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Ultimate Female Packing List for a John Muir Trail (JMT) Thru-Hike

Kathleen on the Muir Pass - John Muir Trail Thru-Hike

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!

blisters surgery
Get the right shoes before a long hike to avoid the dreaded 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.

JMT Thru-Hike Clothing to Pack
The clothing packed for the JMT Thru-Hike.

Clothes

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.

Sports bra

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

Gear

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!

echo shelter ii

Therm-a-rest Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad

Monte Bell down sleeping bag

Nemo Filo™ Pillow

Piece of Tyvek (footprint for under the tent)

Alcohol Stove

Spork

Pot – Stoic Ti 1.6L Pot + Fry Pan Set

Lighter

First Aid Kit 

Other Stuff

Camera

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.

toothbrush/tooth paste

toilet paper

Yoga Mat – This was my one luxury item!

Kathleen and pumpkin on Mt. Whitney
Kathleen and pumpkin on Mt. Whitney

>> See Kathleen’s other posts: Ultimate Packing List for a Bicycle Tour; One Little Thing: Nemo Fillo Pillow

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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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Agness says

    Great tips! I always struggle a lot with packing. I’ve noticed the shorter trips I go for, the more clothes I pack :). Next time I’ll follow your advice 🙂

  2. Dani says

    Hi! I am hiking the JMT in July of this year! A few questions:

    What degree sleeping bag did you bring? Did it keep you warm enough at night?
    What sports bra did you wear?

  3. Jen says

    I noticed you didn’t include water and food in your total weight. Those items definitely add on weight and they’re very important things to pack. I’m trying to pack for a backpacking trip but 26 lbs doesn’t seem to cut it for me once I add water/food. Help!

  4. Pam LeBlanc says

    This was really helpful. I don’t understand why some people bring so much stuff! I need to get gaiters and sun sleeves. My husband and I are planning the same trip next summer.
    Thanks!

  5. Sue says

    A good read… my husband and I are long distance hikers we are currently walking (in stages) Via Francigena (England to Rome) we pack light too even though Geoff carries the tent bringing his pack to 14kg, I carried 9kg I have a shoulder injury and take take more…. anyway, we watched Mile…Mile and a half and really want to do the JMT but I thought it was a non starter as everyone I’ve read about is carrying huge weight…. so your blog has given me hope that we could do do..

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