Image: Kathleen on the Muir Pass – John Muir Trail Thru-Hike
The following is a guest packing list by Kathleen. See all our packing list posts here.
If there is one thing my husband and I always get right, it is packing for adventures. I’m fortunate my husband is semi-obsessed with travel and hiking gear, and it also didn’t hurt he had previously hiked most of the John Muir Trail (JMT) a few years ago.
That said, my preferences about everything in life are much different than my other half’s, therefore my packing list was much different than his and 100% my choice.
I hiked the entire, 211-mile JMT this July. From start to finish it took 26 days. (Including all of our magical zero days relaxing.) Personally, I think I had a pretty kick-ass packing list and wouldn’t change a thing about the items I brought along on the journey so I’m sharing it with you.
The only changes to my gear during the trip included picking up gaiters (holy dust in my shoes), fishing gloves to protect my hands from the sun because I hike with hiking poles, and, um, my shoes(!!). Though I consider myself a rather smart adventurer, it never occurred to me that my favorite shoes of all time that I’ve owned and worn almost everyday for two years might not work out on a one-month hike and oh my goodness you should have seen the blisters!
Though I was fortunate to share the weight of our gear with my hubby, my pack only weighed around 19lbs (8.6kg) and his weighed approximately 26lbs (11.8kg). So even if sharing had been more even, our packs still weighed at least 10lbs (4.5kg) less than the average person’s we met on the trail. Not entirely sure why people carried so much with them, to each their own, but I sure didn’t ever wish I had a heavy book or something in my pack.
The terrain on this trail is primarily above 9,000 feet (2,700+ meters) elevation which means you have to be prepared for anything weather-wise. I packed in layers and brought a rain jacket. There were days that were so hot at low elevation in the Yosemitie valley, and days my fingers didn’t quite work sleeping at 11,800ft. But, I never once wished I had anything different or more with me, I felt very prepared.
Long-sleeved base layer (Patagonia, polyester)
Short-sleeved shirt (Icebreaker, merino wool)
Vest (Marmot) – My first experience with a vest, and it was unbelievable how much warmer it made me.
Down Jacket (Patagonia down sweater) – A must on this hike, it gets so cold at night at those high elevations.
Rain Jacket (Patagonia) – The second you don’t pack rain gear is the second you guarantee you’ll run into precipitation.
Shorts – Most of the trail is above tree line you so have to be aware of the sun, because sunburned legs is horribly unpleasant.
Thermal Leggings (Under Armour) – These were great to wear by themselves or under my other pants for the colder temperatures.
Pants (Patagonia) – Quick-drying, light-weight and they rolled up at the bottoms so I could wear them even when it was hot to still protect my legs, but shorten them to keep me cool.
Two Exofficio underwear – The only travel underwear option, in my opinion
Three pairs of socks (one very thick and warm) – Three because of my blister issues, clean socks were important.
Buff (Icebreaker, merino wool) – This served as my hat or a scarf. Kept my ears so warm and trapped heat from leaving my body through my head.
Sun sleeves – I was shocked by the difference they made. Rather than my skin actively burning from the sun they kept my skin cool.
Gators (DirtyGirl) – I picked this up about 87 miles into the hike and it was the best decision ever. I was previously dumping piles of dirt out of my shoes every hour.
Gloves – These are a must, it gets chilly in the mountains. Enough said.
Fishing gloves – I realized a few days into the adventure my hands were burned from sun exposure all day long while using my hiking poles. These fingerless gloves protected my hands without making me hot.
Trail runners – I started with my Salomon XA Comp 6s and then ordered the XR Missions a size bigger than my normal
Backpack (45 liter Black Diamond Pack)
Hiking poles (Black Diamond)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Shelter (2-person tent that only weights 26 oz!!) – We are in love with this tent!
Therm-a-rest Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad
Monte Bell down sleeping bag
Piece of Tyvek (footprint for under the tent)
Pot – Stoic Ti 1.6L Pot + Fry Pan Set
First Aid Kit
iPod and little speaker – We did our yoga program on the trail and we played the audio files of our DDP Yoga on the speaker so we could do it together. Also, when I was feeling defeated climbing a mountain pass playing loud music really helped.
Yoga Mat – This was my one luxury item!
About the Author: Kathleen is one half of Our Favorite Adventure where she and her husband blog about their adventures since they decided to leave behind a conventional life to live a life of perpetual travel. They hope to inspire others to follow their own dreams by sharing their journey! You can follow Kathleen on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.
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