What to Pack For Mountain Climbing? (1, 2, 3 Days & Over)


When I climbed my first mountain (Mount Washington), I wasn’t quite sure what to pack. It seemed like I should use common sense and pack the same gear as I do when I go camping. Nevertheless, it was a single-day hike, and a camping stove wasn’t necessary. Even when I got hungry, the energy bars were more than enough. To make sure you don’t follow the same mistakes, I’ve written this article on what to pack for mountain climbing (and mountaineering in general). That brought to you after extensive research across the internet, so let’s dive into it.

Here is what to pack for mountain climbing:

  • 1-day trip: T-shirt, trekking pants, down jacket/windcheater, backpack, energy bars, read to eat meals, packaged water, carabiners, ropes, helmet, pulley, harness, gloves, map, compass, survival kit, first-aid kit, and sun protection equipment (sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, hat, and long socks).
  • 2 days trip: The same gear as for one day plus: camping stove, additional clothing, water purification system, camping tent, sleeping bag, blanket, and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, and tissue rolls).
  • 3 days trip & over: The same gear as for two days trip plus: MRE meals.

1 Day Trip

A one day trip is one in which you head back to your home around sunset. On such a trip, you do not plan on spending the night out there in the wilderness.

1. Layers

You might be thinking, what do you precisely mean by layers?

When you’re heading into the mountains, the temperature will be colder than the cities. That is why a single layer of clothing won’t suffice.

You will ideally have to wear your undergarments, T-shirt, and trekking pants along with the down jacket or windcheater. In case you expect the temperature to dip lower, you can wear a mid-layer as well.

Out there in the wilderness, these will be your protection against the harsh elements of weather. That is why you should not crimp on the layers which you wear.

Only once you can get the layers right, you should progress to the next item on this list.

2. Backpack

How do you plan to carry all that stuff?

The answer is, of course, with the help of a backpack. However, you have to ensure that the bag has adequate capacity. Besides that, some of the features which you should look out for in a backpack include:

  • External pockets
  • Multiple internal pockets
  • Water-resistant construction
  • Durability

If you do not want to go through the numerous options available to choose a bag for your mountain climbing trip, I will share with you a couple of options that you can choose from, as well.

The mentioned packs have received the highest ratings and reviews across the internet (I haven’t tried all of these by myself):

  • Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
  • MOUNTAINTOP 40L Hiking Backpack

Both of these can support you not just on a single day trip but also on a multi-day trip as well. That is why, if you’re looking to buy a backpack, these are the two options to consider.

3. Food & Water

On a single day trip as well, you need to carry a few food and water supplies to ensure that you can last throughout the day. Some of the options include:

  • Energy bars
  • Ready to eat meals
  • Home-made food
  • Packaged water

These will more than suffice your requirements for a single day trip. As a result, you will not have to carry any other elaborate ration with you.

4. Gear

Now comes the most crucial part. Which equipment can help you on a single day trip?

If you keep on putting every piece of gear into your backpack, it will soon fill up to the brim. Frankly, that was the mistake I made. 

Moreover, you will end up over-packing, and therefore you will not have a comfortable trip either. That is why; you have to be very picky while choosing the gear.

First, you have to carry a universal gear which you need during a mountain climb. These include carabiners, ropes, helmet, pulley, harness, and gloves. You cannot miss out on these (source).

The rest of the gear which you pick will be dependent on the nature of your trip. If you’re going to encounter snow, you have to carry tools with yourself to break the ice or get a proper grip on the snow.

Thus, while the universal gear remains constant, the rest of it will change according to the nature of your trip.

5. Map & Navigation Equipment

How do you plan on finding your way out there in the wilderness?

If you’re an experienced climber, you will know that you cannot rely on your smartphone. Sometimes, there is no signal or, the smartphone battery may run out. There are a few other ways in which you can find your way around. These include:

Map

You have to go old fashion when it comes to navigation and prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. On that matter, I like to carry a map, and a photocopy of it in case one gets damaged.

Compass

Sometimes, you need to move in the right direction to reach your goal. At such times, the compass can come in pretty handy.

GPS Device

The GPS device mostly has a long battery life and coverage, even in the countryside and wilderness. That is why it can serve as a navigational aid when heading out into the mountains.

Smartphone

Only as a last resort, you should rely on the smartphone. You need to make sure that the maps are downloaded for offline access. You should carry a solar charger or a power bank with you to power the smartphone in case the battery drains out.

Thus, instead of relying on a single navigational aid, you have to rely on these four options. It will ensure that you can find your way through.

6. Survival Kit

Accidents can happen at any time. Due to this very reason, keeping a survival kit with you is the right choice. It will not only provide you with gear to protect in the harsh weather outdoors but also provide you with useful resources like a flashlight or paracord bracelets to survive in the wilderness.

If you’re wondering if there will be enough space to carry one around, the answer is usually yes. There are plenty of compact survival kits available. I will highlight a couple of examples below, which will help you choose the right one.

  • KOSIN Survival Gear Kit
  • STEALTH SQUADS 42 in 1 Kit

Both of these kits are highly recommended, and according to some videos are quite compact. Thus, instead of comparing hundreds of options, you can go with any of these.

7. First Aid Kit

Well, no surprises there. When you’re heading outdoors for any physical activity, it is a good idea to carry a first aid kit along with you. Even the most compact first aid kits have over 50 pieces. You have to choose such a multipurpose one.

I always like to choose one which is not only compact but consists of numerous aids in case I require any help. Two such options that I prefer over other first-aid kits include:

  • Surviveware Small First Aid Kit
  • DeftGet First Aid Kit

The reason why I prefer these kits over others is that each of them consists of over 100 different pieces. That is why, once you get any of these kits, you will not have to worry about buying any other. Both of them are pretty compact, which ensures that you can keep them in your backpack with ease.

8. Sun Protection Gear

Well, the choices here are pretty obvious. You can go with things like:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Hat
  • Long socks

At higher altitudes, the air is thin. As a result, UV rays are harsher. That is why it is better to carry such gear along with you.

Well, that’s about it. When you’re heading onto a single day trip, this is the only gear that you need to carry. I will now go into the details of the 2-day trip gear and also the 3-day trip gear to help you pack right for a trip of any duration.

2 Day Trip

The best thing about my list above is that it is applicable for a two-day trip. However, you would have to carry a few extra essentials as well, which I will highlight below.

Additional Gear

1. Stove

Have you heard about the backpacking stove?

These are collapsible stoves that you can carry with yourself in the backpack. You can separately carry their fuel and attach them on the side.

When you’re on a two-day trip, you might have to prepare some ready to cook meals, and that is why carrying a backpacking stove is a good idea.

If you are not sure how to use one, I’ve written an elaborated article on how to use a propane camping stove. I spent hours going through the details and what to avoid. Also, I explained what steps you should take once the gas runs out.

2. Additional Clothes

Since you would be staying overnight, you would need extra clothes and corresponding layers. You have to take these according to the duration of the trip. You have to increase the number of clothes that you are planning to wear on the first day. It will ensure that you can maintain personal hygiene.

I am not just speaking about the T-shirt or track pants, but things like socks and undergarments as well. You should prepare a list of undergarments, T-shirts and track pants which you will need before packing.

3. Water Purification System

If there are water sources around the area, you should equip yourself with the water purification system. It can be a filter or water purification tablets or anything else. It is not possible to carry packaged water in bulk.

That is why; you might have to source water from a nearby stream. Some of the water purification systems which you can choose between include:

  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets

Anyone of these water purification systems will ensure that you can get potable drinking water from a natural source. As a result, you can fulfill your water requirements for days together.

Another option is to purify the water by using the camping stove you’ve brought. All you need to do is to heat the water long enough.

On that matter, I’ve written an article on how long does water need to boil to kill bacteria. I’ve also mentioned there a few tips that will help you decide if the pot is at the right temperature.

Pro-Tip

The natural water source will not always be at hand. That is why; a foldable can is a necessity. It will allow you to fill it with clean water from time to time.

4. Shelter

On a multi-day trip, you have no option but to carry a shelter with you. The question is, what does a shelter exactly constitute?

I usually carry a tent, sleeping bag, and a blanket with me. These three things can protect me in any weather and allow me to get a good night’s sleep.

Now, I will share with you some of the shelter equipment which I found useful. Some of them I’ve used myself, and the rest are recommended tents across Amazon and Youtube.

Camping Tents

When you are choosing a camping tent, it is essential to look at the space inside. I personally always like to choose one which is usable across the seasons. I will share with you two such options below.

  • TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent
  • Mobihome Camping Backpacking Tent

If you haven’t bought a tent yet, I highly suggest that you take a look at an article that I’ve written on how much do camping tents cost. I’ve gathered there 60 examples and divided them into six categories, so that you may make a wise buying decision. 

Sleeping Bags

A sleeping bag protects you from harsh weather outside. However, to ensure this, you should go with a 0-degree sleeping bag. A 0-degree sleeping bag is one which you can use at a minimum temperature of 0 C. I personally like to go with the 0 C mummy-style sleeping bags.

Have you never heard of these before? If you haven’t, take a look at a previous article I’ve written regarding the best sleeping bags under $150. I’ve mentioned the Mummy category and went through the average price. 

The sleeping bags which I will highlight below are of the same style.

  • Hyke & Byke Eolus 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • TETON Sports LEEF Lightweight Mummy Sleeping Bag

Blanket

You might be wondering, after the tent and the bag, why do I have a blanket on my list?

I always like to carry a redundancy, especially on overnight trips. An additional blanket can provide you with much-needed warmth on those chilly nights. Personally, the one that I use is called BEARZ Outdoor Pocket Blanket.

Equipped with these, I get proper insulation and comfort even in the harshest climates. That is why I will certainly advise you to choose between these when you’re looking for appropriate shelter options.

5. Personal Hygiene Items

When you plan on staying overnight in the wilderness, carrying your hygiene items is a must. I am speaking about the toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, and some tissue roll. The personal hygiene items can vary from one person to another.

Thus, when embarking on a two-day trip, this is the gear you need to carry, in addition to other equipment.

I will now go into the details of the equipment that you need to take for the three-day trip or longer ones.

3 Day Trip (And Over)

So, what would change when you’re going on a three-day trip or even longer?

You need to carry a couple of extra items. Since I already shared with you a few bigger backpacks above, there will be no need to change your pack when you’re going on a long trip. The gear which you need to carry in addition to the two-day trip is minimal. I will highlight it below.

Additional Gear

1. MRE Meals

MRE meals stand for The Meal, Ready to Eat. These primarily cater to the requirement of the US Department of defense. The Department often purchases self-contained meals for its soldiers on the field. These are readily available for anyone to buy on sites like Amazon.

All you need to do is to heat the bags, and your meal will be ready in a jiffy. With the help of the backpacking stove, you can do so easily.

These packets are compact and offer a lot of delicacies, which means that you can buy multiple MRE packets to last you throughout the trip.

By now, you might be thinking, what is the difference between the ordinary ready to cook meals and the ones?

The MRE ones are more compact. Also, they take into account your daily nutritional requirements. If you’re going to stay in the wilderness for 48 hours, you can afford to go behind the taste.

However, when you’re on a three-day trip or more, it is better to stick to MRE meals since they take care of the nutritional requirements as well. Thus, for a three-day trip, you need to swap out the ordinary ready to cook meals with the MRE ones.

The good thing is that this is the only change that you need to know when you switch from a two-day trip to a three-day one or even longer.

What Are The Essential Pieces of Equipment Needed For Climbing?

If your climbing trip involves more than foot hiking, you should probably pack a few more things. The five most essential pieces of equipment for climbing include:

  • Harness
  • Carabiners with ropes
  • Climbing Attire
  • Climbing shoes or hiking boots

If you’re short on space or wish to carry only the essential gear with you, these are the five, which you should not forget.

What Should You Not Bring on a Mountain Climbing Trip?

In the list above, I have mentioned only the gear, which is of utmost importance, and you should bring with yourself. However, there are a few strict avoidables, as well. I will go into the details below.

  • Lots of extra clothes
  • Things you cannot afford to lose
  • Oversized backpack
  • Fourth or fifth redundancies of anything

These things are not necessary. Moreover, the unpredictable nature of the trip can make these things a burden for you. Hence, you should avoid these strictly. 

To avoid extra weight, I recommend that you read another article I’ve written on how much should your backpack weigh.

Conclusions

Would you have remembered all these things on your own? Well, even I tend to forget. For that, I believe it is a good idea to follow my guide when you’re going on a mountain climbing trip. By doing so, you make sure that you do not pack extra and do not forget the most crucial pieces of gear.

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