Denali Expedition Alaska  •  20,310'  •  6190m
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.

Climbing Gear
[  ]Climbing harness: Double check that your harness is sized properly to fit over several layers. Adjustable leg loops, belay loop and gear loops are also a plus. You really can't go wrong with either the Petzl Altitude or the Black Diamond Couloir models.
[  ]Climbing helmet that fits comfortably over your hat.
[  ]Carabiners: Two pear shaped locking carabiners, and 8 lightweight non-locking.
[  ]Ascender: Petzl Ascension is a good choice.
[  ]40' of 6mm accessory cord
[  ]Sled rigging: 20' of 6mm cord for towing the sled and 20' of 3mm utility cord for lashing your duffel onto the sled.
[  ]Crampons: Modern 12-point adjustable mountaineering crampons with anti-bot plates. Make sure they stay securely on over your overboots. Pick a crampon that has horizontal front points as opposed to vertical front points. Petzl Vasak or Grivel G12's are both good options. Note: ensure that your crampons fit your boots, if using overboots. If your boots are a large size, you may need an extender bar to make your crampons fit properly.
[  ]Ice axe: Approximately 70 cm. like the Petzl Glacier or the Black Diamond Raven. You should also have a leash that can be attached to your harness (important when wearing bulky mittens).
[  ]Trekking poles: 3 section collapsible poles with large snow baskets.
[  ]Snowshoes: Lightweight with traction bindings like MSR Revo or Lightning Ascent.
[  ]Avalanche transceiver with fresh batteries and one spare set that is appropriate for your specific unit (lithium batteries are preferred if your unit is compatible with them). Good options include the Mammut Barryvox or BCA Tracker.

Backpack and Sleeping System
[  ]Backpack: Large expedition size (85 to 100 liters) internal frame. Make sure it fits your body size and shape.
[  ]Sleeping bag: Rated to -20°F or lower. If you get cold easily a -40°F bag is recommended. Best and lightest is a water/wind resistant fabric covered down bag. A synthetic bag rated to -20°F is going to be very bulky and not recommended. A good compression stuff sack is highly recommended to reduce bulk. The Marmot Col Membrain -20° or Feather Friends Peregrine -25° would both work great.
[  ]2 Sleeping pads: 1 closed cell foam pad like the Therm-a-rest Z Lite, and 1 inflatable pad such as the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm.

Camp Accessories
[  ]Water bottles: Two 1 liter wide-mouth Nalgene bottles with insulating covers. The Forty Below Bottle Boot is low profile and keeps bulk down in your backpack. Bring a third bottle (well marked) as a pee bottle. Women should consider bringing a Female Urination Device or pee funnel.
[  ]Thermos: Hydro Flask makes a high quality thermos.
[  ]Bowl, cup and spoon
[  ]Pocket knife
[  ]On the mountain toiletries: Toothbrush and small tube of paste as well as dental floss. One or two rolls of toilet paper, each in a Ziploc bag, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

[  ]Boots: double insulated boots with an overboot: La Sportiva Spantik or G2 SM, Scarpa Inverno or equivalent. Option: Triple all-in-one mountaineering boots are also appropriate for a Denali expedition like the Millet Everest or La Sportiva Olympus Mons, for which overboots are not required. When in doubt between sizes, get the larger one, as feet may swell at altitude.
[  ]Overboots: 40 Below brand overboots are recommended. Suitable models include Purple Haze or K2 Superlight. A good snug fit is extremely important for either choice.
[  ]Gaiters: Make sure that these fit over your double boots, for use at the lower elevations. The classic Outdoor Research Crocodile is a trusty go-to.
[  ]Socks: Four complete changes of medium to heavyweight wool or wool/synthetic blend socks. Synthetic sock liners are an option, based on your preference. Alternate two of the pair up to 14,000 feet, then break out the other two for climbing higher.
[  ]Down or synthetic camp booties

Upper Body Clothing
[  ]Base layer tops: Two lightweight to medium weight synthetic or merino wool tops
[  ]Insulating layer-lightweight: Outdoor Research Uberlayer hooded jacket.
[  ]Insulating layer-heavyweight: Outdoor Research Transcendent down hooded jacket.
[  ]Soft shell jacket: you will want to have the heavier option of the variety of softshell jackets on the market. A durable soft shell that has a nice fit is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Summit.
[  ]Hard shell jacket: You will need a Waterproof Gore-tex (or similar) jacket for wet snow/rain (yes, it happens down low occasionally!) like the Outdoor Research Furio
[  ]Down parka: Expedition weight parka with attached hood. Size large enough to wear over all other layers. Do not cut corners on this piece of gear. Your parka should be either a Feathered Friends Khumbu jacket, Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero or something comparable.

Lower Body Clothing
[  ]Underwear: Two or three pairs of wool/synthetic blend underwear.
[  ]Base layer bottoms: One lightweight and one expedition weight.
[  ]Soft shell climbing pants: Outdoor Research Cirque Pant
[  ]Hard shell pants: These pants should have full-length or waist high zippers and should fit over your soft shell pants. A burly and durable option would be the Outdoor Research Furio pant.
[  ]Lightweight down or synthetic insulated pant. An insulating layer for adding on at camp when the sun goes behind the ridge or a cold summit morning. Feathered Friends Helios Down pants or the Black Diamond Stance Belay Insulated pants will keep your legs toasty.

Outerwear Accessories
[  ]Hat: Wool or fleece hat. This needs to fit under your climbing helmet comfortably.
[  ]Sun hat
[  ]Buff: bring two, having a clean buff to switch to midway through the expedition is a nice treat.
[  ]Balaclava. Although it looks pretty goofy, the Gorilla Balaclava made by Outdoor Research can really add protection when winds pick up.
[  ]Gloves-lightweight: Outdoor Research Stormtracker glove.
[  ]Gloves-medium weight: Outdoor Research Extravert glove.
[  ]Gloves-heavyweight: Outdoor Research Alti glove or Black Diamond Guide glove
[  ]Expedition mitts: Outdoor Research Alti Mitts.
[  ]Glacier glasses: very dark with CAT 4 full UVA, UVB protection. Either wrap around or with side shields to completely shield the eyes from glare. Consider a snap on nose guard for sun protection. You can't go wrong with Julbo; the Shield or Explorer 2.0 model both would work great.
[  ]Ski goggles: Medium-dark double lens to prevent fogging.
[  ]Suncream/Lipbalm: SPF 50 or higher.

Personal Accessories
[  ]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 other blister pads. Pick up some earplugs as well just in case you end up rooming with a snorer, or if it is very windy (noisy) in the tent.
[  ]Medications: The following medications are REQUIRED for this program:
  • Acetazolamide (Diamox): enough for two weeks at 125mg BID (twice per day)
  • Nifedepine: (2) 30mg time release tablets
  • Dexamethasone: (6) 4mg tablets
[  ]Lunch food: Bring your own lunch for each day to include items such as energy bars, gorp, candy, 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. For some guide food tips on what works well in the mountains, check out
[  ]Insect repellent
[  ]5 Large trash compactor bags
[  ]Digital camera, extra batteries and memory cards
[  ]Optional items: Kindle, solar charging kit, battery pack, 2-4 disposable hand warmer packs for the upper mountain.

Travel Items
[  ]Duffel bags: the largest, lightest duffel you can find to carry gear in on your sled. The 140L REI Roadtripper duffel bag is lightweight and inexpensive. You will want to have two duffels to pack all your gear (including your backpack) in for the trip to Alaska.
[  ]Small backpack so you have your hands free for moving your duffels
[  ]Casual clothes for hanging around Talkeetna

Notes on Gear for Denali

Acquire all of your equipment well in advance. Pack up your pack completely and weigh it. If it weighs more than 50 lbs go back through all of your equipment with a fine-toothed comb. Start by eliminating unnecessary luxuries. 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. 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 group sized first aid kits. Just bring the items you are likely to need yourself: a small pocket knife, a compact first aid kit with blister treatment, a roll of tape and the medications that you normally use. There will be a group repair kit, tools and a larger first aid kit. Don't bring any extra toiletries other than toilet paper, toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, and maybe some baby wipes.

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. One large sack is recommended for all clothing, one smaller bag for gloves and hats, and one medium 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.

Keep in mind that in addition to your personal gear you will be issued about 50 lbs. of group gear at the start. It will come in all shapes and sizes, so you must be prepared to fit it in your pack and sled.

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 are very warm and fit your feet the best. Try on as many different brands as possible, and when in doubt between sizes, go for the bigger one! Often you can upgrade your old boot by purchasing a new liner, such as the appropriately named Intuition Denali. This liner can be heat molded to your foot and is quite comfortable and very warm. Feet tend to swell at higher altitudes so bumping your boot fit up at least a half size is a good idea. Again, when in doubt between sizes, get the bigger one and add a thicker insole if you need to take up room.

Only you can judge how warmly you sleep at night. Bring a sleeping bag that will guarantee you a warm night's sleep. Some climbers like to use a wide cut bag so there is room to fit your inner boots, water bottles, etc. inside as well as your down parka if it really gets cold. 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. -40°F is a bag that will keep you warm all the way up the mountain, especially in the early season.

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 throw it 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. 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 greatest climbs!