Gear Guide for 14ers and Mountains

Hydration Vests

You’ve gotta haul that gear somehow! Hydration vests are the go-to to carry both water and gear close against your body for ease of access and all-day comfort. There are lots of options out there, with varying capacities, bottle styles, and pocket designs. With the vests below, we picked them based on how well they will carry the necessary gear for the day while still maintaining comfort and easy access.

Ultimate Direction Vests
-This was the first company to make vests, and they still do it incredibly well. Durable, mountain focused, and they include women’s specific options. Check out the Mountain Vest/a and Ultra Vest/a for those long days out.

Salomon ADV Skin 12
-Super-stretchy, great fit, smokin-hot styling, and an easy in/out lacing system.

Down Jackets

These lightweight and water resistance jackets help to keep you warm in harsh conditions. Recent changes in technology make the shells and down even more efficient at drawing water away from your body and shedding water out.

Each down jacket has a fill rating. What is a fill rating? It ranks the down’s quality based on how much down is needed to achieve a given level of warmth, or, the efficiency of the down. It is common to see 650, 700, and 800 fill down jackets, with 800 being the most efficient down. This does not mean the warmest jacket. Total down weight would help determine that.

Down jackets come in either real down, like duck or goose down, or in synthetic down. Both technologies are strong in their game and should keep you going through the elements.

Weatherproof Shells

Both a shell jacket and shell pants. Weather in the mountain can change at any time. Dropping dozens of degrees in minutes is not an unheard-of situation. Always carry a weatherproof shell with you, no matter how the sky looks. Rain and snow can decrease your body temperature dangerously fast. Protect yourself from that.

Merino Base Layers

Wind can be variable in the mountains. Peaks and valleys have very different wind exposures, and summits are predictably windy. Merino dries quickly, draws moisture away from the skin, and is lightweight and durable. If it gets windy, merino will keep you dry and warm.


Sun is stronger at altitude. At 8,500ft, the sun’s rays are about 60% more powerful than at sea level. Other studies suggest for ever 1,000ft of elevation, the power of the sun raises by 4%. Mix that in with reflections from water, snow, or ice, and there is a lot of bright light and damaging UV rays! Protect your eyes so you can see the beauty for longer! Also note here: pack sunscreen. It is easy to find travel size tubes at your local grocery store that pack easily and will last the day.


See above. Also, you don’t want a backward trucker hat tanline.

Headlamp (With Extra Batteries)

Starting early, before sunrise, is typically a good idea due to afternoon thunderstorms that frequently occur in the summer months. Also, if the day goes long or simply wrong, a headlamp can be a lifeline to get you back to the car safely. 

We recommend:

Black Diamond Storm
-The Black Diamond Storm is a powerful entry-level headlamp with dimming and red-light modes.

Petzl Nao 
-The Petzl Nao boasts an impressive 750lm max output and reactive lighting so you can spend more time running, and less time adjusting brightness. The rechargable battery changes in a cinch.

Water Filter

The filter technology has been quickly evolving in recent years. They are super lightweight and tiny, and if you run out of water, they will filter damn near anything out in a matter of seconds. We recommend a bottle filter because it is easy to fill and drink on the go. (And, seriously, we used one on algae pond water one time… no problems.)

We recommend:

Katadyn BeFree Bottle Filter

-The BeFree filters fast and sips with ease, or, squeeze it into your other bottles just as quickly. No plasticky taste.

GPS Tracker

Some popular ones are SPOT or InReach. One that can allow you to send coordinates and pre-made messages, or custom texts can be a lifesaver if phone service is not available. Typically, you’ll buy the unit and then pay for monthly or annual service on the device for around $10-15/mo.

If using pre-made messages on SPOT, we suggest the following:

Checking In: Checking In. I may be great, okay, or miserable. No action from you is required. Continuing planned course.
Custom: A NON-emergency event occurred. I may be delayed, resting, or detouring course. NO action necessary.
Help: Something is WRONG with a threat to my wellbeing. Self-rescue may not be possible. SEND HELP NOW.

We Recommend

Spot Gen4 GPS Tracker
-Lightweight, long battery life, pre-programmable texts that send anywhere in the world. We like Spot for their monthly plan options.

SpotX GPS Tracker
-Send custom satellite texts anywhere in the world, and route these texts through your phone with bluetooth for ease of use.


Be heard by people if you get into a bad situation. Also be heard by big game before you have a startling encounter. 

Mylar blanket

These thin blankets are extremely lightweight and reflect body heat. Not bad to have in worst-case scenarios. With some thin cord and a couple of trees, it can double as a crude tent.

Lighter or Matches

150+ Calories Per Hour

Pack enough food to eat about 150 calories per hour. It’s never a bad thing to have extra in case you get lost or have stomach issues. 

20oz of Water Per Hour

This can vary greatly depending on all kind of factors, but is a good general guideline. Pre-hydrate before you start the day.

Salt or electrolyte tabs

You’ll lose electrolytes as you sweat. Too much can lead to you feeling groggy, or bonked, or in more extreme cases, hyponatremic. It is also a great thing to have if you are prone to losing your stomach on longer races or long days out.

Map or map app

Having a physical, waterproof map of the area is a good call; it never depends on battery. Otherwise, there are numerous apps available to mark out your route and save it on your phone. Make sure you know how to read a map before you go. Check out Karta Maps for awesome custom maps. We use them. We love them.


Some routes are prone to rockfall or personal falling risks, especially class 3 and higher. People and animals above you can kick down loose rock and debris. We recommend paying a bit more for a good climbing helmet, especially one that is equipped with the MIPS system.

Snow Travel Safety*


*snow travel in the mountains presents elevated, unique risks. You should strongly consider avalanche classes before attempting snow climbs, and have adequate experience in the mountains. This gear is listed as a consideration, and does not create a complete list, nor ensure your safety.



These stretchy, spiky chains slip over your foot and provide traction on ice. More durable than Yaktrax, these work great on snowy trails and moderate inclines. We never recommend using these for anything over class 2 or with proper climbing.


We recommend:

Kahtoola Microspikes
-As tough as they come, and sharp enough to dig in to smooth hard ice.


Mountain Axe

If you fall on certain slopes, it is possible to pick up speed and lose control as you slide down the mountain. This is a dangerous scenario, and knowing how to self-arrest using a mountain axe is a critical skill for snowy climbs.


We recommend:

Black Diamond Raven Axe
-Coming in at a pound, this is a lightweight, well priced axe by a company that has mastered the craft of hard mountain goods.


Four Pass Loop

Just outside the mountain town of Aspen, Colorado lies one of the pinnacle trail running experiences in Colorado: The Four Pass Loop. Enveloped by flowered tundra, alpine lakes, jagged peaks, lush grasses, streams, and every color in the spectrum, this giant loop takes you for a ride, as its name claims, over four separate mountain passes.

Leadville 100 Mile

Rich with mining history, the Race Across the Sky is one of America’s original 100 milers and one of the most competitive. Bring your high-altitude lungs!

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