For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Hyperlite Mountain Gear chose its sponsored hikers for the CDT and PCT from hundreds of written applications and we’re excited to follow along with each of them as they hike their chosen trail. Later in the year we’ll select our AT hiker while we’re at the Trail Days Show in Damascus, VA. Learn more about Peter, our CDT hiker below. After this initial blog post, Peter will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey. We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!
My name is Peter, I’m 34 years old and I am doing my first thru hike in 2013 when I begin a five-month trek north bound on the CDT starting April 20th. I’ve been dreaming about doing the CDT for over 10 years and have put my life in order this year to make my dream a reality. I’m tired of dreaming, I’m ready to start doing. Over the past year I’ve forced my big butt off the couch and set a goal to get in good physical & mental shape for the challenge. I’ve lost 60 + pounds since starting my training for the trail, all while struggling with my life long battle with Crohn’s disease.
I’m very excited to be a part of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear team and I hope that you will follow me as I make my way along the Divide. I’ll be posting frequently about whats happening during the different sections of my hike. It won’t be all rainbow’s and butterfly’s I’m sure but, I promise to give you the real details on what its like out there. So follow me here or on Twitter and Facebook at Couch2CDT or my other blog at couchtocdt.wordpress.com.
Before I headed out to Capitol Reef National Park last week, I got in the mail my new backpack by Hyperlite Mountain Gear. They are based out of Biddeford, ME and they specialize in Cuben Fiber equipment, including backpacks, tarps/shelters and stuff sacks. They’ve won several awards for their equipment including for the pack that I now have, 3400 Windrider.
This pack is beautiful. If you haven’t seen or handled Cuben fiber before, it feels like paper and you wonder how durable it really is. Once you start looking more closely at it, you know that this thing is built to last. The pack is waterproof, with its roll top, weatherproof storm closure system that keeps everything nice and dry on the inside. At 3400 cubic inches it will be able to hold every piece of gear that I will need for my thru hike, plus some. When I don’t need all that room, the pack’s cinch straps bring everything down to a more manageable size. The weight difference between the 2400 and 3400 is only 1.7 oz, which I feel is negligible. If I had the 2400 and needed more room I’d run the risk of having to put too many things in the 3 mesh pouches on the outside. That could put off the balance of the pack, which would likely cause pain and discomfort. The pack comes with comfortably thick shoulder pads that were nicely spaced for my shoulders and hip pads that wrapped around very comfortably with my 35 lb test load. The hip belt has two water resistant hip pockets that are great for snacks and your camera. The durable body of the pack comes with two removable aluminum stays that add comfort and shape to the pack. I’m going to be trying out this pack with and without the stays, as I’ve only used frameless packs for the past 8 years.
During the Capitol Reef trip, I stuffed the pack with more gear then I needed to. When I get a new pack I don’t like to treat it gently because that’s just not how I treat packs. I toss it around, throw it on the ground, scrape it against canyon walls and have virtually no respect for it whatsoever. During this 3 day trip and the initial abuse it got, it did great. No scuffs, no tears and no problems so far. I’m headed back out to Utah next weekend for my birthday and to test out what I think will be my final gear set for the CDT. So far this pack has impressed me tremendously, which is great, since it will be like my home for the next 5 months – always on my back and holding everything I need to make it. I’m already starting to feel confident with this pack and look forward to many long days with it on my back.