Scottish Winter Mountaineering

Kit List for Winter Mountaineering & Climbing

A summary of technical equipment & clothing required for Scottish Winter Mountaineering on our winter and spring courses.  During the winter, the environment and conditions will be less forgiving so it is important that you have all the appropriate kit for your own enjoyment and safety.

This is an important principle to bear in mind when packing your gear.  You need all the technical items required plus a clothing layering system that will function well in both cold & windy conditions AND if it is warmer and sunnier.  Try to pack your rucksack so you can access the items you will most likely need first.  Knowing where your kit is and packing it the same way each day will create a routine and make finding things much easier, this will help if you need to change clothing, access food, and water quickly in cold, windy, tricky locations.

Matterhorn training on Curved Ridge Glencoe

Technical Items

  • Winter Mountaineering Boots – 4 season stiff soled leather or plastic boots that will take a crampon.  A good example is the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX boots.
  • Crampons and bag – 12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates, essential.  The Petzl Vasak crampon makes an ideal crampon, this comes with 2 different binding systems Leverlock Universal (clip for front & back) and Flexlock (plastic bale) the best combination is to have the Flexlock on the front and the Leverlock clip for the rear.  When packed in your rucksack they are best stored in a bag to stop them from damaging anything else.  Avoid both very lightweight walking / ski touring crampons or heavy technical ice climbing crampons.
  • Ice axe – A simple mountaineering ice axe is ideal and preferable to technical climbing models. Petzl Summit Evo, 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.
  • 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.
Harness Crampons Axe
Petzl Corax Harness, Vasak Crampon & Summit Ice Axe
  • Helmet – Easily adjustable and big enough to go over a warm hat / balaclava.  Black Diamond Half Dome helmet or Petzl Meteor Helmet are good examples.
  • Hardware – This kit will be provided by the guide but, if you have your own then please bring a belay plate / Karabiners / Sling (120cm).
  • Rucksack – A 30-50ltr rucksack is required. When it comes to fit it’s best to try some on before buying. Key features to look for are: adjustable waist and shoulder straps; easy to use buckles for opening/closing sack; 1 ideally 2 ice axe attachment points; side compression straps; durable/waterproof fabrics. The sack should come with either a waterproof liner or use some dry bags to keep clothing and other kit dry and separated in your pack. You should be able to get all the kit listed here inside, it’s best to avoid having any kit attached to the outside of the sack other than your axe(s) and if we give you a rope to carry!  A good example of a suitable rucksack is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35  Other suitable rucksacks can be viewed HERE.
Arcteryx Alpha AH Rucksack
Arcteryx Alpha AH Rucksack – A suitable rucksack for Alpine Mountaineering


  • Waterproof Shell-Jacket – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability.  A helmet-compatible hood, external & internal pockets and waterproof zips are good features to look for. Avoid a softshell material it is a big gamble in The Highlands – it’s often far too wet!  A good example is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR jacket available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Waterproof Shell-Trousers – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability.  Side-zips on the legs are a useful feature as it makes it easier to put them on in tricky situations.  Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib Pant is a good example, available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Down Layer – It is essential to have a down jacket with you for cold, winter conditions, a jacket with a fill of around 700 – 750 should do it.  It should be packable, warm, and have a helmet-compatible hood.  Example Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Mid-Layer(s) – It is best to have a number of lightweight layers to make up your clothing system.  Fleece layers are ideal for this as you can add and remove them according to how you feel and the conditions.  Stretch fleece jacket, half or full-zip options all work well, an example is Arc’teryx Kyanite LT hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Base Layers – this should include your underwear (pants!) and base layer top and legs.  Wearing natural fibers like merino wool next to your skin is good for comfort, breathability, and warmth; not to mention they smell a lot less than synthetic fibers.  Merino or a similar wool base layer for your top and legs is ideal, Smartwool, Icebreaker and other brands all make suitable products.
Examples of Outer Jacket, Down Jacket & Baselayer
Examples of Outer Jacket, Down Jacket & Baselayer suitable for Alpine Mountaineering
  • Hat / Balaclava – Take both. Neck gaiters / ‘buffs’ can be useful.
  • Gloves – Ideally a liner pair, a thinner pair for dexterity holding an ice axe, with a grippy leather palm and fingers and a pair of thicker, warmer, insulated gloves.  Examples here.
Gloves for Alpine Mountaineering
Softshell glove and Water/windproof Glove
  • Socks – It is best to only wear 1 pair of socks inside your boots, a medium thickness pair, possibly in wool is a good choice.
  • Gaiters – These will help to keep snow out of your boots and your feet warm and dry, ideally, they should be breathable.  Examples can be found HERE.
Sorted for technical equipment & suitable clothing and you can focus on the other challenges of a winter mountaineering day, for they are often many!


  • Head Torch – With new batteries.  Petzl Swift RL as an example.
  • Goggles & Sunglasses – Ski goggles are an important item in snowy / windy weather, which is common! Please bring a pair of sunglasses too minimum Cat 3.
  • Walking Poles – you may wish to bring 1 or a pair of walking poles for walks in & out.  Lightweight, foldable poles are ideal; example Black Diamond Distance Z poles.  Often they do not come with a larger snow basket so you might have to make your own adaption for this.
  • Water Bottle – 1L Capacity or, heavier, a flask. Carbohydrate and isotonic drinks are well worth experimenting with.
  • Hill Food – Cereal bars, Honey Sandwiches, Power bars, Fruit Cake, Chocolate etc. Not fruit!  Arrange your own packed lunch each morning prior to the course meeting time.
  • Personal First Aid Kit – Plasters and a blister kit. Personal medication. Sun cream and lip salve.
  • Personal Emergency Bivi-Bag – We ask you to bring your own emergency bivi bag (just in case). The Adventure Medical Kits SOL Emergency Bivvy is a good example. The guide will have a group shelter in addition.
  • Mobile Phone – Always worth taking your mobile on the hill. Small Ortileeb waterproof bag / plastic bag recommended.
  • Map & Compass – If you wish to bring your own, please do.  A Silva Field or Ranger Compass is good.  For specific maps of the area please check with us first before purchasing what you will need.  The Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps at 1:25:000 are ideal.
Mid winter in the Scottish Highlands – a great place for your Mont Blanc training.

Group Equipment

Provided by the instructor / guide but often shared out between the group, so have a bit of space in your pack!

  • Group shelter
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Rope & climbing protection
  • Navigation equipment

Buying New Kit?

If you plan to make some new kit purchases for this course then we recommend a few places to look online that not only provide a good range of clothing and equipment but also some excellent advice on suitable products for your chosen sport.  They are:

Needle Sports – An independent climbing gear shop that supplies mountaineering, rock, ice, alpine & expedition climbing equipment.  They have a shop in Keswick in the Lake District.

Facewest – with 20 years of providing an excellent online retail experience and plenty of knowledge and enthusiasm, they stock a wide range of products for climbing, skiing, running, and hiking.

Sport Pursuit – is an online retailer, mainly of clothing who sells, at highly discount prices, end of lines, and unsold stock from shops and brands.  If you look carefully through their website you can find some excellent clothing items at a really great price.

Topping Out On Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis, On Our Matterhorn Training Weekend In Fort William

UK Mont Blanc & Matterhorn Training Courses

UK Mont Blanc & Matterhorn Training Weekends