I will be hiking 4 days in early August between the High Sierra camps in Yosemite:

  • Toulumne Meadows Lodge → Glen Aulin
  • Glen Aulin → May Lake
  • May Lake → Sunrise
  • Sunrise → Toulumne Meadows Lodge

I do not need to carry food for breakfast and dinner because it will be provided. I need a sleep sack but not a sleeping bag because the camp beds have blankets.

Any suggestions for the appropriate size pack?

If it helps, I tend toward the 'wear the same stuff except for socks and underwear' method of dressing each day when out and about like this.

  • 1
    are you buying the pack, borrowing or renting it? do have any packs currently? do you plan to do more multi-day hiking later? the reason i ask is you can optimize for your particular circumstances but an expensive(?) minimized pack will be a lot less useful when you do another 3 day hike elsewhere with less provided amenities. Mar 10, 2021 at 22:32
  • Update - (1) Yosemite has cancelled High Sierra camp reservations for 2021 and are offering the same dates for 2022. (2) I got a 35L day pack anyway. Mar 19, 2021 at 11:53

2 Answers 2


I would go for about 30 liters. Your bulkiest single item will be your bear canister for your lunch food. A small one will be plenty big enough for your needs, maybe 300-400 cubic inches. It's possible that you could use a pack with a volume as low as 20 liters, but you would need to make sure you can fit the bear canister.

It's been a while since I've been in Yosemite Valley, but at that time they had bear canisters for rent at the office where you picked up your permit. You should probably check out your options for bear canisters before deciding on a pack.

  • 2
    I am not sure the OP needs a bear canister. I think the High Sierra Camps have bear boxes, and he doesn't need a bear canister to secure his food while he is carrying it in his pack or day hiker.
    – ab2
    Mar 10, 2021 at 20:56
  • I was wondering about the bear canister. It is not listed as a required or suggested item in the FAQ provided by the park for people using the camps. Mar 11, 2021 at 0:05
  • 1
    I thought a bear canister was for storing food at night. If the bears are aggressive enough to try to take food from your pack while you're wearing it, does a bear canister really help much?
    – csk
    Mar 11, 2021 at 6:15
  • Thanks, all, for the comments and info on bear canisters. I do know someone who had a bear steal his pack when he put it down on the ground, but it's certainly true that bear nuisances occur mostly at night. What the official rules are, I don't know.
    – user2169
    Mar 11, 2021 at 23:05

I can't write a definitive answer because (a) requirements change and (b) I have never stayed at a High Sierra Camp, although I have freequently hiked past the May Lake Camp and am pretty sure they had a bear box. (It would be strange if they do not.)

I don't recommend that you plan on carrying a bear canister for the trip you propose. Even a small bear canister is bulky and clumsy and means that you will be stuck with a considerably larger pack than you need for the trip you describe. Worst case scenario: you miss a few lunches. Not a tragedy.

From what you describe, you may not even need a real pack, just a day hiker, although one of the larger sort, not the smaller sort -- the sort of thing you might reasonably carry around town or campus. A day hiker is a useful item to have even for long trips that require a large pack. For example, you might want to take a day hike during a day of rest on a long trip.

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