JMT Trip Planning: Shelters

In all of my planning for this summer’s 2018 JMT hike, picking which shelter I would carry was one of the easiest choices I had… mostly! It shouldn’t be any surprise that I chose my Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus Tarp & Hexanet, which is the same set-up that I have been using for the past 4 years (although, early last year (2017) I did pick up the updated model of the Hexamid tarp.) I will admit though, I did think about picking up a Zpacks Duplex tent, but in the end I decided not too. I love that my set-up is modular, not to mention that was another $600 I could spend on other things!

But it wasn’t just my tent that I had to decide on… I also needed to figure out what tent my son would carry. Thankfully, my late buddy Charlie Nichols (aka: Hiking Shoes) figured this out for us a couple of years ago when he gifted my son a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE tent! (Note that that link is to the regular Lunar Solo, not the older “LE” version, which was the same tent, but with a 30D floor.)

Now, I did have some concern about my son using a non-free-standing tent on the JMT. From what I have read, hard, rocky ground is a pretty common occurrence on the JMT, so I worried about him having a tough time setting up his non-free-standing Lunar Solo tent. So to figure this out, I did 2 things. I carried him with me on a few shake down hikes with the Lunar Solo, and I also picked up a (somewhat) “free-standing” tent to try out during the 2017 ATKO. Then I let him decide which he would rather carry…

The “free-standing” tent I picked up for him to try was the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent. This is a very popular (mostly) free-standing tent that a number of hikers use, despite its small size.  However, after using both shelters, my son decided that he would rather use the Lunar Solo. Not because of the lower weight (he doesn’t really pay attention to that like I do… he’ll understand when he gets older…lol!), or because it was easier to set-up, but because there was more room inside it.

Since we will both be carrying non-free-standing shelters, we will each be carrying a little extra length of cord, just in case we need it to wrap around large rocks to guy our tent’s out. Also, neither of us will be carrying a ground sheet. And of course each of our shelters require one trekking pole to set up. (Only needing one pole makes for an easier, and faster, set-up. Not to mention, if something happens to one of our poles, we still have another as a back-up.)

As for stakes, I decided to stick with what I have always used and been happy with: 8 titanium shepherd hook stakes from Lawson Kline, and 2 MSR Carbon Core stakes. My son will carry some slightly heavier/more durable “V” stakes by DAC. These actually came with my old Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent, and while they’re not the lightest, they are a good stake for someone who doesn’t have that certain finesse when shoving stakes in (particularly) hard ground.

One other thing I wanted to point out about my Hexamid tarp and Hexanet is it’s ability to set up either piece alone, or both pieces together. One of my goals on this hike is to spend at least one night cowboy camping up high… However, assuming that our bodies agree with camping high, and the weather allows it, bugs may still be an issue. But this is where my Hexanet will shine… I can set it up all by itself and crawl in! Sure, I will still have a layer of mesh between me and the sky, but at least it will be see-through mesh rather than a solid piece of material that I can’t see through!

So, these are the shelters that my son and I will be rocking this summer on the JMT. We’re already dreaming about the different spots we will have them set-up in along the JMT… and while that’s great and all, I know it will be much more amazing when I am actually standing there… But until then…

Thanks for stopping by!


Disclaimer: The thoughts above are my own. I am not being paid by, nor am I affiliated with any of the companies listed above, however, some of the Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through these links, I could earn a little money for that sale. 

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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4 Responses to JMT Trip Planning: Shelters

  1. Kurt Suttell says:

    Hey Chad, I just was lucky enough to get a .5 Cuben Hexanet bug shelter. the Floor is a little light weight Cuben than i wanted but ill just use a ground sheet. Im now ordering the Hexamid Solo Plus tarp to accompany it (this will be my second one, should have never sold the first one). This is a setup I had been wanting for a very long time, so Im very excited. My question for you is do you ever leave the two combined when packing or do you always separate them when packing? Also have you ever notice any backsplash from rain getting past the Hexanet with this set up? Thanks and keep up the great blog. Kurt


  2. Pingback: JMT Summer 2018 Permits & Plans | Stick's Blog

  3. Justin says:

    I found that the ground is sometimes rocky but if you look around enough you can usually find a place to get your stakes into the ground. Popular camping spots get crowded but just 5 minutes off the trail you can often find a perfect spot all to yourself. Good for you wanting to cowboy camp! Hope you get to do it with no bugs 🙂


    • Stick says:


      This is what I was thinking… site selection, site selection, site selection! I know sometimes that isn’t always quite as easy as it is to type, but we will make our best efforts while on the trail! And I don’t mind walking a little off trail… Hopefully the bugs will be kind too! 🙂



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