John Muir Trail Gear List

Everyone loves gear and gear list, so I put my JMT Gear List online for everyone to see. Hopefully it will help others plan their own JMT thru-hike or help answer some questions to what I brought and my thoughts on how those items worked.

My goal for this thru-hike was to keep my base weight to a minimum but also add some more comfort to my JMT gear list. The added comfort I speak of, was in the form of an air mattress over a closed cell foam pad and a pillow.

I also made a few other changes to my JMT Gear List which I talk about in the individual sections. I’m happy to say most of the changes worked out great, while a few decision didn’t. They were not major so they did not greatly effect the outcome of the hike.

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Extra

Read my journal for my JMT thru-hike here.

Big Three

For my Big 3 (Pack, Shelter, and Sleep System) I tried a few new things this time around. The changes were partly out of curiosity and partly out of the need for more comfort. I wanted to test some new gear to see if it preformed any better than the gear I’ve been using for years now.

Pro-Tip

The Big 3 are the three items where one can save the most weight. Cutting Pack weight takes research and testing. Don’t skimp on either. 

Pack

Due to the fact one must carry a bear canister on most sections of the JMT, my choice for which backpack I used was limited. I would have loved to taken my Gossamer Gear Kumo 36 but since my bear canister wouldn’t fit I was forced to bring my Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60.

My Mariposa has been my work horse pack since my CDT thru-hike. There was no doubt at all it was up to the job. I had zero issues or complaints.

PROS: 

  • Plenty of space
  • Comfortable
  • Durable

CONS: 

  • More pack then I needed

What I do differently next time: 

Since one has to carry a bear canister there’s not much I could do differently in this case.

Shelter

For my shelter I wanted to try something new. Luckily enough I have an amazing relationship with Big Agnes, and they sent me a Scout 2 Carbon to try for my hike. Coming in at just 11 oz, the Scout 2 Carbon is one of the lightest test commercially available.

I had my concerns with a tent that had no vestibule, and being a lightweight/ultralight hiker the idea of having a ground sheet seemed foreign to me. Most tent manufactures who make Dyneema tents just make the floor with a thicker material, thus eliminating the need for a ground sheet.

PROS: 

  • Plenty of space
  • Easy set up
  • Very small packed size
  • Minimal weight

CONS: 

  • No vestibule
  • Very see through
  • Potentially fragile

*I must point out that none of the Cons above were an issue for me. If it had rained and my shoes and pack were soaked, the no vestibule would have been an issue. I always bring all my gear inside my tent or place it in the vestibule if its wet. With the Scout 2 Carbon my only option would have been to bring my wet shoes and pack in the tent with me.

As far as durability goes, the tent is durable but one must understand that the fabric lacks the durability of thicker stronger fabrics, and one must treat it accordingly. If this is done, it’s no longer an issue.

What I do differently next time: 

I don’t think I’d change a thing. The timing of my thru-hike meant less potential afternoon rain storms, meaning that not having a vestibule wasn’t much of an issue. Basically I lucked out. On a longer thru-hike the chances are it would become a problem at some point during the hike.

Sleep System

Before I left for my hike I was torn between brining a 30 or 40 degree bag. If I was only going for a few nights in the backcountry I probably would have tried the 40 but with my hike being close to two weeks I went with my Big Agnes Flume 30.

I was also torn between my trusty Z-Lite foam pad or using an air pad for more comfort. Lately on shorter trips the Z-Lite hasn’t been comfortable. In the end I ended up using a Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite.

I also carried a Big Agnes AXL Air Pillow. At 1.6 oz it didn’t add much weight or bulk to my pack, but it did add tons of comfort.

PROS: 

  • Light weight (Bag and pad)
  • Compact (Bag and pad)
  • Warm (Bag)

CONS: 

  • Narrow – (Bag and pad)
  • Noisy – (Pad)
  • Set up/Tear down (Pad)

What I do differently next time: 

I was surprised at the warmth of the Flume 30. I think it’s narrowness helps with heat generation/retention. The only change I’d make would be to bring a wider pad. My pad was 20″. I think a 25″ pad would be easier to stay on when tossing and turning.

With that said if I took a Z-Lite again the standard 20″ would be fine. The air pads put you 2.5 to 3″ off the ground while the Z-Lite is one about a half inch. If you fall off the Z-Lite you don’t really notice it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

Overall I felt the changes I made to my Big 3 were a success. They weren’t ground breaking or overwhelming better than what I used before but they still added the comfort I was looking for in my JMT Gear List.

It will take further thought on whether to continue with the air pad.

Clothing

When it comes to clothing I try to keep things pretty simple. I can break my clothing down into three categories: Rain Gear, Daily Wear, and Camp Wear. Outside of these three categories there’s not much else I need on a hike.

I did try some new brands and products on this thru-hike. For starters I tried FITS Socks. Previously I used Ibex, but alas they went out of business. The other change I made was to switch out my sleep top. I switched from an Ibex Woolie L/S to the Ibex Indy Hoody. I found the hood kept my head and also my neck warmer than wearing a beanie to bed. A beanie has a tendency to slip up during the night, and the result is a cold head.

Pro-Tip

Carrying extra clothing not only adds weight to your pack but bulk as well. Find clothes that work for your body type. Don’t carry items that aren’t getting used, and lastly find items that serve one than one purpose.

RAIN GEAR: 

*The Helium HD is no longer made but an equivalent replacement would be either the Helium II or the Interstellar Jacket.

HIKE WEAR: 

EXTRAS:

CAMP WEAR: 

*The Verismo Hooded Down Jacket is no longer made but an equivalent substitution would be the Baja Pullover.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

Overall I was quite happy with my clothing. The only item I didn’t bring, and it’s an no brainer is a bandana. The sun can be quite strong, especially in the southern miles of the JMT, so a bandana would have been nice to help block the sun from my ears and neck.

I never used my gloves liners but that’s only because I packed them before getting out of my tent and didn’t bother to stop and get them out once I was hiking and was cold.

If I changed anything I might switch out my shirt for a hooded sun shirt.

Hydration/Cooking

If I had any issues on this trip in was with my Cook Set Up. I made a new windscreen for my alcohol stove but neglected to test it (My first a biggest mistake right there and totally against what I perch to others). Always do a shakedown hike! It turned out that it was not the same material as the original, and it wasn’t strong enough. The wind screen collapsed with the weight of the full pot and it was too tight, so air flow was limited, thus resulting in a weak flame. I was forced to improvise and cooking took longer than it should. The overall result was I began to rethink my Cook Set Up.

Hydration was straight forward and easy. My system and carrying capacity was perfect for the conditions of the JMT.

COOK SET UP: 

HYDRATION: 

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs I had issues with my homemade windscreen. Usually when I hike I’m alone, so the slower boiling time of my alcohol stove goes unnoticed. This time with my buddy Scott cooking next to me with his canister stove I found myself jealous.

Both set ups have their advantages and disadvantages but I will be giving some serious thought into switching back to a canister set up for my cooking needs.

As far as the Sawyer squeeze goes, I didn’t mind the process of squeezing my water to filter it. Aqua Mira, which I’ve used for my last two thru-hikes works great but just like with the stove debate, both have pros and cons.

Health/First Aid

During my many miles of hiking and bikepacking, I’ve learned to be safe or as close to safe as I can when in the backcountry.  Using prior experiences to evaluate new situations and using caution when approaching them allows me to trim down my Health/First Aid set up to what I consider the bare minimum.

Pro-Tip

My Health/First Aid kit shouldn’t be yours.  Your set up should mirror your own personal experience, skill level, and comfort level.  Know your abilities and what you’re comfortable with or without. Knowing these things will help you build the right Health/First Aid kit for you.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

The only two items I used from my first aid kit were my sunscreen and a small about of duct tape on my heels. I never felt like I needed to have more with me or that I was missing anything. I don’t think I’d change a thing.

Odds/Ends

Electronics

In 2001 when I first thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail the only piece of electronics I had on my gear list was a Petzl Tikka headlamp. It’s crazy to see how much it’s grown over the last 18 years.

At times it bothers me but I’m glad to have the advantages most of the items bring to my hike/bike adventure. As much as electronics have complicated things, they have also simplified things at the same time.

Pro-Tip

Besides simply turning off Wifi, bluetooth, and data usage, try using the low power settings option on your phone while in the backcountry. This will help you conserve power and go further with the power you have available.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

I only brought my iWatch to see what kind of data the hike would produce. I would not take it on a longer hike. It’s just one more thing that uses power and you have to remember to monitor its power level.

I never used my ear buds but on a longer trip with less scenic views I probably would have.

Overall I had just the right amount of power for the amount of miles we covered. Everything worked flawlessly. The one thing I could have done better is use my phone and watch’s settings to converse power usage.

Overall Thoughts

Overall I was super happy with the gear on my JMT Gear List and the options I decided to bring. The few items that didn’t work as expected or that I left out didn’t ruin the hike. Items like my stove and pad left me with decisions to make on which type I will use next time.

My advice to others when putting together their own JMT Gear List is to, know yourself and what you can can can’t deal with, know where you’re going and what you’ll encounter, and plan accordingly. Do your homework and test your gear, and you’ll be fine. When in doubt, rely on past experience to help decided. Remember, use what works for you in your own JMT Gear List!

Lastly, be sure to test your gear and do a proper Shake Down Hike.

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