Planning for a family three person thru-hike of the JMT

sierra tent

sierra tent

This is a brief introduction to the planning of our 2013 JMT thru-hike.

Overview: 1: Gear Selection 2: Resupply choices 3: Mileage per day

1: Gear selection will stem from what is likely to start as around UL which means base weight minus food, fuel and water less than 12 pounds per person. The nine year old will carry less than 12 pounds total and more likely less than 10 pounds. Remember, 86,000 feet of elevation gain and loss!

Without laying out all of the details yet, the 10-12 pound weight will be achieved mostly through the sharing of light weight gear, which over the years (and through slowing eroding her will) I have convinced my wife is a good idea.

The big three, as they say

Sleeping bags, tent, backpacks…and I’ll add in sleeping pads


Examples: Our sleeping bag, that’s right bag not bags, weights a hefty 2 Lb. 8 Oz. But there is just one, so we share warmth (I steal hers), are cozy under a massive 15 degree Western Mountaineering Badger. For now daughter will carry her own 15 degree Marmot Helium. Overkill but provides a margin of safety if it gets super cold.

Still, that is 3.5 pounds for three people. Not terrible.

Tent. Nope. Not quite. We take the middle road here, and for convenience, ease of setup and comfort we carry a first generation Tarp tent Rain shadow. We have not left this home in almost nine years. Not once. I would love a lighter taller pyramid. But this this thing just works. For 2.5 pounds it’s pretty nice. Probably a pound per person with stakes and guy lines

Sleeping pads: Old junky green z-rests that should be used as pot cozies. They are cut down and uncomfortable but less than 10 oz. and we have them. I’m not stoked on buying expensive stuff. If we suffer so be it. The goal is light. Also, it’s a good trial. If we hate it I will feel justified in getter a nicer pad for the next trip.


This was interesting. First, there appear to be no ultra light kids’ packs. The actual backpacking specific ones are super heavy and in my opinion way too big for what kid should carry.

I ended up getting her an Osprey for school that weighs about a pound. She loaded the heck out of it all hear, and never complained. We did several shakedown hikes with more backpacking specific bags and she griped and cried and I was annoyed and my wife had to shut up. Not good. When I loaded her school pack with backpacking gear, she said “its way lighter than my school bag”. Good I thought. We shall see

Wife: Golite Gust. Great bag if you need to carry a bear canister. Again, there are lighter and more sophisticated options now, but we have it, she has tested it extensively and it weighs 19 oz.! Nice

I’m having a difficult time. I have a 1 pound bag that works great for 20 LBs max. It’s an old vintage UL rucksack. The problem is, our pace requires that we cover a 13 day section without re-supply. With bear canister (cheap heavy Garcia) that puts each of the adults at 25 pounds of food.

I’m thinking of sending myself a 70L Jam pack. I don’t think it will like 35 Lbs. either, but it’s strong, cheap and big. So, call it about 2 LBS for my pack.

Ok, there are the big three and you can see its light. I think that is about 4 pounds each if you divide it equally. Of course it does not quite work that way but close.

The nine year old carries her own sleeping bag; pack (obviously) pad, and clothes.





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