Mont Blanc Packing List
I recently climbed Mont Blanc in France (you can read about my experience climbing Mont Blanc here, and here’s everything you need to know about climbing Mont Blanc HERE). Mont Blanc is ‘arguably‘ the highest mountain in Europe, some schools of thought have it down as one of the seven summits (if you are wondering what are the Seven Summits, you can read about it here), although I’d argue Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe (read about my climb of Elbrus here). Anyway, it was one of the best adventure weeks I’ve had in my life. The spectacular Alips, beautiful Chamonix, and the best service and climb imaginable with the team from Mountain Tracks who got us up to the Summit of Mont Blanc successfully!
One question that I really couldn’t fit into the FAQs though, was the issue about what gear you need for climbing Mont Blanc. So I’ve tried to help out with a Mont Blanc Packing List below:
Mont Blanc Packing List
First of all, don’t worry if you don’t have everything on this list, it’s not a big deal. You can rent it directly from Mountain Tracks, or your operator. Or you can buy/rent it in Chamonix, or you can buy it in advance online. So don’t stress, first and foremost.
The gear isn’t that complicated in all honesty, but I understand when you sign up for something like this, it’s normal to worry that you have the right stuff. So here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll need:
You need a few different types of footwear.
- Hiking Sneakers. The first day of both the acclimatisation climb of Gran Paradiso, and the first (and last) mornings on Mont Blanc are at a low altitude so you can hike in sneakers. I stupidly brought Nike runing sneakers, they were awful. I have a pair of The North Face goretex trail running shoes, that I used for my North Pole Marathon, they would be perfect. Any trail-running shows would be fine though.
- Hiking Boots. I used The North Face verto s3k hiking boots. The weather was good for me so they were fine. If it’s particularly cold, you may want warmer. Personally, I’d stick with these.
- Thick Warm Socks. You need 2 pairs. Also, a pair of normal socks for your sneakers.
- Crampons. If you have the same boots as me you need semi-auto crampons, if you have the big double-layer summit boots, you need automatic. Cost about $150 to buy, or $20 to rent.
- Flip-Flops. Great for back at Chamonix, or even in the mountain huts when your feet are aching!
- Some nice sneakers to celebrate in Chamonix with!
You need to have gear to cover you from the bottom of the mountain where it can be 25 degrees, to the summit of Mont Blanc which can be -10! So here we go:
- Thermals: I use The North Face thermal base layers for both top and bottom. Make sure it’s tight.
- T-Shirts X2. You’re dirty and don’t smell so nice on the mountian. Don’t worry about it. 2 t-shirts are fine. Sport ones are slightly better, but any is ok. One long-sleeve one is ideal if you get surburned easily (as an Irishman, that’s me!)
- Fleece/Hoody. This is the next layer from your t-shirt. Don’t use a generic fashion hoody. Should be an adventure clothing brand, and be built for warmth. Again, I use the North Face.
- Goretex/waterproof outter shell – top and bottom: It can rain and snow in seconds on Mont Blanc, make sure you have a waterproof layer to protect you (and keep you warm)
- Hiking Pants. Or as I like to call them ‘Geography teacher pants’ I have 2 pairs. One for the warm days, and one with inner-fleece lining for the cold, summit days.
- Warm/Down Coat. I didn’t use mine, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Harness. You can buy them for $100 or so, or rent in Chamonix.
- Shorts. It can be warm at the bottom, bring a pair.
Moving onto headgear. Your head gets very exposed to the sun and the cold at night, so take care of it during the race.
- Sports sunglasses X 2. One pair should be enough, but if you break them you’re in trouble! One good pair, and one back-up. And try to get wrap around glasses that block the sun from the sides too. I used a $100 pair I picked up in Thailand but any sports running/cycling glasses are fine.
- Buff. An absolute Godsend. You use it to protect you cold and sun
- Head Torch. Black Diamond. Don’t go cheap. You’ll appreciate an expensive, strong torch on the double marathon night race! Aim to spend $50+, don’t go for the $20 ones.
- Warm hat. Any is fine.
- Helmet. Black Diamond brand is best. You can rent in Chamonix no probs too.
You need a ‘summit’ bag. It should be around 40 litres. Every mountain store sells them, ask them for a bag with a space for an ice-axe (I didn’t have this and it was annoying.
Breakfasts and dinners are included, so you need food for lunch and snack only. You don’t need much, maybe 12 Cliff/Tribe bars and a couple of energy gels for the whole expedition.
- Food. You can pre-order sandwiches for lunch, or you can stick to the gels and bars (which is what I did)
- Gels, bars etc. You want electrolyte powders for each night. Tribe bars for lunch. And then energy gels (maybe 15/20 total) for during the days.
Minimize this. It’s heavy and unnecessary. That being said, there IS phone signal on about 50% of the climb, so if you bring your Phone, you can also charge in the huts.
- Solar charger. Great to keep your GoPro (or phone) charged. Buy them on Amazon for cheap
- Sports watch. I just got a new watch actually. I previously used the FitBit Blaze which I thought was good, but awful battery life. I then upgraded massively and got the Suunto 9 Baro and it’s spectacular. Battery life up to a WEEK! I only charged it briefly once during the whole MDS, when everyone else was complaining about their Garmins and Fitbits. Also, Suunto is great for all long distance stuff (ultras, marathons, etc) I love it. I also used it for my Marathon Des Sables race earlier in the year.
The mountain huts are great, no need for a sleeping bag. Just buy a cheap sleeping bag LINER and you’re all set.
That’s most of the stuff you need. There are also a couple of compulsory pieces of equipment too.
- Ice Axe. You NEED it. You can rent or buy in Chamonix.
- Wet Wipes. Standing shower, toilet breaks. Bring these!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Tape. You need it to fix your gear, to tape your muscles, to stop chafing. Zinc oxide is best.
- Anti-inflammtory pills. If you carry injuries always, like me, you’ll need these.
- Pain killers. Bring them. More than you think you need.
- Poles. So much better with foldable walking poles.
- Gloves X 2. An inner layer and an outer layer.
If you have all this stuff, you’re good to go. Remember, Chamonix (the launch town for Mont Blanc) has everything you need. So arrive a day early if you’re nervous and get it all sorted. Don’t panic, it’s all good. You can do it! And if you’re thinking about which operator to use, I couldn’t recommend Mountain Tracks any higher, they’re absolute heroes!