BACKPACKING BASICS

Mountaineering Gear List: Absolute Essentials for Your Mountaineering Needs

Bradley Page
Written by Bradley Page

If you are a newbie when it comes to mountaineering, then it can be really challenging to remember everything that you need to bring along. The list is pretty long and some of the items from the mountaineering gear list are essential; if you forget them you might even endanger your life.

That is why it is important to take a look at the list before you head out. In this article we are going to cover the most important mountaineering equipment items that you should never forget so please read on.

Clothing

You need to choose clothes of good quality that provide warmth because you do not want to be freezing. When it comes to choosing clothes, it is important to go for multiple layers instead of wearing only one sweater, for example.

mountaineering packing clothing

Those who are inexperienced might make a mistake and take only one big bulky jacket instead of creating layers. Here is the list of clothing that you should not forget:

Base layers

Base layers should be made of synthetic or wool, because these materials are warm and do not get stinky; therefore make sure to avoid cotton. Cotton will only make you sweaty and damp, which should be avoided in freezing temperatures. A brand such as Ortovox creates amazing base layers in different colors for both women and men.

Mountaineering Base layers

A light insulation jumper

Such jumper shoul be made of synthetics or fleece. Its purpose is not only to keep you warm but also to provide you with breathability so you would not feel damp and clammy under your jacket.

light insulation jumper

If you would like to check out a cool brand that creates good insulations fabrics take a look at the North Face.

The medium insulation jacket

It provides more insulation than the previous jumper but it is less breathable. It is usually made of synthetics which makes it lightweight and easy to pack. Haglofs creates great jackets for this purpose.

medium insulation jacket

The hard shell jacket

It is waterproof which means that it keeps water from going in; and it is also very lightweight. However, it does not have insulation because its main purpose is to protect you from dampness.

The hard shell jacket

It is made of Gore-Tex which is the best waterproof material. Brands such as Arc’teryx create amazing waterproof jackets and they usually come with hoods as well.

A parka jacket

Such jacket is a must if you will be mountaineering on extreme altitudes. This type of jacket can withstand wind and cold above 6000 m. Parka jackets are very warm, bulky, resistant and worn when you take a break so it can warm you up.

man-in-the-mountains-in-parka

Rab is an excellent brand that has a wide range of Parka jackets, which would keep you warm even if you decided to go up to Everest.

Mountaineering pants

Those are designed to keep you not only warm but also safe. Of course, you also need to wear layers under the trousers as well. The first is underwear, then soft shell trousers and hard shell trousers are the last. The soft shell trousers are made of very soft and stretchy material in order to help you climb the mountains.

Mountaineering pants

The hard shell trousers are windproof, resistant, warm durable and waterproof. They should be of the best quality possible. Fortunately, there is no shortage of shops where you can buy a pair.

Mountaineering boots

They should be chosen based on which terrain you plan to tackle. Boots are probably one of the most important gear items and you should not try to buy the cheap ones. There are three types of boots: single, double and super gaiter ones.

The single boots are meant for climbing hard rock and ice because they are lightweight and do not have separate inner and outer linings.

people-wearing-Mountaineering-Boots

The double boots have the inner and outer linings thus they are heavy, warm and used in cold areas. The super gaiter boots are a hybrid of the previous two types. They are waterproof, provide extra warmth but are also lightweight. This makes them a great choice for extreme weather.

Other garments

You need to take with you also some accessories, such as gloves, socks and others.

  • Mountaineering gloves need to be warm and waterproof. You can also do layering with gloves. For example, first put on a pair of fleecy soft gloves, then a pair of insulated waterproof warm gloves. They will keep your hands dry and warm, but also protect them from blisters.
  • Socks should be of wool or synthetic to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Hats and scarves should be waterproof and warm as well.
  • Gaiters are worn over footwear in order to protect your legs but also keep you warm. They are mostly made of leather or synthetics.
  • Bandana or buff can be used instead of scarves as they protect the neck from the wind.

Technical Accessories

There are many mountaineering accessories that you can take, but let’s focus on the most essential ones that you would not like to forget.

Mountaineering helmet

It is probably the most crucial part of your gear. Nowadays you can find really lightweight models that are comfortable for wearing.

Mountaineering helmet

When compared to cycling helmets, these are specifically designed to protect your head from the impact of ice or falling rocks. These helmets have ventilation as well, which means that it prevents your head from sweating.

Mountaineering crampons

Crampons are put under your boots in order to help you walk on ice or climb the mountain. You simply cannot go mountaineering in the winter without those because you would most likely slip and fall or even worse, get buried in the snow.

Crampons are durable, flexible and lightweight. It might appear difficult to walk in them, but it is not when you get used to them. However, you should make sure that your boots are suitable for the crampons, otherwise they might not fit.

Ice axes

They are used for ice climbing. In order to get over bulks and hills of ice, you will need a tool that will get stuck into the ice and help you climb.

Ice axes

The length of the axe is measured easily – stand relaxed and if the spike of the axe barely touches the ground, it is good. However, if you go climbing over long angle terrain, then your axe can be longer.

Other vital gear

  • Map is preferable to a phone.
  • Compass will help you with navigation and through snow storms.
  • Sunglasses will protect your eyes. Remember that even though it is cold and it is snowing, your face and eyes can get sunburnt.
  • Headlamp should be brought with extra batteries. You will need light during the night.
  • First-aid kit is a must for every journey, no matter where you go.
  • Fire starter/matches/lighter can be brought just in case.
  • Knife can come in handy if you get trapped somewhere or for protection.
  • Duct tape is used for repairs.

Personal Gear

Even though everyone is different therefore it is not easy to determine what is essential personal gear; the following list might help you or even give you an idea what to pack.

Sunglasses

Believe us when we tell you that you simply do not want to forget sunglasses. Your eyes are very sensitive and vulnerable to radiation, especially the one at high altitudes. Yes, the eyes can get burned which can even result in snow blindness.

Therefore make sure to wear sunglasses whenever you find yourself in alpine country. Make sure that your sunglasses do not have light lenses because in that case they cannot protect your eyes properly. The color of the lenses should be either brown or black, which means they are tinted enough.

Additionally, the sunglasses you pick should have side shields that would protect your eyes from the sun coming in. If you want to prevent fogging then purchase a cleaning product for lenses. Do not forget to bring an extra pair of sunglasses in case you lose the ones you have.

Mountaineering sunglasses side shields

Also make sure to remember that sunglasses provide better protection than contacts, even though contacts improve your vision.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is very important when it comes to protecting your face. Whenever you are climbing, make sure to buy a sunscreen that blocks ultraviolet A and B rays. UVA can cause skin cancer while UVB cause sunburn. This means that your sunscreen needs to have a SPF factor at least 15.

woman apply sunscreen

Remember that you need to reapply the sunscreen regularly because it gets removed when you sweat. Even though some of the labels claim that these products are waterproof, make sure to reapply them as much as you can. Additionally, do not forget that lips can burn too; that is why you should apply lip balm to them as much as possible.

Nutrition and Water

You should always keep in mind that an injury or accident can prolong the climbing; therefore you should go prepared with enough food supplies. The food should be easily digestible because you won’t be able to cook it; that is why you might consider dried food, nuts and candies as possibilities.

people-eating-in-mountins

Hydration is even more crucial than nutrition. Even though it is called, you should always carry sufficient water supplies and carry at least one bottle of water. You can carry it in an additional pocket of your jacket. If you run out of water, you can try using a stove or pot to melt snow for drinking. This would be an emergency, but it is still better than nothing.

Signaling Devices

Many of these signaling devices can be real lifesavers if you find yourself in trouble. However, make sure to remember that none of them are 100% accurate and it is better to prevent any risk than carry devices that might slow you down. There are certain circumstances that turn these devices into useless products; but they can still give you safety.

Whistle

Whistle can be a great and excellent signaling device simply because it exceeds the human voice range. Instead of shouting for help, you can use a whistle in order to let everyone else where you are and that you are unable to move, for example.

Mountain Man With Whistle

You can even design a series of signals for your climbing group, for example one sound for one signal such as “ok”, two sounds for another signal etc. Even if you get separated in fog or darkness, the whistle might be of great help so others can locate you.

Avalanche transceiver

This one is designed to locate buried victims of snow slides. It can be useful during snow climbs.

Avalanche transceiver

Handheld radio

This radio is used for communication between group partners. It can also be used between a group of climbers and their base camp.

man-holding-handheld-radio

However, radios as you know have a limited range and if you find yourself somewhere where peaks or ridges block the transmission – you won’t be able to use it.

A cell phone

Cell phone has become a device today that almost nobody can live without it.

Mountaineering cell phone

They can be useful to some extent; however, they mostly have very weak batteries that might not withstand freezing temperatures and they cannot transmit locations so that is why they should not be used as the one and only self-reliance.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, we have covered the most important equipment items that you need to bring for mountaineering. It is true that every climber is different and has developed her or his own preferences; however, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure to go over your mountaineering gear list before you go on a journey. Especially if you are inexperienced, it is easy to forget something that may seem trivial but actually is a life saver.

Mountain-Climbing-Gear

We have covered the essentials regarding the personal gear, technical items such as axes, helmets, crampons etc, signaling devices and clothing. This list might prove to be really helpful and depending on the location and terrain you plan to visit, adjust it to your liking.

Have you ever used any of these items? What is your favorite mountaineering equipment? Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bradley Page
Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!

  • Allen Federico

    A good pair of cold-weather gloves is a must if you’re going mountaineering. I use Tenn Waterproof Cold Weather Plus Gloves. These gloves keep my hands just as warm as some of the more expensive pairs I’ve worn before!

  • Mike Baker

    I don’t use them to climb mountains, but the Lixada 1 Pair 12 Teeth Claws Crampons have been a godsend for me! I have a dog walking business, and last winter, it would have been really rough for me to get around without these crampons. They worked great!

  • Bradley Page

    Hi there Allen and thanks for sharing. Gloves are really important if you don’t want your hands icy cold. Here are other winter gloves that you might want to look into:

    http://backpackingmastery.com/top-picks/best-winter-gloves.html

  • Bradley Page

    Thanks for the useful tip Mike and good luck on the dog walking business. Yeah, these crampons really do their job, especially when you have your canine companion with you.

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