Read something else

8 Tips from My Recent John Muir Trail Hike

Even after hiking for many years, I learn something new every time I adventure out into the wild. Check out these 8 hiking tips before your next hike!

Paul Bodnar       Educational       9/3/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
9/3/2021
A sleeping bag

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 was below freezing and I would have been very uncomfortable and much colder in the lighter 30°F sleeping bag. If you can’t sleep well at night because you are cold it makes it much harder to have an enjoyable hike 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.

a thin sheet of transparent plastic

2. Bring a Polycro Footprint

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

Sadly, I spent every night inside my tent instead.

solar charger

3. Use a Solar Panel Charger

If you are going to spend 10 days or more in the wilderness between recharging your devices, then a solar panel charger might be a good choice for you. 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 my battery bank and other electronics charged. The solar panel was attached to the top of my pack so there was a constant charge throughout the day. You have to have direct sunlight to operate the solar panel but that wasn’t a problem during my hike.

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

A phone with a phone case and a screen protector

4. Protect Your Smartphone

It’s 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’s also important to keep a clean sealable plastic bag in case you need water protection for your phone.

a plethora of first aid kit stuff

5. Pack a Good First Aid Kit

It’s important that you always 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
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamine
  • Antidiarrheal
  • Tweezers
dirty socks in ziploc bag with water being poured into bag

6. Wash and Dry Your Socks Daily

It’s a good idea to hike in clean socks everyday. Dirty socks can increase friction that can cause blisters on your feet.

You can wash your socks in the morning and then let them dry during the day by attaching them to your pack.

multiple different kinds of tent stakes laid out in a pile

7. Count Your Tent Stakes Every Time You Pack Up Your Tent

You should always count your tent stakes before packing up your tent in the morning. One morning I went to count my stakes and ended up losing one until I found it under a rock.

A screenshot of a water waypoint in the Guthook Guides app

8. Add Water Comments to the Guthook App

Having current water comments in the Guthook App is a valuable asset to other hikers.

It’s important that you type in the comment update when you are at the water source so you can make the most accurate assessment. When you type in the water comment it is automatically time stamped so you don’t have to worry about the time of the update. If you don’t have cell service at the time of the update it’s saved to your phone and then updated when you do have cell service. The original time of the update is saved and displayed for others to see.


Want to keep up with all that’s going on at Atlas Guides? Sign up for our newsletter!

Read more!

Check out some related blog posts!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association
A lake reflects a nearby wildflower meadow and trees.
Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!
About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 90 guides for trails around the world.