With my dad being the Yosemite backpacking veteran that he is… I took note of a few things he has used in the past & sticks with now.
- Gregory backpack.
- always bring a knife.
- sleep under the stars. ( it’s not gear, but definitely requires the right gear.)
…so with that, let’s dive in.
1) The only gear requirement that Yosemite NP has is the Bear Vault. It’s not my favorite for when it comes to packing because its cylinder shape makes packing a little more difficult, but it’s a great way to keep your food safe from the critters. …including but not limited to marmots. The BearVault BV500 Food Container is the ideal way to lock your food safely away. Note: Don’t try to put your stuff in trees… Bears climb trees. Also, the BearVault does also come in a smaller size. You take your BearVault out of your pack at night and set it a safe distance away from your sleep sight.
2) My dad made it clear that the best backpacks on the market for backpacking are made by Gregory. …naturally, I followed his advice. After, I received it in the mail, I had to take it into the store to get fitted properly because I kept feeling like it wasn’t fitting right. Not only did the swap out the straps for a different size, they made sure I was 100% comfortable and satisfied before leaving. TIP: the waist strap should be sitting just about over the naval on a woman (maybe a man too).
My pack was the Gregory Deva 70. A little on the large side, but did make my life a little bit easier because of having to pack the BearVault. I was able to get everything inside, unlike my sister who was having to strap in her sleeping pad at the bottom exterior of her pack. TIP: If you are going somewhere without bears, then you could easily downsize to a smaller pack. because it’ll be a lot easier to pack without that large cylinder.
3) Sleeping Bag: I’m not going to lie, a big part of why I picked my sleeping bag was the color. I banked on the fact that I would be warm enough because I’m the type of person that would rather be cold than hot when they are trying to sleep. I picked the Marmot Trestles 30 Elite Sleeping Bag. This sleeping bag was great. It is lightweight, and it was warm enough the first two nights, and I would have been fine the last night if I would have put on my pullover. The only bummer was that the color faded quite a bit after washing it one time.
4) Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow These are nowhere near the perfect pillow. But the small size does fit perfectly inside the top of the sleeping bag for added comfort while you snooze.
5) Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite SV Sleeping Pad To be honest, I don’t know if I believe that there is a perfect sleeping pad. All three of us had different pads, and all three of us kept having ours deflate. Mine didn’t fully deflate on the last night & I think it’s because I did a better job of sealing it up. However, these are very convenient for backpacking as they thy inflate & deflate easily, and also roll up small and compact. I guess do your research & read reviews before you buy to make a better informed decision than I did.
6) Tarp. We picked up a 9×12 tarp at Lowes. We were not camping in tent, but instead were allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the elements all night long. We needed to protect our gear from the dusty ground and rocks, so a tarp was a very practical option. It was inexpensive & we were able to donate it to the hotel before the trip was over.
7) Pack a knife for emergencies. My dad took the liberty of hooking us up with some nice simple ones from Smith & Wesson. The Smith & Wesson HRT 9B is affordable for the non-knife enthusiast, comfortable to hold, and well balance. A great addition, with a clip on on case.
8) Let’s talk water bottles. I went with my usual liter Nalgene option. I loved the color, & I like being able to see my water contents. This is a good option, but there are also water bottles that will keep your water cold for hours, which would have been nice at certain points. HydroFlask is what my sister swears by. She even got my dad hooked on his. He takes it everywhere with him.
Also, one mistake I made was going for the smaller mouth opening on the Nalgene. This was strategic simply because I have a small mouth, so occasionally when I drink from a wider mouthed bottle, I struggle with spilling all over myself. ….However, the smaller sized made filling up the bottle more difficult.
9) Dishes & Utensils.
A: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork – Long This item was great! The extra length was great for mixing food and dishing it up out of the bags. Also, it’s a two in one which was convenient & the aluminum makes it extra light weight.
B: Sea to Summit Delta Bowl A collapsible bowls would be ideal, but after dealing with my sisters, this one was far easier to clean & was better for mixing. The cut out meant it could be clipped on to the exterior of my pack, which was great for easy access & storage.
C: GSI Outdoors Baked Enamelware Cup – 12 oz. This cup was the dumbest thing I bought. I bought it because I loved it. It was nostalgic & fun. It was great until it wasn’t Here’s why it’s dumb. Once we got to our hotel, we were rolling everything to our room on a luggage cart. My bag was on the top & tumbled right off as we made it into the building. The cup was clipped onto the outside of my pack & got completely smashed almost into a pancake. I was so bummed, and at the moment wished that I had been a practical shopper. There went $4.95 plus tax, and my memories. haha.
10) Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System This item was an absolute essential for cooking our hot meals. You simply boil your water & add it to your bag of food or in our case boil your Lipton Noodle Soup. The cooking rig breaks down into a nice compact form that packs quite nicely.
11) Cooling Towel This item was a life changer. We were able to rewet at every water crossing it was a great way to keep us cooler while we were cruising through the heat of day and under the beating sun. We all agreed that this was an item we would not want to go without again.
12) Tactical Flashlight A highly recommend a strong flashlight that is compact & puts out bright light.
13) Food List: Nuts & Seeds are really convenient for a quick snack break. Granola bars, fruit snacks, tuna packs, crackers, avocados (we ate ours by day 2), pita bread for tuna sandwhichs, mustard/mayo packs. We had a collection of freeze dried food, but got very tired of it after day 2. Here is what we had… Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodle, Mountain House Chili Mac With Beef is all that we ate. The breakfast was very satisfying. The stroganoff was delicious, mind you I was starving and it was first dinner on the trip. The chili mac was probably good, but my appetite was completely wrecked by night three. We were all struggling to eat.
14) Clothing: Pack wisely.
- For instance, I chose Nike athletic leggings with a side pocket, which was great… However, I am prone to mosquito bites, and at the end of the trip, I figured out that they bit me many times straight through the pants despite covering myself in bugs pray regularly. That’s when a looser pair intended for outdoor activity would have been better for preventing the bug bites.
- Basic tees for comfort & sweating…lots of sweating.
- A pullover fleece.
- Good, strong, thick socks. Smartwool makes great ones that are very comfortable, non-itchy, and durable.
- Hiking Shoes. I got the Merrell Moab Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes. I loved these, they were pretty comfortable considering the circumstances, and the waterproof portion was incredibly handy considering there were several areas where we crossed rivers and creeks, so stepping in a very shallow section wasn’t an issue at all.
- Light weight sweat pants or long johns are great for sleeping at night.
- Space Blanket: We planned to use these if it started raining in the night. Thankfully, we didn’t have to.
- Bug Spray: I brought a travel size. That was a mistake. Next go, I will be bringing the larger can because not only did I use this on my body, but we were using it along the edge of our tarp every night to repel the insects from our sleep site.
- Sunblock: remember you are at a higher elevation, so will be more prone to sunburn