We know that for serious trekkers and climbers, the devil is in the detail, so we have set out what we consider to be the Ultimate Aconcagua Gear List.
This list can be used as a reliable and complete resource for anyone looking to climb Aconcagua.
Please Note: Our gear list is always evolving and continuing to grow as more up-to-date products come to market. We encourage trekkers and climbers to contact us after your visit to help us refine and add to the gear list. If you know of anyone thinking of climbing Aconcagua, please pass on this list. We also recommend bookmarking this page in order to return to it easily as your preparations unfold.
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Aconcagua Gear List
Packing For The Weather
The weather in Aconcagua can be split into two dominant seasons. The winter season runs from April through to September and the summer season from October through to March.
The peak season is of course during the warmer months as the altitude on Aconcagua makes upper reaches extremely cold, even in summer. The summer is also the wet season, however, rain is not so common in the region and you shouldn’t expect more than 5 or 6 days of rain a month in the wettest period. The mountain itself is particularly dry and dust can often be a problem. This is also the busiest time of the year.
Although temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year at base camp, ranging from around 15 in winter to 30 degrees Celsius in summer, temperatures near the summit fluctuate considerably.
Storms often hit the mountain and the summit temperature in summer can easily get down to -20 C.
The Aconcagua gear list below provides a perfect fit for climbers and trekkers planning to visit Aconcagua in the summer months.
Three Sections To Aconcagua
Remember, there are three sections to summiting Aconcagua – the trek in, the climb to high camp, and the summit bid. All three sections require different clothing as we discuss below.
Aconcagua Packing List
We start our packing list with the clothing you will need. And what better place to begin than with underwear?
Just as the title says, basic sports underwear that breathes very well (i.e. not cotton).
You can either go for a specialist brand such as Icebreaker, or just get a cheaper non-brand alternative. Sport underwear from Adidas or Puma are also good.
You will need 6-8 pairs for a 18-day trek.
Because it will be warm and you’ll be trekking in the sun you’ll need lightweight breathable shirts. You’ll probably want a minimum of four shirts, however, a few more wouldn’t hurt as you’ll also be trekking out. You may want to make 1 or 2 of your t-shirts with long sleeves.
In terms of your trekking t-shirt, the shirt needs to be made of a high-wicking fabric such as merino wool or polyester. In the summer months, you will most likely sweat a fair amount on the trek in, you, therefore, want a shirt that allows the moisture to pass through. Please avoid just taking a standard cotton shirt as this will inhibit the moisture transfer. Fabrics like cotton don’t breathe anywhere near as well as the above-mentioned fabrics and you’ll find you smell a lot more!
Trekking Trousers and Shorts
Like your shirts, your trousers should have the same high wicking qualities. Your legs are likely to sweat just as much which means that the right material will make a big difference.
We recommend purchasing trousers that can also be converted into shorts. These trousers offer you much more versatility and you’ll find they come in super handy in the hot parts of the day.
Base Layer (Top and Bottom)
When it gets cold, you’ll want to start wearing a thermal base layer underneath your outer layers. The base layer hugs your skin and keeps your body heat within the layer. However, make sure it’s not too tight as this can restrict circulation. Make sure it is not too lose though as this will allow heat to escape. Like all your layers, the base layer needs to be made from a high wicking material that is both lightweight and and breathable – Merino wool is the best for this.
Having a fleece or hoody on the mountain and on the trek in is key. Although the trek in will be hot during the day, the nights can get very cold, especially when sat around camp.
We recommend a hoody made from synthetic mid-weight Polartec fleece materials. These are perfect for warmth and comfort, but also provide excellent breathability. Polartec fleece jackets come in three main weights: 100s, 200s and 300s. The 100s are very light but not warm enough, whereas the 300s provide exceptional warmth but are a little on the heavy side. We therefore suggest going for a 200 Polartec fleece jacket.
Hard Shell Jacket
In addition to your fleece or hoody, you should also carry a water-resistant and wind-proof hard shell jacket.
The jacket should be very light, easily packable and durable. This is the jacket that needs to withstand any wind and rain you may encounter on your trek in.
Once you get to base camp at 13,000 feet, the serious climbing/trekking begins. You would have noticed on your trek in the temperature dropping and this continues to be the case as you make your way up the mountain.
For anyone who lives in a cold climate, the concept of layering should not be a new one. To keep warm in low temperatures, the idea is to build up layers of protective clothing that insulates the heat from your body. These layers need to be high wicking in order for moisture to pass from one layer to the next. This is an important point as each layer will not work as it should if the moisture cannot pass through. Therefore, any clothes you purchase for your journey need to be made of a high wicking fabric.
Warm trekking trousers are a must when climbing Aconcagua. It gets seriously cold in the snow and you’ll want to be wearing these over your lower base layer.
Make sure these pants are wind resistant, water resistant, sun protective and have a fleece inner material with a quick-drying polyester outer layer for extra warmth.
The core shell layer is probably your most important piece of clothing. This jacket will keep you warm, waterproof and windproof in cold conditions.
Choosing the right jacket can be very complicated as the material can vary significantly. However, most jackets can generally be split into two categories – down or synthetic. Whilst down jackets are usually more warm, they’re generally more heavy, expensive and not great in moist conditions. That being said, because of the freezing temperatures on Aconcagua, we would always recommend going for a down jacket!
Here are some key factors to consider when choosing your jacket:
- Weight and warmth: The weight of a winter jackets can vary significantly. Some are as light as 200 grams whilst others can weigh up to 1kg or more. Down provides the greatest ratio between warmth and weight and thus is perfect for Aconcagua. In terms of weight, the heavier the jacket is the warmer it tends to be. Whilst you might want to get the heaviest possible, remember that you will be carrying this around with you a lot of the time. We always suggest getting a top quality mid weight jacket, somewhere in the region of 600 grams.
- Waterproofing: Whilst down is the warmest type of jacket, it does not fair as well as synthetic in wet conditions. A light shower would make no difference, but if it were to downpour, the down jacket may suffer. Therefore, it’s imperative to get a down jacket with a great water resistant outer layer. Pertex Shield fabric is the best we know of.
- Versatility: Always look for pocket space, hood size, zip quality etc. before buying. The more versatile your jacket, the more activities you can do in it.
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Aconcagua Gear List
The sun will be beating down upon your head on the trek in. Therefore, you should bring a lightweight, easy-to-pack sun hat to protect your head and face from getting sun burnt. This will also lessen the chance of getting sun stroke.
Try and get a sun hat with neck protection and avoid bringing large bulky hats on your treks.
Neck Gaiter / Bandana
In addition to a good sun hat, we highly recommend bringing a few neck warmers along. These are great for protecting your face and neck from the elements and keeping dust and particulates out of your lungs.
You can bring a lightweight version and a semi-fleeced version for higher up on the mountain.
Warm Fleece Beanie
A warm fleeced beanie is an absolute must. The North Face, Berghaus and Arc'teryx make good fleeced beanies.
Alternatively, a good wooly beanie will also do the job. Just make sure it is comfortable and keeps your head toasty!
Aconcagua is one of the coldest summits in the world, often colder than Everest. Therefore, a full fleece balaclava will serve you well on the summit push.
Make sure to buy a thermal balaclava before your trip to Aconcagua.
High Altitude Sunglasses
UV intensity increases with altitude; therefore, you want a very good pair of trekking sunglasses to protect your eyes. Sunglasses are also very important on Aconcagua because of the snow. The light intensity created by the white snow can literally be blinding and normal sunglasses just wont cut it.
The undisputed market leader in high altitude sunglasses is Julbo. All Julbo lenses offer 100% protection from UVA, B and C rays. Their category 4 lenses block up to 90% of visible light, making them ideal for Aconcagua. Whilst category 3 or lower is good for general use, you’ll need category 4 for Aconcagua.
The most versatile lens Julbo offer is the ‘Camel’. The Camel lens is essentially a transition lens and gets darker and lighter depending on the light intensity. For Aconcagua, we also recommend the Julbo Explorer range. These provide a secure fit that will see you through any climbing and snow activities.
Although you’ll have your standard trekking sunglasses, you’ll also want some snow/ski goggles for the higher reaches, particularly if the weather sets in. When you’re near the summit and wearing your balaclava, these goggles will stop any wind hitting your eyes and stop the bright light from damaging your eyes.
The lens should have a visible light transmission (VLT) of no more than 30%. If you have sensitive eyes, you may wish to go for a darker pair. Photochromatic models are very good for use in changing light conditions.
Here are some great quality snow goggles.
As there is no electricity on the mountain and if you wish to leave your tent at night, you’ll need a headlamp. You may also have some very early starts in which your guide will require you to wear a headlamp. Headlamps are always preferable to torches as they allow you to keep your hands free.
When choosing a headlamp, look for good brightness, long battery life and one that is not too heavy! A good beam should reach 70 meters in length.
The market leaders in headlamps are Petzl and Black Diamond. We recommend getting the affordable, but still very good Petzl Tikka. Then there's also the Black Diamond Icon which produces a 100-meter beam and boasts 80 hours of battery life!
Here are some great quality headlamps.
Aconcagua Packing List
Keeping your hands warm is super important. Frost bite is not uncommon on the mountain, and you’ll want the best glove setup possible. In terms of inner gloves, you want a pair made from a high wicking fabric (synthetics, wool or even silk) are ideal. Do not go for cotton as your hands will become very sweaty. Make sure the gloves have a good thermal lining and are lightweight for travel.
The ideal outer gloves provides great warmth whilst also being manoeuvrable, windproof and waterproof. Remember, dexterity is hugely important as you’ll be using your hands more than you think.
The upper reaches and summit of Aconcagua are extremely cold and windy. People often say the coldest they have ever been has been on the summit of Aconcagua. Temperatures plummet below freezing and the wind can get in excess of 50 mph! At this point, you should be wearing all your layers, including, a base layer, fleece, a down jacket and an outer shell waterproof jacket. But your extremities are the first to freeze. In addition to inner and outer gloves, you should also have mittens.
Whilst your inner and outer layer gloves will protect you on most of the climb, you’ll still want some heavy-duty mittens for the summit. These will stop any heat escaping and keep your hands from getting too cold.
Hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of kit in your Aconcagua gear list. Your feet need to be well supported and comfortable. It is critical that you bring a solid pair of hiking boots that are not new – make sure they are worn in first (i.e. the inner sole should have begun to mold to your foot shape). Brand new boots will only bring pain and blisters!
The two key factors to look for in a boot are fit and quality.
A good way to test the fit is to wear a pair of trekking socks, push your foot as far as it will go forward, and place an index finger down the back between your heel and boot. If the finger fits snugly, this is a good sign. If it’s too tight or loose, then you probably need to try another size.
For quality, the characteristics you need to look for are:
- Medium high boots for good ankle support. Remember, the taller the boot the heavier it will be. Boots made from leather or a leather-condura material are generally recommended.
- The sole should have a good rubber content and the lugs should be deep enough for grip but not too deep as this will increase weight.
- Mid-weight boots are best for Aconcagua. You’ll most likely only be wearing them for certain parts of the trip, so the super heavy and durable ones will not be needed.
- Make sure the boot is waterproof! Gore-tex or something similar will do.
- The boots lacing-system should include speed hocks or D-strings which will provide extra ankle support
Water Shoes / Sandals
Depending on what route you take, you’ll most likely need to ford a few rivers on your trek in! No one wants to trek in wet boots, therefore, bringing along some lightweight water shoes or sandals is the best idea.
High Altitude Mountaineering Boots
On the summit push, you may encounter snow and ice, therefore you’ll need proper winter mountain boots. The Normal Route is less technical than the Polish Glacier routes, so there is less chance of encountering snow and ice on the former, but better safe than sorry.
Make sure the boots are designed for high altitude conditions and can take crampons. The liners should be super warm and comfortable. Mountaineering boots are not cheap, and you should expect to pay in the region of US$400 – $800 for a decent pair.
You should bring at least 6 pairs of trekking socks. Once again, these should be high wicking and light to medium weight. The best trekking socks are made from merino wool as they allow excellent breathability. Avoid cotton socks as these will absorb and retain the moisture which will enhance the likelihood of blistering. If you're allergic to wool, go for a synthetic or acrylic blend sock instead. I'd also recommend buying trekking socks with flat seams which reduce irritation and provide great cushioning to your foot while walking and climbing.
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Aconcagua Gear Requirements
Backpack and Duffle Bag
Getting a good backpack is one of the most important considerations on your Aconcagua gear list. You’ll be carrying this yourself, so you’ll want to make sure you choose correctly.
Whilst porters are provided by many trekking companies on the mountain, most are used to help shift equipment. There is usually an option to pay for an extra porter to help carry your personal gear, this is not common though and most trekkers carry their own bags.
The four key considerations when choosing a backpack are comfort, support, space and fit.
If your pack is not comfortable, you’re going to have a pretty rough trek. I like to always try carrying other trekkers bags at camp to get a feel of what bags suit me. Whilst this can be done in store, most bags are not crammed with gear which makes feeling for comfort difficult. Look for a bag that is well-padded, including the pelvis strap. Good bags will have a large lower padded section that comes in contact with your back for lower comfort and support.
Support is also key, particularly for people like myself who have back problems. You’ll want a good strong waist belt, thick shoulder pads and an even distribution. The best bags are super flexible, allowing them to contour to your back shape as you trek. Make sure your straps have multi-size adjustments for versatility.
Space is a big consideration. We generally advise at least 85 Liters for your journey, however, 105 liters is often the better option – although heavier. If you want to stay properly warm on the mountain, you’re going to need a fair amount of gear space. Look for a bag that has a section for frequently needed items. This is often on the front of the bag or on the top. Also makes sure your bag has several spare lash points for extra items.
Getting the right fit is super important as you’ll develop back issues if you don’t. To get the right fit you need to know your torso length. This can be measured easily by taking a tape measure from your 7th vertebrae down (this is the knobbly one that stick out when you bend your neck downwards) and measuring down to the point on your back that is inline with your your hip bone. The measurement is your torso length. Make sure the lower straps of your bag wrap around your hips and not your lower waist or stomach! When fitted correctly most of the weight will be around your pelvis which frees up your upper body for movement.
Here are some great quality backpacks for Men and Women.
A 80-90L duffel bag is ideal for taking added extras on your journey that you won’t actually take on the mountain. These can be left with your operator at the beginning of your climb. A duffel bag can also be your carry-on-luggage for all your flights.
Here are some great quality duffle bags.
The climbing gear you need will very much depend on what route you take and if you choose to climb alone or with a team. Fixed ropes are needed on the more difficult routes, as are carabiners, belays, hexes, ice screws, harness etc. The items we have detailed below are needed for the two most popular and easy routes up Aconcagua - the Normal Route and the Polish Glacier Route.
Most mountaineering ice axes will do. Make sure you purchase one with an attachable leash though. If you’re unsure of size, make sure you go with shorter rather than longer.
The size chart according to height is – under 5’2” use a 50cm axe: 5’3” to 5’7” use a 55cm axe: 5’8” to 5’11” use a 60cm axe: 6’0” to 6’2” use a 65cm axe: above 6’3” use a 70cm axe.
Here are some great quality ice axes.
Staying on your feet is very important when approaching the summit. The ice and snow is thicker near the summit and without crampons attached to your climbing boots, you will slip. Crampons also make walking much easier and faster as you're not constantly concerned about grip.
We always recommend modern steel 12-point crampons that come with anti-balling plates. Try to avoid 10-point, aluminium, or single-piece rigid crampons.
Here are some great quality crampons.
Wearing a climbing helmet is optional, but we recommend it. Many people slip on Aconcagua, not just on the ice, but also on the loose scree slopes. You’ll want a climbing specific helmet with enough space to attach a headlamp. Make sure there is enough space on the helmet to fit over a beanie/balaclava.
Here are some great quality climbing helmets for Men and Women.
Aconcagua Equipment List
A warm sleeping bag is critical on Aconcagua as temperatures at night get well below freezing regardless of the season. Without the right sleeping bag, you’re going to be cold, uncomfortable and give up more easily. To help you decide we have laid out the key characteristics of a great sleeping bag below.
It is certainly possible to rent sleeping bags in Mendoza. However, we generally recommend to trekkers to bring your own. Rental sleeping bags are often not very hygienic and owning your own one will give you a little more piece of mind.
When buying a sleeping bag, choose based on material (down vs. synthetic), warmth, and overall shape and design.
Down vs. Synthetic
Whether to get down or synthetic is a common question. Whilst down sleeping bags are generally warmer and more comfortable, they’re also more expensive. Therefore, you need to weigh up warmth against cost.
The cost consideration is very much dependent on your own personal budget. We always recommend to people who are planning on trekking or climbing regularly to purchase a down sleeping bag. If the climb is a one off then maybe buying synthetic is the right option.
If you’re planning on climbing Aconcagua, you presumably like to trek and climb a fair bit. We therefore suggest going for a down, especially as it gets super cold on the higher reaches.
Temperatures higher up the mountain reach in excess of -20 degrees Celsius, therefore, you need a sleeping bag that can keep you warm in these temperatures. We recommend your sleeping bag has a minimum rating of -30 degrees Celsius.
Remember, warmer is always better than colder!
Shape and Design
Mummy shaped sleeping bags are the best on the market. By fitting to the contours of your body they keep your body temperature higher.
Whilst there is a standard size for most adults, if you are particularly tall or short, be sure to check with the manufacturer before buying. You’ll want your sleeping bag to fit snugly, otherwise warmth will escape.
Also look out for a two way zipping system which improves insulation and also a hood of some sort – possibly draw string or similar.
A sleeping mat is highly recommended as the landscape on Aconcagua is very rocky. We recommend either a standard sleeping matt or better still, a fully inflatable sleeping pad. Good ones are super light and fold down extremely small. We recommend buying a sleeping mat or pad that's extra thick for increased comfort and folds down to the size of a standard water bottle.
You may also want to bring an inflatable pillow and sleeping bag liner. However, these are optional. Remember, the more things you bring – the more things you carry!
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You’ll be trekking for at least 5 hours each day on Aconcagua over rocky and undulating ground, therefore, a good pair of trekking poles is very important. Although they may not look it, trekking poles massively reduce the strain on your leg joints. In fact, trekking poles have been proven to reduce up to 25% of the impact your legs take.
Black Diamond is the market leader in trekking poles (read our full review of the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork). A cheaper alternative is the Ultra Distance range which is also very good (read our review of the Ultra Distance trekking poles).
Here are some great quality trekking poles for Men and Women.
Water Bottle / Hydration Bladder
When trekking anywhere it is recommended that you drink at least 2 – 3 liters of purified water per day. On the trek in you’ll be sweating a lot and keeping up your fluids is critical. Keeping up fluids also helps keep up energy levels and starves off the symptoms of altitude sickness which is a real issue on Aconcagua.
Carrying 3 liters of water can be difficult; therefore, we recommend you try to drink at least 500ml before leaving camp each morning. If you take a water bottle and not a hydration bladder, you’ll probably want to take two and fill up the second during the day. When you reach camp, it is also recommended that you drink another 500 ml of water.
Make sure to also bring a water bottle parka to stop your water freezing near the summit.
Alternatively, hydration bladders are another option. Hydration bladders sit inside your climbing pack with a tube that runs over your shoulder and sits next to your mouth. These have become extremely popular as you have a constant feed of water. Hydration bladders are also bigger and can come in 2L AND 3L sizes. They can also be squashed down for ease of carrying.
Here are some great quality hydration bladders.
Water Purification Tablets
Water on and near the mountain will not be purified. You’ll want to bring tablets or water purifier drops. We recommend AquaMira.
Here are some great quality water purification tablets.
Camera / Video Camera
You’ll want to catch every great moment along your climb. Make sure your camera is small and compact, has a good battery life and takes HD pictures/videos. Remember to bring spare batteries!
Read our full review of the best cameras for hiking.
Small travel locks are optional, but a great way to protect your belongings in your backpack or duffle bag.
Here are some great quality travel locks.
You’ll need all your basic toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Bring a small bag dry bag to store these in.
Here are some great quality toiletry bags.
Sunscreen and Lip Screen
It often gets very hot on the trek and you’ll want some 30+ factor sunscreen. Buy a small tube. On the upper reaches, you’ll also need some lip screen as your lips will dry and blister in the cold snow conditions otherwise.
Personal First Aid Kit
Although your guide will no doubt have one, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you are climbing alone then you will definitely need one of these.
Here are some great quality first aid kits.
Bring Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Diamox and a variety of standard over-the-counter painkillers. If you have any personal prescriptions, then bring these as well. You may also want to bring some blister plasters and tape.
Here are some great quality blister treatment packs.
Wet wipes are perfect for cleaning yourself after a sweaty day climbing or trekking. Your guides will probably provide you with a water bowl and towel, however, baby wipes are actually easier to use.
Hand and Toe Warmers
It’s seriously cold near the top. If you feel the cold, then definitely bring 3 sets of each. Toe Warmers are different to hand warmers in that they are formulated to work in lower levels of oxygen, such as the inside of a boot. Toe warmers will also not last as long.
Snacks and Energy Bars
You’ll be climbing a long way each day for a considerable amount of time. Keeping up your energy and strength is vital. We always recommend taking a few snacks and energy bars each day to keep you going.
Here are some great quality energy bars.
Bowl and Mug (Optional)
Optional depending on your trekking company. One 2-cup capacity packable bowl will be needed for food, soup and snacks (bring one spoon). Collapsible versions are ideal as they occupy less space in the pack. Lids are not needed. Most trekkers will also bring one collapsible mug for hot drinks.
Pee Bottle / Funnel
Because it is so cold near the summit, you won’t want to leave your tent at night to go to the toilet. Men will therefore need a 1 pee bottle (1L) and woman will need 1 pee funnel. We recommend woman practice before leaving!
Here are some great quality peeing accessories.
You’ll be sharing a tent with another person and if you are a light sleeper or struggle to sleep with unfamiliar noises, then bringing some ear plugs is a good idea. On top of this, porters will be up earlier than you as a general rule and may wake you if you are a light sleeper.
Here are some great quality ear plugs.
Zip Lock/Stasher Bags
Your pack will be exposed to the elements during your climb on Aconcagua. Exposure to dust is very common. To protect your valuables such as your wallet and camera, we recommend taking a couple of zip lock bags or stasher bags.
Here are some great quality ziplock/stasher bags.
Book / Kindle
Last but not least is a book or Kindle! Entertainment on the mountain is fairly light and you may want a book to get you through those long evenings.
If you have any further questions or queries regarding any of the items mentioned in this Aconcagua gear list, please just drop us a note below and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
Thank you and happy climbing!
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