Winter equipment list


You will require a good waterproof jacket and trousers that will probably be worn from the outset. Essential to keep the wind,rain and snow out and the warmth in. For the majority of Scottish winter activities I prefer a hard wearing set of waterproofs that will cope with the rigours of Scotland's winter season.

Do not underestimate Scotland's winter climate. Think onions - lots of layers. This means you can easily regulate your temperature depending on what the weather is doing and how hard the conditions are at the time. Any kind of wicking fabric is recommended and cotton is to be avoided at all costs.

Hats and gloves have a habit of either flying away or getting wet so I always carry a few pairs of gloves with me. At least one pair of thin gloves that I will walk in with and then a big pair to change into throughout the day - make sure that you can actually do things wearing these. I'm also a fan of a neck gaiter which can be pulled over my face when it's blowing a gale.

Spare clothes

Apart from the clothes that I’ll expect to wear during the day, I’ll carry an extra layer with me. I’m a big fan of the synthetic ‘belay jacket’ which is a lightweight jacket that can be worn over all my clothes. If you don’t have one of these, an extra fleece will suffice. I’ll also carry a spare pair of big gloves.


Roughly 40 litres will be fine for the majority of Scottish winter courses. You want to be able to comfortably get all your kit inside but at the same time it doesn't want to be too big since you will only fill it. I like simplistic designs with a good size pocket in the lid. Everything in your rucksack wants to remain dry so a waterproof liner is a good idea. I prefer to have numerous small waterproof liners as opposed to having one big one which just fills up with snow at the first opportunity it gets.

For our ski mountaineering courses, your rucksack will have to have system appropriate for carrying skis.

Check out Deuter for fantastic rucksack design who also specifically cater for the female cut under the Deuter SL women's fit brand. They also cater for the ski mountaineering market.


A good pair of 4 season winter boots are essential for any type of winter activity. If you have 'floppy' boots you will not be able to use your boot effectively as a tool.

Scarpa® do a massive selection of boots, ranging from running, trail, approach, trek, mountain, climbing and ski boots.

If you don't have boots with an integrated gaiter, it might be worth thinking about these.

Little things

A pair of goggles are essential for Scotland’s winter. Make sure that the vents are covered up with foam or they will just fill up with spindrift.

A head torch that illuminates the mountain is required and instead of carrying spare batteries I normal carry a small second head torch. Either Halogen or strong LED's are the best.

Any personal medication and a small first aid kit to deal with common problems or existing health issues.

A cheap orange plastic emergency bivouac bag which can live in the bottom of your rucksack.

A little whistle for attracting attention and weights nothing - the majority of Deuter rucksacks have one build into the chest strap.

Navigation tools

For mainland UK navigation, I always use Ordinance Survey maps, scale 1:50,000 and a compass - I use a Silva Type 4. It is possible to enlarge the 1:50,000 map to a 1:25,000 scale if you struggle seeing all the fine detail. For the Isle of Skye, I use the Harveys maps. I'm a huge digital mapping fan and very rarely purchase paper maps now. I use the OS Map App on my phone which enables me to download maps to be used offline.

Don’t forget a map case if you’re not using laminated maps. There is only one map case that works in my opinion and that is the Orblieb cases - A5 size.

Food & drink

Like any engine, your body needs fuel to perform at its best. Lots of small items that can be munched on throughout the day are ideal. A one litre water bottle should provide enough liquid and/or a flask depending on personal preference.


A good quality pair of crampons that are compatible with your boots. A set of 10 points will be adequate for general hill walking and mountaineering but I would recommend 12 points or more technical performance crampons for climbing courses. Make sure that they are easy to put on and that you can adjust them easily wearing big gloves.

Grivel do an excellent variety of crampons, from hill walking to technical climbing and specific ski mountaineering crampons.

Not wanting to get into the great ice axe length debate, basically an axe between 45 - 60 cm should suffice for hill walking and mountaineering courses. Little people need little axes and long people need long axes. Once again check out the Grivel range.

You will require 2 axes for climbing courses.

Technical equipment

A climbing helmet to protect the head.

A climbing harness is useful as something to tie into.

Please bring any of your own climbing equipment to use if you prefer.

Additional equipment for ski courses

A pair of skis might be useful.

A pair of skins.

Ski crampons - also called Harscheisen - are certainly useful when there is lots of ice around and you need extra purchase.

Ski poles

Avalanche equipment include transceiver, probe and shovel are essential for ski mountaineering travel.