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.
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
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:
Rope(s) (dry preferred)
Harness (with adjustable leg loops)
Ice axe (with leash)
Non locking carabiners
Runners – singles and doubles
Hand protection (athletic tape, gloves)
Snow protection gear
Headlamp (plus a spare)
Extra batteries (kept near your body)
Map (inside a waterproof sleeve)
Route description or guidebook
Battery pack or a solar panel for charging phone and/or GPS
Underwear; sports bra (if needed)
Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
Lightweight fleece or jacket
Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
Insulated/down or synthetic booties for camp wear
Rainwear (jacket and pants)
Warm insulated jacket or vest
Gloves or mittens
Bandana or Buff
Neck gaiter or balaclava
Gaiters (for rainy, snowy or muddy conditions
Lighter/matches (in waterproof container)
Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Toilet paper and sealable bag (to pack it out)
SPF-rated lip balm
Small quick-dry towel
Collapsible water container
Sleeping bag (rated appropriately)
Sleeping pads (1 foam + 1 inflatable to deal with severe cold)
Outdoor journal with pen/pencil
Insulated sit pad
Credit card and/or cash
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!
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