Denali Expedition Alaska  •  20,320'  •  6194m
Gear List

IMG Denali Expedition Gear List

This equipment list is meant to help you compile your personal gear for a mountaineering expedition. Most items are required. Please consider each item carefully and be sure you understand the function of each piece of equipment before you substitute or delete items. Keep in mind that this list has been carefully compiled by the expedition organizer. Don't cut corners on the quality of your gear.

[  ]Boots: Plastic double boots only. Asolo AFS 8000, La Sportiva Spantik or Nuptse, Koflach Arctis Expedition, Scarpa Inverno with high-altitude liners or eqivalent.
[  ]Overboots: Outdoor Research Brooks Ranger Overboots or 40 Below Purple Haze are recommended. A good snug fit is extremely important for either choice. Bring a regular gaiter for the lower mountain.
[  ]Socks: Four complete changes of heavy wool/synthetic socks with liners. Wear two sets up to 14,000 feet, then break out the other two for climbing higher.
[  ]Underwear: Two lightweight or medium weight synthetic tops and one medium weight longjohn bottom.
[  ]Shirt: Expedition weight synthetic (100 weight Polartec), or equivalent.
[  ]Fleece or soft shell: Jacket and pants. Full-length zips are recommended for pants. Option: bring a light pair of down pants (like the Feathered Friends Helios pant) to back up a pair of Schoeller fabric climbing pants and leave the heavier fleece at home.
[  ]Storm shell: Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants. Jacket should have a close-fitting, attached hood. Pants must have full-length zippers. Bib pants are warmer and help to keep out drafts.
[  ]Down parka: Expedition weight parka with attached hood. Size large enough to wear over all other layers.
[  ]Hat Wool or fleece hat with separate face mask or neck gaiter or balaclava.
[  ]Sun hat: Baseball hat, large bandana is useful too.
[  ]Gloves: Two pair, one fleece and one heavy weight Gore-Tex insulated climbing glove like the Outdoor Research Alti glove.
[  ]Mitts: Heavy fleece or down mitts with a Gore-Tex over shell. Outdoor Research Alti mitt.
[  ]Glacier glasses: Dark with good side protection.
[  ]Ski goggles: Double lens to reduce fogging.
[  ]Water bottles: Two wide mouth plastic bottles with insulating covers (like the Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka). Bring a third bottle (well marked) as a pee bottle. Women consider bringing a "Freshette" or similar device.
[  ]Suncream/Lipbalm: SPF 15 or higher.
[  ]Sleeping bag: Rated to -20°F or lower. Best and lightest is a waterproof/breathable fabric covered down bag. A synthetic bag rated to -20° is going to be very bulky. A good compression stuff sack is highly recommended to reduce bulk.
[  ]Pads: 1 closed cell foam pad (Ridgerest or Z-rest) and 1 Thermarest pad.
[  ]Pack: Large (6,000 expedition size internal frame.
[  ]Bowl, cup & spoon: Large (12 oz. or more) insulated plastic cup, large flexible plastic bowl and Lexan plastic spoon.
[  ]Pocket knife and butane lighter
[  ]Climbing harness: Adjustable leg loops are best
[  ]Climbing helmet
[  ]Carabiners: Two pear shaped locking, and 8 regular, minimum.
[  ]Ascender: Bring one rigged to clip into your seat harness. Petzl ascenders are a good choice.
[  ]Prussik loops: Bring three pre tied loops of 6 mm cord. One 48" in diameter and two 12" in diameter tied with double fisherman's knots. 20 feet total of 6mm Perlon accessory cord should do the trick.
[  ]Crampons: 12 point hinged flat frame crampons. Make sure they stay on over your overboots. Grivel G-12's with the New-matic binding work well.
[  ]Ice axe: 70 cm. with leash.
[  ]Ski poles: Collapsible poles are recommended.
[  ]Snowshoes: Lightweight with traction bindings. Atlas, Tubbs and Sherpa are recommended brands.
[  ]Avalanche beacon
[  ]First Aid kit: Each individual must carry a small personal first aid kit to avoid depletion of the group kit. You should have the following: aspirin (or Tylenol); ibuprofen; antacid (Pepto Bismol, Rolaids); anti- diarrhea medication (Imodium); Band-Aids; athletic tape; moleskin, Second Skin or Compede. Consult with your doctor and bring any recommended prescriptions necessary for your health. Consider bringing a prescription of acetazolamide (Diamox) 125 or 250 mg. tablets for. Earplugs are useful for sleeping.
[  ]Lunch food: Bring your own lunch for each day to include items such as energy bars, gorp, candy, special cheeses, sausage, jerky, bagels, crackers, drink mix, etc. About 15 lbs. total for two weeks is normal. Variety is the key. This will be used as climbing snacks during the day and at night in the tent.
[  ]Sled rigging: bring 20' of 1" webbing and 4-6 long bungie cords.
[  ]Duffel bag: the largest, lightest duffel you can find to carry gear in on your sled. REI makes a good one.
[  ]Lockable duffel: To store street clothes, towel, toiletries, and items to be left with bush pilot.
[  ]Toiletries: Toothbrush and small tube of paste. One roll of t.p. in a Ziploc bag.
[  ]Digital camera, extra batteries and memory card
[  ]Optional items: Down or synthetic booties, collapsible shovel (aluminum is preferred over plastic), small journal and pen, thick paperback, 2-4 disposable hand warmer packs for the upper mountain. A headlamp is usually not necessary in Alaska by May, but might be useful for reading or emergencies in the middle of the night. The new LED headlamps are nice and light.


Acquire all of your equipment well in advance. Pack up your pack completely. Weigh it. If it weighs more than 50 lbs. complete, go back through all of your equipment with a fine-toothed comb. Start by eliminating unnecessary luxuries. Throw out the IPod, the booze, but keep the book. Bring a compact camera instead of a bulky SLR. Weigh your personal food and eliminate anything over 15 lbs. Check over your clothing for redundancy. Bring one warm fleece or soft shell jacket, one expedition weight top (100 wt. Polartec), and one pair of medium to heavyweight long johns. You will probably want to bring two lightweight tops, one to change halfway through the trip, but nothing extra. Eliminate gizmos that you threw in just because you thought they might be useful: we don't all need Leatherman tools, extensive repair kits and first aid kits. Just bring the items you are likely to need yourself: a pocket knife, a small F.A. kit with blister treatment, a roll of tape, non-prescription painkillers that you normally use and any prescriptions that your doctor recommends. There will be a group repair kit, tools, and first aid kit. Don't bring any extra toiletries other than t.p., toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste, and perhaps a few baby wipes in a Ziploc bag.

Pack and repack your gear several times and have a place for everything. Keep your stuff sacks to a minimum and buy them in different colors so that you can easily identify the right bag in your pack. Hint, black is not easy to identify in the depths of your pack. I usually have one large sack for all of my clothing, one smaller bag for gloves and hats, and one bag for food. Keep it simple. Go out on a number of training hikes with your full pack so that you become familiar with the heavy load and retrieving articles from it efficiently. Go out camping in the wintertime.

Keep in mind that in addition to your personal gear you will be issued about 50 lbs. of group gear at the start. We will usually make one extra carry per camp, but at times you will need to carry up to 20 lbs. of group gear in your pack in addition to your personal gear. It will come in all shapes and sizes, so you must be prepared to fit it in your pack, strap it on top, or on the sides.

There are three items that you must not skimp on: your climbing boots, your sleeping bag and your down parka. These will get you up and down the mountain safely.

The best boots are the ones that fit your feet the best. Try on as many different brands as possible. Often you can upgrade your old boot by purchasing a new liner. I feel that the best liners on the market right now are the Intuition or Raichle Thermoflex liners, which were originally designed for ski boots and now adapted to climbing boots. The liner is heated in a convection oven before it is fit to your foot, and requires some skill to fit accurately. Buy them from REI or a ski store that has fit them in climbing boots before.

Only you can judge how warmly you sleep at night. Bring a sleeping bag that will guarantee you a warm night's sleep. I like to use a wide cut bag so I have room to fit my inner boots, water bottles, etc. in with me as well as my down parka if it really gets cold. Others prefer a tighter cut bag to eliminate cold spots and reduce the amount of space your body has to heat. A waterproof/breathable fabric covered down bag is the standard for expeditions and is the warmest and lightest way to go. Be wary of temperature ratings on bags. There is no industry standard at this time. The only true test is your own past experience. Many people do nicely in a -20°F. bag, but if you are in doubt, go for the warmest bag available.

Your down parka will be your best friend in camp. We don't usually climb in them, but when the temperature cools in the evening, it is the first thing to go on. At cold rest breaks during the climb you will want to pull in on to trap body heat and avoid chilling. For that reason, size your parka large enough to fit over all other layers that you might be wearing, including your outer shell. Since the parka is only worn in cold weather, it really doesn't have to be Gore-Tex covered. Gore-Tex does offer additional windproofness and it sure helps to shed the unavoidable spills and drips that occur in camp at meal times. Finally, the best parkas come with attached hoods, not snap-on or zippered.

Acquire your equipment well in advance. Practice with it and use it out in the mountains. Train seriously for the expedition so that when you arrive at the start of the climb, you will be confident that you have done everything possible to prepare yourself mentally and physically. All that will remain is for you to enjoy yourself fully on one of the world's great climbs!