How to get into Mountaineering: Equipment, Weather, Mindset

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This guide is for beginners who want to get to know mountaineering. If you are already an amateur mountaineer, you may be able to pick up a few things about equipment. This guide answers questions about beginner’s mountains, equipment, experience and many other topics related to mountaineering.

Getting into mountaineering requires excellent equipment. It is also important to gather experience slowly but steadily. Mountain tours, beginner’s mountains, knowledge of nature and weather are as much a part of the introduction as the correct assessment of one’s own strengths.

Mountaineering is more than just slow walking with a certain gradient. Mountaineering requires fitness, physical fitness, the right equipment and experience. Beginners should inform themselves about fast changes in the weather and for the first attempts choose beginners’ mountains and guided tours. So that you don’t want to give up after the first hundred meters of the ascent, we will explain below what is important in mountaineering.

The introduction to mountaineering

If you want to go mountaineering, it is a good idea to find out about the right equipment, the perfect beginner’s mountain and the necessary experience before starting a tour. If you don’t have the latter in mountaineering and are a beginner, you should consider a guided tour and start with small tours with light equipment. 

When you have gained some experience, you can use marked hiking trails to the nearest hut or to climb beginner’s mountains.

Beginner Mountains – what is meant by this?

Beginner mountains with easy hiking routes with comparatively low altitudes. The mountain does not need to be climbed to the top. You should take it easy in the beginning and choose a beginner’s route. Hiking tours for starters are usually below 500 meters altitude and should take 2 to 4 hours. 

You can find numerous hiking tours and trails on the Internet, which reach up to 500 meters in altitude. As a rule, the difficulty level is also indicated for the tours. If you want to climb a mountain right away, then you should book guided hiking tours as a beginner. A tour guide can adjust to your speed and lead you safely to the top of the mountain and back again. At the same time you can gain experience and get tips and tricks for the ascent.

If you want to use a beginners route, pay attention to the nature of the ground. The hiking trails must be sure-footed and should only lead along known and fixed hiking trails. When choosing the routes, make sure that there is hardly any alpine terrain.

Pay attention to the weather

You should already know the weather before a mountain tour. This means that you should read the weather report before the hike. If there are rain showers on the day of the hike, the trails can be particularly slippery and unsuitable for beginners. 

With sunshine and good weather, you will get the best impression on your first hiking tours. Depending on the season, you should pay attention to warnings like avalanche danger, thunderstorms or squalls. In winter the danger of avalanches is particularly high in some mountain regions. In summer, storms can put hikers in danger. Though storms and squalls do not come suddenly, many people rescued by the mountain rescue service say that the storm in the mountains took them by surprise. It is advisable to take several guided introductory tours in order to have a tour guide who is familiar with the area and the weather.

Equipment – important utensils for mountain climbers

Experienced mountaineers use sound and high-quality equipment when they undertake tours lasting several hours or even several days. If you want to go mountaineering and are looking for the right equipment, the first thing that matters is whether the tours should be several hours or several days. 

Especially in the beginning the first hiking tours should be easy. If you get a taste for it after the first beginner’s tours, then you can try harder tours and take more equipment with you. Keep in mind that the equipment has a certain weight. The equipment should weigh as little as possible, so that you don’t get any problems with your physical condition by carrying the equipment.

To climb a mountain you should know the weather. It is advisable to bring a rain jacket, rain trousers and other weatherproof clothing. A rain shower can occur even in the most beautiful weather. Furthermore, it can be draughty at high altitudes, so windproof, breathable hiking clothes are recommended. The necessary equipment also includes backpack, food, shoes and climbing gear if necessary. Hiking poles, especially for the descent, are also advisable. Hiking poles not only help to maintain the rhythm of the hike, but can also provide support on the descent when the terrain is rough. Suitable climbing equipment is helpful when alpine terrain is on the way to the mountain top.

The following equipment is useful for an easy mountain hike:

  • suitable footwear (hiking boots)
  • Socks suitable for hiking
  • Rain trousers, hiking pants
  • breathable shirt
  • Rain jacket, fleece jacket or similar
  • functional underwear
  • additional shirt, possibly additional trousers to change
  • Sun protection (sunglasses, cap, cap, sunscreen)
  • Gloves (hiking gloves)
  • Hiking poles
  • Lamp (flashlight, headlamp)
  • Backpack for stowing utensils (from 20 liters upwards)
  • weatherproof backpack cover (windproof, water-repellent)

Equipment for tours with more than 500 meters altitude and glaciers:

  • Bivouac bag and sleeping bag
  • Glacier goggles
  • Grödeln
  • Gaiters
  • additional waterproof bag for dry laundry in the backpack

Equipment for alpine terrain:

  • screw carabiner
  • Express Loops
  • Climbing Rope
  • Climbing harness
  • Prusik noose
  • Fire loop
  • Device for backup (also mobile versions)
  • Helmet (special variant for alpine mountaineering)

The equipment for alpine terrain is definitely intended for advanced mountaineers and climbers. What other equipment is needed for easy, medium and difficult climbing passages can be found accordingly on our website for the climbing area. If you don’t want to do only light climbing, you should consider guided climbing tours.

Equipment for a tour over several days:

  • Sleeping bag for mountain tours (hut sleeping bags)
  • Shoes for sleeping in cold surroundings (hut shoes)
  • Flashlight
  • Towels (travel towel)
  • toilet bag (shampoo, shower gel, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush etc.)
  • if necessary, do not forget to take your medication
  • Clothing for overnight stay (jogging pants, warm sleeping clothes etc.)
  • Socks as a replacement if the first pair is wet
  • Bags for waste and laundry
  • sufficient food (incl. drinks)
  • Bivouac (if a hut is not provided)

Other useful accessories:

  • Plaster (incl. blister plaster)
  • Tape Tape
  • Handkerchiefs
  • First aid kit (often contains plasters)
  • Pocket knife (multifunctional tool)
  • Lighter for the outdoor area
  • Cash
  • Health insurance card (proof of insurance)
  • Identity card or passport (depending on country)
  • Cell phone (incl. charged external battery)
  • GPS device (clock) and map (hiking map, if analog)
  • Compass (often available as an app on the smartphone)
  • Camera (if no smartphone at hand)

What is important when choosing the right equipment?

The equipment should be chosen to suit the mountain tour. For easy mountain tours light luggage and minimal equipment is sufficient. The mountaineer should always be prepared for rain and wind. This means that you should bring waterproof and windproof clothing as well as a T-shirt, socks and trousers for changing on the tour. Also cash, passport (depending on the country, identity card) as well as proof of health insurance and a cell phone (smartphone) should always be with you.

If you are planning alpine tours that don’t just go from hut to hut, but are already challenging mountain top and glacier tours, you should expect to carry a lot of luggage (including alpine equipment). We distinguish between classic mountaineering with a slight alpine component and challenging alpine climbing tours. The latter should only be tackled with rope, harness and other climbing equipment. Fixed rope routes usually have no recognizable paths and therefore run off the beaten track. A lot of experience is necessary for alpine tours.

No unnecessary equipment should be taken on a mountain tour. This means that neither too much nor too little food should be taken along. Those who do short tours (up to 4 or 6 hours) and do not spend the night in a hut without any management or in a bivouac do not need numerous sandwiches. Simple tours can also be made from one managed hut to the next, or simply walk to the next inn. Easy and short tours have the advantage for beginners that only a small amount of food has to be taken along. The remaining equipment can also be reduced. The less equipment you need, the lower the transport weight. 

If you don’t do big climbing tours and there are no climbing passages on your mountain tour, you can leave your climbing equipment at home. It is not worth taking a rope on a tour without climbing passages. This way you don’t have to carry the rope for 4, 6 or 10 hours and you can save the extra weight. If you can’t estimate whether you will have to master easy alpine routes on your mountain tour, it is worthwhile to take minimalist climbing equipment. This can include a lightweight harness and a single rope. Single ropes are available in different lengths. A 30-meter rope can be helpful on mountain tours. Furthermore, you should not forget the safety equipment even on easy alpine routes.

Beginners should not immediately go on a mountain tour of several days. Those who have acquired a taste for mountaineering and would like to go on guided tours of several days after beginners’ tours will need additional equipment. A simple T-shirt and a change of trousers is not enough for a multi-day tour. You should pack a change of clothes and sleeping clothes suitable for huts. Of course, personal hygiene should not be neglected, which is why a toilet bag with the essentials should find its way into the rucksack. You can reduce the number of change clothes if you use odour-free fabrics. Merino clothing is considered odourless and is available in many stores for mountain and climbing clothing. The clothes can be aired overnight and can be worn two days in a row. If you are doing a tour over 5 days, then two t-shirts and three pairs of merino socks and additional functional clothing such as jacket, pants and matching shoes should be sufficient. However, you should bring a suitable number of changeable underwear with you.

No matter if you want to do an easy, medium, difficult tour or a climbing tour, the right equipment is important. You decide what you want to take with you. It does not have to be as detailed as listed above. The lists above are for orientation only. It is advisable to make your own list before packing for the mountain tour and check off packed items on the list so that nothing important is forgotten.

Modern or classic orientation?

Nowadays, navigation rarely takes place with paper maps. Usually GPS-guided navigation devices are used. GPS devices and navigation tips are also available for mountain climbing. The programs, which are managed as outdoor apps, can be downloaded to a smartphone, for example. Not every outdoor app is suitable for every tour. For example, Google Maps, Open Street Maps, Komoot, Ortovox mountain tours, Outdooractive Navigation and other apps are used. Each app offers advantages and disadvantages. You can find out which app is suitable for your purposes by reading a suitable test article on the Internet. However, the app should display all hiking trails optimally. This also includes a display of the altitude difference and the difficulty level of the respective route. Furthermore, the app should display alternative routes, huts with catering and overnight accommodations.

If you don’t want to use a hiking and tracking app, you can also use paper hiking maps. The articles are still available and you can get hiking maps at many vacation resorts. The classic paper maps have the advantage that they do not need a battery or GPS signal. The smartphone is interesting for navigation for short distances. Unless you have enough battery capacity and a charged external battery with you, which will last longer tours. If you want to go on longer hikes, you should also carry the classic hiking map for safety’s sake. Beginners should first go for guided tours.

Behavior in an emergency

Before an emergency occurs, you can already do some things yourself to prevent the worst from happening. First, you should not go on a hiking tour alone. Whether you are a beginner, hobby mountaineer or professional, mountaineering and climbing tours should be approached with several people. As a beginner, it is advisable to use guided tours to get started in mountaineering. If you have already taken part in guided tours and would like to do mountaineering yourself, you can ask other climbers to join you. If you don’t find anyone among your friends or acquaintances who would like to go up the mountain, you can find them on the Internet on the corresponding websites. There you can find out, for example, where groups meet for hikes. Maybe there is something for you. However, you should make sure that the websites announcing such group hikes are reputable.

Before you go on a tour, you should inform someone who is not going with you about your whereabouts. You should let them know how long you will be away and when you will be back. If you have an accident on the way, you may not be able to call for help yourself. In this case, help can be called if you are late.

Emergencies can occur in the mountains not only through avalanches and accidents. A sudden change in weather can also cause an emergency. During storms and thunderstorms the mountain rescue service is often called in because hikers can no longer manage the descent without putting themselves in great danger. An injury that occurs without an accident can also be a reason for an emergency.

Right address for emergencies

If you have an accident while mountaineering and you are still able to call for help yourself, you should know the right number beforehand. When climbing within the EU you can call 112. This emergency number is valid throughout the EU and the call will automatically go to the nearest service. Usually the mountain rescue service will be informed and can rescue you. In any case you should keep calm. If you have no reception with your cell phone, you can, if possible, go further up the mountain to get a signal. In this case it is helpful if there are other people present who can help you if you are injured. If you are not in an EU country, you should know which number you can call in case of an emergency before you go up the mountain. In hotels and tourist information centers you can get the right emergency number.

Do not call emergency numbers if there is no real emergency. It’s not an emergency if you don’t feel like walking anymore and therefore inform the mountain rescue service!

Further Information

In the following you will learn more about getting started in mountaineering. The ascent often leads over an alpine pasture and you get in touch with nature and animals. The correct way to deal with nature is regularly pointed out.

Respect flora and fauna

If possible, stay on the hiking trails. Do not kick plants and do not break branches from bushes and trees. Plants, trees and shrubs are habitats for fauna (animal world). “Animals” is also a good keyword for the topic “cows on hikes”. If you meet a cow, you should show respect and keep quiet. Do not scare the animals, because it has already led to accidents with fatal consequences when cows react aggressively. If you go on a walk with a dog, you should put the dog on a leash so that the cows do not get scared. If calves are on the meadow, the cows can react particularly aggressively. Do not come too close to the animals and do not touch or stroke them.

What applies in the case of an encounter with a cow, should of course also be considered in encounters with other animals. You may also encounter wild animals such as deer on certain hiking trails. Do not stamp through the undergrowth in a forest and keep as quiet as possible so as not to startle the wildlife. You should also not get too close to wild animals.

Do not dispose of waste on the road

Garbage does not belong on hiking trails. If you are hiking in nature, you should not throw away any leftovers of food, banana peels, apple cores or any other garbage on the way. Garbage does not rot so quickly and should therefore be put into a garbage bag and taken away again. It is known that chewing gum takes 5 years to rot. Even bananas need up to 3 years until they rot including the skin. Furthermore, nature is not a compost heap and garbage, whether plastic or other garbage, does not belong on the hiking trails.

Related questions

Which clothing materials are recommended?

Gore-Tex materials, merino materials, fleece fabrics and other water-repellent, windproof materials are interesting for beginners in mountaineering. The clothing used should be breathable so that the wearer does not sweat too much.

What should you look for when buying hiking boots?

Hiking boots should have a sufficient profile sole and fit optimally as a firm shoe. Shoes that are too small quickly lead to the formation of blisters and cannot be worn for long. If the shoes are too large, there is a risk that the wearer will not be sure-footed. It is advisable to break in a new pair of hiking boots before the hike.

What types of hiking boots are distinguished?

A distinction is made between light trekking shoes with low height and half-height shoes. If you want to go mountaineering, you should consider half-height shoes. The half-height variants provide support for the ankles and ensure a safe step. When buying hiking boots, you should also look for high-quality articles with impeccable workmanship.

What makes climbing shoes stand out?

Climbing shoes are also known as climbing finches. The shoes are footwear designed for climbing on rocks. The model differences are enormous and the climber can choose between pointed, round cut, comfortable or extremely tight climbing shoes.

What is a bivouac bag?

A bivouac bag is to be understood as an outer cover for a sleeping bag. The bivouac bag is windproof and usually also waterproof. The article is used for overnight stays in outdoor areas. Overnight stays with a bivouac bag or with a bivouac tent are also called bivouacking. The bivouac bag is designed to protect the sleeping bag from dirt and moisture. At the same time, the article should prevent the mountaineer from cooling down. At high altitudes it is extremely windy and the wind can cool the sleeping person down under certain circumstances.

Why are blister plasters useful?

On long tours, the hiking shoe can pinch and blisters can form. Blister plasters protect the wound and act as a second skin. The patches are said to relieve pain and reduce the friction of the blister with the shoe. Blister plasters are used to treat blisters on the skin.

Which insurances make sense?

If you want to go mountaineering, then rescue and salvage cost insurances as well as an accident insurance can be useful. A health insurance certificate (health insurance card, health insurance cover for abroad etc.) should also be carried. It is advisable to get serious advice on insurance for mountaineers.

Why is clothing appropriate for all weather?

Mountaineers often have to deal with changes in weather. It can quickly become unpleasant when the weather changes from sunshine to rain. If a storm or thunderstorm is imminent, you should refrain from climbing. Weather reports and storm warnings should be read carefully before the hike. Even light wind can be very unpleasant at high altitudes. If you are hiking, you should also be prepared for rainy weather and wind. The right clothing including change of clothes, rain jacket, rain trousers, gloves, sunglasses and sun hat is important.

Why is a headlamp necessary?

A headlamp is important for via ferrata tours and hiking tours. If there are delays on the way, you may have to hike back in the dark. A headlamp helps the hiker to make the descent safely at dusk and in the dark. Headlamps for mountaineering are designed to give an emergency signal. This offers another advantage if the hiker gets into trouble on the way. In addition to a headlamp, a multi-functional tool (pocket knife) and a rescue blanket are essential.

Why should I take a bivouac or hut sleeping bag on longer tours?

Longer tours should not be done without sleeping bag and bivouac bag. For those who are on the road for longer periods of time and even do climbing tours, bivouac bag and sleeping bag can offer an overnight accommodation in the terrain. Of course, it is even better if the climber can spend the night in a hut with a sleeping bag (hut sleeping bag). The huts are also called refuges and can be found in alpine terrain depending on the location.

What to look for when buying via ferrata sets?

If you not only want to go on a hike, but also want to climb, there is no getting around via ferrata sets*. Such a set should be adjusted to the weight of the climber. The sets can be adjusted to the respective weight class. If you have never been climbing before, you should take an introductory course in alpine climbing. It is important that the climber knows his or her physical limits and makes the right assessment.


If you want to take the plunge into mountaineering, you should prepare yourself well. Without experience, many people do not know what they are getting into when climbing a mountain. For a layman it is difficult to estimate what food and how much food is necessary for a day trip. It is therefore advisable to start with a guided beginner’s tour. 

The beginner tours with tour guide help to gain experience and get an impression of hiking. The tours should be around 500 meters in altitude and should be done with light luggage. In addition to important utensils such as rainwear, change of clothes, sturdy shoes (hiking boots), hiking sticks, sunglasses and a sun hat, cash, passport (identity card) and proof of health insurance should not be missing. Before the tour you should read the weather forecast carefully. 

It is not recommended to hike in rain or gusts of wind. If you want to hike through alpine terrain or even plan tours lasting several days with overnight stays, you will have to take more with you and have heavier transport luggage. Hiking tours should be well planned and not be done alone. An emergency number should be known and a charged smartphone (cell phone) is now part of the basic equipment of a mountaineer. Safety comes first when mountaineering. Anyone who wants to climb mountains should treat nature with respect, not frighten animals and not destroy plants.

Attention: You have to take care of your safety when climbing! The information on only helps you to learn. Before you climb, you should make sure that you have been properly instructed by an expert and that you follow all safety precautions.

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