Mountaineering Equipment to Get Started
Packing for a mountaineering trip can be a bit of a double-edged sword. If you overpack, you can be weighed down and off-balance. If you under-pack, you may not have the correct mountaineering equipment to get started on your ascent. The aim is to carry just enough load to travel fast and light while still having the essential equipment for survival and success.
Alpinism is a step above hiking. Venturing into the realm of mountaineering requires additional equipment to manage safely. It’s not advisable to buy a whole load of new and expensive equipment. Rent, borrow, or even improvise on your early trips. Gradually build your kit list and refine your equipment on each adventure. Here is some of the best mountaineering equipment to get started on your adventures.
Mountaineers often face sub-zero conditions – even in the UK. Temperatures drop with altitude and summits are often glaciated or cloaked in snow. Exposure and wind chill are also great threats when you are climbing a mountain peak. Fighting off the cold is one of the biggest battles a climber must face.
Creating an insulating layer against your skin is a key part of this battle. By carefully layering clothes onto each other, you can keep pack weight down and build a set of mountaineering equipment to get started with your adventures. A combination of insulated base/mid layers and outer layers should be worn for maximum effectiveness.
A basic set of warm clothing should include a set of wool/synthetic socks, base layers, synthetic top layers (with a zip collar or hood), hardshell hiking trousers, an insulated jacket, a hat, and gloves. Clothing with vents and zips will also help to regulate your temperature as you hike. Removing layers as the conditions change helps you learn what gear is valuable and which mountaineering equipment to get started with.
A big threat to mountaineers is getting wet. If your clothes get damp from rain or snowmelt, you can quickly be at risk of hypothermia. Selecting waterproof equipment is essential. High-quality waterproof clothing will provide greater resistance against moisture. They will also be more breathable which prevents you from sweating and getting your inner layers damp.
Your boots must be waterproof (you can add an extra waterproof layer to them if they need reproofing at any stage). Waterproof trousers and a waterproof jacket are also crucial. Carrying a luminescent waterproof covering in your hiking backpack is a good way to keep dry and visible on the mountain. Remove waterproof garments as soon as possible after precipitation finishes to prevent sweating.
Waterproof clothing and durable water repellent (DWR) products are important items in a hiker’s arsenal. Synthetic fleeces, wool undergarments, and softshell jackets are not waterproof. Their job is to provide warmth. Once they get wet, this ability is compromised. Hence why a waterproof defence to layer over these items is so crucial. A pair of gloves may be warm when dry but if they lack a waterproof outer layer, your fingers will soon turn to icicles!
If you’re looking into mountaineering equipment to get started in the UK, you’ll have to invest in a set of technical climbing gear. Crampons and gaiters are a good first purchase for when you start winter hiking. Buying a helmet is an important safety precaution if you are an active scrambler or rock climber.
The ropes, clips, and harnesses associated with climbing can all be used for mountaineering, but it’s also possible to buy specialised equipment for alpinism. For example, a climbing rope is often longer than one needed for mountaineering, and a climbing harness has more buckles than an alpine one.
If you are already a climber, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel by buying new equipment. However, if you’re approaching mountaineering for the first time, it may be best to buy specialised equipment from the beginning.
A headlamp is another piece of mountaineering equipment to get started with your climbing adventures. Summit ascents often begin in the dark. An LED head torch with flood and spot beams is ideal for route finding and general navigation. Spare batteries can also be a lifesaver if you start to lose power on your head torch.
Mountaineering is rarely done in a single push. Even in the UK, it often requires planning and multi-day excursions to complete successfully. Preparing mountaineering equipment to get started in the UK should involve camping gear, an appropriate sleeping set-up, and a suitable backpack to carry everything in.
Mountaineering packs need to have multiple functions. They must carry all your equipment – for the approach, camp, and summit. Ideally, they should be slim with many loops and features to attach gear. Detachable pouches and hip belts are also useful to lighten your load before a summit attempt.
A three or four-season tent is advisable for mountaineering. They can withstand the high winds and harsh conditions present in cold weather. A geodesic design is generally the most durable mountaineering tent. If you’re camping on the cold ground, you may want an insulating pad and an inflatable mat (remember, the higher the R-value, the better the insulating capability). Lastly, a down or synthetic sleeping bag warm to -20 degrees is advisable.
Building a set of mountaineering equipment to get started with mixed climbing is an arduous and expensive process. It’s not something that should be done in one visit to a high street outlet. Begin gathering a well-tested and trustworthy set of hiking and camping gear. Once that is in place, gradually begin purchasing more technical mountaineering equipment to get started with climbing in the UK.
This should be doable as you rarely jump from hiking in the hills to climbing frozen peaks in one season. You may work on your rock climbing one summer or your ridge scrambles the next winter. Gradually, you can up the ante to reach a point where you have a full kit list capable of dealing with high mountain ascents.