Scottish Winter Climbing Kit List

What you need for Scottish Winter Climbing

Scottish winter weather can be pretty ferocious, so having good kit can make your life a lot easier. Get in touch if you are unsure about what to bring, I am always happy to advise. Also, if you don't have any of the stuff listed please let me know. It is possible that I may be able to lend you stuff.
Remember light is right, and you will be carrying everything you bring all day. Try not to weigh yourself down with additional kit.
Don't take too much notice to the suggested models, they are just recommendations if you are considering buying your own gear.
Di well dressed for a Scottish adventure.


I normally wear the following:


Stiff winter boots like the La Sportiva Nepal Cube, or Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro. Fit is key here, and it is worth going to a specialist independent climbing shop to get them fitted. If you often get blisters I would recommend taping the rub point (with K tape) prophylactically.

Socks - I wear one thick sock made from Merino Wool. Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy are my favourite.

Gaiters - Not very cool in the days of zip of boots, but in my mind essential as they help keep your feet dry, and even more importantly protect your over trousers from sharp crampons.

Legs - I normally wear the same layers on my legs all day.

Wicking boxers or underpants. Patagonia Capilene are my favourites.

Fleece trousers or leggings. Powerstetch tights are my favourite.

Waterproof Over-trousers. In my experience wearing softshell trousers results in wet pants. I don't go out on the hill without waterproof over trousers. Make sure they're cut well enough to move your legs without restriction.

Body - I start the day wearing a base layer tee, windproof mid layer, and - if it is raining/snowing - a waterproof shell. When I stop to gear up I will add a fleece hoody, and a synthetic mid layer jacket or vest. I have an oversized belay jacket in my bag just in case.

Baselayer top

Thin Fleece ideally with a hood and thumb loops - Patagonia R1 hoody is the Rolls Royce option here.

Windproof mid layer jacket - Something Patagonia Nano Air Hoody.

Waterproof Jacket. A burly waterproof Jacket is essential for Scottish Winter Climbing. Large chest pockets are handy for stashing spare gloves, map and snacks.  Mountain Equipment's Tupilak is a great option.

Belay Jacket - Mountain Equipment Fitzroy or Patagonia DAS Light Hoody is perfect for Scottish winter.


Beanie hat or powerstretch balaclava. If your fleece doesn't have a hood a balaclava is essential.

Buff or neck gaiter - makes a massive difference to how warm you stay.

Goggles - a pair with clear or yellow lens are essential if the weather is foul.

Sunglasses - you'll wear them more often than you think - I promise!

Hands - getting the right gloves for winter climbing can be expensive, confusing, and take a while to perfect. I personally find the following works for me. I also find thin liner gloves to be of limited use. If you are on a budget two pairs of insulated leather work gloves (from a hardware store) and a pair of Dachstein mitts would be a good start. Remember fit is everything, make sure you try gloves on before you buy.

A mid weight pair of windproof liner gloves - for the walk in, especially if you use walking poles. Something like the Rab VR Glove is perfect. If I'm not using sticks I'll shove my hands in my pockets.

Two pairs of insulated gloves - gauntlet designs, with leather palms, and a waterproof liner are best. ME Guide, and ME Couloir are great.

Mitts - If your hands get cold mitts are unbeatable. I always have a pair in the bottom of my bag. A pair with a pile lining will keep your hands warm. Dachstein mitts are cheap and light. If you do suffer from particularly cold hards, it is well worth having a pair of chemical hand warmers in your bag.

Winter Climbing Equipment

Twelve Point Crampons. A pair of twelve point crampons are more than capable of climbing grade V or harder. They have the added advantage of being both lighter and cheaper than expensive, sexy, mono point models. It’s important  that they fit you boots well, as a dropped crampon can be very serious. Lots of brands make really good models. I like Petzl Vasaks and Grivel G12s.

Ice Axe and Hammer. For technical climbing you will need a matched pair of ice tools. Petzl Quarks and Black Diamond Vipers are perfect.

Leashes. A pair of spring leashes are essential so you don't drop those expensive axes. Grivel Double Spring Leash or DMM Freedom Leash are ideal.

Mountaineering Axe - For easier climbing and mountaineering a single 50-60cm  axe with a curved pick is preferable. Something like the Grivel Airtech or Petzl Summit Evo is perfect.

Harness - A simple model with four gear loops, and fixed legs loops works well for the vast majority of climbing. I'm using the Edelrid Ace currently, and really rate it.

Helmet - A modern, lightweight model like the Edelrid Salathe or Petzl Meteor is the best option.

Belay Plate - A DMM Mantis paired with a DMM Phantom HMS karabiners would get my vote.

Two extra screwgate karabiners - for attaching yourself at belays. I like the DMM Phantom HMS.

Two extra snapgate karabiners - for clipping things like your gloves to your harness. Any will do

120cm sling and krab.

Other stuff

Rucksack - 40 to 45 litres should be plenty. I favour a slightly bigger bag, when climbing in Scotland in winter. Preferring to have everything (except my axes) inside the bag on the walk in, meaning it doesn't get soaked before you even reach the Corrie. A big sack is much easier to stuff gear into when you top out in a storm. A simple climbing sack like the Aiguille Alpine Stratos is much better, and easier to to pack, than complicated hill walking bags with airflow back systems. In winter I like to larks foot a 60cm sling through the bag's haul loop and clip a krab through it, which allows me clip the bag in at belays (or to myself if taking it off in an exposed place).

Rucksack liner - A heavy duty rubble liner from a hardwear shop keeps out the worst of the weather.

Walking poles (optional) - worth having for those knee busting descents. Make sure they have snow baskets and that they fit inside your pack when collapsed.

Headtorch - always worth having, just in case. If it doesn't have a lock button turn the batteries around.

Drink - Make sure you start the day well hydrated. I always try and drink a litre on the drive in the morning. During the day I will carry no more than one litre, either a Nalgene bottle or a flask of hot squash.

Food - I normally bring a sandwich (bagels are good as they don't fall apart in your sack), a couple of bars, an apple, and some nuts/dried fruit.

Map and Compass (optional)

Camera (optional) - Keep it around you neck, on a thin loop of cord, so you don't drop it. These days I mainly take photos on my phone, but keep it clipped to me with a lanyard threaded through the case.

Stuff you don't need

I will be carrying group safety equipment: first aid kit, bothy bag, absiel tat, and repair kit. There is no need to double up on these, so please don't bring them.

I am always happy to chat about your guiding aims and aspirations, or just climbing and skiing in general.

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