Complete John Muir Trail Gear List for 2024

Start planning your long-distance thru-hike with this complete John Muir Trail gear list including camping gear, clothes, & hiking essentials

Getting your John Muir Trail gear list dialed is one of the most exciting parts of preparing for your John Muir Trail thru-hike. I hiked the JMT in 2014 and it was one of the best experiences of my life, but it’s important to take some time getting your gear right. As someone who’s done the thru-hike, I’m here to help!

Below is a list of every piece of gear I packed for my John Muir Trail hike including big gear items such as my tent, sleeping bag, bear canister, sleeping pad, and water filter all the way down to the little things (watch, sunscreen, maps, and more). I also include some of the gear I packed and then ditched at the car before setting off on the trail in an effort to reduce my pack weight.

Overall, I was happy with my choices and felt prepared for the trail. I’ll note that some of the gear I took on my JMT hike is no longer available, so I’ve updated this list with newer, lighter gear that I’ve used on more recent backpacking trips.

John Muir Trail Checklist at a Glance

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JMT Backpacking Gear

Your camping gear will make up the biggest items for your JMT thru-hike. You’ll want to choose gear that is lightweight, durable, and comfortable.

Here are the items I took on my JMT thru-hike and pieces that I still use to this day.


I took an earlier model of the Deuter Aircontact Core SL 60 + 10L Pack. It handled my heavy load well and was just the right size.

I’ve tried a bunch of other packs since the JMT, including on a 10-day trip in Alaska, and I still keep coming back to Deuter.

The Aircontact also comes in a 45+10 size and a men’s 65 + 10 L model.

Shop the Deuter Aircontact SL 60 + 10L at:

Backpacking Tent

Since you’re likely going to be hiking with trekking poles, why not save some weight and use a tarp-style tent that utilizes your trekking poles? My favorite is the Zpacks Duplex (2-person) or Triplex (3-person for extra space), and I’ve also heard great things about Hyperlite’s tarp tents.

These tents are ultra-lightweight (the Duplex is just 1 lb 2.5 ounces) and pack down small so you can keep your load light and compact.

If you absolutely want a free-standing tent that’s a little less expensive, I recommend the Nemo Hornet OSMO 2p.

Shop the Zpacks Duplex Tent at:

Tip: Practice setting your tent up at home before you hit the trail. This will save time and perhaps a headache on your first few nights on the trail when you’ll be tired and hungry when you arrive at camp.

Sleeping bag

I’ve been using a sleeping quilt for years and I’m completely sold on its warmth and comfort.

For the JMT, I recommend the 20-degree Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt.

If you prefer a standard mummy bag, we love the Sea to Summit Flame Ultralight 15F which weighs only 1lb 15 oz.

Shop the Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt at:

Sleeping pad

Your sleeping pad can make or break your backpacking trip, especially if it is a long thru-hike like the JMT. If you have trouble sleeping while camping, I recommend choosing a pad for its comfort rather than its weight.

I love my Therm-A-Rest Prolite Sleeping Pad. It has just enough cushion to keep your back happy, and it’s still relatively lightweight at 1 lb 2 oz (regular).

If you’re a side sleeper, check out the Sea to Summit Ether Lite, which is 4 inches thick to pad your hips and shoulders. It’s bulkier but feels super luxurious.

Shop the Therm-A-Rest Prolite Sleeping Pad at:

Trekking poles

Trekking poles are an essential for long hikes like the John Muir Trail. I was so happy I brought trekking poles on my hike! They made slogging up those passes so much easier.

Trekking poles also help you keep your balance on the narrow High Sierra stretch and reduce stress on your knees, especially when hiking downhill.

My favorite trekking poles are the Black Diamond Carbon Distance Carbon Z’s becuase they are a lightweight and foldable when not needed. These have a women’s-specific grip, but they also come in a men’s version.

Shop the Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles at:

Pack cover for rain

We got caught in a torrential sideways downpour going over Muir Pass and rain can actually be common depending on the year.

The REI Duck’s Back Rain Cover (70-85 liters) kept my pack dry as can be. *

Note: Some of the newer packs come with their own built-in rain covers, including some from Deuter.

Shop the REI Duck’s Back Pack Rain Cover at:

JMT Cooking & Hydration Essentials

You probably won’t be whipping up gourmet meals in the backcountry, so aim to make your cooking gear as simple as possible.

Here are the cooking essentials I recommend bringing on your JMT thru-hike.

Backpacking stove

The Jetboil Flash Cooking System is a compact and super-efficient backpacking stove. One small fuel canister lasted me over a week for my trip.

It’s great for boiling water for dehydrated meals and cooking simple meals like ramen and couscous, which is all you’ll really need.

Shop the Jetboil Flash stove at:

Eating utensil

Remember to pack a lightweight and reliable eating utensil that is long enough to scrape the bottom of your dehydrated meal pouches.

The Sea to Summit Alpha Lite Spork is what I use. It’s lightweight, durable, and versatile and comes with a little carabiner so it never gets lost in the depths of your pack.

Shop the Sea to Summit spork at:

Water filter

The Platypus GravityWorks water filter is amazing. It’s one of my best gear choices and what I take on all my backpacking trips.

On the JMT, we could fill up the bag from a lake or stream, hook it up to the filter, and completely forget about it while the water was filtering through. This saved us a ton of time since it allowed for multi-tasking.

My only complaint was sometimes the flow was slow due to air bubbles that got caught in the filter. But luckily all you need to do to resolve this is reverse the flow of water through the filter for a few seconds, thereby eliminating the air bubbles.

Shop the Platypus GravityWorks filter at:

Water bottles (x 3)

You’ll want a few water bottles to carry with you during the day to stay hydrated as you hike. I used three of the Platypus 1.0 Liter SoftBottles.

I loved how they roll up once they are empty and easily stashed in a side pocket of my pack. They’re also super light and integrate perfectly with the Platypus gravity filter.

Shop the Platypus SoftBottles at:


The mug I brought on my JMT hike wasn’t well insulated and it’s also no longer available.

If I were to do a thru-hike again I’d consider upgrading to a Snow Peak Titanium mug.

You can put their mugs directly on a stove and the handle can wrap around the mug for easy storage.

It also weighs only 2.4 oz and is guaranteed not to rust!

You can also get the Snow Peak HotLips so you can sip straight from the mug without worrying about burning your lips.

Shop the Snow Peak Titanium mug at:

Dish soap

I ditched the soap at the trailhead since most of our food was eat-out-of-the-package.

Plus, according to Leave No Trace, you shouldn’t use any soap (even biodegradable) in the water. Instead, you need to bury your suds at least 200 feet from the water. 

We found that the easiest way to clean my Jetboil after eating out of it was to bring some water to a rolling boil. The pot practically cleaned itself.

Bear canister

The Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender (1 per person) is one of the best bear canisters out there.

It’s much lighter than its competitors and super durable. Fitting 7 days of food in it was a stretch, but with some professional squishing, everything fit.

Rental canisters are available via their website and they offer a 45% discount to JMT thru-hikers.

If Wild Ideas doesn’t have a canister available for the dates of your hike, the BearVault is a popular second choice.

*Note: the Wild Ideas Bearikade is not approved by the IGBA (Interagency Grizzly Bear Agency). While the JMT does not require an IGBA-approved canister, some wilderness areas do. Take that into consideration before buying if you plan on doing future backcountry adventures.

Shop the Wild Ideas Weekender at:

Water purification tablets

Water purification tablets are always a good idea to bring in case your filter breaks. We brought some as a backup, but didn’t end up needing them.

Shop Aquatabs at:

Lighter & waterproof matches

You’ll want a lighter to light your cooking stove, even if it has a self-lighting mechanism. These are often known to fail, and it would be a sad night eating a cold dehydrated meal.

Pack a few lighters and some waterproof matches as backup.

Shop Waterproof Matches at:

John Muir Trail Clothing

I hiked the John Muir Trail in September, which typically sees comfortable days and cold nights.

The key is layering and being prepared for the worst.

Hiking pants (x 1)

You should only need one normal pair of hiking pants for hiking the JMT.

Typically I prefer to hike in leggings and the lululemon Invigorate HR Tights have been my go-to lately. They’re comfy for hiking and have a stretchy pocket on each leg that is big enough for your phone. 

For those who prefer regular pants, these Columbia Saturday Trail Pants are stretchy in all the right places, durable, and water-resistant for all-weather hiking.

Shop the lululemon Invigorate Tights at:

Hiking shorts (x 2)

I prefer leggings-style shorts when I hike, and the lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Shorts are my new favorite.

The waistband doesn’t shift, the highrise is flattering, they dry super quick, and they come in all kinds of fun colors.

I like the 8″ but they come in a variety of lengths so you can pick what works for you.

If you prefer something looser with pockets, the REI Sahara Bermuda Shorts have 4 pockets, are quick-drying, and have a UPF 50+ rating. They also have elastic as well as button adjustments at the waist so if you lose weight on your trek you can easily tighten them to stay snug!

Shop the lululemon Wunder Trail Shorts at:

Hiking shirts (x 2)

My go-to hiking shirts are the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirts. I personally prefer long-sleeves so I don’t have to wear as much sunscreen, but these also come in a short-sleeve version as well.

The Capilene Cool Daily shirts are lightweight and quick-drying and designed with just enough room to move around in, but not too baggy that they get caught on your gear.

Shop the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirts at:

Midweight base layer (x 1)

You’ll want a warm mid-weight base layer that you can wear to bed at night or on chillier hiking days. The Patagonia R1 Pullover fleece is my go-to choice. It’s a warm, fleece-lined (vegan-friendly) layer that is versatile for any backpacking trip.

Shop the Patagonia R1 Pullover at:

Jacket (x 1)

On the John Muir Trail, nights and early mornings can be very cold, so a warm jacket is necessary.

The Patagonia Hooded Nanopuff Jacket packs very small and has a great warmth-to-weight ratio. Get the hooded version for extra warmth at night. You can read more about the Nano Puff in our detailed review.

Shop the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket at:

Warm pants (x 1)

Pack a pair of lightweight insulated pants to keep you warm on cold mornings and nights.

The Enlightened Equipment Torrid pants are super warm, but only weigh just over 7 ounces.

They’re great for sleeping in and will keep you toasty when making breakfast.

Shop the Enlightened Equipment Torrid pants at:

Underwear (x 3)

You’ll want quick-drying underwear that you can rinse out between wears. You also want to make sure you get comfortable undies – there’s nothing worse than hiking with briefs that ride up and give you a wedgie!

I love the lululemon InvisiWear Mid-Rise Boyshorts because they are seamless with a barely-there feel and no panty lines.

Shop lululemon InvisiWear Boyshorts at:

Sports bras (x 2)

A good sports bra is essential for any thru-hike. I like the Patagonia Wild Trails Sports Bra because it is supportive, comfortable, and breathable.

Shop Patagonia Wild Trails sports bra at:

Rain pants (x 1)

Bring some! I was so happy I had rain pants during the storm over Muir Pass. They kept me warm and dry.

OR’s Helium rain pants are pricey but weigh just 6 ounces and compact into the back pocket for easy storage.

The elastic waist with drawcord is great for putting on over other pants as well as the zip ankle bottoms for getting over your shoes.

BFT’s former community manager Kim wore the men’s version on her PCT thru-hike almost every day in Washington.

Shop Outdoor Research Helium rain pants at:

Rain jacket (x 1)

Stay dry during showers in the High Sierras with a bombproof rain jacket like the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Jacket.

It’s lightweight at just 12.4 ounces, packs down small into its own pouch, and is fully waterproof.

Shop the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L rain jacket at:

Socks (x 3)

Darn Tough MicroCrew and SmartWool Cushion are my two favorite hiking socks and I brought both of them on the John Muir Trail..

I wore the Darn Tough socks during the day and my feet stayed mostly blister-free and the socks held up really well. Darn Tough also has a free socks for life guarantee, so if your socks develop holes, you can send them in and get a new park.

In the evenings, I would change to the warmer and more cushiony SmartWool socks. I must say it was nice to have a “cleaner” pair to wear at camp and in my sleeping bag!

Shop Darn Tough MicroCrew socks at:

Sun hat (x 1)

For maximum sun protection, go for a wide-brimmed hat.

My favorite hiking hat is the Wallaroo Sedona which provides great face, neck, and shoulder protection and can be folded into your pack when not needed.

Alternatively, choose a more traditional-style hiking hat like the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat, which has a cape to protect your neck from the sun.

Shop the Wallaroo Sedona Hat at:
(Use the code BEARFOOT20 for 20% off)

Wool beanie (x 1)

I wore the hat every single night on the JMT because the temps really dropped once the sun went down.

The Patagonia Everday Beanie is a simple wool hat that will keep your head warm as you sleep.

Shop the Patagonia Everyday Beanie at:

Gloves (x 1 pair)

Gloves were a JMT necessity, especially for summiting Mt. Whitney, which was pretty chilly.

A simple pair of lightweight warm gloves will do like these REI Fleece Gloves.

Shop the REI Fleece Gloves at:

Hiking boots (x 1 pair)

I have been wearing Oboz Bridger B-Dry Hiking Boots for the last few years and I love them for both day hikes and long-distance backpacking trips.

They are waterproof, provide lots of support, and unlike most boots, are comfy right out of the box.

Shop the Oboz Bridger B-Dry Hiking Boots at:

Camp shoes (x 1 pair)

Trust me, you’ll want a pair of camp shoes to change into after a long day of hiking the JMT. The Teva Hurricane Sandals were the perfect choice for my trip.

They are waterproof and lighter than other river sandals I’ve owned, and I could wear socks with them at night.

I saw other people with Crocs and thought those were a good idea too, but they aren’t as versatile for side adventures from camp.

Either way, bring something because you won’t want to wear your boots all night.

Shop the Teva Hurricane Sandals at:

Sunglasses (x 1 pair)

I have been wearing a pair of Smith sunglasses with polarized lenses for years and love them.

They stay on the top of my head when I’m not wearing them, and they aren’t too delicate, which is important for rugged backcountry adventures like hiking the JMT.

Shop Smith Lowdown ChromaPop sunglasses at:

JMT Backpacking Gadgets, Tools, & Navigation

The majority of the JMT is very remote, so you need to be prepared with the right tools to stay safe.

Here are the gadgets and tools I took on my JMT thru-hike.


A good multi-tool is essential. I took the Leatherman Skeletool CX, which I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with. The knife seemed to get dull quickly and I had no need for the other tools other than the screwdriver which I used to tighten my trekking poles. That being said, it is good to carry a multi-tool just in case.

Shop Leatherman multi-tools at:


You probably won’t need it, but carrying a compass (which weighs less than an ounce) is a smart idea in case of an emergency.

I brought the Suunto Clipper Compass, which can clip to your watch band, your pack strap, or the edge of a map.

Shop the Suunto Clipper Compass at:

Solar charger

Solar power technology keeps getting better every year. I brought the Goal Zero Nomad 7 on the JMT with me, which is fine for charging your cell phone, but that’s about it.

Another option is the BioLite Solar Panel 5+, which weighs less than a pound. You can also use it to charge one of their battery banks.

Shop the BioLite Solar Panel 5+ at:


The Black Diamond Spot 400 is built for surviving long-distance thru-hiking. It is waterproof and has red and green night vision modes for late-night reading in your tent that won’t kill your eyes.

It uses 4 AAA batteries and shows battery life remaining when switching on the headlamp.

Shop the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp at:


A simple watch is best for thru-hikes so you don’t have to worry about charging it. The Timex Expedition Fast Wrap Watch is inexpensive, waterproof, and comfortable.

The alarm worked great when we woke up at 2 am to climb Whitney.

Shop the Timex Expedition Watch at:

Duct tape

Duct tape is useful for a number of situations while in the backcountry from patching holes, ‘fixing’ broken gear, to resealing food packages.

A popular backpacker hack is to wrap a few lengths of duct tape around your trekking poles or pack one of these small rolls.

Shop small rolls of Duct Tape at:

Trail guide

The John Muir trail is pretty well-signed, but you’ll still want maps and a guidebook. This John Muir Trail Map Pack by Tom Harrison was perfect. We only kept out the page that we needed for the day and they were super durable, waterproof, and most importantly, accurate.

The Elizabeth Wenk guidebook was good, and I was glad we had it for the elevation profiles and campsite listings. However, it had so much extraneous information that ultra-light hikers will want to think twice about bringing it.

Shop the John Muir Trail Tom Harrison Maps at:

JMT Backpacking Electronics

You’ll want to minimize the electronics you bring on the JMT to minimize the need for charging them.

Here are the two electronics I do recommend bringing:

GPS transponder

I recommend packing an emergency communication device (especially for those of you who are hiking the JMT solo).

I use the Garmin InReach Mini, which allows you to send and receive custom text messages, unlike other GPS devices.

The Garmin InReach is a big investment, but it comes with a lot of great and potentially life-saving features.

Note that you do need a separate Garmin subscription to use the InReach Mini.

Shop the Garmin inReach Mini at:

Woman sitting on rock in front of alpine lake and mountain looking at Garmin inReach gps device
I have a previous model of the Garmin GPS inReach that I take with me on all my backpacking trips

Digital camera

If you are serious about photography, the John Muir Trail offers non-stop epic landscapes to capture.

I love the Sony Alpha a6400 which uses mirrorless technology to get professional quality photos with a camera that is only slightly larger than a point-and-shoot. You can also swap out the lens on the Sony Alpha cameras.

For something even more compact, consider the Sony RX100 VII, a GoPro, or your phone (some of which take amazing photos these days!)

Shop the Sony Alpha a6100 Mirrorless Camera at:

JMT Toiletries

Trust me, you won’t need all those extra toiletries like shampoo and conditioner on the John Muir Trail. Leave them at home! I quickly ditched my face wipes and lotion because the were just taking up space.

Here’s what you need to bring to stay fresh and clean on the trail:

Pee rag

A pee rag helps you stay clean down there without needing to carry toilet paper (which you need to pack out).

I recommend the Kula Cloth, which is anti-microbial and easy to use. It has a soft micro-fiber side to wipe with a and waterproof flip side so your hands stay clean. After using it, strap it to your pack to air dry and then give it a rinse when you get to a clean water source.

Shop the Kula Cloth at:

Hiker facing away from camera looking out onto alpine lake with snow-dusted peak in background
Snap your Kula Cloth to your pack to keep it dry and fresh

Bug spray

If you are hiking early in the season, you’ll need bug spray.

Bugs usually die off later in the season though, so when we hiked in September, we didn’t end up needing it.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to pack a small bottle like Sawyer Picaridin, which is as effective as DEET but doesn’t damage your expensive gear.

Shop Sawyer Picaridin Bug Spray at:


There are a lot of exposed stretches on the JMT, so be sure to pack some good sunscreen. The Sun Bum SPF sunscreen is awesome. It’s non-greasy and I only had to put it on once in the morning – and it lasted all day.

Shop Sun Bum SPF mineral sunscreen at:

First aid kit

You’ll most likely develop some blisters or have other (hopefully minor) medical issues, so be sure to pack a first aid kit.

I love MyMedic because you can buy pre-made med packs based on your trip and customize your own first aid kit.

For backpacking, check out the:

Shop The MyMedic Hiker Medic at:


Keep your lips protected in the dry high-altitude air with a good SPF chapstick. My favorite is the Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm. It has a nice minty smell and lasts longer than other brands I’ve tried.

Shop Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm at:

Hand sanitizer

Pack a small bottle of hand sanitzer to use after going to the bathroom and before cooking.

This refillable travel-sized hand sanitizer bottle has a carabiner that you can clip to your backpack for easy access.

Shop the Refillable Hand Sanitizer Bottle at:

Toilet paper

Don’t run out! And if you’re nervous about pooping in the woods, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Going #2 in the wilderness.

Toothbrush & toothpaste pods

Toothpaste pods like these Hello tablets allow you to plan your daily brushings without worrying about running out of paste. You can repackage them into these smaller Humangear GoTubbs.

Shop the Hello Toothpaste Tablets at:

Body wipes

While not an essential, it is nice to have a wet wipe or two at the end of the day if you don’t have a lake or river to wash off in. The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes are awesome. They’re large and nice and thick, so you can really use them like a washcloth.

I recommend budgeting 2 wet wipes per day for your JMT thru-hike (you can send a second package in one of your resupply packages).

Be sure to pack out all of your used wet wipes and toilet paper.

Shop the Sea To Summit Wilderness Wipes at:

Do you have any questions about my John Muir Trail gear list? Are we missing anything you loved having on the JMT? Leave us a comment below!

Start planning your long-distance thru-hike with this complete John Muir Trail gear list including camping gear, clothes, & hiking essentials

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  1. This is such a great list and I am really looking forward to hearing about what you wished you had and what you wished you had left behind. I’m also curious to know how your Spotify did since I’m sure more often than not you were out of cell signal. Did you download your playlists prior to leaving? What a trip, I’m sure you’ll have fun stories to tell.

    1. Daidri – I just revised the list with my notes on all of my gear. If you have any questions, let me know. As for music, we actually didn’t end listening to nearly as much music as I thought. However, I pay for the $10 a month spotify plan. It allows you to “download” the playlists to your phone so you can listen to them when you don’t have cell service. I use it on airplanes all of the time and find the $10 a month fee to be more than worth it. Definitely check it out!

  2. Hi Kristen,
    I love the detailed gear list. Hopefully, I can do this trail in the future. When it comes to the multitool, is there another tool you wish you would have brought with you instead?

    1. Hey Angel – Thanks for the comment. You know…if I could go back I think I would have just brought a simple pocket knife. I don’t have a recommendation since I don’t own one, but there are tons on the REI, as well as Amazon with high ratings. My only criteria would be for the knife to be as light as possible. If you have any other questions, just let me know. And I hope you can do the trail too 🙂

        1. Get the really basic Swiss army knife Classic: one blade, nail file, scissors, toothpick, tweazers, screwdriver. Weighs mere grams. Most people will probably find Kristen’s pack pretty heavy. If you have the tights and the rain pants you sure don’t need the fleece pants. And a book? Wow, super-heavy. You can do this and stay at or just under 30 pounds, with water. You will get REALLY tired of carrying unnecessary things for 21 days that you use only once. JetBoil is great, but there are much lighter options — although probably not any that are as efficient. My stove weighs 2.5 ounces (same fuel) while JetBoil comes in at about 13, if I recall. Sweater, down jacket and rain jacket probably right for late season but overkill for mid-summer. If you get cold you can always use your sleeping bag as a shawl. Can also save ounces by putting a trash bag over your stuff in your pack rather than adding a 9-ounce pack cover you might never use.

          1. Thanks for these helpful tips. I agree my pack was heavy…and i’ve since upgraded and swapped out some of my kit to cut down on weight. As far as clothes, I was happy I had my fleece pants. I wore them every single night and don’t think my rain pants would have provided enough warmth. But these are great hacks for anyone looking to shave off some weight, so thanks for chiming in! -=Kristen

  3. Hey Kristen, Your photos look great! Thanks for making all this info so accessible. WIth your camera, did you use the standard lens that it came with?

    1. Hey Esther – I did use the standard lens that it came with, which is a 16-55mm, so it covers a good range for landscape photography. But any e-mount lens will work with sony NEX or alpha series, and there is a growing list of compatible lenses, so you could always shop around. Thanks! Kristen

    1. Hey Jim! Thanks for stopping by. It wasn’t one of your pens that failed, so no worries there. It was just a plain old ball point pen. Sorry for the confusion! Would be happy to chat more about the cool stories on your website. Feel free to shoot me an email at Thanks again!

  4. Hi Kristen (I’m Kristen, too!)
    I also have the Peak Camera clip and was really disappointed to have issues using it with my larger pack since it won’t fit around the straps. Can you share what tricks the Peak Design people gave you on how to adjust it?
    I’m hiking the JMT next month and would love to use it.

    1. This is the tip I got from the folks over at Peak: “The key to getting Capture on a thicker strap is unscrewing the bolts as far as they can go (or removing them completely) and then using both hands to “sandwich” the clip around your pack. In 4 years we have yet to find a backpack strap that Capture cannot fit on. So, please give it another go. It takes a bit of elbow grease but once it’s on there it’ll be totally secure and you’ll rarely have to take it off.”
      Hope that is helpful and if you still have trouble, let me know…or perhaps reach out to the company directly. They seem to be pretty responsive.
      Thanks! Kristen

  5. Hi Kristen!
    I’ve been reading all about your prep for the JMT. I’m fairly experienced in day hiking but I’ve never gone actually backpacking. I visited Yosemite last summer and fell in love with the area and it’s been a dream to hike the JMT. What would you suggest that I should do to work up to this hike? I feel like I don’t even know what skills I need to survive in the backwoods. Any help is much appreciated.
    Thanks so much,

  6. Really useful list of hiking gear and tools! I love going hiking and camping in the mountain. The problem is that you need to be well equipped if you want to feel good. I have gear when it comes to hiking but my camping gear is scarce. I would like to find a mug that is nice and convenient and that is easy to clean! I am very happy that share about the REI Recycled Camp Mug. It sounds great and it is really easy to clean it, which is really important feature for me! Thanks for the great post! It is so useful for me!

  7. Hi Kristen! You are an inspiration! I have been talking about doing a multi day hike for years now. I retire from the army in December and my son and I have decided we are going to do the JMT this summer. I am heavily using your site for assistance in planning as I have done plenty of road marching and camped some, but we have yet to do anything of this nature. I was wondering about wag bags. Did you use them and did you have a preference. I\\\\\\\’m assuming that during some part of the trip you probably had to carry it out. Any other advice for would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey James –
      Congrats on your decision to do the JMT with your son. What a cool experience to have together. As far as wag bags, there is only one place on the trail that requires the use of wag bags, and that’s Mt. Whitney. The ranger will provide you with one per person when you pick up your permit. The rest of the trail, you are supposed to carry a trowel so you can bury your #2 at least 6-8 inches deep at more than 200 feet from any water source. Then you need to pack out your dirty TP. Browse around the rest of my posts and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email! Thanks, Kristen

  8. Hey Kristen, hoping to get a permit this next summer, 2016, for the JMT. Because of the competitive nature of getting a permit, we thought we would follow your itinerary of starting at Sunrise Lake, then circle back at the end to complete the Half Dome part of the hike. We are also looking at late August. My questions are these: You picked up your permits at Touloumne visitors center. Where did you pick up the trail? Is this at the 6.5 mile marker? How long was your hike in? Second Question: down at Onion Valley you hiked out and picked up your food in a bear storage area. On page 266 of the “John Muir Trail, edition 5″, by E.Wenk, she notes that, ” the food storage boxes at Kearsarge Lakes have been locked. They were being abused as food storage by JMT and PCT hikers.” Is this the same as what you used? If this is the case, what else would you recommend?
    Also, we have a friend who lives in California (we are from Vermont) and she is willing to do some food drops for us. Will a road map of California tell her how to get to the necessary roads or is there a better source for that info. I was wondering about the Kearsage drop in particular? Perhaps, Red Meadows as well. Informative blog. Thanks for breaking every thing down so well.

    1. Hey Cindy – Here are the answers to your questions:
      1) You start at the Sunrise Lakes / Tenaya Trailhead. There is a free shuttle that leaves right from the Tuolumne Meadows rangers station. However, with changes in the permit process, you are no longer at an advantage starting at this trailhead. Check out my post on permits for more information.
      2) I did the JMT in Sept 2014 after the Wenk book was published and we had no problems getting food from Onion Valley. I think the problem is people leaving food in there for weeks at a time. I used the Mt. Williamson Motel in Independence who dropped off our cache a day or two before we arrived in Onion Valley. Check out my post on resupply and then perhaps give them a call. If you hear that they are no longer doing this, please let me know and I can update my post. If your friend chooses to drop food, Onion Valley is still the most convenient. Maybe she could meet you there and you guys could camp at the Onion Valley trailhead campground for the night. There is also a pack station at Onion Valley that will hold your food. I think I mention them in my resupply post.
      Reds Meadows is another place that she could drop food, although mailing food there might actually be more convenient and their holding fee is really pretty cheap. Other than that, there is really no convenient place for a friend to do food drops along the trail to my knowledge.
      Hope that’s helpful and let me know if you have any other questions! Kristen

  9. Posted this question yesterday but I don’t know where it went. I was reading your gear list and I noticed you don’t have bear spray , a gun or any sort of defense . Do you not worry about bears? I hike in Indiana so I don’t have to worry about them but I would like to hike other states and I have to admit I am scared to death of running into one.

    1. You aren’t allowed to use bear spray in these California parks. Black bears typically aren’t aggressive, you just have to make sure to put your food in a bear-proof canister away from your tent at night. We saw one bear and it was more scared of us than the other way around. As far as guns, that’s not something I’m comfortable with carrying so I don’t carry one. In grizzly country like Glacier and Yellowstone, you are allowed to have bear spray and they actually recommend it. I’ve also read that putting a bell on your backpack to make a bit of noise keeps them at bay.

  10. Hey Kristen,
    Awesome list! I have a non-gear related question. I’ve got a permit leaving June 8 from glacier point. Do you think this is too early? Is it do-able at all, based on snowpack? Also, do you have a budget estimation for the trail? You rock!

    1. It’s hard to say..It all depends how much snow the Sierras get the rest of the season and the spring temps. But you should probably be prepared to do some hiking in the snow. Maybe bring a pair of Yak Trax in case you encounter any ice?
      I didn’t really keep track of my spending. It really varies depending on how much new gear you are going to buy…but for food and shipping I think I spent like $500. But that’s a total guess. Sorry that’s not more helpful!

  11. Hi Kristen!
    I am looking at the logistics for a JMT hike later this summer (perhaps July-August). I noticed that you didn’t list an ice axe or crampons here. Is that simply not needed that late in the season? I have read a couple of other forums on hiking the JMT that mentioned the use of this gear. Maybe it was just due to a high snow-pack that year?

    1. Typically in late July and August, you wouldn’t need an ice axe or crampons. This year is a heavier snow year. I would think by then, most of the trail should be clear, but you should keep an eye on trail conditions in the weeks leading up to your hike and adjust your gear accordingly.

  12. When you’re doing the JMT (or any longer/thru-hike backpacking trip) with two or more people, what are the items you can safely bring only one of? Should each person be prepared to be 100% self-sufficient in case of an emergency, or are there things that you can realistically share? Specifically, I’m wondering about water filtration, camp stoves, first aid, and anything else I may not have thought of.

    1. Hey Betsy –
      Well, we only brought one stove and one water filter between the two of us. As a backup to your water filter, you should always carry some purification tablets in case your filter breaks.
      For a stove, I suppose it wouldn’t be a terrible idea if it’s something as small as a pocket rocket stove. But I think most people probably just bring one that is in good working order prior to your trip.
      First aid, one comprehensive kit should be good as long as you don’t plan on splitting up.
      Hope that helps!

  13. Hi Kristen–
    When you were doing JMT did you just ditch all jewelry? I have earrings and a necklace that I never take off, and have never bothered me on previous, shorter backpacking trips, but not sure for this summer’s JMT. What do you think?

    1. I didn’t wear any jewelry…I think it’s probably personal preference. If it were me, I think the stud earings might not be a problem, but the necklace could be bothersome….

    2. Take them off. I know this is an old post, but for any future readers…. take off your jewelry.
      It’s not worth having your special necklace or earrings get damaged on the trail, and there’s always the worse possibility of you getting hurt from them. The necklace not so much, but earrings can and will snag your sleeping bag, pillow, tent, and even your backpack when you’re taking it on and off. When I am on the trail, all of my jewelry stays at home. Even my wedding ring.

  14. Any thoughts on bringing an ultralight, quickdry travel towel? I’m [attempting to] thru-hiking the JMT in July…

  15. I see you did not bring gators, how were the stream crossings? Did you take your shoes off or just change your socks a bunch? Trying to figure out the best footwear setup.

    1. I didn’t bring gaitors, but it was a low snow year when I did it. There was only one crossing that I switched shoes. I brought hiking boots and tevas which worked great. tevas could be used for swimming and river crossings (if needed) as well as hanging out at camp.

  16. HI Kristen
    We are headed out in 3 weeks for the JMT! My gear list looks like your pretty much. I am weighing in (with food) at over 32 pounds…I am 100 pounds. Can you tell me your complete pack weight? I am trying to get my pack lighter!!! Thanks much

  17. Awesome post! Very detailed! I plan on hiking John Muir soon and will definitely check your list when it’s time to pack my gear!

  18. Kristen!
    Your site has been so helpful in my JMT prep! Quick question: can you elaborate on your trekking pole GoPro method? I have the same mount you used and am struggling to mount it to my poles!
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Anna – if you have the bike mount, you should be able to mount it to the top of your pole….but it does make it a little harder to grip your pole. If you find it to be a hassle, I’d suggest the 3 way mount instead. This is my new favorite mount and it’s pretty easy to store (without too much added weight)

      1. Thanks so much! Leaving for the trail on August 2nd and have been constantly on your site for the whole planning process!

  19. Hi Kristen,
    What a great read. Thanks for validating (and rejecting) some of my early notions. Hope to challenge JMT next year.

  20. Hi Kristen, we will be heading out for the JMT in a couple of days and came across your blog just now. Looking at the entire list of equipment you listed we were surprised about the total weight and were wondering how much the weight of the pack of your companion was (and which one he used and its size).Thanks, Stefan

  21. Hi Kristen–awesome list here! I hiking the JMT in August-September this year. I have been trying to decide which camera to bring. My DSLR is obviously quite heavy and bulky for a backpacking trip, but my smaller point and shoot simply does not take the same quality photos. Do you have any suggestions for cameras that are not as expensive as the one you took on your trip, or does one typically have to spend that much to get good quality and light weight? Thanks.

    1. You definitely don’t have to spend a ton of money on a camera to get good shots…but I’m most familiar with Sony and the alpha series cameras. I also hear great things about the RX100:
      You can also search on B&H photography. They have a great 30 day return policy and lots of info and reviews on point and shoots:

  22. Hey Kristen,
    This is a great resource! Thank you for all of the information. It\’s a bummer that you ran out of whiskey. Do you recommend a particular lightweight flask?

  23. It\’s a shame you ran out of whiskey. Do you recommend a particular lightweight flask for the backcountry? Thanks.

  24. Hi Kristen! Just stumbled across your site (thank goodness!) and it has been an amazing help. We are planning on doing a 3 day trip on the John Muir (1 day to get in, 1 day to camp and hike, and 1 day to get out. Any suggestions on a good place that we could get to within a days hike from the Muir Trail Ranch? There are 4 of us going and we all live in Shaver Lake so we’re pretty close to the trailhead at Florence.

  25. Hi Kristen,
    Awesome comprehensive pack list, wondering what the weight of your pack was or a rough estimation?

  26. Kristen,
    I’ve read several of your blog posts and they are awesome! I am planning a JMT trip with my 17 year old son next summer (2018) and I have found the information from your posts both helpful and inspirational. Thank you and keep it up

  27. Brilliant Blog Kristen!!
    Will be using your advice and suggestions as it has been years since I hiked anything substantial.
    JMT has been on my bucket list for the last five years and in celebration of my 60th I have started accumulating the necessary items for a trip in 2018 your advice is going to be invaluable !!!

  28. I’ve been reading all about your prep for several months. I’m fairly experienced in day hiking but I’ve never gone actually backpacking. Thanks, thanks for the share. Keep posting.

      1. Hey John! Kim, here. I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and most important thing about going in late September would be to ensure you have plenty of layers as the temperatures begin to drop. Just this past year the Sierras had a bit of snowfall in September so ensuring you have solid navigation skills is also important.

  29. I intend to do the trail next August depending on when I get the permit it will probably be between the 2nd or 3rd week of August and I’m intending to summit mount Whitney. Do I need waterproofing gaiters and microspikes?

    1. Hey Abigail, you don’t really need waterproof gaiters. Gaiters though are really helpful–you should check out Dirty Girl Gaiters, they are great, I wore them for the PCT. You’ll only need microspikes if it is a heavy snow year, so we’ll have to wait and see what this winter brings.

  30. Hi Kristen,
    Thank you for posting such great information.
    One question, if money were no object, what would be your go to dri-food solution?
    Also, have you figured out a way to do a resupply at Charlotte lake without hiking out to the trail head?
    Is there anywhere someone could drop food for you at Charlotte Lake for a couple of days?
    John Georgevits

  31. Hey Kristin! Just bought the Sony a6000 wondering if you brought a lens with you or just used the camera itself. Thanks!

  32. Hello!
    First of all I love referring to your website to prepare for the JMT this upcoming August. I was wondering, could my boyfriend and I share 1 large bear canister and 1 half size bear canister. Trying to save room and not sure if we both need a large one. We have the plastic one from REI. We will be doing 3 resupplies along the way. Please let me know if you have any feedback. Thank you!!

  33. Hi Kristen – thanks for the fantastic list!
    I had a look at your backpacking photography page, but didn’t see anything about batteries mentioned. Do you bring extra batteries for your camera, or recharge the ones you have using the solar setup you mentioned? Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated!

  34. Hi there!
    I love your posts! Thank you so much for taking the time to blog and give out wonderful info! I am hiking the JMT in July and had a question about footwear. I am debating between boots and trail runners. Did you experience any times where the boots weren’t ideal? Also, some JMT hikers are saying that boots are ok as long as you have camp shoes that are suitable to do river crossings. What was your experience with footwear/ what would you recommend for this?
    Thank you so much!

  35. I’m curious how you charged all of your devices if the Goal Zero was only good for charging your cell phone. I’m doing the hike in 2 weeks and trying to figure out my best charging options. I will have a stretch of 9 days where I won’t be able to charge up my devices. I keep hearing different things about solar chargers. So again wondering how you kept everything charged with just the solar charger.

  36. Hi Kirsten,
    did the FLZ distance poles work well? I am thinking about buying them for next year jet.

    1. Hi there Markus,
      This is Mary Kathryn responding on Kristen’s behalf. From what I’ve been told, the FLZ poles work well.

  37. Just stumbled on your website (admist my googling for converting my subaru into a part-time camper) and love your content! Question about your Deuter bag. Deuter is my absolute favorite, fit-wise — completely forms to my body. However, every time I’ve tried any pack 40L and up, no amount of adjusting fixes the problem of the high frame hitting the back of my head with just the slightest movement. Have you had this issue, and/or found a way to fix this?

    1. Hi Callye, I’ve had the same issue actually – I’m 5’3″ and have both the Deuter 60L women’s pack and the 45L pack. The top of the 60L pack does come up pretty far behind my head, but if I adjust the pack right my head doesn’t constantly touch and it doesn’t bother me too much but the pack still feels big overall. I’ve realized that I really only need such a large pack for extended backpacking trips where a bear canister and other equipment is required, other than that, I prefer to make do with the 45L pack which is much more comfortable and doesn’t go up as high. My recommendations are to go with as small of a pack as possible that will still comfortably fit everything you need, and to try out a few different packs in person at REI or another outdoor retailer to see if you can find one that’s not set as high. Hope that helps!

  38. Hi there! If you had to choose, which I’m trying to do, fleece or jacket? I’d prefer to bring only 1! Thanks!

  39. Do you have a tutorial on how you packed your pack with this gear list? I have a similar gear list and I can’t seem to find a way to pack my jetboil with my bear canister (BV 500) in a way that feels balanced. It could be my short torso, but I figured I would reach out and see if you had any advice!

    1. Hi Katie, no video tutorial, but we have a blog post outlining how to pack a backpacking pack — It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle balancing everything when carrying a bear canister, but I’d suggest seeing if you can balance it out on the side (with other similar-weight items on the other side) or seeing if you can fit it on top of the canister. Good luck!

    1. Hi Kelley, I haven’t had any issues with breaking out wearing biker shorts on trails. I prefer them for summer hiking days because the length is longer than most baggier shorts, causing less friction or rubbing. It’s definitely personal preference & I’d recommend testing out any new gear item on shorter hikes before committing to wearing them on a long day hike or thru-hike.