Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket
Montane Minimus Rain Jacket
Ibex Indie Hoodie
MHW Wicked Lite T-shirt
Railriders Eco-Mesh pants
Moen Arm sleeves
Tilley wide brim hat
Inov8 Roclite 315
Injinji coolmax toe socks
Gossamer Gear LT4s
Gossamer Gear '12 Gorilla
Zpacks 30 degree/30% overfill bag long
I'm planning to do the JMT again in 2013 with my girlfriend. I'm thinking about the things that I want to change, items I wish I'd had, things I didn't use that I thought I would, pieces of gear that were really a godsend, and so forth. I figured I'd list my thoughts here to get more suggestions.
My baseweight was around 7-8 lbs with a BV450. At an average of 18-20 mi/day, I had little trouble physically. The hike seemed easier for me than it did for everyone else on the trail. For this reason, I'm planning to add a few lbs. to my baseweight for comfort.
- Zpacks 30 degree bag with 30% overfill
I slept a little cold at night when not in a tent with this bag. My feet were freezing, so much so that it woke me up several times. I had to use sleeping pills to prevent restless nights. I'm planning to use some PossumDown socks or GooseFeet this next year, and having my gf do the same. The cut of the Zpacks bag was very restrictive for me [I'm 6'0 175lbs]. I'm planning to get a more roomy 30deg/30%overfill bag - I'll be sleeping closer to my girlfriend in a shelter, so I don't think it'll be an issue with the added body heat. I slept in a FlyCreek UL2 ("1.5" person tent) with my hiking partner during a few rainy nights and I was much warmer.
- Therm-A-Rest NeoAir
It's just too loud. I'm searching for a comparable pad that is silent. I also didn't like the way my elbows hung off the side when laying on my back. Currently looking at Klymit pads. I also used a GG closed-cell pad that worked well. I used a short length NeoAir, which wasn't adequate at first - but I learned to live with it, so I think I'll still get something short.
* No pillow
I was trying to use my "extra" clothes in my cuben drybag as a pillow, but because I slept so cold I was usually wearing everything but my rain jacket which didn't make for a great pillow. I also didn't like crinkly cuben next to my face. I brought an Ibex Indie hoody but didn't use it for more than 5 minutes while hiking in the early morning before it'd get too warm. I'm going to leave the Indie at home and bring an R1 hoody. Fleece has a lot of loft to it and I think it'll make a great pillow inside of silnylon stuff sack. I'll use it when I stop for breaks, when I am trying to warm up after a swim, in camp at night around the fire when I don't want to put my fragile Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket at risk. I'm also considering bringing a WM Flash Vest instead of the Down Jacket, although it's only 3 oz weight savings.
* Small shelter
UL2 is really a "1.5" shelter, so I can't really fault it for not having adequate space for 2 grown heterosexual men. I think I could get away with a similarly sized shelter with my 5'3 110lb girlfriend. However, entering and exiting during rainy weather would still be a hassle. I'm considering a MLD Trailstar with a 2-person Oookworks net-tent. These are huge and the combined weight would be 37oz (ouch) - weight is nearly prohibitive, but it looks like a bomber palace. Biggest drawback is the trekking pole right smack dab in the middle. Also considering a bearpaw net-tent with a Zpacks cuben tarp, which would likely be around 20oz.
* Lack of variety in foods, jerkey a no-go
I must've packed nearly 2 lbs of jerkey and didn't eat more than a few bites. I didn't crave it at all, in fact it repulsed me. It was grass fed beef, organic, etc.(read: very expensive) - I ended up trading it all for things like Payday bars. The only bars I packed were FiberOne and Snickers, and I definitely won't be doing that again! I was sick of them by day 4. New rule: no more than 2 of each type of bar. My hiking partner had hot chocolate and tea, much to my envy. '13, I'm bringing hot beverage mixes for every day!
I should note that I brought a PackIt Gourmet dinner and breakfast smoothie for each day. This was one of the best decisions I made. I will do this again, for sure.
More brownies, peanut butter/almond butter, hickory farms style cheese/sausage/crackers, just more variation. Delicious foods go a long way for morale on a rainy day when you're exhausted, cold and soaking wet.
Injinji socks were amazing. I got 1 small blister, and that's it. I slapped some duct tape on it and wasn't bothered by it the rest of the trip. A lot of people on the trail tried all sorts of products to cover blisters, but duct tape seemed to be the only thing that actually stayed in place. The breathability of the Roclite 315 combined with the Injinjis kept my feet dry and therefore blister-free. I had to be careful where I stepped, though. I stubbed my toe and even thought it might be bleeding a few times, but it was okay. There were mile+ long sections of the trail covered with jagged rocks, which was kind of a nightmare in the thin-soled 315s. I might wear the same shoes again next year, but with some thicker insoles to save me from the jagged rocks. I had to be VERY careful about foot placement, which detracted from my enjoyment a bit. But overall (on 97% of the trail), I think the shoe and sock combination was amazing.
* Sun protection
I thought I was all set with sun sleeves, pants and a tilley, but alas, there was no amount of sunscreen that would protect the tops of my hands. Using the trekking poles all the time, the top of my thumb was in a constant state of burning after the 2nd day or so. I'll definitely bringing some lightweight white sun gloves.
My favorite piece of gear on the trip was probably the LT4s. :)