Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus
I liked using this backpack. It saved a lot of weight, fit me well and didn't have a million aggravating straps and pockets. I added an extra piece of foam padding to the back structure as it seemed like the one it came with was getting ragged after only a couple test hikes. There was a learning curve on how to pack it properly: I put my sleeping bag in first then tent vertically then clothing/ditty bag, stove then sleeping mat. the kitchen and the day's meals went on top of all that for quick access. Camera, snacks, trowel, sun screen & water filter usually went in the mesh pockets. water scoop was clipped to the outside.
Tent Double Rainbow Tarptent
Our tent worked great though we still have yet to use it in a rain storm. It worked very well in windy situations and I liked being able to use trekking poles or spikes to pitch the tent. I also liked pitching the flaps by roping them to trees sometimes. Very versatile, light, roomy and easy to put up and break down (one person could do it easily, though folding is easier with two people).
Stove/Cookpot Caldera Ti-Tri Titanium Stove System
We calculated that esbit cubes were more weight efficient than alcohol so we used esbit cubes and twig fires to cook meals. The esbit cubes worked well though they should be used for boiling water only as we ended up burning food in the pot a couple times (oops). I liked doing twig fires the most; as soon as I had a little fire going I'd just put the cone on and the little fire would respond immediately by setting all the twigs in the cone on fire. I had to keep an eye on it though and keep feeding it little twigs as it would go out entirely if left alone. By the end of the trip we were making twig fires whenever fires were allowed, depending on our elevation. We also found it useful to carry fire steel and petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls. We used the Swedish style firesteel and would take a pinch of petroleum jelly soaked cotton ball (the cotton ball is just a makeshift candle, don't get suckered into buying fancy wood shavings!) and throw some sparks on the little fibers and after a couple strikes you have a good little flame going. The lighters we brought were useless, we tried two brands of fancy lighters -- DJEEP and some other weather proof lighter from northface --- both failed outright. It's best to just go with good old BIC lighters, back up with strike anywhere matches in a small plastic bag and firesteel with cottonballs. We also had "waterproof" matches fail outright as well on a test hike. It is a real bummer to get out there and have all fire backups fail. : P
Trekking Poles Adjustable Goat Poles
These poles worked great for me; light, sturdy and comfortable in the hand. I added my own lanyard straps and wrapped a bit of extra double-sided velcro and gorilla tape around the handles for general use on the trial. I had some trouble with tightening them after we went through a particularly dusty stretch of trail but I just wiped the mechanism clean of dust and they worked fine.
Clothing: Smartwool long underwear bottoms & tops, silk warmth layer top, adjustable (REI) hiking trousers, 1 pair waterproof socks, 2 pairs smartwool hiking socks, 1 pair travel underwear, 1 sports bra, 1 pair (north face) warm gloves, 1 thin cotton sleeveless t-shirt, 1 quick-dry long sleeve over-shirt, smartwool balaclava, down parka, synthetic beanie hat, Sun Hat, Salomon water sneakers, Keen hiking boots, dri ducks rain suit
In addition to having too much hair I have a giant head, so regular hats don't fit me, which I'm okay with since most sun hats made for hikers look like sad deflated jellyfish with elephant ears. I did a search for handmade hats on etsy and found Bonnie's store. She made me a Retro Sun Hat to which I added grommets and a chin strap to keep it on my head in windy areas. She was great to do business with and got me my custom hat in under two weeks (!) I can't wait to find another excuse to order more hats from her. As for my shoes... I started the trail carrying the water sneakers, hiking boots and 1 pair of insoles. On the trail my boots started to give me problems by rubbing my skin raw right above my heel. Upon examining the shoe I found the shoe padding had been worn down to the hard plastic (EQUIPMENT FAILURE!). I ended up sending my boots out at our Kearsarge resupply point and hiking the rest of the trail in the Salomon water sneakers (link above). I did get a blister in them on the last day but we ended up doing about a 20 mile day, Whitney, etc, so I don't blame the shoes at all. : ) I liked the Salomon water sneakers and would highly recommend them as primary hiking shoes. I ripped out the insoles they came with and added my own that had more arch support. The next time I go for a through hike I would use the water sneakers as my primary shoe and some light flip flops for camp. Most hikers we met who had rigid "hiking boots" had serious blister problems! Foot care on the trail was huge. Usually we ended up changing shoes midday and always stopping and dealing with hotspots at once. I also became aware that my toes need a lot of space so some days I would hike without insoles to give my feet more space. Looking back I probably could have had the shoes a half size larger.
Sleeping Bag: silk bag liner, REI +25 Halo Sleeping Bag
We had several very cold nights. Pretty early on in the trip my bag was making me claustrophobic and cold so I ended up using the silk liner every night and then sleeping with my bag unzipped and all piled on top of me with my feet in the foot box. This system worked well for the rest of the trip. At Guitar Lake I wore every last article of clothing I had and stuffed the few remaining textile items into the foot box and was very toasty indeed! Next time, I would try a two person quilt system.
Sleeping mat: Thermarest neoair sleeping pad
These mats worked well but I guess I have a below average lung capacity so they would take me quite some time to blow up. They were extremely comfortable though and insulated very well. Pilastrs' mat did tear twice. We patched one hole with the patch that came with the mat and upon discovering the second hole couldn't find the second patch so we ended up using gorilla tape and it worked (!!!!) I still don't know if these mats are worth the $$$ though.
Water: Platypus water holder, Platypus Gravity Water filter,
I found drinking out of a tube irritating so I ended up using a cap on my platypus and stopping for drinks when I needed to. I also didn't like carrying much more than half a liter of water if I could help it by the end of the trip. There was so much water everywhere on the JMT I was able to stop for water when I needed to. The gravity filter, though it seemed like a really good idea, ended up failing. We're guessing that the filter got too cold even though I had it in my parka with me at night. Luckily we had a backup with us for most of the trip so it wasn't a problem until we got to our resupply at Kearsarge Lakes we hadn't put another extra filter in the resupply so we had to rely on our friend's hand pump filter for the rest of the trip.
Holga medium format (plastic) camera + film
I had fun taking pictures with this camera and the images have so far come out really wild. I still have four more rolls to develop; can't wait to see the results!
Black plastic trash bag
I used this as a rain cover for my pack and as a "porch" for when we were in particularly dusty campsites.
Plastic Gallon Jug, top cut off, handle intact
we used this every day to have a little extra water around camp to wash with or for dousing fires we even carried a large trout Pilastr caught in Gladys Lake all the way to the campground in Red's Meadow in it. It weighed nothing and had a million uses and was totally collapsible.
Journal, drawing supplies
Maps (Tom Harrison, Pilastr carried GPS too)
Book (the Tin Drum, did not have time to finish !!! )
Shortwave Radio (sent home at Muir Trail Ranch)