I was really happy with my gear choices overall. However, as I didn’t have a huge amount of experience, was going solo and hadn’t hiked in the region before, 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:
- The gear that I would take next time.
- The gear that I didn’t need and ditched along the way.
- 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.
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.
Perfect! No issues on comfort. Next time I’ll remove the top section.
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
This were good, but not great. A few times the anti-shock mechanism came undone. I may not have tightened them enough. Not ideal when you’re mid cross on an icy pass!
Clothing & Footwear
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 for me for most of the day. 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 heavy and didn’t dry.
3 x Pair Microfiber Underwear
Nothing special. Comfortable in a quick drying.
3 x Socks – Stance Altimeter Trek Socks
I love these socks. They are so comfortable and mould to the feet. 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 due to an old running injury. I’d recommend taking one even if you don’t have a preexisting injury due to the brutal downhills.
1 x Waterproof Jacket – Northface Influx Insulated Jacket
I used this fairly frequently and it’s pretty perfect. This one comes with an integrated fleece, which I didn’t take with me.
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 an old skiing headband every morning, in the evening and at altitude.
1 x Prescription Glasses & 1 x Sunglasses
In a case big enough for both of them. Plus a dorky little chord to stop me dropping them!
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
Again, it’s a little pimp. But so worth it. I kept them stored in my sleeping bag.
1 x Merino Wool Hat
I wore this when camping high up and on Mount Whitney.
1 x Down Jacket – Rab Women’s Microlight Down Jacket
Definitely get one with a hood, and go for the best quality that you can afford.
1 x Pair Hiking Boots – Merrill 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. I broke them in thoroughly ahead of the John Muir Trail and only got two tiny blisters.
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!
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.
I didn’t get them out once, but I felt good knowing I had them. Both are very good quality.
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.
Spare AAA Batteries
Not used but I would probably still take them.
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.
Ibuprofen & Paracetamol
Gauze, Bandage & Tape
I took mini versions of toiletries and resupplied most items.
Unscented Wet Wipes
Toothbrush & Paste
Sounded like a gross idea at first, but works so well.
Small Tube E45
I really liked putting it on my face and hands in the evening.
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.
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.
Second T Shirt
Fleece Body Warmer
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
I figured that the boots had it covered.
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.
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 don’t think I’d bring it next time.
I ate from Ziploc bags at every meal so would definitely leave it at home next time.
Next time I would send them in my resupply (if I was able to make up my own).
I barely used it and the iPhone pictures came out great.
Not used and I would probably leave it at home next time, depending on the time of year that I went.
1 x Survival Bag – Life Systems Survival Bag
Slight overkill – but 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.
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’ll take Teva’s as my camp shoes next time and use them for river crossings.