Clothing and equipment for mountaineering, ski touring and ice climbing

Are you about to start a new mountaineering, ski touring or ice climbing course?

This is the practical guide for you. You’ll be able to view two product ranges, one inexpensive of good quality price (e.g., from Decathlon) and one of designer brands of excellent quality, in agreement with our partner stores.

Any brand alternatives are welcome. Items and equipment are shown in this article for illustrative purposes only.



This guide presents both products from established brands in the mountaineering world and excellent value-for-money products from Simond, purchased from Decathlon.

Thermal Sweater

Merino wool thermal sweater (Men’s / Women’s )

Any other thermal jersey will do, we recommend Merino wool products for warmth, breathability and speed of drying.

SoftShell or Fleece fabric

This is the layer with which you do activity in normal weather conditions. It is a fairly breathable layer, not entirely water-repellent and windproof (Men’s/Women’s)

Alternatively, a fleece can be used, which is excellent in warmth and breathability but not very useful in windy conditions.

Waterproof or Shell

Windproof and water-repellent fabric. There are many membranes on the market. The best and most widely used fabric is Goretex, not found in Simond products. (Men’s/Women’s)

Down jacket

This is the warmest layer, essential for when you stop, useful when it is very cold to put under the shell. Lighter down jackets can be used when the temperatures are not so cold and we know that we will always be on the move. Otherwise, in situations where we will be very stationary, we will choose a down jacket with a higher weight of natural or synthetic down. (Men’s/Women’s)

Pants and Overpants

As for pants, various outfits can be used depending on the eventuality.

It will be possible to wear a pant made of Softshell fabric, which is breathable and not completely water repellent but water resistant. In eventuality we can wear a thermal pant to put underneath. (Men’s/Women’s)

Alternatively, even cheaper are these models (Men’s / Women’s)

We can wear in blizzard or very wet weather a waterproof overpants shell, usually openable by side closure to put on without removing skis or crampons. It is also possible to dress only the thermal pants under the overpants.


Any ski sock will do


A 30/40 L backpack is fine. For ski touring best if it has shovel and probe inserts.


Always carry at least two pairs of gloves, one lighter, sensitive for ice axes and not too warm for ski climbing; and one heavier, warmer pair. Important that at least one pair be completely waterproof, usually the warmer one.

Any ski glove will also do for starters.

Cap, Headband, Neck Warmer and Balaclava

A warm beanie or headband is always useful for when you stop. For approaches or ascents with skins, a lighter garment should be worn, such as a headband of fine fabric or a neck warmer in headband mode.

In a blizzard it is always useful to wear a balaclava, even synthetic fabric is fine. Alternatively, a neck warmer can be worn up to above the ears and chin, with a beanie to cover the remaining part of the head.

Sunglasses, mask and sunscreen

On snow, it is always important to use cat 4 or cat 3 sunglasses; no less. In the event of a blizzard or ski descent always carry a mask, with one sunglass lens and one clear or semi-clear lens to be changed before the outing depending on the expected weather. Sunscreen useful on sunny days, essential at high altitude.


Ice axe

A classic ice axe is sufficient for all classic mountaineering and ski touring activities. You can also find an inexpensive model at Decathlon.


Mandatory for all courses. There are many models on the market. One of the cheapest can be purchased from Decathlon.

For ski mountaineering it is fine to use a climbing helmet as well. Of course, a ski helmet offers better protection!

We therefore recommend a ski helmet for those who ski at high speeds.


Any type of crampon is fine for basic mountaineering courses, even universals. For basic ski mountaineering they are not essential, as long as you use crampons.

For those who plan to practice mountaineering even after a basic course, and also use the same boot in the summer or in the high mountains on easy mixed, we recommend a semiautomatic crampon. For those who plan to practice only on snow or ice or want to buy more boots, we always recommend an automatic crampon.


Like the crampon, the boot is also chosen according to the activity you will be doing. The only prerequisite required for all types of boots is waterproof and ankle covered.

A soft boot without an insert on the heel and toe is a boot designed for trekking, and snowshoeing. Only a universal crampon can be attached to this type of boot. It is a soft boot, so it is inaccurate on hard ground. A universal crampon is worn, then applied via straps, leaving a lot of clearance between the boot and crampon, resulting in even less accuracy on hard, icy terrain.

This is an acceptable choice for a basic mountaineering course, but it is recommended to purchase at least a semi-cramponable boot (with heel insert) for winter mountain use in the future.

Semi- and cramponable boots have much stiffer soles.

The semi cramponable has no notch insert on the toe, so it is ideal for use without a crampon on rock (rocky ridges in a glacial environment or via ferrata in summer). With the crampon mounted, however, it is very accurate on hard ground and can also be used for ice climbing.

Crampon boots, on the other hand, are used only with crampons. Very stiff they fit the crampon perfectly, preventing unwanted movement with the rubber or vibram sole. It is the most precise boot for use in ice or mixed climbing. There are warmer models for high altitude or multi-hour snow activities.

Like the semi-crampons, they are the most uncomfortable for snow walking.