Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
1st thru hike JMT gear list, critique please!
Display Avatars Sort By:
kristina w
(serpentwins) - F
Need JMT Gear List help and altitude questions on 08/14/2012 21:47:00 MDT Print View

I'm doing the JMT with a few friends from college and we leave very soon Aug 19. We're planning to do a comfortable 21 day trip with 1 rest day at VVR on Day 7 (following Alan Castle's cicerone guide).

One of my concerns is altitude sickness and I've some research on how to mitigate the effects, drinking water to add more oxygen, carb loading to decrease oxygen used in digestion, acclimatization, one guy at REI suggested popping a couple aleve tablets prior to trekking each morning, etc. I live at sea level and haven't been up in high elevation for a while so if anyone has more tips on this issue I'd greatly appreciate it!

Now for my gear list, it is quite extensive and that's why I need some pointers, any feedback is helpful!

Deuter 70 L ActLite 3 lbs 15 oz
Black Diamond hiking poles 11.99 oz
* JMT Tom Harrison Map Pack 3 ¼ oz
3 small Loksak odor bags 144 in^3 1 5/8 oz
2 large Loksak odor bags 649 in ^3 3 5/8 oz
trash compactor bag (instead of rain cover for bkpk) 2 ½ oz
Bearikade Expedition canister 36 oz
TOTAL 7.546 lbs (120.74)

Kindle 5 7/8 oz
* Goal Zero Solar Charger w/ 4 AAA & 4 AA spares 1 lb 9 3/8 oz
Petzl headlamp 2 7/8 oz
Energizer headlamp (spare) 2 7/8 oz
iPhone 4 5 oz
* USB cable (iPhone charger) 1 oz
iPhone h20 proof case w/ external earjack 1 ¾ oz
Canon Powershot SD880IS w/ Speck neoprene case 6 1/2 oz
Extra camera battery
Sony earphones 5/8 oz
Leatherman multi-tool squirt Ps4 2 oz
Suunto watch w/ altimeter, barometer, therm 2 ¼ oz
TOTAL 3.50 lbs (56.08 oz)

Pepper polarized sunglasses 1 oz
Bandana 1 oz
Polartec beanie 7/8 oz
Mosquito Sea to Summit Headnet 1 oz
Plastic rain poncho 2 oz
Sun Day hat afternoons 50 spf 2 ½ oz
? Bathing suit top 1 5/8 oz
travel towel Seattle Sport S 3 ¼ oz
neoprene gloves 2 1/8 oz

Prana shirt M (68% polyester 38% cotton) 2 1/8 oz
Patagonia common threads seamless shirt S 2 7/8 oz
Patagonia nano puff jacket S 9 ¼ oz
Polartec baselayer leggings W S 3 5/8 oz
Long Sleeve baselayer REI 88% Nylon 12% spandex 4 oz
Longsleeve merino Smartwool sweater 5 7/8 oz
Champion spandex shorts 2 3/8 oz
(exchange for spandex?) REI shorts w/ underlayer 100% polyester 5 ¼ oz
Ex officio underwear (2) 2 oz
Avia sportsbras (2) 5 ½ oz
Patagonia Lana Pants S 86% Nylon 14 % spandex 8 7/8 oz
Total 3.72 lbs (59.589)

Old Navy sandals 4 ¾ oz
Merrell Ventilator hiking shoes 1 lb 12 ¼ oz
Thick cushion hiking socks 2 5/8 oz
Thin cushion hiking socks 1 7/8 oz
1 pair sock liners 1 3/8 oz
Total 2.42 lbs (38.875 oz)

Therm a rest ProLite ¾ Small pad 11 ¼ oz
Sleeping bag 20 F (synthetic & down) & 14L h20 proof compression sack
2 lb 1 ¼ oz
Pillow Cocoon hyperlight air-core w/ bag 2 5/8 oz
Total 2.94 lbs (47.125 oz)

Travel Medic kit 3 ¼ oz
TP 1 roll w/ cardboard tube removed 5 1/8 oz
Total 0.52 lb (8.375 oz)

Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 Almond Soap 2 fl oz 2 ¾ oz
Secret unscented deodorant 1 ½ oz
Fish oil supplements & One a Day multivitamins 2 7/8 oz
Lotion in Goab tube 3 5/8 oz
(exchange for dehydrated dots) Colgate total toothpaste 7/8 oz
Repel Lemon Eucalpytus insect repellant (deet free) 4 ¾ oz
After Bite itch relief ointment 7/8 oz
Oral B toothbrush (handle cut) 3/8 oz
Aloe vera gel 2 5/8 oz
Sunblock 7th generation zinc oxide h20 resistant 80mins 30spf 3 ½ oz
Floss (removed container) 1/8 oz
Body Glide anti-chafe 1 oz
Total 1.56 lb (24.982 oz)

Light my fire spork 3/8 oz
Sea to Summit collapsible cup 2 1/8 oz
Sea to Summit collapsible bowl 3 oz
*Mini bic lighter 3/8 oz
Total 0.38 lb (6.125 oz)

1 Moleskin notebook ¾ oz
Anti gravity all weather pen 1/8 oz
? Mini playing cards 1 3/8 oz
Amtrak train/bus tickets 3/8 oz
ID, Credit, Debit, Cash ½ oz
Whistle (vs. bear spray or fog horn) ¼ oz
Total 0.21 lb (3.375 oz)

BASE WEIGHT TOTAL 22.796 lbs or 364.736 oz
(if everything were on my back, this is the base weight – but I’ll be wearing shoes, shorts, underwear, socks, shirt
Food (seems like a lot right now, but i'm planning to gauge my intake and modify up there)
6 days of food
+ spices, condiments like olive oil, peanut butter, GU energy chomps
Total 15.8 lbs (252.8)

1 L (34 oz) Platypus bottle 1 ¼ oz (empty)
2 lbs ½ oz (full)
3L Platypus with mouthpiece tube 5 7/8 oz (empty)
6 lbs 8 5/8 oz (full)
Total H20 @ full capacity 8.57 lbs (137.125 oz)
*since this is a brunt of the load I’ll gauge intake and fill accordingly
TOTAL WEIGHT (w/ 6 days food) 47.16 lbs
= 36.27% of my body weight (130lb)

Edited by serpentwins on 08/14/2012 22:08:50 MDT.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Here is a start on 08/14/2012 22:06:13 MDT Print View

22.8 lbs "From Skin Out - Base Weight" and then MINUS Estimated Clothing Worn / Trekking Poles / Shoes / Socks / Hat / Watch (around 4.7 lbs) = 18.1 lbs Base Pack Wt. (items carried in backpack NOT INCLUDING items worn on body/carried in hands/food/water/fuel)

Start by listing all the stuff you plan on actually hiking in -- seemed like you have some redundant clothing (ie. don't bring a bathing suit -- you can just swim in your sports bra and hiking undies . . . that's what pretty much all thru-hiker's do). What you hike in and carry doesn't need to be included in your pack weight -- but even at 18 lbs I KNOW this forum get find you a good 4-5 lbs to lose!

Ditch the sandals - just bring extra gel insoles to switch into your shoes and rest your feet walking around camp (or thong sandals - like the Teva Mush (very light))

One pair of clothing to hike in - one change , but I wouldn't bring any cotton (won't dry quickly, and will chafe when wet)

I'll let folks who've actually done the JMT take it from here. Enjoy the trip and remember to stop and watch some pretty cloud formations and soak in the views !

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Electronics on 08/14/2012 22:29:00 MDT Print View

You have 3.5 lbs of electronics listed that is alot.

The kindle, the iphone, the camera, the watch, have overlapping functions so i would start by listing the fuctionality you want out of each device and try to leave at least two of the behind. I would also reevaluate your charging system as 2 lbs is a lot to spend on batteries

Edited by GregF on 08/14/2012 22:30:04 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Need JMT Gear List help and altitude questions on 08/14/2012 22:33:49 MDT Print View

"drinking water to add more oxygen"

Huh? That doesn't make any sense at all.

Drinking more water will add more water, and that is generally good. A bit of sports-electrolyte drink might be helpful. It tends to help you store extra water and avoid dehydration better.

You don't have time to read this book now, but for future reference you want to get it. Going Higher, Oxygen, Man, and Mountains, by Houston, fifth edition.

You didn't state it, but it sounds like you will be headed northbound. That means that you are hitting the highest altitude parts first. That probably can't be helped now. You really want to go to some moderate spot and hang out for a full day or two before you start. That will help. Whitney Portal is good for that. Every year I see backpackers suffering about halfway up the Mount Whitney Trail.

Last week I was along the JMT from south of Forester Pass to Woods Crossing. The trail is in good shape, and there was one trail crew working north of Glen Pass.

"one guy at REI suggested popping a couple aleve tablets prior to trekking each morning"

I don't know what that is about. You might do better to take one or two standard aspirin at the end of each hiking day. That will help you deal with the stresses and minor pains after the day, and it might contribute to better sleep.

Personally, I go up to high elevation and back down so often that I've learned exactly what my own body can do without upset. You will probably learn some of that by the end of your trip.

You have about 2.5 pounds of food per day. That is probably way too much. If you know what you are doing, you will have something closer to 1.5 pounds per day, plus or minus about 20%, or maybe more if you are a large person.


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Electronics on 08/14/2012 22:39:00 MDT Print View

"You have 3.5 lbs of electronics listed that is alot."

Greg said it right.

I've done a three week business trip to the Pacific Rim with less electronics weight than this 3.5 pounds. Instead, take about three blank sheets of paper and learn to write really small with a pencil. You don't need any phone, because there isn't much service up there anyway.


Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
shelter? on 08/14/2012 22:43:18 MDT Print View

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see a shelter listed.

Have you ever been at high elevation? You might want to give a day or two to acclimate and see what happens. I live at sea level also and recently packed above 12k in CO. I had some AMS but ibuprofen helped me immensely in the first 24 hours. I was fine after that.

As for weight, maybe ditch bathing suit, towel, some of your extra batteris, maybe a shirt (? Seems like a lot of shirts ). I would also say you could cut the iPhone and accessories and save a bunch of weight. Could also cut lotion and deodorant, it's the woods!

Have fun!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Need JMT Gear List help and altitude questions on 08/14/2012 22:56:40 MDT Print View

"Whistle (vs. bear spray or fog horn) ¼ oz"

What's up with this?

A quarter ounce whistle might be good if you get lost easily. On the other hand, if that is intended to scare off a bear, don't count on it. You can't take bear spray anyway. Bear spray is intended for grizzly bears, and it is way overkill for black bears which is what you could find along the JMT. Did you know that bear spray is explicitly prohibited in some of the national parks anyway? Fog horn? You have to be kidding me!

If you get a black bear in your camp, you shout at it first. Then you throw sticks at the bear, maybe pine cones, and work your way up to golf ball size rocks. The bear will take a hint. Besides, if your food is in the bear canister, the bear isn't going to score much anyway, so it won't hang around long.


Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Need JMT Gear List help and altitude questions on 08/14/2012 23:39:08 MDT Print View

"A small new study, published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that people who took four 600-milligram doses of ibuprofen over a 24-hour period in which they ascended to 12,570 feet above sea level were less likely to experience altitude sickness than people taking a placebo." - Amanda Gardner

Ibuprofen Could Ward Off Altitude Sickness, Study Finds

As far as weight, something that really worked for me once was doing an overnight strenuous shake down trip that looped back to my car before I started the longer trip. Once I got back to my vehicle, I found myself and my friend gleefully dumping all kinds of food, condiments, extra clothing, rain pants, and I even got to the point of cutting off the lanyards from anything I wasn't planning on actively carrying around my neck (which was everything that had one). The only thing I wish I didn't strip down at the time was half of my moleskin, but I was really happy I dumped the other 90% of my first aid kit. Although, I wish would had studied blister care more in-depth... but I just hadn't had a blister in the previous 8 years and figured I somehow had magically become immune to them.

If deet doesn't make you go into convulsions, get some. Maybe even go for the 100% stuff. Personally, I really wouldn't bother with the 'Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent'. I was in several mosquito areas in the Sierra's along the JMT a couple weeks ago and that stuff only discourages them for maybe 5 to 10 minutes, they also didn't give a crap about Badger Anti-Bug products.

Make sure you're in love with your pillow before you drag it along, I've tried maybe 5 different camping pillows in my past, and a wad of clothes in a stuff sack has proven to me to be much more comfortable, or just a wad of clothes rolled in a shirt if you don't have a stuff sack.

kristina w
(serpentwins) - F
keep doing work on 08/14/2012 23:55:56 MDT Print View

Thank you to everyone for your tips and suggestions, the advice is greatly appreciated. I'm a beginner but I did research the trail and am going from N to S starting in Tuolumne Meadows so that will offer relief from starting at the highest elevation. I did no list the tent, stove or water filter supplies as other members of my group will be bringing those. We are a group of 6, bringing 2 stoves, 1 4 person tent, 1 2 person tent, 2 water filters, 1 Spot messenger

Greg: Thanks for the functionality pointer. The phone is mainly for music, but could double as a compass and back up camera (my family is big on cameras and bringing a mini digital as opposed to a fancy Nikon was a battle). I know there is no reception up there so was not counting on it for that. Kindle is basic version and simply for reading at base camp (also contains Alan castle's cicerone guide). I'll kick the watch - it doesn't seem necessary other than the fact that the battery will outlast the others without recharging

Bob: I realize my food weighs a bunch but I don't want to leave any behind until I know how my body will respond. My daily intake consists of ~93 cals/oz, although I added some spices, pb, tuna packets and tortilla last minute so these did not get allocated in my Day bags. As posted I weigh 130 and am 5'3, I hike actively and run 1/2 marathons but I am not sure how to calculate my caloric needs with elevation & 30-40 lbs on my back. Do you have any suggestions on websites or personal tips?

The whistle is mainly for emergencies, I read some guy's blog that said he used a fog horn to scare away bears instead of a pistol (he was clearly from another part of the US but I thought his use of a Walmart fog horn was interesting)

Thanks again.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: keep doing work on 08/15/2012 00:05:15 MDT Print View

"Do you have any suggestions on websites or personal tips?"

You are leaving in a few days, so it doesn't matter.


Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: keep doing work on 08/15/2012 00:44:54 MDT Print View

" but I am not sure how to calculate my caloric needs with elevation & 30-40 lbs on my back. Do you have any suggestions on websites or personal tips?"

I followed something similar to this websites suggestions, but on the trail because of the altitude, I found hunger was not an issue and I was carrying way more food than I really probably needed (even after dumping a lot of it at the trail-head bear box). Bigger problem for me was that I had much of the wrong food... by that I mean, I had food that I really didn't want to eat for some reason.

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: keep doing work on 08/15/2012 01:06:39 MDT Print View

"We are a group of 6, bringing 2 stoves, 1 4 person tent, 1 2 person tent, 2 water filters"

If you're a group that is likely to stick together and not leave people straggling behind to fend for themselves, then if I was you, I'd dump my 1st aid kit, my Leatherman, extra headlamp batteries, toothpaste, playing cards... pretty much anything somebody else is likely going to carry that you can probably borrow. Unless of course, you've been designated to bring one of these things.

Latham Farley
(LathamFarley) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Keep doing work on 08/15/2012 06:55:50 MDT Print View

Looks like a good list, Kristina. I have a few suggestions and some have already been mentioned. +1 on the re-evaluating the electronics. I understand your reasoning though. My wife is a big photographer and designer and she hiked with her camera and 3 lenses for 3 years before I talked her into just using a smaller or just my Iphone. If your frieds are taking a camera i would just as them to send the pics instead of taking the Powershot. Definately kick the watch and the bathing suit top. Eat when you get hungry, sleep when you get tired, you don't need the watch. My wife swims in her sports bra and underwear as does everyone else as mentioned earlier.

If i understand right you have 2 SS shirts, 2 LS shirts, 1 jacket, 2 shorts, 2 underwear, 1 leggings, 2 sports bras, and 1 pants. If it were me i would only take 1 LS shirt and wear the jacket if it gets cold. If your LS shirt gets wet, let it dry on the trail the next day while you wear the jacket. If you are still cold put your poncho on over your jacket for a little extra layer. Its wierd when its not raining but it works.

You have a Sea to Summit collapsible cup and bowl. Do you need both?

A whistle will be good enough for emergencies. As for bears, just holler. They will run from just you, definately no problem with a group of 6.

As far as food goes, i understand you saying you want to see how your body goes but i think that is where you could save some weight and still have no problems. I carry breakfast, lunch, and supper with 4 snacks per day and it is plenty and too much on some days. If you are intersted in tips there then add what you are having for your daily rations. If you are confident and want to take that anyway, that is fine too.

Enjoy your hike!


Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: keep doing work on 08/15/2012 08:31:23 MDT Print View

watch these videos .You could also look at this thread it was started by Mike Clelland BPL staff member,author,NOLs instructor and the person that did the videos I gave you a link to.He wrote a very good article on the subject but you have to be a member to read it.

Chris Rife
Music and Pics on 08/15/2012 09:18:37 MDT Print View

I would keep the camera, and ditch the phone. If you definitely want music, try something like a shuffle instead. Battery lasts forever and it weighs ~0.5oz.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
"1st thru hike JMT gear list, critique please!" on 08/15/2012 11:35:18 MDT Print View

Ditch as many clothes as you can. I typically take 1 shorts, 2 underwear, 1 SS shirt, 1 LS shirt, 1 bandana (no towel), 2 socks, DriDucks top/bottom, light gloves, cap, and Tilley hat. I do not take any extra shoes. Most people add long underwear but I really don't need them in the summer on the JMT because I have Dri Ducks and a sleeping bag if I get too cold. Of all the things I wished I had not taken on a trip it would almost always be clothes. You are doing a leisurely pace on the JMT which will allow you to swim in a lot of lakes. This will keep you cool and feel clean. Your list will be different than mine but you can really get it down a lot. Clothes just ride in your pack all day long.

As for water treatment (I know this is late in the planning), however, a water filter is the slowest way to get a group all filled up. A lot of hikers here use Chlorine Dioxide tablets, Aqua Mira liquid, or Steripens to treat water. You will be crossing water a lot on the trail and I have seen many groups your size all at a water source with their packs off pumping water as we walk up, fill up, drop a tablet in, and move on. We can drink that water in 20 mins. Groups can be hard to manage and pumping water is one of the hardest items to manage. The problem you will have is some in the group will just not drink any water that has not been pumped. If you could, just take the tablets or liquid and things will go faster for you. I find Steripens to be problematic in large groups.

Have a great trip. You will receive a lot of advice from many on this Forum but it is getting a bit late to implement many of them without first trying and feeling comfortable with that advice.


Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re 1st thru hike JMT gear list, critique please! on 08/15/2012 11:45:56 MDT Print View

Re the whistle to scare bears away...My understanding is that is a huge no-no. A whistle noise is often emitted by prey animals as a sign of distress. Everything I've read about bear encounters says to speak in a calm, LOW, loud voice. No high pitched noises. You don't want to appear to be prey.

Edit: This is the info that the State of Alaska puts out on bear encounters:

Edited by EagleRiverDee on 08/15/2012 11:47:44 MDT.

kristina w
(serpentwins) - F
improvements on 08/16/2012 10:28:00 MDT Print View

After some deliberation and a test hike I decided to throw out a bunch of items. Goodbye swimtop, LS sweater, 5 oz pair of shorts, shirt, lotion, 1/2 aloe, some food items, towel, cards & watch.

Some debatable items I decided to take are phone (music, external speaker, extra camera, notes, compass), camp sandals, cup, solar charger.

My new pack weight is now 39 lbs which I realize is still a significant weight to lug around the Sierras but it's much better than before. I'm doing a final run through today so more things may drop off before I get on the train tomorrow.

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences and offer guidance. You are appreciated!