DISCLAIMER: I’m neither a mountain guide nor a nutritionist. I have, however, spent a lot of time in the mountains, and this is what I’ve found works for me. This list is in no way meant to be comprehensive, but rather a review of what I brought given the time of year, forecast, and our trip’s particular needs. As such, it should be viewed as advice, not scripture. Group (climbing) gear is omitted. Some will scoff at this list being too exhaustive for speed; others will scoff at it for not being exhaustive enough for safety. To each their own, I suppose.
A poorly designed backpack can ruin a day in the mountains. For a day trip such as this one, I prefer a 29L (roughly), hood-style pack with one main compartment and one or two smaller compartments. I opt for the hood-style over zipper-style, as it provides options for carrying rope or other extra gear easily between the hood and the main compartment of the pack.
Poop tickets and poop bag
Although you might be puckered at times on the exposure, don’t fight number two. Take a couple minutes and pop-a-squat — you’ll be much more comfortable (and less irritable). Plus, crop-dusting the belay stations all day is frowned upon. Alternatively, chug a coffee and throw in a Copenhagen on the way to the trailhead. No matter how early it is, this method will surely jump-start the system. Trust me.
There’s a school of thought out there that having a cell phone somehow subtracts from a wilderness experience, and yes, I’d agree if the user is constantly on it / checking it. However, this stigma aside, having a phone can be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Regardless of service at the trailhead, I’ve gotten reception in some pretty odd places, so I always throw it in.
Important note: Just because service is available, requests for assistance should only be made in true emergency situations. Calling for assistance on non-emergencies (where self-rescue is possible) can take away rescue resources from other parties that are truly in need.
Extra base layer top
When going lightweight, packing two of the same thing might seem a bit counterintuitive, but not when it comes to base layer tops. On The Grand, like most hikes, it takes a lot more energy (read: sweat) to go up than come down. A dry base layer top can easily save you from going into a sweat-induced freeze on the summit.
Packable down jacket
7,000ft above the valley floor, it gets cold, particularly when you stop moving. A good down jacket has that magical quality of being warm, yet not space consuming. Throw it in the bottom of your pack at the trailhead and save it for breakfast at the Lower Saddle.
Lightweight waterproof jacket
Regardless of what the forecast says, pack something waterproof. At the end of the day, few people have regretted carrying one, but many have regretted not.
On long hauls like The Grand, I rarely have much of an appetite. That said, I try to pack food I’ll want to eat, even if I’m not that hungry (i.e., not bars, goos, and gels). I love fried chicken, dried meats, and cheese. Seriously. They taste good and have lots of protein for long-term energy and fat for warmth. But, as I said, I’m no nutritionist — this is just what works for me.
Since dogs aren’t allowed on The Grand, I’d say this little guy is your best friend. Beyond being able to slice your salami, this piece has a quiver of tools that can come in handy in an improvised rescue, or just generally make the day run smoother.
Safety gear is one of the hardest things to skimp on. While it’d be nice to have a full-blown triage kit, I trimmed mine down to several different types of bandages / wrapping for cuts and scrapes; an assortment of basic meds for inflammatory issues; and a SAM splint (which should slide neatly into your pack’s hydration system) and athletic tape for fractures / sprains. It should go without saying to address any allergy concerns group members might have before you get to the trailhead.
You know the drill: sunscreen, sunglasses, baseball hat, chapstick, and, of course, a cooler of beer in the truck.
This post was produced in partnership with our friends at Gerber, whose gear is stoking out the Matador Ambassadors.