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Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!)
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Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!) on 10/26/2011 21:48:51 MDT Print View

First of all, I would like to say that the information I have learned reading the forums on this website has proved invaluable. Everybody seems very knowledgeable, kind, respectful, and open to new ideas.

I am now coming forward and no longer being a lurker. I am relatively inexperienced at longer backpacking trips, having only done 4 weekend long backpacking trips ranging from 15 to 35 miles each. This upcoming summer, my girlfriend and I would like to do the John Muir Trail. We havn't decided as to whether we would like to Thru-hike the entire trail, or go from Yosemite to Mammoth Mountain as a section.

So here is my current gear list, we are both trying to go as light as possible and so far my total base weight is looking to be somewhere between 12-14 lbs without the bear canister. My goal is to be about 15 lbs with a bear canister.

my current gear outlook:

Please note where i need to add anything.

I realize I haven't included the weight of certain small items i.e. map, headnet, or other things i still do not have. I don't have a HavenTarp and Net yet, so suggestions on other shelters suitable for 2 people would be appreciated. Same goes for the Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, I will be upgrading from a heavy synthetic, so other options would be appreciated (although from research this seems like one of the best).

Edit: I have also been looking at the zpacks sleeping bags, and wow they seem excellent for the weight (Joe has also been lightning fast on answering any questions i've had)! However I have not been able to find any reviews on the bags, would be great if anybody could point me in the right direciton.

Thanks for your input!!!


Edited by surfingdwedge on 10/26/2011 22:06:19 MDT.

Sabine Funk
(SabineFunk) - F
Re: Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!) on 10/27/2011 05:36:12 MDT Print View

Nice list so far.

Just a few things to add (you'll probably carry them anyway but forgot to write them on the list):
- camera (plus spare battery for it)
- wallet
- cellphone
- is a spare T-Shirt included in the baselayers?? Otherwise I'd recommend one.
- packliner/raincoat for the pack (the Sierras are usually dry in the summer but you will get into some "nice" thunderstorms)

To eliminate:
Well, I don't see a point in carrying water tablets AND a filter. If the tablets are backup only, then rather carry the Aqua Mira drops instead of the filter. They are far lighter and only have a very light chlorine taste. Prefiltering the water is not necessary as in the Sierra High Country you will always find small side streams with very clear water.

Talking about your route:
Do the entire things if you get the chance!! It's definitely worth it!!!!!!!!

Hope that helps =)

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!) on 10/27/2011 10:33:17 MDT Print View

Looks like a good list, 12.7 lbs base weight (w/out the bear canister) for a JMT hike isn't bad. I really like the SMD Haven Tarp & Net Tent combo, at 2 lbs for a modular 2 person shelter it's hard to do any better. I used a quilt on the JMT this summer and will never go back to a sleeping bag. I don't have experience with the Zpacks quilts but my experience with his gear (and customer service) has been awesome. Check out the Katabatic Palisade that was in Ryan Jordan's recent 3 season UL gear list article.

A few things that might help cut some weight:

* There are several great packs that are about 1/2 the weight. The GG Gorilla is 24 ozs, has a removeable internal frame, can be used as a day pack and it is durable. I think your current pack is 24% of the total weight, so it would be easy to start there. Save 25 ozs.

* At 17.5 ozs a 30 degree quilt would save just over 10 ozs.

* +1 on using Aqua Mira drops. I carried at most 1oz of Aqua Mira repackaged in small dropper bottles and had plenty for the final 11 day thru hike section. Save 2.7 ozs.

* I used silk baselayers at 7 ozs for the top and bottom and was plenty warm, even on top of Whitney. Save 4 ozs.

* Nix the second platy and save 4 ozs. There is water everywhere on the JMT. I brought a 1 liter platy with hydration tube and a 1/2 liter plastic water bottle and it was more than enough.

* This may seem trivial, but the little stuff like the 5.2 ozs of first aid, .93 oz firesteel and 3.7 ozs of knife really adds up. I carried 1.4 ozs of first aid/repair kit, an extra mini bick at .4 oz and and a .5 oz Gerber LST knife. Save 7.5 ozs.

* Some stuff to include: maps, permit, head net.

BTW: I also just brought a rain jacket (w/ no rain pants). My shorts dried quickly after the afternoon thunderstorms.

Total weight savings of almost 3 1/2 lbs.

Have fun! My wife and I did the section from Tuolumne to Mammoth and had a blast. I finished from Mammoth to Whitney solo a few weeks later. If you're interested here's a link to the gear I used: JMT gear list . . . and some info about the trail TM to Mammoth

Edited by bluewater on 10/27/2011 10:41:03 MDT.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
shaved a few ounces and considering replacing backpack on 10/28/2011 14:20:54 MDT Print View

Thanks for the ideas and the pictures from your trip on the JMT to mammoth look amazing! I managed to shave off a few more ounces, and I agree with you, I should probably look for a lighter backpack option. The one I have now is not bad, and I like that it can handle heavier loads when I need to carry gear for other people. I really would prefer a pack with an internal frame and good weight load transfer to the hips.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Added a fe wthings to weight total and thinned out a few aswell on 10/28/2011 20:44:48 MDT Print View

Took advice on taking out the 2l platy. Thinned out about an ounce from my 1st aid kit and repair/sewing kit. (I forgot to mention that I'm carrying 1st aid and repair for 2 people)
Also switched out for some other thermal base layers i already have shaving a bit over an ounce.

I added in the weight of cell phone - 7oz
mosquito head net - 1.10 ounce
bear vault bv500- 41 ounce (any lighter alternatives for the jmt?)

So now I'm a hair under 15 lbs base weight (which was my goal) before food and water. I suppose i could ditch the Mora knife and go with a syderco bug that weighs about .37 oz. Don't most backpackers at least carry a fixed blade knife though for making feather sticks, batoning, and cutting stakes?

Really looks like the next big weight cut I could make would be to get a lighter pack, which I'm definitely looking to do. I am not willing to sacrifice pack comfort, reliability or stability in order to do it though. Are the lighter framed packs just as comfortable on the hips as my cushioned Deuter? I really need to find somewhere to try one on....

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Added a fe wthings to weight total and thinned out a few aswell on 10/28/2011 22:20:26 MDT Print View

The lighter option for a bear canister would be to rent one from Wild Ideas. They have a weekender and an expedition model and a shorter 12" version between the other two if you ask them I think.

I will not critique your list as I am compiling my own for the PCT/JMT. You may want to look into a 20*F quilt, they weigh about the same as a 32*F sleeping bag. For a pack, I considered a Gossamer Gear but am going to try the ULA Circuit as it has similar volume, a custom fit, internal frame, and good durability. They are one of the most popular packs on the PCT from what I understand.

Edited by radio_guy on 10/28/2011 22:26:19 MDT.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: Re: Added a fe wthings to weight total and thinned out a few aswell on 10/29/2011 17:03:24 MDT Print View


I did the JMT this year and it's beautiful! I'm stoked for you to do it!

Some advice.

*50 ounce backpack. I liked my SMD swift a lot, I used it with a 2-panel z-rest in the pad compartment and a rolled up ridgerest. I also had the wing belt. My pack was about 21 (with the 2-panel @ 2ounces, wing belt @ 4ounces). That's a savings of 27.5! That's worth not ignoring! If I did it again I'd recommend a Gossamer Gear Gorilla. For the record I had a fair amount of extra space in my pack, and will have even more so with regular use (aka no bear can). You can look into getting like a zblast or something cuben and light as heck, I think they'd work well if your other stuff was minimalistic enough to have enough volume. Next time I'll actively try to work at making that option work. I like having a gorilla sized pack (smd swift is relative sized) for trips with my girlfriend where we share gear (I carry most of it).

Mini bic-s are light and awesome, EXTREMELY reliable. Firesteel is heavy. You also have matches. Do you NEED 3 fire starters? nix 1

Look into your first aid kit. 4oz is a lot. I'd try to trim to about 1-2oz. In essence look at things, figure out what injury you're both likely to have, and able to fix. I took something for HEAVY blood loss, some tape (multi-use!), bandaids, and a few others. If I need to sanitize my denatured alcohol can do that. If I need to wrap a wound I have an extra shirt. If I need a splint I can use a tree branch.

Repair kit. Include razor blade (who needs a knife? I used to bring one and never used it for something a razor blade can't do. drop over 3 ounces), a needle, and an entire thing of floss for thread. Seam sealer is good, so is super glue.

Sleeping pad: Make sure this is comfy to sleep on. Some people can, some people can't. I'll trim labels off things... but I will bring a 2.5" inflatable every time. I don't sleep well without it, period.

Sawyer Filter: Honestly a lot of the time I didn't even filter. What I would recommend is re-packing some aquamira drops (Not tabs! they take forever). So what you wind up with is like 1 ounce or less for your whole trip. Check out Mike Clellands book on lightweight backpacking for this, or read the section using google (google the book title and "aquamira")

I'd switch to a 2liter platypus. Weight wise it's not much different. Why I'd do this is because at the end of the night I want : water for drinking that night. water for cooking. water for washing. water for morning oatmeal. water for morning drinking. water to start the next day with.

Camp shoes are nice. I missed them because I didn't bring them. Rock on!

Nice homemade alc stove!

35ounces is a fair amount for sleep (haven net + tarp). The bug protection is nice depending on season. I'm bringing something with a bug net next time. If you're going late season you might not need the tent. I went with a bivy + poncho tarp. 15 ounces for rain gear & shelter! It was spartan as hell. I'd go with something else next time, but if you want to this is a spot you CAN drop weight.

Headlamp. Petzyl e-lite is 1oz. It sucks for night hiking, is fine for around camp + camp chores at night. I thought it was worth the tradeoff. They are prone to getting sand in them making them harder to turn, eh, whatever. save 2.some ounces

I'd nix the emergency tinder.

Try a gatoraide water bottle, I liked this WAY more than a smartwater bottle, a bit heavier. Part of why I like this is a: some little side streams are so small that a shorter water bottle can fit under them when long bottles can't. b: The wide mouth makes filling it easier. c: it feels better in my hands & I can rely on the grooves instead of having to grip it.

do bring: plenty of fun snacks. Nutella + tortillas. I got REAL sick of candy bars. Check out powdered hummus, it's the cat's pajamas. I also took bread bags x 2 for my feet when I had to put on wet socks for short periods of time. Your camp shoes might not need them (bonus!)

Do: have a good attitude & plenty of "this isn't so bad!". I slept miserably every night. I had a lot of migrating aches and pains. I ripped my shoes (both of them) and repaired them on the daily with floss. I had MTR lose HALF my resupply bucket. I kept going and had a blast. I ran into a chap with a rubbing pack headed home. I offered to fix his issue. I offered to swap him packs (he was at his start, I was at my end). He refused and went home. Don't be him.

A sleep shirt. This is pure luxury. ULers would suggest nixing them. I didn't bring one. While I wouldn't say this is must have kit.... I in the future will be looking for a uber lightweight shirt to sleep in. It's SO NICE having clean clothes on. Actually there's another recommend, wash you clothes decently often, it will brighten your outlook. A perfect time to do so is when stopping for lunch.

If you need any help of advice please feel free to message me. I got so much good advice on these forums I feel it's my pleasure to repay the favor.

Edited by Trout on 10/29/2011 19:25:57 MDT.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Alright made some pretty significant changes that will drop some weight. on 11/01/2011 00:31:00 MDT Print View

Thank you everyone for your input. Really trying to fine tune as to what will be needed. I just got back from a pleasant 18 mile hike today with 4,000 vt feet of ascent/descent (carrying a 5lb daypack. Got to watch a beautiful sunset from the top of Saddleback Mountain in southern California, then night hike back. My legs are jelly :D. Gotta get into better shape for the JMT next summer.

I think its important that I mention that trimming weight is really only a fraction of the battle in seeking hiking comfort during a backpacking trip. I can see how it could become easy to just fine tune lists instead of getting out and fine tuning your body!

Okay, so here are some new changes to my list....

Major Changes:

Replace Deuter ACT with ULA circuit 49-36oz = 13 oz savings (I really felt like this pack will offer the best in durability, cushioning vs weight)

Got rid of the camp shoes = 5 oz savings (may consider adding back in if i can get base lower)

Going to go with a zpacks twin tarp (if i can scrap up the money!) and a minimalist 2 bug bivy (the dimensions appear to fit under the zpacks tarp) . total savings 36 - 20oz = 16oz

Got rid of the water tablets = 1oz savings

so now total savings will be about 35 oz, or just over 2 lbs. This puts my base at 12.40 lbs WITH the bear canister from the previous ~14.90 lbs.

At this point, I am very happy with my base weight, however shaving off fluff that I really don't need and wont sacrifice comfort can't hurt right?

I think i can shave maybe 1.5 oz from the 1st aid kit, perhaps tomorrow.

All input is greatly appreciated!


Edited by surfingdwedge on 11/01/2011 00:35:04 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!) on 11/01/2011 08:15:52 MDT Print View

I'm not familiar with the JMT, so keep that in mind. Just some tips from my general experience:

- Keep tinder, but if you experiment, I think you'll find that keeping the Vaseline cotton balls and ditching the dryer lint makes sense. Fluffed up, I can ignite the cotton balls with a firesteel.

- If matches are a backup, I wouldn't use anything other than the "storm" style matches. A "trick" birthday candle is light and stays lit and burns longer than a match. Use the match to light it, and then both to ignite the tinder. It might be useful if you have to use natural tinder.

- My preference would be to use the filter rather than chemicals. Be sure to keep it in a waterproof bag in your sleeping bag at night if temps will drop near freezing. Once it freezes, it'll crack inside, won't filter out pathogens, and you won't know it until you get sick.

- I use a 0.5 oz Light My Fire Scout model firesteel. The striker is worth carrying too.

- I like the #1 Mora at 2.8 oz with sheath. It could be critical for peeling and splitting wood if you need to start a fire in an emergency and only have damp wood.

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Putting gear together for JMT section in summer (critique!!!) on 11/03/2011 14:44:36 MDT Print View

Hey Jacob. You're already down to just over 12 lbs including a shelter for two people. Nice. I can second the earlier recommendation for the Wild Ideas bear canister. I carried food for two people for 3 1/2 days in a Weekender MKII. It weighs about 30 ozs.

A little off topic but I noticed your BPL handle is surfingwedge, I lived on the peninsula for years (E street, 52nd, 38th, 35th etc etc) then moved to Laguna. My wife and I take the dogs to the boardwalk all the time. Are you down by the wedge?

Jeffrey McConnell
Re: Alright made some pretty significant changes that will drop some weight. on 11/03/2011 15:50:32 MDT Print View

Hey Jacob,

Nice list. I think you'll like the Circuit. With some trimming and removing some of the removable parts, you should be able to get it down to the 30-32 oz. range, depending on what size you ordered. Mine is at 33 oz. and I haven't trimmed any of the straps yet. If you're unsure about the pack at all, hit me up via pm and I can show you mine. I'm guessing we live pretty close to each other - I'm in Costa Mesa.

Did you take the Holy Jim trail up to Saddleback? It's been a couple years since I've been up there, but I remember being sore after that hike.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
JMT list on 11/03/2011 18:39:55 MDT Print View

@ Andy, Finally well below my original 15lb goal. With how low i've gotten the weight I just want to keep getting it lower! I don't live (or surf) by the wedge, but I live down near San Clemente and often times surf along trestles strand and san onofre.

@Jeff Thanks for the tips on trimming backpack weight! Yes, I did the hike from Holy Jims to the top of saddleback. It was stunning to watch the sunset from up there over Catalina and it was amazing to see just how small orange county really is. Could see all of OC and even to downtown LA. It is the most intense hike that I know of locally.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Okay now I need help with cloths! on 11/07/2011 20:41:33 MST Print View

I am having some difficulty pinning down as to what I should bring for clothing.

Here is what I got:

Rainwear / Wind: (Packed)

- Marmot Mica jacket @ 6.5 oz
- Montbell wind dynamo windpants @ 2.5 oz (planning on buying next year. alternative suggestions appreciated!)

Baselayers top and bottom(for addtnl warmth and sleep): (Packed)

Okay so I was planning on using the same baselayers that I use snowboarding, then remembered how terrible they smell after just one day! Ill be out for several weeks and need probably need something that will be resistant to odors.

some of the options i've looked at...

-Patagonia capilines (which level would be best?)

Obviously looking for weight savings here if possible as well.

Insulation (packed):

Right now I am feeling like I should go with synthetic insulation as a safeguard in case my down sleeping bag gets wet. Convince me towards a down insulation if you feel so inclined ;). I am open to ideas.

-Patagonia nano puff pullover? @ 9.5 oz(Is this warm enough for sitting around camp in the early evenings for stargazing for most days, of course with other cloths supplementing?)

-Montbell Thermawrap... @ 8 oz. I like the idea of lighter weight, full zipper and hand pockets, would go with this if it is warm enough for sitting around camp in early evening.

Any other lightweights i've overlooked?

Head Insulation: (packed)

Okay, I will be using a quilt style sleeping bag so I do not have a hood. I currently have some generic beanie @ 2.3 oz. What kind of head wear will keep the average person warm enough on an average JMT night? I see some use balaclavas. Is this really necessary with a quilt?

-Ex-officio briefs x1 (worn most of time)

I don't mind going commando for a while while they dry after washing. Heck might even wear them dry...

-Icebreaker Hikers @ 2.5 oz (worn)
-UnderArmor synthetic Hikers @ 2.0 oz (packed)

(should I add one for sleep?)


Okay I am very indecisive about whether I should go with a long sleeve vs short sleeve for wearing during the day. I am brown so I do not burn easily, but I like the idea of added bug protection.

-longsleeve button shirt?(worn) Suggestions appreciated!
-icebreaker microlight tshirt (packed)

-Innov8 310 (are gaiters really necessary with low cuts on JMT?)


was thinking of just wearing my gym shorts. Any suggestions? (worn)


some generic nylon wide brim hat. (worn)

gloves: (packed)

The ones I have right now are timberland leather bombproof and weigh about 3.5 ounces. Thinking of getting some smartwool liners...

Did I miss anything? Should I add or remove anything? All input is greatly appreciated! :D My biggest concern is being warm enough most nights for early evening stargazing and socializing at camp.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Okay now I need help with clothes! on 11/07/2011 20:53:16 MST Print View

"What kind of head wear will keep the average person warm enough on an average JMT night?"

You probably want to prepare for something worse than an average night.

Wearing a warm hat while sleeping is generally a good idea, but when you need the head warmth the most is early in the morning before the sun warms everything up. For me, this period is about one hour. Once I am out on the trail, my baseball cap is sufficient.

There is a beanie that goes about 1 ounce. I have a really heavy one at 1.6.

If you put any sort of a rain jacket hood over that, it will be warm and weatherproof.


Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Putting gear together for JMT section in summer on 11/07/2011 23:05:27 MST Print View

Lets see...
-Patagonia Nano Puff has worked spectacular for me the last two JMT hikes.
-Patagonia Cap 2 hits the sweet spot for a good insulating layer.
-Stick with a down bag, much warmer, lighter and stuffs better into pack. My 2 cents worth: Western Mountaineering Summerlight or equivelant.
-Didn't filter or treat about 2/3 of my water this year, switching to Aqua Mira drops. My rule of thumb on the water in the Sierras, if there are soap bubbles in it, it means someone probably washed their butts in it and I'm filtering! No soap bubbles, drink away...YMMV!
-If you are in an area where you can legally have a fire, finding tinder is not a problem, even in the rain.
-I like having a long sleeve very lightweight, loose shirt for wearing to keep the bugs at bay without overheating.
- +1 to the one of the previous posters of going to bed with a semi-clean shirt and body. I hate going to sleep with the 'stink' of the day on me. I need to clean up and will rotate a shirt after washing one at lunch. No I don't want to hear that I'm in the woods and I'm supposed to stink, bah to that!

And Bob G., if your reading this, I use a 1 gal freezer bag for laundry away from water sources...blaze on Mr. critic.

Edited by rp3957 on 11/08/2011 19:24:17 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Putting gear together for JMT section in summer on 11/08/2011 00:16:27 MST Print View

"I need to clean up and will rotate a shirt after washing one at lunch."

Now we know where the soap bubbles are coming from.


Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Hiking a Section of the JMT on 11/08/2011 05:40:58 MST Print View

If you decide that you are only going to hike a section of the JMT then you may want to pick a different section. IMHO the section from the Valley to TM is the worst of the Trail. I would start at TM and head out one of the many exit points to the east depending on the trip length. This route ios also easier to get a permit even at the minute and the logistics of getting back to your car will be much easier and quickier.

Edited by gg-man on 11/08/2011 05:44:10 MST.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Hiking a Section of the JMT on 11/08/2011 08:59:35 MST Print View

For the moment the plan is from Yosemite to Mammoth because a friend doesn't have time for the whole trail, and probably does not want to do the whole trail. He also has a cabin up in mammoth so we will stop for a day or two, rest, then my girlfriend and I will resume from devil's post pile.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
New Updated gearlist for JMT--FSO at max load. Baselayer Suggestions? on 11/28/2011 18:50:49 MST Print View

Here's my current gear list for next years JMT. My full weight is about 33.5lb including worn items.

~33.5 lb with 4 lbs of water and 14lbs of food + bear can.

I think I got everything just about spot on at this point, any suggestions are appreciated.

I am using terramar base layers right now and they smell terrible after one day of use. Anyone have any suggestions for baselayers on the JMT?

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
merino wool on 11/28/2011 19:17:23 MST Print View

spend the cash and get some merino wool....