Planning some epics? We checked with MEC Ambassador Joshua Lavigne – who has committed his life to climbing – for his picks on the gear that hasn’t let him down. Here’s Joshua’s favourite mountain gear for alpine big wall climbing and alpine climbing, and why they made the list:
Therm-a-rest Neoair Xtherm Sleeping Pad
It’s expensive but it’s worth it. Lots of alpinists don’t like using air mattresses, but I’ve found that if you’re careful and make sure that you keep the mattress fully inflated, then you can sleep directly on rocky surfaces and it won’t breach. You don’t want this to fail when you’re out there.
I’ve stopped bringing sleeping bags on big climbs and only use a tarp and NeoAir mattress if it’s not going to be colder then -5°C. A hot water bottle on my belly, a tarp, a good spooning partner, ear plugs and some sleeping pills usually do the trick.
MSR Reactor 1.0L Stove System
A great stove for melting water and cooking quickly. It doesn’t work well for simmering, so keep an eye on your soup so it doesn’t boil over.
Sterling Rope Fusion Nano 9mm
I’ve found the Sterling rope to be a great lightweight rope for alpine missions. It’s a little skinny for granite big wall climbing, especially if you’re planning on jugging, but it’s proven to be light, supple and durable in most conditions.
MEC T3 Hoodie
The T3 hoodie has been my go-to winter and alpine climbing base layer for years. It’s the perfect combination of lightweight, durable and breathable. I love the long zipper and the snug hood.
MEC Highpoint Pants
Highpoint Pants are durable and stretchy climbing-oriented mountain pants. They have a slim fit and are very breathable. They have a no fuss minimalist design with a nicely constructed cargo pocket, a simple drawcord at the waist and eyelets on the ankle hem to add a cord to keep them tight over your boots. I find them a little light for winter climbing, but they’re great the rest of the year.
Scarpa Phantom Tech Mountaineering boots
An incredible alpinist boot. Lightweight, technical and durable. The zipper is a little long and needs to be maintained, but I haven’t had any issues with many seasons on my boots.
MEC Talon Sleeping Bag
This is great down sleeping bag with 800+ fill. It has a beautiful fabric that feels like being wrapped in a silk kimono, but it’s still water-resistant and durable. The Talon hasn’t just kept me warm, it’s saved me and my partner after becoming hypothermic in an Arctic rainstorm on Mount Asgard.
Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight
If lightening your load is critical to success, then these cams are the bee’s knees. They can cut 25% off a rack of cams and still offer the range of protection as the traditional BD Camalots. I’d suggest that the grey 0.4 has a fat stem that’s a little too big in some circumstances, but the rest are featherweight and robust.
Petzl Quark Ice Tool
These tools have been perfected over years of development and craftsmanship. The slim yet solid design is what separates these tools from the pack, but the weight and swing really deliver the goods on steep alpine ice and rock.