Summit Climb Equipment List

This is a recommended range of clothing and equipment to help you prepare for your summit climb.  Conditions vary significantly from June through September.  Snow is typically present under foot into early July.  From mid-July through August, the route is typically dry trail and the weather is warm and sunny.  September brings more inconsistent weather including clouds, fog, winds and precipitation.   For questions about your personal gear and clothing preparation, email  

Clothing, Footwear & Accessories:

Dress in layers to control your temperature when moving or resting.  Wear wool or synthetic (polyester, polypropylene, nylon, or acrylic) clothing that can insulate when wet.  Cotton clothing (denim, flannel, duck canvas, etc) is not appropriate for climbing Mount St. Helens. When cotton becomes wet from precipitation or perspiration, it loses all insulation capabilities and will pull heat from your body.  

  • Boots: Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support (mid-high top).  We do not recommend any low-top trail running shoes due to their lack of stability, protection or warmth.  Mountaineering boots may be required for Winter/Spring climbing.
  • Socks:  Wool or synthetic hiking socks with your preferred thickness for warmth and comfort. 
  • Gaiters: Optional.  These help protect your legs from abrasion on rocks or traction devices and keep snow and debris out of boots.
  • Base Layer: Wool or synthetic top and bottom.  
  • Mid Layer: Fleece or insulated pullover, vest or jacket. 
  • Outer Layer:  For rain and wind;  waterproof jacket/shell top and bottom such as Gore-Tex or any Durable Water Repellant (DWR) fabrics. 
  • Pants: Hiking, trekking or mountaineering pants suitable for conditions, movement, breathability, durability and functionality.  
  • Gloves:  Warm/waterproof for early season weather.  Sun gloves for sun protection.  Climbing/utility/gardening gloves for protection on rocks. 
  • Headwear:  Warm cap or hood for cold conditions and/or well as a breathable sun hat for warmer conditions. 
  • Sunglasses: VERY IMPORTANT to protect against hazardous reflected UV light from snow/ice and block windblown ash.  We recommend polarized close-fitting sunglasses or goggles.

Backpack & Equipment:

  • Backpack:  Recommend a 30+ liter backpack with secure shoulder straps and waist belt for stability.  Backpack should have attachment points for axes and poles, called "ax loops" so you can affix the ax and poles to the pack as required.  
  • 3+ liters of water: Filled bottles or hydration bladder. Optional electrolyte drinks.
  • Electrolytes:  Very important for electrolyte replacement.  Gels, tablets, blocks, powders or drinks.  
  • Lunch & Snacks: High energy foods, e.g. trail mix, sandwich, trail bars, beef jerky, hard boiled eggs, summer sausage, cheese
  • Ice Axe (seasonal until ~ mid July): Standard Mountaineering Ice Axe (not curved or technical) with a wrist strap, fit to your height. If you do not own one, these can be rented at your local climbing/outdoor outfitter. MSHI can loan you an ax if required.  
  • Crampons/Microspikes (seasonal until ~ mid July): Crampons fitted to your boots, or Microspikes, for better traction on slippery or icy slopes. MSHI can loan Microspikes if required.  
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen & SPF lip balm (SPF 30 and above)
  • Personal First Aid Kit:  Personal prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and blister care.
  • Light:  Headlamp or flashlight with extra set of batteries
  • Bandana: Cotton OK
  • Extra Clothing Layers & Socks: Pack them in a dry-bag or garbage bag if weather shows wet conditions
  • Pocket Knife or Multi-tool
  • Adjustable trekking poles (optional).  MSHI can loan trekking poles if required.