Winter Gear Prep- Part 1 The Essentials (and Instagram Contest)

Every year around this time I start getting excited about the arrival of my favorite season, Winter. To help fuel the stoke I go through my gear closet and take stock. What’s worn out and what needs replacing? What’s good to go for another icy season? I thought it might be helpful to provide a gear checklist with recommendations on what I use in all categories. In this first segment I’ll cover “The Essentials” a personally modified list of the classic “Ten Essentials“, along with giving away a brand new Petzl Summit Ice Axe (1st Gen)!

Instagram contest details at end of post!

The Essentials

Maps– I use the free online mapping software CalTopo for all my mapping and trip planning needs. This powerful software has so much potential every outdoor adventurer should familiarize themselves with this tool.

Compass– I love my Suunto MC-2 compass which I reviewed in detail here.

Headlamp– I have a few different headlamps but they are almost all Petzl. The Zipka, Tikka XP, and Myo XP are all awesome. You really can’t go wrong with a Petzl headlamp.

Batteries– I put fresh lithium batteries in my headlamps every Fall. Days are shorter and I am much more likely to need a headlamp. Lithium easily out performs alkaline in cold weather so the Energizer AA’s and AAA’s are always on hand.

First Aid Kit– I start with the Adventure Medical Kit .7 then modify it a little. I add more gloves (acquired from visits to the hospital) and a bottle of iodine tablets (for emergency water treatment and wound irrigation), and a small refillable bottle of Advil.

Knife– Colonial makes dozens of great models like this one.

Bivy Sack– I carry a AMK Heatsheets Emergency Bivy on every single outing. It only weighs a few ounces and is worthwhile the extra insurance!

Handwarmers– I always carry 6-8 hand warmers in my winter pack. Pro-tip: If you need to use them… place them under your glove on your wrist, right where that artery is. Much more effective than placing it in the palm of your hand which reduces grip on ice axes/ski poles. Usually the glove can hold it in place though sometimes I’ll use a little athletic tape.

A “Buff– A very versatile clothing accessory! I have a few so I can wash them occasionally and always have one ready to go.

Glove Liners– I usually need to purchase a couple pairs of these because I do wear them out within a year or two. Totally worth the cheap price though!

Dermatone Sunblock– I always have a tin of this stuff with me in the winter.

Neoprene Face Mask– I like this simple style. It works well in combination with the Buff and my hat/hood. Bigger “fancier” ones make it difficult not to over heat. Pro-tip, if you have fogging issues when used with your goggles take a pair of scissors and enlarge the mouth holes.

Goggles– The one “essential” category I don’t skimp on. I need quality breathable goggles for the mountain work I do and this pair has not disappointed.

Well that’s it for my “Essentials” list. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below!

Part 2 will focus on my various clothing systems specific for ice climbing, mountaineering, and back-country skiing.

Part 3 will focus on ice climbing gear and maintenance.

Part 4 will cover ski gear and maintenance.

If you enjoyed this post please share and subscribe!


Show me your gear closet by posting a pic on Instagram with #mygearcloset and tagging me @nealpinestart between now and 11:59pm EST on 11/30/16. While you are there you can vote for entries as well (just like any that have been posted). On December 1st the gear closet Instagram pic with the most likes will win a brand new Petzl Summit Ice Axe!

Petzl Summit Ice Axe

Submit as many pics as you like! Free shipping only within the US. International shipping paid for by winner if winner is outside US. 

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

Disclaimer- Every product mentioned above was purchased with my own money. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

4 thoughts on “Winter Gear Prep- Part 1 The Essentials (and Instagram Contest)

  1. I think there is an error with the link of the headlamps. Nice list, although I’m missing the security items…. (yes, I know that in the north-eastern are not really needed, but should be part of it anyways; I always wear them, even for very small tours).
    What about an appendix on those?


    • Hi Xavi! Thanks for catching that! I fixed the link. By security items I assume you mean avalanche safety gear? Beacon, probe, shovel? I agree with you if entering avalanche terrain in the winter those should certainly be included! Most of our terrain is outside of avalanche terrain, but I will add these items in Part 3 and Part 4 since I do take them with me when ice climbing & back-country skiing in avalanche terrain.


      • Yes, and thanks. As said, although there are lots of zones outside avalanche, i still always wear them…. i got this habit from the very first day….


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