Jan 28

More JMT Gear~Backpack, Tent, Sleeping Bag & Pad

In hiking the JMT, my pack weight was a bit more than normal. One of the reasons was due to the extra weight of the Bear Canister. I’ll talk more of that in another post. Early on our trip, the weather was cold in the mornings, so we needed to carry a bit more clothing for warmth. My pack was the same as I’ve used over the past couple of years, but my sleeping bag was a heavier synthetic bag. The pad was a newer item than I had last year, which did save some weight. The tent, though battered & bruised, was the same as I’ve carried for the past 3 years. I’ll break down the individual items in this post, what I liked & didn’t like, as well as if or what I plan to replace each item with.


 The Granite Gear Vapor Flash is an excellent pack for me. Before I decided on this pack a couple years back, I’d decided that my next pack should be a tough pack. This pack is not what many consider an ‘ultra-lite’ pack, but it is light-weight. The 210 denier Cordura portions that are used for reinforcements are thicker & heavier than what other ultra-lite packs use. This may be a downside for some. But the benefits of this material is that it is more abrasion-resistant, meaning that it’s tougher. It won’t fail as quickly. I wanted a pack that could last me 5 years. So far, about 1000 miles in the field, it has held up well.

Another downside for some is that it is a bit smaller than other packs used on typical thru-hikes. It weighs 3 lbs 1 oz. Compared to the GG Nimbus Meridian, it’s lighter by roughly 7 ounces, yet smaller in that the Nimbus Meridian offers 3800 cubic inches of space (Vapor Flash holds 3200 cubic inches). Both Aboman & T2 used the Nimbus Meridian, which they happen to love. It, like the Vapor Flash, is a good pack. I removed the lid on my pack for the JMT hike, which shaved a few ounces. My hiker buddies did the same.

Sleeping Bag 

I purchased this bag almost 2 yrs ago; the Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20. For the price, this bag is great! As the title states, it’s rated for 20 degrees, which was plenty for me on the JMT. I’m not a very cold sleeper, so this was adequate. It is a synthetic bag, so it weighs more than a down version, coming in at 3 lbs 3 oz. It’s a roomy bag, so I could roll over in the night with no problems. The MH site has it listed for $85, but you may find a cheaper one on Amazon. Either way, that’s a great price for a quality bag!





Sleeping Pad

One of my favorite new pieces of gear is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Air Mattress. This pad helped me eliminate about a half pound from my pack weight. My last pad was an REI pad, which worked great for about 3 yrs, before finally losing its ability to hold air. It had gone for several hundred miles before I finally retired it.

At just 14 ounces, the NeoAir rolls up tightly, almost to the size of a 1 liter bottle. It inflates in about 2-3 minutes, but takes much longer to deflate & roll up again. I definitely noticed the difference sleeping on this pad than on other inflatables.

The price on the Thermarest NeoAir is higher than most other pads on the market, but overall, I believe it’s worth it. Coupled with my small Cocoon Air Pillow, I enjoy a good night’s sleep on the trail.


Lastly, my shelter, a Big Agnes Seedhouse tent. This tent has traveled many miles with me, & has the scars to prove it. It’s been chewed on by racoons & suffered 4 broken pole sections to date. I’ve had this tent for just about 4 years now.

Shortly after I purchased this tent, Big Agnes came out with the Seedhouse SL1 & 2. They’re a bit lighter in weight, but still possess the same basic construction. I’ve enjoyed using my original Seedhouse, but feel it’s time to move into something a bit lighter in weight. My thoughts are pulling me to a tarp tent for my next shelter, which I’m still researching & still not decided on which brand to get. Though my Seedhouse has served me well, my only gripe with it is in the pole material, aluminum. I’ve broken 4 sections of these poles. Big Agnes has sent me replacements free of charge every time I’ve contacted them about it. They’re a top notch company, and their customer service is second to none. I highly recommend the people & products at Big Agnes.

Well, there’s a few more gear reviews of my stuff. I’ll keep posting things now & then, & hope you’ll keep tuning in. Thanks for reading!

~The Pilgrim.

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