• kevinadams428

Mt. Rainier Gear List

Climbing Mt. Rainier requires a lot of gear. There's really no way to go 'ultralight' in the same way you can with backpacking. But by choosing quality, lightweight gear, you can keep your pack weight low and yet still be adequately prepared for any situation you might encounter while on the mountain. Making the right gear choices will increase your chances of success, and more importantly, your safety. Making poor choices will have the opposite effect, possibly putting yourself or others in danger. The gear recommendations I have listed are items that I personally use, or would buy, and are based on what is currently available on the market.

Of course there are numerous route and trip length variations on Mt. Rainier. Certain routes will require more technical gear than what is listed here.

(Updated January 2018)

Camping Equipment:

  • Backpack - 40 to 70 Liter capacity depending on your packing abilities. It should be large enough to fit almost all of your gear inside, with a minimal amount of gear strapped to the outside. Smaller packs generally require more efficient packing, but are lighter and easier to carry. The best climbing packs have almost no pockets and minimal straps to reduce weight.

  • My Pick: First Ascent Alchemist 40/55, Black Diamond Mission 70

  • Sleeping Bag - 15-20 degrees either down or synthetic. Consider a 0 degree bag if you're climbing in early, late, or off season, or if you're the person on the team who's always cold.

  • My Pick: Marmot Phase 20, Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20

  • Sleeping Bag Compression Sack - Consider an oversized one that can fit your bag and parka for even more space savings.

  • My Pick: Sea To Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack

  • Sleeping Pad - Either inflatable or foam (or both for more warmth and comfort).

  • My Pick: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker All-Season, Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol

  • Tent - Must be 4-Season. Either double wall or single wall depending on weight/comfort preferences. Be sure to include a set of anchors.

  • My Pick: Marmot Hammer 2p, Mountain Hardware Trango 3

  • Stove - On most parts of the mountain, this will be your only source of drinking water. Choose something reliable. The choice of liquid fuel vs. canister is a personal preference.

  • ​My Pick: MSR XGK-EX, MSR Reactor, MSR Pocket Rocket 2

  • Pot - A larger pot is more efficient for snow melting. The size and material depends on group size and personal preferences

  • ​My Pick: MSR Ceramic 2.5L Pot, Sea to Summit X-Pot

Technical Gear

  • Ice Axe - A standard general mountaineering axe. It should be at least a few inches off the ground when held at your side. When in doubt, go shorter for more weight savings. (This can be optional if you're comfortable using your second tool for self arrest)

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Raven Pro, Petzl Summit

  • Second Tool - A 50cm Hammer for placing pickets and as a backup in case an ice axe gets dropped. One per team on DC/Emmons route, one per individual on more technical routes.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Venom Hammer, Petzl Gully

  • Crampons - 10-12 point general mountaineering crampons (12-point crampons are better). Aluminum is not recommended, though could be used (if climbing independently) on certain routes and/or with caution.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Sabretooth, Grivel G12, Black Diamond Contact

  • Harness - Light weight and packability are the two most important factors for a mountaineering harness. It does not need to have adjustable leg loops.

  • ​My Pick: Petzl Altitude, Edelrid Huascaran, Edelrid Loopo Light, Black Diamond Couloir

  • Trekking Poles - Not optional. These are energy-saving tools which increase stability and efficiency on the approach and descent. 3-section collapsable poles with snow baskets are ideal.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Pole

  • Helmet - Must be a climbing-specific helmet - bike or ski helmets are not acceptable. Though these are generally required, there are few sections where they are actually needed. Choose something light.

  • My Pick: Petzl Sirocco, Edelrid Shield II, Black Diamond Vapor

  • Locking Carabiner - Used for clipping into the rope. Either twist-locking or auto-locking. Some guide services require a 'triple-action locking' carabiner. These are safer than standard twist or auto-lockers, but choose what you're most comfortable using.

  • My Pick: Edelrid Strike Safelock (triple-action), Black Diamond Magnetron, Black Diamond Rocklock

  • Climbing Rope - Must be dry-treated. Between 8-11mm in diameter and 30-60m in length depending on team size and personal preference

  • My Pick: Edelweiss Discover Rope, Petzl Volta

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • Avalanche Transceiver - Optional (depending on conditions). Renting may be a better option for most climbers.

  • My Pick: Backcountry Access Tracker D.T.S., Pieps Micro

  • Avalanche Probe - Optional (depending on conditions). Longer probes (300cm+) are the preferred choice for mountaineering, as they may also be used to detect crevasses in potential campsites. One per team should be sufficient.

  • My Pick: MSR Striker 320

  • Shovel - A mountaineering shovel. Used for collecting snow for water and in the event of an avalanche. 1 per 3-4 people.

  • My Pick: MSR Responder, Black Diamond Transfer 3

Crevasse Rescue Gear:

  • Pickets - Used for protection on tricky sections and in the event of a crevasse rescue situation. 2 per rope team minimum.

  • My Pick: MSR Snow Picket

  • Ice Screws - Secondary protection in case pickets can't penetrate the ice. Longer screws (16-22cm) are generally better for glacier travel. 2-3 per team minimum.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Express

  • Ascenders - Optional. Used to facilitate crevasse rescue. Approximately 2 per team.

  • My Pick: Petzl Ascension, Petzl Tibloc

  • Runners - Used for building anchors, self-rescue, etc. Dynex/Dyneema/Spectra is lighter and doesn't absorb water, nylon is cheaper. At least 1 per rope team. 120-240cm is best for anchors.

  • ​My Pick: Edelweiss 7mm, Edelrid 8mm, Black Diamond 10mm

  • Cordelette - Approximately 20ft of 5-8mm cordelette to be used for anchor building. Can be substituted with sewn runners. Short cordelette lengths can be used as a lighter alternative to ascenders with a Klemheist or Prussic knot.

  • My Pick: PMI 7mm Cordelette with Lumi-Line

  • ​Locking Carabiner - Used for anchor building. Bring 1-2 per rope team (not including the ones you use to clip in).

  • ​My Pick: Edelrid Pure Slider, Black Diamond Mini Pearabiner

  • Non-Locking Carabiner - Primarily used for anchor building. 2-3 per rope team. Light is right.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Oz, Edelrid Mission, Camp Nano 22, Edelrid 19G

Head wear

  • Sun Hat - A simple baseball or 'trucker's hat is ideal. These are still recommended even if using a sun hoody

  • My Pick: Marmot Precip Baseball Hat, Outdoor research Sun Runner Cap

  • Glacier Glasses - There are two features that set glacier glasses apart from regular sunglasses - Very dark lenses and side shields. In fact the lenses are so dark, they're not recommended for driving. These are not optional.

  • My Pick: Julbo Explorer 2.0, Julbo Bivouack

  • Buff - An amazingly versatile piece of gear - this can be used to protect your face and head from sun, wind, and cold. Optional, but highly recommended.

  • Goggles - A standard pair of ski goggles is fine. These are rarely used in the case of a snowstorm or high winds.

  • My Pick: Smith Prophecy w/ Igniter Mirror Lens

  • Headlamp - Look for something lightweight, with a minimum of 100 Lumens and a red light mode. Waterproofness is nice, but not essential.

  • My Pick: Black Diamond Storm, Black Diamond Cosmo

Upper Body Layers

Parka - This is your most important layer. It provides warmth during rest breaks, around camp, at the summit, and in case of emergencies. It should be filled with high-quality down and have an attached hood.

Lower Body Layers

  • Baselayer - A midweight layer to add some warmth for the summit bid. Synthetic or wool based on personal preference.

  • My Pick: MtnLogic Base-slayer Pant, Patagonia Capilene Midweight

  • Underwear - 1-2 pairs for trips lasting up to one week. Either synthetic or wool.

  • My Pick: Smartwool Merno 150

  • Softshell pant - A breathable, water/ wind resistant layer. Generally worn from the parking lot to the summit. It should remain comfortable in a wide range of conditions. Err on the light-weight side. Extra warmth for the summit can always be added with an appropriate baselayer.

  • My Pick: Marmot Scree Pant, First Ascent Guide Pant

  • Hardshell pant - Waterproof/ windproof pants. Must have full side-zips as you'll need to be able to put them on without removing boots or crampons.

  • My Pick: Arc'teryx Alpha SL Pant, Marmot Precip Pant


  • Mountaineering Boots - An insulated Mountaineering-specific boot with a rigid sole for crampon compatibility and kicking steps. The choice of a single (leather) boot or a double (plastic/hybrid) boot is a personal one and will depend on the conditions. Double boots are far more forgiving with fit and are therefore the preferred choice if renting.

  • My Pick: La Sportiva Nepal Cube, Scarpa Mont Blanc, La Sportiva Baruntse, Koflach Arctis Expe

  • Socks - Most hiking specific socks will work fine. Either wool or synthetic.

  • My Pick: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Mountaineer Sock

  • Leukotape/ Duct tape - Optional. Used for blister prevention. Put it on at the beginning of the climb and it will remain in place for days. Works much better for blister prevention than moleskin or liner socks.

  • Camp shoes - Optional. Can be worn on the approach until snow is reached, or at camp. Using this option will require you to carry your boots for the first 1-2hrs of the approach.

  • My Pick: Altra Lone Peak 3.0, La Sportiva Wildcat

  • Gaiters - Knee or ankle length depending on snow depth. Also prevents crampons from tearing up expensive soft-shell pants

  • My Pick: Outdoor Research Verglas, Outdoor Research Flex-Tec II


  • Water Bottles - 2-3 Hard-sided, Wide-mouth water bottles are required. Hydration systems are not recommended as it is hard to regulate intake and the tubes freeze on the upper mountain (even with the tube insulators).

  • My Pick: Nalgene 1L

  • Water Reservoir - Optional. This can be used to store extra drinking water at Camp Muir, Shurmann, etc., that way you don't have to do any snow melting when you return from the summit bid (and are tired).

  • My Pick: Platypus Platy 2.0 Liter Bottle

  • Sunscreen

  • Lip Balm

  • Toilet Paper

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Mug

  • My Pick: GSI Infinity Backpacker Mug

  • Spoon

  • My Pick: GSI Essential Spoon Long

  • Multitool - Something simple and compact

  • My Pick: Leatherman Skeletool


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Hi, I'm Kevin.  I'm a triathlete and mountaineer, among other things.   This is where I get to share my adventures with you.  


About Me
14,410ft - Summit of Mt
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