This list is for a day hike. Many of you will look at this and say I am absolutely nuts with all the stuff I carry up the hill but there is a method to this madness. I believe you should have enough gear and clothing with you to survive a night out at 14,505', if you really screw up. You still might say you are still full up it, it is summer. Well, about a decade ago in August we experienced single digit temperatures on the summit. In the month of September about 6 years ago, we had the same thing but this time with 30 MPH winds. Both these trip put the fear of God in me about should be in my day pack.
This list is based on a mid summer trip leaving the Portal between 2 AM and 5 AM, we make some comments about a sunrise summit attempt throughout.
Day Hike Gear List
Base Layer...These are items against the body. Temperature determines what is chosen.
Penn State Baseball Hat...Your basic keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes hat
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon Fleece Hat...This is tight fitting heavy duty fleece hat with Windstopper because it is usually windy somewhere on this mountain
Ex Officio Air Strip Shirt...Button down front, button up sleeves equal a very versatile shirt for a summer trip in the Sierra
REI MTS Boxer Briefs...Extremely comfortable and fast drying
REI Endeavor Convertible Pants...I have finally found a pair of soft shell convertible pants! These are the best convertibles I have ever owned
REI All Season Gloves...Good lightweight gloves for spring and summer mornings
Lowe Alpine Warm Zone Reversible Zip Top...Only were the start is at freezing or the intention is to be somewhere between Trail Crest and the summit before dawn
REI W/B Primaloft Mitts...If your goal is sunrise on the summit the gloves you've been wearing most of the night will be damp at dawn a 2nd pair of gloves is a necessity
Mountain Hardware Power Stretch Balaclava...This will keep the wind from infiltrating a jacket
Mid Layer...Tain't base or outside
Marmot DriClime Windshirt...I love it, my primary hiking partner hates it. I've hiked into the low teens with a base layer, mid layer and this jacket
Arc'Teryx Gamma MX Hoody...This is my jacket of choice these days but there has to be reason to bring its 14 extra ounces, usually colder and windier conditions (see the Outside Layer comments)
Insulation Layer...The Warmie Layer
Feathered Friends Hyperion Down Jacket...Lot'sa 800 fill power insulation in an 11 oz. package, superior to what you would get in a comparable 26 oz. 300 weight Polartec jacket...with more wind resistance
Moonstone Uber Down Parka...It's got to be very, very, damn cold for this thing to go into the pack
Patagonia R2 Vest...Usually supplements the windshirt or the soft shell hoody
Outside Layer...The stuff that stops rain and
Marmot PreCip Jacket...It's marginally breathable but it's never let us down. Over the years, we used these items more for wind than rain
Marmot PreCip Pants w/ Full Zips...Great in the wind and rain fully ventable with the full zips
Arc'Teryx Gamma MX Hoody Soft Shell Jacket...In spring conditions with no precipitation in the forecast I will replace both the DriClime Windshirt and PreCip jacket with this jacket
REI Mistral Soft Shell Pants...In spring conditions with no precipitation in the forecast, these pants replace the MH Convertibles and PreCip Pants. They are glissade proven
Footwear...Lot'sa big pebbles on this trail
Kayland Contact Rev Boots...Mid-weight backpacking boots which are a bit much for day hiking, it is a fit issue. I have a pair of Garmont Eclipse, which seem to be ok out to ~10-12 miles.
Smartwool Hiking Socks...Thickness depends on the boot I choose
Ultimax Sock Liners...The best liners we have found. However, I fear they have been discontinued by the manufacturer
La Sportiva Trango S EVO...Used when the trail or the 97 Switchbacks are clogged with snow. Great for high angle slopes where edging and kick stepping are a necessity
Foot Soak...Stop at Trailside Meadow and stick your feet in the icy water of Lone Pine Creek. It will reduce the width of your feet noticeably and the last 5 miles of the descent will be more bearable
Pack, Hydration and a few other things
Deuter 32 ACT Trail Pack...This is the best 4-season day pack I have ever owned. This this is a gear monster I've had over 25# in it this winter with room to spare
Platypus 2 L Hydration System...Take a 2nd bladder for you trip from Trail Camp. Much lighter than a Camelbak but less durable...we own both
Nalgene Bottle (1 L)...To mix the electrolyte replacement
Steripen Water Purifer...4 oz. of protection against the cooties in this heavily traveled area, I usually do not filter water in the Sierra
Black Diamond Spire Trekking Poles...Replaced a decade old pair of collapse prone Leki Makalus
Bucci Denali Glacier Glasses...Get something that wraps and will block 88 to 92% of visible light. Going to glacier glasses eliminated my sun related headaches
Black Diamond Sphinx 42 (Modified)...Used for spring ascent which require extra gear and clothing
Land Navigation Stuff...Almost Irrelevant
Suunto M-2D Locator Compass...Adjustable declination does away with guessing and figuring but with the crowds here it's really just a security blanket
Mt. Whitney and Mt. Langley 7.5' Quads...The best format of maps. Easy to read and easy to figure out where you are when you wander into geographic ambiguity
Sunnuto Vector Wristop Computer...Basically an altimeter. This is the tool I use the most for location when trail hiking
Garmin GPSMAP 60...Preset with waypoints if I expect white out conditions on a trail still choked with snow. A total waste in the summer months on this trail
Spring and Fall Stuff...
Grivel G10 Crampons...Get steel if you are going to be using crampons a lot; aluminum if you are not. Get 10 point crampons at minimum
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe...A basic rated ice axe
OR Crocodile Gaiters...They do a great job but do get really warm
Tubbs Altitude 25 Snowshoes...I've pimped out these decade old shoes with a new pair of easy on/easy off bindings and Viper crampon
Snow Skills...Something you acquired prior to going to Mt. Whitney
Black Diamond Sabertooth Crampons...If I'm wearing the my La Sportiva boots these are my crampons of choice
Kathoola Microspikes...If it is trailwalking only. These things are super when they are used correctly
Miscellaneous This, that and essentials not previous mentioned
Toilet Kit...Here that includes a WAG Bag...don't worry the Ranger will tell exactly what this is. Our bag includes TP, baby wipes and a trowel
Microfiber Cloth...To clean our glasses
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp...A hybrid light, 1-watt LED for night hiking and 3-Super Bright LEDs for around camp. This is the best headlight I have ever owned
Repair Kit...All sort of stuff to fix things that break
First Aid Kit #1...Pills, personal medications, sunscreen and Lip balm...kept in top lid. Just enough for this day
First Aid Kit #2...Bandages, band aids, ointments...kept in main pack bag
Itinerary...Leave it at home
Panasonic DMC-ZS5 Camera...Take a look at a outdoor photography book at your local B&N before heading up the trail it will help with your once in a lifetime pictures
Stuff Sacks and pouches...All make from silnylon
There ain't no such thing as group gear on a Whitney day hike. The chances of everyone in your group reaching the summit are slim. Therefore, one water filter, first aid kit and multi-tool is not going to cut it when the water filter guy bails at the cables and the first aid kit guy bails at Trail Crest
If you are new to all this the more the time you have to acquire gear the better. The above list has been acquired over a 11 year period and is mostly gear that is purchased for its lightness and convenience, primarily for backpacking.
In 1997 we spend ~$400 for our first trip to Mt. Whitney starting from we ain't got nothing. We are pretty sure we could do better today because of our knowledge of gear and the internet discounters who sell it. First, gather up stuff you have in your closets and around the house which will work for this trip, wool or acrylic sweaters, microfiber jackets, "designer" water bottles, etc. Once this is done prioritize the things you have to buy, like boots, pack and a water cleansing method, which meets your comfort level...never, never, carry 8+ quarts of water...and their containers, up the trail.
We use the following sources regularly for our gear, REI, REI Outlet, Sierra Trading Post, Backcountry Gear and Adventure 16. Most everything we own has been purchased at a discount to the retail price. It is a cold day in July when we break down and buy something at full retail.
Some will find the above gear list excessive, the mid-weight hiking boots, water filter and some of the redundancy, and to some degree we agree with these critics. This is what works for us...period! Our gear list shows we value safety, durability and conveniences over ultralight weight.
The forest service in their infinite wisdom believe weight equals safety, we base this on a scale and sign they've had at the trailhead since they put up the "Patio Cover". Do not get caught up in this game. Just make sure you take the gear and clothing up the trail that you feel will keep you safe and warm in the conditions expected. We can head up this trail with an 8 pound pack and be safer than most heading up with twice that much weight. The formula is you trade knowledge, skill and comfort for a lighter pack weight.
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Date of Last Change: 2/26/12