Mountaineering Gear Essentials for Climbing in the Himalayas

The highest performing gear for the highest peaks in the world.

Curated by Rachel Davidson

Crowds from every corner of the earth have been drawn to the height, splendor, and challenge of the Himalayas for hundreds of years. Being that this is the tallest mountain range in the world, it should be no surprise that these peaks are also some of the most remote and difficult to access. From lush tropical jungles to harsh alpine environments, trekkers and climbers have to pack for a constantly changing climate. Here are a few choice pieces that can save the day when planning anything from a 20 mile approach to a 20,000 ft. summit in the Himalaya.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket - Women's

This ultralight and ultra compressible jacket is great for flash storms and cool breezes that accompany travelers from low to high altitudes. Keep this one close at hand; you’ll never know when you’ll need it (but I guarantee you will).

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SPOT

Gen3

SPOT is my favorite personal tracker because it lets you send out a signal in the last place you’d ever expect to be connected to the outside world. Whether you’re alerting your friends and family that you’ve made the summit, or sending emergency responders your GPS location, the Gen3 is a reliable and rugged communication line for when you need it most.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

Alpine climbing demands an alpine start – which means you’ll spend a good chunk of your activity in the dark. Your headlamp will need to be waterproof to stand up to the snow, ice, and malfunctioning water bottles it’s likely to encounter.

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Osprey Packs

Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Backpack - Women's - 3661-3967cu in

I found the 65-liter version of Osprey’s best-selling backpack to be the perfect size while hopping from teahouses, huts, and lodges in the Nepalese Himalayas. For an all-camping, tent-bound experience, opt for something a little larger.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Deviator Hooded Insulated Jacket - Women's

In the Himalayas you’ll want the warmth of down – without its susceptibility to dampness. OR has your insulation layer perfected with a hoody that breathes, stretches, and keeps you cozy from damp to downpour mountain pursuits.

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Therm-a-Rest

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Solar Sleep Pad

One thing you’ll learn quickly in the Himalayas is that things get cold. That’s why you’ll need to pack a foam sleeping pad in addition to your air mattress to double up for those long nights camping on snow and ice. The RidgeRest fits the bill, but its new Solar style is even better for afternoons at camp when you want to pull your pad out of the tent and sprawl out on its heat-absorbing aluminized coating and soak up the lazily setting sun.

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Therm-a-Rest

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Mountaineers love the NeoAir XLite because it’s light, comfortable, and packs down to less than a one-liter water bottle. Those features also make it a popular choice from weekend campers to ultralight thru-hikers. But with most of Therm-a-Rest’s awesome collection of sleeping pads, you really can’t go wrong.

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Mountain Hardwear

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent 2-Person 4-Season

This tent is light, roomy, and easily secured with rocks or snow blocks. Backcountry calls the Trango model a “Mountaineering Staple” for good reason.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Echo T-Shirt - Women's

I always wear long sleeves in low or high altitudes for one important reason: sun protection. The best thing about this shirt is that it features Polygiene Active – an odor-resistant fabric, which means you’ll never even need to change out of this one (until your tentmate demands you do).

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Cirque Softshell Pants - Women's

Your pants need to be as versatile as the activity you’re doing. In the Himalaya you’ll be freezing throughout midnight starts and sweating on the summit – you’ll want to use the Cirque Softshell pant since it’s loose enough to layer and breathable enough to let in airflow.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant GTX Jacket - Women's

This is the high-altitude hardshell you want to pack for all of your Himalayan endeavors. Wear over layers of down and insulation or with a simple tee; OR’s Clairvoyant is guaranteed to keep you dry and warm from unpredictable weather.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Aspire Pant - Women's

Gore-tex waterproof protection? Full side zips for ventilation? Waterproof zippers and taped seams for total storm durability? These pants by OR check all the boxes when it comes to high-altitude trekking and climbing.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Rechargeable Battery - 4-Pack

Instead of wasting money and environmental resources on disposable batteries, invest in rechargeable ones to last through all of your adventures. From moonlight hikes to powering your TV remote, Black Diamond’s got you covered.

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Julbo

Julbo Vermont Classic Sunglasses - Spectron 3

Julbo is the climber’s classic choice for eyewear in harsh alpine environments. Safely protect your eyes while looking fly with their timeless Vermont model.

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Buff

Buff Slim Buff - Women's

A long buff is essential for Himalayan climbing, long before you even reach base camp. Protect your lungs from exhaust in the polluted city, shield your breathing from dirt and dust on lower trails, and guard your face and neck from sunburns with the thin and wicking buff material. Choose a slim buff that won’t stretch out over time.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Advocate Trucker Cap

Keep the Himalaya’s relentless sun out of your eyes, and hair sweat at bay, with this all-around-use trucker hat.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Endeavor Hat

A wool hat to keep your ears toasty and safe from the mountain’s icy cool breeze is essential. This one by OR also features a moisture-wicking material, back stretch panel, and fits under your helmet for quick climbing capabilities.

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Petzl

Petzl Elia Climbing Helmet - Women's

Don’t ask me whether Petzl made this helmet “women’s specific” because it comes in a hot pink option. You’ll need a lightweight helmet that accommodates a wool hat or other warm layers underneath – bonus points if it’s headlamp compatible, like this one.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Alpine Bod Harness

Leave your big wall harness at home, you’ll want this classic alpine-specific version by Black Diamond so you can put it on or remove it over all of your bulky layers and without tripping over your crampons.

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Salomon

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Backpacking Boot - Women's

I have bought this version of Salomon’s trusted trekking boot three times in a row now. This footwear has all of your high-mountain balancing acts down: Sturdy yet lightweight, Gore-Tex waterproof membrane yet incredibly breathable, high-ankle fit for protection from twists yet allows all-around mobility. The Quest series will be your favorite piece of gear accompanying you off the plane to the moment you’ll don crampons.

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Scarpa

Scarpa Inverno Mountaineering Boot - Men's

Double plastic boots are the heavy-duty companions you need to choose on any excursion over 6,000 meters, and these Scarpas are some of the most trusted and used in the industry. These boots are unisex, so crosscheck your size before ordering.

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SmartWool

SmartWool Hike Medium Crew Sock - Women's

Stock up on these. You will never regret packing too many socks, especially when your laundering options are limited to soaping up in the river and bashing gear against rocks. I like the medium weight for everyday hiking, and doubling up when donning my double plastic boots for a climb.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile Gaiter

OR owns the gaiter scene for a good reason: Their Crocodile Gaiters have been saving toes from frostbite and feet from damp snow since the 80’s. This “expedition” style gaiter is their toughest out there, and perfect for Himalaya endeavors.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research VersaLiner Glove - Women's

The thin, breathable gloves you’ll pull out on those just-too-cold-to-show-skin days, or those I-can-feel-the-sunburn-coming days. This glove from OR also includes a waterproof shell for lightweight rainy days, and fits snugly underneath your expedition mitts for big climbs.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Arete Gloves - Women's

Outdoor Research’s award-winning Arete Gloves have all the features alpine climbers are looking for in a midweight layer: waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, a fleece liner and heat pack pocket for warmth, and total dexterity. My personal favorite part? Nose wipe patches on each thumb.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Alti Mitten - Women's

The end-all, do-all mitten you’ll need on those subzero days and 18,000 foot peaks. These Everest-tested expedition mitts are infused with Kevlar stitching to withstand “brutal alpine punishment,” should that be your thing.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Pole

Don’t let “trekking poles optional” packing lists fool you – in challenging terrain like the Himalaya, you won’t want to leave your lodge without them. This pair from Black Diamond are ultra light, ultra compactible, and ultra handy on long trekking days.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe

This is the best beginner’s ice axe for the lightest weight and easiest portability available. As your skills grow, so will the angle of the axe, until you can upgrade to a completely curved technical climbing tool.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Lockdown Leash

Do you want to invest in an ice axe that you’ll just as easily let slip down the mountain? Don’t leave home without a leash to connect you to your lifeline.

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Black Diamond

Black Diamond Axe Protector

Your axe can tear up the ice just as easily as it can the contents of your duffel bag. Add a protector to your cart to ensure the pick and adze don’t damage the rest of your gear en-route.

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Nalgene

32oz Water Bottle

Leave the CamelBak at home (I guarantee it will freeze up high on you), and pack two of these sturdy, spill-proof, rock-proof water bottles to last you through your entire trip.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka

Even your Nalgene isn’t safe from freezing, so be sure to bring along two of these insulating covers to keep your water drinkable and body hydrated.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Ultralight Ditty Sacks - Set of 3

We’ve just named a lot of stuff. And you’ll need some special stuff to organize the rest of your stuff. Pick up this 3-pack of quick dry bags to store snacks, toiletries, kitchenware, and the rest of the smaller items on your list.

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Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Backcountry Organizer

This is the only wallet I trust in the backcountry to keep my most prized possessions (passport, ID, phone) secure and dry. Consider this the last step to getting home safely.

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Doc's Skin Care

Doc's Skin Care Doc's Natural Sunscreen SPF30

Sunburns are nothing to mess with above the treeline. Load up on Doc’s, my favorite all-natural sunscreen, and don’t forget to lather up in those tricky areas like nostrils and ear canals.

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