The Seven Summer Climbing Trip Essentials

Shoes, chalk bag, harness, ATC, I go over the essentials in my head. Food, check; water, check; melatonin…shoot it’s still on my nightstand; I throw it into my bag.

“I’m sure I’m forgetting something,” are my favorite parting words when embarking on any climbing trip. However, there are a few things you should always bring (in addition to your climbing gear, tape, food, water, caffeinated substances of choice, etc.) on each of your summer climbing trips.


seven_summer_essentials_coffeetapeclimb.jpgWET WIPES:
If you’re camping for several days and won’t have a chance to shower, a package of these is key. Think of wet wipes as an easier version of a sponge bath combined with everything good about—and several things better than—hand sanitizer. Dirty hands? Wipe them off; unlike just using hand sanitizer, some of the dirt and chalk caked on your palms and fingernails will be removed; wet wipes also smell better. To avoid ending your trip with the skin of a greasy adolescent, give your face a wipe each night before bed. Wipe your smelly feet and armpits (and anywhere else particularly smelly/sweaty/gross) while you’re at it too; your tent partner will thank you.

You might be thinking: “But the title says ‘Summer Trip Essentials.’” Yes it does. And a puffy is one of them. Space on any trip is precious, and instead of wasting it bringing three light jackets, simply snag your puffy, which likely packs smaller than even one of your soft-shells and will be just as warm as wearing all three.
Worried about down being too warm if it’s only 55 degrees? There’s a magic temperature regulator on your jacket called a zipper: If it’s chilly, zip it up to your neck; if it’s just slightly uncomfortable to belay in your t-shirt, then leave it unzipped; use your own zipper judgment for temperatures in between. What if it’s warm the whole trip? Your puffy can double as a packable pillow.

Climbing gear, unless purchased in the past week, smells. You probably don’t wear socks in your climbing shoes and pack roughly two outfits for your 10-day trip, meaning all of your gear will reek of sweat and feet in four days or less. It may even rain during your adventure, adding a musty odor to the mix. Your car will smell like this foul combination if you do not invest in an air freshener. Think you can get by without one? Now think about how bad it will smell when you open your car at the end of a hot, sunny day and the 100-degree air from inside hits you with the stench of drying feet and moldy tent.

At the end of a long climbing day, the last thing you want is to imprison your feet in yet another tight pair of shoes. Bring a pair of flip-flops—or whatever your go-to sandals are—to wear around your campsite or while belaying single-pitch routes. If you’re going to Rifle, consider only packing flip-flops for non-climbing-shoe footwear, unless you like to warm up on glassy 5.11s in your approach shoes.

According to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” a towel “is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have.” It is also essential for all summer climbing trips. You’ll likely go swimming at some point along your journey, and, instead of soaking your one extra t-shirt to dry off, you should use a towel. Towels are also great for cleaning up spilled beverages, helping to dry rain-soaked tents, and sitting on in fields of wildflowers.

Yes it smells horrible, but itching your way though the night is more horrible. Plus, you’ll smell terrible a few days into the trip anyway. While handy for repelling insects, excessive amounts of bug spray can also be useful in preventing unwanted cuddling from tent-mates—just check to make sure they don’t like the smell before you utilize this tactic.

It comes in convenient individually-wrapped cookie sandwiches. And it’s summer. Enough said.

Now that you know what to pack, get out of your swivel office chair, off your couch, or wherever else you might be that’s not a climbing destination (in this case a gym is not considered a climbing destination), and hit the road for as much time as you possibly can.

Originally published July 20, 2015, on 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s