What Gear to Pack for Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

Here's the gear that got me through the John Muir Trail.

Curated by Austin Trigg

The John Muir Trail runs 211 miles starting from Yosemite Valley and ending on the summit of Mt. Whitney. It travels through some of the best parts of the Sierras, let alone in the U.S. I had a hell of a time on the trail and I have to give it up to having the proper gear which makes for a great thru-hiking trip or any backpacking experience for that matter. Sometimes you hit the trail just right and have perfect weather, sometimes it’s quite the opposite which can be the case for the John Muir Trail. Here is my list of gear that helped me along the trail by keeping me warm and smiling the whole way through. Check out my story for more details on gear, packing, and planning your trip!

KEEN

KEEN Aphlex Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot - Men's

Break them in before you go or you'll wish you did. Blisters will happen so bring some mole skin or medical self sticking tape to wrap your foot up.

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SmartWool

SmartWool Trekking Heavy Crew Sock

You only need three pairs of socks total, two for hiking in and one for nights. Taking more will just take up space. I brought two of these for hiking.

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ExOfficio

ExOfficio Sol Cool Boxer Brief - Men's

These are great, light, dry quickly and really do help keep you a bit cooler while hiking. I brought three pair with me.

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Patagonia

Patagonia Capilene Daily T-Shirt - Men's

The thru hikes that I have done I have only brought one capilene shirt. Trust me you will not notice your own stink after the third day. If it’s dirty toss it in a lake, give it a scrub down and let it dry while you take a break.

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Patagonia

Patagonia Capilene Daily Long-Sleeve T-Shirt- Men's

Good to have two pairs of long sleeves, you can double up when a cold night hits or hike in the this thinner piece if needed.

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Patagonia

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket - Men's

Breaths well and if your cold you can throw this on for extra warmth or a wind breaker.

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Patagonia

Patagonia Beanie Hat

Keeping your head toasty is a must. This one also packs down nicely.

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Osprey Packs

Osprey Packs Xenith 88 Backpack - 5370-5858cu in

My XL frame made it a 96 liter since I am 6’4”. With everything that you need plus a bear bin for your food and camera equipment this was a solid choice. A lot of people hiked with 55 liter- 75 liter bags.

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Osprey Packs

Osprey Packs Ultralight Rain Cover

Make sure it fits your pack when it is fully loaded. I got a 100 liter cover and it was still a little tight with the tent on the outside of the pack.

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Marmot

Marmot Never Summer Sleeping Bag

You could go higher in degree but we mainly slept at higher elevation by the passes which gets cold at night.

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NEMO Equipment Inc.

NEMO Equipment Inc. Tensor Sleeping Pad

Bring tenacious tape for repairs. If you have holes that you can not locate throw it in a lake and submerge it, or if you have soap, mix a bit with water and wipe it on the pad in sections to find the air bubbles.

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Sea to Summit

Sea To Summit Hydraulic Dry Bag

I brought 2 of these. Put clothing in one and have another on hand for electronics or whatever you choose, they are good to keep everything organized in your pack.

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MSR

IsoPro Canister

Get the bigger canisters, either a 8oz or 16oz. There will be half used or if you’re lucky full canisters left at the resupply points so if you’re running low don’t fret too much.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Pole

You will want these for your knees and to keep your hands from swelling. The BD are great because they are collapsable. I have used them a lot and have slipped out on snow putting a good amount of weight on these poles and have not broken them, they have bent but never broken.

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Counter Assault

Counter Assault Bear Keg

You need this or you risk a ticket by rangers or worse a bear getting your food. You can not hang your food it is illegal in Yosemite and if a bear wants the food… it will get it. I fit 9 days of breakfast and dinner(dehydrated meals), my partner had the lunch materials in her Counter Assault Bear Keg. The BearVault has been known to be broken by bears but it is lighter weight so I opted for this. Plus it makes a better seat than the Bear Keg.

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Victorinox Swiss Army

Swiss Army Champ

A multi-tool always comes in handy for various gear repair jobs along the trail.

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Patagonia

Simple Fly Fishing Tenkara Rod 10’6”

If you fish I would highly recommend bringing a Tenkara fly rod with you. It weighs nothing, breaks down well and is somewhat simple to use if you know the basics of fly fishing. With the rod I had the Simple Fly Fishing Line and Leader 20’ for a 10’6” and the Simple Fly Fishing Box of Flies. In September the trout loved the white and orange wet fly that comes in this box. After I dialed in which fly they were going after it stayed on my line for the rest of the trip. I did have to submerge myself in frigid streams a couple times to retrieve the fly when it got hung up on sticks and logs that were under water but it was worth it. I also brought forceps - In case a fly was in a hard to reach spot.

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National Geographic

John Muir Trail Topographic Guide Trail Map

Perfect for the trail, if you want to deviate from the trail I would recommend bringing maps for the areas you will be in(i.e. Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Sierra National Forest, etc.). Worth bringing the additional maps if you want to check out some areas on a rest day plus its cool to see what else is out there.

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MSR

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter

Make sure you know how to back flush because they will get clogged. Sawyer's are awesome. We didn't have one for the trail but they were the main choice for most thru hikers and its gravity that does the work so you can do something else while it filters your water.

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Mizu

MIZU V5 15oz Water Bottle

I used this for hot drinks and it keeps them nice and warm for hours.

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Suunto

Essential

I used this to track elevation, which comes in super handy.

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Bedrock Sandals

Cairn Adventure Sandals

These are a great pair of lightweight flip flops to wear around camp.

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REI

Polartec Power Stretch Gloves

I brought a pair like these since we hiked the JMT in September. If you’re doing it in the earlier season I would recommend a mid weight glove like the Marmot Spring Gloves.

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REI

MultiTowel Lite Large Towel

X REI Multi Towel Light Large - Big enough and wicks a lot of moisture as well as quick drying. Tip about wet cloths or materials, hang them on your bag while you hike, they dry out in no time.

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