Though Yosemite is located in central California, its weather varies greatly from the nearby warmer, dryer central valley. In the spring, temperatures can swing from 20 degrees F to 80 degrees F in the span of days – which can make packing a challenge. Like dressing for San Francisco, the key is to bring layers that can be easily added or removed. Read on for what I packed recently for a three-day two-night car camping trip!
For a sense of how the weather in Yosemite Valley can vary daily in April and May, here’s a sample of a weeklong forecast:
Quite the variance – while the week leading up to my trip saw sunny days in the 70s and 80s, the days I went ranged from 30 degrees F to 60 degrees F with some clouds and rain. I also wasn’t sure if I’d be staying for one night or two. It was my first time solo camping (more on that later!), so I was leaning towards fairweather camping and concerned about the second day/night with steady rain in the forecast. But because I was car camping, I had the luxury of bringing a few extra items in case I stayed an extra night.
I brought water repellent layers not only because of the rain, but also as I planned to hike the Mist Trail, a notoriously wet (as the name implies!) hike in the spring.
- Rain Shell: North Face Venture II
- Rain Pants: REI (old, similar pair here)
- Breathable Insulation: Patagonia Nano Air Jacket
- Short-Sleeved Shirt: Athleta Fastest Track Tee
- Long-Sleeved Shirt: Athleta Fastest Track Long-Sleeve
- Lightweight 1/4 Zip: Patagonia Capilene Zip
- Midweight Sweater: Smartwool Mid-Weight Crew Sweater
- Leggings: 2 pairs of standard workout leggings
- Underwear: 2 sports bras, ExOfficio hipster briefs, Patagonia hipster briefs
Sleep / Underwear Clothing
- Sleeping Top: North Face 1/4 Zip
- Sleeping Pants: North Face Fleece Pants
Accessories & Shoes
- Gloves: Running Gloves (old)
- Hat: North Face Beanie (received for free from a Meru film screening)
- Socks: 2 pairs of Smartwool Hiking Socks
- Shoes: Lowa Renegade Goretex Hiking Boots <-- these kept my feet wonderfully dry on the flooded parts of the Mist Trail!
Above: Though not completely waterproof, this pack stayed pretty dry through misty and drizzly conditions while hiking.
- Duffel: REI Gym Bag (old)
- Daypack: Topo Designs Rover Pack
- Hard Bottle: REI 40’s Logo Nalgene 1L
- Soft Bottle: Platypus 1L with Closure Cap
Shelter & Sleep
- Tent: REI Passage 2 Tent + Footprint
- Sleeping Bag: Marmot Trestles 15 Regular
- Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-rest Z Lite Sol Foam Sleeping Pad
- Extra Cozy: Pendleton Spider Rock Wool Throw
Campsite #515 at North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley.
- Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket 2
- Utensils: Sea to Summit Spork + Knife Set
- Pots & Bowl: GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Kit
- Mug: REI National Park Service Centennial Coffee Mug (old 2016)
- Thermos: REI Members Edition Hydro Flask
In addition to the items detailed above, I also packed the usual toiletries and tools – such as matches, headlamp, mylar blankets, swiss army knife, etc. I purchased firewood locally at the Yosemite General Store, which is conveniently located near the campsites (about a 3 minute drive) and stocks not only souvenirs, but also groceries (including vegetables!) and other camping supplies.