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Mountaineering clothing and equipment

Mountaineering is a step up in seriousness from hill walking, and it's important that your clothing and equipment keep pace with that change.

You will already have clothes and kit that you've used for three seasons of the year, but the demands of winter require a step change in the way you dress and in the equipment you carry. The obvious additions are ice axe and crampons, to deal with a range of snow conditions, but you also need to consider the boots you wear and many other factors. Weather can range from wet and windy to sub-zero and windy (and now and then the odd wonderfully clear and calm day with blue skies and crispy, firm snow!) and your clothes and equipment have to be capable of coping with both extremes and everything in between.

Ever wondered why a winter rucksack looks bigger than the one you take in summer? Check out this advice from Glenmore Lodge on what to wear and what to take with you for a day out in winter conditions.

Winter kit list

To wear:

  • Warm/windproof trousers
  • Thermal long johns (optional)
  • Thermal top
  • Fleece top
  • Rigid-soled winter boots, with appropriate socks
  • Gaiters
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves or mitts


To carry:

  • Rucksack - about 45 litres
  • Waterproof jacket (with hood)
  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Spare layer e.g. fleece top
  • Spare gloves/mitts (at least two pairs)
  • Spare hat
  • Compass
  • Map (waterproof or in waterproof case)
  • Watch
  • Torch (preferably a head torch)
  • Spare batteries for the torch - or, preferably, a spare headtorch
  • Emergency survival bag (polythene is OK) and Group Shelter
  • Whistle
  • First Aid Kit (small)
  • Mobile phone
  • Sun cream
  • Sunglasses – sometimes the sun does shine in winter!
  • Goggles – essential for navigation in some conditions
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Food and drink
  • Hot drink in a thermos flask
  • Spare high energy foods (e.g. sweets or chocolate)

In addition you may consider a snow shovel and a helmet.

And don’t forget, it is no use having all the kit if you have no idea how to use it! If you are planning on venturing into the winter hills for the first time why not treat yourself to one of our winter skills courses?

Further advice is available on a number of pieces of winter kit, which will help when finding out what is necessary and/or best for your particular needs.

Boots suitable for winter use

Suitable crampons

Selecting the right ice axe

Do you need a helmet?

Check out our winter skills courses.

Scottish Mountain Rescue

Scottish Mountain Rescue

Glenmore Lodge - the national outdoor training centre

Glenmore Lodge

Mountain Training Scotland

Mountain Training Scotland

Snowsports Scotland

Snowsport Scotland

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

Association of Mountaineering Instructors