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Thru-Hike Gear List – What I used for 400

Miles In The High Sierra

This is a down and dirty thru-hike gear list, covering everything used on my 2019 adventure in the High Sierra.

The gear I used on my Sierra trip is similar to what I used on the Appalachian Trail & the Continental Divide Trail. Gear on this list could be used on a thru-hike on any of the big three trails, or in areas with similar conditions.

Don’t want to read the entire article?

I get that.

Jump to one of these sections:

A Little Background Info

 

Starting August 17th 2019, myself and two friends linked together four high routes in the High Sierra. The Kings Canyon High Basin Route (KCHBR), The High Sierra Trail, the Southern Sierra High Route (SSHR) and the Sierra High Route. For trip reports on each route / trail, click here.

We tackled these routes thru-hike style over the course of five weeks, covering over 400 miles.

I’m listing EVERY single item I carried on the trip. So to keep this article concise I’m listing each item with a short explanation. I’ve written extensively on a lot of the gear in this thru-hike gear list and will link to relevant articles as appropriate throughout the post.

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through these links it helps keep me fed on Ramen Noodles and doesn’t cost you anything extra.

The gear in this article is almost the same as any other thru-hike gear list for trails in the US. The major differences and things to note are:

Bear Canister – Not necessary to carry on most thru-hikes but a requirement in some parts of the Sierra. Adds weight and bulk to the backpack.

Ice Axe and Micro Spikes – Not found on your average thru-hike gear list. These traction devices were nice to have for a couple of passes in the Sierra.

Camera Gear – I carry WAY more camera gear than I reccomend most people do.

Thru-Hike Gear List For the Sierra

Sleep System

Thermarest Hyperion 20 Sleeping Bag

20oz/ 567g

This 20 f/-6C sleeping bag was one of my favorite pieces of gear from this trip. We dealt with many below-freezing nights and this mummy-style bag kept me warm enough to sleep on the coldest nights.

Thermarest Neoair Xtherm Sleeping Pad

15oz/ 425g

I decided to bring my winter sleeping pad with me on this trip to supplement my 20F/-6C sleeping bag. I’m a cold sleeper and the extra 3 oz over the Neoair Xlite was well worth it.

Exped Air Pillow

2oz/ 57g

I debated leaving my pillow at home but it helps me get a better night’s sleep and weighs just two ounces/57 grams.

RAB Silk Sleeping Bag Liner

5.4oz/ 153g

A silk sleeping bag liner adds a little weight to my sleep system but it also adds extra warmth and protects my sleeping bag from my grimyness after a long day of hiking.

Total Weight of Sleep System – 2.49 lb / 1.1 kg

Check out this detailed guide on Sleep Systems 

Shelter System

Gossamer Gear Twinn Tarp

8.5oz/241 g

I decided to use a tarp and bivvy setup for this trip to save weight. I love how roomy the Twinn Tarp is and it provides a lot of coverage for it’s low weight.

Enlightened Equipment Recon Bivvy

6.4oz / 181g

The Recon provides basic bug protection and protects the sleep system from any rain that might splash back under the tarp.

Mixed Stakes

10 = 2oz / 57g

A combination of MSR Mini Groundhog Stakes and Titanium Shepherd Hook Stakes to hold top my tarp in the strongest of winds.

Total Weight of Shelter System – 1.05 lb / .5 kg

Check out this detailed guide on shelter systems 

Packing

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack

30.5oz / 865g

The 40L Gorilla from Gossamer Gear was comfortable and perfectly sized to carry my gear and enough food for 6+ days. The water bottle pockets developed holes quickly due to the large amount of scrambling over abrasive granite and I would carry the sturdier Silverback from GG if I was to do this trip again.

Trash Compactor Bag Pack Liner

2.3oz / 65g

I’ve tried and tested all the kinds of waterproof pack liners and organisation on the market and I still think a trash compactor bag works the best. They’re also much cheaper than other options.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pod

1.2oz/ 34 g

I love these pods from HMG to store small essentials inside my backpack during the day and to have easy access to them when i’m inside my shelter.

Gossamer Gear Shoulder Pouch

1.5 oz/ 43g

Having my phone easily accessible on my shoulder strap is essential, these pouches from Gossamer Gear do a great job.

Bear Vault BV 500 Bear Canister

40oz / 1134g

It’s heavy and awkward but it’s a requirement. The Bear Vault BV500 is a great product and has the best weight to cost ratio of any bear canister.

Total Weight of Packing System – 5.3 lb / 2.4 kg

Cooking and Water

I went stove-less at the start of the trip and picked up my cook gear when the temperatures dropped. Checkout this in depth post on cook gear for more details.

MSR Titan Kettle with Coozie & Lid

3.9 oz / 111 g

This .85 liter pot from MSR is the perfect balance between volume and weight. I ditch the included lid and make one from stiff aluminium foil to save a few extra grams.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

3oz / 85g

I started the trip with Sawyers’ “Micro Squeeze” but wasn’t impressed with its flow. I switched back to the original Sawyer Squeeze and never looked back. Fast flow for a reasonable weight.

Platypus 2 Liter Water Bag

3oz / 34g

The Sierra has plenty of water sources and it wasn’t necessary to carry more than a liter whilst hiking. But, at camp in the evening I like to fill up my water bag once and not have to do it again.

Bic Mini Lighter

1.3oz/ 11g

Despite having a stove that has a built-in igniter I always still carry a backup. Also necessary for making a fire should the need arise.

Smart Water 1 Litre Bottle

1.3 oz / 37g

A Smart Water bottle belongs on every thru-hike gear list. Sawyer filters screw directly onto them and they are lightweight and durable.

Gatorade 500ml Bottle

1.2 oz / 34g

A little sturdier than the Smart Water bottles and they have a larger opening. I like the 500ml version for cold trail coffee (shaken not stirred) and electrolyte drinks.

Total weight of Cooking and Water gear 0.87 lb / .4kg

Check out this detailed guide on Cooking Gear 

Electronics

Iphone XS

6.2 oz /176g
A good smart phone serves so many functions out on the trail. Go to Apps were: Gaia GPS, Overcast for podcasts and the camera for all the selfies.

Anker 10000mAh External Battery

6.3 oz / 179g
Essential for charging my phone, headlamp and even my camera in a pinch. Just enough capacity without being too heavy.

Anker 4-Port USB Wall Charger

4.8 oz / 136g
This thing is a heavy little beast but having the ability to charge so many devices from one outlet means I don’t have to fight my hiking partners in motel rooms.

Cables – One Apple Lightning, Two micro USB

One for my phone and the other two for camera, battery packs and headlamps oh my.

COAST FL75R Headlamp

3.2oz / 91g
I’ve been very happy with this headlamp. It’s a little heavy but it’s incredibly bright, has a variable wide/spot beam and recharges through micro USB.

Spot Gen 3 Emergency Beacon

4oz / 113g
Hiking these routes through the Sierra meant rugged terrain, far off the beaten track. An emergency beacon such as the Spot Messenger gave me some piece of mind should things go wrong.

Headphones x 2

Used for jamming out to 80’s hair metal classics (joking?) and to monitor audio when using my sound recorder, discussed below.

Total Weight of Electronics 1.5 lbs / 0.7kg

Camera Gear

I don’t recommend most of this gear for the average thru-hiker not interested in photo and video.

Check this article and video for a full breakdown of my recommended cameras for hiking and to see why I carry such a heavy setup.

Sony A7Rii Camera with Sony 24-105 F4 Lens

51oz / 1.4 kg
A heavy but oh so capable camera. It hurts me to carry it, and it would hurt me to leave it at home. I shot a short movie on the hike and it’s going to be awesome.

Extra Sony Batteries x3

(1.6oz/ 45g each) 4.8oz / 135g Total

Shooting video on my camera drains batteries fast. I recommend Sony original batteries, more expensive but they last much longer in my testing.

B&W ND Filter

1.6 oz / 45 g
Essential for reducing harsh sunlight while shooting video in the outdoors. Enables me to get a shallow depth of field even in the middle of the day.

Zoom H1N Audio Recorder

3oz / 85g
Used for recording interviews and ambient trail sounds.  It records high quality audio despite its low weight and reasonable price tag.

MeFoto Backpacker Tripod

2lbs / 1kg
It hurt me to carry a proper tripod on the hike but I didn’t regret it. It enabled me to get shots I simply would not have been able to get otherwise.
Despite being one of the lightest tripods on the market and having removed two leg sections, the weight was still around two pounds.

Sennheiser ME 2 Lavalier Microphone

0.6oz / 17g
Used in conjunction with the Zoom H1N, this lavalier mic takes up very little weight and space and provides crisp audio for interviews.

Total Weight of Camera Gear 5.8 lbs/ 2.6kg

Miscellaneous Items

Sea to Summit Nano Mosquito Headnet

0.4oz / 11g
We dealt with savage mosquitoes at the start of the trip. A long sleeve shirt and bug spray helped and the headnet with my baseball cap kept them out of my face.

Camp Corsa Ice Axe with Black Diamond Leash

11.9oz / 338g (Together)
We had our ice axes at the ready on a couple of passes in the High Sierra. It wasn’t necessary for 99.9% of the trip but was reassuring to have along and I didn’t want to pay the shipping costs to send away such an awkward shaped item.
The Camp Corsa is the lightest ice axe on the market.

Kahtoola Micro Spikes

11oz / 312g
Only necessary for a couple of snow traverses. They spent most of their time in my pack and then I dumped them into my bounce box.

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

16oz / 454g (pair)
I prefer aluminum trekking poles with a “flick lock” closure. I’ve seen too many fancier carbon fiber models break too easily. These aluminum models tend to be heavier but cheaper.

Deuce of Spades Trowel

0.5oz / 14g
No thru-hike gear list would be complete without a poop trowel. Do the responsible thing, pack out a dedicated trowel to bury your do do.

Tooth Brush and Paste

1.8oz / 50g
Gotta keep them teeth clean. Cutting the handle off is optional

Mini Medkit/Repair Kit – Home Made (is best)

1oz / 28g
Leukotape, immodium, ibuprofen, emergency fire kit and a patch kit for my sleeping pad. Not much else

Vaseline Pot

I apply vaseline to my feet every morning to prevent blisters and use it if I start to get chafing in the nether regions whilst hiking. Yummy

Passport

1.6oz / 45g
I’m one of them foreigners.

Total Weight of Miscellaneous Items 2.8lbs / 1.3kg

Thru-Hike Gear List Clothing

In an effort to keep the post concise I’ve excluded my clothing. Click here to see my comprehensive article on choosing the best clothes for hiking.
The weight of clothing I carried in my pack was 6lbs / 2.7kg.

Total base weight for this trip was about 25lbs / 11kg. This includes clothing carried in my pack but not clothing worn or my trekking poles as they are not inside my pack.

It was the heaviest my pack has been in a long time. The bear can had a huge effect. The camera equipment was also quite excessive but necessary for what I wanted to achieve. I hope this thru-hike gear list has helped you gear up for your next hike.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you:

Did I miss something important? Or did I not explain something properly?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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