What should you pack for a mountaineering trip? - AdventureTripr

What should you pack for a mountaineering trip?

Marjorie Geling · May 12, 2022
Share with your friends:

Whether you're just getting started with your summer adventure list or are already summiting peaks, thoughtful packing is crucial for a successful climb.

Packing for a mountain climbing trip is a fine balance between ensuring you have everything you need, and avoiding unnecessary weight. To help find the perfect balance, we've put together a list of common items required for most mountaineering trips.


What is the best backpack for mountaineering?

A well-fitting pack is essential for long journeys with heavy equipment.
A well-fitting pack is essential for long journeys with heavy equipment.

There are a lot of mountaineering packs on the market. We recommend thoroughly researching and visiting a gear store to speak with a specialist if it’s your first time buying a pack.

A well-fitting pack is essential for long journeys with heavy equipment. For the most efficient carrying system, a well-fitting pack should have a weight distribution of around 80% on the hips and 20% on the shoulders. Most packs have internal frames since they are more comfortable and evenly distribute weight.


Some important features to look for in a pack are:

  • Attachment points for technical ice tools and an integrated or removable crampon holder

  • Removable brain, or top pocket

  • Removable or stowable waist belt

  • Rope Carry strap or attachment system

  • Durable and/or waterproof materials


Never miss an adventure

Hiking favorites, gear recommendations, free events, and more - without flooding your inbox.

Essential items to pack

When it comes to mountaineering gear, the most essential thing to remember is to bring only what you need and to know how to use it all
When it comes to mountaineering gear, the most essential thing to remember is to bring only what you need and to know how to use it all


Mountaineering is not an ultralight activity, even though weight is always a factor. To withstand unexpected alpine weather, you'll need more than just the essentials (which you should always plan for). Consider the duration of your climb, the remoteness of the site, and the weather prediction when deciding what to bring.


When it comes to mountaineering gear, the most essential thing to remember is to bring only what you need and to know how to use it all! Knowing what you’ll need is often a process of trial-and-error as you gain experience, and knowing how to use all your gear takes a willingness to practice. Testing the gear before you leave is also important.


Creating a checklist for every trip can help to organize and ensure you always remember the essentials. Here’s one to get you started:


  • Climbing pack

  • Rope(s) (dry preferred)

  • Helmet

  • Harness (with adjustable leg loops)

  • Crampons

  • Ice axe (with leash)

  • Belay/rappel device

  • Pulley

  • Locking carabiners

  • Non locking carabiners

  • Runners – singles and doubles

  • Prusik cords

  • Hand protection (athletic tape, gloves)

  • Snow protection gear

  • Shovel

  • Probe

  • Avalanche transceiver

  • Headlamp (plus a spare)

  • Extra batteries (kept near your body)


  • Map (inside a waterproof sleeve)

  • Compass

  • Route description or guidebook 

  • GPS watch

  • Cell phone

  • Battery pack or a solar panel for charging phone and/or GPS



  • Underwear; sports bra (if needed)

  • Moisture-wicking T-shirt

  • Mountaineering pants

  • Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)

  • Lightweight fleece or jacket

  • Boots (crampon-compatible)

  • Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares

  • Insulated/down or synthetic booties for camp wear

  • Rainwear (jacket and pants)

  • Warm insulated jacket or vest

  • Fleece pants

  • Gloves or mittens

  • Warm hat

  • Bandana or Buff

  • Neck gaiter or balaclava

  • Gaiters (for rainy, snowy or muddy conditions

First-Aid and Hygiene

  • First-aid kit 

  • Whistle

  • Signaling mirror

  • Lighter/matches (in waterproof container)

  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

  • Emergency shelter 

  • Hand sanitizer/wipes

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Sanitation trowel

  • Toilet paper and sealable bag (to pack it out)

  • Menstrual products

  • Prescription medications

  • Prescription glasses 

  • Sunglasses 

  • SPF-rated lip balm 

  • Insect repellent

Outdoor Kitchen

  • Backpacking stove

  • Fuel

  • Cookset

  • Dishes/bowls

  • Eating utensils

  • Insulated mug/cup

  • Biodegradable soap

  • Small quick-dry towel

  • Collapsible water container

Overnight Gear

  • Mountaineering tent

  • Sleeping bag (rated appropriately)

  • Sleeping pads (1 foam + 1 inflatable to deal with severe cold)

Personal Extras

  • Outdoor journal with pen/pencil

  • Book/reading material

  • Compact binoculars

  • Two-way radios

  • Insulated sit pad

  • Handwarmer packets

  • Permits

  • Credit card and/or cash

  • ID

  • Car keys

Food and Water

Food and water can easily make the bulk of the weight in your pack, but there are ways to make sure you get enough calories without carrying extra weight. Packing dehydrated meals such as MREs is one way to increase weight efficiency. These meals are high in calories and come in many types of meals and flavors to add variety.

To prepare dehydrated meals, simply add hot water and wait for the food to rehydrate before eating, according to the instructions on the package. It’s important to carry enough water to last you to the next trustworthy water source. Your own hydration requirements will vary depending on your circumstances, such as elevation, temperature, weather, personal health, and the intensity of your movements. As a result, it's critical to plan your trip's water sources, as well as how frequently you'll be able to fill up and carry the amount of water you'll need to drink in between sources. For more tips about hydration on the trail visit our blog here.

Always ask your guide for a complete list of items you need to pack, as each mountaineering experience is unique and may require items that have not been mentioned above. Mountaineering can be a fantastic, intense activity for anybody who is looking for more adventure. Make sure you’re properly geared up to conquer any mountain with help from these tips!

Liked what you read?

Share the love:


Outdoor tips, training plans, inspiring stories and more - don’t miss out!

Copyright © AdventureTripr | All rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Resource Center