J’s Backpack Checklist for High-Altitude Mountain Hikes!

It’s my favorite time of the year! I love the beauty of the leaves changing colors and the feel of the cooler weather … and when it gets like this, the mountains begin calling to me, and I must go (stole that from John Muir)! I’m hoping to soon visit Shenandoah National Park with my son Noah and do some exploring. I wish I was in better health to head out west with him and take on a 14er in Colorado. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until my health improves.

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to do a few high-altitude mountain hikes. When I say “high-altitude” … I’m talking about hiking above 10,000 feet. I’ve done a few in Glacier National Park, one in the Grand Tetons, and one in Colorado. My highest climb was in 2016 when I summited Gray’s Peak in Colorado. IT WAS SO EPIC AND DEEPLY SPIRITUAL!

This was my camp around 10,000 feet at the base of Gray’s Peak!


Nothing like a camp fire!


That’s a view of Gray’s Peak from my camp!


This is the trailhead to begin climbing Gray’s.


This is me utterly exhausted but totally elated at the summit of Gray’s!


Spotted a family of Mountain Goat on the hike down!

Dude, I soooo miss high-altitude mountain hikes! They’re freggin’ AMAZEBALLS!!!

Anyway, this Backpack Checklist that I’m providing you is for moderate to strenuous high-altitude mountain hikes/climbs that reach above 10,000 feet and take you most of the day to complete. I’m not talking about the fun little hour-long “nature hike” … nor am I talking about helmets, ropes, ice axes, crampons, etc. You may think my checklist is a bit much for a “day hike” but dude, trust me … you never know what you may encounter above 10,000 feet. When I climbed Gray’s Peak back in 2016, it suddenly began snowing around 12,000 feet and the temperature dropped by at least 40 degrees and it was early September. I’m so thankful I was prepared for it. 99% of those who were climbing Gray’s that day ended up turning around. They weren’t prepared! So I’ve learned that it’s always better to be overly prepared!

If you have the physical ability and opportunity to do high-altitude mountain hikes … Dude, you need to get your butt out there and do it!

I’m serious, do it!

Just go do it!

I’m telling you, you won’t regret it. Without question, high-altitude mountain hiking/climbing has been one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences of my entire life. I so look forward to the day when I can do more of it! I’m jealous of you guys who ARE doing it, and I’m shaking my head at you guys who can do it, but ARE NOT. What the heck is wrong with you man?

Anyway, here’s what I personally carry with me when I do a high-altitude mountain hike (and I gotta give props to my buddy, Joe Shearrer, who helped me know exactly what to pack when I took on Gray’s Peak all alone). Joe has made it to the summits of multiple 14ers in Colorado. He’s the man!

Alright, I’ll shut up.

Here it is … J’s Backpack Checklist for High-Altitude Mountain Hikes …

– Map of Mountain/Trail I’m climbing
– Waterproof Matches or Lighter
– Headlamp or Flashlight
– Extra Batteries for Headlamp or Flashlight
– Prescription Sunglasses (wearing them)
– Regular Prescription Glasses in Protective Case
– 3 Liters of Water Minimum (I’ve learned the hard way)
– Compact Water Purifier/Filter or Tablets
– Beef Jerky, Protein Bars, Trail Mix, Etc.
– Hat (wearing it)
– Stocking Cap
– Gloves
– Warm Water-Proof Jacket (typically a down jacket when climbing above 10K feet)
– Wool Socks (wearing them)
– Hiking Boots (wearing them)
– Knife (wearing it)
– Multi-Tool
– Small Med Kit
– Meds: Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl (for sudden allergic reaction), etc.
– Sunscreen
– Chapstick
– Small Tube of Hand Sanitizer (great fire starter)
– Small Roll of Toilet Paper
– Wallet
– iPhone (fully charged)
– iPhone Portable Charger or Solar Charger
– Compass
– Bug Repellant
– Bear Spray (if in Grizzly territory)
– Trekking Poles
– 50 ft. Nylon Cord
– Whistle
– Compact Emergency Blanket
– Compact Folding Shovel (for burying poop)
– Small Roll of Duct Tape
– Pen and Sharpie Marker
– Small Journal/Notepad

So there ya go.

Dude, seriously, get out there and climb a mountain! Take a break from work and go do it! Work is so overrated anyway! 😂

Grace, Peace, and Strength my Brothers,



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