The final pieces of gear for my Mt Washington trip arrived last week.   I now have everything that will be going with me in my possession.


The first piece that arrived was  my Vasque M-Possible mountaineering boots:



Mountaineering boots are usually taller, stiffer, and more insulated insulated than hiking boots. The boots can be made of leather, but most modern boots are a mix of plastic, goretex or other synthetic materials like Kevlar.

The extra height and stiffness of mountaineering boots helps support the climber in steep terrain where flexible boots could cause unsure footing and possibly result in a fall. This extra stiffness is traditionally achieved through the use of a full steel shank, though some manufacturers have begun to use carbon fiber to create the necessary stiffness.

Mountaineering boots are typically designed to be used with crampons. To achieve compatibility with crampons, welts are molded into the toe and heel of the boot, providing a platform for the crampon to attach to. The stiffness of the boot enhances the precision of the crampon and allows a climber to pursue steeper and more difficult terrain.

Now, mountaineering boots are usually pretty expensive.  Good examples can cost well over $500.  I could have rented mountaineering boots form a local outfitter up near the mountain, but I found a good deal on these on REI’s outlet site for a little over $200.   Though I may only use them 2-3 times a year, they’ll last for many years to come.  And there’s something to be said about wearing your own boots.

First impressions of the boots are good. They very stiff (as expected), very heavy (also expected) and they are compatible with my black diamond crampons.  They also have a unique lacing system called BOA.  Instead of a traditional lacing system, the M-Possibles use a knob that twists a  steel cable.  A few turns of the knob quickly tightens the laces on the boots which I imagine will be very helpful when wearing mountaineering mittens.  As an added bonus they even come with small gaiters to keep ice and snow out of the boot.


The other piece of gear I got was a  new backpack.  I thought about using my Oakley assault pack for this trip because it’s relatively small and light (at least compared to my 75l Deuter pack), but on my last hike I noticed the shoulder strap is starting to tear away.  Obviously, I’m disappointed that this pack is already falling apart after only a year of ownership, but ultimately it’s wasn’t the ideal choice for this trip anyways.  Though it’s lighter than my Deuter, it’s still relatively heavy for how small it is.  It’s also doesn’t have any attachment points for ice tools or crampons, both of which I’ll be carrying with me on this climb.

So I decided to go with the Black Diamond Speed 40.


The Speed 40 is a lightweight (2lb, 8oz) pack that, while minimalist in its design, has all the features I was looking for in a mountaineering pack.  It’s big enough to hold my extra layers of clothes and other essentials, it has attachment points for ice tools and crampons and it’s also compatible with my camelback hydration system.  While I won’t be using the hydration system on this trip, it gives this bag extra flexibility as a lightweight weekend  camping pack.


So that’s it.  The only left was to actually try on all my gear at once and pose for a pic



It took me about 5 minutes to throw on all this stuff and take the picture.  By the time I was done and got it all off I was almost drenched in sweat.  At least I know I’ll be warm!