[Misc] JMT gear review – Toiletries and miscellaneous items

Here it is, the final post about my JMT gear. Here I discuss various pieces of gear that didn’t quite fit any of the previous categories.

Hygiene

Since there’s not a lot to say about each individual item, there’s not going to be any little subsections here. I guess you’ll have to wade through the wall of text to find something specific :).

I noticed some people on the trail who repackaged everything in tiny bottles, including sunscreen. I didn’t quite take it that far and just bought travel sized packages.

The only notable exception to just buying something in a shop was my toothbrush. It started out as a regular one, but I cut the handle down. The reason was not to shave 3 gram off of my pack weight, but to make to make it easier to pack. Don’t cut the handle too short, you don’t want to have to put your fingers into your mouth to be able to reach those back teeth ;).

While on the trail, I always stored the following in one of my hip belt pockets: sunscreen, chapstick, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, and Gold Bond. I needed all of those at some point during the day and having them right there was very convenient. The alternative would have been to grab them from the bear canister every time.

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The big 5, always within reach :). Way too much sunscreen & DEET, BTW.

As insect repellent I got a 30 ml spray bottle of 100% DEET. Turns out that was too big, I used less than half over the course of 12 days. Next time I would get a smaller thin spray “cylinder” instead. The weight savings would be minimal, but it would have been easier to pack in the hip belt pocket.

Gold Bond, in case you’re not familiar with it, is basically just talcum powder. Due to the heat I had gotten some chafing on a couple of hikes before and this completely eliminated that. You can get this in a very cute travel size which comes with a convenient top with holes in it for “application”. Oh, and it weighs next to nothing. If you’re at all worried about chafing, buy this!

Get a chapstick as well. Initially I thought it would have been a waste to carry this with me, but the combination of sun and wind up in the mountains really does a number on your lips. Also, this comes in super small, super light packaging, so it’s not going to weight you down.

I also brought some Dr Bronner’s Magic soap with me in a small bottle. This is an “organic” good-for-everthing soap, some people even brush their teeth with it. I got the unscented version hoping it wouldn’t attract animals, but could clearly make out a scent, so I’m sure bears can as well. The idea was to use the soap for laundry and/or my cooking pot. I only boiled water for cooking though (rehydrating food) and when I “washed” my clothes, I simply scrubbed them a bit in water by hand. So, not really a useful thing to bring it turned out. Also, even though it’s “organic”, you shouldn’t get it in the rivers and lakes, so washing clothes with it would have been quite a hastle.

And missing a “review” because we all know what it does and how well it works, is a travel sized tube of toothpaste. I had one with me! Now the dentists among you can sleep sound again ;).

First aid kit

Although I left on my trip with quite a small first aid it, the one I took with me on the JMT was quite a bit bigger. This was because I was quite worried about getting bad chafing and so I took all sorts of baby wipes and “butt cream”. Yes, they actually call it that, but it’s the same as zinc cream which you can get in smallish single use packets for baby diaper rash. Turns out the Gold Bond made all of that completely unnecessary.

Apart from those things, a roll of kinesio tape also took up a lot of space and weight. It’s this stretchy tape that you see all kinds of athletes wear on their shoulders and legs. I was really glad I brought it though when my insteps on both feet started hurting quite badly. The tape took really good care of that.

The rest of the kit consisted of small amounts of various pills and bandages repackaged in small ziplock bags. The pills I left in their original strip packaging, so they wouldn’t be sloshing around. I had three salves which were repackaged into much smaller tubes. Here’s the complete list, how much to bring you’ll have to decide for yourself. Some of these medicines are definitely not necessary on the JMT, I had them with me for the rest of my world trip.

  • Imodium: against diarrhea.
  • Motilium: against stomach upset.
  • Buscopan: against intestinal cramps.
  • Ibuprofen: general painkiller & against infections.
  • Cetirizine: against allergies (makes you sleepy though).
  • R-Calm: against nausea, vomiting & travel sickness.
  • Terra-Cortril: anti-biotic + cortisone salve for eyes.
  • Fucudin: anti-bacterial salve.
  • Flaminal: to help heal deep cuts.
  • Moleskin: in case you get a bad blister.
  • Gauze: both sterile and non-sterile ones. Just for “general” wounds, like a gash or something.
  • “Oldschool” fabric bandages: these tend to stick and not come off after one day, unlike those new plastic bandages. I had one on my small toe for 7 days while climbing, showering and wading though the ocean in Thailand and it didn’t come off even the tiniest bit.
  • Wound-closing strips: not quite sure what these are actually called. They are thin whiteish strips that you tape across a cut.
  • Alcohol swipes: to help disinfect a wound before bandaging.

Furthermore, it contained fine tweezers (in case I got a splinter), small nail clippers, small scissors, an ear cleaning tool, a needle (convenient to pop blisters, could have used my knife or the nail clippers though), and tiny plastic tool to remove ticks.

I forgot to weigh all of this before I left, so I guess I’ll never know because a bunch of stuff got used.

Lawson Equiment titanium deuce scoop

Fancy name for a trowel :). Out on the JMT, you’re obviously going to have to dig holes when you go to the toilet and unless you want to use your hands or sticks (good luck, half the time the grounds full of rocks), you’re going to want to bring a trowel.

I wasn’t originally planning to buy this one because, at 20$, it’s rather expensive compared to the 2$ you would spend in a DIY shop. However, it’s also much much lighter, 22 gram versus what I can only imagine is going to be at least 100-200 gram for a “regular” trowel. I was ordering some reflective cord for my tarp guylines from Lawson and decided to go nuts and add this in as well.

Great decision I must say! Obviously, this thing is super light. It’s also really really tough though. Even after pushing it through very rocky ground many times and using it as a lever to pry quite big rocks loose, there’s barely a scratch to be seen on it.

If you think the extra cost is worth the weight (and volume) savings, then definitely get this one. By the way, Lawson couldn’t keep up with the orders they were getting for their titanium hardware, so they outsourced it to by Dutchware Gear. Just so you don’t search their website in vain.

Toilet paper bags

Hike it in, hike it out. That also goes for toilet paper which takes ages to decompose up high in the Sierra (if it will at all). Seems pretty gross at first, but I was lucky to find the following trick somewhere online.

Take a big (one gallon) freezer bag and put a teaspoon of powdered bleach inside. Any type of laundry detergent should work, really. That’s it! The bag will keep smelling pretty fresh, so you can safely reopen it to put more used toilet paper inside. As an extra safety measure, I put the bag in another freezer bag.

It might not be something you look forward to doing, but with this trick hauling around used toilet paper really does become a lot less gross. Highly recommended. Unless you are one of those weirdos who doesn’t use toilet paper and gets by with sticks and pinecones :).

Electronics

Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player

A super lightweight (16 g), yet very capable MP3 player. I flashed it with unoffical Rockbox firmware which makes it much more powerful, insofar that’s an appropriate term for an MP3 player :). The one I got was a refurbished version from eBay and manages to play music for about 20 hours I’d say. Not sure what the play time is for a new one.

I got the 4 Gb version, I believe there’s an 8 Gb one as well. Either way, there’s a microSD slot, so the amount of internal memory isn’t all that crucial. I found an 8 Gb microSD to be able to hold just enough albums and put audiobooks on the internal memory.

The reason I brought this, is because I didn’t want to drain my phone’s battery in case I needed it for an emergency (using GPS or calling someone). I was really happy I did, some uplifting tunes really help you get up those steep passes. If you don’t have an MP3 player laying around and don’t want to use your phone either, then definitely check the Sansa models out. They are way cheaper than e.g. iPods, are lighter and smaller, and play music just as well.

Sony Around-the-Ears headphones

Regular earplugs never manage to stay in my ears for more than 20 seconds, and headphones tend to be rather bulky. These things are the perfect solution. They fit around your ear, keeping the speaker part perfectly in place while you’re hiking or running or …

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Sony Around-the-Ear headphones, they don't fall out, are light and produce sound. What more do you want?

I’ve got no clue which model they are, I got these ages ago and all the printing has faded off. But they don’t fall out of my ears and produce sound, so excellent, I say! They come in at 18 gram, more than the MP3 player :).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 camera

Again, not wanting to rely on my phone too much, I decided to take a camera with me. I got this one last year and have been really happy with it. It is supposed to be waterproof (down to 13 m) and shockproof (up to a 2 m drop), both of which seem to be true as far as my testing goes. Oh, and it takes great pictures. In tests versus other “outdoorsy” point-and-click cameras it tends to come out well and it’s cheaper than most of the competition’s models (I believe I paid about 220$ on Amazon last year).

Quite a few people seem to just bring their phone for pictures. Compared to the pictures this camera takes, the phone’s ones are less than stellar. Also, there’s the whole “I don’t want to use up my phone’s battery” thing I got going on. This thing does weight 215 gram though (and I take 2 spare batteries as well), so it would be an easy way to shave off some weight. Until I get a phone with a really good camera (not likely), this will stay in my pack.

Pedco UltraPod Mini tripod

Supposedly the lightest tripod available, weighting 45 grams. Besides its obvious use as a tripod, it has a length of velcro-like material that allows you to strap it to e.g. branches.

I was quite eager to use this, but actually only did once or twice. In most cases if I wanted to take a picture without using the camera, I could find a good spot to put it on on some nearby rock or root. So for me it was not worth the money, given that it’s rather expensive (about 26$).

Also, even though it seems light at first glance, it still weights almost 1/4th of the camera’s weight. That just seems a little excessive. I’m sure it’s possible to create something lighter. Another DIY plan in the making?

A superior (I’m pretty sure both lighter and cheaper) alternative to this would be to take some trekking pole camera mount with you. Keirnan had something exactly like this with her, 3D printed at home. There’s also a couple of cottage industry trekking poles that offer the option of putting a camera mount screw on top of one of the handles. I wouldn’t feel quite safe hopping down rocky trails with a piece of metal sticking out the top of my pole though.

Bosavi headlamp

Originally sold through a Kickstarter campaign, you can now get this lightweight 65 gram headlamp on both the official website and Amazon. There are definitely lighter options out there, but this one checked all the boxes for me.

Like most of my other electronics, it’s rechargeable with a microUSB cable. Compared to other rechargeable headlamps, it’s really light. It’s got a lithium battery that lasts a really long time. The lamp is bright enough to hike with in the dark (>100 lumen). There’s various modes (dim white light, red light, white light beam, …) and the ones you don’t need can be disabled. You can lock it, so it doesn’t accidentally get turned on in your pack. Also, it’s possible to see how much battery you have left in 25% increments. It’s waterproof, so no worries if it rains or you drop it in a creek. And finally, it’s designed and sold by an enthusiastic hobbyist.

It cost me 75$, which is a little more than a headlamp by one of the “big guys” (Petzl & Black Diamond). However, they don’t offer a model that’s comparable to this one, and buying this I got to support an enthousiastic DIYer as well. Easy choice!

This thing is great. The battery seems to last forever, it’s easy to use. It delivers on all the promises made on the website. Of course any headlamp would work reasonably well in camp, but this one also did great hiking in the dark at quite a rapid pace downhill on a trail full of loose rocks.

So if you’re in the market for a headlamp, and can get it in the US, grab one! The seller is super friendly as well, he shipped express at no extra cost so I would get the lamp in time (and then USPS messed up, but that’s another story). I don’t think there’s a European vendor of these though, and import (about 30%) and shipping costs would most likely make this a rather costly piece of gear.

Intocircuit 11.2Ah battery pack

If you are to believe reviews, then solar panels are not worth the hassle unless you spend a decent amount of time in camp. While hiking they will almost never be oriented correctly towards the sun and so will charge really slowly.

The alternative is to bring a battery and recharge it every change you got. I got the Intocircuit one, because it got good reviews, has a sturdy aluminum housing and should in theory be able to recharge my phone 4 times on one charge. Costs and weight: 22$ and 268 gram.

It does exactly what it’s supposed to do and came in very handy on the trail after I had spend a couple of evenings watching movies on my phone and to top up my headlamp just in case. I did not bring a wall charger with me and there was enough charge left in the battery after my hike to recharge my phone at least once.

The only small drawback is that somewhere in the design process someone thought it would be a good idea to add a little LED lamp. The lamp turns on if you press the single button on the battery pack long enough. That button sticks out. See where I’m going with this? Now, luckily the LED can be powered for hours (more likely days or weeks) on 11.2 Ah, so it’s not going to drain your battery too much when (not if) it accidentally turns on in your pack. For good measure I cut off the button though. It can still accidentally turn on, but it’s much much harder now.

Unless you decide to go the solar panel route, this is definitely a great buy. And even if you do want to go solar, there’s panels out there that require an external battery pack, so keep this one in mind.

Lenmar PPUCLIP lithium battery charger

A tiny universal USB lithium battery charger for just 10 gram? Yes, please! This little trinket has two contacts which you can move to match up with the terminals of the battery you want to charge. You do that, clip it on the battery, plug it in a USB port and it will take care of the rest. It’s got two LEDs, one green and one red, that show you the charging status.

One note though: if you are going to use it to recharge GoPro batteries, you’re going to have a tough time. The contacts are not fine enough to be able to reach the contacts on those batteries. I’m sure that with a little DIY handywork on the contacts this can be resolved, but don’t expect it to work out of the box. This might be the case for other batteries as well, it depends on how they are designed.

I used this all the time to recharge my camera’s batteries. However, since I took 2 spare batteries with me on the JMT, I didn’t actually need to use it on the trail. I believe I was on my 3rd battery by the end though, so if I had spend more than 12 days hiking, this would have come in very handy. Worth the 12$ I spend on it!

SPOT Gen 3

To keep everyone back at home happy and to make sure “127 Hours: Stuck Again” wouldn’t be based on my adventures, I got this GPS satelite tracker. What it does, is first find its location using GPS and then use satelite communication to send that location to SPOT. They then sent an email with the coordinates to addresses you set up beforehand. In case you really get in trouble, you can press an SOS button and they will alert the authorities. There’s also a tracking mode, which will periodically check your location, so people back at home can follow your progress.

It’s definitely not cheap though. The device itself costs about 150$ and then it’s another 150$ per year just for it to work. There are apparently cheaper alternatives available in the US that you can activate for just a month.

The SPOT Gen3 works well, once you know its major weakness: anything covering a clear view to the sky. Walking underneath some trees and trying to sent your location? Too bad. As long as you keep that in mind though, it works great. Just make sure you aim it at the sky and let it do its job. It’s waterproof by the way, so you can leave it on the outside of your pack during thunderstorms.

If want to use something like this just in the US, you might want to search for some of the cheaper alternatives. If you want to use it all over the world, I believe this is your only choice.

One other alternative worth mentioning are personal location beacons (PRS). Much like the SPOT’s SOS button, they allow you to “call” for help in case of a life threating situation. However, they do not allow you to send your location to family and friends, only the SOS function. They tend to cost even more, let’s say 250-400$, but on the other hand that’s a one time cost, you don’t need to pay any subscription fees to use them.

Motorola Moto G 2014 dual SIM phone

I’m not about to do a review of my phone here, there’s a thousand other sites on the web for that. This is just the sake of completeness. It weights 173 g and the dual SIM function is pretty cool when you travel all over the world.

I watched movies on it when I had some time to kill in the evenings on the trail and it helped reasure me that I was still on the trail while hiking in the dark. Perfect!

There, concise.

Casio G-Shock GW-M5610 watch

Again, not wanting to rely on my phone (which was off 99% of the time), I wanted a watch. Because I was also going to be climbing with it, it needed to be sturdy. The natural choice was thus a G-Shock.

Instead of going with the cheapest model, I opted for this one (90$ on Amazon), because it’s solar-powered, so I’ll never have to have a battery replaced. It also automatically receives the correct time over radio waves, so I don’t have to worry whether it’s set correctly. It’s also waterproof and as a bonus it’s not frickin’ ridiculously huge like most G-Shocks. Still rather big though.

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G-Shock GW-M5610, not too big, put you could probably still use it as a club on small furry animals.

It seems to hold up fine to the abuse I put it through. Which is not too much :). The solar charging seems to work well, especially when outdoors all day it doesn’t take long to recharge the little power it uses. It will automatically shut down most functions (e.g. the display) when it gets dark, so that helps as well.

Misc

Gerber Mini Paraframe non-serrated knife

Originally I planned to bring a DIY fixed blade knife and kydex sheath with me, but just before departing I decided that it would be a bunch of useless weight (145 gram, give or take). So I hopped into the Curry Village mountain store and got this knife instead. I believe it cost about 19$, but the Curry Village store is rather expensive. I’m pretty sure REI sells them for close to half the price.

It’s a simple liner lock knife. Now, I don’t really like liner locks. In fact, I don’t like any lock mechanism except for Benchmade’s Axis locks. But beggars can’t be choosers and I must say the lock on this one is rather confidence inspiring, being a couple millimeters thick.

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The Gerber Mini-Paraframe, you can kind of see the thick liner lock.

I chose the non-serrated version because it’s much easier to maintain while on the trail. Unless you have a specialized sharpening tool for serrations, good luck keeping those sharp. Also, on a small knife such as this I feel the serrations take up way too much of the cutting length.

The knife is not the lightest one they sold, that honour went to another Gerber knife, but I really didn’t trust the frame lock on that one. Still, at 45 gram it’s far from a heavyweight and it served me well on the trail.

If I had to get something like this again, I’d probably get a multitool instead. The Leatherman Style CS seems quite a nice candidate, it even weights the same if I’m not mistaken. Having a multitool would also allow me to drop a (tiny) bit of extra weight by leaving the scissors at home.

DMT Diamond Mini-Sharp knife sharpener

The name kind of says it all. It’s a small flat knife sharpener and only weights 23 gram. You can shave a few more grams off if you ditch the protective plastic cover. I didn’t because I kept this in the same bag as my electronics and didn’t want to risk scratching them up.

If you decide to get a sharpener, go for a diamond one. They work without oil, whereas the ceramic ones need to be oiled to work well. And it’s not as if they are much more expensive.

I didn’t actually need this while on the JMT, because I didn’t have to use my knife that much on the trail. However, it came in handy later on in Emigrant Wilderness after cutting up two fishes had left my knife noticably duller. A minute or two with the sharpener and it was (almost) razor sharp again.

MSR Packtowl Original (medium)

Just a small towel in case I needed one. I only used it once or twice on the JMT to wipe condensation off of my tarp. Note that this is the original packtowl, which absorbs up 10x its weight in water, is blue, and feels kind of rough. There’s also softer feeling ones, but they are heavier and only absorb about 3x their weight.

Drying something (or yourself) off with this towel doesn’t work quite as well as with a regular tower. A thin layer of water remains that the towel just can’t seem to pick up. Still, it does the job and only weights 35 gram, so I would bring it again. Btw, from what I have seen those newer softer packtowls also don’t manage to pick up all water.

Duct tape

This always comes in handy. Actually, I didn’t have to use any for myself on my trip. I did however come across a gentleman who was developing blisters while hiking up Half Dome, and he was very happy to get some duct tape to put across his heels.

Tip: wind the duct tape around both your trekking poles. That way it’s easy to find and you don’t have to put it in your pack where the glue will inevitably run and make everything sticky.

Repair kit

Just in case anything broke, I had a really small ziplock bag with some cuben fiber tape, a polyester reinforced cuben fiber patch, stick-on velco (required for the “mounting system” of the gaiters), and needle and thread. The needle and thread I put in a pen that I had cut up. Use one with a constant diameter made out of flexible plastic for this, so you can close it off with the cap again. If the pen breaks when you cut it up, it’s not flexible plastic ;). The thread I wound around a small rectangle of cardboard in which I had cut a notch on either side.

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Convenient, lightweight way to store needle and thread.

I’m really glad I took this with me. On day 2 of the hike, I noticed a hole in my down quilt. And another one on day 5. I’m not sure what happened, since I tend to be pretty careful with most of my gear, but I was really glad for the needle and thread. The velco tape came off the back of my shoes twice, so having some extra of that paid off as well. I wouldn’t have wanted to hike those rock- and pebble-strewn JMT passes without gaiters.

BlackWoods Press JMT maps

It’s easy to find your way on the JMT, really really easy. Even in the dark it’s obvious most of the time (and paper maps wouldn’t do much good in that case anyway). So why bring a map?
Well, they show you where there’s good camping spots. But actually, you can camp anywhere you want and it’s not hard at all finding good spots. Hm, well, they show you where to find water. But even after 4 years of drought in California, there was water everywhere on the trail. I never bothered checking a map, because I knew that after hiking a maximum of one hour I would have passed at least one place to get water. Right, so…

Maps are super convenient to plan your days though. The ones I got from BlackWoods Press were super nice for that. Apart from the things mentioned earlier, they also showed the distance between various waypoints. That made it super easy to see where to get to the next day. They also showed a nice altitude graph, so you got an idea of how difficult the miles would be.

It’s difficult to put into words why, but the BlackWoods maps are incredibly nice. Compared to the other maps I saw people use on the trail, these were much easier for planning. Multiple times people put aside their maps and used mine instead.

The maps come in the form of a little pocket book. Apart from the trail maps, there’s also a bunch of extra info included, such as magnetic declination, addresses for resupplies and maps of resupply towns near the trail.

There are a few shortcomings to the maps as well though in my opinion. Two minor ones are that the distances are only shown in miles (and altitude in feet), and that there is no altitude graph for the section from Mt Whitney to the Whitney trailhead. The biggest shortcoming for me is that the paper used is neither tear- nor waterproof. On a trail such as the JMT where big thunderstorms can come out of nowhere, that could be a rather big problem. Hopefully one that will be fixed in the future.

If you can live with the non-waterproof pages, definitely get these maps. If not, go check first if there’s a new version of them that is waterproof. Otherwise, there’s at least one map out there that is tear- and waterproof, the BlackWoods Press website actually gives a nice overview of them all.

Suunto A-30L compass

This is one of those better safe than sorry items. Like I said, it’s basically impossible to really get lost on the JMT. But in case you do, I’m sure you’d be rather happy to have a compass with you.

I originally brought a Chinese compass from eBay, but alas, it turned out rather crappy. So I decided to just get something very good instead and got a Suunto, one of the leading compass producers. Being a low end model, it’s actually not super expensive, I paid 18$ on Amazon.

Never had to use it, but it was a 16 gram dead weight I’d take with me again, just in case.

Pen and notebook

Not wanting my diary to succumb to rain, I got a Rite In The Rain notebook. These come in a whole bunch of different types and sizes. The one I got is the sidebound 120 pages 3.5×6 inch version (model 964), which fits perfectly in the hip pockets of my backpack. In case you’re wondering, it weights 86 gram.

Although the pages in the notebook are waterproof, they won’t magically make the ink you write with waterproof. There’s a few options on what to write with, but unless you’re a artist and want to carry paint with you, I suggest you stick to either pencils or waterproof pens.

I went the waterproof pen route. The most famous of these is probably the Fisher Space Pen, the very same one that is used in space ships around the globe (ha!). These use a special kind of ink and will write in virtually any condition, e.g. even on soaking wet paper. The cardridges are 5$ and seem to last forever. I’ve filled almost 200 pages in my notebook and the pen is still going.

You can buy pens as well (i.e. cardridge + a “cover”), the smallest one costs 10$ and weights about 10 gram I believe (it’s called the Stowaway). Oh, and even though it looks plastic, it’s aluminum and thus very sturdy. And you can push out the filling and put a new one it. I’m sure it’s great. I decided to make something myself :).

The tiny Fisher pen seemed a bit small to me, so I took a plastic marker, cut it up, pulled out the ink cardridge, did some drilling and glueing, and done. An almost full-size pen weighting 8 grams. Works great! I’ll have to destroy it if I ever want to replace the cardridge though, so I guess I might try out that tiny Fisher one eventually.

Daiwa Kiyose 33SF tenkara/keiryu fishing rod

Ok, so technically I didn’t take this rod with me on the trail. I brought a short 1.8m Chinese knock-off with me that weighted 31 gram and cost me about 10$ on eBay. The Daiwa weights 63 g and cost 135$ from Tenkarabum.com. It’s a 3.3 meter rod from a world-class manufacturer and is able to land >50cm fish without breaking. I took the Daiwa with me in Emigrant Wilderness.

Both are tenkara fly fishing rods, well technically, the Daiwa is a keiryu rod, but let’s forget about that. Tenkara is a Japanese form of fly fishing where you use a fixed line. Thus, it’s super lightweight, because all you need are some flies, a fixed length line, a pole and hemostats. Furthermore, the poles tend to be collapsible which makes them great for backpacking. And because they use a fixed line which is attached to the tip, collapsed they are just cylinders, there’s nothing sticking out, so they fit well anywhere in your pack.

The reason I got the longer, more expensive Daiwa rod is because the short Chinese one was a pain in the ass to cast a fly with. Casting with the longer rod is much easier and I can get the flies much further out in the water. Of course, I’ve only fly fished for a couple of hours, so I’m sure that’s got something to do with it as well ;).

Compared to a spin reel setup, a tenkara setup is much lighter. You can find telescoping spin rods weighting about as much as a tenkara rod, but the lightest decent spin reel on the market (Shimano AXULSA) weights about 150 gram. That’s without the 30-something meter of line on it. You can take a lot of flies with you for that weight!

In the little creeks you encounter along the JMT, a tenkara rod is great. It’s made for just those kind of environments. It also helps that not too many people fish there, so you should be able to catch as many fish as you need for dinner. In fact, from what little there is to find about fishing the JMT, it seems they will go for virtually anything.

That being said, a spin setup would obviously work better on the lakes, since you would be able to get the lure out much further. Almost all of the lakes I passed seemed to have quite some trout cruising the shoreline, so a fly fishing setup should work as well.

Now, as I said I haven’t fly fished much yet, so I’m probably the last person on earth you want to take fishing advice from. Still, I wanted to get it out there that you can bringing a fishing setup doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to carry a lot of extra weight. And now you also know where to get cheap (but probably crappy) rods and where to get the real deal.

And that’s it for the gear! If you have any questions, shoot.

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