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Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List
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Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List on 04/10/2009 13:55:14 MDT Print View

I'm still kind of a newbie when it comes to backpacking, having done only one 7-day Machu Picchu "Backdoor" trip (carrying my own stuff, etc). That was 3 years ago. Since then I've done a couple of overnighters and that's it.
Since I can take 1 month off this summer I've decided to do the JMT starting 8/17. I plan to do it at a leisure pace and finish it in about 24 days, doing 5-6 side trips on the way.

Since I'm still inexperienced, I feel that at least for this trip I need the protection of a 2-layer tent. I ask you guys to help me with the list (what to add/remove, what are better alternatives to the current stuff I have, etc) but please keep in mind my lack of experience as well. I want to go as light as possible, while being safe and having some sort of comfort.

I feel like weight-wise, I'm on the edge of maybe needing a pack with some sort of frame and more sturdy/heavier shoes. I want to avoid this if possible.

Here's the list:


A few observations/questions about my list:

- The items in bold are the ones I already have. I'd consider replacing them if considerable weight can be saved at a cost that is not prohibitive. Stuff not in bold I still need to acquire and I'm totally open to suggestions/alternatives.

- The sleeping bag is an old one I got a few years ago. I know they are much lighter ones out there, I'm just trying to decide whether to spend the $300+. Please provide suggestions.

- I'm a side sleeper, I have a Z-Lite pad and wake up very sore after sleeping on it, therefore I'm considering the NeoAir.

- With 8 days of food and (estimated 1.5lbs/day) + 1 quart of water, I'm already at almost 29lbs (yikes), and there's still stuff I need to weigh (toiletries). Is this too much for a Jam2 pack (or any other frame-less pack)? Do I need something that can handle more weight like the REI Flash 50?

- I'm 5'7" 155 lbs, in good physical shape. I know this is different for each person, but at how much weight does it become too much to wear cross trainers?

- Is 1.5lbs/day of food too much? What's the lowest I can go while still getting about 3000 calories/day?

- I'm leaning towards bringing the water filter because this way I can carry a max of only 1 quart at a time. If I used tablets, wouldn't I need to always carry an extra quart while it's being purified?

- Going North to South, the last on-trail resupply is about 100 miles away from Whitney. Does this mean that I have to carry 10-12 days of food going at the pace I plan to go? Can I even fit that much food in the canister?

- I have the footprint for the Seedhouse, is it necessary for this trip?

Edited by kjyang on 04/10/2009 14:20:38 MDT.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List on 04/10/2009 15:09:01 MDT Print View

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like the decimal place is off for you bear canister weight.

I'm sure others will provide further insight so I will only address a few things.

- Obvioulsy, your major weight savings could be made with a tent and sleeping bag upgrade. Keep an eye on the gear swap over the next few months. Good quality 20-30 degree bags pop up now and then in the $100-200 range. It sounds like you really enjoy the comfort of a double-wall tent but a tarptent would likely be fine for your trip. You could probably cut 5 lbs. off your tent and bag on gear swap for $300 if you're willing to go the slightly used route. You could also sell your BA Seedhouse and existing bag (ebay?). Just a thought.

- If you're set on keeping those items, I'd say that the 30-35 lbs. you'd be carrying would be pushing it for the Jam2. A framed pack would make things more comfortable.

- 10-12 days food would probably be too much for that Garcia canister with your toiletries. If you wanted to resupply again after MTR, you'd have to hike out over one of the passes which would probably add 2 days to your trip.

Well, that's a start at least. Good luck. Enjoy your hike.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Packs on 04/10/2009 15:16:26 MDT Print View

At a 25-35 pound total weight, the Granite Gear packs (Vapor Trail, Nimbus Ozone) can be a good choice for carry comfort, volume and reasonable price, especially if used. Depending on size, the pack weights would range from 2lbs 5oz to 3lbs. These aren't super light, by any means, but they work well for users who are journeying toward really lightweight gear.

Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
Yikes on 04/10/2009 15:17:49 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply Brad.

I fixed the weight of the canister. It was in lbs instead of ounces. Doh! Now the total weight looks even worse.

Edited by kjyang on 04/10/2009 15:20:16 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List on 04/10/2009 15:24:53 MDT Print View

> - I'm 5'7" 155 lbs, in good physical shape. I know this is different for each person,
> but at how much weight does it become too much to wear cross trainers?

Some of us do not own any walking boots at all.


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List on 04/10/2009 15:34:02 MDT Print View

I don't know why people instantly rip on double-wall tents as horrible, heavy options (not to be argumentative, other Brad!). Seriously- the SL1 is the same weight as many waterproof bivy sacks. If you got a TT Rainbow you could save 10 ounces... or suck up the 10 ounces, enjoy the dry nights and air flow, and instead spend on an awesome bag or just save the money.

Bag-wise, Western Mountaineering Summerlite, 32*F, 19 oz, great starting point. Pack: check out the Exos 58. Had one loaded up with about 30 pounds and it felt like nothing. Same weight feels good in my GoLite Pinnacle, but the weight in the Pinnacle does feel like more "something." I can't say enough good about the Exos, and at 2.5 pounds there's room to cut 4 ounces or more with a bit of judicial trimming...

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List on 04/10/2009 17:10:06 MDT Print View

Leave the SL1 footprint at home. The bottom of the tent (I have an SL2) is plenty durable, unless you actually go out of your way to set-up on sharp objects. Tyvek is a light, cheap substitute if you really want a ground sheet. Save 6oz.

Is the weight right for the bear cannister? I thought the Garcia was a littler lighter than that?

I think a new sleeping bag would be great. Probably the most weight loss to money spent ratio. Check out the Montbell line. Lots of fans here. Unless you sleep really cold you'd probably be okay with a 30 degree bag. The Montbell Spiral Down #3 goes for $230 retail and weighs 19oz. They are not as expensive as Western Mountaineering and nearly as light. Western Mountaineering is great though. Thats of 37oz savings right there.

While I decided to go with a different pack, I did test out (at home) an Osprey Exos 46 for a week. I found it to be pretty comfortable up to 30lbs. You'd probably have to go with the Exos 58 to fit the bear cannister. It weighs more than the Jam2, but 30lbs is probably way too much for a frameless pack.

Drop the pillow. Use one of you 1L platy. Fill it up, squeeze the air out, and try it at home. It works. Save half an ounce + money.

The Frontier Pro filter costs $25. Weighs 2 oz. The water still needs to be chemically treated, but that can be done with bleach. 5-6 drops per liter, I think. (look on earthquake preparedness sites, they'll tell you exactly how much) The filter removes the taste of the bleach. It takes 15-20 minutes for the water to be ready that way. Saves 9 oz.

At your height, maybe you could get away with the small NeoAir? 4 oz lighter and cheaper. I'm 5'10" and 48" would cover me down to my knees. I'm a side sleeper as well, and it's your shoulders, hips and knees that need padding. Your head is on your pillow so doesn't need to be on the pad. Put your backpack under your feet.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Jam too small on 04/11/2009 07:30:11 MDT Print View

With a tarp and light quilt water and five days of food my Jam Pack is jammed full. Very doubtful that a canister would fit. Consider the higher volume and light frame packs from Golite (Quest) or the Granite Gear Packs mentioned above. When one starts to carry more than 20lbs in the framelass packs (most suggest 30 is max) they start to ride lower and lower over your butt., ie. not comfortable. IMO.
Consider, too, the Bearikade Canister Expedition model. It isonly 2 oz. lighter, but 9 x14 (900 volume) makes it larger than your model and it is also rentable at a flat rate for JMT thru-hikers. They will ship it to your home before you leave, so you can check it out. (google "bearikade")

If you still want the frameless pack, the Golite Pinnacle has more volume than the Jam2.

Edited by rambler on 04/11/2009 07:38:36 MDT.

James Ennis
(JimEnnis) - F

Locale: South
JMT gear list on 04/11/2009 08:28:57 MDT Print View

I second the WM summerlite for a choice in bags. I'm surprised a little that no one has suggested the ULA line of packs. The Catalyst would carry the weight of your list very comfortable and is only 46 oz. It will also carry a bear canister horizontally, which will help greatly in packing your pack.
A 3 lb tent is a little much to be hauling up and down those mountains. There are plenty of very light single-walled tents and tarptents on the market that would work as well as your double wall tent. Check out Henry Shire's line of Tarptents. The Contrail is a great solo shelter.
I'm leaving on the JMT on the same day as you are (8/17) and I'm using the ULA Catalyst and a Marmot Atom sleeping bag. Hope to see you on the trail.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Please Help Newbie with JMT Gear List" on 04/11/2009 11:40:21 MDT Print View

Overall, your gear list seems pretty well thought out. I hiked the trail last year, starting on Aug. 17 and took 21 days for the trip; pretty much the same as you are planning. Based on my experience, the following are the few changes I would recommend:
1) Use something other than the Jam2 pack. I have one, I use it a lot and I like it a lot. But, I think you would be better served with a larger and slightly heavier pack with a better suspension. I used a GoLite Quest because it has hip belt pockets, because you can fit a Bear Vault 500 horizontally on the bottom and because it has a greater capacity than does the Jam2. You can cut the pack's weight by leaving the top-cover pocket assembly at home. My slightly modified Quest weighs 46 oz. Incidentally, my Jam2 only weighs 20.2 oz; yours seems heavy. If you carry a bear canister on the bottom of the Quest (or other packs) cut a small piece of foam pad to cushion the bottom; if you don't, rocks will poke holes through the pack bottom fabric.
2) You are not likely to see too much rain at that time of the year. Think about taking a DriDucks jacket at 6 oz and a breathable wind shirt at around 3 oz. I used the wind shirt a lot; never used the rain jacket.
3) I would suggest a few more clothing items especially if you go with a lighter bag (which I also suggest). I measured temperatures as low as 26°F at altitude in the mornings once I got south of Muir Pass. If you add a pair of Capilene long johns (5.8 oz) and a MontBell "under vest" (5.54 oz) you will have about what I carried. And, I used all of it on several high altitude mornings while I was having breakfast and packing up. The extra clothing could also help you sleep warmer.
4) I would recommend that you purchase a Bear Vault of the same size as the BV 500. The large Bear Vaults are all about the same size and will hold 10-11 days of food at 1.5 lb per day. Buying one of these won't save quite as much weight as using a Bearikade but would be nearly as cheap as renting. The expedition size Bearikade will not fit into most of the lighter packs horizontally. The large BV will get you from a Muir Trail Ranch resupply to Whitney Portal unless you really dawdle or eat heroically. You will need to plan your menu with an eye toward compactness rather than flavor; Ramen and rice cakes are not good choices for this leg of the trip; too much air space. There is good advice on packing a canister on the website. If you can't fit all of the food in the bear canister then have an Ursack in your MTR resupply and use that for the first few days but keep quiet about it and hang it strictly according to directions. You can probably get an older version of the BV on ebay cheap. They are approved for all of the JMT but the Rae Lakes area; here, there are bear lockers for food storage.
5) Get a lighter sleeping bag. There are lots that weigh half what the one you listed does and are rated to 20°F to 30°F. If you look carefully, you can find a lightly-used, quality, lightweight bag for well below the retail price.
6) Go with MicroPur by Katadyn rather than taking a filter. There are lots of water sources along the JMT that should not require treatment. MicroPur works in 20-30 minutes against all but Cryptosporidium so you won't need to carry two full bottles unless you can't wait out the 20 or so minutes required for the major nasties to be zapped.
I hiked the entire trail wearing a pair of Montrail Hardrocks and never wished for more.

Edited by Rincon on 04/11/2009 16:28:03 MDT.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Good List on 04/11/2009 13:48:03 MDT Print View

Overall that's a great list.

As you noted, a new lightweight down sleeping bag is the obvious improvement. I'm a cold sleeper so I prefer a 20 degree bag, but many are fine with a 30 for the Sierras.

Keep the tent, for a double wall its nice and light. Leave the footprint at home, it's not needed.

Consider a pack with beefier suspension. I like the Granite Gear Ozone, it's rated to 40 pounds.

You'll be fine in trail runners. Use them as your street shoes for a while to make sure they fit you well.

Try to add some variety to your food cache. You're going to get mighty tired of those trail bars.

If you want 3000 calories you're going to have to bring about 2 pounds per day. Most food averages 100 calories per ounce, and then there's a weight penalty for packaging (which you should obviously try to minimize as you repack your canister at MTR.)

I averaged about 1.5 pounds of dry food per day on the first half of the trail, and then my apetite shot up on the second half and I was eating 2 pounds per day.

Have fun - the JMT is a beautiful trail.

scott burgeson
(DrDystopia) - F

Locale: Upstate NY
Pack on 04/11/2009 20:34:09 MDT Print View

I know it is not UL but I have been extremely happy using the Osprey Talon 44

It is great for weights up to 35 or so lbs. 30 and below is most comfortable.

With some trimming mine is at 2lbs 5oz.

Talon 44

YMMV but I love it.


Edited by DrDystopia on 04/11/2009 20:35:44 MDT.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Newbie with JMT on 04/12/2009 09:28:34 MDT Print View

As the list is right now, you will probably NOT be able to cram the big tent, sleeping bag and bear canister into a JAM2. But, if you revise the BIG items (my comments below) you should be able to pull it off. You may move faster with a lighter pack, and thus, spend fewer days - and thus need less food - and thus - it *might* work out.

Bear canister is required, so nothing can be done there.

Your tent is heavy: 46 oz - - - - A tarp would be fine. Minimal bugs in the high country, and minimal rain in california.
{6 oz tarp saves 40 oz}

The sleeping bag is REALLY heavy: 56 oz - - - - - Lots of inexpensive and lighter options.
{17 oz sleeping bag saves 39 oz}

No need for an 11 oz water filter - - - - - Aqua mira would be fine. Water quality is high.
{2 oz aqua-mira saves 9 oz}

You are 155 pounds. You should factor in food at 1.4 pounds per day. This will be plenty. Saving approx a full pound.
{saves 16 oz}

My notes create a Savings of 104 oz = 6 pounds, 8 oz.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
... on 04/12/2009 11:27:22 MDT Print View

You're carrying too much stuff for that pack, which is a few ounces too heavy for a frameless pack to begin with. You'll also want to dump the neoair for a foam pad if you are using a framless pack.

Nice tent, but you can get by with just a tarp on the JMT because you'll rarely want to sleep in a tent to begin with. It will be ncie for moquitos though. If you go with a tarp, pack a bivy, bug bivy, or headnet for the skeeters.

Loose the pillow and use bunched up clothes in a stuff sack.

You can go to down for the bag and save a bunch of weight, but it'll cost you.

Packed clothing looks good, but missing the gloves, shirt, socks, shirt, and underwear. All things you'll want.

Cooking looks good as well. Made yourself a windscreen. The wind is really bad out there. It'll make your fuel last much much longer. You can go alcohol for simplicity, but the fuel will be heavier over a longer trip, so it's just about a wash.

Loose the filter and go for chemicals. I used Aqua Mira and I've been a convert ever since.

Good call on the two batteries.

You probably won't need an ice axe, but it does allow for some killer glissades.

Sunblock is mandatory, as is a sun hat of some sort. I used a headnet and never needed insect repellant.

You WILL want more than 1.5lbs/day. I was more like 1.8 and I walked into every resupply place hungry and eating my last snickers. After 4 days your hunger will become immense.

Cross trainers are fine. I used trail runners. Just make sure you have a lot of traction. The mesh is good because it'll be hot and maybe wet, but it does let a lot of sand in.

From Whitney Portal to VVR I carried 10 days of food and I ate it in 8, just as I was arriving. No, it probably won't all fit in your bear can. I used the bear boxes for the first 4 nights. Really really plan hard and practice at home to get everything in there and I bet you can do 9 days or so. Remember, day one food doesn't have to fit!

Enjoy! Best trip I ever did.

Edited by TwoFortyJeff on 04/12/2009 11:29:15 MDT.

Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
thanks! on 04/13/2009 17:37:30 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for all the great advice. Thanks for taking the time to help me. I have a much more clear picture of what I need to do to improve the packing list.

I'll be buying a new sleeping bag for sure. I've realized that the Jam2 won't cut it for this trip, so I'll be researching the options listed by many of you.

The one thing I'm not so sure is if I can sleep under a tarp. Many of you have years of experience backpacking and sleeping in the backcountry. I don't have this experience yet and a double-wall tent provides me with a feeling of protection and security. But I'll mostly likely get a cheap tarp anyways and try it in a couple weekend trips before August.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: thanks! on 04/13/2009 17:49:44 MDT Print View

You'll already be spending money and a bag and pack, but Tarptents are very popular around here. When you add in the extras you'll need with just a tarp (bug net and ground sheet combo or bivy; stakes, guyline) a Tarptent like the contrail only comes in a half pound or so heavier with the accompanying ease of setup. And 22 oz lighter than your current setup. Also there's a TT Rainbow, which looks just like your SL1, but is more spacious and almost a pound lighter up for sale at a very good price on the gear swap right now.

Edited by jrmacd on 04/13/2009 17:51:30 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 04/13/2009 17:55:57 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 21:26:34 MDT.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
tarp on 04/19/2009 12:11:27 MDT Print View

Someone mentioned using a Gatewod Cape by Six Moon Designs. Similar to the Cape is their Wild Oasis with a mosquito net skirt. Enough room for yourself and gear.

Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
almost final gear list on 08/13/2009 15:32:01 MDT Print View

Here's my almost-final list, leaving in 3 days:


I bought quite a few items, some of them recommended by some of you. Decided to take the filter since it weights about 1/3 liter of water and I can get instant water anywhere, instead of carrying an extra liter for 20 minutes while it's being purified. Tent is going for this trip, will probably get a lighter solution in the future. I also have a whole month off so I'm going to take my sweet time, that's why MTR to Portal is 10 days. My worrisome mother insisted that I bring a SPOT, a little heavy but should be fun for family and friends to follow progress.

Question: I see in a lot of JMT lists that people bring long johns. Is this absolutely necessary? I figured that in case there are some very cold nights, I can just wear my dirty convertible pants. Aren't most nights warm enough that a 30 degree bag is enough?

Jack G
(NomadJack) - F

Locale: Midwest
JMT on 08/13/2009 16:47:22 MDT Print View

you're list looks good and well thought out. You are leaving in a few days and you have what you have but I would have taken the previous advice and gotten the TT Contrail and eliminate the Katadyn and use a SteriPEN. Those two changes are two pounds which is huge. Also, what about a stove? A month is a long time to live on energy bars.