This is my standard Expedition kit list for cold weather. I took this gear on a 1 week winter skills weeks in the Pyrenees. A year later I used the same packing list for a Himalayan Stok Kangri Trek.

What to pack for your Expedition?

With most expeditions, my biggest worry beforehand is, without doubt, kit.

My winter skills week was the first time spent time in the outdoors in winter conditions. I had no idea what to take and the more I searched, the more confused I became. But actually, it’s simpler than you imagine and not too dissimilar from summer hiking – just with extra layers and a few technical items. One of the main things to get right is clothing – specifically understanding the layering system and what materials work best for the cold.

Expedition kit list

Expedition kit list

I was able to hire most of the technical gear I needed from 360 Expeditions – handy as you don’t want to be spending hundreds on gear when you are starting out in a sport. Most providers offer this, and if they don’t, then what you need can usually be hired comfortably from a nearby town.

Technical gear:

These were the items I borrowed from my tour operator:

  • Crampons
  • Ice Axe
  • Climbing Harness
  • Prusik loops x 2
  • Screwgate karabiners x 3
  • Sling

I did have to buy my own climbing helmet and ski goggles and for these went very low end:

Sleeping & hiking gear

A lot of the following was the same as what I use for summer hiking, the main difference being that you will need a warmer sleeping bag. As we were staying in refuges, I didn’t need a roll mat or tent.

Expedition clothing; layering system

You will want to work on a simple layering system. Starting with your base layers – these need to be technical and worn close to your skin. I took a long-sleeve top and bottoms and also base layer gloves and hat (the base layer hat isn’t essential but gives you good flexibility). I used Armadillo Clothing – top quality merino wool and a good fit.

Next is your mid layer which consists of softshell trousers and a fleece top. I also took a softshell jacket.

And finally, your outer layer which is to protect you from the wind and rain – waterproof top and bottoms.

You will also need some extra items for warmth – waterproof ski gloves, a beanie or hat and a buff. A couple of pairs of thick socks with a liner sock (adds an extra layer but also prevents blisters). A thick down jacket for your breaks or cold spells. I also took some extra items that I could add to my existing layering system for added warmth if needed – a gilet down vest and extra fleece.

It’s all about layering!

This is quite an extreme layering system but it gives you an idea. Unless I’m going to the Arctic and extreme conditions 3 layers work just fine:

What clothes to wear for a winter skills week

I had a spare base layer long-sleeve top and a fleece lined pair of trousers that I would change into in the evening when I was finished hiking and I would also sleep in this set.

Underwear I had a sports bra and Armadillo Merino wool boxers.

Expedition clothes list

Here’s the full list of clothing. You’ll notice that a lot of my gear is men’s as they fit me better or they offer more variety than the women’s.

what to pack for a winter skills week

Sun protection

The sun reflecting off the snow is a real consideration and you will want to be protected properly with decent UV rated glasses. I used Ronald Amundsen sunscreen which is a little pricey but worth every penny.

Other

what to pack for a winter skills week

What to pack for an expedition

Check out this video I put together which goes through all the kit I took for the winter skills week:

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