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Alpine Climbing: 9 Must-Have Products

The snow has begun to melt. The granite has dried out. Tiny flowers are springing from the tundra. The climbing season that so many of us await all year has finally arrived—alpine season.

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There’s something especially memorable about rock climbing above treeline in gorgeous, remote places, making your way up expansive rock faces high above pristine lakes and scree fields, swapping leads with a trusted partner, gasping the thin air while making difficult moves high off the ground. But with the heightened adventure and beauty come increased risks and repercussions. A simple mistake, like twisting an ankle or not having the right gear when a storm rolls in, can quickly turn your dream climbing adventure into a nightmare. Whether you’re an experienced alpine climber or just getting into the game, here’s a list of nine products that will keep you safe and comfortable on your next alpine rock climb. Also check out the entire selection of climbing gear at for any type of climb.

Patagonia Houdini

A lightweight wind jacket will not only protect you from wind and rain, it also protects against sun exposure. The Patagonia Houdini has been a go-to jacket for climbers for years, because it’s lightweight at 3.7 oz and the zippered chest pocket converts to a stuffsack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop—perfect for clipping off to your harness. Made from 100 percent recycled nylon ripstop with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, the Houdini will keep you protected from the elements, while also conserving the environment by keeping materials out of landfills. ($99.00)

Backcountry Mantle Climbing Pant

Backcountry Mantle Climbing Pant – Men’s

Part of the exclusive Backcountry line, the Mantle Climbing Pant is a regular-fit, gusseted pant that’s perfect for a day in the Sierras, the Wasatch Range, or Rocky Mountain National Park. The stretchy Cordura fabric provides maximum mobility for those classic alpine rock moves like highstepping on slabs, stemming up dihedrals, or even using the “alpine knee,” and it’s durable enough to withstand even the gnarliest squeeze chimney or offwidth. The drawcords at the ankles cinch down for easier footwork, while a zippered thigh pocket is ideal for storing a phone, topo, or snack on route. ($114.95)

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles


Most alpine climbs require long, exhausting approaches. Trekking poles will help save your knees and improve stability on steep terrain, so you’re fresh(-ish) for the rock climbing. The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles are an excellent choice for alpine approaches. Their carbon construction will hold up to the toughest conditions, and the three-section foldable shaft allows for easy storage when not in use. The lightweight EVA foam grip and grip extension with breathable, moisture-wicking strap provide all-day comfort. Just don’t leave the poles unattended around marmots or other alpine rodents: They love to chew on the sweat-soaked foam. ($189.95)

Petzl Actik Core


Any alpine climber worth her salt knows you always pack a headlamp, even if you expect to return before nightfall. You could get stuck behind a slow party or get your rope stuck on the descent, or your partner could twist an ankle—anything can happen in the mountains. Petzl’s Actik Core headlamp is compact, powerful, and versatile, so you can keep motoring through the night when need be. There’s a flood or mixed beam for proximity or distance vision, a focused beam for rapid movement, and red lighting to preserve night vision. It puts out up to 450 lumens, and the reflective headband provides night visibility. Comes with a Core rechargeable battery that charges via micro USB port, or you can use three AAA batteries. ($69.95)

Katadyn BeFree Water 1.0L Water Filter

Long days in the mountains require continuous and proper hydration. However, if you have access to snowmelt or a fresh stream, you can reduce pack weight by bringing a small bottle and filtration system and filling up at sources along the way. The Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter only weighs 2.4 oz and removes harmful organisms like bacteria and protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium. ($39.95)

Five Ten Grandstone Climbing Shoes

It’s important to have comfortable, supportive climbing shoes, because you’ll be in them for a long time on that alpine rock route. The Five Ten Grandstone is an aggressive trad shoe that feature a barrel lace-up system for a snug, comfortable fit, a stiff thermoplastic midsole that provides excellent support for edging as well as stability in cracks, a sticky C4 rubber outsole for smearing, and a high-top microfiber upper for protection in offwidths. It’s perfect for those looking for a comfy shoe that can handle technical climbing. ($179.95)

Metolius Ultralight Master Cams

Metolius released their Ultralight Master Cams in 2016 (Climbing’s Editor Choice winner), and they have become a standard among alpine climbers because of their lightweight yet indestructible construction. Metolius was able to reduce the cams’ weight by 20 percent compared to the previous version by switching to a thinner sling, replacing the wired thumb loop with an aluminum thumb rest, and using smaller braised-silver fittings. They also upgraded the cam lobes with a “shark fin” design for greater holding power in soft or chossy rock. The cams come in 10 sizes and are 100 percent made in the USA. ($59.95–64.95)


Edelrid Swift Protect 8.9mm Dry Rope

It’s nice to have a thin, lightweight rope, but when you’re at a crux hundreds of feet up and your rope is running over a sharp edge, you don’t want to be questioning the integrity of your lifeline. Edelrid’s new Swift Protect 8.9mm Dry Rope is a skinny rope that provides the durability and cut resistance of a much thicker cord, achieved by integrating Aramid, a heat-and-cut material similar to Kevlar, into the rope’s sheath. Edelrid claims that the 8.9mm Swift Protect has the same cut resistance as a 10mm standard rope, and while Aramid is a particularly static material, Edelrid employed a newly developed production process to reduce the impact force to a tolerable level. Comes with a Pro Dry finish, so the rope stays dry in wet conditions, and a Thermo Shield treatment for ideal handling. Certified as a single, half, and twin rope; however, Edelrid doesn’t recommend using the Swift Protect as a toprope or workout rope. ($279.95–309.95)

Sterling 6.8mm Hollow Block2

It may not weigh much, but Sterling’s light, simple Hollow Block (rated to 13kN) is worth its weight in gold. This small, sewn loop is primarily used as a friction hitch and autoblock for backing up a rappel, ascending the rope, or setting up a 3:1 haul system to assist a second from above. It’s made of 100 percent Technora fiber for increased abrasion resistance, while its unique hollow-braid construction provides extra gripping power on ropes 7mm in diameter and above. ($16.95–17.95)