Mountaineering Gear List






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Mountaineering Gear List

Mountaineering Gear List

This is a list of equipment needed for short, basic mountaineering outings, oriented to New England.

Personal Gear

Each person should more or less have all of the following.

Before & After

Change of clothes

  • Including jacket, hat, and gloves that you are not using during the hike
  • Anything you wear during the outing can easily be soaked by the end
  • @Mt Washington: Towel, soap, and quarters to take a shower at Pinkham Notch

Food & water for driving

  • Mountains are usually a long ways away...
  • Best to go in already hydrated & fed


Winter sleeping bag

  • Rated down to at least 15 degrees, but make sure to study & match conditions

Sleeping pad

  • Inflatable is usually warmest, but also most fragile
  • Yoga/exercise mat can work but not a foam one, they can freeze to shelters



  • Keep in mind winter gear is bulkier and there's more of it

Mountaineering boots and crampons

  • Double or single boots designed for crampons
  • If necessary: Group should have tools to adjust crampon sizing
    • Some crampons require screwdriver or hex keys, some don't require tools

Mountaineering axe

  • Doubles as a trekking pole

Ski goggles

  • Protect against wind and sun, particularly above treeline

Large water bottles and cozies/insulation

  • Typically two or three 32oz bottles (e.g., full size Nalgene)
  • Wide mouth opening is useful (safely pour in hot water while gloved; refill from pump, stream; etc.)


  • Bring extra batteries

Optional: Knee-length gaiters

  • Not necessarily needed, but helpful if pants are loose/short or traveling in deep snow
  • Also keeps lower legs warmer

Optional: Sunglasses or glacier glasses

  • Personal preference whether these are needed or not, especially in New England

Optional: Trekking poles

  • With snow baskets and hard tips
  • Not necessary, but helpful on soft snow or carrying a heavy pack on undulating terrain
    • @Mt Washington: Only generally used if hiking the lower wooded trails in soft conditions, or the hike to/from the shelters, definitely not necessary

Optional: Snowshoes

  • @Mt Washington: Useful if planning to hike on the lower wooded trails, but not generally useful on the main summit routes, definitely not required for trips there


Generally you need sets of clothes for on-the-move and camp. Anything you wear hiking will likely be soaked when you get to camp and too cold to sit around in.

The following is essentially a minimal list with a few common options and notes. Add layers, changes, extras, and so on as you wish. Note that many clothes will get soaked from sweat or snow, and it's generally extremely hard to dry anything out.

Clothes should all be packed up in more or less waterproof bags, either stuff sacks or large re-sealable plastic bags (e.g., gallon size zip-locks).

None of your clothes should be made of cotton! It provides almost no warmth once wet.

On-The-Move Clothes

Top & bottom waterproof shells

  • Snow or rain jackets and pants are fine
  • Ideally with vents and many pockets

Warm, athletic jacket or long sleeve shirt and pants

  • Softshell, fleece, or similar for a mid layer while on the move
  • Ideally water resistant
  • Personal preference for warmth vs overheating, etc., and conditions dependent, to wear these under or instead of shell while hiking

Top & bottom baselayer

  • Some people change baselayers (usually just top, sometimes all) just before leaving treeline if there is a sweaty ascent beforehand and long exposure after

Winter hat

  • Heavy headband or ear muffs can also be useful


  • Cover entire face in more serious wind or cold

Thick hiking socks & liner socks

Waterproof insulated gloves or mittens

  • Mittens are warmer

Lightweight gloves

  • Heavily insulated gloves can be uncomfortable on a sweaty ascent, etc.

Optional: Liner or other lightweight gloves that fit inside heavier gloves

  • It's helpful to be able to take off heavier cover gloves without exposing skin

Optional: Throat warmer

  • Neck gaiter, buff, small scarf, or (non-cotton) bandanna

Camp Clothes

Down jacket or similar

Medium to heavy long sleeve shirt and pants

  • Ideally water resistant soft shell/fleece/etc.

Top & bottom baselayer

Winter hat

  • Don't count on using the same one as hiking, it'll be soaked

Thick socks

Thin gloves to work (tents, cook, etc.) and sleep in


Any necessary regular medications

Toilet paper/wipes/etc.

  • Hand sanitizer (promo/travel size)
  • Wipes will have to be thawed before use (i.e., in jacket/sleeping bag)

Chapstick/lip balm

  • Ideally with sunscreen component
  • Stick rather than a pot, to be applied with gloves on

Optional: Sunscreen

  • @New England: Often not needed...

Optional: Hand balm

  • Protect and repair split thumbs, dry hands, etc.

If necessary: Waste bag or canister

  • @Mt Washington: Not generally needed if staying at Hermit Lake (outhouses)
  • @Mt Chocorua: Not generally needed if staying at Liberty Cabin (outhouse)



  • Calorie deficit and dehydration are real concerns
  • Can't really cook anything, takes too much fuel at winter temperatures
  • So hot meals largely based around items that just need hot water
  • Have to eat lunch and snacks on-the-pause, not cooking

Camp spoon

Camp bowl or pot for hot food

Camp cup or mug for coffee/tea/hot chocolate

Zip-lock bag(s) for trash

Optional: Camp hand towel

  • To clean out bowl, doubles as potholder


Emergency bivvy

  • Can be semi-disposable, similar to emergency blankets (space/foil blankets), which can also work
  • Not needed if very unlikely to have to shelter-in-place overnight

Optional: Hand, toe, etc. warmers

  • Many people love them, many people don't
  • Remember needs air flow to work and takes time to heat up, can't just jam in shoes or gloves and expect warmth immediately

Optional: Emergency whistle

  • Can be useful to signal if separated in high wind or exhausted

Group Equipment

Only one set of these items is needed for each 2--3 people or so.




  • Make sure to set the appropriate declination




  • Lighters can be unreliable in the cold, but matches can be unreliable in snow/rain! Have fun!

Second, independently stored set of matches!

Stove and fuel

  • Appropriate stove type and fuel management in cold weather is a big topic
  • Melting snow takes a lot of heat
  • Windscreen and/or insulation for fuel tanks can be very useful

Medium to large water pot

  • At least 16oz, ideally more; useful if matches bottles (e.g., standard Nalgene is 32oz)
  • Snow takes up a lot of volume for not much output

Optional: Cup or hand shovel for snow

  • Have to keep refilling water pot with snow
  • Don't want to contaminate cups or bowls used for eating with unboiled snow/water

Optional: Backup water purification

  • Often melting & boiling snow
  • Perhaps not needed at protected water sources (i.e., pump)
  • But perhaps useful to have anyway
  • Note that fiber filters should not be allowed to freeze, so don't work in winter


Basic first aid kit

  • Bandages, gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, athletic tape, etc.

Optional: Thermometer

  • It's somewhat obviously cold...
  • Wind chill is a huge factor
  • Hard to keep accurate when carried (body heat buildup)
  • But can be useful


Pocket knife

Heavy waterproof tape (duct tape)

Extra straps and carabiners

Optional: Zip ties (short and long)


Snow shovel

  • Useful when tenting but even in shelter, need to be prepared to clear space

If necessary: Tent

  • With snow anchors
  • @Mt Washington: Not generally needed (shelters at Hermit Lake camp)
  • @Mt Chocorua: Not generally needed (shelters at Liberty Cabin, Camp Penacook)
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