Getting ready for a trip to the Alps? Not only do we have a kit list courtesy of British Mountain Guide and Director of Mountain Tracks Olly Allen, in this article we’ll go through that kit list and pick the bits of gear that we would go for. You can see Olly’s kit list here.
This blog will focus on clothing and there will be a second one which will focus on equipment.
Waterproof Jacket & Trousers
Chances are this is going to be in your pack most of the time so something packable is very important. The problem is if you do need it it needs to be tough and reliable so something cheap probably isn’t going to cut it. The Arcteryx Alpha FL ticks the boxes and although it seems quite expensive for something that will just sit in your pack it’s also a great jacket for back in the UK as well.
For the bottoms The Mountain Equipment Zeno Pants fit will do the job perfectly. It’s worth bearing in mind that waterproofs also provide a handy additional windproof layer even if it’s not raining.
Again, something small and lightweight is important as unless it’s particularly cold or you’re going very high as it’s unlikely to be worn except in emergencies. I would always go for synthetic over down in case it gets wet. The Rab Nimbus Jacket would be my choice here.
Softshell Jacket and Trousers
You’re likely to be wearing these a lot so they need to be protective and tough as well as comfortable. The Rab Torque Jacket is designed for climbing in the alps and provides everything required. Potentially you could go for something like the Rab Kinetic Plus here and do away with a waterproof, personally unless I was massively confident in my own abilities on the route and the weather forecast I’d rather have the versatility of 2 jackets.
Another one you’re likely to be wearing a lot of, particularly in the mornings and if you’re high up. Key points for this are that it needs to be breathable so you don’t get sweaty when working hard, and comfortable under other layers, as it’s unlikely to be your outer layer. I like the look of the Patagonia Nano Air Light Hybrid but if you tend to run a bit colder you might want something a bit bigger such as the Rab Alpha Direct. I find a hooded mid layer annoying, though many don’t and even prefer to it as it gives them more protection if needed.
You’ll definitely want long sleeve to keep the sun off and for extra warmth if it’s not out. For summer activities I prefer synthetic baselayers like the Arcteryx Phase SL Crew but again if you tend to be cold or you’re going high a Merino blend might be preferable. It can also be nice to have a chest zip to help with temperature regulation.
A warm hat, a cold hat and a buff are advised but for me this is overkill. Most of the time I’ll have a helmet on which is enough, if it’s cold then a thin beanie or helmet liner will do the job. If you’re not going to need a helmet for your route and do need some protection from the sun personal preference whether you get a cap or sun hat. A buff, such as the Inov8 Wrag, is great to have as it can be worn round the neck if it’s windy, as a hat or helmet liner if it’s cold or as a headband to keep the sweat off your face.
Your choice here really depends on how cold your hands get and your objective. I like to have have liner gloves, lightweight but warm gloves (Rab Vapour Rise) and a big gloves (Black Diamond Soloist). If you’re doing a lot of climbing/scrambling/rope handling then the rough mountain rock will wear through less burly gloves pretty quick, a tough leather glove like the Beal Assure Max can be useful in these cases.
An absolutely vital bit of kit if you want to be able to see at the end of the day. The specific model is obviously just a style choice but I would strongly recommend category 4 lenses if not a pair of category 3 and category 4 as even if it’s cloudy you’ll still want some protection. I would choose the Julbo Tamang as they are cheap, but have a good quality Spectron lens and I always end up trashing sunglasses one way or another.
Note: If you’re planning on bivvying rather than using huts you’ll need some warmer layers for evening/night.