What Not to Bring on Your Very first Lengthy-Distance Hike


Ounces are pounds, and pounds are discomfort. I heard this numerous instances just before I began packing for my initial lengthy-distance hike, however the message didn’t sink in, and my knees and shoulders paid the price tag. A handful of weeks ago, I completed the John Muir Trail—my initial backpacking trip longer than 3 nights. I believed that deciding on a 61-liter pack was opting to go lightweight. It wasn’t till PCT hikers had been passing me with 45-liter bags that I realized how quite a few arranging blunders I had created. I employed the notion of carrying a “luxury item” as my excuse for obtaining a 40-pound pack.

As quickly as I am fortunate adequate to uncover myself preparing for my subsequent thru-hike (hopefully even longer!), these are completely items I would not bring once more:

Much more Than 1 Choice for Any Variety of Clothes

I began off the JMT with two tank tops and two pairs of shorts, as effectively as a beanie and a fleece headband. Ignoring my inner voice telling me I would be just fine, I believed it may possibly be good to “have alternatives.” I ended up wearing one particular of the pairs of shorts a grand total of twice and they had been essentially clean by the time I reached Lone Pine. General, my hiking companion and I agreed that our clothes approach was strong, apart from the double daytime outfits. Even the garments that we only employed for camp and sleeping had a powerful hiker stink by the finish of the trail. Attempting to hold something clean was not possible, and embracing the smell was an vital element of our expertise. Undergarments can be excluded from this one particular-post-of-clothes rule… but to each and every his personal. At the finish of the day, it took a couple of minutes to pull all of the garments out of many corners of my pack I employed to shove anything in. 1 pair of shorts is lots.

A Complete-Size Notebook

Photo by Alex Kereszti

For me, an vital element of the JMT was writing and reading each and every evening. Even even though my book weighed really a bit, I employed it each and every evening and was extremely delighted to have it. On the other hand, the weight of the book coupled with a one particular-pound notebook was completely unnecessary. My hiking companion had a tiny, lightweight notebook that I initial believed would be as well compact to use comfortably, but she was substantially happier than I was obtaining to shove my notebook into the front of my pack each and every morning.

Complete-Size Cosmetics

My revenue-spending priorities do not generally fall exactly where they must. I didn’t even look at acquiring smaller sized sizes of the soap, face wash, sunscreen, and toothpaste, major to a toiletries bag that rivaled the weight of my bear canister. On my subsequent hike, I’ll ditch the face wash, bring only one particular tube of sunscreen (I brought a face and a physique tube), and “splurge” on a travel-size soap and toothpaste. 

The one particular cosmetic that I was regularly delighted to have was my complete tube of moisturizer—I was capable to use it on each and every element of my physique to hold from turning into an actual reptile. Had I had much more time to prepare and comb via the weight of each and every item I was bringing, I may possibly have caught my apparent blunder in carrying a six-pound toiletry bag.

A Tripod

Photo by Alex Kereszti

My hiking companion and I did really a bit of shooting on when on the trail, and she was SO thankful that she decided to ditch her tripod at the final minute. Her tripod is lightweight, but the bulkiness nonetheless would have been awkward and unnecessary to carry for more than 200 miles. She was nonetheless capable to capture a handful of amazing astro shots by balancing her camera on rocks, and for the duration of interviews we had been capable to balance our elbows on our knees to hold the camera as steady as achievable. It is no secret that the John Muir Trail attributes some of the ideal landscape this nation has to provide and it is a daunting job to try to capture the beauty and serenity of the Sierras. On the other hand, extraneous pieces of camera gear might hinder the ultimate target of reaching Mt. Whitney.

Two Dehydrated Meals Per Day

An proper meal for dinnertime. Not so substantially for two pm.

I can smash some Pad Thai and never ever got sick of the taste of my dehydrated meals, but going up a hill in the heat of the day with a belly complete of Pasta Primavera is not the most prosperous approach. Since our (fortunately prosperous) strategy was to acquire stroll-up permits, my hiking companion and I only had a couple of days to throw collectively our meals and resupply approach for the JMT. We hit up Backpacker’s Pantry for two thirds of our total meals, arranging to consume a complete package for each lunch and dinner. Since we’d be burning so quite a few calories, we believed it would be advantageous to have these calorically dense meals. On the other hand, obtaining to Jetboil in the middle of the day was a discomfort each and every time. 

In the future, we’ll opt for a cold lunch. Tortillas, tuna packets, salami, and further snacks would have been fantastic for our midday break. This approach would have saved time for the duration of lengthy hiking days, space in our bear canisters, and prevented the queasy stomach I came to anticipate for the duration of the right after-lunch hours.

Bathing Suit

Alex at Thousand Island Lake—happy as a clam and not needing a swim suit

Skinny dipping was arguably one particular of the most memorable experiences of thru-hiking. Even even though a bathing suit is super light and might appear like a valuable luxury item, it was completely unnecessary. For locations that had been much more populated, a sports bra and underwear would’ve worked just as effectively, and truly would have provided the chance to wash these sweaty articles off when swimming. We opted to go al-organic in the much more remote and secluded locations, which was about 90% of the trail.

Heavy Camp Footwear

One of the few times I was able to squeeze my feet into Chacos

I didn’t feel twice just before throwing my Chacos on the front of my pack, devoid of any consideration of yet another solution. I’ve been wearing them everywhere for more than a year and believed they would be the fantastic camp footwear. By the time we got into camp it was generally as well cold to go devoid of socks, and due to intense swelling, it was frequently a laborious job to squeeze my feet into my Chacos. The footwear did come in handy when we hit higher river crossings, but mainly because we went in September, this only occurred after. Subsequent time, I’ll be bringing anything lightweight with lots of room… at the moment eyeing a snazzy pair of Crocs. 

The 18 days that I spent on the John Muir Trail had been simply the most memorable of my life. Even with my lack of arranging, I was not wholly unhappy with my approach. In the future, I’ll be capable to shave off at least 5 pounds by just contemplating the things I’m bringing and their relative worth to me. 3 items I wasn’t specific about bringing but will completely be on my list once more had been zip-ties, Fireball, and a camping pillow. The reality that I’m currently strategizing my subsequent thru-hike right after only a couple of weeks sleeping in a bed tells me that anything longer is in my future. Appalachian Trail, I’m seeking at you.

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