Although Half Dome is just a day hike, it is a beast of a day hike and not one to take in light. The Walk is 16.1 miles and usually takes 10-12 hours. Unprepared walkers had to be rescued, and others even died on the dome. As a popular bucket list hike, the views are definitely worth the time and energy it takes. Here is a packing guide to prepare for your hike.

WHAT TO PACK FOR HALF DOME

Permit-before planning to hike Half Dome, you must obtain a permit. Check out our guide on the licensing process. Once you have it, be sure to print it and take it with you.

3L Water-Water is a must for this hike, especially if you do it in summer. We both brought 3L of water and drank everything. We love these 3L blowers because they are easy to fill and clean, and we never have problems with leaks. If you like other drinks or flavored powder mix or drops, we usually also like to take these smaller soft bottles with you so you can roll them up and pack them when you’re done.

Backpack-we’ve seen people do this hike with just a water bottle, a small day pack, and a full backpack. You want to find a backpack that is comfortable, gives you support and can carry the weight of your water, snacks and whatever else you take with you. Ideally, pack as little as possible! Our best backpacks are our Osprey packs, so we brought that. Even though it is a large package, if it is not filled, it is not overbearing, compresses down and provides more support than a normal day package. If you want to buy a pack, I recommend going a little bigger so you can use it for overnight hikes in the future!

Sunblock-apply sunblock and remember to reapply as needed. The Walk has both covered and exposed areas. You are completely exposed to the top. We’re worst off trying halfway through the hike and usually end up sunburned, but we try to be better about it.
Sun hat and sunglasses-both keep you protected from the sun!

Headlamp-most people start the hike before sunrise with the plan to come back before sunset. Since you start in the dark, take a headlight with you. It’s also great in matter your hike takes longer than planned and you’re stuck on the trail in the dark.

Working gloves-the final part of the climb to the half-dome consists of chains. Because you’ll be on the chains for a while, depending on how busy it is, Gloves will help keep your hands protected. Don’t take fingerless gloves like me, because I definitely have blisters.

Walking sticks-before we started taking longer walks, we thought that walking sticks were only for older people. We had no idea how much difference they make. It helps to take a load off your legs, and in the after kilometers of the walk, you will definitely notice the difference. When you press the cables, make sure to put them away safely.

Extra pair of socks (optional) – it feels so much better to have a fresh pair on the way down.

Layered clothing-this is the key, allowing you to keep warm or cool, depending on your situation. We love the Patagonia Capilenes for layering because they are effective and lightweight. When you start the walk lightly and early, it will be much cooler at most. When the sun comes up and you start moving, it gets hot. If you are then at the top of the Half Dome, the temperature will drop again and it is usually windier.

Food-it is estimated that you will burn more than 2000 calories during this walk. Bring snacks and food that will keep you fed and that is light and easy to eat. We usually use a mix of Soylent (usually for breakfast so we can lighten our load quickly), type bars, dried fruit, and energy chews.

First aid Kit-although we never bring one, it is always a good practice to have a first aid kit with you on a hike. Be sure to also add some moleskin or blister first aid to your kit.

Tissue / toilet paper-take some tissue or toilet paper with you in matter you need to go to the toilet. There are three opportunities for bathrooms during the walk. The first is flush toilets at Vernal Fall walkway. The second are the primitive toilets on top of Nevada Falls. The latter is another primitive toilet in the small Yosemite Valley. Other than that, you just need to water the plants. Remember, you need to pack all garbage, including toilet paper.

Trash – there is no trash service on the trail, so you need to carry our all your trash. Bring some extra bags if you are dirty about carrying your own toilet paper as well.

Rainwear (depending on the weather) – check the weather until the day of your hike, if it looks like it might rain, a raincoat will be useful. We love this (HIS + HERS) lightweight and packable.

Via-Ferrata Gear Setup (optional) – for those of you who want to take extra precautions, you can clip In during the climb on the chains. A Via Ferrata setup is the safest way to go. However, it can slow you down, and we prefer not to cut into it.

Camera Gear-don’t forget your camera to capture all the awesome photos. If you want to take long exposure photos (to make the waterfalls silky), you need to bring a tripod, ND filter and trigger.
What to wear

Sturdy shoes with good traction-it’s a long walk that is hard on your feet and ankles. Find good hiking boots that give you support and are tucked in (Don’t try them on for the first time on this hike). There are parts of the hike that are slippery from the mist of the waterfall and you will climb a steep slope at the end, so good traction is helpful. These are our current hiking shoes that we love: his + hers.

  • Hiking pants – His + Hers) – they are never the prettiest, but for the sake of functionality, we like that the bottom half of the pants can zip off to make shorts when it gets hot. I wear leggings when there is not much variation in temperature.
  • Dry Wick Tee-so far these tees have had the best fit for me, and these work great for Jacob.

That’s it! I hope you have a great time climbing Half Dome. If you tag #localadventurer on your hike, we’d love to share them!

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