Complete John Muir Trail Gear Guide

The Complete John Muir Trail Gear List

Complete John Muir Trail Gear Guide

Preparation is Key to the Success of Any Adventure …

… and a large part of my preparation for this adventure went into figuring out what pieces of gear I needed to carry with me for 221 miles while keeping my pack weight at or below 30 pounds. Here, then, is my complete John Muir Trail gear list, broken up into somewhat arbitrary categories.


Something to carry everything else and keep it all (reasonably) organized.

  • Osprey Exos 58. I saw many of these on the trail. Everyone I talked to loved it.
  • Sea to Summit Pack Cover. Never needed it but glad I had it. Could have saved a few bucks (and probably a little room) with a heavy duty trash bag.
  • A few stuff sacks to organize clothing, essentials, etc.


Anything I used while walking the trail.

Osprey Exos 58 on a Picnic Table at Devil's Postpile National Monument
Osprey Exos 58 pack with Goal Zero Nomad 3.5 (and a bunch of other stuff).


Clothes may make the man, but they also weigh down the pack.

Clothing used on the John Muir Trail
All the items of clothing I carried and wore.


If you’re not comfortable at night, you can be pretty sure the next day will be crappy. So be comfortable.

  • Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 (with footprint).
  • Homemade “Rock-Out Loops” for tying down a tent without stakes.
  • Sierra Designs Wild Bill Sleeping Bag. There are better, newer bags out there. This one isn’t even made any more, but I’ve used it for seven years. It’s never let me down.
  • Thermarest Prolite Pad. Another old friend. I briefly considered replacing it with a NeoAir, but I couldn’t justify the expense of a new pad when the one I have works just fine. Maybe next time.
Inside the Fly Creek UL 1.
In the bedroom.

Kitchen & Dining Room

Cook. Eat. Clean.

John Muir Trail Food: Bear Canister
This is my bear canister. There are many like it, but this one is mine.


Keep it clean — or as clean as possible.

A broken poop shovel.
So. That happened.

Emergency & Repair

Things are going to go wrong. Best to be ready.

Four hiking essentials.
Four hiking essentials.

 Navigation & Communication

Know where you are, where you’re going, and who to call.

Map case. Map. Compass.
Map case, map, and compass.

Readin’ / Writin’ / Relaxin’

When you’re not hiking, cooking, cleaning, or sleeping, there’s a little time to reflect on the day’s events and read up on what’s in store for the next day.

Field Notes Brand: California Trio
California Field Notes

Light & Pictures

Things vision-related.

Panasonic Lumix TS4
Panasonic Lumix TS4. Now obsolete.


You won’t need these things on the trail, but when it’s all over, you’re going to want to buy some food (at the very least).

  • I.D.
  • Cash.
  • Credit card.

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