John Muir Trail Tips

Better, but still a lot heavier pack than necessary.

Still a lot heavier pack than necessary. Giampiero Ambrosi


You will be able to move faster, farther, with more ease, and a lot more happily. Most of what you think you need, you don’t.  I highly recommend that you internalize the philosophy of light hiking. Every ounce counts. You’d be amazed at how much more pleasant it is to walk even just when you’ve drunk a liter of your water and are a few days into your food supply. Over a number of days, and many miles it matters a lot even though at first you’ll think that a few ounces here or there won’t matter. 3 ounces here and 2 ounces there very quickly adds up to a pound and then that pound adds to another.

While I had hiked and camped a fair bit. Usually it was in the Alps with a base camp or from rifugio to rifugio where a bed and meals are available. Most of my camping trips where I carried food and shelter had been only 1 or 2 nights between resupply, so I was pretty novice as a multi-day through hiker, carrying a tent, and all the clothes, food and supplies from place to place.  I did a TON of research and found a few blogs and forums extremely helpful.

After this trip, I learned a lot and figured out how to drop about 15 more lbs from this set up. Live and learn. For six days including water, all food, clothes, and gear including pack, tent, and trekking poles, I’d be at about 24 pounds now –  and that makes life a LOT more pleasant. A lot of people regularly go MUCH lower.


Backpacking Light

This website is extremely helpful! Read everything you can and take part in the forums. There are tons of really knowledgeable and cool people on this site. I got so much good advice here, it’s crazy.

Andrew Skurka

Andrew Skurka’s Blog is useful. Read his 7 steps to lighten up. I think his distinction between light and stupid light is useful. He’s also good at making a distinction between people who are primarily interested in camping, and those primarily interested in hiking. They’ll have different needs. You might quibble with some of his stuff, but it’s undeniable that his own trips are pretty amazing, and his advice is based on experience of many thousands of miles in all different types of terrain.

High Sierra Topix

Good community for general Sierra info. Lots of long timers here who know their stuff.


This list is far from authoritative or absolute. It’s just my personal opinion and stuff that I gleaned. You may have a very different opinion or experience. Please note that while some of the tips are general, I’m mostly thinking about a summer trek in the Sierras here.


  • Carefully plan everything that you will carry. Make a spread sheet. Weigh everything. Be aware of the weight and mercilessly cut out anything that unnecessarily adds weight. You don’t actually need that much.


  • For JMT, don’t wear boots. Trail shoes are much better. They say a pound on your feet is 5 pounds on your back.  And you don’t need them for the maintained JMT (or less maintained stuff for that matter). I wore Treksta Evolution II on the JMT and have worn them in all kinds of other conditions since. I now buy them 3 or 4 pairs at a time. (This was a great recommendation from Justin on Backpackinglight.)  They are light weight, have good traction, and the fit is perfect on my foot. The shoe is shaped anatomically like an actual foot not like a mannequin foot. The result is that the shoe is fitted at the heel and arch so you’re not pulling out, but generous in the ball and toes. I never wear boots when hiking near home, but got talked into it by a friend who did the JMT. I started training for the trail wearing North Face hiking boots. They were heavy, required breaking in and made my feet white, prune like, and shriveled. That sucked and equals serious blisters. I ditched them a week before the hike.
  • Avoid Goretex. It makes your feet sweat and is useless. If you have Goretex shoes, your feet sweat, and that sweat stays in your shoes. Moisture on your feet = prune feet (AKA maceration), blisters, and peeling skin. Here’s what foot ‘maceration’ looks like.  Besides, if you get your feet wet, the Goretex will take forever to dry. With my Treksta shoes I could actually feel the wind blowing through. It was great.
  • Make sure you take good care of your feet. A stupid thing like a blister can really make life a pain in the ass, and bigger foot issues can put you out of commission. The book “Fixing Your Feet” was helpful if a little over-detailed for this task. Geared towards even the most extreme ultra runners, there was a ton of useful info in here. After reading this book, I ditched the boots and Goretex. I started wearing Injinji toe socks under a second pair of hiking socks and used various techniques to keep skin smooth, dry and trouble-free. I didn’t have a single blister or  hot spot on my feet the entire trip.
  • If you do get a hot spot or feel discomfort, the mantra is “stop, drop, and fix it.”  Don’t wait as it will cause problems that you won’t be able to remedy later.
  • I started using Superfeet inserts. There’s a lot of discussion about whether this is helpful in the long run, or just a prosthesis. It really helped me out at the beginning, but now I don’t wear them at all. I highly recommend that before using insoles, you start using a tennis ball on your feet. Roll your foot over it putting as much weight as you can take. Your feet will take care of themselves.
  • Shoe fit. This is really individual. You’ll want to try a whole bunch of different shoes until you find one that works great for you.  You should NOT have to ‘break’ your shoes in much for a trail hike like the JMT. That’s for heavy-duty mountaineering with rigid boots that take crampons. You should be able to pretty much wear your shoes right out of the box – even though it’s wise to field test everything before you go. If it doesn’t feel good when you first try them on, they sure as hell won’t feel good after 8 or more hours of hiking. What you really need to make sure is that you can wiggle your toes in the shoes, and that when you step uphill your heels don’t lift out of the shoes. If you’re an avid trail runner/hiker already, just wear what you use normally. There were people on the trail in hiking sandals, toe shoes – some people even go barefoot which is far beyond my comfort level.
  • Size your shoes up 1/2 to 1 full size. Most people wear smaller shoes for everyday use compared to hiking all day, when your feet swell. On the way downhill, you need the extra room in the toes.
  • Learn some lacing techniques that will leave your feet comfortable. You might for example cross over below your instep so that your foot doesn’t slide forward when you’re going down hill. “Fixing Your Feet” has a good section on lacing.
  • Some people like running gaiters which enclose the top of your shoe and go over your ankles so that dirt, pebbles, and grit don’t get into your shoes or socks. I personally don’t wear them and haven’t needed them, but others swear by them.  I recently hiked Mt. Ngaurahoe in New Zealand. This is the volcanic cone covered in cinder and scoria that doubled as Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings. Gaiters would have been a god send here but not of much use to me on the JMT. You can choose standard gaiters or a lot of people love dirty girl gaiters which seem to be standard for the ultralight folks and despite the name, are for men, too.


  • Don’t bring tons of extra food. Even though I can eat like a Viking, I personally didn’t have much of an appetite and could literally have carried half the food. I gave away a ton of food on the trail to through hikers.
  • Food choice is personal. I rarely eat junk food, but trail eating is a little different. I just used Mountain House dehydrated dinners, they were tasty and super easy with no clean up. You just pour boiling water in and let it sit for a couple of minutes. You eat right out of the pouch. No clean up. For Breakfast I ate Pro Bar Meal and dehydrated Starbucks Espresso which was great and very light. Now I would probably just eats some salted nuts, and drink a cold coffee. Lunch was salami, hard cheese, jerky, chips and the like. For snacks, I had dried cranberries, some trail mix, peanut butter. I wasn’t as overly thrilled about chocolate as I thought I would be. Payday candy bars were great because they are calorie dense peanuts and were salty. and easy to find. Peanut M&Ms were a nice treat. I really wished I had brought more vegetables and some bouillon. I would have killed for some potato chips or pringles or fritos because the salt and fat are very efficient. Some of the real long trekkers advocate tons of super fatty foods, but the occasional chip on the trail is a good medium.
  • I didn’t feel like alcohol at all. I brought a small flask of Cognac and ended up pouring it out. Dennis ditched a whole liter of single malt. If you know Dennis, you’ll know that THIS IS A BIG DEAL .
  • Dennis really liked dehydrated soup or bouillon. It’s light and a really nice salty pick me up. You need the salt. I loved it on our last night. Throw some dehydrated green beans, jerky, and kale in it and you’re flying!
  • Cooking. I used the Snowpeak Gigapower with an autoigniter. You don’t need the autoigniter but it’s easier. The stove weighs 4 ounces. It’s a cool little foldable thing that screws onto a fuel canister. A lot of light hikers make their own stoves out of cat food cans that burn alcohol. I believe that you aren’t supposed to use these on the JMT (I may be wrong) and it seems like more hassle than it’s worth, although it’s a lot cheaper. But it’s a personal choice when permitted and a lot more experienced and smarter people than me use them.
  • Cooking Pot. I just used a Snowpeak Titanium Mini Solo Cookset. It just had a pot, cup, and lid. My fuel and stove fit in the pot and packed up real tight in the mesh sack that came with it.
  • Fuel. Iused a Snowpeak small fuel canister. I brought one spare in case of loss or puncture, but mostly because I wasn’t familiar with how much fuel I would use. Any brand is fine. They are interchangeable.
  • Spork. I had a titanium spork. I really wanted one with a long handle and bought one after the trip. When you make pouch meals, you need the long handle to get to the bottom without sticking your whole hand into the pouch. Or if you don’t want to buy one, you can always liberate one from someplace that serves ice cream sundaes.
  • What about not cooking?  A lot of light hikers don’t bring a stove or food that needs cooking. For example, they might bring tortillas, bagged tuna, jerky, nuts, bagged humus and stuff like that. I like a warm meal at dinner. I could definitely do without it, but a nice hot meal at the end of the day is good.
  • The most extreme thing I ever read about was a guy who put chex mix, nuts, and pringles in a blender and made a powder/paste. Then he packed it into a bag and stuffed it into his bear canister and ate it with a spoon. Doable, but too extreme for a nice trail hike.
  • You should be able to get all the electrolytes you need from your food. Salty food or snacks work fine. I had some Nuun tablets which were fine, but probably unnecessary.
  • At night, you will put all your food and stuff that has a smell like your toiletries into your bear canister and stow it about 50 feet from your camp. That way you don’t have smelly stuff in your tent where a bear will rummage for it – through you if necessary.  When you do stow your canister try to wedge it between rocks and maybe keep it away from a river or lake or cliff. That way if a bear tries to open it, you won’t lose it forever.


Don’t bring a ton of clothes. You can rinse and dry as you walk. Here are my choices although obviously it’s all really personal. This is just to give you an idea of what you will need.

  • Shoes. Treksta Evolution II. NON-Goretex.
  • Socks. Injinji toes socks under REI or Thorlo trail hiking socks. (Now I use Darn Tough brand. They are great! Very densely knit and excellent quality and Made in USA) I brought 3 pairs each cause they are light and fresh socks are wonderful.
  • Shorts. I like Columbia hiking shorts and have the same two pairs in pretty much every hiking photo I’ve ever taken in the last 10 years. I like them to be short so they don’t get in the way climbing. The PFG (performance fishing gear) works well too and are one of the only short inseam types out there these days. They look stupid if you’re wearing them normally but who cares. I like the pockets and tough fabric. I brought 2 pairs, but one is probably fine.
  • Shirts. I like to wear Columbia long sleeve hiking shirts – like the shorts – I’ve worn the same shirt for the lasts 10 years. They dry fast and have pockets. Any brand or non brand is fine. I had 2.
  • Underwear. I started wearing REI athletic boxer briefs. They’re good, can be washed and dried quickly, and help with chafing. I had 3 pairs.
  • Headband. I sweat a lot, so I got a Halo headband which cyclists often use under their helmets. It kept a lot of the sweat out of my eyes, so that I didn’t have to stop and remove my trekking pole wrist straps so frequently to wipe my brow. I also have a bandana tied to my right pack strap which I use frequently. I don’t use the head band much anymore, but I always use the bandana.
  • Hat. It’s sunny up there. I used a stupid looking hat with a brim that you see in a lot of my photos. It was pretty good, but the soft brim flopped down in my eyes a lot. I now use a generic desert hat with a baseball hat like brim and a neck flap. It has mesh sides. I got it at a liquor store near Palm Springs for 4 dollars. It works great. A lot of people use a trucker style foam and mesh hat with bandana draped in it for your neck. That works fine too. I like to have a string on mine so when I want it off my head, I just push it back and it just hangs around my neck. Now I use a very light Salomon running hat. It’s super light.
  • Thermal underwear. Definitely bring some thermal bottoms and top to sleep in. It gets 30 ish at night, even in summer. Dennis did not heed my advice and froze his ass off. When you get into camp, just ditch the hiking clothes, clean up and put your thermals on. Great. Learn a little bit about where to camp, so that you’re not camping in a super cold spot . Your need for extra gear will dramatically decrease.
  • Down Hoody. I found a great Sierra Designs Gnar Hoody at the REI clearance rack for $75. (I’m wearing it in the photo at the top of the page). It worked great and kept me warm at night in camp and on the summit of Whitney. It was light and packed small.
  • Beanie. Any beanie will do. I had a great one from NorthFace with fleece lining. Warm, soft, and dense knit. (Although the new version isn’t anywhere near as good. Not dense and feels like vicose) Hats are important. They say if you want to keep your feet warm, wear a hat.
  • Long Pants. Don’t need em if you run hot like me. Thermals are fine.
  • Poncho. Ponchos are good because you can thrown them on over you and your pack. I got a cheap driducks emergency poncho. It was like $5 and not cheap vinyl, but super light, practically disposable and probably fine for the Sierra in summer. I figure, it it rains one day, I’ll get wet, but I’ll dry out.
  • Mosquito Headnet. I never used it, but it weighs almost nothing and would have saved a lot of pain and suffering had we encountered a lot of mosquitoes which you can do in some areas like Rae Lakes in some years/parts of the year. Get one for $5. You don’t need a $30 one.
  • Bandana. The good old fashioned bandana. Classic. So many uses. So light. So cheap. So quick to dry. Mop sweat, strain water, wipe hands, cool neck, filter dusty air. etc.
  • Flip Flops. You might want to bring some cheap light flip flops for end of day when you want out of your shoes and want to soak your feet. A lot of light hikers think they’re unnecessary, but it’s up to your preference. I don’t bring them anymore.


  • Water is very heavy. About 2 lbs per quart. That’s a lot! Know where your next water source is and only carry enough water to get you there. In non-drought years, there’s a ton of water on much of the JMT.  2013 – 2014 winter had very little snow fall, so it was less. I’ve been up there where permanent streams in blue on maps were totally dry. California’s drought is very deep and very real.
  • I used a 3 liter Platypus pouch with zip closure and drink tube – like a CamelBack.  It was great and have no complaints or fixes to this. I usually only kept a liter or two in it at most.
  • Water filtration/treatment  is probably necessary. Whatever you choose, should be light. Don’t bring a big pump filter which you don’t need. I did bring a Katadyn Vario, but never will again. It’s too big and heavy for a one person use. A Steripen which Dennis used is OK but takes some time. By far the best solution for me is a small Sawyer mini filter. Mine is about the size of a roll of quarters, weighs next to nothing and can be backflushed with included plastic syringe and reused. I cut my Platypus drink tube, spliced the filter in, and never have to treat water in the container at all. Just fill your water pouch from a stream and drink from your tube. On a recent hike of the Tongariro Crossing, I found a patch of snow, dumped it into the bladder and off I went. If water is mossy or filled with debris, just rough filter with a bandana. If you want to fill water bottles just squeeze the water from pouch through the filter to fill your bottles. I think they send a collapsible water bag with the filter and the filter screws right on. If you’re boiling it doesn’t matter.
  • For water bottles, don’t bring Nalgene or steel canteen type stuff. Just bring something like old Gatorade or SmartWater bottles. The big mouth is good and they’re light and more or less free. Collapsible bottles are fine too.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough water so your pee is clear and drink it before you desperately need it. This helps with altitude symptoms. You don’t need to get crazy with over the top water consumption. Drink regularly when you feel thirsty.
  • I also brought back up Iodine tablets or use Aquamira in case you lose a filter or have failure.


  • Backpack. I hiked the JMT in an Osprey Aether 60. It was good, but at 78 ounces,certainly heavier than necessary. I loved the fit of the Osprey and like how it zips from the front. After the JMT, I ended up getting a ULA Catalyst  which I really love and have used successfully a fair bit. It weighs 48 ounces and is plenty big for my paired down gear. Remember that if you’re hiking in the Sierra over night you will need to carry a bear canister so your pack needs to be able to comfortably accommodate one. (One cool note. The ULA stuff is all made in the USA and has GREAT customer service.  After my first several day hike, I noticed it was squeaking a lot. I sent an email to them to see if there was something I could do. I got an email back from Chris McMaster the President who helped me trouble shoot at 10 pm on a Sunday. Basically all I had to do was put some talcum powder on the foam insert and problem solved.) Another note, a light pack that doesn’t fit well or distribute weight adequately is worse than a slightly heavier pack that carries well. Fit is personal. I think the ULAs are great and light. Ospreys carry very well and fit me well. Not sure about other brands.
  • Tent/Tarp. For this trip, I used an MSR Hubba 1 person which was pretty light at 52 ounces with the footprint. After the trip, I learned about Tarptents from Harry Shires and got one – the Sublite which is made out of a kind of Tyvek. It weighs only 19 ounces. This is a big weight savings and seems perfectly good for the Sierra in Summer/Fall. The wisdom is that ‘it never rains in the Sierra at night’  The nice thing about the Tarptent is that you use your trekking poles as the support poles. Cool solution = less weight, less volume. These days I rarely use a tent in summer or shoulder season if the weather is due to be good.
  • Sleeping Bag/Quilt. I used an REI Flash because it’s down and pretty light. The really light guys suggest quilts, but I like being enclosed cause I flip around all night. I’m gonna try a quilt though. A bag that is rated for around 30 degrees was plenty for me, even on the coldest night. I really like the Nemo bags that have sleeves for your mat. That way you don’t slide around and if you’re not using a tent, your mat is protected.
  • Mat. I used an Exped mat. Your choices are roughly a non inflatable foam mat which is not comfortable for a side sleeper like me, or an inflatable. These suckers are expensive, but you gotta sleep as well as you can, even though you probably won’t sleep great. Some people use half mats, just for their torso in order to save weight. There are also mats that fit into a pouch in your bag saving on underside insulation on your bag.
  • Poles. I used REI brand carbon collapsible ones. They don’t have shocks and just snap shut. I love them and they’re very simple. They are actually made by Komperdell, I believe.  Generic is cheaper. For a recent hike I used Fizan screw tight poles and they were just pretty good. They didn’t stand up well over time. Some people think poles are dorky or for old people. They might look dorky, but pretty much all the elite long distance people use them. It would be dumb not to since they are tremendously more efficient, energy saving, and reduce damage to joints and muscles. Plus my trekking poles double as my tent poles if I’m using a tarp tent.
  • Bear Canister. Required on the JMT. Choices are basically the heavy old Garcia which is about $70 and 44 ounces, the Bearvault cannister which is about $80 and 41 ounces, and the Bearikade which is made of carbon fiber is about $250 and weighs 31 ounces. Other solutions like an Ursack seem cool and smart, but they often aren’t approved on the trail. I got the Garcia cause it was cheap and I could sit on it. I also heard that the Bearvault was a pain in the butt to unscrew. I saw Dennis struggle with it at times. The Garcia requires a coin or metal piece to open so I just taped a coin on the lid so I wouldn’t have to root around for something every time I wanted to get into it. After the trip, I wanted to swap out the Garcia, but upon research I don’t think the money/weight trade off is necessary. You can also rent these from the companies which saves a lot if you don’t think you’ll be using them again or want to try them out.
  • Duct Tape. Roll about 10 feet of duct take onto your trekking poles. You’ll never know if you need it and that way you don’t have to bring a whole roll.
  • Knife/Multi Tool. A small pocket knife is fine. You don’t need a heavy Leatherman or multi-tool thing.
  • Headlamp. You need a headlamp! For setting up camp if you get in late. For traipsing around at night, and most importantly for heading up the summit at 3am so you can catch sunrise on Whitney. I’m not expert on headlamps. I got a mid range Black Diamond. It was fine. Make sure it doesn’t get too beat up and bring an extra battery.


  • Emergency Blanket. Cheap. Weighs next to nothing. Handy in an emergency or just to keep extra warm if you need it.
  • Safety pins. I brought a few pins to hang up laundry at night to dry. If it’s still wet in the morning just pin it to your pack as you go.
  • Lighter. Part of the 10 essentials and needed to light your stove is you don’t have an auto-igniter and if you do, when it fails.
  • String. A little bit of string to hang laundry or just for Hobbit reasons.
  • Ziplock Bags. Pack out everything you bring in. That includes used toilet paper. Bring a bunch of gallon size easy zipper bags. You’ll want one with the really dirty stuff that’s kinda separate. Also remember that this will have to go in your bear canister with your food, so you might want to double bag your used toilet paper. I put the toilet stuff into the used dinner pouches and then put those into a zip lock.
  • Maps. Tom Harrison Topo maps of the JMT. They’re great. Waterproof. Tear proof. Good scale. All you need unless you need additional maps for various approaches to the trail, like for us…Sawmill trailhead was off map. I also print and laminate Caltopo maps. They’re great!
  • Guide Book. Elizabeth Wenk JMT book was useful. You can cut out just the pages you need.
  • Batteries. Extra cell and camera batteries as needed.
  • You don’t need a trowel. For digging your cat hole ‘bathroom’. You don’t need it. Use a stick or your trekking pole.


  • Be a tortoise, not a hare. Walk at a pace you can keep up without having to stop all the time. Then just keep on trucking. Skurka says the key to going long distances is walking more hours, not a faster rate. Plus it’s more enjoyable.
  • If you’re through hiking with lots of miles per day, you probably won’t care that much about spending a lot of time in camp. You’ll just want to soak your feet, clean up, eat something and sleep. It’s good to get in before dark, but other than that go ahead and walk all day. I don’t really care about the camping part. It’s just a way to sleep so you can keep hiking. Plus on the JMT you can’t have a campfire, so it’s not like you’re sitting around roasting marshmallows over a crackling fire. The scenery and terrain you’ll cover is so amazing everything you do should be towards maximizing that. Star gazing is great, but you don’t need daylight for that!
  • Rest efficiently every couple of hours when you’re starting to feel tired. When you do, put your feet up. It reduces swelling in your feet and legs and removes lactic acid. I like to lie next to a tree and put my feet high up the trunk. In 5 minutes, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for more. After 5 minutes you get diminishing returns. You might also try sleeping with your feet higher than your head.
  • Studies suggest that ibuprofen may help with altitude issues. It might just mask head ache, but I felt great the whole time and took a couple in the morning and afternoon. I’m not happy that ibuprofen causes stomach bleeding, so I stopped using it. I’d like to find a replacement.
  • Practice leave no trace.  Aside from the absolute necessity of packing out everything you pack in,  I even washed all my clothes in water with no detergent so that rinsing it in lakes wouldn’t leave chemicals behind.


  • A lot of people are surprised that I don’t really don’t like camping much. I don’t like hanging around a camp, cooking, or drinking beer. I just want to rest so I can do what I really like…exploring and moving through the landscape. One consideration you should think about is how you feel about camping. For me, I could walk all day, clean up, eat something and just crash out. Hanging out in camp is not why I go. I bring a tent and gear, just because I want to be remote and don’t want to be limited to a day’s walk from a motel room. I like looking at stars after I wake up around 1 a.m. and before getting back to sleep. So I don’t bring any campground comfort stuff like a seat or mat, specialized culinary stuff, towel, flip flops, games etc. You may feel differently, but if you’re doing the JMT, you’re probably more focused on moving every day. By all means, if you’re into stationary camping, pack for that and enjoy the hell out of it. But if you’re looking to do the JMT, you’ll want to pare camp stuff down to basically nothing.


I keep this very limited and very light. I don’t actually use much stuff. You may need more.

  • Toothbrush. Light. The standard thing for light hikers is to cut off the handle to lose the extra weight. I didn’t do that, but I did have a cheap light toothbrush I got on a flight.
  • Toothpaste. Bring a small travel size or just dry your own toothpaste drops
  • Floss. Good for your teeth when you’re eating a lot of salami and jerky and good for tons of extra uses. I once caught a trout in Paradise Valley with dental floss and a paper clip hook.
  • Wipes. For hands and nether regions. I didn’t bring toilet paper. Just used wipes. Pack it out. I would recommend non scented ones.
  • Sunblock. It gets sunny up there. Depending on how long you go, you might bring one or two small travel-size tubes.
  • Lip Balm. I didn’t use mine early enough and had blistered lips at the end. Dumb.
  • Hand sanitizer. Necessary for moving from bathroom and water sanitizing to cooking and eating.
  • Moleskin. Just in case for blisters or to use as bandages

You’ll have to put your toiletries into your bear canister along with food. Make sure that if the toiletries have a strong smell or flavor that they be well isolated because it can mix with your food and that really sucks. I had some hand wipes which leaked into everything. It was revolting, but what can you do – you have to eat the food you brought. Do you really want to eat hand wipe-flavored cheese?

* I dispensed with zinc oxide or diaper cream which people use for their feet. I also skipped the insect repellent because I don’t really like it and it never seems to work for me. But a lot of people swear by it and say it’s necessary  on parts of the trail.


  • Unless you have T-mobile, like I do, you may be able to get a bar of service at Forester pass. Not much in other spots.
  • REI is good for trying stuff out and they are cool, but there are tons of cottage makers of great gear all over the US.
  • Field test everything you are using or bringing before you go. You’ll find that some surprising things will need adjustment or modification and some things will not work out at all. Much better to find it out at home.
  • The best training for backpacking is backpacking. Fully load your pack and get it out on the trail – as much as you can before you go.


If you have any questions about a trip on the JMT or other trek, feel free to comment. I’m not the most knowledgeable guy on Earth, but I’m happy to share what I know or can at least suggest some other resources or people who might know better.

The website of Giampiero Ambrosi


  1. If you have any questions or comments let me know and I’ll see what I can do…


  2. annathrax · · Reply

    Giampiero, the big G on VT! Was just searching about John muir trail on wordpress,and came across your blog! Dreaming of the sierras some day! Btw, it’s Anna (willy_wonka) back in the day from VT. As soon as I saw your photo I knew it was you! Hope you are well mate!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. annathrax · · Reply

    Ps. Really great info here. Hope to get out when my 2 year old daughter is a bit older and I can leave her at mums for a few weeks, lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful to hear from you and super cool that you found this blog. The JMT and Sierras in general are fantastic. I hope you make it here one day and if you do…definitely look me up and I’ll show you around LA and maybe join forces for a hike….


  4. Phillip Edwards · · Reply

    Good info
    Thank you.
    I have a aether 60 also and a big bv500
    Do you have specific packing suggestions.
    How much did your pack weigh with everything.
    I got my pack because of comfort and shoulder surgery a few years ago
    I sure like those ula packs but I am gonna stay with the aether for this trip
    I have many questions and concerns
    I hope you don’t mind additional questions
    Thank you for your post


    1. Hey Phillip. Thanks for stopping by the site. I have plenty of packing suggestions. Lots of smart people say it’s much more important to get a good fit with a good carry feel than it is to shave off a few ounces from your backpack. Personally I think the Aether carries really nicely. Please put any questions you have here in the comments section and I’ll try to offer any advice I have – for whatever it’s worth.


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