5 Tips from my Recent John Muir Trail Hike

By: Stephanie Stuehler

I learn something new every time I adventure out into the wild. Check out these 5  tips I learned from my John Muir Trail Hike.

10 Common Mistakes

1. Carry the Right Sleeping Bag

I have a lot of sleeping bags for various hiking conditions so I’m always tempted to carry the lighter sleeping bag. This time I decided to carry my heavier 15°F 800 fill down sleeping bag instead of my much lighter 30°F sleeping bag.

I was so happy I had the warmer bag because one night it got below freezing and I would have been very uncomfortable in the lighter 30°F sleeping bag. If you can’t sleep at night because you are cold it makes it much harder to enjoy the next day.

Always plan to carry a sleeping bag that can handle the coldest night. For most trails in North America during the normal hiking season I recommend a sleeping bag rated between 15°F and 20°F.

2.  Polycro Footprint

I wish I carried my Polycro footprint so I could have cowboy camped under the stars during one of the warm nights. The Polycro footprint would have added a few ounces to the pack but the ability to see easily see the stars and the occasional meteor shower would have been worth it.

Sadly, I spent every night inside the tent.

3. Solar Panel Charger

If you are going to spend 10 days or more in the wilderness between recharging then a solar panel charger might be a good choice. I took a lot of pictures and videos on my JMT hike and my 10,000 mAh battery bank was depleted after about 6 days.

The lightweight 10 Watt solar panel charger was under 4 ounces and kept the battery bank and other electronics charged. The solar panel was attached to the top of the pack so their was a constant charge throughout the day. You will have to have direct sunlight to operate the solar panel but that wasn’t a problem during this hike.

I do not recommend solar chargers that are permanently attached to the battery bank. These chargers tend to be much heavier and less efficient in providing a charge because they tend to have small solar panels.

4. Protect Your Smartphone

It is important that you protect your smartphone from the elements. I recommend a good lightweight case, a glass screen protector and dust plugs that protect your smartphone ports.

I dropped my smartphone a few times on the hike and actually cracked the glass screen protector. The smartphone was fine and showed no damage thanks to the glass screen protector.

It is also important to keep a clean sealable plastic bag in case you need water protection.

5. First Aid Kit

It is important that you carry a good first aid kit. A good first aid kit should include at least the following.

Adhesive bandages

Butterfly bandages

Gauze pads

Medical tape

Antibiotic Treatment








Related Trail Guide

Spectacular view of the mountain peaks along the John Muir Trail.

The John Muir Trail runs for over 210 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California. It starts in Yosemite Valley and travels to the summit of Mt. Whitney. The JMT is one of the most popular hiking trails in the country and is an incredible adventure for thru-hikers, section-hikers, and day-hikers. It passes through beautiful and scenic protected areas including Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and two national forests. By all means check out our interactive JMT map today!