Jan 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm #1312089
Alright guys I am planning a JMT attempt for 2014. My friend and I are planning on a June 1st start which I know is earlier than the normal season but due to jobs we have to start a little early. The Sierras as of now are not receiving normal snowfall and on course for another drought year. With that said I believe we shouldn’t see any extreme snow even with the early June start. That may be incorrect because I am unfamiliar with SoCal weather. Any insight in that topic would be appreciated.
With that said the purpose of the post is for you guys to fine tune my gear list. For the most part I believe I have the major items nailed down. However nothing is set in stone with my gear list I am open to all suggestions.
Here is the gear list. It’s a Google Spreadsheet.
My main concerns with my gear list are the following. Also this is not my full list just my big 3 and clothing. I’m just getting started on the spreadsheet.
I am a side sleeper so I enjoy the Neo Air to keep from having sore hips in the morning. The thinlight pad is to protect the air mattress from going POP with the rocky terrain.
I already know I’m going to get slammed for the large tent. I have much smaller/ lighter options but none offer full protection. Plus the Stratospire 2 will give us plenty of room so two stinking dudes don’t have to sleep shoulder to shoulder for two weeks.
My next question is with the sleeping bag. Will 20* be too much?
I also need a suggestion for a hiking shirt. I would like to stay with a long sleeve because I am fair skin and the SoCal will be killer on me. I’m not against wearing a thin baselayer such as Patagonia cap 1and killing two birds with one stone if it is breathable enough not to overheat. But if a floppy button up is the standard please suggest one.
Add a sun hat? Yes or No
Patagonia UL hoody to much?
Gloves? Yes or no?
Also I need some advice on shoe/sock setup. I have read on the forum that a lot of folks buy a non goretex shoe and quick dry sock and just walk their shoes dry. Because of all the creek crossing I see the advantage of this idea. Usually I like to keep my feet dry but I’m open to the idea. Give me some opinons and shoe/sock ideas.
Any other must have gear for the JMT please do tell!!
Thanks GuysJan 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm #2063131
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
I haven't done the JMT but here are my general thoughts on gear.
1. Hiking shirt – I'd suggest a button up synthetic shirt with a tight weave in the fabric. This will help keep bugs off. Some shirts are treated with bug repellent but spraying some DEET on there should help if you want to go cheaper. I found a shirt like this very nice in the Teton Wilderness when bugs were annoying. There are some very light "desert" shirts I've seen designed for hot climates. They might be nice but I wonder if bugs could bit through them.
2. Shoes, yes I would suggest non-waterproof shoes but more importantly get shoes that fit well. I'd suggest going to a running store with people who know how to fit shoes. And I'd train in them before the hike.
3. Buy Andrew Skurka's book "The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide" its a great place to get started.
4. Splitting a two man tent between two guys isn't a bad idea as long as neither of you will need some alone time.
5. Until recently my sun hat system was baseball cap. If it was really sunny I'd put a bandanda on under the cap so it hung over my ears and neck. I'd suggest a nylon baseball cap because it is nice to wear under your raincoat hood.
If you want to spend money the Tilley Airflow is an amazing hat. In my opinion it solves all the problems of brimmed hats while having all the advantages.
Speaking of sun make sure you bring good sunglasses! Easy to forget but very nice in the mountains.Jan 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm #2063146
I did the JMT in August, which is quite a bit warmer than June. I took a 20 degree bag. It was perfect. The second half of the JMT stays above 10,000 feet for quite some time, so it can get quite cold at night.
You definitely want a sun hat. When I first entered Kings Canyon, it seemed blisteringly hot. I did not have a great sun hat, and I regretted it.
Also, you want gloves if only for Mt. Whitney. I climbed Whitney by night, and on the top, my hands were freezing and I had gloves. If you are smart and head up the mountain passes in the morning (to reduce the chance of getting caught in storms), your hands will get cold, especially taking down your tent in the morning.Jan 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #2063206Jan 14, 2014 at 8:14 am #2063219
CA, and the Sierra, typically gets most of its precipitation in February and March.
It does indeed look like a drought year now. But that can change in a hurry.
BillyJan 14, 2014 at 9:15 am #2063229
Being that you are from the SE, I think it's important to point out that a 'drought year' does not mean zero snow. For instance, though there has been VERY little snow so far I was out hiking yesterday and was up to my butt wallowing in snow… very hard going. The wind will drive snow and even a 1" snow fall can accumulate in very deep drifts. This happens typically on the north and east sides of the passes.
And as big a concern are the stream crossings. Even in a drought year there is snow and it melts. If it's warm early June and it melts all at once (in a couple of weeks) the streams can be nearly as high as in a cool spring with a high snow pack. Stream crossings can be treacherous.
Also, I would think starting in the south and heading north to Yosemite would be best if starting early June. Typically there is more snowfall and snow pack in the northern Sierra than the south. And the snow melts off earlier in the south. And… you will likely have the benefit of the PCT hikers having already boot tracked the snow over the passes.Jan 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm #2063371
Thanks for all suggestions. Keep'em coming guys.Jan 24, 2014 at 7:51 pm #2065956
As someone who hiked the PCT and went through the JMT in June during a more normal snow year, here are a few guild lines I'd use.
Be prepared to be snowed on. It can and does snow in June in the High Sierra. I've seen it snow in Yosemite in July. You'll likely have good weather, but you never know.
Be perpared for thunderstorms. You may get a pattern where the clouds will build and dump in early afternoon every day. You may have to wait it out (hail and all) below the pass until its safe to go over. Or it will stay clear.
Be prepared for below freezing temperatures at night. It will likely be warmer, but I've seen 17F as a low in June up high.
Your feet will get wet. Gortex shoes and boots take forever to dry out after they are wet while mesh running shoes can be quickly walked dry.
A headnet is a sanity item and isn't where you want to save weight by leaving it at home.
The Neo Air will work. Many camp spots in the valleys are free of rocks. The ones up higher may have plenty. Don't be afraid of sleeping on a a large flat rock slab instead of the ground up high as there will be less pressure points caused by those small rocks.
If you plan your campsites properly (ie. camp up higher where its cooler and there's some wind), mosquitos at night won't be an issue and you can just cowboy camp outside. I rarely use a tent in a the Sierras as they disappear after it gets dark and the temperatures drop fast due to low humidity. Sleep in lower elevations where the bears are or in areas that haven't dried out from the snow melt, you definitely will need some netting to hide behind when you sleep.
I recommend keeping the 20F sleeping bag. As I mentioned above, you may have cold weather. On warmer nights, use it like a quilt draped over you instead of zipping it up. I normally use a 20F quilt in the Sierras.
Hiking shirt. Find one treated with Permithrin (Insect Shield, Buzz-Off, etc) or treat your clothing yourself including you hat. By wearing long sleeve shirts/pants treated with Permithrin, I find the need to use DEET to be reduced. They may land on you, but they won't stay for long and won't try to bite through your thin clothing. I used DEET for all of 2 days in the Sierra Neveda on my PCT thru-hike. Depending on how quickly the Rae Lakes area dries out, that will have the worse bugs you'll see (nothing like Northern Yosemite at that time of the year but you won't go that far north on the JMT). So check out some of the shirts by Columbia or Ex-Officio that come pre-treated. I recommend a wide brim hat of some sort as you'll be in high altitude with little shade most of the day so lots of sun. Or get one of those baseball camps with the drape in the back. Pick your favorite hat at your price point. I like the Tilley LTM6 or LTM5 hats, but they are expensive so find something that you are happy with.
Make sure you have a real rain jacket. No need for a wind shirt unless you like them and its part of your layering system for the weather.
Gloves? Yes or no? I carry MLD's rain mitts. Only an ounce or so and they are enough to keep my hands warm during those early cold mornings.
Carry 2 pairs of socks for hiking and one to sleep in. Rinse out your extra pair in the morning and let it dry on your pack. The dust/sand build up is quick so you want to remove it to reduce the sand paper affect on your tender unbroken in feet. You'll see snow on the top of the passes which will get your feet wet just after they dried from the ford in the valley bottom.Jan 25, 2014 at 8:01 am #2066039
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I did the JMT in August last year, so my comments will be more general about my experience and not necessarily that of a June hike.
I used an inflatable and did not take any CCF pad…and honestly I didn't need it. Just be good about your campsite and it won't be an issue. No need for the extra bulk.
Full protection of the tent? Full protection of what? I certainly see the need for space with two stinky dudes…but not sure what you mean by full protection. The Sierra were awesome to hike in…I mostly left my duomid wide open (but still with the bug net closed in some places) and that is the first time I felt comfortable doing it. As long as you have bug and rain protection you're fine…not sure what you mean by "full protection."
I took a 20* quilt and I was fine, even on some of the super high campsites we stayed at. I also took my down booties despite everyone here telling me I didn't need them…but I was glad to have them. I do wish I took a medium weight grid fleece to sleep in tho…I regretted that. My puffy was too hot, my cap 1 was too cold.
I am a seriously pasty white person from the north and I blister just thinking about the sun. I wore shorts (with a generous dose of spray on copper tone sport SPF 50 sunscreen every day), a long sleeve Rail Riders Adventure shirt (loved it!) and a nice sun hat. I also ended up keeping a buff around my neck…I did not get burned at all. It was a nice combo and I would totally recommend it for a pasty person. I much prefer to hike in shorts, and to me the can of sunscreen was well worth it. I've used that stuff religiously, including during a 3-month stint in Costa Rica and never burned once with it. So that was a weight/bulk compromise I made for my own health and sanity. Some people can repackage smear on sunscreen and be fine…but that never ever works for me (I always manage to miss something). YMMV.
You will want a down puffy. Whichever you have, the mornings and evenings were quite chilly. My friend and I joked that it was like being on the surface of mercury…in the sun you are crazy hot…and as soon as the sun goes away (shade, sunset behind a mountain) it is instantly freezing. The puffy was nice to have, and as I mentioned FOR ME I would have liked a med weight grid fleece to go with it.
Yes absolutely on gloves. Wore them every morning and many evenings. Just light ones tho…nothing major. I used a Rab MECO 165 liner glove and it was perfect.
As for shoes/socks, I also come from a place where if you walk through a stream in your shoes you actually stay wet for a long time (high humidity!), but the Sierra is dry dry dry, especially at altitude. Which means you actually CAN walk through a stream in well-draining shoes with good wicking socks and within 15 mins your feet are dry again. It was nice on the few stream crossings I had to do because if they are higher you want some good traction on your feet. So look for NON goretex trail runners and good wicking socks (I used coolmax and wool running socks). Worked very well for me, despite my initial misgivings.
Overall have a great trip! I'm thinking of doing it again this year…since the timing may be right for me in August. We'll see……Jan 29, 2014 at 9:56 am #2067509
Hey guys, once again thanks for all of the advice on my smaller current gear list I have posted. Since reading you comments I have bought and traded around some of my gear. I will hopefully have a full gear list posted in the next few days for you guys to take a look at.
When I say full protection I meant basically bug protection. Many of my other shelter options do not have bug netting without the hassle of a seperate bug bivy.
Also has anyone had any experience carrying a Bearvault 500 with ULA CDT? Or for the folks who have used the CDT on a JMT thru what did you guys do?
Keep the comments coming guys
Eric DodsonJan 30, 2014 at 8:40 pm #2068141
Alright guys and gals here is the updated gear list.
If items are missing please let me know.
Since there are two of us hiking the trail we are splitting weight on some of the items such as the tent. One will carry the tent and the other will carry stakes,footprint, and other items used by both people to offset weight of the tent. So the base weight of the 12lbs will actually be around 2lbs less than the gear list states.
I'm still needing an ideas for a sun shirt and sun hat. I've been trying to decide between Outdoor Research sun runner or sombriolet hats. Suggestions and experiences?
I'm using the Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad for the frame of my pack and to protect the neoair at night.The foam pad that comes with the ULA weighs 1.2oz and the GG Thinlight is 2.4. The extra 1.2oz plenty seems worth it to me.
Lets get this gear list ready for the JMT on June 1st. Go!!Jan 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm #2068317
Unless the snow situation changes and we get a wet spring, you aren't going to have a ton of snow to worry about, even in early June. Thus the GPS may not be necessary. You could always use your cell phone's GPS in a pinch. I'd rather carry the Tom Harrison JMT Map Pack and a small compass to navigate as you won't need to carry the batteries. The JMT trail is pretty easy to follow for the most part providing you have a map to know which way to go at junctions that aren't Marked with JMT (as some just point to a destination that you'll find on your maps). The tops of the passes may be under snow, but as long as you know where the pass is in snow,you'll usually just head straight up to it once the trail becomes burried. Even in early June, you'll share the trail with numerous PCT Thru-hikers going north so there will likely be foot prints to follow and it may not be necessary to carry the SPOT either since you'll see other hikers.
Depending on how much snow is on the ground when you start, you may need an ice axe. If the snow remains really low, then probably not.
My favorite sun shirt is one by railriders. They make a couple that have a mesh strip down the torso side's and along the shirt arms. Eco Mesh-TOp, Adventure Top, Madison River Shirt, Versa-Tac Light shirt. Some come pretreated with permithrin (Insect Shield) for the Mosquitos. As I mentioned earlier, I like my Tiley's LTM-6 Airflo hat for the sun, but it does cost. The brim stays pretty stiff in rain and it has a double wind strap (one behind the head) which helps keep it on your head in wind better then just a chin strap. Otherwise, just get something with a wide brim that isn't too floppy.
Unless you tend to be cold all the time, I don't think you need both the fleece and down jacket. Just one or the other will do.
For DEET, I recommend 3M Ultrathon DEET lotion which is easy to apply in the amount you want where you want. REI sells it. A 2oz bottle weights about 2.5oz. Make sure you bring some chapstick.
Have you tried carrying the Bearvault with the CDT? I tried the Garcia Can in a ULA conduit which is an older version of the CDT and while it did just fit, I wasn't happy with how it carried. But the bearcan shape is a bit different then the bearvault. So I was just wondering how well it works.Jan 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm #2068369
First off thanks for looking over both my gear lists. I have been on the fence about both the GPS and the Spot but I think I will leave both at home as everyone here seems to deem them unneeded. I do have the Tom Harrison map pack so I'm gonna stick with just those and download a GPS app and save myself almost a pound.
I'm actually waiting on my bearvault to arrive. It is supposed to be here Monday. I actually seen a picture on Erik Black's blog the other day that seemed like a great idea. He carried his bear can on top of his CDT and used the top strap to hold it in place. I'm not sure the quality of carry this gave him but I would be willing to try it. Another idea that came from that is to carry the bear can empty on top of the pack during the day and use stuff sack to pack the food in the middle of the pack to achieve a more normal carry with the most weight center of the pack instead of on top. Then in camp pack the food in the can but I already know repacking all of my food each night will become a nuisance. When the bear can gets here I'll let you know how it carries inside the pack.Jan 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm #2068404
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I don't think that carrying a bear canister externally on top of the pack is a good idea. Either you carry it up there loaded or else unloaded. If you carry it loaded, then it is going to be one big heavy lump at the top, and it isn't going to balance right. If you carry it unloaded, then you will need to be loading and unloading it with food once or twice per day, and that will get old. Besides, if the attachment isn't tight enough, you will see your bear canister bouncing past you on the trail or else getting cracked from a fall.
To me, the only way to carry a bear canister is loaded and at the very bottom of my pack since it is the heaviest and bulkiest thing I carry.
–B.G.–Feb 1, 2014 at 7:24 am #2068560
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I think the list looks quite good, not considering the BV+CDT issue. I think that's going to be a major issue.
But on to the little stuff: Personally I'd keep the fleece, but only because I tend to chill once I stop moving and would have liked the extra dry layer at camp in the evening (took off the wet n stanky Rail Riders Adventure Shirt! and changed into my tights (arcteryx phase SL) and the cap 1 LS with my montbell ex light over it…) but once I settled down I got a nasty chill some nights. Everyone here told me I didn't need it, I went back and forth over it and ended up leaving it in the car at the trailhead! But it would have been nice to have…FOR ME. It's all going to depend in how chilly you get in the evenings/mornings/sleeping…it may or may not be worth it to you.
Don't overthink the sunhat. I used a cheap knockoff thrift store boonie hat and it worked just fine…now I'm the proud owner of one if the OR sun hats (also one of the big floppy ones…) and it also works fine. Just get a big brim that feels comfortable to wear….you will probably never really take it off. So like it!!
I also liked the Rail Riders Adventure! Shirt! (TM). Way too expensive tho, but I think they are having a sale now – just picked up another one because mine is a bit unwearable now ;)
I think there may be better ones out there, but honestly, I'm not sure this matters either as they are all pretty much the same. Something light colored, thin, loose fitting…you'll be fine. There were some serious sun protection get ups on the trail, I'll say that!!
Others may have some nitpicking to do with your kit, but honestly, to me, it looks great. I do think you'll have trouble with that pack and a bear can tho. I see a new pack purchase in your future, actually…….Feb 1, 2014 at 9:20 am #2068589
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
In June, you will be going thru snow.
Ice ax is a must. The streams will be flowing as well and each crossing will get you wet.
There are so many streams and each one will be 4 times wider than later in the year.
It will not be like late summer when you hop right over them. You will be wet and cold 100% of the time.
There are even a few spots like climbing up to Rae Lakes where yo may need to find a few alternate routes to get past a few overhangs. I've done the Rae Lakes Loop at the end of May and it was a nasty mushy mess.
The higher passes in June will be this way as well.
Your biggest challenge will be the times you hit each northern snow sections of the passes.
To early and it's all iced and slick. By noon your falling thru past your knees each step.
Being that you will be wet and cold all day, I would bring a warmer sleeping bag.
You get a cold snap in June and you're going to wish it was 17 degrees.Feb 1, 2014 at 9:42 am #2068597
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Gonna have to agree with Aaron and disagree with Sean. WAY too early to be guessing about snow. We have seen a few years where the snow was really low – though not as low as this year, into early March and then completely caught up in March with 2-3 monster storms.
More fundamentally its not necessarily a matter of degree usually. If there is snow on your route then mostly likely isn't going to matter to you at that point if is 2 feet deep or 20 feet deep. The snow pack will determine how soon thing melt off of course, but don't assume anything just yet. If the pattern shifts, as apparently it is predicted to do by simulations starting about now, then there is still time for it to be a *heavy* snow year if the conditions are right.
However, I think the melt-off-level streams in June, as Aaron implied, are likely to be your biggest surprise/issue/shock if you don't have any experience in the area.
At OP, at least liner gloves!!! I may be freakishly sensitive but my hands start getting numb doing camp chores at dusk, especially above the tree line – in fact they were tingling last night at 43F! In June it is a no-brainer probably.
An Elemental Horizons Kalais pack will fit any bear can comfortably at about 30 oz.I could post a picture if you like. Even a zpacks arc blast will with slightly less ease for 16 oz (and more money). I tried to get a Osprey Exos 48 to work with my Berikade and that was blunderbuss territory, but people say the bigger one works fine. ULA catalyst is also fine.
@jennifer Wow, looks like you really put the "Adventure" into that Adventure Shirt.Feb 1, 2014 at 9:56 am #2068601
I always carry my full canister at the top of my packs.
Personally, I find the balance is better while hiking with the weight up high… though you could want it lower if you are scrambling over talus… but for trail walking… up high is best for me…
Even before canisters, I always carried my food (the heaviest thing) up high at the top of the pack.
As for loading and unloading to get to your food.
This is not a big issue for me.
Looking down into the canister from above I load the dinners on one side and the breakfasts/lunches on the other side. I try to mix them up for variety and then am pretty much happy with what ends up on top. Any digging down to get something is easier that completely loading and unloading the canister every day.
BillyFeb 1, 2014 at 10:25 am #2068611
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Just read your updated list and saw gloves! In June may be not enough, but resisting my urge to be grandma.
Hat: Unfortunately I have been very picky about hats, and that combined with my hatred of shopping "live" has lead me to owning, but not using a ton of hats (probably have to sell them here at some point). Anyway, after my long waste of effort I finally am happy with a Tilley LTM5. More expensive, but I should have tried one (as has been suggesting on here tons) before going on my crazy hat Odyssey. But like falling in love, hat are a personal thing. I may look like grampa in it to some, but I FEEL like Indiana Jones!
Shirt: Since you asked for suggestions – my all time favorite base layer is a Patagonia SW Capilene Crew. White for sun protection/reflection. Its not as traditional as the loose-fitting nylon shirt, but much better in my book. Lots of people here may disagree.
The current ones are bit heavier but have minimalistic thumb loops to protect some of your hands (the most vulnerable part), but the old ones were even lighter weight. The adventure shirt blocks more sun if you are as pasty as Jennifer, but the SW capilene is the most breathable and perfect for layering under things.
Permethrin is probably you best friend for the mosquitoes, regardless of shirt. To paraphrase Gen. Patton (in the movie) "when you see about 300 mosquitoes riding on the back of your best friend's shirt as he hikes in front of you… you'll know what you have to do!"Feb 1, 2014 at 10:36 am #2068614
Just to clarify, when I say I carry my full canister at the top of my pack, I mean inside at the top… highest thing inside the pack… lying horizontal. I do not mean on top of an otherwise fully loaded pack… though that might work for some.
I might put it on top of a soft pack if it did not fit inside horizontally, but it would not end up higher than it would normally be if it did fit inside the pack. In other words, I would not fill the pack completely; the top part would still have some room unfilled so the fabric would push down when the canister is put on top.
Not sure if that is clear or not.
If you do strap it on top of the pack you want to make sure it is secure and won't fall off.
As for the snow pack:
Chances for an above normal snow pack come June are nearly zero.
Chances for a normal snow pack come June are slim, but theoretically possible
Chances for a below normal snow pack come June are very good
Chances for there being no snow pack come June are near zero.
The depth of the snow pack is not likely the issue as by that time of year it will consolidated and firm in the morning… and soft in the afternoon sun… regardless of depth… but a deeper snow pack will also mean more miles of snow as the cover will be more extensive.
Keep in mind that it is not unusual go get a snow storm right into the middle of June…
Probably would only be a few inches of snow… but miserable if not prepared for it…
I would be more concerned about the stream crossings than the snow pack.
That includes not only walking through fast moving, cold water… but also collapsing snow bridges that can drop you into a dark, cold cavern of freezing water that is hard (or impossible) to get out of… You could have a VERY bad day in there…
BillyFeb 1, 2014 at 11:25 am #2068633
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"That includes not only walking through fast moving, cold water… but also collapsing snow bridges that can drop you into a dark, cold cavern of freezing water that is hard (or impossible) to get out of… You could have a VERY bad day in there…"
R.I.P. SEKI backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson.
–B.G.–Feb 1, 2014 at 11:46 am #2068643
Or this one, Bob:
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