Part Three: Packing List

March 23, 2018

In Part One, we set our itinerary. In Part Two, we trained. Next was figuring out what to put on our packing list – a fun negotiation. The balance between preparedness and pack weight was hard to strike! Our final packing list was based off of the Ten Essentials:

Map and compass: Our map was a cut-down version of the full-size Yosemite map showing only the region in which we could conceivably hike, stored in a Ziploc bag and kept in Brad’s backpack “brain” or in his pants pocket for a frequent referral. We also kept our wilderness permit in this bag in case we were required to show it to a roving ranger. Compass stayed in Brad’s backpack.

Sunglasses and sunscreen: We both brought sunglasses (I brought the ones I bought at a gas station in Phoenix because somehow I managed to pack for Arizona and not pack sunglasses) and kept small Nalgene screw tops of sunscreen in our bear canisters. We really like the No-Ad Sport sunscreen.

Insulation: I had a three layer insulation system; a fleece, a down jacket, and a rain jacket. My fleece is Arcteryx’s Delta LT half zip in size. It’s fantastically breathable and incredibly comfortable. My down jacket is the Patagonia women’s down sweater in size XS. I really resisted bringing the down sweater, thinking that I could layer my fleece and rain jacket, tough it out, and be OK. I was wrong. I was very grateful for my down on the cool mountain mornings and evenings. I like the down sweater because it’s not too big and packs down tiny in its own pocket – essential for me as I lose stuff sacks at an alarming rate. My rain jacket is by Golite, a company which has since gone out of business, which is unfortunate because rain jackets are a very hard sell for me, but I love this one. It has great ventilation options and is the least crispy sounding rain shell I’ve had. I also had a pair of the Patagonia Capilene leggings to layer under my hiking pants and to wear as pajamas.

Illumination: I really love the Petzl headlamps; mine gets multiple workouts a week during pre-dawn runs and it did just as well on the mountainside. We carry extra batteries for these at all times.

First Aid: Brad is a “pack everything just in case” type of hiker. I am a “maybe pack an extra bandana?” type of hiker. In the end, we agreed upon the following items which we felt comfortable using and adequately covered our risk.


Tick Remover



Duct Tape




Self-adhesive wrap

Alcohol wipes

In the past, we’ve had more stuff in our first aid kit, including large bandanas for slings/bandaging, a bulb syringe for wound irrigation, and a splint. We dropped all these for weight and reasoned that in an emergency, a shirt can double as a sling, our water purification system left us with clean water for irrigation ready to pour from our bottles, and we weren’t super sure how to use the splint so if we needed to, we’d duct tape/tie branches instead. Of the items that came with us, we only ended up using daily medications and duct tape and moleskin for foot maintenance and blister treatment/prevention.

Fire and firestarter: For food, we used the JetBoil MiniMoo and carried two cans of isopro fuel. This system worked incredibly well, even at altitude – it’s easy to use, quick to set up and tear down, and we cooked in our food bags or cups/bowls so the whole apparatus didn’t need to go in our bear canister. As a backup, we carried waterproof matches and an igniter stick, plus cotton balls soaked in Vaseline for emergencies.

Knife: We have a Gerber and brought it with us, but ended up not using it at all because we spent most of our time in areas where fires were prohibited or strongly discouraged.

Nutrition: I have a whole post on this, part four.

Hydration: I have probably burned more brainpower thinking about nutrition and hydration than anything else. Our packs hold 3-liter bladders and we swapped our usual Nalgene bottles for SmartWater one-liter bottles to save weight. We looked at inline filters for the bladders, so we could just scoop up water into the bladder and drink filtered water on demand, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of carrying around extra water weight when that water can’t be used without filtering. We considered gravity filtration systems to filter water in bulk so we could filter once and be set for days. For this trip, since we had plenty of reliable water sources and didn’t need to pack multiple days of water, we ended up with the Katadin pump filtration system, which worked well for us. It takes about 42 pumps to fill one SmartWater bottle, so it’s not super speedy, but there’s not much that beats sitting with your feet in a mountain stream while you pump. I like the long clean water tube, it drops easily into a water bottle.

Shelter/protection: Yosemite is bear country, and you are required to either bring your own bear canister or rent one of theirs. We each brought our own, the BearVault BV500, and used this for storage of all our food and toiletries. These were packed to the gills on the way out and plenty roomy on the way back. We are not minimal food packers and a more streamlined food plan may have been able to fit in just one of the BV500s and one BV450.

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