Summit Climb Equipment List

This is a suggested equipment list, utilized by MSHI guides, staff, volunteers, and participants. 


Wear synthetic (polyester, polypropylene, nylon, or acrylic) clothing. NO COTTON! Cotton clothing is not appropriate for climbing Mount St. Helens. When cotton becomes wet from precipitation and/or sweat, it will not dry out and will not keep you warm. Wet cotton is not only uncomfortable but also hazardous (Polyester/Cotton blend OK.) Dress in layers in order to be able to control your temperature while hiking as well as resting.

  • Boots: Sturdy waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support (mid-high top) are imperative. Running shoes are not appropriate for climbing Mount St. Helens. Mountaineering boots may be required for winter climbing
  • Socks: Polyester or wool hiking socks. Optional liner socks help with insulation, as well as reduce the risk of blisters.
  • Gaiters: Helps keep ash and snow out of your boots
  • Long Sleeve Base Layer: Synthetic or wool
  • Upper Body Mid Layer: Polyester fleece jacket or down jacket
  • Rain Jacket: e.g. Waterproof Gore Tex Jackets
  • Rain Pants: e.g. Waterproof Gore Tex
  • Synthetic Pants: e.g. Polyester zip-off pants, hiking pants
  • Bottom Base Layer: Polyester or wool
  • Gloves: Warm and waterproof, e.g. thin liner gloves and waterproof shell
  • Warm Hat
  • Sun Hat: e.g. baseball hat
  • Sunglasses: Close fitting to keep out windblown ash and snow reflection


Backpack: (Approx. 30 liter backpack)

  • 4+ liters of water: Filled bottles or hydration bladder. Optional electrolyte drinks
  • Lunch and 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/outdoors store or REI. Wrist straps can easily be made from 5’ of webbing. When necessary on our programs, program time is set aside to teach participants how to use ice axes.
  • Crampons/Microspikes (seasonal until ~ mid July): Crampons fitted to your boots, or Microspikes, for better traction on slippery or icy slopes. When necessary on our programs, program time is set aside to teach participants how to use crampons/Microspikes.
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen and SPF lip balm (SPF 30 and above)
  • Small First Aid Kit (this includes your own personal prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and blister care. Bring extra prescription meds in case of unexpected delays)
  • Headlamp or flashlight, with extra set of batteries
  • Bandana: Cotton OK
  • Extra Clothing Layers and Socks: Pack them in a dry-bag or garbage bag if weather shows wet conditions
  • Pocket Knife or Multi-tool
  • Adjustable trekking poles (optional)
  • Camera (optional)