As much as I love gear, this is a budget trip! There are certainly many places that would benefit in either weight or functionality (or both!) from an upgrade, but my priority will be using gear I already own as I already have the vast majority of the equipment needed to do this trip.
There are a few unavoidable purchases: multiple pairs of shoes for the trail, a new rain coat to replace the one that has failed on the shoulders, a non-expired bear spray canister and the like. As well as a few small items that I feel are worth it: opsaks to avoid my hot chocolate tasting like garlic pretzels and vice versa, make or buy a sil pack liner as I feel the durability upgrade is worth it over the garbage bag I have used in the past, etc
That said, I have made two larger purchases this fall in anticipation of the GDT 2020, as they make a significant difference to either weight, or convenience.
Cook set– I recently bought a kojin stove/sidewinder combo, and really like this set up (its own post to come!). In a nutshell, it is not significantly lighter than alternatives I already own, but it excels in simplicity, ease of use, and reliability, and I don’t have to create more waste with canisters. Canisters are also a bit hard to come by on my planned resupply strategy.
Tent – I do have a plethora of shelters, an embarrassment of choice really. A tarp was out of the question for me: I need bug protection, damn it! My other two appropriately sized tents: a 1p Northface Stormbreak (my very first hiking tent!) weighs in at 49oz, a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2p is 42 oz. Both are freestanding/semi freestanding with poles, and have minimal vestibule space. The BA tent certainly could have sufficed, but I have never really liked it. Its a pain to pitch, I don’t like the front-entry set-up, it is cramped, I find the dark colour depressing inside, and the vestibule space is somewhat limited. Also, it is still worth something to sell, and that is what I plan to do with it. I wanted to replace it with a trekking pole shelter, and went with the X-Mid (a full explanation in a future post!). I have done a bit of testing with it, and am so far very happy with this decision. It’s easy to pitch, pitches dry, is light without being made of DCF, has lots of vestibule space, is side entry, and was reasonably affordable.
For the most part, sticking to a budget plan has been more an exercise in self restraint than preparing to struggle with truly sub-standard equipment. The only item that this budget mentality is causing me grief on is backpacks! I’ve been projecting my anticipated carry weights for each day of each section based on my food/gear/water carry estimates in order to see which pack is best suited. Naturally my projections put me smack in the middle of the two! But this is a discussion for its own post!