Packing for the High Sierra Trail
Packing for the High Sierra Trail was one of the harder parts about the entire trip. It was a careful balancing act of not carrying more weight than I had to for a week, but also not being in the middle of nowhere and not have something I needed or wanted.
And unfortunately I have found that whether I’m heading into the backcountry for one night or for seven nights, I bring the same stuff regardless. (With the exception of food.)
Bear in mind with the packing list below, I am absolutely not even close to working with ultralight setups and I know that I carry too much. I do not mind a bit of extra weight for a bit of luxury, particularly with my sleeping situation. (Yes, I did carry a 3-person tent for myself… it’s what I own… and I like the space!)
Having this whole photography addiction doesn’t exactly help me shed weight either.
Pack(s) (6.2 lbs)
- Pack – Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack (5.5lbs / 88oz)
- Includes an ultra-light SideKick, a removable daypack, which doubles as hanging reservoir sleeve.
- Camera Pack – f-stop Navin Camera Pack (.7lbs / 11.2 oz) attached to main pack hip-belt for quick access to my camera.
Shelter & Sleep (8.3lbs)
- Tent – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 MountainGlo (3.9lbs / 63oz) – This is definitely overkill for one person, but it’s the tent I have and I did relish in having the extra space.
- Sleeping Bag – Marmot Sawtooth TL 20° (2.5lbz / 40oz)
- In a waterproof compression sack
- Sleeping Pad – Nemo Astro Air (1.4lb / 23oz)
- Patch kit
- Pillow – Nemo Fillo Pillow (.5lbs / 9oz) – I’ve tried the filled stuffsack method and it’s just not comfortable for me.
This will be dependent on the time of year you’re going and which camps (altitudes) you plan on staying at. We went over Labor Day so we had to be ready for colder temperatures. Honestly, this is mostly what I pack on a mid-summer overnight anyway because I’m a baby…
- Prana Stratch Zion Convertable Pants (x1)
- Outdoor Research Helium II (Rain) Jacket (x1) (.4lbs / 6.4oz)
- Patagonia Down Jacket (x1) (.8lbs / 13oz)
- Quick dry T-Shirts (x2)
- Mesh Shorts (x1) for camp
- Minus 33 Chocorua Midweight Top
- Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottom
- Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Performance Boxers (x2)
- Light-weight Gloves (x1)
- Baseball Hat
- Hiking Boots
- Smartwool Hiking Socks (x2)
- Flip-Flops – Soooooo nice to put on at camp after a long day.
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp (.2lbs / 3.2oz)
- Extra AAA Batteries (x3)
- Trekking Poles
- Duct Tape (wrapped around trekking poles)
- Leatherman Skeletool (Multi-tool) (.3lbs / 5oz)
- Map – Paper maps don’t run out of battery…
- Compass – Also does not run out of battery…
- Frontiersman Bear Spray (.8lbs / 12.8oz)
Eat / Drink
- Backpackers Cache Bear Canister (4.4lbs / 70.4oz) – There are bear lockers at a lot of campsites along the way, but I’m pretty sure you’re required to still have one, just in case.
- Katadyn Hiker Water Filter (.7lbs / 11oz) – Make sure to have some backup iodine tablets or something. Between 6 of us, we brought 4 filters, 3 of which broke. I also read that some people don’t even filter along the way, but after being the very lucky recipient of some Giardia once, I wasn’t going to risk it.
- Nalgene – Instead of having a 3 liter bladder in my pack, to keep my pack weight lower, I only carried one filled Nalgene at a time and just refilled when I had the opportunity. (I never once regretted that decision.)
- Roll-Up Soft Water Bottles – I also carried 2 soft roll-up water bottles that I filled each night at camp so I was staying really hydrated, but I wasn’t filtering all the time. (These also came in handy on the last day up Mt Whitney when there were no water sources for like 8 difficult miles.)
- Jet Boil (.8lbs / 13.1oz) – Freeze-dried Mountain House meals and coffee. Lots of coffee.
- 230g Jet Boil Fuel (.5lbs / 8.11oz) – I boiled water 2-3 times in the morning for 1 meal and 1-2 cups of coffee and then one more time at night for dinner. I don’t think I even went through half this fuel so in hindsight, I wish I had brought a smaller bottle. (Less weight)
- Spork thingy to eat with.
- Lightweight Mug – Again… coffee!
- Food: The flavors varied each day, but I stuck with a basic plan for approximately 3,000 calories per day.
- Breakfast: Various freeze-dried Mountain House meals. (Breakfast hash is incredible!)
- Lunch/Snacks: Throughout the day, I’d take down some Mocha Cliff Shots, a Cliff Bar, single packet servings of Justin’s peanut butter or almond butter, and RX bar, and my big calorie intake would be 1.5 cups of Sweet Cajun Fire Mix. I mean, this stuff is just terrible for you, but really high in calories.
- Dinner: Again, various freeze-dried Mountain House meals. (I’ve eaten the beef stroganoff at home before because I was too lazy to cook dinner…)
- Desert: On the bigger/longer days, peanut M&Ms for desert.
First Aid & Toiletries
- Aleve – It’s a painful experience at times.
- Mole Skin – Over a month later, I still have a blister…
- Ace Bandage
- Bug Spray
- Toilet Paper (You know why!)
- Wet Wipes
- Ambien – I don’t sleep well in a nice bed in my home…
Electronics (10.3 lbs+)
- Cell Phone – Books, maps, music, & backup camera.
- Airpods (Headphones) (.1lbs / 1.62oz) – Invaluable! Motivation during rough mental sections and relaxing before bed.
- Sony A7RIII (1.45lbs / 23.2oz) with Really Right Stuff L Bracket – My go-to setup these days.
- Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (1.72lbs / 27.52oz) – Kept on-camera for most days due to the focal length versatility.
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35 mm f/4 Lens (1.14lbs / 18.27 oz) – I actually debated about not bringing this lens, but in some of the cirques, canyons, and valleys we were in, I wish I had wider at times. No regrets in bringing this second lens.
- MeFOTO Globetrotter Carbon Fiber Tripod (3.7lbs / 59.2oz) – If you’re serious about landscape photography, don’t even think about not taking a legit tripod.
- Sony NP-FZ100 LI Battery (x2) (.38lbs / 6oz) – Spare batteries, especially if we saw cloudy days and I couldn’t solar charge.
- Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Kit (1lb / 16.2oz) – Solar panels to keep everything juiced up, hung from pack during hikes.
- Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Bank (.55lbs / 8.8oz) – Solar panels charge to the bank.
- Micro USB Cord (w. apple adapter)
- Extra Memory Cards (All of them….) – I brought every single card I own (10, maybe?)
- Pelican Memory Card Case (.22lbs / 3.5oz) – Waterproof case for those cards, just in case.
- Cloth Lens Wipe – There’s a lotta dirt out there.
All-in-all, 53 pounds total.
General Information & Planning:
- The History of the High Sierra Trail
- Planning for the High Sierra Trail
- Packing List & Tips
- Photography Spots & Tips
- Day 1: Crescent Meadow to Bearpaw
- Day 2: Bearpaw to Hamilton Lake
- Day 3 (Part 1): Hamilton Lake to Kaweah Gap
- Day 3 (Part 2): Kaweah Gap to Moraine Lake
- Day 4: Moraine Lake to Junction Meadow
- Day 5: Junction Meadow to Crabtree Ranger Station
- Day 6: Crabtree Ranger Station to Guitar Lake
- Mt Whitney: The Tallest Peak in the Lower US
- Day 7: Guitar Lake, up Mount Whitney, and out to Whitney Portal