Scaling the mountains, climbing steep rocky walls, and turning the summits into achievements is impossible without the right essential mountain climbing gear. Whether you’re planning a summer adventure in the wilds or an icy winter climb, you have to be prepared to face challenges and elements.
In this guide, we will tell you what gear you need, from mountain climbing equipment to tools and everything in-between.
Essential Mountain Climbing Gear & Footwear
Most mountaineers start building their essential mountain climbing gear arsenal from personal items, such as clothes and footwear. Picking the right garments is crucial both for keeping you comfortable during your adventures and for protecting you from elements.
Winter Mountain Climbing Clothes
Winter is harsh up in the mountain, that’s why your outwear must be warm enough to protect you from cold and frost bites. In winter, it is recommended to wear layers, so that you can take garments off or put them on as needed.
From head to toe, you will need:
- Insulating hat or cap;
- Headband with insulation properties;
- Polyfill jacket (Insulating);
- Fleece jacket;
- Insulating undershirt;
- Waterproof wind stopper jacket;
- Mittens or gloves;
- Fleece pants;
- Waterproof wind stopper pants;
- Thermal underpants;
- Insulating winter climbing boots;
- Wool socks.
Summer Mountain Climbing Clothes
Summer is a lot trickier than winter when it comes to clothing. Up in the mountain, you can be melting under the sun for one moment only to freeze under a sudden storm in the next. You still need to layer up and must be prepared to face whatever the weather is throwing at you.
The most important summer clothes and footwear to have in your backpack include:
- Sun-shielding hat;
- Spandex tees;
- Summer climbing pants;
- Softshell waterproof jacket with hood;
- Waterproof pants;
- Climbing sandals;
- Summer climbing boots;
Mountain Climbing Tools
Mountain climbing tools must be next on your list. Without them, climbing can easily turn into a life-threatening hazard. The climbing tools are designed to aid you during the climb and keep you safe on cliff walls or steep slopes.
Ropes, harnesses, and carabiners work together to keep you secure during your climb in all seasons. We recommend the dry rope type with a diameter of at least 9 millimeters and a length of at least 60 meters.
Pay attention to the quality of harnesses and carabiners. In the worst case scenario, they must be strong enough to hold your whole body weight in case you slip off.
Crampons are equally important if you’re planning to climb steep icy walls. In case you need them, pay attention to buy crampon-compatible boots too, as not all footwear can be used with crampons.
A helmet is another essential climbing tool to add to your mountain climbing gear arsenal. It is designed to protect your head from small rocks falling from above, but also in case you fall.
In winter, add a mountaineering ice axe and snow stakes to your arsenal. The former is essential when you want to climb the icy walls. The latter will help you walk faster on snow or ice.
Mountaineering Sleeping Essentials
If you live right next to a mountain, perhaps you don’t see the need to invest in sleeping gear. But once you get used to adventuring in the wilds, chances are you’ll want to spend at least one night under the starry skies.
The first things to add to your arsenal are at least two sleeping bags, an all-season one for spring, summer, and fall, and a winter sleeping bag for the colder season.
Most sleeping bags on today’s market boast lightweight or ultra-lightweight constructions, adding minimum heft and bulk to your backpack.
There is a lot of brands, styles and options to look at in terms of sleeping bags, however you will need to know more about them before buying the right one. Don’t worry, My Top Sleeping Bags has an excellent comprehensive guide and reviews on the best ultra-lightweight sleeping bags on the market.
Besides the sleeping bag, a reliable tent is another essential piece of mountain climbing gear. Here, choices are truly endless. From traditional models to pop-up tents and instant tents for one or more people, you can find a host of solutions. All you have to pay attention to is the material the tent is made from and its waterproof specification.
If you’re concerned about carrying too much gear with you, opt for a bivy sack. A hybrid between a mountaineering sleeping bag and a tent, these sacks are perfect for those moments when it’s just you and your backpack up in the wilds.
Additional Mountain Climbing Gear
Besides all the above, there are few other mountain climbing gear items you should have at hand at all times.
- GPS & compass: Unless you want to get lost, invest in a quality trekking GPS and a compass and learn how to use them properly. A GPS can help you track your position and some models even synchronize with your devices to help you monitor your performance. However, its battery might fail, or the GPS signal could get lost, so the old-fashioned compass and a map of the area could save your life in an emergency.
- Hydration pack/bottle: Climbing is a challenging sport that will make you sweat a lot. Combined with a torrid sun, you could face dehydration unless you’re drinking plenty of water. A portable mountaineering water filter could be useful if you run out of water half-way through your journey, as you will be able to refill your bottle from any water source without worrying about contaminants.
- Barometer & altimeter: A barometer can help you monitor weather and anticipate a sudden storm. Some GPS devices have a barometer and altimeter function, but if your trekking GPS doesn’t, you can purchase these items separately.
- Sunglasses: Are essential in all seasons but especially useful in winter when the ice and snow reflect the sun rays.
- Headlamp: It doesn’t matter if you plan to spend the night up in the mountains or not, you must always carry a headlamp with you. If you’re caught into a storm or forced to spend the night outdoors, at least you’ll be able to see your surroundings and gather sticks to build a fire.
- Belay device: This mechanical piece of climbing equipment will control your rope during belaying and boost your safety.
- Telescopic walking pole: When you’re not climbing, chances are you’ll be walking a lot. A telescopic walking pole can take the strain off your knees and ankles. A telescopic model is perhaps the best for your essential mountain climbing gear
Finding the right gear or clothing for your first or next mountaineering experience is a MUST. Your whole safety, when climbing any mountain, will depends on it and off course it will depend on your skills and training, which we discuss in our beginners section of our site.
We hope you found this guide an eye opener and what ever comes in your climbing journeys, it gets as pleasant as possible.