Mountaineering Gear Review

Back in January we started purchasing all the gear we would need for our mountaineering course and future climbs.  Since then we have fallen in love with certain items of gear, switched out others, discovered new things we needed, and ultimately added a whole new genera of outdoor gear knowledge to our repertoire.

Lindsey’s Boots: La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX

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These boots are really the main reason I wanted to do this review.  I love them.  I wasn’t sure how my feet and mountaineering boots were going to get along.  I had heard horror stories about the amount of time it takes to break them in, how they can tear up your feet, giant blisters, etc.  Turns out, I love my La Sportivas more than anything!  They keep my feet dry and warm, you can’t beat that super stiff sole, and they are actually quite comfortable now that they are broken in.  I have gotten so used to the support and protection they provide my feet it feels weird now to wear less beefy boots.  They come with extra padding for behind the tongue, which I have not been using but I did buy a pair of super feet to add extra insulation and support.  In terms of caring for them, we brush them clean every time we get home and make sure they have a change to dry thoroughly.  I just used Nixiwax on them for the first time and will continue to do so every few months depending on how frequently they get completely wet.  Love these boots and can’t recommend them highly enough!

Kyle’s Boots: La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX

Kyle has had a pretty similar experience with his boots although I think they are a little less perfectly fitted to his foot, he complains of discomfort and foot pain before I do.  I also thing that he could use a slightly less insulated boot with how much is feet sweat but they are getting the job done and keeping water and moisture out, even if they are trapping some in.

*Pro tip: Thermarest sit pads!  Both Kyle and I invested in one of these early on and let me tell you, they are worth it.  You can use them for so many different things!  They can be wrapped around your crampons to protect gear front the sharp points, they can be sat on our stood on to insulate you from the ground, they can be used to put a rope on to protect it from dirt and debris... the list goes on and on!  Just a super useful piece of gear to have around and they only cost around $15!

Lindsey’s Pack: Osprey Sirus 36L

Down climbing the steepest part of gully #2
Here you can see my Osprey Pack all loaded up!

I have had this pack forever and decided to use it as my day pack for mountaineering.  It is a great pack for the job.  Because of the mesh back panel it can carry a lot of weight very comfortably.  I like having the brain for things like my head lamps, snacks, the go pro, my glacier goggles, things I need access to more quickly and the hip belts, although a little hard to unzip at times, are awesome for snacks.  The side pockets are super helpful when strapping things like pickets, shovels and probes onto the pack, and it has one ice ax loop which is perfect for mountaineering.  My only complaint would be that there isn’t a great place to put my crampons and I have had to sacrifice one of my side pockets to carrying them.

Kyle’s Packs: Cilo Gear Work Sack 30L and Osprey Variant 52L

So Kyle has been through a bit of a pack debacle.  When we started the class he didn’t really have a day pack so he did his research and decided to get the Cilo Gear Work Sack 30L.  It is the most highly recommended pack on Outdoor Gear Lab, mostly because it is really light and has a variety of flexible strapping options that allow you to customize the pack to your liking.  This all sounds great in theory but in the field he could never really get the straps to work super well.  Getting pickets and a shovel on the outside were kind of complicated.  On top of that, although the pack is amazingly light weight, it gets uncomfortable when carrying too much gear.  This is a problem with all lightweight packs, and when it comes to mountaineering you have a rope and pickets and shovels and extra layers and a bivy and so much more… Kyle could never get his pack light enough to make it worth it.  So he finally conceded defeat and bought the Osprey Variant 52L.  Now you might be wondering why he switched to a much bigger pack when all he needed in the first place was a day pack.  Initially he got the Variant 32L but then, when we started talking about the trips we have planned for this summer, we realized that almost all of them are overnights.  It is easy to shrink down a bigger pack using compression straps and use it as a day pack.  It is much harder to squeeze a ton of gear into a smaller pack and make it work as an overnight pack… so he decided to size up.  This weekend will be his first test of this pack, we will let you know how it goes.

Crampons: Grivel G10

We both decided to get the Grivel G10s.  They are an adjustable pair of crampons with a harness system so that they can be put on any pair of boots (this is instead of a pair that clip onto mountaineering boots specifically).  They have anti-balling technology on the bottom and front points but are significantly less aggressive than the G12s.  We decided to go with them after our lead instructor told us he wouldn’t recommend the G12s unless you were getting into ice climbing, which we are not.  The G10s are lighter and easier to use, plus they can be thrown on all sorts of different boots and shoes.   We used them on the Nisqually Glacier and liked them very much but will continue this review once we have used them on some harder ice.

Ice Axes: Black Diamond Raven and Black Diamond Raven Pro

Not much to say about these ice axes except that we like them.  They are nice and light, simple, and easy to attach a leash too.

Kyle’s Helmet:  Black Diamond Half Dome/ Lindsey Helmet: Mammut El Cap

Once again, not too much to say about the helmets except that we both like them.  Mine gives me a little bit of a headache sometimes if I am wearing a buff with it, but I just readjust the tension mechanism and everything is fine.

Lindsey and Kyle Black Diamond Couloir Climbing Harness/ Lindsey Mammut Ophira 3 Slide Harness:

We both bought the Black Diamond Couloir harness a little while back when we saw how small and light it was.  Kyle got the M/L and I got the S/M.  These sized turned out to be too big so Kyle is now using my S/M and I am going to have to come up with another plan because the Couloir doesn’t come in a different size.  I don’t mind using my Mammut harness that I use for rocking climbing, it is super comfortable, automatically doubles back, and has lots of other awesome built-in safety features.  The only problem with it for alpine climbing is that it takes up more room in the pack than the Couloir.

Kyle’s Climbing Clothes:

Somehow Kyle managed to purchase all black clothing. This is great until you end up on a glacier..

There are a lot of things we could say about clothes at this point.  Let’s start with Kyle.  From the bottom up he is rocking liners and Smart Wool Mountaineering socks, North Face synthetic base layer, Arc’teryx Gamma Lt soft shell pant, Mountain Hardwear Dry Q hard shell pants, North Face quarter zip synthetic top, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket, Mammut Crater hard shell jacket, North Face Plasmatic Jacket (for bad weather days), Outdoor Research Stormtracker Gloves, Outdoor Research Meteor Mitts, and Julbo Explorer Glacier Sunglasses.  That is a lot of clothing… so let me just go over the likes and dislikes.  Things Kyle loves: the Arc’teryx Gamma Lt softshell pants.  He originally bought a pair of soft shells from Mountain Hardwear but they stretched out really bad after wearing them one time and Mountain Hardwear’s customer service wouldn’t even exchange them for a smaller size.  He also loves his Mammut Crater hard shell jacket, specifically the huge pit zips, but regrets buying it in black… He does not like his Outdoor Research Stormtracker gloves, they have leather on them and unfortunately they get wet pretty fast and then they are just wet and heavy and very cold.  He is fine with his hard shell pants from Mountain Hardwear but they way they are designed it is not possible to sip them open from the top to allow venting.  If you have any questions about anything specific feel free to ask in the comments.

Lindsey’s Climbing Clothes:

Rocking all the coat layers!

I have been climbing in two pairs of socks, a light Fox River and Smartwool Mountaineering socks, Patagonia synthetic base layer bottoms, Mammut Runje softshell pant, North Face Hyalite hard shell pant,  Ice Breaker t-shirt, Ibex Merino quarter zip, Patagonia Nano Puffy, North Face Leonidas hard shell jacket, North Face Plasmatic jacket, Seirus Soundtouch Extreme All Weather Gloves, North Face Himalayan Mitten, Buffs, and Julbo MonteRosa Glacier Glasses.  I actually like all of the clothing that I have chosen to wear.  I love my wool base layers, they are light enough to continue wearing them as my only layer when the sun is out, thus protecting me from getting sun burned.  I also like my Leonidas jacket from, North Face.  It is super lightweight, has great put zips and a huge hood.  I will probably take it on the PCT with us as well because it is so light.  The Plasmatic jacket is also awesome for days when the weather isn’t so good.  I throw it right over all my other layers, even if they are wet because it has synthetic insulation, so I am not worried about it getting wet.  My Himalayan Mittens have also been a godsend, they are down on the inside, so even if my fingers are freezing cold it only takes a couple of seconds inside these gloves to get them warmed back up.  People are always jealous when I get them out.  Lastly, my Mammut softshell pants are my favorite pants ever.  I will never hike in anything else, ever again!

Other things that I am forgetting… we both have OR gaiters that we have had forever that are still working okay but are nothing to write home about.  We continue to experiment with layers and clothing systems to figure out what works the best.  We are very good about washing our gear with Nixiwax Tech Wash and re-waterproofing our gear frequently.  If you want to know more about how to take care of waterproof gear the Arc’teryx website has a great video tutorial on how to do so.  Overall we are pretty happy with the gear we bought for this class and we think it is going to serve us well in our future endeavors!  What is our dream piece of gear you ask?  A four season tent, specifically the Hilleberg Nammatj 2, of course!

This weekend we are hoping to climb Mt Adams on Sunday, with a 3am start.  Weather dependent, I hop we make it to the top and back down in one piece.  Everyone have a great weekend and be safe out there.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

5 thoughts on “Mountaineering Gear Review

  1. I’m glad I discovered your blog. It’s interesting and well done. Sadly my mountaineering days are over, but I can at least live vicariously through you two. I can’t wait to share your adventures. Meanwhile, trekking will have to suffice for me.

    1. Nothing wrong with trekking! Personally it is a lot less stressful 🙂 and you still get many of the same amazing perks! Glad you are enjoying!

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