My Gear: Part 1

My gear list for the High Sierra Trail is likely to evolve as we get closer to the trip. There are some things, though, that are pretty sure to be coming with me, so here’s a first look at what I’ll be carrying!

The Pack


I’ve dragged this pack up/over/through Old Rag thrice now

My current pack is a Granite Gear Blaze 60. I’ve had it for a few years now, and I can sing the praises of this thing pretty much indefinitely. In that round of pack shopping, I was specifically looking for the best ratio of weight to load capacity that I could find.

Photography gear adds some weight, so I need a pack that can carry that extra few pounds comfortably, which rules out a lot of the true ultralighter packs. For the same reason, I also want the rest of my gear, including the pack, to be as light as possible. The Blaze 60 weighs in at about 3 pounds and has a 50-pound capacity, which works great for me. The high capacity also came in clutch for 12 days unsupported on the Uinta Highline Trail, when it was crucial to have a pack that could carry almost two weeks of food and supplies.

The Tent


The Highline Trail tent trio

I have a couple tents, but the one coming with me on the HST is a Nemo Hornet Elite. Like my pack, I put it through the wringer on the Highline Trail a couple years ago and have had it stand up to cold, storms, high wind, and generally unpleasant conditions. Technically it’s a 2-person tent, and I have used it as such, but I find it a bit cramped for two (especially since I’m quite tall) so I most often use it for just myself and have some space inside to move around, stash gear, etc.

The Sleep Stuff


My best look

Sleep is important, so having a good sleep setup is also important! I am notoriously bad at sleeping, but at least I can be comfortable while I lie awake.

My sleeping pad is also from Nemo, and comes with a very handy pump sack to inflate it without having to spend half the night blowing directly into the valve. In addition to the pad, I also have a small inflatable Nemo pillow. It does not use the pump sack, but is small enough that it only takes a few regular breaths to inflate.

Branching out from Nemo, my sleeping bag is a Magma 15 from REI Co-op. I’ve taken this bag on winter trips and it’s done great, so summer — even at elevation — is no problem. I also have the quilt version of this bag, which sometimes comes out in summer instead of the bag, depending on the location and anticipated weather. For really cold weather I have a liner for the sleeping bag that adds an impressive amount of warmth that I don’t think I’ll need in July, so the liner will be staying home.

Coming Soon…

Obviously I’ll need more gear on the High Sierra Trail than a pack, a tent, and stuff to sleep on/in. As the trip approaches I’ll be figuring out the specifics of what will be coming with me, and my dad and I will be collectively planning our communal gear and who is contributing what. I’ll also get into my photography gear, since I’ve alluded to that whole situation before.


Feature image: Stanislaus National Forest, 2020 • photo by me and my self-timer


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Comments 4

  • Michael Harvey : Mar 31st

    It’s amazing how well the lightweight Nemo tents held up in the Uintas. That’s probably what I’ll bring as well. The fact that your Granite Gear pack also has a cleverly designed method for carrying a bear canister is perfect for Sequoia National Park and Mt. Whitney since cans are required there.

    • Vienna Harvey : Apr 9th

      To this day I refer to the straps on top of the pack body as the “bear can straps” even on trips with not a bear can in sight.

  • Nature Boy : Apr 21st

    Excellent to see a shot of you doing a bit of boudering on Old Rag! I’ve spent many years exploring Old Rag, much of the time finding new climbs on the crags scattered all over the mountain. We’re exceedingly lucky to have this granite outcrop close by…

    • Vienna Harvey : Apr 22nd

      It really is a fun one to scramble around! Every time it’s a little different 😀


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