Mount Washington Observatory

Summer Hike

Clothing is as important as your boots and ice axe. Being properly dressed is essential to enjoying your outdoor adventures. Cotton has no place in your winter layering system: it keeps you cold if you sweat and it takes a long time to dry out. Synthetic fabrics or wool keep you warmer when they become wet with sweat and certain synthetic base layers are designed to wick the sweat away from your skin to keep you drier and warmer. In order to make your experience more enjoyable, please do not wear any cotton as layering pieces. Also, remember, you have to carry all your clothing with you, so packing efficiently is important. If you can’t wear it all at once, you don’t need to bring it. We expect that you will be dressed and ready to go upon arrival to the School.

The items below are REQUIRED unless otherwise specified. If you have questions about what to bring please call the School at 800-310-4504.


Synthetic Shirt
A synthetic t-shit and long sleeve shirt are recommended for each day.

Hiking Pants
Zip-off hiking pants are a great choice for Mt. Washington. You could start out hiking in 80 degree weather, and finish at the summit in 40 degrees. Zip-off pants allow you to quickly adjust to the changing weather both up and down. One pair for both days works fine.

Insulation Layer (top only)
Examples of insulating mid-layers include a fleece jacket or a synthetic jacket made of Prima Loft® or Thermore®. Jacket only. 200 to 300 weight fleece, heavy weight soft shell or light weight Prima-Loft sweater.

Rain Jacket & Pants
Outerwear that is waterproof with increased breath ability will be more adaptable and can help transfer moisture away from your body to keep you dry and protected from the elements. Jackets and pants. EMS System III, Gortex®, or similar waterproof/breathable material. Jacket MUST have an integrated hood. Flimsy “stow-away” nylon hoods are not adequate. Full side zip on pants are very helpful.

Glove Liners
Glove liners are very useful towards the summit when temperatures start to drop, even in the middle of the summer.

Fleece Hat
Lightweight fleece is fine.

Wool or Synthetic Socks
How many times have your feet been way too cold? Wool or wool blend socks are great natural insulators, even when wet. For most cold-weather sports, wear wicking liner socks and mid weight wool or synthetic socks. Make sure you fit footwear with heavier socks for more warmth. No matter how thick your socks are, if your footwear constricts your toes, your blood flow will slow down and cause your feet to be cold–fit your shoes accordingly.


Wear sturdy hiking boots that are insulated and waterproof.


2,000-3,000 cubic inches or 30-40 liters is recommended, max 20lb load. A properly fitted pack will make your day 100 times better! It is essential to have a pack which has a comfortable hip belt to help support the bulk of the weight. Use a pack large enough to stow all of your gear on the inside without having to strap any of your personal gear on the outside where it is exposed to the elements. Tip: Pack your pack with your gear before you arrive and make sure you still have enough room to stow your jacket, overnight clothing and extra warm layers. This will save an enormous amount of time in the morning!

This is another crucial item for any mountaineering trip. Mother Nature doesn’t always provide us with light so we bring our own. Carry an LED headlamp with extra batteries for when She decides to flip the switch.

Sleeping Bag
You will be sleeping in a comfortable room that is 65 to 70 degrees F, so it’s OK to go light here with a 32 degree or higher sleeping bag. You store this item at the bottom of your pack.

Overnight Items

Personal Toiletries
You are only spending one night, so a toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, small deodorant, and glasses/contacts case are all you need. Stuff these items in a small sack and call it good.

Change of Clothes
Minimize here. It’s one night. Most people bring a change of socks, and maybe a base layer long underwear top and bottom, and that is all.

Packable Slipper or Sandals
Nice to have, but not necessary.


Dinner and breakfast will be provided for you at the summit. Please pack your own lunch and snacks for each day on the mountain.

Fuel your body. In the mountains, lunch starts when breakfast ends and ends when dinner starts. In other words, we eat all day. A typical climber or skier will consume about 3,500 calories during the course of a day. Pack foods that don’t freeze hard, cover all the food groups and are easy to eat. Pre-make peanut butter sandwiches, or bring last night’s pizza, and those oh-so delicious candy bars.

Wide-mouth water bottles are recommended for winter. 2+ liters is a minimum to keep us hydrated during the day. Before coming to the school, please consume ¾ to a liter of water. This will ensure you are starting your day well hydrated.

Optional Items

Light-weight thermos
Hand/ foot warmers
Trekking poles

EMS Climbing School Provides

Hiking poles


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