Clothing Suggestions for Climbing and Scrambling

Most companies that offer climbing lessons in Snowdonia offer climbing gear such as wet weather clothing, rucksacks, hats and gloves. For people going out on their own or wanting to bring their own gear, here are a few suggestions when selecting equipment.

Walking Boots

Boots are required on climbing courses for the walk in to crags. These should have good ankle support but be reasonably lightweight so if not required on mountain routes, they can be carried in your rucksack. Boots suitable for scrambling again should have good ankle support, be reasonably close fitting, and have a stiff sole allowing you to stand on smaller edges. Specific scrambling boots have a rubber rand to enabling you to see the inside edge of your boot sole, so you can place it more precisely on the rock.

Rock Climbing Boots

The main consideration is comfort to be able to keep the rock boots on all day without screaming in agony. Shop assistants will often say you need a tight fit (top performers will sometimes wear boots one or two sizes below shoe size) in order to reduce any slippage of the boot on the foot. This is not as important as comfort when climbing below the extreme grades. There are numerous types and makes of boot. They come in boot, shoe or slipper form and are designed for edging (using the edge of the boot on small holds) or smearing (using the friction of the base of the sole) or a combination of the two.

Socks

We like the loopstitch variety. This looks like towelling and is very comfortable but any thick (preferably not cotton) sock will do. Most people recommend wearing two pairs of socks. We find one enough in summer – it’s up to you!

Rucksack

These should be around 40 litres to allow for rope and helmet, and have compression straps. Avoid side pockets, which can get caught in tight squeezes and heavy rigid frames.

Clothing

You should find everything else you’ll need already in your wardrobe. Most “sensible” legwear e.g. leggings, loose-fitting trousers or tracksuit bottoms, should be fine for walking, climbing and scrambling. Jeans are not suitable since they are too tight and become extremely uncomfortable when wet. You might also want to bring a pair of shorts for hotter days or thermal underwear for cold weather.

CHANGEABLE WEATHER

The main thing to remember is that weather in the Welsh mountains is extremely variable and, even in summer, you should expect cold, wet and windy weather -don’t leave your hat and gloves out even in August! Likewise, suntan lotion, sunglasses and sunhat could be essential! Waterproof jackets should be light/medium weight, breathable, and with a hood. Side zips make overtrousers easier to get on over boots.

LAYERS ARE GOOD

The layering principle is a good policy with a base layer made from a material which wicks sweat away from the skin followed by a medium weight sweater or fleece over than and then finally a spare jumper or fleece kept in the rucksack (as well as your waterproofs). Several thin layers hold heat better than one thick garment and allow temperature adjustments to be made by peeling off or putting on another garment as conditions dictate.

Checklist

  • Boots plus rock boots for climbing courses
  • At least two pairs walking socks
  • Rucksack (40-50 litre)/waterproof liner
  • Waterproof jacket/trousers
  • Hat/gloves
  • Survival bag/Whistle
  • Compass/map
  • Leggings /trousers /track suit
  • T-shirts /shirts /blouses
  • Pullovers /fleeces
  • Underwear (perhaps thermal for Spring or Autumn)
  • Washing kit
  • Shoes for evening/lightweight for hut & camping
  • Camera /films/ binoculars/mobile phone
  • Book/writing equipment
  • Personal first aid kit (remember blister treatment!)
  • Water bottle/bladder/flask
  • Walking poles
  • According to season: suntan lotion/midge repellent /sunglasses / sunhat /swim suit /scarf
  • Watch (especially with stopwatch facility is needed for navigation courses.)

If you are going out with an instructor then helmets, harnesses and other climbing gear may be provided, it is worth checking before you go as without the proper safety gear you will not be allowed on many of the mountains.