Gear Kits

Women's Mountaineering Gear Essentials for Climbing in the Himalayas

The highest performing gear for the highest peaks in the world.

Curated by Rachel Davidson

Crowds from every corner of the earth have been drawn to the height, splendor, and challenge of the Himalayas for hundreds of years. Being that this is the tallest mountain range in the world, it should be no surprise that these peaks are also some of the most remote and difficult to access. From lush tropical jungles to harsh alpine environments, trekkers and climbers have to pack for a constantly changing climate. Here are a few choice pieces that can save the day when planning anything from a 20 mile approach to a 20,000 ft. summit in the Himalaya.

SPOT is my favorite personal tracker because it lets you send out a signal in the last place you’d ever expect to be connected to the outside world. Whether you’re alerting your friends and family that you’ve made the summit, or sending emergency responders your GPS location, the Gen3 is a reliable and rugged communication line for when you need it most.

Alpine climbing demands an alpine start – which means you’ll spend a good chunk of your activity in the dark. Your headlamp will need to be waterproof to stand up to the snow, ice, and malfunctioning water bottles it’s likely to encounter.

In the Himalayas you’ll want the warmth of down – without its susceptibility to dampness. OR has your insulation layer perfected with a hoody that breathes, stretches, and keeps you cozy from damp to downpour mountain pursuits.

One thing you’ll learn quickly in the Himalayas is that things get cold. That’s why you’ll need to pack a foam sleeping pad in addition to your air mattress to double up for those long nights camping on snow and ice. The RidgeRest fits the bill, but its new Solar style is even better for afternoons at camp when you want to pull your pad out of the tent and sprawl out on its heat-absorbing aluminized coating and soak up the lazily setting sun.

Mountaineers love the NeoAir XLite because it’s light, comfortable, and packs down to less than a one-liter water bottle. Those features also make it a popular choice from weekend campers to ultralight thru-hikers. But with most of Therm-a-Rest’s awesome collection of sleeping pads, you really can’t go wrong.

I always wear long sleeves in low or high altitudes for one important reason: sun protection. The best thing about this shirt is that it features Polygiene Active – an odor-resistant fabric, which means you’ll never even need to change out of this one (until your tentmate demands you do).

Using the same insulating and ventilating material as Outdoor Research’s shirt above, these leggings will keep you warm and sweat-free under your heavier bottom layers as you move through the mountains.

Your pants need to be as versatile as the activity you’re doing. In the Himalaya you’ll be freezing throughout midnight starts and sweating on the summit – you’ll want to use the Cirque Softshell pant since it’s loose enough to layer and breathable enough to let in airflow.

This is the high-altitude hardshell you want to pack for all of your Himalayan endeavors. Wear over layers of down and insulation or with a simple tee; OR’s Clairvoyant is guaranteed to keep you dry and warm from unpredictable weather.

Gore-tex waterproof protection? Full side zips for ventilation? Waterproof zippers and taped seams for total storm durability? These pants by OR check all the boxes when it comes to high-altitude trekking and climbing.

Instead of wasting money and environmental resources on disposable batteries, invest in rechargeable ones to last through all of your adventures. From moonlight hikes to powering your TV remote, Black Diamond’s got you covered.

Don’t ask me whether Petzl made this helmet “women’s specific” because it comes in a hot pink option. You’ll need a lightweight helmet that accommodates a wool hat or other warm layers underneath – bonus points if it’s headlamp compatible, like this one.

Leave your big wall harness at home, you’ll want this classic alpine-specific version by Black Diamond so you can put it on or remove it over all of your bulky layers and without tripping over your crampons.

Double plastic boots are the heavy-duty companions you need to choose on any excursion over 6,000 meters, and these Scarpas are some of the most trusted and used in the industry. These boots are unisex, so crosscheck your size before ordering.

The thin, breathable gloves you’ll pull out on those just-too-cold-to-show-skin days, or those I-can-feel-the-sunburn-coming days. This glove from OR also includes a waterproof shell for lightweight rainy days, and fits snugly underneath your expedition mitts for big climbs.

Outdoor Research’s award-winning Arete Gloves have all the features alpine climbers are looking for in a midweight layer: waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, a fleece liner and heat pack pocket for warmth, and total dexterity. My personal favorite part? Nose wipe patches on each thumb.

The end-all, do-all mitten you’ll need on those subzero days and 18,000 foot peaks. These Everest-tested expedition mitts are infused with Kevlar stitching to withstand “brutal alpine punishment,” should that be your thing.

This is the best beginner’s ice axe for the lightest weight and easiest portability available. As your skills grow, so will the angle of the axe, until you can upgrade to a completely curved technical climbing tool.

Do you want to invest in an ice axe that you’ll just as easily let slip down the mountain? Don’t leave home without a leash to connect you to your lifeline.

Your axe can tear up the ice just as easily as it can the contents of your duffel bag. Add a protector to your cart to ensure the pick and adze don’t damage the rest of your gear en-route.

Leave the CamelBak at home (I guarantee it will freeze up high on you), and pack two of these sturdy, spill-proof, rock-proof water bottles to last you through your entire trip.

Even your Nalgene isn’t safe from freezing, so be sure to bring along two of these insulating covers to keep your water drinkable and body hydrated.

We’ve just named a lot of stuff. And you’ll need some special stuff to organize the rest of your stuff. Pick up this 3-pack of quick dry bags to store snacks, toiletries, kitchenware, and the rest of the smaller items on your list.

This is the only wallet I trust in the backcountry to keep my most prized possessions (passport, ID, phone) secure and dry. Consider this the last step to getting home safely.