Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
Winter gear laid out.
Winter Gear in Use. Seat, stove, food, hot drink, and shelter.

 

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HOME PAGE GEAR PAGE GETTING
STARTED
LAYERING BOOTS UPPER
BODY
INSULATION

LOWER
BODY
INSULATION

TRAIL
SKILLS
GEAR
FORUM
WEATHER PLANNING

High Sierra Backpacking Gear
List

 

The gear section, like the whole website, my gear kit, and I are all under Active Construction.

 

This is the March 2017
IMPROVEMENT!

 

What Improvements?
Member's Favorites are now linked to the various categories of gear. The member's favorites lists are linked to their product pages.
The gear named on this list below is linked to its image and further descriptions where available.

I am not suggesting "my" gear, just offering my selections as examples as grades, levels, or types of gear. You should find the gear that fits you!

As Always,
This gear list is additive, beginning with the basic requirements for Summer backpacking in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Spring and Fall gear is typically a combination of Summer Gear with thicker insulation bits added in, maybe with a thicker shell, depending on seasonal trends.

The requirements of Winter demand that most lighter elements be changed out for the heavy gear necessary for Winter conditions. Some of our layers remain, but additional layers are added & heavier layers are switched-in.

The list below shows how Summer Gear is the basis of the year-round gear kit.

We just add or replace gear elements with heavier pieces to accommodate the specifics of each year's transition through Fall into Winter then back to Spring conditions.
During the depths of Winter most of our lighter Summer Gear is finally switched out, but starts sneaking back into the pack as the warmth of Spring begins rising.

Gear Forum

On This Page

Upper Body

 

Lower Body

 

Head

 

Hands

 

Boots-Feet

 

Sleeping Gear

 

Travel Aids

 

Food Prep

 

Water

 

Miscellaneous

 

First Aid

 

Personal

 

Pack

 

Electrics


Forum and Feedback

Note the links to the Gear Forum for each type of gear.

I'd like to hear what you use, how it works, and how you like it.

I want your gear tips, advice, experiences, and even your gear reviews to supplement and expand this gear list.

Post up your feedback in the

Gear Forums.

Supplemental Topics
Food Itinerary Weather Skills

Winter Gear Video


Al's Basic
Four Season
High Sierra Backpacking Gear List

Upper Body

Upper Body Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Base Layer
Shirts

This is our "wear all the time" Layer against our skin.

Two 100% poly thin upper insulation layers:

Thin Poly Tank Top for days.

Thin Poly Long Sleeve added for bad weather and at night.

Option
Long Sleeved Lightweight
Sun & Skeeter Shirt

Same 2 Thin Summer Poly layers used 24 hours, except during hard work.

1 or 2 upper base layers depends on daily temps.

2 thin Poly layers
+
Medium Weight poly thermal.

Three base layers-depending on daily temps.
Outer 2 layers can come off during periods of warmth & heavy hiking.

Insulation Layers

Insulation layers are added and subtracted depending on temp.
They live between Base and Shell Layers.

Vital in camp, when in stationary, & Very Cold Conditions.

Medium Weight
Fleece Coat

Options
Medium Poly thermal
or
Light Down Coat

ADD
Medium
Poly thermal

Option
Light
Down Coat

REPLACE
Medium Poly thermal with heavy Poly Thermal

ADD
Quality Heavy Down Coat

Shell Layer

This is our outer wind and rain protection.

Very Light weight water/wind proof shell upper.

Option
Medium weight shell upper.

Medium Weight
Shell Upper
REPLACE
Medium weight Shell with
Heavy

Winter
Mountain Jacket
Notes:

Our "base layer" is our minimal layer of insulation that never comes off, without creating sweat while working.

During Summer this layer may be a tank-top. During Winter it will be a layer substantial enough to handle low temperatures while hiking hard without sweating.

Our base layer is a perfect balance between ambient air temperature and work-generated heat.

Upper Body Insulation Gear Forum
       

Lower Body
Lower Body Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Base Layers

100% Nylon
zip-to shorts-Pants

Option
Add
Thin
Poly thermal Pants
. Worn below zip-to-shorts pants if cold enough.

Add
Thin Poly thermal pants (winter base layer)

Option
Add Required Layer

Insulation Layers

Medium
Weight Fleece Pants

Option
Add
Medium
Poly thermal pants

Night wear above zip-to-shorts, or very cold day wear.
Add
Medium Poly thermal pants (winter base layer, over poly pants, under zip-to-shorts, with fleece pants above those.
Very Cold Weather 4 layer Base Layering)
Shell Layer Lightweight wind/water proof lower shell

(Same for Spring/Fall)

 

Option
Medium Weight Shell

Replace
Light/Medium weight Shell with
Heavy Winter Mountain Pants
Notes: My lower body generally requires one layer less than the upper body for a given temperature range.

Lower Body Insulation Gear Forum

Member's Favorite
Shirts and Pants
Member's Favorite
Down Coats
Member's Favorite
Outer Shells
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Head
Head Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Head

Breathable Nylon Hat, big rim

100% poly skin-tight head cover

Fleece ear warmer head band

 

Add
Full Coverage Tank Commander's Hat.

Notes: As important for sun protection as heat retention.
Head and Face Gear Forum
       

Hands
Hands Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Hands

Light weight wool gloves

Add/Option
Heavy Insulated Gloves

Add
Heavy Insulated Gloves.

Add
Poly Glove Liners

Notes: My light wool gloves are missing the tips of the "pincher fingers" to perform camp tasks.
Gear for the Hands Forum
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Boots & Feet
Boots & Feet Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Boots, Feet

Trail Footware
Light to Medium Boots

Light/Medium Wool Socks

Camp Footware
Poly Sock Liners

Fleece Socks

Camp/Fording Shoes

Replace
Light to Medium Boots
with
Medium to Heavy Boots

 

Replace
Medium to Heavy Socks

Replace
Medium boots with Zamberlin Mountain Boots

Replace
Light Wool with Heavy Wool Socks

Add
Down Booties

Notes:

Make sure we have our boots and feet broken in long before we hit the trail.

If not, we should adjust our First Aid Kit accordingly.

Backpacking Boots & Footwear Forum

Member's Favorite Backpacking Boots Member's Favorite Gaiters Member's Favorite Backpacking Socks
       

Sleeping Gear
Sleeping Gear Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Sleeping Gear

Tent
&
Sleeping Bag

Micro Tent

2 50' lengths of parachute cord, 5 MSR Ground Hog Stakes

40° Sleeping Bag, with Killer Water Proof stuff sack

Option
20° Sleeping Bag:
(Pick your Grade!)

Closed Cell Foam Pad

Replace
(Rain Conditions)
Micro Tent replaced by Half Dome large tent.
(I use a big tent for rain)


Replace
40° bag with 20° bag.

Replace
Half Dome with Micro Tent.
(I use a small tent for snow.)

Replace
MSR Stakes with Snow Stakes.

Add
Extra Tent tie-downs.

Replace
20° bag with 0° bag.

Notes:

I will only bring my lightweight 20° sleeping bag during periods of Summer when I anticipate cold Summer nights.
Temps in the Sierra are rising radically. The 20° bag is a DRAG during Summer heat waves, but is really nice during cold Summer nights.

If we bring the 20° bag and it's hot we will be bummed out. If we bring the 40° bag and it turns cold we will be bummed out.

The kicker is that nighttime temperature averages can change rapidly and radically.

I adjust by wearing more or less layers at night.

Sleeping Gear
Forum
Member's Favorite
Backpacking Tent
Member's Favorite
Sleeping Bags
Member's Favorite
Sleeping Pads
    Top of Page  

Travel Aids
Travel Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Travel

Balance-Rhythm-walking Stick optional. I am not impressed with two sticks, but each to their own style...

Add
Snow Sticks.

Add
Snow Shoes.

Add
Gaiters

(If necessary)

Add
Snow Sticks.

Add
Snow Shoes.

Add
Gaiters

Add
Crampons, if required for route.

Add
Ice Axe, if required for route.

Notes:  

Travel Aids Forum

Member's Favorite Snow Sticks & Trekking Poles

Member's Favorite Gear Bits

       

Food Prep
Food Prep Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Food Prep

MSR Stove & Gas

One Med. Alum Pot

Plastic Spoon-Fork

Insulated Mug

Garcia Bear-Proof

2 Water-proof nylon food hanging bags

100' length parachute cord

Garcia Bear Proof may be optional, depending on snow.

Note: 5 days of fuel becomes 3 in snow.

Remove
Garcia Bear Proof.

Notes:

Food Storage vs. Bear Practices & Available Natural Resources

Five Page Article with four Videos on prepping and packing a dense five day menu

Food & Water Forum

Member's Favorite Backpacking Stoves Member's Favorite Backpacking Cookware Member's Favorite
Bear Protection
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Water Purification
Water Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Clean Water

Pur Hiker
(now Katadyn)

 

Hand Bottle

 

1-gal light plastic jug

 

Remove
Pur Hiker

 

Note: 5 days of fuel becomes 3 in snow.

 

Replace
Gal. Jug w/ 2 hand bottles.(3 total)

Notes: Best Backpacking Water Filter Options,
with a close look at Filtration and Purification Basics

Food & Water Forum

Member's Favorite
Backpacking Water Systems

       

Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Miscellaneous

Sunglasses Optional

 

First Aid: See below

 

Two Djeep Lighters

 

Waterproof matches

 

Fire starter: Dried snag cubes, wax, old MRE fuel tab, or Magnesium sparking block

 

Flash light

 

Shit Trowel
(tip: Use SNOW STAKE)

Get Your Shit Shovel Together:

Skills
Taking a Shit in the Woods

Toilet Paper
Measure Carefully
(Two Arm Lengths Per Day
)

 

Camera/Batteries/Charger

 

Ass Pack, pen, pencil

 

Swiss Army Knife

 

Thermometer
(With compass!)

 

Compass


Sunglasses Required


Sunglasses Required

Notes:  

Personal Gear Forum

Member's Favorite Gear Bits

Member's Favorite Camp Chairs

    Top of Page  

First Aid
First Aid All Seasons

First Aid

Your first aid kit should be custom tailored for your own personal physical needs.

The number of each type of drug and bandage depends on the length of the trip, how sensitive your feet are to blistering, previous injuries and objective dangers.

I've seen folks try to break themselves every way possible...

DRUGS

 

Aspirin

 

Ibuprofen


Codeine for me

 

Morphine
for
catastrophe

Knee brace
Wide ace bandage
Two or three rolls of sports tape

 

large Telfa Gauze pads: 3 in x 8 in

 

Large self-adhesive bandages: 4 in x 3 in

 

Medium Self-adhesive bandages: 4 in x 2 in

 

10 band aids

3M steri-strips, 1/4 x 4 in

 

Band Aid Butterfly closures, medium

Triple antibiotic cream

 

Domeboro: Burn Dressing

Hypergel wound

dressing

 

Sterile wipes

Notes:

I generally use up and give away substantial first aid gear to blistered, rashed, sprained and strained backpackers every season of every year.

I don't like to give away my ace bandages (due to my previous injuries) so I generally "unwind" or cut the injured backpacker's clothing to make support bandages and wraps. You should see their faces when I pull out the knife... haha...

The key is to anticipate your previous injuries acting up, anticipate a sprained ankle, and assume that blisters will appear.

Our first aid motto:
"Shit Happens. We're Ready."

First Aid Forum

Feel the Wisdom
of
Cayenne's approach to First Aid
why?
16 Things at Once

       

Personal
Personal Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Personal Care

Moisturizer
tiny bottle

Baby Oil
tiny bottle

Mini-toothpaste & Brush

Comb

Lip Balm

Suntan Lotion
tiny bottle

Option: Square Piece of backpacking towel

Bandana

Nature/tree guide, doubles as journal

Balls: Don't freak out.

Ibuprofen and Codeine

Same
as
Summer

Same
as
Summer

Notes:

We will pack our liquids in small plastic travel bottles, and we will send ourselves resupplies of all consumables.

In addition we will send small bottles of shampoo and small bars of soap to the resupply spots that have showers.

Personal Gear Forum

Member's Favorite Gear Bits

    Top of Page  

My Backpack(s)
Pack Summer Spring and Fall Winter

Backpack

5 lb external frame pack, with 2 bungee cords, two fabric straps, one webbing strap.

Option: 5 lb internal frame pack
(mine was stolen from the person I loaned it to. funny story.)

Option: 5 lb internal frame pack
(mine was stolen from the person I loaned it to. funny story.)

Notes: I bring an old-school Kelty day pack for scrambling and local peaks.
Pack Forum Member's Favorite
Internal Frame Packs
Member's Favorite
External Frame Packs
Member's Favorite
Ultralight Packs
 

Electrics
Electrics All Seasons

Camera(s)

Cannon PowerShot 2000, AA.

Go Pro, cell-phone battery. REVIEW

Flashlight

Princeton Tec Headlamp, AAA.

Decades of various Petzel Headlamps, AA

Started with Maglite, AA.

MEMBER'S FAVORITES FOR HIGH SIERRA BACKPACKING

Charger

Tried Solio with various degrees of success. REVIEW

Good Report: Andrew and Tanja like their Suntastic 12 x 8.

GPS No GPS ever taken or used on any backpacking trip ever.
Batteries Rechargeable. Generally AA.
Notes: We must have a charging and/or battery resupply plan that keeps our camera charged at all times.
Electrics Forum
    Top of Page  


This Gear List
This kit composes my basic
HOPP
setup:
The
H
arness of Pain and Pleasure!
SPRING-FALL
This kit has proved adequate for all High Sierra early Spring and late Fall conditions I've encountered.
WINTER
This kit has proved adequate at
10° with a 50 mph standing wind, properly set, mid-Winter

Disclaimer
These are only basic guidelines from which you must determine your own specific gear requirements for the potential range of conditions you can experience.

Backpacking in the High Sierra presents serious potential dangers that may exceed the scope of gear, experience, and fitness.

Last page: Navigation                                                                                           Next page: Bear Tech

High Sierra Backpacking Gear List

Our Goal
is
Comfort and Safety

The object of the above gear list is to provide us with the information so that we can select the basic level and range of personal insulation necessary for us to work hard during the day and rest warmly during night.

Variable Playing Field
What specific bits of gear creates your range of comfort is specific to you. It differs from person to person, and it will vary with the season and local weather, the level of fitness we maintain, and the level of fatigue we are experiencing.

Gear is blind
Gear is blind, and cannot suit itself to the weather. We must select the proper gear for our specific needs and the specific environmental conditions we must endure.

Your Vision
Proper gear selection requires internal and external information. We need solid information about our cold and heat tolerances and an idea of the range of temperatures and weather we could possibly experience.
Without these two key pieces of information our gear selection will be a shot in the dark. In practical terms this means we will either be packing too heavy or going a bit cold.

I don't like either long end of this bell curve of brutality.

I'm hunting for "just right."

Internal Vision
You must look within yourself to find your personal capacities for work and cold, which is best done before you hit the trail. Information about the environment can be researched, but how your body finally responds to the range of conditions we encounter can only be found on the trail.

Inform Thyself
Don't put yourself into situations where you are not properly informed about how you and your gear will stand up if and when things get weird.

Why? Because I want Skittles!

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Backpacker Forums

Have a great or terrible experience backpacking in the Sierra Nevada to relate?

Post it on
TahoetoWhitney.Org

The Forums are broken down to cover High Sierra Backpacking Trails and Topics:

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Anyone can post up comments. Members can post up images, maps, and videos in their own posts in the forums.

Have a great or terrible Sierra Nevada gear experience to relate?

Let it Rip HERE:

Backpacking Gear Forum

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Contact
Alex Wierbinski

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Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Snug tent after Snow Storm
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