Essential gears for mountaineering


Mountaineering has been an exciting sport for many years in all parts of the world. Apart from sports, mountaineering has also been used for exploring mysterious geological locations. No one can simply carry some rope and start climbing a mountain. You can climb any mountain as per your interest, but before doing that you should learn the basic techniques, knots, traps, and all other stuff before you start. Unlike other sports, mountaineering is a real game in which you compete with natural forces like wind, rocks, weather etc.

If you happen to make even the slightest mistake you may have to regret a lot. So, each step you place on the mountain should be placed with extreme attention and prudence. Conquering the peak of the mountain after a long strain shall provide you with both physical and spiritual contentment. But, to get that satisfaction, you should prepare well before you start to climb the mountain. In this article, I have listed a number of crucial gears which is a mandatory need for a mountaineer to conquer the crown of the mountain. Let’s get started.

  1. Waterproof hiking boots

I know that people wear shoes wherever they go. They wear them when they go for a hike, party, office and so on. But, not all the shoes look the same. They also don’t have a similar infrastructure and material. Mountaineering also requires tough shoes which provide ample support to the feet and also it should provide a good amount of friction to the foot in order to avoid skidding. Of course, it would be ok when you climb dry mountains. What about mountains with ice and snow? To climb such mountains you need tough hiking boots which is not only durable and strong but also it should be a waterproof material.

  1. Wool or synthetic socks

Normal socks would not be fine when you use them on an icy mountain because they get drenched easily by the moisture and your sweat. Moreover, normal socks retain that moisture and sweat thereby mitigating your body temperature gradually. At the same time, they don’t protect your feet from the excruciating weather. So, it is important to find socks which are made up of wool or synthetic material and these socks can keep your feet dry and warm.

  1. Lighter and matches

You cannot simply rely on ordinary matches while you climb a huge mountain. The match heads which is made up of phosphorus becomes wet due to the moisture and so they don’t get ignited. Wrapping matchsticks in a zipper bag are also not going to make any good. So, you have to buy something exceptional igniting gadget like you see in James Bond movies. Go get some specialized matchsticks which are sold especially for the Mountaineers. You should also have lighters and fuel which would be helpful at times of emergency

  1. Gas stove

You are not going to carry a huge gas stove high above the mountains while your expedition. Are you? Now would love to do it. Have a small-sized lightweight gas stove which you can carry for a long distance high above the rocks. The small-sized stove not only offers portability but also helps to cook food faster by resting in a small place. Don’t forget to add the fuel for the stove in your checklist.

  1. Inflatable sleeping pad

While climbing icy mountains, you cannot expect a comfortable bed and cot to sleep. You have to adjust with the minimum space you get there. If you decide to sleep on a rock or on the ground, it means you are ready to kill yourself at such heights. Sleeping on the naked ground sucks your body heat rapidly and soon you will start shivering and finally end up in some sort of illness. Therefore, to keep you healthy and warm, you should keep yourself insulated from the ground. Have an inflatable sleeping pad which would keep you high above the ground because air is a bad conductor of heat and also it is not heavy to carry.

  1. Sleeping bag

It is the most important gear that no mountaineer would forget to carry this life-saving bag with them. Basically, there are two main types of sleeping bags; the down type and the synthetic type. The synthetic type sleeping bag can trap heat to some extent and so they are suitable for cold nights in normal zones.

But, you cannot try it in an environment with extremely cold blizzards. Hence, it is good to use a down type sleeping bag which is made of feathers and so they can trap a good amount of heat while you are on half the way to the pinnacle. Make sure that the zippers close well before you start climbing because failed zippers allow the feather to gather enough moisture inside the sleeping bag.

  1. Four season tent

Although four-season tents are suitable for all the four weather, they are used mostly when people encounter ice and snowy landscapes. Why do you need a four season tent at the top of the mountain? All four season tents can withstand rain, heat, snow, mist etc. As your altitude increase, the amount of sunlight and rainfall shall also increase on a mountain and so it is good to prefer a four season tent to have a peaceful sleep. Make sure that your tent has meshes which can be locked if necessary. With open meshes, you may have to fight a lot with the peering blizzard which attacks your tent somewhere in the middle of the mountain.

  1. Pocket knife & Multi-tools

Even though a pocket knife has nothing great to do with climbing, it is better to have an extra gadget which could be very helpful to you in many ways. It can be helpful to open a tin, to cut a rope, to tighten some bolts and nuts and so on. It can also be used as a weapon which you can use for your personal protection also. It is also important to place your multi-tools somewhere you can access easily at times of distress.

  1. Compass or (GPS)

This is not an ordinary compass which you use in your math class to draw circles. It is a magnetic compass which tells you about the direction of your travel. At such huge heights, you cannot expect that you should have a good line of sight with your co-climbers. That’s not going to work. Sometimes, you might also feel that you are alone. So, learn to climb the mountains with the courage and inner strength that you possess. A compass or a gadget like GPS can be of great help at that time because it tells about the location of you and your co-climbers without any discrepancy.

  1. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are not only a part of a perfect outfit but also they are wonderful safety gadgets which are really helpful to all the mountaineers. As you move high, the sunlight gets brighter which makes you shrink your eye. Accompanied by heat, the bright sun reflects on the white snow on the mountains would cause snow blindness. In order to safeguard your eyes from such deadly impacts, it is mandatory to have a safety glass while you head out to reach the pinnacle of the mountain.

  1. First aid kit

Anyone who steps out for an outdoor journey without a first aid kit is not a wise guy. Getting ill can happen at any place and at any time and there is no time confinement to illness. What would you do when you become ill at such heights? It is you who has to look after you. So, take all necessary medications like bandages, scissors, anti-histamines, paracetamol, aspirin, disinfectants, sponge, etc. Even if you have finished several mountaineering projects without requiring a first aid kit, there is nothing wrong in taking this life-saving kit. And the most important point about the first aid kit is “don’t ignore it”.

  1. Chemical heat packs

Generally, heat packs contain chemical constituents which produce a good amount of heat required for your body. Sodium acetate and magnesium sulfate are the prevalently used chemicals which are used to produce heat. These chemicals are normally kept airtight and when you need heat from them just open the packet and let it contact air through the soft fabric.

Now, you can feel the heat from the packet as a result of the exothermic reaction. As you keep climbing, you can neither rub your hands nor can you keep you lighter ON. But, you need to do something to your feet which is gradually getting numb. Yes, as said above you can simply slip in these packets and have dry and warm feet.

  1. Personal locator beacon

A personal locator beacon is a powerful tool which alerts about your distress to the coordination center via satellites. The beacon sends a radio signal when switched ON and the signal is sent to the rescue team to rescue the sender. This tool can also be ranked next to the first aid kit due to the protection and security that the locator beacon endures to the user.

  1. Zipper lock bags

Of course, they are bags which you take with you while you go camping. Well, it can also be used by mountaineers also. As you know, zipper-lock bags can keep things out of moisture and water. There are many items which you need to keep dry while climbing a mountain. Paper documents, electronic gadgets, small clothes, money, tablets etc can be concealed inside a zipper bag to prevent water from spoiling it.

  1. Headlamp

Have you ever heard that darkness encompasses forest faster than urban regions? It is because of the dense canopy of the tree and the clouds which filters the sunlight from entering the forest. Hope Mountains live in the forest regions and due to its high moisture content, vegetation and the weather you would not be able to see anything even before some hours to sunset. At that time, you cannot see anything around you and all you can feel is that you are tied to something. Hence, it is crucial to possess a headlamp to view everything clearly. Don’t opt for Torchlight, unless you have no other option, because holding the torch shall be another issue.

  1. Water bottles

Who doesn’t need a bottle for water? All folks, right from the toddler to adult everyone needs water and mountaineers are not exceptional. They too need water to hydrate them every now and then while they climb huge mountains. Some people use the snows nearby to have water, which is not good at all times. Moreover, it poses a high risk to the mountaineer due to some infection. Boiling the snow is acceptable; collect enough water in your water bottle before you start because you cannot pause for every hour to make water. Having purifying tablets is an additional boon in mountain climbing.

  1. Climbing harness

It is just a sophisticated belt with numerous loops on the waist and two straps one on each thigh. They are reinforced with Velcro and also they can adjust to any diameter. Using this harness you can hang ropes, sunglasses, knives, axes etc all around your waist thereby allowing you to have easy access to these tools. But, before hanging the gadgets, know about the weight and its distribution of tools along with your waist.

  1. Pulley

These cute little simple machines have a great percent of involvement in the protection of the Mountaineers. Pulleys can ease the work of lifting any heavyweights. In mountaineering, the weight to be carried in your own weight and therefore you need to pull yourself up against gravity. To make your job easier, pulleys can do your job with much ease. On account of safety, it is good to have several numbers of pulleys with you while you head out to climb.

  1. Insect repellant

While you head out for mountaineering, you should not only purchase insect repellants by focusing on mosquitoes. There are also so many other accomplices of mosquitoes who play their part in transmitting diseases to humans. As you keep on climbing you can see a lot of arachnids, spiders, ants, leeches, millipedes, centipedes, etc which could be a threat to health. So, you need some special repellant which keeps all the insects away from you. Moreover, you should also know how long will that repellant keep the insects away from you. Most products on the market provide protection for around 6 hours, but the one with 8 hours is good.

  1. Camera

Folks dare to climb a mountain to explore nature and the courage of the self. What is the point of reaching the peak of a mountain without taking a photograph with the clouds and misty environment near you? Try to reach the peak before sunset so that you can capture fantastic pictures of the descending sun beneath the hills. Have a free space memory card and a high clarity camera to picture all the visuals which you see at the top. Who knows? You may see God at such heights.

  1. Binoculars

This is a quite attractive gadget which any person going outdoors shall love to take it along with them. The orange tint in a binocular which reflects the sun and the environment itself can make you feel elite and sophisticated when compared to your co-climbers. Try to see some scenes and creatures which do not exist in the normal ecological system down there at home. Store enough batteries for your binoculars in a waterproof zip locker so that you don’t have to feel disappointed when the battery runs out.

  1. Crampons

Hope I don’t have to say anything about the crampons which you couple with your shoes to make them versatile. But, let me inform others who know less about crampons. They are clawed clips which usually mountaineers fit the shoes to have more friction. The tightly packed ice awards zero friction to a normal shoe; to overcome this issue, shoes are reinforced with clawed crampons which when pressed against a strong ice platform pierces the platform to provide additional grip and friction to the mountaineer.

  1. Ice ax

Nowadays, there are so many axes in the market to provide grip and support to the mountaineer when plunged against an icy wall. Importance should be given to the working over the color and design of the ice ax. Some axes are bent while some other are serrated to provide additional support to the mountaineer. Additionally, look for the ice axes which have ample friction in its handle. I recommend suggesting the handle with adequate size and also it should be reinforced with the loops at the edges which facilitate hanging.

  1. Climbing ropes

Climbing ropes are indispensable gadgets which a mountaineer would never forget to take with him. In fact, he/she can do nothing without a rope. Before buying a new rope it is best to explore the ways it can be tied and gain expertise in it. Practice many knots and hitches using a rope and finally head out to buy your new rope. Basically, there are two types of ropes which include static and dynamic.

Dynamic ropes can hold the weight of the load, but also it stretches to some extent and absorbs a lot of energy thereby reducing the impact on the mountaineer. On the other hand, static ropes can handle the load, but they are not as flexible as the dynamic ropes. So, it is always better to possess a dynamic rope to climb mountains. Also, make sure that the diameter and the length of the rope do not exceed 9.5 mm and 70 meters respectively.

  1. Nutrients

As you climb steep mountains, your hands and legs hurt more. You need to take small breaks every now and then because you burn more calories when you are in cold zones. At the same time, you cannot afford to cook every hour. So, to satisfy your hunger, you should have enough amounts of nutrient bars in your mountaineering backpack. Also, keep it in such a place such that they can be accessed easily. Dried fruits, chocolate bars, banana, burritos, tortillas are really good stuff to power your climb.

  1. Oxygen cylinders

Have you learned in your fifth-grade science that as you move upwards the air gets thinner due to high pressure? Now, it is time for practical learning? You cannot breathe easily out there at such heights as you breathe in a regular landscape. But, you have a solution for this issue. You can carry an oxygen cylinder pack at your back, very much like your hydration pack. But, make sure that you buy an oxygen cylinder with the least weight so that it does not hinder your performance.

  1. Belay device

These are tiny gadgets which seem to have loops, but they are powerful tools which award immense safety to the mountaineer. The ropes run freely through this small device while you ascend up, but descending down from the rope is greatly obstructed by this tool thereby protecting the mountaineer from accident descends and falls.

  1. Carabiners

Carabiners are other simple mountaineering tools, which comes in two forms; the locked gate and the unlocked gate. The locked type carabiners are locked once the rope is put inside the loop of the carabiner. This locked system prevents the accidental escape of the rope outside the loop, thereby providing additional safety to the mountaineer. But, mountaineers should take care in checking the lock of the carabiner frequently. The open gate carabiners have a small spring supported mechanism which opens just by pressing, and so they are used as quick draws.

  1. Map

Although you are climbing a mountain with your co-climbers it is important to all the mountaineers to know about the path and their destination. Stop relying on electronic gadgets to find the way as they become useless once they are devoid of power. Bring a recently updated map with you and place it in a waterproof zipper; also slide it into your backpack such that you can access it easily. This way, even if the gadgets run out of power you can still have a clear idea about your route and destination.

  1. Helmets

We wear helmets while we ride a bicycle to protect our head from accidentals falls. Cycling helmets can absorb a good amount of impact through its foam, but it cannot be used for mountaineering because they are designed to serve some other purpose. Most injuries for mountaineers occur by the falling of rocks on the head of the Mountaineers. With the intention of protecting their head, these helmets are designed with a hard coating which is not an aspect of cycling helmets. Therefore for safety reasons, it is always better to get a mountaineering helmet before you head out for your expedition.


  1. Mountaineering is a real game which is loved by everyone. I too love mountaineering. Thank You, Mr. Felix Obrien, for your article. It’s awesome. And it really helps me to be well prepared with all the necessities needed for mountaineering.


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