when a storm rolls in temps can drop into the 40s and 50s and in those conditions you really want to be able to cover up your entire body.3
I carried a Montbell Versalite, an umbrella, and a rain kilt from ULA in 2021 and I found myself quite comfortable though, truth be told, I saw relatively little rain.
The Versalite is a great jacket at 6ish ounces for a decently durable material, pit zips, hand pockets, and all of the zippers are waterproofed. I didn't have any issues with leakage and I still didn't for many months after the trail.
The umbrella was a nice move for me for a few reasons. I hike with one trekking pole so I can more easily access my camera but I was using a flat tarp, so my umbrella was the foot support of an A pitch. With some duct tape an umbrella also makes a good splint to trekking/tent poles. Though I did use my umbrella in the rain, mainly so I could still photograph, I probably used it more in the sun when it would get sweltering. Even just using it as shade during breaks was nice and I think you might like that aspect as living at 10,000+ feet for that long kinda bakes ya.
The rain skirt was a relatively late addition to my gear but a welcomed one. I can't stand the swishing sound of pants so this is a much nicer option for me. It still offers you plenty of protection from rain going almost as low as pants do but they don't hold up as well in extreme conditions (high winds and dense brush especially). Another benefit to me is its super easy and quick to put on so I ended up actually using it more than I ever would have used pants.1
That's the rub with the umbrella -- I'm pretty sun-sensitive, so I'm looking to see if it's worth the carry for sun and potential rain protection, or if it will just get in the way during windy rain events. I didn't use one on the PCT or AT and I didn't find that I missed it when using a sun hoody, but on the Florida Trail, I was under that thing ALL of the time, rain or shine (but I didn't use poles.) I really don't wanna carry 1 lb of rain gear, so lighter rain jacket + umbrella, or beefier rain gear with no umbrella? Decisions, decisions.
Either way, sounds like some rain protection for my legs is a good takeaway here.0
I have done the CDT twice - once with good rain gear and once without. Now I live less than an hour from the CDT in Montana, and I think the biggest thing to consider is what will keep you "comfortable" in the rain AND wind. I opt for a rain jacket with pockets too. While Frogg Toggs seem to work well enough on the PCT and even for some AT hikers, the weather can just be a little more brutal on CDT, so the whole "money talks" and going with something more quality would be my advice. As for rain pants, even on the CDT I usually just take a rain skirt. To echo Quadzilla, an umbrella may just be dead weight because of the wind on the CDT.1