Gear Guide

Gear Guide

Leave No Trace teaches us to be prepared for every hike. Besides having the right gear, always check for changing weather conditions, let someone know your planned itinerary, and check in with a ranger if possible.

Water is most essential, and each hiker should carry a minimum of one 32 oz. containers no matter the season. In warmer months, please considering doubling the amount of water. Hydration reservoir packs are better for longer tours. Beware of relying on a hydration pack on a cold weather hike in higher elevations as the tube could freeze. We recommend that everyone who attempts a strenuous hike should bring a hydration reservoir pack. Be prepared to bring more water in summer months or while attempting longer trails. Please also be certain hydrate your body by drinking a significant amount of water the day before a long hike.

Hydration: Dehydration can be a cause for concern while hiking on the trails in the sun and heat while at higher elevations. It can lead to headaches, dizziness and other potentially dangerous symptoms if not treated properly. Please be certain to bring plenty of water with you on your adventure and start hydrating the day before any strenuous hiking tour.

Pre-Hydration: It is extremely important to pre-hydrate the day before a Strenuous Hike. Make sure to drink at least 1 gallon of water and at least 16 oz of sports drink in the 24 hours leading up to the hike. You should also drink about 20 oz of water in the morning before you hit the trail. These steps will make your Yosemite experience a lot more enjoyable.

Sports Drinks, Energy Shots, and Gu: Your body loses more than just water on every hike. Sports drinks, energy shots, Gu provide you with minerals and electrolytes to give an extra boost during a long day on the trails. We recommend at least a 20 oz. bottle for any moderate or strenuous hike. Electrolyte capsules are also very efficient and do not have the sugar of any of the aforementioned items. Please also beware of the caffeine content in some of these products. Caffeine can be dangerous at high elevations and may cause headaches and dehydration. It is NEVER recommended to bring a potent highly concentrated energy drink like Monster or Red Bull. They are very dangerous at high altitudes.

Food and Snacks: Protein and carbohydrates are essential for hiking so it would be wise to eat a fulfilling pasta meal the night before and a healthy breakfast the day of a hike. Please be certain to bring plenty of food on every hike. Everyone joining us should bring a sandwich for lunch and a variety of the following: Energy bars, trail mix, granola bars, fruit, dried fruit, nuts, raisins, cheese & crackers, pretzels, chocolate bar.

All Strenuous Hikes: require hikers to bring at least 100 oz. of water. A hydration pack is recommended. Please do not begin a strenuous hike with less that 100 oz of water. That is about 3 liters. Our guides carry over 4 liters of water on strenuous hikes in the summer. Water purification filters and pills are a good fallback option if you run out of water but many water sources run dry by mid summer. More food is also necessary. Pack an extra sandwich and piece of fruit with an assortment of snacks and trail mix. Finally, bring a 20 oz. bottle of sports drink with you for a boost while hiking.

Half Dome Hikes: These are longer than most other strenuous hikes and require more food and water. All hikers should bring at least 130 0z. of water (100 oz. plus at least 1 extra bottle is highly recommended). Extra food is also necessary so pack another sandwich and a few more snacks for extra calories needed. A portable water filter is also a necessity.

Trail Guide

Clothing: Dress in layers, bring hat, gloves, a poncho or rain jacket, and waterproof pants. It’s a good idea to be prepared for all types of weather even in summer, especially in the High Country.

Footwear: Lightweight shoes (trail runners & light hikers) designed for hiking are great for any non-strenuous hike. They can be used on any trail, but hiking boots would be ideal on more challenging hikes over difficult terrain. Waterproof hiking shoes and boots are necessary for hikes during spring and winter when trails are wet and snowy.

Additional Essentials (for every hike): Sun Block, sunglasses, insect repellant, sun hat, backpack, map, compass, GPS, cell phone

All Season Hiking Clothes: Dressing in layers is always suggested when planning an outing in Yosemite. Very few hikes begin and end in only shorts and T-shirts. The temperatures in Yosemite vary based on the elevation level, amount of sunlight on a particular trail, and of course, the time of day. All adventurers should always pack an extra layer for colder weather. A good weather-proof (Gore Tex) jacket is recommended for most hikes with the exception of hiking during extreme summer months of July and August. It is a good idea to pack heavier at higher elevations even during those months. Please be sure to bring a heavier fleece and extra layers for colder months during fall, winter and early spring.

Cold Weather Hiking Gear: Hiking from fall through early spring requires some heavier layering to stay warm and offer protect from the elements, especially water and snow. You must start with good hiking boots. Anything waterproof would be suitable and Gore-Tex would be ideal. Make sure to stay comfortable with wool or synthetic socks. Continue with a good synthetic thermal base layer of clothing ( top and bottom). Add a synthetic sweatshirt layer and quality hiking pants. A good fleece jacket should be your next layer. This is important because it will be your outer layer as you warm up throughout the hike.

It is extremely important to protect yourself from the elements with a waterproof jacket, shell or parka. Again, Gore Tex would be best. Note: you would not need a heavily insulated jacket if you brought a fleece jacket layer, It would also be a good idea to pack some waterproof pants in case it rains or snows.

Gaiters (protective shell that wraps around ankles and legs below the knee) are definitely recommended when hiking in snow because you’d hate to get snow on the inside of your waterproof boots. Don’t forget a good wind blocker hat and some gloves that can protect you from the cold and wet weather. The list can go on forever but it is never a bad idea to be over prepared.

Sun block and sunglasses are also important in winter as the sun reflects off the snow. Many of Yosemite’s trails are open in winter, but those outside the valley are not passable without snow shoes or cross-country skis.

Note for hiking on Waterfall Trails- Anyone hiking on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, Wapama Falls Trail, or on the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls should be prepared to get very wet, especially during peak waterfall season. Please be sure to bring a raincoat and waterproof shoes on these adventures because you will be sprayed and the trails will be very wet and slippery.

Half Dome Summit Gear

Backpacks: Any day pack will do. Be certain your pack can carry all the water, food, and extra clothes your hike requires. Many newer models will have a slot for a hydration reservoir. Some smaller waist packs would probably be suitable for shorter trips. A good tip would be to bring an extra heavyweight trash bag for inside your pack to protect your gear from rain and snow.

Additional Gear: Light to moderate trail shoes, trail runners, or hiking boots, mole skin for blisters and extra socks, walking stick or hiking poles, GPS device, head lamp, pocket knife, binoculars, 2 way radios, heavy-duty carpenter garbage bag for waterproof protection of gear, small pack of tissues, flashlight, insect repellent, wide-brimmed hat, lightweight nitrile work gloves for Half Dome Summit hikes.

Recommended Gear & Tips to help you reach the Half Dome Summit by John P. DeGrazio

Mt. Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal Complete Packing List By Glen Young

Photography Equipment

Photo Session Gear: The following gear is required for our Photo workshops. Please be sure to bring your camera and its manual, lenses, a lens hood, digital memory cards, batteries, and a carrying case or backpack for all of your gear. Our photography guides also strongly recommend bringing a sturdy tripod (with ball head if possible) on your trip with us. If you do not own a tripod, it would be a good idea to purchase, rent, or borrow one before your trip.

Suggested Gear: Additional lenses and filters are also suggested as well as a cable release to minimize vibrations from pressing the shutter release.

Additional Photography Gear: additional digital memory cards, extra batteries, film, and a carrying case or backpack for all of your gear. If you are photographing in cold weather, a good pair of glove liners will work really well. If you are photographing in wet weather, we also recommend a towel and a rain cape or cover. You can even improvise and make one with a plastic baggie and a rubber band.

Gear for Spring Waterfall and Moonbow Photo Sessions

Camera Gear:
1.) A strong hand flashlight
2.) A weak penlight or head lamp with a low setting (for checking camera settings)
3.) A bath sized towel to wrap around a tripoded camera and for drying wet camera gear
4.) Several soft cotton cloths to clean wet lenses
5.) Lens caps and clear, UV, or Skylight 1A filters on the front of every lens
6.) A large blower bulb to defog your eye piece
7.) An additional water resistant jacket or poncho to act as a hood over a tripoded camera
8.) A camera capable of making long exposures
9.) A tripod
10.) A cable release
11.) Wide angle to normal focal length lens (an 18mm to 50mm zoom is ideal for digital SLR cameras)

Recommended Clothing: (You will be standing in mist for a good while so dress accordingly)
1. Warm, dry head gear (a ball cap type hat pulled tight over a wool beanie keeps eyes dry and head warm)
2.) Water resistant parka, rain pants, down vest
3.) Warm gloves
4.) Gore Tex boots or other water resistant foot gear

Note: Umbrellas can sometimes be useful but, often times, close to falls, the blustery winds make them impractical.

Please also be sure to bring a sandwich, snacks, and drinking water.

Snowshoeing Gear

Essential Supplies: Snowshoes and poles are the obvious ones. All of our tours will supply them, but there are other items to bring along with you. Be sure and have plenty of water. Take a lunch or snacks that includes trail mix and energy bars. Other essentials would be a backpack, sunscreen, sunglasses, a windblocker hat, all weather gloves, and extra socks.

Footwear: Warm, waterproof (preferably Gore Tex) hiking boots are essential to keep your feet dry. Gaiters are a definite plus. Besides keeping the snow out of your boots, they will keep your legs dry below the knees. Wear socks made from moisture wicking materials like wool or polypropylene.

Top and Bottom: Lightweight breathable synthetic underwear covered with insulating layers and a fleece pullover or jacket will be important. Top it off with a windproof, water repellent shell or parka and water repellent hiking pants.

Our Trail Information  Page provides information on what to expect and the physical requirements for each type of outing we offer and to see areas we visit on our tours.

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