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Dream Trip JMT
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mike bennett
Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 15:03:21 MDT Print View

Well, after dreaming about this trip for longer than I can remember I'm finally going! I'll be starting on August 27 at Happy Isles for a 3 week solo trip across the JMT. I thought I'd offer my gear list for review, would hate to forget something significant on a trip of this stature. If it helps, I'm a fairly experienced backpacker, but I'm a bit rusty as most all my experience was 3 decades ago while in Boy Scouts. I've had fun over the past year or so upgrading my equipment to much more modern and lightweight stuff. Looking forward to a trip of a lifetime.

JMT Gear List


Liner Socks
Boot Socks
sand gaiters
nylon shorts
sun shirt
Tilly Hat
sun glasses
trekking poles


pack w/rain cover
sleeping bag
sleeping pad
tent / ground sheet
2, 1 liter water bottles
bear canister
cat can alcohol stove
pot/lid to boil water
spot messinger
guide book sections
camp suds
toothpaste dots
comb or brush
sun screen
chap stick
bug repellant
mosquito head net
packed clothes
cold hat
sun shirt
liner socks
boot socks
pile shirt
rain parka
rain pants
long underwear tops
long underwear bottoms
leatherman juice cs4
first aid kit
repair kit
knee braces
spare batteries?

Thanks for the input,

mike bennett
Madera, CA

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 16:09:01 MDT Print View

Ooh how fun! We want more info on your list. Look at this.

weights and specifics please.

Knee braces? definitely want weights on every little item you are taking.

Edited by kthompson on 08/06/2012 16:11:12 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 17:06:09 MDT Print View


You are going to have an amazing trip....good luck to you and safe journey.

To that end, what can be done to lighten your load?

At this point, it might be late in the game to make radical changes in your gear.

Maybe not the time to change a pack or shelter system....stay with things you know how to use and work for you.

Looking at the list I think you can work the little things to save weight, without making complicated changes that will require you to learn new skills.

Without knowing the brands of what you have, I would say that you have a fairly traditional setup, other than the alcohol stove.

Remember that with resupplying, you can carry just what you need point to point.

1. Skip the potty trowel- use a tent stake to dig a cat hole

2. Two water bottles....use Platypus soft sided bottles or Gatoraide bottles

3. What size pot do you have? If it is larger than 1 L, go smaller and lighter

4. Repackage campsuds into smaller dropper bottles. 1 oz will go a long way.

5. Towel- use a bandana or a smaller/lighter towel vs. cotton cloth towel

6. Deoderant, comb, sunshirt, crocs, pack cover, spare batteries....ditch them

7. and see if you are duplicating items that you already have.

The only thing that I duplicate for clothing on my 2011 JMT trip was 2nd pair of socks.

Two pairs of shorts?

In the afternoon, on a warm day, I jumped into a lake, got out and washed my clothing without soap, put them on an enjoyed the cooling sensation of having my clothing dry out while hiking.

If you are stopping at VVR for a resupply, which is almost midway, you have a heavenly opportunity to have a hot shower, wash all of your clothing, and have a chance to completely get cleaned up and look like brand new.

Heavy duty garbage bag inside your pack vs. pack cover....lighter and more effective at keeping things dry.

Ground sheet....leave it home.

With careful sight selection and clearing the ground, you are unlikely to pop a hole in your floor...if you do, then duct tape from your repair kit will be fine.

Be ruthless with weight....there isn't "just in case".

If something in your kit does not have a clearly definited purpose that you can think of easily, then you probably don't need it.

Repackage any liquids into smaller containers.

If it is a liquid that you bought from a store, unlikely you will need the whole of the bottle that it came in on the trail.

Repackaging means that with thoughtfully mailed out resupply buckets, you only need to carry the supplies that you need and no should not start out carrying everything you would need to last the whole trip. paper shop towels.....strong, gives you more wipes per cut squares than regular TP.

Again, this is a general bit of suggestion without knowing what you are specifically carrying, but it hopefully will help.

Enjoy your trip....and take lots of pictures.


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 17:50:59 MDT Print View

Another great, thoughtful post Tony!

Jeffrey McConnell
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 18:08:21 MDT Print View

One of the things you can do to really make the trip more enjoyable is buy a cheap scale and weigh each item you're planning on taking. The many helpful people here can help you cut down on the weight in your pack which will put less strain on those knees going up and down the passes. Trust me, its worth it!

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Most important thing: Have fun on 08/06/2012 18:26:28 MDT Print View

And you'll have more fun if, in addition to other folks comments, you get rid of either the pen or the pencil, the towell (that's what the bandanna is for), bug repellent, rain pants, and liner socks. Also, just take one sleep and one hike pair of socks. You can switch out when you wash the hike socks and vice versa later on down the trail.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/06/2012 19:17:37 MDT Print View

+1 on what Jeff said.

Once you have weighed every little piece of gear, you can clearly see how changing one or three things can easily add up to saving a pound of weight.

The big three things for weight savings are your pack, shelter, and sleeping bag.

At this point, I doubt you are going to change either of these....a sleeping bag is something you can do, but it is also THE one piece that is going to be the most expensive of all of the things you can buy. (Assuming you are looking at something like a 800-850/900 fill down sleeping bag. 30 degree is a nice one for the Sierras that will allow you a wide range of temps and by layering you clothing inside of it, you can survive those nights were the temps dip slightly below freezing.)

Shelter you could change out, ONLY if you get one that you are confident with being able to setup quickly and easily in a variety of poor weather conditions. If you change this, practice many times in your the dark with a headlight.

Pack....this I would not change....if the one you have is comfortable for you, this is not the time to change it out and find out on the trail that it does not fit and it is killing your shoulders.

I would also be hesitant to suggestion moving to trail runners vs. boots....again, your boots are likely broken in and fit you well.

If you are carrying a lot of weight, you might consider using hiking poles that have a wrist strap to give you some ability to transfer weight from your feet to your arms with relatively little effort and hand strain by putting a death grip on the poles. Without straps, you have to do the death grip on the handles....wrist strap avoids this. See this DVD:

Anyway, that is what I can think of here while at work.

Hope it helps....get that scale!


Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
A few ideas on 08/06/2012 19:54:58 MDT Print View

First time I've commented on a gear list, so bear with me.

Personally, I don't think its too late to make a few key purchases, if you order from the right places.

For instance, REI has an Osprey Hornet 46 pack on closeout right now:

With the 20% member discount, it's just under $90 for a 23 oz pack. I haven't tested it but I'm an Osprey fan myself. Given more time though, you might be able to do better. You would be taking a risk without being able to try it out--be careful, because you don't want to spoil such an amazing trip.

The big companies don't usually do this well in terms of sleeping bags, although I don't know how heavy your current bag is so I can't say for sure whether its worth it. Look around and see if you can find something you like that will get there within two weeks.

The one thing I see that really does stand out is your knife. Knives are a matter of preference, but I really doubt you'll find a use for a heavy duty 5.5 oz knife like that. The Leatherman Style line of knives is a good lightweight option--they weight in between .8 oz and 1.6 oz. Other good knives are around at less than an oz, which will save you more than a quarter pound.

While a map and compass are vital for safety in my book, you may find that you don't need the guidebook sections and the GPS. I find that I enjoy a hike more when I don't know exactly what's coming--summits and water sources are enough for me.

One last question: Why exactly are you combing your hair on a backpack trip?

JD Schaefer
(JDRower) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Dream Trip JMT on 08/07/2012 13:12:12 MDT Print View

Go to Harbor Freight and get an inexpensive scale and post your weights here. Putting them on will assist.

I did the hike in late August-Early Sept in '02 and it's unlikely insect glop or a head net will be needed. As I recall the worst insects are at Tuolumne Meadows and you can sail through there. Just plan your hike to avoid the no-camping area south of TM.

Are you carrying extra camera batteries? Keep them close to your body heat at night so they don't lose any charge.

Definitely stay at VVR. The hiker box there can be very helpful.

Keep your eyesight level since there are trail signs you might miss if looking down.

It will be an experience you'll cherish for the rest of your life.

mike bennett
Dream Trip JMT on 08/07/2012 14:34:18 MDT Print View

Wow, thanks for all the advice, support, and input: I really appreciate it!

Let me apologize up front for the lack of detail in my original gear list. I have all that info, but decided to leave it off initially as I wanted to concentrate more on "holes" in my list (missing gear I should take) first, then work on reducing weight where it makes sense to. Sorry for the confusion, I should have realized the interest in weights up front, after all this is BPL! I'll work on posting a better list with more information soon.

Answers for some questions and comments:

After 5 years of Rugby, the knee braces are necessary items I'm afraid. They'll be the lightest ones possible. Probably be worn not carried anyway.

Good comments on not duplicating clothes. I have been operating under the assumption I would have two sets of "trail" clothes: wear one set, jump in the lake/stream at the end of the day to rinse off, then put on the second set for the rest of the day while the wet set dries, then reverse the next day. Will have to think more about the one set thing.... If I do the one set thing, the only things I would have to change into once in camp would be: my long underwear, a pile shirt, or rain gear. None of those things sound appealing to me, but can give it some thought.

Will resupply at Tuolumne Meadows and maybe Reds. Will be meeting my family for the afternoon at VVR, so they will bring up the main resupply package there. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get all my food inside the Expedition Bearikade for the trip from VVR out, so I'll have a small resupply also at MTR.

This will also be in the "improved" gear list, but here's my big three:

Tent: Lightheart SoLong6, custom w/ poles, stakes, ground sheet, etc....43 oz
Sleeping system: Montbell SS down hugger #3, lg 26 oz
Exped air mattress, lg 22 oz
Pack: Granite Gear Crown 60 lg, w/line loc lid 43 oz
TOTAL, big three 131 oz

I know a little over 8 lbs for the big three may seem like a lot to some folks on this list, but it's an incredible change for me from my 19 lbs just over 2 years ago!

I don't know if this is a reasonable goal or not, but I've sorta set up this 19 pound limit as a goal for my entire pack for this JMT trip less water, food, and fuel.

Yeah, the Leatherman knife is something I struggle with also. As a 52 year old Eagle Scout, it's really, really hard to step away from that "be prepared" thing! :)

Yup, the maps and compass and GPS thing are somewhat duplicative, I agree. Will have to ponder that one some more.

Thanks again for all the advice, I welcome it.

Mike in Madera
20 days to go...

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Dream Trip JMT on 08/07/2012 15:49:07 MDT Print View


Thanks for the update on your gear.

I think that it is completely reasonable for you to hit a 19 lb base weight.

Your big three is 8 lbs, so that gives you 11 lbs for the rest of the stuff.

Think about the small things....the ounces will add up to pounds of savings!!!

Also, you might want to check the status of Reds Meadows.

I have a friends who leaves tomorrow for the JMT and she said that Reds Meadows was closed due to some major damage last winter.

That might impact your resupply plans, if you were going to mail them a resupply bucket.

Would a Neo Air Matress save you some weight? (Negative is that they are narrow)

Losing the lid on your pack can also save you money....they are a lot of weight for the limited storage space they give you.

As you eat down the amount of food that you have, you can move your cook pot and stove into the bear canister to give you more space in the pack for other things.

Regarding in camp and not having another set of clothing.....I make an effort to give myself a sponge bath at the end of the day before going to bed.

Knife is a very emotional thing for someone to have.

I started out with a Leatherman Wave at 12-9 oz., moved to a Leatherman Squirt at something like 3-4 oz, and now I have a razor blade.

The only thing that I found that I was using a knife for was cutting cheese and salami an now I precut those before I go on a trip.

I have fire starting material (cotton ball and petroleum jelly w/fire steel & mini bic) which does not require a knife.

My med kit has sharp, small scissors, so no need for knife for that. (Cutting cordage and bandages covered by scissors or razor blade)

I just found that I have not needed a knife in I stopped carrying one.

Against creatures two legged or four, my plan is to throw heavy things and run away screaming like a little no knife needed for personal protection. :)

Regarding resupply....I would suggest that you resupply at MTR vs. walking out of VVR with a heavy pack.

The hike out of the Valley is steep and having the max food that you can carry out of MTR is a good thing as there are really not any good options to resupply after that....short of hiking off the trail, caching food, or paying a packer to meet you on the trail with food.

Carry 1.5-2.0 days of food out of VVR to get you to MTR.

Going light out of VVR, you will thank yourself for it.

Means you either carry a little extra from your last resupply to VVR that allows you to make it to MTR.

Or you can see what food and bars you can buy at VVR to carry you to MTR.

Anyway, just a thought.

Hope all this helps.


Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
- on 08/07/2012 20:12:24 MDT Print View

What's on the Leatherman that you actually might need?

The above is the question that got me to drop my 6 oz Leatherman fuse from my pack list. I'm a (former) Boy Scout as well, and I've come to the realization that "be prepared" is applied to the situation in a very specialized manner. The pliers, for instance, are typically very useful when car camping--but what use will they be out on the trail?

The only other thing I would think about is a lighter pad--the Thermarest Z-lite pads, for example, are very light and they're down to 10 oz.

For me, a light pack is a huge part of being prepared--I can go farther in a day and do not feel that the pack is an obstacle if things do not go well.

As a result, I leave a lot of items at home in favor of light weight--and in truth, there are some things that I might want in certain situations which I do not bring. I apply the phrase "just in case" only to situations which compromise my safety.

All is, of course, a matter of your own personal comfort and preferences, and we can only offer our own experiences and knowledge. If the big knife is worth the weight for you, then definitely do take it.

That being said, looking at your current gear 19 lbs is very easily reachable--14-15 lbs would also be a doable goal. The more weights you have a chance to post, the more we can help!

mike bennett
JMT Dream Trip on 08/09/2012 11:43:19 MDT Print View

Folks, Thank you very much for all the help, it's great!

Just called Reds, they're up and running, no problems.

I did find out that the ferry boat is not currently running (and wont run for the remainder of the summer) at VVR due to low lake levels. According to thier website, we now have to walk into VVR but they can provide a car shuttle for a small fee back out, not sure if it takes us to the same place the ferry did though.

I tried the Neoair mattress, but couldn't get used to the noise the fabric makes when I used it: the exped was my next choice. I understand I could save some weight if I changed to a closed cell foam pad, but the comfort an air mattress gives me is too important to give up at this point!

Yeah, the Line Loc lid adds alot of weight, I agree. As an external frame backpack guy, I'm currently suffering from organizational frustration due to lack of pockets on my new internal frame Crown 60. I'm sure I'll eventually get over it (with the use of stuff sacks), but for now the line loc lid is there for emotional stability as I move from having all sorts of pockets to none! :)

I really appreciate the comments about the leatherman: it's helped me look closer at why I carry one. I'm not sure I can come to grips with not taking it, but I'm certainly thinking more about it. My main reasons for taking it really boil down to habit and the "WHAT IF?" scenarios. A small pair of surgical scissors and a razor blade could probably do 90% of what I would need to do on the JMT.

Excellent point about heavy resupply at MTR instead of VVR, done.

Let me see if I can repost my list with more info and weights.

Thanks again,

Mike in Madera
18 days to go...

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: JMT Dream Trip on 08/09/2012 16:30:48 MDT Print View

Hi Mike,

Another option when leaving VVR if the ferry is not running, is to go up Bear Ridge trail to meet back up with the JMT. It would allow you to avoid retracing your steps and going up switch backs with a freshly resupplied pack. I went up this trail a couple week ago and it was cleared of any fallen trees. There is also Bear Creek trail, but I haven't taken this trail and remember not really liking its mosquito potential in July or how it looked topographically when compared to Bear Ridge. By the way, the Harrison JMT map pack doesn't show how to find Bear Ridge trail-head... so it might be worth buying a different map while in VVR or really studying the ones they have on display if you decide to go that way.

As far as carrying a Leathermen, I scaled down to the Mirca (1.8 oz) from the Juice s2 (4.4 0z). It has a great pair of scissors, sharp little knife, attached tweezers, plus a couple other useful little things. At that weight, I doubt I'll carry it forever, but right now it is working for me.

You may also want to rethink the SteriPEN if you haven't tested yours on a big trip and found it to be super reliable. I ran into two different people that had given up on theirs and were just treating the water with iodine tablets. Not that my Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter worked out for me, a rubber gasket popped out at some point and it became unusable, which was a relief because the bag it came with had sprung a very annoying leak. Later I ran into another guy that had the same missing gasket problem, so we both were just drinking water untreated... I didn't get sick (yet), but don't know about him. Next time, I'm just bringing tablets.

Have fun!


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
JMT Dream Trip on 08/09/2012 17:19:09 MDT Print View


Sounds like you are asking the right questions. I will just chime in on a few areas.

Clothes: Just decide now not to take extra clothes. Take just what you need. You said you may want to have something to change into in the evening because you will have maybe washed off in a lake or stream. I have found it much easier to get into the water during the day and just lay out on a rock and dry off. When I get to camp at night I usually dip my legs in the water but not all of my body. Once the sun goes down stuff does not dry that fast.

So, I just take 1 pair of shorts, 1 extra underwear, 1 extra shirt (usually long sleeve) and 1 extra pair socks. That's it. (this does not include my DriDucks, beanie, gloves and down sweater). Trust me, you will not miss clothes. What you will wish is that you did not have to carry extra stuff. When you are on the trail you will be like everyone else. A bit dirty and smelly. You will fit right in. You can also refresh in the water often.The Sierras have awesome lakes to swim in. Might take your breath away at first but it really cools the old body and bones down.

Stuff sacks: The less you take, the less you need to stuff. This is your quote: "I'm currently suffering from organizational frustration due to lack of pockets on my new internal frame Crown 60. I'm sure I'll eventually get over it (with the use of stuff sacks)". I typically have just one stuff sack and that is for my clothes. It also serves as my pillow. All the other stuff goes in my canister, i.e. stove, pot, etc. I use small zip locks for my first aid, repair and other "dinky stuff" and just put that in a quart size zip loc. It goes in an outer pocket on my pack. I hike with people that have stuff sacks for everything and it just gets confusing. I think they lose more stuff than I and I don't really have any stuff sacks. My sleeping bag gets placed loosely in the bottom of the pack without a stuff sack (always use an inner liner for that stuff). I am sure you will find most people here on BPL use the same method. I found a compressed sleeping bag is hard against my back, whereas, an uncompressed bag is quite nice.

Re-supply: I also agree that you should not take that much from VVR to Muir. Just do your last resupply at Muir. It is a lot at that resupply. No need to carry what you can later put in you pack. That will be a big load of food from Muir in a full Expedition.

Water treatment: Take some chlorine dioxide tablets with you in case of SteriPen malfunction.

Sounds like you are on the right track. It will be a great time to be out on the trail as after the first of September the crowds really die down.