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John Muir Trail - Gear List

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This gear list is a comprehensive description of items I carried on my John Muir Trail hike in 2003. Although a similar list can be made for my current three season backpacking trips, over the years many of the items below have been replaced with different brands and designs.

About My Gear: Much of the gear I carry while backpacking is considered lightweight (for more information on light backpacking gear, see my article on lightweight backpacking). Although some of the gear was commercial, a good portion of what I ended up carrying was homemade gear: from my shelter to my sleeping bag to my jacket. Doing so allowed me to create the lightest and most functional gear possible, as well as saving me a lot of money in the process.

About the Gear List: Weights were calculated using a digital postal scale. Where appropriate, I link to a "make your own" instruction website (given many of the commercial items I carried have been discontinued, I do not provide links to the manufacturer webpages of these items). Consumables are listed without weights at the bottom.

(* denotes homemade)


Resupply at the Muir Trail Ranch.


  • Stove* - Cat Can Stove with windscreen (1.5oz).
  • Pot - Evernew Titanium (5oz)
  • Mug - Evernew Titanium - 400mL (2oz)
  • Spoon - handle trimmed (0.2oz)
  • Bear Canister - Garcia (44oz)
  • Water Filter (Pur/Katadyn Hiker - 13.8oz)


John Muir Trail

Tarp Camping at Evolution Lake.

  • Backpack - Golite Breeze (12.0oz) - a very light frameless pack. My fanny pack doubled as a hipbelt.
  • Sleeping Bag* (32oz) - Rated at approximated 20F.
  • Shelter/Tarp*(12.6oz) - Simple A-Fame tarp sewed from 1.1oz Silicone Impregnated Nylon.
  • Shelter Bug netting* (6oz) - hung from the tarp, sewed out of no-see-um netting.
  • Shelter Stakes (8x) - Aluminum (5oz)
  • Ground Cloth - painter's cloth (3mil) (5oz) - available in most hardware stores.
  • Sleeping Mat - Ridgerest (cut to size) (6oz)


  • Shorts (3oz) - basic running shorts, nylon.
  • Spandex Shorts (3oz) - worn as underwear.
  • Fleece (9oz) - sewn from Malden Mills 200 weight fleece.
  • Jacket* (4oz) - Sewn from 1.1oz DWR nylon (not waterproof, my tarp doubled as a poncho at times)
  • Pants* (4oz) - Sewn from 1.1oz DWR nylon (not waterproof)
  • Long Undies (13oz) - polyprene.
  • Shirt (3oz) - nylon
  • Sunhat (2.8).
  • Fleece Mittens* (1) - same material as fleece sweatshirt.
  • Fleece Hat* (1oz) - same material as fleece sweatshirt.
  • Socks - 2 pair (2oz) - Smartwool.
Guitar Lake Campsite

Camping high above Guitar Lake.



  • Camera - Canon A70 w/ batteries and bag (13.5oz)
  • Maps - (Tom Harrison - cut to size) (1.6oz)
  • Mosquito head net* (2.1oz) - no-see-um
  • First aid* (2.5) - assembled from various items (moleskin, band aids, alcohol wipes, neosporin, tweezers, etc...)
  • Headlamp (Petzel - 2.5oz).
  • Lighter (mini-bic - 2x - 0.4oz).
  • Knife (Swiss Army 'hiker' - 0.7oz).
  • Compass/Thermometer (Silva Forecaster - 0.4oz).
  • Fanny Pack (Jansport - 3.2oz) - doubled as hipbelt for my backpack.
  • Water Bottle (Gatorade - one for fuel, one for water 2x1.8)
  • Radio (4.7oz with batteries) - small, unknown brand.
  • Journal (0.8oz) - small notepad and pencil
  • Book (paperback 4oz).
  • Hiking poles (Komperdell - double as tarp poles - 12oz).
  • Shoes - Nike Running shoes. (no weight).
  • Stuff Sacks* (2oz)
  • Shovel - Sanitation Trowel (2oz) - Duct taped wrapped around the handle
  • Plastic Garbage Bags (4x - negligible weight) - used as rain protection for clothes and sleeping bag.

244.8oz (15.3 lbs). Without worn clothes (variable): ~236oz/14.75lbs.

Consumables (no weights)

  • Toilet Paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito Repellent (2 bottles: one small 100% deet, another small spray bottle containing a dilution to ~10%)
  • Toothpaste
  • Alcohol (stove fuel)
  • Food


Food seemed to be one of the hardest parts of planning a hike of the duration of the John Muir Trail. In the end I had chosen meals that were fast and easy but could last a few weeks sitting around in a resupply container. Breakfast usually consisted of granola with dried milk, however some mornings I would have hot oatmeal. Lunch consisted of either cheese, salami, and crackers (when I was close to resupply points), peanut butter on tortillas, or a large number of snacks piled together. Lastly, dinners were usually 'one pot' type meals. Things such as macaroni and cheese, instant mashed potatoes with seasoning and solami, tacos (dehydrated refried beans and instant rice with spices), and other home-made meals. I snacked throughout the day on nuts, dried fruit, m&m's, Beef Jerky, Snickers, Cliff Bars, Oreo cookies, as well as other types of snacks. Flavored drinks such as Emergen-C or Crystal Light helped break the monotony of water time and again, as did hard candy such as Jolly Ranchers.


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