So, I finally got a chance to sit down and write out a gear list. Rather than write about every single piece of gear, I will touch on the important things that we noticed and will gladly respond to any questions. I wrote comments on the gear list of my thoughts on each piece which can be found here: Denali Gear List
In my opinion, the top items that could easily get overlooked are: booties, noseguard, wet ones, ice axe protectors, water bottle parka, and a good midweight glove. The booties are crucial if you have a trip like ours where you are stuck at camp for days on end. I definitely recommend Feathered Friends 800 fill down booties. They have a liner and a water resistant shell which is nice for keeping your tent clean…you have to think cleanliness. When you walk into the “bathroom” you will, without a doubt, pick up germs on the bottom of your booties so it was super nice to keep the shells outside and the clean linen inside.
Water Bottle Parka – These are crucial but still don’t even keep your water from freezing. At night, you have to keep it away from the floor or wall of the tent. Wrap a jacket around it or something or it will freeze.
Tent – Our tent worked just fine. Going back, I would have bought one with a larger vestibule though. And maybe even one with a large vestibule on each side – one side for a kitchen and one side for boots. It was really difficult trying to cook in our tiny vestibule. Luckily, we made friends with a group that had a cook tent that we borrowed when they were not using it. And on that note – a cook tent would have been stellar! It’s tough to justify for two people but any group of 3 or more I would HIGHLY recommend it. Like it said, it gets tiring trying to cook laying down in a small vestibule. And a cook tent is a great, warm, place to hang out and BS with everyone around you. It might also be a good idea to take an extra tent. We met some groups that would set one up when they cached so that on “move day” they already had a place to stay. It was particularly helpful between 14k and 17k because after summit day, you don’t want to set up another tent at 14k – and it’s a great way to save your spot. Also, the 3 person tent for two people was totally worth it – especially with the amount of time we spent in our tent. Extra pockets in the tent might have been nice as well – to keep things off the floor. Anything on the floor will freeze. Make sure to bring plenty of good snow stakes. We brought cheap stakes that ended up snapping in half. Spend the extra few dollars on actual snow stakes. An extra pole was helpful as well – we had one that got so cold that the cord inside became slack and would not hold the poles together. We knew others that had a pole break in the wind as well.
Snow Saw – The BCA snow saw worked like a champ. I would HIGHLY recommend it. Especially with the high amount of cutting block you will be doing.
Sleeping Pad – Make sure your pad holds air. And that it will continue to hold air. Don’t go cheap. It made my life pretty miserable having to get up every 3 hours to blow up my pad. That can definitely wear on you.
Sled duffel – I had a Backcountry duffel that worked alright but it was kind of short and stubby. It would have been nice to have a long duffel that fit the dimensions of the sled to spread the weight evenly and not have it so tall.
Entertainment – Everyone told us to bring lots of books. I don’t agree. Books are heavy and bulky. I would recommend bringing an iPod and downloading a few books on tape beforehand. After a long, hard day it’s nice to just lay there and zone out while someone is readying you a book. You won’t want to preform even the simple task of holding a book up to read it. You can also put music and movies on it if you have one of them fancy things…just don’t let it get too cold. If you have to read then bring a Kindle. Saves on weight.
Alarm Clock – Definitely get one of these and make sure it works beforehand. I’ve never had good luck with watches. Don’t trust them. This may or may not have cost us the summit due to waking up late and not starting before the crowd – rookie mistake.
Cookware – Our stoves seemed to work fine – the MSR XKG and Whisperlite. I’ve heard the MSR Rocket and Jetboil both work as long as you keep the canisters in water so they don’t freeze. However, white gas is much more abundant on the mountain than canisters should you run out. As far as pots go – make sure to bring a lid for each and a good pair of pot tongs.
Stove Base – This is another crucial item. One group made bases out of wood and were able to secure their stove and fuel to it. It worked really well. I HIGHLY recommend something like it. Otherwise your stove melts into the snow and tips over.
Fuel Bottles – We split the fuel into bottles which was nice so we could cache them in different places. We left some at 11k, then cached some at 16k for the move up to 17k. It would have been smart to keep some at base as well. We knew some people that got stuck at base for 5 days.
Water purification – We worried about it in the beginning but you go through so much water that it’s nearly impossible. My recommendation if you really feel the need for it would be the iodine tablets or the life straw. It would require quite a few tablets though…2 per Nalgene, roughly 3 – 4 Nalgenes a day times 20 days = nearly 150 tablets for each person.
PLB/Communication Device – The Delorme InReache was really nice to have. It allowed me to send messages to friends/family and let them know we were safe and that things were good. It killed some time while sitting in a tent as well. I would recommend getting the unlimited messaging service for one month. And it’s cool to have people follow you up the mountain on a map as well. On the same note, it would be really handy to have a good friend that will look up the weather and send it to the device every day – the park service tended to be quite vague in their forecasts.
Vaseline – We forgot this. It would have been real nice for our lips which felt like sun dried tomatoes by the end of it.
TP – Bring more than 1 roll of toilet paper. It’s fairly light and could be a real trip ruiner if you run out. Trust me – you won’t want to wipe with snow when it’s below 0 outside with wind.
Earplugs – Bring something to keep the noise out while you sleep. People are up at all hours of the night. Noise cancelling ear buds work great – especially with some nice soothing yoga music. Sleep is another thing that prevented us from summiting…
Wristband – You may look like a goober but these are super nice to wipe your glasses/nose or wick sweat. It will be the only thing that can soak up a fluid.
Backpack – I had a Kuiu. It’s more of a hunting pack than mountaineering. It worked but didn’t have any axe loops. Whatever you do, make sure to get one that is close to 100L. Nick brought one that was 70L and that was definitely not big enough. Although that is the best way to make your partner carry more gear…
Compression Sacks – These were pretty nice to keep everything organized. Come up with a labeling system and try to stick to it. I didn’t do very well because I planned on wearing more clothes than I ended up wearing – so I didn’t have enough space in the sacks.
That’s mainly it on gear. Most everything else should be in the comments section of that document. A word of advice – don’t over pack. It is really easy to do. Just bring of the essentials. If I think of anything else, I will add it. Feel free to leave a comment/email me if you have specific questions!
All my gear that I brought