The Ultimate Gear List for MountaineeringMarch 29, 2019
Mountaineering pertains to activities that involve ascending mountains. These include traditional outdoor climbing and hiking. Sport climbing and bouldering are usually considered mountaineering as well.
Technically, mountaineering began as attempts to reach the summits of unclimbed mountains. However, it has since branched into specializations that address different aspects of mountains, depending on whether the route is over rock, snow, or ice or even level ground. Each of these branches require various levels of experience, physical ability, and technical knowledge on safety and survival.
Mountaineering is sometimes also called alpinism. The word was coined in the 19th century to refer to climbing for the purpose of enjoying climbing itself as a sport or recreation.
10 Mountaineering Essentials for Safety, Survival and Basic Comfort
- Navigation – The ability to navigate accurately is a vital skill for any mountain goer. Navigation techniques and route finding skills will allow you to identify the land around you and to choose a good route helping you avoid dangers such as cliffs and avalanches. Navigation tools include maps, a compass, and GPS.
- Sun protection – Sunlight is measured in “solar constant” which is the amount of power or energy the sun deposits in a specific area. Without the atmosphere protecting the earth, the solar constant would be 1,370 watts per square meter. But due to the atmosphere the solar constant drops down to 1,000 watts per square meter (which is equivalent to a toaster toasting four slices of bread.) The higher in elevation the less protection we receive from the atmosphere. The main culprit for damaging skin and eyes is ultraviolet (UV) light. In addition to sunburn, UV rays can also cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. The eyes can also be permanently damaged by prolonged exposure to sunshine without protection. Sun protection gear include sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses.
- Insulation – Layering is the key to staying warm in terms of mountaineering clothing. Rather than wearing one bulky jumper to keep you warm, it is best to layer with multiple thinner layers, so you can add or remove them, depending on the temperature. Basic layering consists of: Base Layer, Light Insulation Jumper, Medium Insulation Jacket, Hard Shell Jacket, Parka Jacket (depending on region/altitude), gloves, and hat.
- Illumination – Depending on your adventure, being able to see in the dark might mean the difference between life and death. Modern lighting options for portable, light-weight illumination include LED or incandescent bulb head torches, hand held torches, battery or butane lanterns or USB powered LED lighting strips. The LED head torch is by far the predominant system for outdoor activities. Head torches provide light wherever the user is looking, and most importantly, it keeps both your hands free for doing other activities. LED models are lighter and can be more powerful than a hand held equivalent. It also usually has a longer battery life. It is also good to carry spare lamps and batteries which should be kept near the body when it’s cold.
- First-aid supplies – If you are climbing on the cliffs or in the mountains, there is always the possibility for injury. If you know how to assess injuries, carry a basic first aid kit and know to use your first aid supplies, it can make a big difference in the outcome. Accidents happen when you’re out climbing. You can trip and sprain an ankle, you can fall and break an arm or leg. You can get hit by a loose rock and suffer a head injury. If you carry a basic first aid kit in your climbing pack, then you can mitigate some of the damage from such injuries. See rei.com’s first-aid checklist for a comprehensive list of supplies.
- Fire – You should always carry some means to start and sustain a fire. Most climbers carry a disposable butane lighter or two instead of matches. Either must be absolutely reliable. Firestarters are needed for igniting wet wood quickly in case you need to make an emergency campfire. Common useful fire starters include chemical heat tabs, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, and commercially prepared wood soaked in wax or chemicals. Alternatively, on a high-altitude snow or glacier climb where firewood is non-existent, it is advisable to carry a stove as an additional emergency heat and water source.
- Repair kit and tools – Some useful, easy to pack and carry repair items are shoelaces, safety pins, needle and thread, wire, duct tape, nylon fabric repair tape, cable ties, plastic buckles, cordage, webbing, and parts for equipment such as tent, stove, crampons, snowshoes, and skis. Knives and other multiple hand tools also come in handy.
According to mountaineers.org’s own top 10 essentials, for nutrition and hydration:
- Nutrition – “For shorter trips, a one-day supply of extra food is a reasonable emergency stockpile in case foul weather, faulty navigation, injury, or other reasons delay a climbing party. An expedition or long trek may require more, and on a cold trip remember that food equals warmth.” Some foods should not require cooking, be easily digestible, and store well for long periods. A combination of jerky, nuts, candy, granola, and dried fruit works well. If a stove is carried, cocoa, dried soup, instant coffee, and tea can be added.”
- Hydration – “Carry sufficient water and have the skills and tools required to obtain and purify additional water. Always carry at least one water bottle or hydration bag or bladder. Wide-mouth containers are easier to refill. Before starting on the trail, fill water containers from a reliable source. In most environments, you need to have the ability to treat water – by filtering, using purification chemicals, or boiling – from rivers, streams, lakes, and other sources. In cold environments, you will need a stove, fuel, pot, and lighter to melt snow. Daily water consumption varies greatly. For most people, 1.5 to 3 quarts (approximately the same in liters) of water per day is enough; in hot weather or at high altitudes, 6 quarts may not be enough. Plan for enough water to accommodate additional requirements due to heat, cold, altitude, exertion, or emergency.”
- Emergency shelter – Emergency survival shelters are essential kit when you are alpine climbing, trekking, hiking or mountaineering. Also called bivi’s, emergency survival shelters can keep you and your group out of the elements, providing shelter or shade from the wind, snow, sun and rain. In an emergency proper shelter can be essential for survival.
One other essential gear that makes for a great adventure tool is your smartphone. According to Brendan Leonard in his blog post, “When I say the phone is a great piece of adventure gear, I don’t mean that we can use it to communicate every moment of our day hike or MTB ride or use it to call for a rescue when we get in over our heads because of bad planning or incompetence. I mean that it makes a great off-the-grid tool when it’s offline, in Airplane Mode, not communicating with anyone. I am not an accomplished alpinist or a writer for National Geographic—I’m speaking from the perspective of a weekend warrior, sometimes adventure writer and sometimes filmmaker.” He meant apps for navigation and hiking guidebooks, as well as built-in smartphone apps like notes, voice recorder, camera, and flashlight.
In order to maximize the use of your smartphones, you need to keep it safe and protected in your outdoor adventures. Catalyst offers the best shock protection and water protection cases.
The Catalyst Impact Protection Case for iPhone XS Max features a grippy rubber bumper, lanyard attachment, rotating mute switch and clear case back that showcases the logo on your iPhone. The design has an angular modern form that is perfect for the new iPhone, as well as additional drop protection from an innovative truss cushioning system that is combined with a proprietary rubber polymer blend. It increases the impact protection to 9.9 feet (or 3 meters) while a raised bezel protects the screen. The open port gives unobstructed access to the charging port and the rear camera is sealed and protected to keep out dust and debris. This slim, protective case protects your iPhone from scratches and drops and is also fully compatible with Wireless Charging.
The Catalyst Waterproof case for iPhone XS Max is an evolution of their high-performance waterproof and drop proof cases. With 33 feet (or 1 0 meters) waterproof protection and 6.6 feet (or 2 meters) drop protection, this case has become the industry leader in slim everyday waterproof cases. Catalyst is known for having superior acoustic performance and engineering that features patented True Sound Acoustic Technology™ and rotating mute switch. The hard-coated dual optical lens on their case fully seals the phone away from snow, dirt and dust. An integrated screen protector provides perfect touch sensitivity while the clear case showcases your iPhone’s stylish design and fully supports Wireless Charging. The protective case has an oversized lightning port that fits most charge cables and this water resistant case will protect your iPhone from scratches. This case has the highest waterproof specifications on the market, however it gives you so much more than protection.