My John Muir Trail gear list

I was really happy with my gear choices overall. However, I definitely erred on the side of caution and started with a very heavy bag.

I learnt – and ditched – a lot along the way, and next time I’d be setting out a lot lighter from the  beginning.

To help you with your choices, I’ve broken it down into:

  1. The gear that I would take next time.
  2. The gear that I didn’t need and ditched along the way.
  3. The gear that I didn’t need, but kept hold of ‘just in case’. And that I would most likely leave at home next time.

1. The gear that I would take next time

I used almost all of these items everyday. And if I didn’t, I’d take them again for safety reasons. It comes to about 20 lbs in total.


Sleeping bag – Rab Womens Ignition 3 Sleeping Bag

Toasty and fairly light.

Sleeping pad – Therm-a-Rest Evolite Sleeping Mat 

A bit heavy for some, but so so comfortable. Has lasted a few trips now with no punctures.

Pillow – Outwell Memory Pillow

I got a lot of stick for this, but I could not have slept better! I will never be ultra- light.

Backpack – Osprey Aura AG 65 (WM) Women’s Rucksack

Perfect! No issues on comfort. Next time I’ll remove the top section.

Tent – Wild Country TentsZephyros 1 EP Tent 

I really loved my little tent. Enough height to sit up in (at least for me – 5’2″!) and a vestibule big enough to keep your stuff dry.


Poles – Trekrite Antishock Hiking Sticks

These were good, but not great. A few times the anti-shock mechanism came undone. I may not have tightened them enough. I’d definitely take poles but maybe not these ones.

Clothing & footwear 

Daytime/ hiking

1 x short sleeve t Shirt

I used an old running top. You only need one.

1 x long sleeve t shirt

Another old running top, worn over the short sleeve one. It was the perfect amount of warmth and the long sleeves also helped protect my skin from the sun.

1 x shorts

I used my old running shorts. Super light, dry and comfy.

1 x bikini top

I ditched my sports bra as it was so bulky.

3 x pair microfiber underwear

Nothing special. Comfortable in a quick drying.

3 x socks – Stance Altimeter Trek Socks

I love these socks. The general advice is that you only need two pairs, but I found that the ‘drying’ pair didn’t always dry in time, and for me, having clean dry socks is key to not getting blisters.

1 x knee brace

I wore this at the start due to an old running injury.

1 x waterproof jacket Northface Influx Insulated Jacket

I used this fairly frequently and it’s pretty perfect. I didn’t take the fleece part.

1 x waterproof trousers Berghaus Deluge Overtrousers

These are the best waterproof trousers I’ve ever owned. Very light, easy to get on and off, and available in different leg lengths.

1 x pair gaiters

I had a lightweight pair similar to the Dirty Girl brand. They’re ideal for keeping out dust and little stones.

1 x pair gloves

I used a pair of old running gloves. I barely wore them day to day, but they were essential for Whitney.

1 x fleece headband

I wore it every morning, evening and at altitude.

1 x prescription glasses & 1 x sunglasses

In a case big enough for both of them. Plus a little chord to stop me dropping them!

Evening/ Sleeping

1 x merino wool long sleeve top

1 x merino wool long johns

I really like having something ‘clean’ to change into in the evening.

1 x pair sleeping socks

So cosy.

1 x merino wool hat

I wore this when camping high up and on Mount Whitney.

1 x down jacketRab Women’s Microlight Down Jacket

Definitely get one with a hood, and go for the best quality that you can afford.

JMT gear list
Cosy on my last night

1 x pair hiking bootsMerrill Energis Mid Waterproof Boots

I love my boots. They are mid-way between a trail shoe and proper hiking boot – not too heavy and quite breathable.

1 x camp shoes 

I used flip-flops. These are great for the immediate camp area. But you have to give yourself a little camel toe to wear them with socks (so attractive) and they’re not very stable for walks down to water, or wherever else you need to go. I’ll take Teva’s next time!

Cooking & water filtration

1 x stove – Jetboil ZiP Cooking System 


1 x spork – Sea To Summit Delta Spork 

Also perfect. Surprisingly sharp knife!

1 x water bladder – OSPREY Hydraulics Reservoir 2 Litre

This was ace. Fits into its own compartment in the bag.

Water filter – 1 x Sawyer Mini and 1 x Sawyer Flow

I used the flow inline which was the best thing ever. No waiting. I used the mini in camp and as a backup.

1 x mug – Lifeventure Titanium Mug

I didn’t strictly need this, but it was nice to drink out of it whilst making food in the stove. It’s very light.

1 x water carrier – Source Liquitainer 2L

It was necessary to have extra water in camp (four – five litres from arrival at camp to the first water stop was usually plenty). This wasn’t the best though; I had to fill it with my little plastic bottle. I haven’t found many alternatives unfortunately. On the plus side, it’s very light.

1 x lighter 

1 x mini spare fuel can 

Navigation & safety

I didn’t need any of these items, but I’d take them all next time.

1 x paper map & 1 x compass – Tom Harrison Maps And Silva Compass

I didn’t get them out once, but I felt good knowing I had them.

1 x whistle


1 x iPhone 6s
Worked a treat for notes, navigation, photos and films.

2 x battery packs & cables 
A full charge lasted about two days. I’d take a spare cable as you would struggle to replace it.

Charger head
I picked up a US one

1 x head-torch – Petzl Tikkina
This is an ace little head-torch.

Spare AAA batteries 
Not used but I would probably still take them.

First aid

I trimmed down my first aid kid, and fortunately only needed the blister plasters. I resupplied the plasters and pills.

15 x blister plasters– Compeed Blister Plasters
Applied at the first sign of a blister. They’re amazing.

Normal plasters

Ibuprofen & paracetamol

Gauze, bandage & tape

Antiseptic wipes


I took mini versions of toiletries and resupplied most items.

Unscented wet wipes

Toothbrush & paste


Pee rag
Sounded like a gross idea at first, but works so well.

Biodegradable soap

Small tube E45
I really liked putting it on my face and hands in the evening.

Block deodorant
This was optimistic, but I did use it.

Factor 50 sun cream
I used c.150 – 200 ml overall.

2/ 3 x hair elastics

1 x trek towel
I could have got away without this, but I liked having it for when I had a wash or a swim.

USA 939
Post swim


1 x trowel – Coghlan’s Backpackers Trowel 

2 x large dry bags – XL Exped Fold Drybag
For sleeping bag and clothes.

1 x small dry bag – XXS Exped Fold Drybag
For electronics, lighter.

Duct tape wrapped around half a straw
I didn’t need this, but I’d definitely take again. Just in case!

1 x tent pole repair splint
Didn’t need it, but I’d take next time.

1 x bear canister
I hired mine from Yosemite NPS. Easy and cheap, but you can get much lighter ones! Doubles nicely as a stool.

1 x mini penknife
Came in handy a couple of times.

2. The Gear That I Didn’t Need & Ditched Along The Way

I ditched all of this gear in hiker buckets. I could have posted it home from Tuolomne, MTR (without being a guest), or by going into Mammoth from Reds. I didn’t miss any of it, but I may have needed some if it had the weather not been as good.

Paper diary & pen
I wrote in the notes app on my phone.

Sports bra
Too bulky.

Too warm/bulky.

Second t shirt
Not necessary.

Fleece body warmer
Not necessary.

Sun gloves
Not necessary (although some people swear by them).

Not necessary (and I did already have a hat and a headband…).

It’s available at the places where you’ll find a proper shower.

Ankle support brace
Boots provided enough support.

Wash bag
Too heavy and everything ended up in Ziploc bags anyway.

3. The Gear That I Didn’t Need, But Kept Hold Of ‘Just In Case’

There were quite a few things that I didn’t need, but which I held on to out of a thought that I might need them. I would leave most of it at home next time.

Solar charger
I didn’t use it but kept hold of it ‘just in case’. My battery packs lasted for ages and I was able to charge it at Reds and MTR. I wouldn’t bring it next time.

Titanium bowl
I ate from Ziploc bags at every meal so would definitely leave it at home next time.

Nail clippers
Next time I would send them in my resupply (if I was able to make up my own).

Travel hairbrush

Small camera
I barely used it and the iPhone pictures came out great.

Mosquito net
Not used and I would probably leave it at home next time.

1 x survival bag – Life Systems Survival Bag
I though a good idea to keep me warm easily in case of injury, especially as I was on my own. If I went solo again I’d probably take it, or a smaller version.

1 x river shoes
I ended up buying some cheap river shoes in Mammoth (c. $20) after my first week. The river crossings were pretty hairy and I didn’t fancy doing them barefoot. I was a veritable trail Imelda Marcos. I’ll take Teva’s as my camp shoes next time and use them for river crossings.

3 thoughts on “My John Muir Trail gear list

  1. Cool gear list! I’m such a gear list dork. I had a good laugh at your “trail Imelda Marcos” comparison,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe thank you!! I did feel a little ridiculous with my three pairs haha 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

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