What I brought with me to hike Half Dome

Insight into what you need to bring on the Half Dome hike

You were awarded a permit to hike the cables on Half Dome, and now you’re wondering: What supplies do I need to bring along to the Half Dome hike? To that question, I can provide some insight. I embarked on the Half Dome hike in August of 2021. I hiked from Curry Village, to the top of Half Dome, and back down to Curry Village in a day, and didn’t camp halfway up. Here are the items that helped me make it through the arduous hike.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click a link, you support me, your author. Learn more.

A woman wearing shorts and a tee shirt stands on the rocky top of the Half Dome mountain. She strikes a silly pose. Behind her is a mountain range and a clear, blue sky.
The author at the summit of Half Dome.


I brought a printed copy of my permit to hike the cables on Half Dome.

What bag should you bring on the Half Dome hike?

I carried my supplies in the Osprey Mira 32 backpack. This bag was great, but it was a bit bigger than necessary. I recommend sizing down to the Osprey Mira 22.

What footwear should you wear on the Half Dome hike?

I wore Merrell’s Moab 2 Mid hiking boots to hike Half Dome. Whatever footwear you choose, ankle support and traction are a necessity, since much of the trail goes over uneven, rocky terrain. I wore high-rise socks, since they work better with those boots and protect the skin on my ankles.

How much water do you need on the Half Dome hike?

The National Park Service recommends that you need at least a gallon of water if you are hiking to the top of Half Dome. I debated getting a water filter so that I could drink from the streams along the way. However, I ended up just carrying the water I needed. I filled the reservoir in my backpack, but this reservoir isn’t quite a gallon, so I also brought several plastic bottles of water.

What sun protection do you need on the Half Dome hike?

During the hike, I used sunscreen on my body, face, and lips. My favorites are Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30, La Roche-Posay SPF 60, and Carmex, respectively. I advise against bringing a stick of lip balm, because it will likely melt. I opted for a squeeze tube instead. For extra protection I wore a visor. A baseball cap or bucket hat will work better to protect your scalp and ears if you have thin hair.

What food do you need on the half dome hike?

I won’t specify all the food I brought, but my biggest tip is to keep it simple and bring enough calories. For one of my meals, I ate a can of soup. Some would advise against this, since cans of soup are heavy, but it worked well for me. I also brought lots of snacks that I could eat while walking. Keep in mind that the large quantities of water you’ll drink will deplete your electrolytes.

What clothing should you wear on the Half Dome hike?

I hiked Half Dome in the roasting sun of August, so I didn’t wear a lot of clothes. I wore shorts and a tee shirt made of thin, athletic material. If you hike in a cooler time of year, I recommend wearing layers.

What other supplies do you need on the Half Dome hike?


When climbing the cables at Half Dome, I wore a pair of leather Ridgecut gloves with Velcro wrists, which I can’t find online now. I recommend a pair of leather gloves so that you’re hands are protected and you have a better grip on the cables. I recommend gloves with a Velcro wrist so that they won’t slip off while you’re gripping the cables.


At dawn and dusk on the trail to Half Dome, I used a headlamp. Even if you plan to be back before dark, I recommend bringing one, since you might return later than you expected.


Last but not least, I brought a camera on the Half Dome hike to capture the memories. I brought a neck strap too so that I could let go of the camera and use my hands. When deciding what camera to bring, keep in mind that you will sweat, you may bump into rocks, and you will need your hands.

Responses to “What I brought with me to hike Half Dome”

  1. Isaacogaba Avatar


    1. Emily Burley Avatar

      Thank you 🙂

      1. Isaacogaba Avatar

        Always. I learnt a bunch

  2. Jane Lurie Avatar

    Congratulations, Emily! I’ve photographed Half Dome many times but my feet will always remain at its base.😉 Impressive!

    1. Emily Burley Avatar

      Thank you!

  3. Samuel Casa Avatar

    Wow… I have enjoyed reading through this👌

  4. rosalie Avatar

    So interesting to read your account of preparation ! Always wanted to do that, but acrophobia is my problem .. ai always enjoyed my side trip to Glacier Point & stared at the site of half dome from that vantage point ! I am hoping my Grandaughters will challenge themselves one day so I will tell them your suggestions . Bravo you did it !

    1. Emily Burley Avatar

      Thank you! The heights were a bit scary, even as a person who doesn’t have acrophobia. Glacier Point is a beautiful lookout.

Leave a Reply

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: