Adventurists love ice climbing because it’s quite a healthy activity, especially if you’re somewhat of an adrenaline addict.
However, some people never went ice climbing but have a great desire to do so.
We couldn’t recommend it more, but you should prepare for your endeavor well because if you neglect something or forget about it, there is a high chance that you are going to have a pretty bad time up there in the mountains.
In fact, more than often people completely cancel their adventures due to trivial mistakes such as forgetting to bring a proper helmet.
We have made a list that is designed to help you pack everything you need for an ice adventure. Take a moment and check it out, it will definitely help you to keep some things in mind.
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Best Quality Mountaineering Helmet
The first piece of clothing equipment you should think about is the helmet.
Many people usually purchase the first one they stumble upon because of the general mindset that “all of them are the same.”
Needless to say, they are not all the same, and it’s a completely wrong assumption that can cause some serious issues. There are quite a bit of different models on the market, but only a few are worth your money and time.
The first question people usually ask is – What should I look for in a helmet?
Naturally, the sturdiness and reliability are two fundamental elements you should pay attention to.
In order to evaluate how reliable a helmet is, all you have to do is check the materials used in the production. If it’s made of cheap plastic without anything to back it up – it’s probably not the thing you’re looking for.
Ventilation is also a pretty significant feature.
A well-ventilated helmet is incomparably better than the closed one, especially if you’re planning on going ice climbing for an extended period of time.
The suspension system and inner foam are also something worth thinking about. It’s more a matter of personal preference, but you should always look for molded EPS foam and highly adjustable suspension.
As far as our recommendation goes, the Black Diamond Half Dome helmet seems like a good choice. A lot of experienced adventurists praise its durability, quality of production, and most importantly – the price.
These things tend to be on the expensive side, but this particular one is quite affordable. The combination of good design and favorable price makes it one of the best price-to-quality models on today’s market.
Don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money in your helmet because it’s the only thing standing between your head and icy objects.
No one should ever risk their safety in order to save a dollar or two.
Climbing Hat for Cold Weather
If you’re planning on spending a lot of time out in the cold, you better purchase a high-quality hat or else you won’t have pretty memories.
A climbing hat is almost as important as a helmet. Truth be told, it won’t provide much protection against contact, but it definitely makes a difference in temperature.
There are quite a lot of different models available on the market, and unlike helmets, hats are pretty easy to choose.
The things you should pay attention to are cooling, water resistance, sun protection, materials, and drying speed.
Once you find a model that fulfills the requirements, it all comes down to color and personal preferences. As far as we are concerned, Outdoor Research Active Ice Ubertube is a climbing hat worth investing in.
It’s light, affordable, and most importantly – of top quality. Apart from that, it also features active cooling which is very important.
Upper Body Gear
The shirt is one of the easiest components of climbing clothing to find. There isn’t much to think about here, except the quality.
You can buy whichever shirt you want, but keep in mind that it has to be suitable for the rough weather.
Therefore, aim to purchase a model that’s well-known in the climbing community as being ideal for various adventures including ice climbing.
One of the easiest ways to find a suitable model is to check out the climbing forums on the Internet. Thousands of people recommend clothing on a daily basis meaning you shouldn’t have an issue with finding the one that suits you the most.
Best Soft Shell Jacket for Climbing
As you may assume, your jacket choice is going to have a huge impact on your overall climbing experience.
Therefore, do not spare any money when it comes to buying a soft shell jacket because it’s one of the first lines of defense against rough weather.
Things you need to look for in these jackets are durability, quality materials, and resistance to wind and water.
If you don’t know where to begin or what to choose, we have a recommended model for each gender.
As far as men go, the Arc’teryx Men’s Gamma MX Hoodie seems like a pretty good choice. It’s made of durable and trustworthy materials, is capable of coping with strong winds and high humidity, and most importantly – it’s decently priced.
One cannot say it’s a cheap piece of clothing, but it’s definitely the one you should invest in without questioning it too much.
When it comes to ladies, Women’s The North Face Apex Bionic jacket is the way to go, as far as we are concerned. It’s made of polyester and features Apex ClimateBlock 100% windproof fabric.
Strong wind is usually your number one enemy on most journeys meaning you should prioritize wind resistance when it comes to jackets for climbing.
Comfortable Shell Jacket
The shell jacket is usually the most important piece of the puzzle.
It’s the very first line of defense against rough weather meaning you have to invest in a quality model or else everything else you bought will be in vain.
Nylon is usually the go-to material when it comes to these jackets because it has been proven as one of the most resistant materials around. Apart from temperature, you also have to worry about wind and water.
Luckily, nylon is both waterproof and windproof which makes it one of the best materials for the occasion.
Even though it doesn’t seem relevant, the weight of the jacket plays a big role in the whole equation.
In simpler words, you should always aim for the lightest ones as they are easier to cope with under rough conditions. Also, pay special attention to comfort because you’re going to be wearing it for a long time.
We recommend Outdoor Research Or men’s realm jacket as the best male model in our opinion. It’s adjustable, comfortable, and made of 100% nylon.
As far as the women’s models go, the Arcteryx Alpha SV seems like a good and worthy choice.
Warm Jacket /Belay Parka
Belay parka is usually intended for over layering and keeping the heat from escaping.
In simpler terms, it is a jacket with high-quality insulation designed to keep the warmth from dissipating through weak spots in your clothing.
There are dozens of great models on the market, but most of them have a pretty hefty price, to say the least.
The important thing about this piece of clothing is the sheer quality of production.
In other words, you should never buy a cheap copy and head on to an adventure because it’s more than likely going to fail. Keep an eye on materials that were used in the production, and of course, insulation capabilities.
Our recommendation for men is Arcteryx Dually Belay Parka. It may not be the best one on the market, but the price-to-quality ratio is quite favorable, even for people on a tight budget.
On the other hand, women would enjoy something like the Rab Xenon X Jacket, although it’s quite hard to find investment-worthy belay jackets for women.
Go ahead and check some brands such as Arc’teryx and you should be able to find a suitable women’s model for yourself.
Mittens are usually warmer than gloves because your fingers generate more heat if they aren’t separated from each other by various materials.
As far as climbing benefits go, there aren’t many. In fact, you should only use mittens while you’re resting instead of climbing.
Truth be told, it’s a matter of common sense because you cannot climb too well without being able to grip to a surface with your fingers.
A pair of mittens in your backpack is recommended to keep you warm during resting. Other than that, mittens don’t have any major advantages in the ice climbing world.
Ice Climbing Gloves
Gloves are an extremely important element of your clothing because fingers are the thing you’re using the most while mountaineering.
Therefore, keeping them warm and cozy is an imperative, to say the least. When it comes to the choice, it all comes down to your personal preferences.
Durability, water and wind resistance, and comfort are what you need to keep an eye on while hunting for the best ice climbing gloves.
We would like to recommend Outdoor Research Men’s Stormtracker Gloves as one of the safest options out there.
This model is quite versatile and designed to withstand pretty rough weather conditions.
Image Credit: My Outdoors Life (Best Climbing Gloves)
Lower Body Gear
We all have parents that made us wear long underwear throughout our childhood whether we like it or not. While it was a pretty annoying nuisance back in the days, it’s a mandatory piece of clothing nowadays if you’re a climbing enthusiast.
It acts as a layer of insulation between your skin and any other piece of clothing you’re wearing. Needless to say, you shouldn’t skip on wearing these, especially in cold weather.
When it comes to choices, it’s all up to you. Get one you like the most, and keep an eye on materials used in the manufacture and the overall comfort of it.
Soft Shell Pants for Mountaineering
Soft shell pants are designed to keep you safe from wind and cold temperatures. One of the most important things related to these pants is that they need to breathe in order to function properly.
In other words, the quality of a model directly depends on the materials and design used in manufacture.
A lot of modern fabrics have amazing capabilities such as mapped motion points. It’s a great concept that helps with your mobility a lot.
Apart from paying attention to the materials, make sure the model has at least a pocket or two. While pockets seem pretty irrelevant in this case, you can rest assured that you will need additional storage at some point.
As far as the recommended models go, Salomon Men’s RS Warm Softshell Pants would be a solid choice for men. They are made of quality materials and offer a great deal of breathability.
The ladies, on the other hand, would enjoy Arcteryx Gamma MX Pants because it’s a versatile and soft model.
Both of these models have pockets, great insulation, and a reasonable price which is usually what you should be looking for in soft shell pants.
Shell Pants with Pockets
Shell pants are what makes or breaks an ice climbing adventure.
While you should pay attention to all clothing you buy, this particular piece is special in a sense that you can make a terrible choice by making a single trivial mistake or oversight.
That’s why it’s important that you’re aware of the things you need to think about when buying shell pants.
Naturally, the first thing to look for is – comfort. If pants aren’t comfortable, every other feature is irrelevant.
Once you find a comfortable pair, take a moment and check the fabrics used. Aim for nylon and polyester.
Ventilation is also quite important meaning you should pick a model with at least one zippered vent. However, most certified models have at least two vent zippers meaning you don’t have to worry about that too much.
Furthermore, pockets and inventory capacity are crucial. You should probably aim for more pockets, but it’s a matter of personal preferences.
We recommend checking out the Outdoor Research Men’s Trickshot Pants if you’re looking for quality shell pants for men.
As far as the women’s models go, Outdoor Research Or women’s helium pants seem quite appealing and worth checking out.
Ice Climbing Gaiters
Gaiters are designed to prevent snow and water from getting into your boots.
Climbing and mountaineering can be an amazing experience, but only if you have the necessary equipment.
People who take this matter lightly usually end their adventures right at the starting point because they don’t realize how unforgiving Mother Nature is, especially when it comes to snow.
We all love vast and massive snowy areas, but people often confuse beautiful with safe. In other words, if something looks stunning, that doesn’t mean it is safe.
The weight, material, and functionality are the three elements you should look for in gaiters.
Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodiles Gaiters model is the one we recommend for men. It’s made of 100% nylon meaning there is no chance of water penetrating through into your boots as long as you set everything up correctly, which isn’t a difficult thing to do in the first place.
Ladies should check the Outdoor Research Women’s Crocodile model because it is affordable and made of high-quality materials.
Don’t forget to check the size of the gaiters before you place an order. People seem to have issues when it comes to finding the right size.
However, the principle is pretty simple – know your pants size – small, medium, large and choose a pair of gaiters accordingly.
Socks for Climbing Shoes
Many people take the importance of socks lightly as they are hidden beneath a layer of boots and other clothing.
However, we cannot emphasize enough how crucial the quality of your socks is for your overall climbing experience. Needless to say, buying a pair of socks is far from “whatever.”
Softness and comfort are the two important things related to climbing socks. If you manage to find a model that features both of these elements, it might be a good candidate.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a clue on what to look for and where to start, check out Sooty Smith Mercerized Merino Wool Crew Hiking Outdoor Climbing Boots Socks for men or Cushion Hiking Socks for women.
High Quality Ice Climbing Boots
As you may assume, boots are the foundation for every successful ice climbing adventure.
We lose a lot of heat through our extremities, especially if we use the subpar climbing equipment. However, this is the stage in which your budget suffers the most.
While all climbing accessories tend to be expensive, boots are among the few things you should invest in the most of your money. There are dozens of components within a high-quality climbing boot, and you shouldn’t expect it to come cheap by any means.
However, if you’re ready to somewhat slaughter your budget, there are plenty of models available on the market that should fulfill most of your expectations.
Naturally, you should look for comfort, resistances, materials, and lacing systems in these boots. The more features you get, the better the experience will be.
One thing many people choose to care about is the visual appeal. While it makes some sense, it’s not nearly as important as various features found within a particular model.
In simpler words, don’t invest in a pair of boots because they look pretty and visually appealing because that won’t take you far at all. Instead, think about using the features to their full potential and making your investment worthy.
If you don’t know where to start, try checking La Sportiva Men’s Nepal EVO GTX boots out. They are made of synthetic materials which are trustworthy and highly resistant to rough conditions.
Ladies might have a bit of an issue when it comes to finding the right pair, but Scarpa Women’s Mont Blanc GTX Mountaineering boots seem like a good choice feature-wise.
In the end, it all comes down to your personal preferences. Check the ones that we have recommended and see if it makes sense to you. You can rest assured they are top-notch quality-wise.
Equipment/Technical Climbing Gear
Safe Rope for Mountaineering
As one can imagine, the rope is a pretty crucial piece of technical gear as it is responsible for one’s safety.
Therefore, it’s quite hard to make the right decision when it comes to the best rope for mountaineering. There are hundreds of different models, and most of them are satisfactory, but a few of them are great.
The important thing to note here is that the difference between “okay” and “great” is huge.
Your choice of the rope model depends on the purpose of your travel. Crossing glaciers, technical ice pitches, and aid pitches are very different activities, and they require different ropes.
However, you don’t have to use a different rope per se, but there is no all-around one that’s perfect for all of these activities, so it’s recommended that you have a few for various purposes.
As far as the versatility goes, a single half-rope is a great choice. Apart from that, you should take its durability and endurance into account before you make the final step of purchasing.
The overall weight plays a significant role in the whole equation, even though it doesn’t seem very relevant.
The lengthier the rope is, the more significant its weight becomes.
Although it’s quite a simple concept, many people decide to neglect the simple math behind it and consequently end up with useless piles of rope lying around.
We would like to recommend Petzl – ARIAL 9.5mm, Single Rope for High-End Climbing as our personal go-to choice. It’s a high-quality piece of equipment, and it is designed to withstand very harsh conditions including snow, rain, and freezing temperatures.
Its weight-to-performance ratio is great meaning you can utilize massive lengths without worrying about performance or safety.
The general rule of thumb here is not to go with ropes that are too thin, especially single ones.
High Quality Ice Tool
No ice climbing adventure is complete without an ice tool. As you can imagine, this piece of climbing equipment can have a great effect on the ultimate outcome of your expedition.
Therefore, it’s in your best interest to find a high-quality one even if it’s going to cost you a bit more money than you initially planned. You can rest assured that investing in ice tools is a smart move, especially due to safety reasons.
We recommend checking the Petzl Nomic Ice Tool out as it’s one of the most reliable units on the market.
It features an ergonomic handle which is adjustable meaning you can fine-tune it to your own preferences instead of going with a generally-sized one. The tip is very sharp which allows you to penetrate any type of ice and pull the tool out without too much hassle.
If you don’t like our initial recommendation, check out the Cobra Ice Tool by Black Diamond model; it might suit you better.
Durable and Trustworthy Ice Axe
Same as the ice tool, the ice axe is a mandatory piece of every ice climbing enthusiast’s inventory. These axes come in various shapes and sizes, so it’s not easy to determine the “right one.”
One of the things you should think about is the weight of the tool, even if the difference is only a few grams.
People don’t understand that even a small difference makes a huge impact on a grand scale of things; especially in the climbing world where fatigue is something people try to avoid.
Apart from the weight, the materials used in production are also quite important.
Aircraft-grade aluminum is one of the most common materials used, but you can find examples of carbon fiber and other materials.
We recommend checking Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe out as it’s somewhere in the middle between an expensive and affordable piece of equipment. It’s durable, trustworthy, and ergonomic.
Ice Climbing Harness
Low-quality harnesses are a massive safety hazard and should be avoided at all costs.
It’s more a matter of common sense, but you would be surprised on how many people decide to save a buck or two when it comes to purchasing this piece of equipment.
As you can assume, a harness has to be well-designed and crafted with materials that feature high durability and resistance to rough weather conditions. Also, the overall comfort of a harness is what makes it or breaks it. These things have to be designed for long routes and severe abuse.
The aesthetic appeal is completely out of the question, and you shouldn’t think about it at all. It doesn’t matter how it looks, but how it performs.
Speaking of performance, the Black Diamond Chaos Harness seems like a good recommendation candidate. Take a moment and check it out, it should fulfill your expectations.
Safe and Durable Spinner Leashes
The purpose of this tool is to stop your tools from falling into an endless void underneath you. A lot of people love going leashless because it improves their sense of freedom and comfort.
However, it’s not a recommended thing to do, especially if you’re a beginner because more often than not you will lose some of your equipment.
Spinner leashes work on a pretty simple principle. They are flexible and durable strings that are mounted onto your harness or climbing belt through a single ring. This way, even if you lose grip and drop your tool, it won’t fall into oblivion but stay hooked up.
We recommend checking Black Diamond Slinger Leash out because it is affordable and rated for 2kn (450 pounds.) Make sure you purchase a quality unit because you don’t want to risk losing equipment that costs several hundreds of dollars because you decided to save some money on spinner leashes.
Carabiners are a link between you and your equipment. Naturally, you want the best possible solution for the occasion because your life quite literally hangs on the ropes and it depends on the quality of the carabiners most of the time.
Therefore, if you ever decide to cheap out on this particular piece of equipment – you’ll have a pretty bad experience; that’s almost a guarantee.
Aluminum carabiners are usually a good start. One of the things you should look for is – convenience.
In other words, it shouldn’t be too hard to lock or unlock it quickly because otherwise, you wouldn’t have any time to react accordingly to the situation.
Furthermore, durability and axis strength is crucial. We recommend checking Petzl – ATTACHE model out as it’s one of the most popular amongst experienced ice climbers. It’s affordable, lightweight, and most importantly – durable.
Crampons for Icy Terrain
Footwear traction systems are very important for your safety. The idea behind this concept is pretty simple – the spikes are responsible for penetrating and grabbing icy terrain so that you don’t suddenly slip into a chasm and hurt yourself.
There are plenty of models on the market which is a concerning fact because a vast number of them aren’t as safe as one might think.
The only thing that’s worse than not buying any equipment is purchasing cheap and low-quality equipment.
There aren’t many things you should think about while buying crampons.
The most important ones are the size(s), length and density of spikes, and materials used.
Aim for stainless steel ones as they are more durable and reliable than others made of different metals.
Our top three recommendations are:
- Anti-slip 14-Teeth Ice Snow Climbing Cleats Crampons,
- Kahtoola MICRO spikes, and
- Kahtoola MICRO spikes Footwear Traction – 2016/17.
Waterproof Mountaineering Backpack/Daypack
When someone mentions backpacks, people usually don’t think it’s a complicated thing to find.
However, backpacks for mountaineering are quite different than the conventional ones meaning you have to keep an eye on few things.
First of all, the weight of the backpack is the number one thing you should consider. Heavy models tend to cause serious fatigue issues and significantly increase your resting time.
Weather resistance is also one of the important elements. Because you’re going to be dealing with a lot of snow, water, and wind, make sure you invest in a well-designed backpack that’s resistant to harsh conditions.
Speaking of investing, Arcteryx Alpha FL 45 seems like a perfect model both for experienced climbers and enthusiasts. It has all the elements you need for a memorable climbing adventure.
It’s one of the most affordable models around considering its capabilities and advantages.
Stainless Steal Ice Screws
As the name suggests, ice screws are used for holding your rope and equipment from wandering away. While it doesn’t sound like a complicated thing to buy, you should still take great care about the trustworthiness of these components.
It’s a fairly simple piece of hardware, but it holds a great deal of responsibility, including keeping you safe and sound at all times.
They are often made of stainless steel as it’s one of the most reliable metals for ice climbing.
Things you should consider when purchasing these are ease of use and certifications.
Bear in mind; certifications are important because they are the sole indicator of quality in these cases.
The one we recommend purchasing is the Black Diamond Express Ice Screw. It’s a widely-known product among professionals and is quite respected by the whole climbing industry. You don’t have to buy these particular ones, but make sure you’re making the right choice if you choose something else.
Compact and Durable Belay Device
These devices are designed to help you control the rope while belaying. They work on a pretty straightforward principle, but their performance greatly depends on their quality.
In other words, you do not want to buy a cheap belay device as it’s one of the components that keep you alive in most situations. Naturally, one would have a few layers of safety in their equipment, but that doesn’t mean you can cheap out on some parts.
The important elements of every belay device are durability, compatibility, ease of use, and compactness. The more of these parameters you can find in one unit, the better.
The material you should be aiming for is aluminum due to its great strength-to-weight ratio. We recommend checking Petzl GriGri 2 model. It’s an affordable and lightweight unit with a great deal of durability. It also features a patented handle design which allows more control on the rope.
You should never leave the house without a water bottle. It’s an important part of your inventory because hydration plays a huge role in the whole equation.
Furthermore, if something unexpected happens, you should always have a bottle of water by your side to keep you hydrated as long as possible. There were cases in which climbers survived just because they had enough water by their side.
Snacks are a great source of instant energy, especially in high-fatigue situations like climbing or mountaineering. Things like chocolate bars, energy sticks, and even fruit can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
Always pack a bunch of snacks, and make sure they won’t expire anytime soon.
First Aid Kit
This particular part of your inventory is pretty self-explanatory. Every individual that decides to go on a climbing adventure should pack at least one first aid kit.
Stuff like bandages, disinfecting solutions, and painkillers are mandatory so that you don’t have to worry about infections and other predicaments.
Eye-protection is crucial, especially if you’re dealing with vast spreads of snow. Sun tends to reflect off of snowy surfaces and can cause severe issues if not filtered correctly.
Therefore, make sure you pack a pair of UV protected sunglasses every time you decide to go climbing.
Even though applying sun cream during winter sounds quite peculiar, you would be surprised how dangerous sun rays are even during winter months.
Wind is also a factor that causes skin burns and sometimes even blisters. Make sure you always have a pack of sun cream in your backpack.
Same as the sun cream, lip balm keeps your lips safe from drying, cracking, and burning, especially under windy conditions. It’s a small object, so it’s often forgotten by many climbers, even though it’s important.
Prusik knots are a great way of utilizing your rope to its full potential. Take a moment and search the Internet for prusik knots if you haven’t already. Make sure you learn how to tie it properly, and you’ll alleviate some of the hassles off your back.
Extra Non-locking Carabiners
It’s always a good idea to bring extra items if you have some space left in your backpack. Luckily, carabiners don’t take too much space meaning you can always bring at least 5 or 6 extra. It comes in handy, especially if you happen to lose some of your primary ones.
7mm Cord for Linking Anchors (15 – 20 feet)
Same as with carabiners, you can never have enough of rope. When it comes to linking anchors, the 7mm cord will do the job. Bring 15 to 20 feet if you have enough room in your backpack, and you shouldn’t run into troubles with the lack of cord.
Camera with Extra Batteries
If you’re an adventurer, then you probably pack a camera by default. However, many people tend to forget about batteries. Because we’re not used to living in conditions without electricity, no one thinks about extra batteries.
In fact, even if you do have electricity while climbing, batteries require some time to recharge. This way, if you bring two of them, you can switch between them simultaneously. In other words, while one is recharging the other should be fully charged and in the camera.
Disposable Hand Warmers
Hand warmers are cheap and quite helpful, especially if you’re in the middle of something. These tiny bags consist of a few elements that heat up once shaken or rubbed against each other.
The best thing about these warmers is the fact that they warm up in a matter of seconds meaning you have an instant source of heat at your disposal for only a few dollars.
Conclusion: Stay Safe With Quality Equipment
Being adequately prepared is what it is all about. As long as you cover every aspect of your gear and think about everything, you are bound to have an unforgettable adventure.
It’s true that both mountaineering and ice climbing equipment tends to be on the more expensive side of the spectrum, but it doesn’t mean it should be neglected by people who are on a tighter budget. There are plenty of affordable pieces of gear on the market; the key is in finding the optimal solution for your current situation.
The right way of handling the necessities is to make a list of what you have and compare it to the one we have provided. Once you’re done, you will be able to see if anything is missing. Having a complete list is of utmost importance because otherwise, you risk injuries, frostbites, and even your life.
Climbing is a fulfilling and exciting hobby, but it’s also a circle of constant risk and adrenaline-pumped decisions which require a calm and peaceful mind. In order to achieve that, you have to stack on high-quality equipment.