Underwrite our website for a day! Learn how.
Join Email List

Winter Day Trip Gear List

printable version

On the morning of your trip, you should be dressed in all your winter gear. Although you will be riding in a snowcat, hiking in severe weather may be necessary in the event of a vehicle breakdown.

Any items you may want on the drive up, such as goggles, face mask, camera, water, and snacks, should be packed in a small daypack to take with you inside the snowcat. The rest of your belongings will be stowed and may not be accessible.

Space on the snowcat and in the summit lodging facility is extremely limited, so personal gear should be kept to an absolute minimum. If you are spending the night before your trip in a hotel, pack a separate bag so you can leave your street clothes, shoes, and other unnecessary items in your car or at the Observatory garage.

Pack and dress as you would for an outing in severe winter weather. You will need many layers of extremely warm clothing; you will be colder than you think! Cotton clothing of any sort is unsuitable for use on the mountain because of its tendency to absorb and hold moisture. Suggested materials are listed for each item:

  1. Wicking base layer: wool or synthetic long underwear tops and bottoms to pull moisture away from the skin.
  2. Insulating layers: thick wool, synthetic or down tops and bottoms.
  3. Wind-proof layer: durable synthetic jacket and pants. A one-piece snowmobile suit also works.
  4. Rain layer: waterproof jacket (with hood) and pants. If your wind-proof layer is waterproof, you do not need to bring a separate rain layer.
  5. Boots: warm, insulated, waterproof, durable mountaineering boots. Summer hiking boots, day hikers or tennis shoes are not acceptable.
    Note: Plastic mountaineering boots, with crampons, may be rented from many gear stores.
    Gaiters are also recommended, but are optional if the cuffs of your snow pants overlap your boot tops securely.
  6. Microspikes: Slip-on traction devices with 3/8 inch spikes. "Yak Tracks" and similar light-duty traction devices are not acceptable.
    Note: the Observatory has crampons that you may reserve by advance request, but supplies are limited, so please make your request at least a week before your trip.
  7. Ice axe (if you know how to use one), ski pole, or hiking pole: sturdy metal walking device to help you navigate the icy summit.
  8. Socks: two pairs of thick wool or synthetic socks.
  9. Hat: thick wool or synthetic cap that covers your ears.
  10. Balaclava or neck gaiter: wool or synthetic face mask and/or neck scarf to cover your face in severe wind, blowing snow and freezing rain.
  11. Warm gloves or mittens: down- or synthetic-insulated windproof gloves or mittens with long cuffs that fully cover your wrists.
  12. Glove liners: thin wool or synthetic gloves to use in lieu of insulated gloves when the weather is warmer.
  13. Sunglasses: sturdy sunglasses or glacier glasses with UVA and UVB protection.
  14. Goggles: ski goggles or similar for protection in wind and blowing snow.

An overnight on the summit may be necessary in the event of an unexpected severe weather event. Bring all necessary toiletries and medications, including an extra few days worth of medications in case continued adverse weather delays departure. There is nowhere to purchase toiletries or medications on the summit.

Special Equipment
If you are bringing a camera or other special equipment, remember to bring plenty of film, batteries and battery chargers. There is nowhere to purchase electronic equipment on the summit.

Other Gear
Personal gear not listed above should be kept to a minimum, since space in the snowcat and in the summit lodging facility is extremely limited.

Home of the World's Worst Weather
Administration: 2779 White Mountain Highway, P. O. Box 2310, North Conway, NH 03860 • Tel: 603-356-2137 • Fax: 603-356-0307 • contact us
>> OUR PARTNERS Eastern Mountain Sports Subaru Cranmore Mt Washington Auto Road Mt Washington Cog Railway Vasque EATON MWVCC
Mount Washington Observatory respects your privacy           ©2014 Mount Washington Observatory           Site Directory
Web Site Support from Zakon Group LLC