This is a suggested list for the mountaineering equipment required for Climbing Mont Blanc in normal summer conditions. Makes and models are examples only. Remember that whilst equipment is important, mountaineering skill & fitness is even more important! If in doubt about your ability, please get in touch regarding our Mont Blanc courses or private guiding.
Keep your rucksack light by having a light and simple pack with all the essential equipment in, and nothing else! See our packing tips below.
Technical equipment (crampons, ice-axe, harness, helmet) and mountaineering boots can be hired from us at good value rates.
- 35-50L Rucksack (any bigger than that is too bulky & heavy) that fits your back size. A light simple sack is preferable to one with lots of straps, zips, bells and whistles! Some extra waterproof bags for storing gear in inside the pack are useful but don’t go overboard with lots of big fancy waterproof sacs, plastic bags are fine (and light & cheap!). Please see our rucksack packing advice below. A good example is the Arc’teryx Alpha 40L or AR35L.
- Mountain Boots. Boots designed for alpine mountaineering and thus able to take crampons effectively (B3 or B2) and well insulated. In general a heavier and more insulated boot than a classic light summer alpine boot is recommended. Examples of suitable boots are Scarpa Mont Blanc, Phantom Guide, Jorasses and Freney. The new Scarpa Mantas are a reasonable compromise if you have good circulation plus good weather and conditions! Sportiva Nepal Extreme’s or Evos are also suitable and popular as are many and various other good brands that meet the above specifications. Boots can be hired from us or in Chamonix if you don’t have a suitable pair.
- Crampons with anti-balling plates (anti-bots). General 12 point steel mountaineering crampons are ideal e.g. Grivel G12, Black Diamond Serac or Petzl Vasak. Make sure they fit your boots well. Avoid both very lightweight walking / ski touring crampons or heavy technical ice climbing crampons.
- Gaiters are essential for keeping snow out of the top of your boots and laces away from your crampons, and keep your legs warmer! Take some time ensuring gaiters are a neat fit and that there are no straps sticking out on the inside of your boots. For summer alpine mountaineering shin high gaiters are good like the Black Diamond Cirque Gaiters. Boots with built in gaiters also work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
- Helmet. General mountaineering helmet essential e.g. Petzl Elios or other Black Diamond or Petzl mountaineering helmet.
- Harness. General mountaineering harness ideal e.g. DMM Super Couloir / Centre or Black Diamond Bod, with 2 X screw gate Karabiners. If you already have a rock climbing harness this will be fine as long as it is large enough to wear over multiple bulky warm layers. If you are buying one specifically for Mont Blanc, choose a lightweight alpine mountaineering harness or a good general harness for both rock climbing & mountaineering like the Petzl Corax.
- Ice axe. A simple mountaineering ice axe is ideal and preferable to technical climbing models. Petzl summit, Black Diamond Venom, Grivel air-tech and, cheapest but still totally fine, DMM Cirque. Any straps or leashes on your ice axe should be removed.
- Waterproof Jacket and Trousers. These form your important ‘shell layer’ protecting you from the wind as well as rain and snow. They need to be waterproof but not warm as your insulation comes from other layers so lightweight is good, eg the Arcteryx ALPHA FL JACKET. A large hood to go over your helmet is ideal and full length zips mean the trousers can be taken off over boots / crampons.
- Mountain Trousers. A tough, stretchy soft shell fabric is ideal and these can be worn without leggings or over trousers most of the time e.g. Arcteryx Sigma FL or Patagonia Simple Guide Pant. Lighter trekking trousers are fine too but only with leggings to make them warmer for summit day.
- Thermal Layer. A long sleeved synthetic or wool layer to wear next to the skin as a first layer of insulation when cool or as an outer layer on the glacier when warm. A zip neck is useful for ventilation. One spare or additional layer / thermal T-shirt might be useful for summit day in cold conditions.
- Mid-Layer Jacket. Fleece or, ideally a ‘soft shell’ style jacket with a thin insulation layer. Worn over the thermal layer and under the waterproof jacket when cold / windy e.g Patagonia Pullover / R2 Jacket, Rab Powerstretch Zip Top,
- Light Weight Duvet Jacket. A warm insulation layer in a generous size so that it can be worn over all your other layers. Ideally a lightweight down or synthetic duvet jacket with a large hood e.g. Arcteryx have a good selection of insulated jackets or Rab Photon / Infinity or Marmot Ama Dablam Jackets
- Gloves. One warm thick thick pair for summit day and at least one other thinner pair (ideally with tough leather palms for holding axe / cables on Gouter Ridge ascent) for general use. e.g. Black Diamond Glissade & Mid-Weight
- Warm Hat, Sun Hat & Buff. Ideally both hats will cover your ears and protect from the wind / cold and sun / heat. Also bring a neck warmer / buff / face mask or balaclava to cover your face in the event of cold windy weather.
- Socks. A thin liner pair for walking in to huts if warm and sunny and a warm medium-thick pair for use above the huts. Keep your warm socks dry and only put on once you have arrived after the hut approach.
- Sun Glasses & Goggles. Good quality dark sunglasses that form a good seal with your face and fit securely. Category 3 or 4 for use in strong sunlight with reflection from the snow. Goggles are also useful incase of windy / snowy weather. If you have ski goggles, bring them. If not you can wait and see what the forecast is and buy goggles in Chamonix.
- Sun Cream & Lip Protection. Bring both and use liberally every day regardless of the weather. At least factor 30 and factor 50 preferable. Small bottles are ideal to save weight.
- Water Bottle. A tough 1L ‘Nalgene’ style water bottle is ideal and can be supplemented with another bottle of sports drink etc. for the summit days. Hot sweet tea is sometimes available in the huts and a good way of keeping your drink warm for longer.
- Snacks / Hill food. Bring your favourite snacks for the hill, flapjacks, cereal bars, dried fruit, cake, chocolate, energy bars etc. Things can be bought in Chamonix before departure and in the mountain huts which also provide lunch.
- Head Torch. Necessary for pre-dawn starts and moving about the mountain huts. Small, light LED head-torch like the Petzl Tikka
- Personal Medical Items. Blister kit, plasters, painkillers, glasses / contact lenses as necessary
- Personal Admin Items. Mobile Phone, Cash, Passport if necessary, Insurance details – see our Insurance FAQ
Extra Kit for Huts
- Very thin / light sheet sleeping bag / liner required in huts. This is a very small / light item and not a normal sleeping back (which is not required). Examples can be found on the Needlesports website here and similar or cheaper / heavier ones are also available in shops in Chamonix
- Ear Plugs
- Hut discount card / Alpine club membership
- 1 Euro coin for use in the Tete Rousse Hut lockers
- Trekking Pole(s)
- Waterproof rucksack cover is in the event of wet weather hut walks.
- If you have packed things that are not on this list, check with your Guide that you really need them because excess baggage really slows you down, tires you out and is a big problem.
Equipment Provided by your Mountain Guide (but carried by the group as a whole)
- Map, Compass & GPS
- Mountaineering Hardware & Crevasse Rescue Gear
- First Aid Kit
- Group Shelter
Rucksack Packing Advice
- Try hard to get your rucksack as light as possible. This will make a big difference to your enjoyment, speed and chances of success on Mont Blanc. Think “Light is “Right” and “The only thing that weights nothing….is nothing!”
- Pack the items in your sack according to how frequently you use them. Snacks, sun cream & hat, light gloves, water bottle all packed in top pockets or at the top of your pack followed by things like your crampons, jacket, warm hat etc. The bottom of your sack is reserved for things like duvet jacket, warm gloves and goggles. Think about using your pockets if you can for handy items like your camera and lip barrier cream so you don’t even need to stop to get them out.
- Develop a system for where items are stored in your rucksack and stick to it.
- Take some time adjusting the straps on your rucksack so the main weight of the pack sits on your hips and the shoulder straps keep it in place.