Climbing Gear

updated August 2014

I draw from this list depending on the climb. I have honed it over 20 years of climbing and it works for me. A means it is always in my pack from a 14er to Everest, K2, . Thumbs Up yes! means it is one of my favorites pieces that works unusually well, I have taken it it on multiple climbs and is highly recommended. The prices are US list. Check out on-line retailers like Backcountry, Sierra trading Post or eBay for better prices. Use Spadout to monitor for sales. My favorite brands include Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear and Black Diamond. The links provided are for your convenience and I do not earn any money when you click on them.

I tend to get cold easily. The key for me staying warm is layers. However over the years, I have changed my approach to layering since I tended to have too many layers at times. Today, it is rare for me to have more than 3 layers even in the most extreme conditions. First, I always wear a knit cap and at least liner gloves when I get the least bit cool - regardless of the outside temp. Then I use a 3 layer system of Merino wool base layer (top and bottom), heavier fleece as in the Mountain Hardware Power Stretch and/or just my Patagonia Guide Pants depending on how cold it is that day. On my top are wind or warmth layers usually the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody and/or Mountain Hardwear Trinity Shell. When the temps near 0F or the wind chill is below 0F, I replace the shell with my Feather Friends 850 Fill down jacket plus my BD Mercury mitts. I regulate my body temperature with my top layers plus use the Buff neck gator to manage airflow from my jacket.

A popular feature on the site are gear reviews. I only update when I have something new to say. They represent my experience as a regular climber - not a professional - who is not sponsored and has always paid for all my gear except in a few cases that are noted with *.

DISCUSSION FOR 2014
2014 brings my continuing search for the perfect alpine boot and lightweight summit/day pack. I bought the La Sportiva Olympus Mons for K2 and was pleased but had to have Neptune Mountaineering where I bought them stretch the toe boxes otherwise they would have been too tight. Also upgraded my 15 year-old down suit to the new waterproof down Mountain Hardwear model. Pleased with both of these pieces on K2. In late 2013, I upgraded almost all my outer layers with lightweight pieces from Patagonia and Mountain Hardwear for my Manaslu climb. It cut over a pound from my list, gave me increased flexibility and improved my rain and wind protection. Took the Black Diamond Infinity 60 pack to K2 and was very disappointed - clumsy straps, tiny opening for lid but waste belt was nice. Should have taken my MH SouthCol pack. Another BD disappointment was their Xenos climbing harness - the self double back feature was amazingly hard to adjust with or without gloves. A new nice surprise was the $50 (online)The North Face work gloves that I used 100% of the time on K2 - warm, and flexible. Note still had mittens in my pack for backup.

Alan's Gear Rules (under continuous development)

1. Layer next to skin must be merino wool - breathes, wicks and doesn't stink plus feels good.
2. Tops must have zips and collars - manage core temperature via venting or pull up to protect neck from sun and/or cold
3. Jacket must have hood - integral part of core warmth system also serves as a stuff bag
4. Shell leg layer must have full length zips - must to get over boots and/or crampons in a hurry in bad weather
5. Keep Neutrogena's Spectrum Plus Sunblock and Lip baum in outside pockets for easy access and frequent use
6. Always have snack in pocket for easy access. If it is a hassle to reach, you will not use it.
Same goes for camera.
7. Use stuff sacks for small items and hoods for jackets or just stuff them into the open space in your pack.
8. Always keep a 'biner or two on the outside of your pack, handy for securing loose items and emergencies.

WHAT MY CHOICE
Current or Alternative Brands COMMENTS 4000m Climbs
CO & CA 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc, Elbrus
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Manaslu, Shishapangma
Base Layer - moisture wicking      
Use only Merino wool on this layer because it does not stink, wicks well and one pair of tops and bottoms can last literally weeks on a long expedition.
Long underwear Merino wool tops and bottoms

Icebreaker
yes!yes!
$70 - $95

Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Zip Tee $95

Marmot: Wool Half Zip $60

Can easily be top layer. Switched from Capiline to Merino wool since it wicks and maintains warmth better. Many good brands out there - as long as it is Merino wool. Read my review X X X
Briefs

Smartwool $50

Light Patagonia's for approach but heavier Icebreaker for cold, windy days and summit push.

Icebreaker's merino wool feel great, doesn't stink and keeps me dry. Also suggest Baby Powder for added comfort.

X X X
Socks

REI
$13

Smartwool $20

Wigwam $10

Thorlo $14

Costco $2.50

Today, socks are socks so don't overpay. Costco has a deal with a package of four Kirkland Signature Brand for $10. I wear one medium weight pair with no liner. Take your favorite socks when buying new boots. Always have a spare pair in my pack. X X X
Mid Layer - warmth through trapped air 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
I mostly use this layer for the coldest days or extreme altitude summit days
Fleece Bibs
Mountain Hardwear
Power Stretch yes!yes! $150
  2nd layer over Merino wool. A must have on 6000m+ summit days. The MH Power Stretch Suit is my secret warmth weapon and for added sleeping warmth. Read my review. winter X X
Hoody Patagonia R1 Hoddy
Patagonia
R1 Hoody yes!
$150

Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody $160

Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover Hoody $150

A nice piece when shells are not needed or as one extra layer underneath a shell. Great hood design. A little bulky and often use Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody instead. X X
X
Outer Layer - sun and brush protection 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Manaslu, Shishapangma
Most of the time this is my 2nd layer and I live in the same bottom for weeks but switch out tops to sleep or for a change of pace.
Full Zip Shirt
Ibex Zip Top
Ibex yes! $50 - $150
Mammut: Kala Patar $119 One for in and a clean one for out, another dedicated for sleeping. Cycling tops work well also. I only use long selves and collars for sun protection plus zips for venting. X X
approach
X
approach
Hoody
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Patagonia
R1 Hoody yes!yes! $150
First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie $100

Cool day hiking and base camp life. I lived in my Hoody on Denali and Elbrus. A little bulky and often use Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody instead.

X X
X
Pants

REI
Sahara $60

North Face: Burke $70

Mountain Hardwear: $100

Buy for comfort. Lite colors don't show dirt as bad. I have brands with zip-off legs but never use. Mostly nylon so dries quickly. Warm when used with wool bottom layer. X
X
approach
X
approach
Top Layer - wind and rain 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
A critical layer for protection. This is your primary layer exposed to the elements 80% of the time so buy the best you can afford and it will last for decades. Remember, you will add or subtract from this layer so think about where you climb or hike and buy for those primary conditions (snow, rain, sun, hot, cold, etc.) Forget hardshell vs softshell terms, focus on wind, rain, and snow protection plus required warmth layers.
Gortex Bibs

Arc'Teryx
Alpha SV yes! $425
  Use as top leg layer when winds are brutal. Full zips for easy on/off. Love Arc'Teryx gear but a bit pricey. Was a lifesaver on Aconcagua one year.   X X
Climbing Pants

pants
Patagonia
Guide Pants $175

Mountain Hardwear Nima $150

Mammut: Glacier $259

Strong lined pants that transition from low to high altitudes providing wind, moisture and cold protection. My only winter and expedition pants. Worth the price. winter X X
Rain Gear

Patagonia Rain Shadow JacketPatagonia Rain Shadow Pant
Patagonia
Rain Shadow Jacket $180
Rain Shadow Pant $150

Marmot PreCip $110

Lightweight 100% waterproof shells for torrential downpours in the PNW, Kilimanjaro or Carstensz. Pants have full length zips X X

X

approach only

Wind Shirt

Marmot
Ion Wind shirt
$50

Camp: Magic Anorak $90

Sierra Design Microlite $42

Weighs nothing but gives great protection in medium wind. Love the hood. Always in my pack. Not a rain shell. X X X
approach
"Hard Shell" or Technical Shell Jacket
Patagonia Shell
Patagonia
Troposphere $300

Patagonia:Piolet $299

Marmot Oracle $165

Mountain Hardwear: Axial $475

Arc'Teryx: Beta AR $449

Outdoor Research: Mentor $400

This serves as my primary wet weather or strongest/coldest wind shell top. Replaced heavier Gore Tex hardshell. Very warm with Patagonia Ultralight Down (see below). Great hood. Worth the price. Works in heavy rain and wind. Used on K2 in harsh winds

X X

X
below 8000M

"Soft Shell" or Technical Shell Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Trinity Jacket
Mountain Hardwear
Trinity Jacket $360

Outdoor Research Alibi $260

The North Face Alloy $350

A new addition to my shell collection this one has a soft feel inside and out yet sheds water and snow like a duck. Warm enough to eliminate the need for at least one layer. Could be my goto jacket from Autumn to Spring. However, still need stronger layer in extreme winter winds. X X X
below 8000m
"Softshell" or light warmth layer
7summitjacket
Patagonia
Ultralight Down Hoody $350

Marmot: Baffin $150

Outdoor Research: Mithril $200

Unbelievably lightweight yet protects from snow, wind and extreme cold.Used on K2 extensively.
Probably the single most useful jacket I own. This replaced my fleece jacket. Good to 8000m with a couple of layers underneath. Hood makes it all work. Recently replaced my, longtime favorite, Micropuff Jacket Read my review
X
winter
X X
below 8000M
Down Layer - extreme wind and cold 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
This is the "your life depends on it" layer. If you are spending tens of thousands on an 8,00m climb; this layer is not the time to skimp. Buy smart but don't overpay since the gear companies know this as well. No need for huge down jackets or heavy Gore Tex if you have the proper layers underneath - even on Everest, K2, or in Antarctica.
Down Suit

North Face Himalayas $1000

Feather Friends $1150

Used on Everest, K2, , Cho Oyu, Manaslu. I prefer a one piece suit - warmer since it leaves no gaps at the waistline. Used my TNF suit for 15 years, 10 expeditions.

The Mountain Hardwear suit uses waterproof down which is good for sweat control, outstanding hood system and logical, well-sized pockets. Used on K2, very pleased.

  X
optional
X
required

Down Jacket

Feather Friends
Volant Jacket + Hood yes! $340

Mountain Hardwear: Absolute Zero Parka $650

Patagonia: Das Parka $300

Lightweight, extremely warm - with hood. 850 down fill. Not as robust as some jackets but works for me. A little bulky and often use Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody instead. Nice pillow when stuffed in a small pillow case from home. X X X
below 8000M
Insulated Pants

Mountain Hardware
Chugach 3D Pant yes! $130

Integral Designs: Denali Pants $240

Great for BC or colder weather.
Lightweight Polarguard pant. Could be summit gear on 7000m climbs with Gortex outer and Powerstretch base. I use for base camp pants all the time.
  X X
camp life
Head, Eyes, Feet and Hands 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
Glove system is critical here. I like gloves down low or when finger use is paramount and then mittens on summit day. Rig keepers and use hand warmers. Make a Buff a mandatory part of your cold weather system and use it religiously to minimize upper respiratory infections. It is a myth that 50% of your body heat escapes from the scalp so wearing a hat will keep your toes warm but I still wear and sleep with my beanie most of the time.
Wool Beanie Mountain Hardwear: Micro Dome $30

Marmot: Power Stretch beanie $25

Key to my layering system. Almost always have it on. Also works well under helmet. X X X
Wool Balaclavas and knit caps Marmot: Super Hero $55 good for head and face protection against cold and wind but rarely use unless extreme conditions. Buff or Patagonia Hoody does the job. X X X
Neck & Ear Warmer plus skull cap

Buff yes!yes! $30
  Absolutely my most frequently used piece of clothing due to it's flexibility and quality. Cover my mouth to warm cold air before breathing. Always in my pack. Read my review. X X X
Long Bill Cap

Patagonia $5 -$25
Dorfman Pacific $15 sun protection during trekking.
Long bill is good for face and eye protection.
X X X

Glacier Sun Glasses

Nose Guard

Julbo Explorer
Julbo
Explorer* yes!yes! $150
Beko
Beko yes! $9

Julbo: Dolgan, Nomad $45+

Use Julbo Explorer for across all conditions and goggles as backup. Must have the side eye protection. Best with nose guard in bright snow conditions (Denali). Used on K2 with success

X X X
Ski Goggles
Bolle Goggles
Bolle $40 -$100

Smith Turbofan $160

Julbo:Excel $90

Needs to be polarized, easy on/off with 100% UV A and B. Forget anti-fogging, never works but fan might. Spit always works! :)   X X
Liners, Outer and Windstopper gloves

Mountain Hardwear
Torsion*

Medusa*
$48- $140

Black Diamond: Tour $95

Outdoor Research: Alti Gloves $150

The North Face Kelvin $160

Both of these are solid gloves but use the TNF Work glove almost excusively unless it is on wet ice or extreme cold. X X X
Climbing Gloves TNF Work Gloves
The North Face Work Glove yes!yes! $80

Hestra Alpine Pro $160

 

Leather glove with primaloft lining that is warm, rugged and lasts forever with care. Love the durability and dexterity. Used on K2. Losing interest in the expensive Hestra - too cold for me. Read my review winter X X
Alpine Climbing gloves
BD Mercury Mitt
Black Diamond

Mercury Mitt yes!yes! $90
Outdoor Research: Alti Mitt $200 Great value. Must for high altitude summits to prevent frostbite but during long stretches or stops. Always in my winter pack or above 7000m+. Used on Everest, Manaslu to summit.
winter X X
Hand warmers
Hand Warmers
Grabber
$2.50
Little Hotties $1 Perfect to keep hands warm but count on half the time advertised for real warmth. Use adhesive one to keep camera warm X X X
Boots and Shoes 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
Boots are very personal and you cannot go wrong with most name brands today. But fit is unique so try them on with your favorite pair of socks, don't be afraid to return them for another size even when buying online. There is almost no break-in period with modern boots; you just break your feet into your boot! Also shop for best prices online and don't overpay unless you buy them from your local retailer who provides exquisite personal service. Don't overlook Used Overboots as a warmth option - it works well and saves money over buying multiple boots.
Sandals for base camp

Tevas and Crocs
$20 - $80
SwimOutlet relief from boots in mild weather and stream crossings in warmer weather      
base camp Boots Ugg Boots

Uggs
Bloke $130

North Face: McMurdo $120

 

Sheepskin lined boots that are warm and comfortable. These are my only shoes at 8000m BC where gear is hauled in.   X X
ice climbing and alpine mountaineering boots

LaSportiva: Nepal Evo $510

Lowa: Civetta
$450

Asolo: AFS 8000 $465

My old standard double plastic boot. Yes there are lighter boots but these have never let me down, are warm and comfortable. No zippers to break, just laces. Solid crampons fit.
X X X
with overboot
Overboot   Amazing warmth when worn over double plastic boots
Used on Denali with Koflachs and Kaylands. Only use with crampons or snowshoes since soles are fabric and not Vibram
  X X
High Altitude Alpine climbing

Millet: Everest, K2, GTX yes!
$1000

Lowa:Expedition 8000 RD GTyes! $1000

Scarpa: Phantom 8000 $940

Integrated boot and gaiter high altitude and extreme cold. Carefully consider sizing since feet swell at altitude. The latest 2014 versions are far superior with improved zippers, filling and soles. Much lighter as well. Used on K2, very pleased.  

X

X
required

Lightweight trekking shoes
Keen
Kayland, Sorrel, La Sportiva, Montrail
$120

Asolo: Flame GTX

Vasque: Breeze $110

Patagonia Nomad $185

Never use the heavy leather boots anymore but still like high ankle support. Lots of good boots, select based on fit. Don't like velcro laces however.
X X
approach
X
approach
Snowshoes

MSR: Evo Ascent $210

Like the larger shoes for more"float" when carrying heavy loads. But the MSRs are a bit lighter and easier to use and has heel lifter for hills. X Denali  
Booties
Sierra design Booties
Sierra Design
Down Booties $30

 

Feathered Friends: Down Booties $90

relief from boots in the tent and to stay warm in sleeping bag. I like the SD, small, packable can wear inside boot shells or inside sleeping bag. Extremely warm and excellent sole. FF are actually two booties in one.
  X X
Foot Warmers

Hotronics
Power Plus m4e $200

HumanEdge HEAT $270 Battery powered footbed warmers designed for skiing but used by many climbers. Used on Everest, K2, and Manaslu but battery ran out.     X
Collapsible ski poles

REI: Traverse Powerlock $90

Leki

trekking, helps wear on knees.
Look for snap locks, not twist like on Leki. Use only one these days. Read my review.
X X X
Sleeping Gear 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Shishapangma
I prefer down over synthetic and have never had an issue with it getting wet but I don't live in a rainy area. Don't waste your money on a -40F/C sleeping bag, get -20F if needed and adjust your clothing inside the bag. Splurge on an excellent pad - the weight tradeoff is not worth a good night's sleep.
0F/-18C Down bag

Mountain Hardwear
Phantom 0 yes!yes! $475
Marmot: Never Summer $350 use at lower camps or higher with other clothing.
Very light at under 3 lbs. A down filled bag. I actually use this for High Camps and the -20 for BC. Used on Aconcagua, Everest, K2, Manaslu and Elbrus successfully
X X

X

-20F/-28C Down bag
Mountain Hardwear Wraith
Mountain Hardwear
Wraith -20 yes!yes! $610

Western Mountaineering: Puma MF $640

Feather Friends: Ptarmigan $724

 

very cold nights, used at High Camps or BC. 800 fill Down. Excellent features like hood, collar, foot box and baffle design. 4lb 8oz - good weight for -20 bag
Used on Vinson, Everest, K2, Manaslu and Denali successfully.

  X

X

Foam mat
Z-Lite pad
Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite yes!yes! $35
  protection from snow, cold and rocks.
Z-lite seems to pack smaller than roll versions. Carry 2 - BC and High Camps.
X X X
insulated pad

Thermarest
yes! $40 - $100
ExPed
ExPed Down Mat
yes! $180

Big Agnes Dual Core $150

Thermarest Neoair $130

air layer for cold protection and comfort.

Thermarest is solid. ExPed is more comfy with more weight.

Full length, don't cheat with 2/3's length to save weight. Take 2- BC and High Camps. Used these on K2, very pleased

X X X
Pee bottle
Nalgene Canteen
Naglene Canteen for men $7
Freshette for women
  Pee inside your bag or tent.
Pick different shape for easy grab in the dark. Large capacity 2L is best. A must!
  X X
Climbing Equipment 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Manaslu, Shishapangma
Buy the best and never cheat. Your life literally depends on this gear.
Helmet
BD Tracer
Black Diamond

Tracer $90

Petzl: Elios $70

Petzl Ecrin Roc $80

rock climbing or dangerous or crowded areas.
Use on almost all climbs today mainly due to climbers above me. Tracer got crushed in duffle by airlines. Ecrin roc heavier but dependable!
X

X

X
Harness
Black Diamond Choas
Black Diamond

Chaos $75

Petzel: Pandion $65

Black Diamond: Alpine Bod $40

Black Diamond: Ozone $100

attaching to ropes and pro
Comfortable climbing harness with gear loops. Chaos is overkill for alpine climbs but I like the leg strap construction and assembly.
X X X
Short Ice Axe for ice climbing
Black Diamond Cobra
Black Diamond
Cobra
$680/pair
Petzl: Quark $490 pair ice climbing
Cobras are lightweight, well balanced and incredibly effective. Read my review
X
depends on route
X
depends on route
X
depends on route
Long 75 cm Ice Axe for alpine climbs  

Grivel: G12/14

Petzel: Snowalker $90

 

steep ice and snow on alpine routes.
lighter shaft and clean picks. I am 5'11" so 70 cm was right length for me. Tape the top with duck tape and foam to prevent cold transfer to hands.
X X X
Climbing rope and slings

Blue Water
Sterling

monitor for wear and ultraviolet light problems ... your life depends on it. X X X
Crampons

Black Diamond
Sabertooth Pro, Cyborg
yes!yes! $170, $200

Grivel: G12/14

Petzel: Vasak Leverlock $165

steep ice and snow.
Like the stainless steel - doesn't rust. Sabertooth Pro for alpine climbing. Cyborg best choice for steep ice
X X X
Microspikes

Kahtoola
MICROspikes $50
Yaktrax $60 traction for any footwear. Very convenient when crampons are too much but you still need some extra purchase. See my review X    
Locking carabineers
Snap-link carabineers

Omega Pacific

Mammut

attaching to ropes. locking, twisting, snap. Get BD Nitron use keylock nose for easy fixed line use, no snags. X X X
Figure of 8 descender & ATC Mammut rappelling fixed ropes. Nice to have Super 8 for iced ropes and knots. X X X
Ascender jumar with leashes

Petzel $60
Black Diamond: Nforce $70 climbing fixed ropes and protection. Can use with BD Mercury mitts. X X X
Headlamp with lithium batteries

Princeton
Quad BL
yes! $20

Princeton's features are easy to access and very useful - low battery indicator, 3 brightness. Good battery life. BD Storm offers twice the brightness at 100 lumens however. A torch is always in my pack. Used on Everest, K2, .
X X X
Carrying and Shelter 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Manaslu, Shishapangma
I have used several brands of packs over the years and have reached the conclusion that there are many solid models out there from the major companies at great prices: Mountain Hardwear, Gregory, Arc'Teryx, Lowe and others. Don't ever waste your money on a custom pack, ever. Be careful of weight but a light weight pack will not carry heavy loads and tire you out faster. So for Denali, get a beefy one, for Everest, K2, , go light. There are so many tent options these days it is confUsed. Be careful about how you will use it, number of people, since size does matter as does weight. Double vs single wall - depends on the amount of rain you camp in.
Day or Summit Pack

REI
Flash 18 Pack $30
  This is a small, lightweight pack that is ideal for short summit climbs or day trips. It holds a hydration bladder plus the 10 essentials. Note: not good in heavy rain so use trash bag as liner. Read my review X    
Trekking Pack

Black Diamond
30L Speed yes! $149

Dueter: Guide Lite 32 $116

Crux: ak37 $260

The Black Diamond Speed is a great summit pack, daypack for ice climbing, an overnight climb or just a walk-up.

X X
approach/summit
X
approach/summit
Climbing Pack
Osprey
Osprey
Aether 85 yes!
5200 cu in/85l $279
MH SouthCol Pack
Mountain Hardwear South Col yes!yes!
70L $213

 

 

Gregory: Denali Pro $500

Black Diamond Mission 75 $230

Lowe Alpine: TFX Expedition $295

These two packs are flexible and comfortable, better than most including expensive custom packs. Never, ever waste your money on a custom pack. Have used both on the 7 Summits with the Osprey my goto for big climbs e.g. Denali. Read my review X X X
Duffle for air and yak transport

Mountain Hardwear: Expedition$130

Patagonia: Black Hole $150

The North Face Base Camp Duffel $180

Get the heaviest fabric to avoid tearing by luggage handlers and the largest size available. Put axes sharp ends in water bottle. Double bag powders. Put itinerary and gear list inside bag for TSA and use TSA approved locks. Used on all climbs successfully. X X X
Tent

Mountain Hardwear: Trango $625

Hilleberg: Nallo GT $720

TNF VE-25 is still the best expedition BC tent ever but a little heavy at 10lbs. The Big Agnes Seedhouse Series is very nice 3 Season - inexpensive and lightweight. Trango used on all self carry climbs. Read my review X X

X

Accessories & Misc. 4000m Climbs
Colorado, California 14ers, Rainier, Mont Blanc
6000-7000m Climbs
Denali, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua
8000m Climbs
Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Manaslu, Shishapangma
Stove


Optimus Crux
$75
MST
MSR Dragon Fly or XGK-EX ~$145

JetBoil

MSR Reactoryes!yes! $160

Canisters are easier but not as efficient at extreme altitude plus the waste and leakage issues.

White gas burns hotter and is easier to manage at altitude like Denali.

Used MSR Reactor on K2 - excellent

Count on 1 liter fuel per person per week

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

Water bottles and bladders
Nalgene
Nalgene $7


MSR
yes! $35

 

1 liter with cap attached to avoid losing it, get different shape and color for pee bottle!

Highly recommend the MSR Dromedary Bag. It is heavier duty than Camelback and holds hot and cold well.
X X X
Water Purification
SteriPEN
SteriPEN $100
Sawyer Squeeze Filter
$50
SImple and sometimes effective water purification Used ultraviolet light. Failed on Aconcagua so don't use anymore on critical climbs. X X X
Bottle Parka 40Below
$20
Must have for the Nalgene when at altitude or in deep freeze environments X X X
Hydration

Thermos $35
  must use at altitude to prevent frozen water bottles . Hot tea is wonderful during breaks high up!   X X
Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack

Granite Gear $20-$50

Sea to Summit

Keep gear organized but use jacket hood as it's sack.   X X
Toiletries

 

An absolute must in 3rd world countries. Bring several pocket size bottles and always keep with you. keep hands clean without water. teeth, hair, nails, etc. Don't forget Toilet Paper! I use the moist wipes instead of TP. Eye shades needed for Denali, ear plugs (with cord)for noisy tent mates X X X
Medication
See a qualified physician!
  Make sure you consult with a qualified physician who has experience with altitude. Your regular family physician may not be qualified for a discussion on high altitude issues. Also, taking information from the internet is dangerous. It may take some work but seek a qualified physician. X X X
First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits
band-aids, gauze, moleskin, tape, iodine
$25

 

always have small version with me X X X
Sun and lip protection   must have and must use liberally on lips, face, nose, ears, hands. Sunblock must protect against UVA and UVB. Neutrogena's UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion is excellent. Always in my pack. X X X
Pocket knife / leatherman Spyderco: Ambitious G-10 $45
Buck Redpoint $38
Trango Piranha $20
Petzel Spatha $27 Leatherman $50
Must have for emergencies or food prep. attach to harness for quick accessLeatherman nice to have for repairs. Get newest lightweight model. X X X
Drywipes Wet Ones $0.10 workaround when no shower
must have on any trip longer then 2 weeks. I use the Wet Ones as TP at camp and the tougher Action Wipes for general clean-up.
  X X
Paperback books       X X X
Altitude watch

Suunto Vector
$200 - $500
  Time, alarm and altitude
fairly accurate plus I can replace the battery. Love the log feature. Need to reset altitude daily. Alarm is weak.
X X X
Shortwave Radio

Grundig
P 2000 $80
  for staying current in remote places.
Excellent for BBC and VOA. External wire for antenna improves reception. Take transistor to Denali for NPR for Anchorage
  X X
Digital Camera Capturing those great memories
use big zoom DSLR 200mm optical during approach and smaller point and shoot while climbing. Use several 4GB cards for safety, not one. Use video on point and shoot. See my Photography page.
X X X
Emergency Tracker

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger yes! $200+

 

Use to let family know I am safe when out of cell phone range. Plus nice to review track progress back home. Read my review. X X X
GPS   easy, full featured navigation tool.
Awkward on alpine trips due to lack of line of sight for the satellites. compass works fine. eats batteries
X X  
Compass     Liquid filled with mirror. when all else fails, set for return to camp X X X
Small Towel     I always forget!   X X
Music & Videos   gota have. iPods of all types are must popular for music, Podcasts and videos. Load it up before you leave and enjoy at night and rest days. X X X
Earbuds
Etymotic Earbuds
Etymotic Research HF5 yes!
$100
  Excellent sound quality(and bass) but also doubles as outstanding ear plugs for noisy nights. Perfect for long plane rides as well. X X X
Batteries
Batteries
Energizer Lithium $2 yes!
  no tunes or lights without power. Lithium are best for cold. Take a lot. Buy in bulk online X X X
Bag for storage at hotel on expeditions     include a lock and white medical tape and felt pen for labeling   X X
Energy Bars and Gels
Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger
Bars, Gels and Chews yes!yes!
$1.5-$3.00
  The only 'energy' product I have used where I can feel a boost. All natural honey digest easily and does not spike. Everyone is different but these work for me. X X X
Electrolyte Replacement Camelbak ElixirNuun

Camelbak yes!
Nuun ~$1 per L

 

Electrolyte replacement.
Adds a little taste to plain water but keeps your system in balance. Always use on every hike or climb. A bit pricey but worth it
X X X
Cup and Bowl
Stanley CupRubbermaid Bowlspoon
Stanley Cup $15
Bowl $10
Spoon $1

 

I like the Stanley nested cups with lid, the simple Rubbermaid tupperware bowl to eat with Lexan big spoon. Unbreakable and holds big potions. All easy to clean with snow or grit! X X X
The 10+ Essentials     Extra clothing, Map, Water, Food, Compass, Headlamp with extra batteries/bulbs, First-aid kit, Sunglasses, Pocket knife, Sunscreen, Matches in waterproof container and firestarter PLUS Cell/Sat Phone, pencil/paper, whistle, space blanket X X X
Technology - Hardware to Communicate Email, Dispatches
Hand held Radio   Excellent hand held radio that is lightweight, reliable and battery stingy.
Satellite Phone

Thuraya yes!yes! $600 - $1000
Iridium $1200+
  Coverage only in Asia, Middle East, Western Europe not Northern but more reliable then Iridium and Globalstar in my experience. Sign up with Fone Recharge for easy purchase of minutes from the phone. Per minute rates vary but are less than 1US$/minute. They have ISP service so you simply dial 1722 and your surfing at 9600 baud! Bgan is great at BC for fast data only transfers. Iridium is true global solution but very spotty in high mountains - use Thuraya if you have a choice.
Warning: Thuraya SIMs must be renewed annually so verify your subscription before leaving home.
Solar Panel

Brunton

Goal Zero

Solio
$90

Amazingly simple and effective. Make sure you calculate all the amperage needed for all devices laptops, camera, iPods, etc. Usually you use panel to charge a battery then recharge devices from the battery . I used the Feather 20 to keep my Sat phone charged - carried it with me in my day pack and to High Camps - very lightweight. Can recharge anything with a 12V car adaptor. Click here for an excellent tutorial on solar panels
12V 7ma Battery

gel cell
, approved for air transport
  Must for cloudy days when panel will not work. Motorcycle size for limited charging. Full size for heavy use. Again, understand your amp load or you will be short. Batterystuff.com and Power-Sonic are good source for most of the power items listed on this page.
DC-AC Converter   recharge laptop from battery. make sure the converter provides enough amps. Most Laptops need 3ma or more. Highly recommend testing extensively before you leave home Used the solar panel and battery combos!
Cables

Various $5 - $25
  You will need all sorts of male and female 12V cigarette lighter style and alligator clip cables to connect everything. Powerportstore is a good source.
PDA

iPAQ $645
  Can replace Notebook when used with keyboard. Make sure the card slot supports your camera card e.g. SD more standard or Memorystick Sony only. This is required if you will email or upload images. Newest models have terrible battery life in cold temps so carry recharger and extra batteries. Must buy used. Use Ebay or from Amazon
Keyboard A must for anything more than a quick note on the PDA. Lightweight, folds to same size as PDA, inexpensive. Works great on a flat and solid surface- a handy accessory.
Mini, Netbooks and Notebook Computer

Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBookAir yes!yes! $1500

 

Various HP, Dell, etc.

 

Perfect for traveling and base camp. At 3lbs, thin and light, I used the solid state MacBook Air for 7 Summits successfully. Use Parallels software to run Windows programs if needed on the Mac - excellent. Never take moving disc (HDD) since it will fail at altitude.
Multi-Meter   must have for trouble shooting. Bring at least three extra fuses for every fuse type you have. Also wire nuts, electrical tape and a variety of small screwdrivers
Technology - Software
Dispatch Systems   Full service system from HumanEdge technology. Fair price, excellent upload performance worldwide. Can integrate into existing websites or Wordpress with work or run standalone. See my Blog. Requires sat phones e.g. Thuraya or Iridium and iphone (2012) or PDA.
Blogging Server

 

Free software that runs on your server and enables automatic posting from PDA or PC. Be careful for bandwidth usage.
Image Management   PDA software that makes images smaller to speed upload time over sat phone. Not available for iPhone
Email
Pocket PC
  Included on most PDAs. Just configure for your POP mail server just like on your home PC
Server     Your website host. I use Hostway in the US
Audio Dispatch   low cost service that links to your website or Blog allowing you to call a US number, leave a message and in less than a minute the world hears your voice on your site.
Always in my pack or on me from a 14er to Everest, K2,
Clothing Eating and Food   Misc WInter
Socks Water   pencil/paper Ice Axe
Rain Pants Energy Bars , Hydration Tablets   Cell/Sat Phone Crampons
Soft Shell & Wind Shirt TP   Map Shovel
(depending on terrain)
Hoody Survival   Compass
Warm Gloves space blanket or Bivy Sack   First Aid Kit
Neck Buff, skull hat and cap Matches, Lighter, Fire Starter   iPod :-) and earbuds
Sunglasses Whistle   Digital Camera
Sunscreen, lip balm Pocket Knife    
shoelace, 10' line Headlamp + batteries