Home » TIPS & TRICKS » Mountaineering Gear Essentials: What You Must Bring

Mountaineering Gear Essentials: What You Must Bring

by | Feb 16, 2022 | GEAR, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, TIPS & TRICKS | 0 comments

Hand from avalanche

Climbing a mountain takes more than just moving your feet. You need to wear mountaineering boots, crampons, ropes, harnesses, jackets, and socks. In addition, you might even need to bring helmets, mountaineer’s ice axes, a 4 season sleeping bag, insulated winter tent, gloves, sunglasses, mountaineering pants, and a large mountaineering pack to haul it all.

However, there are also other pieces of mountaineering gear that most beginners often overlook: Safety equipment. Thus, it pays to bring sunscreen, a first aid kit, emergency blankets, a personal locator, GPS, flares, among other things. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Here we will talk about each of these mountaineering gear essentials and why you must not forget them. Naturally, with so many items, it is easy to leave something behind. But don’t worry. We’ve also added a mountaineering checklist at the end of this guide. You can print and check your gear as you pack.

But enough of the lollygagging. Let’s get started.

Mountaineering Gear

Let’s start talking about mountaineering gear. In this section, we will cover everything from mountaineering boots and jackets to sleeping bags and stoves. 

Naturally, not all climbers need the same climbing gear. But we will suggest whether or not you need it based on its purpose.


Mountaineering Boots

Footwear is essential in our everyday life. Having a comfortable pair of shoes can ruin or make your day. Certainly, the same applies to women’s mountaineering boots as well as men’s mountaineering boots.

You will be walking on gravel, rocks, mud, snow, and ice. But you will also climb hills, frozen waterfalls and walk on glaciers too. So, the best pair of boots must offer ankle support while remaining comfortable enough not to be a burden. 

Make sure to get mountaineering boots, not hiking boots. The main difference is that the first is stiffer, offers more insulation, and is crampon compatible. That’s why you should not use any other boots for mountaineering gear. essentials

Most boots either have leather or synthetic upper. Leather boots are more durable. But they are heavier and aren’t waterproof right out of the box. In contrast, synthetic insulation is commonly lighter and often comes with a water-resistant treatment.

Still, not all mountaineering boots are suitable for all situations. Let’s see why.

Double Mountaineering Boots

La Sportiva G2– $950.00

While most boots offer some degree of insulation, only double models offer enough to cope with the freezing environment of high-altitude climbs. The extra layers of fabric increase warmth and water resistance. Hence, making them suitable for high-altitude ice climbing. Here, La Sportiva G2 is the indisputable champion.

Hence, double boots are not suitable for warm climates. They are not breathable enough. As a result, your feet will get soaked wet. 

Single Mountaineering Boots

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX – $599.00

Nothing beats a single boot during early winter. They offer enough insulation to keep your feet warm while being breathable and waterproof. Most boots available are single models. 

We highly suggest getting a single boot. If it is too cold, you can always use thicker socks and purchase an aftermarket gaiter. We suggest getting the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX boot. It strikes a perfect balance between support, grip, and comfort, making it suitable for a wide range of activities.


Mountaineering Crampons  

Boots only help as much. There are times when you need extra traction, especially if you plan on doing ice climbing or glacier travel. Here is where crampons come to the rescue. 

Crampons are snow traction devices that you can strap to your boot. It has several spikes that increase grip on rocks and slippery surfaces. But beware. Not all crampons work with any boot. 

Strap-on crampons, like the Black Diamond Contact, work with any mountaineer boot, as it doesn’t require welts. The stainless steel frame is strong enough to handle rocks and ice alike. Step-in models, on the other hand, only work on boots with heel and toe welts. In summary, they are ideal for technical ice climbing.

We recommend checking the Cassin Alpinist Tech, for it is our favorite automatic crampon to add to your mountaineering gear essentials. Additional options, Cutting the difference between both traction devices, we find hybrid crampons. These only require a heel groove.

Regardless of the type of crampon you get, make sure it is stainless steel. They are more durable than aluminum models. What’s more, you can use them on rock, ice, and packed snow. Here you can check all the different crampon models we’ve reviewed. There you will find a suitable model for your mountaineering boot.


Mountaineering Clothing

Having the right clothes is crucial during outdoor activities. They will grant protection against the elements. Needless to say, cold and sun exposure can be fatal. 

That’s why we highly recommend getting appropriate clothing such as:

We’ve embedded links to some of the best options we’ve used. Although you won’t be changing clothes mid-trip, it pays to bring more than one pair of socks. This way, you can prevent getting trench foot. 


Mountaineering Ice Axe

Grivel Nepal S.A. Ice Axe + Leash Red, 58cm

GRIVEL Nepal Self-arrest Axe– Price not available

Add to Cart

PETZL Summit EVO ice Axe 52 cm

PETZL Summit EVO ice axe– Price not available

Add to Cart

Although an ice axe is only necessary for ice climbing and steep hills, it pays to bring one if you can spare the extra weight. 

The shape and size of the ice axe depend on the activity you are planning on doing. Generally, a straight shaft ice pick such as the GRIVEL Nepal Self-arrest Axe is a suitable choice. It has a steel serrated head that’s strong enough to pierce the ice. 

But if you are all about technical ice climbs, then a model with a bent shaft is more suitable. Here, the PETZL Summit EVO ice axe is our top pick. 

Choosing the Right Size

Before making any purchase, you must first determine the ice axe size. A quick way to do this is to stand straight and measure the distance between your closed fist and your ankle bone. 


Mountaineering Climbing Harness

Petzl CORAX Harness - Versatile and Fully Adjustable Rock Climbing, Ice...

PETZL Corax– $64.95

Add to Cart

Like before, a climbing harness is only needed for technical ice climbing. You can skip this one if this isn’t your case. 

Mountaineering harnesses are lighter than rock climbing models. It also has a couple of gear loops for you to fix some pieces of gear. The leg loops also unbuckle so you can put the harness on and off with crampons on. 

So, for those in need of a mountaineering harness, the PETZL Corax is a suitable choice. It is light, comfortable, and affordable. Plus, it is very user-friendly. You can easily adjust the fit in no time, thanks to the built-in buckles.


Mountaineering Ropes

Are you planning on travel through glaciers? Or do you want to engage in some technical ice climbing? If you answered yes, then you need a decent mountaineering rope for your mountaineering gear essentials kit. Let’s quickly look at some features that you must look into.

Rope Length

Ropes typically come at a standard length of 60m. Still, you can find larger or shorter sets. It all depends on how many climbers will be tied to it and how much rope you might need if you ever need to rescue someone. 

Keep in mind that the longer the rope, the heavier it will get. 

Rope Diameter

Skin ropes are light, which is desirable for long mountaineering trips. Sadly, it also means that they are not as strong. Thankfully, technology improvements allow the production of slimmer ropes without compromising tensile strength.

NewDoar Static Climbing Rope 8mm(5/16in) Double Braid Accessory Cord Rope...

NewDoar 24KN– Price not available

Add to Cart

The NewDoar 24KN 8 mm mountaineering rope proves this fact. It is more than capable of hauling up to 5000 pounds of weight, more than enough for the average climber. Plus, it retails for less than 100 bucks, which makes it a hell of a deal. 

Dry Treatment Ropes

Regular ropes take water. Needless to say, this increases weight. But there is another catch. 

Mountaineering often involves dealing with below-zero temperatures. Therefore, the rope will freeze. Thus, becoming stiffer and useless. That’s why it is smart to invest in a waterproof mountaineering rope. 

Black Diamond Equipment - 7.9 Dry Climbing Rope - Orange - 30 m
Black Diamond 7.9 mm– $109.95

Add to Cart

We suggest getting the Black Diamond 7.9 mm dry climbing rope. It is expensive. But the waterproof treatment, incredible tensile strength, and abrasion-resistant will pay for itself in time.  


Mountaineering Helmets

Protecting your head is a wise move when mountaineering. Basically, any rock climbing helmet will get the job done. However, you just have to make sure that the fit is right.

There are a wide variety of helmets available. Which one you should get depends on what you will be doing. 

PETZL Sirocco Climbing and Mountaineering Helmet, Black, M/L 53-61 cm,...

PETZL Sirocco –Price not available

Add to Cart

Keep in mind that mountaineering gear is heavy. Thus, the main goal is to cut weight where we can. So, search for a light and breathable model, like the PETZL Sirocco. It has a light polycarbonate frame that offers protection against minor blows. Nothing like a light concussion to end your adventure!

Next, for ice climbing, you need something with a sturdier frame. The Black Diamond Vapor is a suitable choice. It has an EPS foam inner with a polycarbonate shell. Plus, it also has removable headlamp clips. So if you need to adjust your lamp, then you can fix your head lantern without removing the helmet.


Trekking Pole

Crampons and mountaineering boots only help so much. Some situations require the use of more traction devices, for example, trekking poles. These Mountaineering gear essentials help take some of the weight off our legs, hips and shoulder.

You can use these pointy poles as you walk for better support. Trekking poles will help you walk through both slippery and treacherous routes. However, not everyone needs them.

If you want to try them, then we recommend the Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles. They are durable, affordable, and compact. The Trail Buddy is also a suitable choice. It has a tough aluminum 7075 aluminum frame that is easy to adjust.

Mountaineer taking a water break

Mountaineering Backpack

You need a place to store all the gear you’ve just bought. So, you should get a reliable mountaineering backpack. 

Mountaineering backpacks are different from any other kind of pack. They are both slimmer and taller. Thus, allowing you to move your arms as you please. They also come with an adjustable waist belt and gear loops for hanging gear.

The beauty of mountaineering backpacks is that you can size them down. Thus, cutting the weight as well. This way, you can take a lighter and smaller pack for summit attempts. 

We suggest getting the TETON Sports Explorer 4000. Its 65-liter capacity offers enough space to haul everything you might bring. It has an integrated rain cover, sleeping bag pocket, and you can add a 3-liter hydration bladder. 

But if you want a more premium option, then the Deuter Aircontact Lite is your best. 


Sunscreen and Sunglasses

Beginners often think that they won’t get burned because there is snowing outside. Or that they don’t need a pair of shades while mountaineering. The truth is that you do get burned, and you do need a decent pair of polarized sunglasses. 

So, make sure to pack a sunscreen with at least an SPF rating of 50. Like the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer. It dries quickly and doesn’t feel greasy. It’s easy to forget that you can burn in the winter too, so having these mountaineering gear essentials should be in your pack too!

Shades are equally important, especially for glacier travel. They will protect your eyes from UV rays, as well from the sun’s reflection. Sadly, your day-to-day shades won’t cut it. For this, you need something sturdier, like the Serengeti Leandro Glacier shades. It has a stainless steel frame with a beautiful black finish. 


Camping Gear

Mountaineering often involves sleeping on your way to the summit. This is particularly true for high-altitude climbs. Here, you make camp not only to rest. But to allow your body to acclimate to the extreme heights. 

Having a base camp also allows you to leave some gear behind while you walk to the top. Remember that there are no prizes for being uncomfortable. Thus, make sure to build the most comfortable camp possible. 


Mountaineering Tent

Naturally, you need a place to sleep if you want to camp. We suggest getting a 4-season tent. It is more than capable of handling snow and strong winds. 

4-season best mountaineering tents use more poles and sturdier fabric. Thus, offering more protection and insulation against the elements. The rounded dome design helps to prevent ice or snow build-up, which could lead to a collapse. 

Which mountaineering tent to choose depends on how many people are traveling together. For example, the ALPS Mountaineering Highlands is a superb 3-person option. The aluminum poles and waterproof exterior are more than enough for high-altitude climbs. 

But if you want something cheaper, then the GEERTOP Camping Tent is a suitable choice. It is also smaller, and it can only accommodate two adults at a time. But this makes the tent lighter as well. A four season tent is a crucial item in your mountaineering gear essentials. Their design keeps you warmer when winds and heavy snows are part of your trek.

Here you have some other winter tents options if you don’t like the previous two. 


Sleeping Bags

Bringing a sleeping bag is crucial when camping. And mountaineering is not an exception. 

Mountaineering sleeping bags are wider in the upper section. They also offer more insulation than regular models In fact, they come with a degree rating. The lower it is, the more insulation it offers. For example, a -20 °F sleeping bag, like the Western Mountaineering AlpinLite, is suitable for camping at such a temperature. 

Naturally, more insulation means more weight and a much more expensive price tag. So, if you are looking for something affordable, then the ALPS Mountaineering Blaze is a superb choice. 

Here you can check other winter sleeping bags so you can find the one for you. 


Sleeping Pads: Not a Necessity, But Highly Recommended 

A sleeping pad is not necessary. Some people might even say that pads are too bulky to carry. Nevertheless, it has its advantages. 

Sleeping pads separate you from the cold ground. You can see it as an extra layer of insulation, which is a smart move. In addition, it gives you a much more comfortable surface to rest on. This way, you are more likely to recover your strength. 

We suggest getting an inflatable sleeping pad. If possible, get a self-inflating model, like the ALPS Mountaineering Outback Air Mat. This way you won’t be carrying a pump. Remember to bring repair patches along. Otherwise, you will be sleeping directly on the ground. 

ALPS Mountaineering Outback Inflatable Mat, XL

ALPS Mountaineering Outback Air Mat

$149.99
Add to Cart

Keep in mind that mountaineering sleeping pads are inherently more expensive than regular models. But they offer more comfort and a greater degree of insulation and should be added to the list for mountaineering gear essentials.

Here you can check some of the best pads you can find.


Mountaineering Stoves: Liquid or Gas

You won’t be doing any hardcore cooking in the wild. But bringing a backpacking stove is always a good decision. You can use it to boil water and as a heat source. Besides, there is nothing like eating something warm, or drinking a cup of coffee. while you are in base camp. It will lift your spirits as well as keep you warm.

Camping stoves require fuel to work. Liquid stoves are more suitable for cold environments because the pressure doesn’t change with outside temperatures. The flip side is that they are also heavier.  

There are a handful of options available in the market. Here you can check our review of 11 of the best backpacking stoves. But if you are in a hurry, we can always recommend getting the MSR Reactor Stove. It is highly efficient and portable. Two things that you don’t commonly find together.

For those on a budget, the MSR Pocket Rocket is the best bet. It is remarkably small, perfect for backcountry activities and mountaineering gear essentials. If you are still undecided, we review the battle of boilers for you to choose your best


Water Bottles And Water Treatment Gear

Staying hydrated is key while outdoors. You should always bring at least one water bottle with you. However, it will run out of water eventually. 

That’s why it is equally important to carry a water filter or water purifier system. You can always boil water if you bring a stove, as we suggested before. 

But if you want to make extra sure that the water is safe to drink, then you use water purifier tablets, such as the Potable Aqua Water. It is affordable, small, and gets the job done in about 30 minutes. 

Another option is to bring a water filter with you. The Sawyer Mini water Filtration System is a good example. You can purify small volumes of water with it, making it more suitable for those going solo or in small groups. Make sure to check these other water purifiers we’ve reviewed.


GPS, Compass, and Maps

Although learning how to read a map won’t help you physically. But it is an invaluable skill. In fact, it is a life-saving skill. 

In addition, bringing a map of the local mountain and terrain will help you navigate in and out more efficiently.

Keep a compass near as well. It will be easier to find your way back if you ever lose sight of the trail. Plus, it needs no electricity to run, unlike a GPS.

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps...

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation – $548.97
Add to Cart

A GPS is another useful navigation tool if you can afford it. You will have both a map and a compass in one place. However, it could run out of batteries during the trip. That’s why it is crucial to bring the other two navigation tools too. 


Headlamp and Camping Lanterns

Reaching the top of a mountain often involves starting early and finishing late. So, having a light source is crucial.

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Light, Excellent Hiking,...

MPOWERED Luci 2.0 – $19.99
Add to Cart

Headlamps and camping lanterns are items that you can’t leave at home. Flashlights are suitable too. But they are not as convenient. You see. Your hands should be free at all times. So, having a flashlight is counterproductive. Camping lanterns, on the other hand, are ideal for shedding light over large areas. If possible, try to get a solar lantern, such as the MPOWERED Luci 2.0.


Mountaineering Backpack

You need a place to store all the gear you’ve just bought. So, you should get a reliable mountaineering backpack. 

Mountaineering backpacks are different from any other kind of pack. They are slimmer and taller. Thus, allowing you to move your arms as you please. They also come with an adjustable waist belt and gear loops for hanging gear. 

The beauty of mountaineering backpacks is that you can size them down. Thus, cutting the weight as well. This way, you can take a lighter and smaller pack for summit attempts. 

We suggest getting the TETON Sports Explorer 4000. Its 65-liter capacity offers enough space to haul everything you might bring. It has an integrated rain cover, sleeping bag pocket, and you can add a 3-liter hydration bladder. 

But if you want a more premium option, then the Deuter Aircontact Lite is your best. 


Safety Gear

You can never be too careful in the wild. You should always be prepared for the worst and expect the best. In this section, we will take some time to talk about some crucial safety gear that you should bring along. These are two items to bring with you in mountaineering gear essentials, a personal locator beacon and Handheld GPS device.

Personal Locator Beacon

A personal locator beacon is a device that sends an SOS message to any nearby emergency station. It works worldwide, and there are no subscription fees.

You can’t cancel the signal once you press the button. Sending messages is not possible as well. Still, it works better than a satellite messenger device, as it doesn’t get structured as easily. 

Another advantage of PLBs is that the battery typically lasts longer than a satellite messenger and phone. Some devices last up to a year. In short, you don’t need to worry about running out of batteries during the trip. 

No products found.

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No products found.

If you want to get a PLB, then we suggest getting the ACR ResQLink 400. It packs an infrared strobe, waterproof housing, is MEOSAR compatible, offers global coverage, and promises more than 24 hours of continuous operation. 

The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is another, more affordable, option. It retails around 200 bucks, which might still be expensive for some. But hey! You can’t put a price on safety.


Emergency Blanket

Also known as a space blanket, it is low-weight sheeting used for thermal control. In a nutshell, it reflects the heat you lose by radiation and convection back to the body. In addition, space blankets are also wind and waterproof. Thus, keeping you warm and dry.   

Another hidden advantage is that the external coating reflects light. If you ever need to use it, then you can produce a distress signal to pinpoint your location.

Since an emergency blanket takes almost no space, there is no valid reason not to bring one. Also, there are a lot of options available, like the Go Time Gear Emergency Sleeping Bag or Swiss Safe emergency thermal blanket. The multi-pack allows you to keep them both on you and in your car.

But if you want something more eco-friendly, then the Arcturus Reusable Emergency Blanket is a great choice. You can use it to build a shelter, separate yourself from the ground, and as a poncho. 


Avalanche Safety Kit

No one plans to be in an avalanche. However, you should always have the right gear if the time comes.  If you need more info on rescue, then check out Mountain Rescue Organization.

All avalanche safety kits contain three pieces of gear: 

  • Avalanche Beacon
  • Shovel
  • Avalanche probe

An avalanche beacon is arguably the most important piece of the kit. Essentially, it works as a two-way radio. The transmitter generates a signal that gets picked by another one. This way, rescuers can find the buried victim. 

Black Diamond Equipment - BD Set Recon BT
Black Diamond Equipment - BD Set Recon BT – $419.95
Add to Cart

The avalanche probe is essentially a collapsible staff. You can use it to poke the snow. This way you can find the exact location and depth of the buried victim. Then, you can start digging with the shovel. 

Black Diamond offers one of the best avalanche safety kits you can find: Black Diamond Recon Avy Safety Set

Signal Mirror

Another mountaineering Gear EssentialsIt is always smart to bring signal mirrors. This way, you can communicate with people far away from you or with a rescue aircraft.

Signal mirrors are small, light, and cheap. The Jetec emergency mirror is arguably the best model you can find in the market. It has a built-in whistle and compass, making it an all-around tool. Plus, you get two mirrors instead of one. Get yours here.

Small Mirror for Survival Mirror Signal Mirror Military Grade 2 X 3...

Survival Mirror Signal Mirror Military Grade – $10.99
Add to Cart


Crevasse Rescue Kit

If you are going with a large team, it pays to build a crevasse rescue kit. It comprises four items:

Because these items increase bulk, particularly the snow picket, people often leave them at base camp. But you should definitely bring one. It will come in handy if you, or anyone, falls through a crevasse.


First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Mountaineer First Aid Kit - 218...

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Mountaineer First Aid Kit – Price not available
Add to Cart

You should always carry a well-stocked first aid kit wherever you go and part of your mountaineering gear essentials. According to NHS, a basic first aid kit should have:

  • Plasters
  • Sterile gauze
  • Sterile eye dressings
  • Bandages
  • Safety pins 
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Painkillers

You might not use the kit for the entire trip. But it is better to have it. 


Must-Have for Mountaineering

We’ve come to the end of mountaineering gear essentials. As you can see, mountaineering is a capital-intensive hobby. Besides, gathering everything will take some time.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t start mountaineering if you are missing some items. Some companies take people on different mountaineering routes and provide them with some gear. 

Still, if you are thinking of becoming an avid mountaineer, you should think about getting all the gear listed here. You must make sure that you don’t leave anything behind as well. That’s why we’ve added a mountaineer checklist that you can print and check your gear before packing everything.

Last update on 2022-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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