Mountain climbing is not for the faint of heart. If you're planning your next mountaineering adventure, we have a few mountain climbing must-haves you need to take with you for the journey. Our recommendations focus on the just as important but often overlooked essentials you need for your next climb.
Much of the gear you need when mountaineering depends on where you will be climbing, predicted weather, and emergency supplies for just-in-case scenarios. There is a must-have, essentials that every mountaineer, no matter what level you are, should always pack.
The 10 Critical Mountain Climbing Essentials
These ten essentials can be tailored to suit your skill and the specific needs of your party for the climb you'll be making.
- Locator - a map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon, or satellite messenger
- Sun protection
- First aid
- Fire starters
- Extra water and food
- Extra batteries
- Extra clothes
All of these items are also excellent for a short day hike. For lengthier or more complex excursions, you might want to consider packing overnight, health and hygiene supplies, as well as a wide array of emergency equipment.
Basic Mountain Climbing Equipment
The hardware you need will depend on your route, your skill level, and experience with your planned terrain. But it's always good to go with the basic climbing equipment:
- Climbing pack
- Dry ropes
- Ice Axe (with a leash)
- Belay/rappel device
- Locking carabiners and nonlocking carabiners
- Runners—singles, and doubles
- Prusik cords
- Hand protection: Gloves, athletic tape
Additional Climbing Equipment for Mixed or Technical Routes
- Ice tools and ice screws
- Snow protection gear
- Avalanche transceiver
- Camming devices
- Nuts and nut extractor tool
Navigation is crucial. It is common to rely on GPS or cell phones, but when digital devices fail, you should always have a map and compass so you can figure out your location from any situation. Pack a map of the area with a route description or guidebook along with a battery pack or solar panel for charging phone and GPS. You may also want a personal locator beacon for emergency situations.
Must Have First Aid and Contingencies for Every Climb
One of the most important mountain climbing must-haves is a first aid kit. Accidents happen when you are out exploring the wilderness which is why a first aid kit is an absolute necessity. While it's good to have the basic items like bandages, gauze, and antiseptic solution, you may also need more specialized items such as a snake bite kit, bug spray, a thermal blanket, and an EPI pen in case of a severe allergic reaction in the wild.
Sometimes accidents happen, and an accident may increase the risk of exposure due to a tear in clothing or broken gear. There are at least three things you can keep handy for just this type of situation:
- Duct tape
- Knife or multi-tool with a reliable knife
- Repair kit for clothing, gear, and portable stove (if using a stove)
Overnight Gear for Mountaineering
Sleeping on a mountain requres some planning. For overnights on a climb, you will take the essentials with you: a cliff tent or shelter (with portaledge if needed), plus a sleeping bag rated for the weather and climate. If you'll be spending the night, or even if you aren't sure—it's always better to be prepared in case you're unable to get back down before dark.
In case of unplanned/emergency overnight stays, keep these items in your pack:
- Emergency shelter(s)
- Thermal blanket
- Extra food or rations
- Extra water beyond minimum expectations or water purification tools
For longer climbs, especially ones requiring overnight stays, you should also take health and hygiene into account as much as possible. Keeping a few things in your pack to maintain your hygiene regimen can help you stay healthy and alert. Consider adding the following to your list of must-have climbing gear:
- Hand sanitizer or hand wipes
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Sanitation trowel
- Toilet paper in a waterproof container or sealable bag
- Menstrual products
- Your prescription medications
- Your prescription glasses and a backup pair, if possible
- SPF-rated lip balm
- Insect repellent