A summary of technical equipment & clothing required for our UK Mountaineering courses in summer conditions. Even in the summer 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, wet & 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.
- Mountain boots – 3-4 season with a good quality sole (such as Vibram) for scrambling. If you are training for Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn, you can wear the boots you will be wearing in the Alps.
- 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.
- Helmet – Easily adjustable and big enough to go over a warm hat or headband underneath. 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.
- 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. 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 Zeta SL Pant is a good example, available in both men’s & women’s.
- Trousers / Shorts – You want to wear a pair of technical trousers that allows you to walk and move freely and are breathable and light. If it is going to be very warm bring a pair of shorts. Arc’teryx Palisade Pant is ideal.
- Warm Layer – It is essential to have a warm layer with you for colder, windy conditions, a synthetic fill or light down jacket is perfect. It should be packable, warm, and have a helmet-compatible hood. Example Arc’teryx Atom LT 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 is ideal, Smartwool, Icebreaker and other brands all make suitable products.
- Hat – Bring a warm hat and a sun hat or cap. Neck gaiters / ‘buffs’ can be useful.
- Gloves – Ideally you need a thin pair of gloves if it is cold that give you dexterity, a softshell or light leather glove is ideal. Bring a warm / waterproof pair too if the weather is going to be cold. Examples here.
- 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.
- Sunglasses – Please bring a pair of sunglasses 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.
- 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.
Skye Ridge traverses
Or other courses with a bivi…40-50L pack ideal
- Lightweight sleeping bag – 2 season should be sufficient (or just a duvet jacket with Bivi bag for good warm weather)
- Bivvi bag – Ideally breathable.
- Bivvi food – Lightweight dehydrated meals, noodles, packet soups, power bars, sweets etc – enough for 2 long days on the Skye Ridge.
- Camping Mat – Lightweight variety. Heavy therma-rests are excessive.
- Mug and spoon
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
For overnight traverses / bivis
- Cooking Stove, pots and fuel
- Lighter / Matches
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.
If you are attending our UK mountaineering courses as part of an programme of training to climb Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn, please check our Mont Blanc equipment list and Matterhorn equipment list as you may be able to start gather the relevant gear prior to your UK training weekends and thus test & familiarise with your own equipment.