With fall sending temps on their way and public-health experts still warning against non-essential air travel, climbers everywhere are turning to the good old-fashioned cragging road trip for their 2020 adventure fix. After all, there’s nothing like spending all day ticking off classics in dream locales, and then spending all night telling whipper stories around a roaring campfire with friends.
That dichotomy exactly illustrates the magic of road trips: Done right, they let you both climb hard and rest hard on your days off from cragging. If you’ve got guidebooks and roadmaps stacking up on your kitchen table, consider adding a few of these gear picks to the packing list. They’ll help you achieve the ultimate in both climbing comfort and in-camp relaxation, as well as make the most of your time on the road.
If you’ve got a more specific itinerary in mind, have no fear—you can find more budget-friendly options for any kind of climbing trip at Backcountry.com.
La Sportiva TX 4 Approach Shoe
The first step of any climbing road trip should be taken with the aid of sticky rubber. Soled with grippy Vibram and lined with breathable mesh, La Sportiva’s TX 4s are the perfect tool for technical approaches. Our testers have used these on everything from six-mile alpine approaches to fifth-class ascents, and have been consistently impressed with both the climbing performance and the support under a heavy pack. The best part of a road trip is stumbling upon unexpected adventures. With shoes this versatile, you’ll always be ready to say yes.
Primus Profile Duo Campground Stove
Your kitchen is now your tailgate, but that doesn’t mean you have to downsize your bacon-and-egg breakfasts. The Profile Duo is a powerful stove with a traditional burner on one side and a grill on the other. The burner can boil a liter of water in just three minutes, and the grill does everything from searing burgers and toasting bagels to handling heavy soup pots and cast-iron skillets. Bonus: The Profile Duo’s built-in windscreen means you can pull off your signature camp feasts, even in Wyoming-level gusts.
GSI Outdoors Halulite Ketalist II Cook Set
The faster you get your coffee, the faster you can start climbing. That makes the one-liter Halulite Kettle a godsend: The ultralight, hard-anodized aluminum heats up faster and more efficiently than other materials, including titanium. And because GSI knows that we all have a few gaps in our camp cooking arsenals (where do all those utensils get off to, anyway?), this set also comes with a mug, bowl, and folding spork.
Patagonia Venga Rock Pant
The Venga Rock Pant is to climbing trips what sweatpants are to stay-cations. It doesn’t matter if you spend days or weeks in them—you’re not going to want to take them off. Integrated Spandex provides stretch and quick-dry properties, and articulated knees and a gusseted crotch mean these pants can move any way you can, even on gymnastic sport climbs and in wide chimneys. They’re also comfy enough for lounging in camp and breathable enough for rest-day hikes. A zippered thigh pocket and adjustable waistband round out the feature set and keep everything in place, even during long days in a harness.
Helinox Chair One Camp Chair
As the experts say, quality performance is all about quality rest. Make the most of your evenings and rest-days with a Helinox Chair One. The foldable aluminum frame packs down small enough to fit behind your driver’s seat, and each chair weighs only two pounds. They’re well worth the weight—after all, it’s way easier to make friends and memories on the road when you can drag up a chair up to the campfire, crack open a beer, and stay a while.
La Sportiva Upendo Hooded Fleece Jacket
If your enviable ape index has left you with a life of cold wrists, start rejoicing now. The Upendo’s ultra-long arms were made with climbers in mind—one of our testers has a plus-four-inch ape index and reports that he was able to use the thumb holes with ease. The Upendo is warm enough to use as a mid-layer or camp sweater, and softshell panels on the shoulders provide bonus weather protection (and durability under backpack straps). Other nice touches: A close-fitting hood, quick-drying polyester fabric, and a polygiene anti-odor treatment that resists even those long-runout stress-sweats.
Metolius Rock Rings CNC 3D
Nothing botches a dream trip like a blown A2 pulley. One of the best ways to prevent injury: Properly warming up your fingers. Metolius’s Rock Rings are packable and portable, and you can hang them anywhere, including from the door frame of a van or a sturdy tree branch. Use them to squeeze in a hangboarding workout on long travel days, or to get your fingers and shoulders warmed up before jumping on that four-star Ten Sleep 5.12 with the notorious mono-pocket crux.
Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal
If you’re going to spend all day in rock shoes, you need a strategy for airing your dogs in the evening. Chacos are a classic for a reason—they’re sturdy enough for rocky approaches and packable enough to shove in your multi-pitch bag for walk-off descents. (The stiff sole and great arch support also mean they climb fourth-class terrain surprisingly well.) Plus, the Z/Clouds don’t have that annoying inter-toe strap, so you can still wear your favorite fluffy wool socks with them on cold nights.